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02.28.19

T 0489/14: Will the European Patent Organisation Put an End to Software Patents at Long Last?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A shocked Battistelli

Summary: Another upcoming opportunity for the EPO’s Boards of Appeal to say “no” to software patents; sadly, however, the judges lack the independence they need

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is still coming to grips with courts’ consistent rejection of software patents. We’re still seeing new reports of yet more US patents (granted by the USPTO) that the Federal Circuit rejects based on 35 U.S.C. § 101. So does the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), where inter partes reviews (IPRs) are growing in number. Anticipat has been trying to spin it all by selective (cherry-picked) statistics, but the trend is rather clear and we shall say more about it in our next post.

Yesterday afternoon Scott King and Matthew Hoyles at Kluwer Patent Blog wrote to say that “Computer implemented simulations referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal” (the term “computer implemented” means algorithms).

Today, in the decision T 0489/14 the EPO’s Boards of Appeal published their referral of three questions relating to computer implemented simulations to the Enlarged Board of Appeal. Referrals to the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal do not come around often, referrals in the area of computer technology even less so.

The purpose of referrals to the Enlarged Board of Appeal is to prevent divergence and/or provide clarity on the implementation of the law.

The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) has another chance to thwart European software patents, but it’s tightly controlled by Team Battistelli/Campinos, so don’t expect that to happen.

“It shouldn’t be assumed that “Remain” means UPC is suddenly alright; quite the contrary at this stage as that merely raises yet more questions and causes a lot more delays (for years to come).”Yesterday the ‘geniuses’ at the PR department were still promoting software patents while calling these “CII” because they’re banned. “The next study visit taking place in The Hague will focus on peculiarities of CII-related patent applications and the challenges they pose in search and examination,” they wrote. Hours apart (earlier on and for the second time in one day) the EPO pretended to itself that it can grant such patents just by framing/describing these as “CII” (because they’re banned/verboten without such buzzwords). The EPO wrote: “Which computer-implemented inventions in #medtech can be protected by patents and how?”

They’re using “medical” and “SMEs” to distract from the fact that these are algorithms.

Proponents of software patents try to bypass the courts or create new ones that are questionable because of the way they operate. The UPC’s chances got even slimmer/prospects worse, as we explained a day ago; there’s growing uncertainty about what will happen (if anything at all) to Brexit. Nevertheless, Aurélia Marie (Cabinet Beau de Loménie) and Phil Burns (Wrays) continue to pretend that the UK already left the EU. Never mind if there’s no Brexit, at least not yet (if ever). Lexology published this: “The UK can decide to halt the process without consent from the other 27 EU States and stay in the EU at any time up to Brexit Day.”

It shouldn’t be assumed that “Remain” means UPC is suddenly alright; quite the contrary at this stage as that merely raises yet more questions and causes a lot more delays (for years to come). The UPC’s collapse means that the Enlarged Board of Appeal is here to stay; its decision on T 0489/14 will matter.

Links 28/2/2019: KStars 3.1.0, Fedora IoT Docs Go Live, Devuan Developer Gathering

Posted in News Roundup at 9:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Forget Windows Use Linux – A Distro Designed to Work with Android

    Over a year ago, we published a list of the Top 10 Open Source Distros You Haven’t Heard About, and while we also had good suggestions in the comments but the subject of our article today was nowhere in our radar. It goes by the name of FWUL which, interestingly, stands for Forget Windows, Use Linux.

    FWUL (Forget Windows Use Linux) is a lightweight open-source Operating System based on Arch Linux that started as an initiative to create a smooth Android-like User Experience for desktop users who had issues with Microsoft Windows.

    The same FWUL has an interesting name for an Operating System is the same way it has an interesting back story. The developer always pointed users to Linux whenever the complained about their issues with Windows because he believed that most of them were fixable in Linux.

    However, popular distros like Ubuntu and Linux Mint didn’t include everything Android users need. For example, Ubuntu users still need to enter commands to install some apps, flashing Android phones requires the installation of certain drivers, etc.

  • Desktop

    • Linux Voice Introduction

      Linux comes with lots of tools, but the community gravitates to a much smaller constellation of preferred applications. For word processing, most users turn to LibreOffice, although several other word processing tools populate the repositories of the top Linux distros. For a web browser, most users turn to Firefox or Chrome. Gimp is the king of raster (bitmap) graphics tools for the Linux space, with Krita as a leading alternative, but is there more to the story? And shouldn’t we, reporters and chroniclers of the Linux space, reach wider across the landscape to bring you the alternatives? This month, we take a look at Pixelitor, a free graphics editor that might not be as multi-featured as Gimp, but that’s good news for users who have a more minimalist bent.

    • FOSSPicks

      If you enjoy writing and editing words, there are many, many different options that can help you do the job. But if you enjoy writing and editing music, there aren’t that many options at all. And if writing music should involve ledger lines, semibreves, and demisemihemidemisemiquavers, there are even fewer options. There’s LilyPond, which is both a standalone notation editor and part of the Rosegarden MIDI sequencer, and there’s this, MuseScore, a more ambitious attempt to unseat behemoth proprietary applications like Sibelius and Finale. MuseScore v3.0 is a milestone release and the result of almost four years work by its developers and community. And since MusicScore is open source, it’s the community that really sets this application apart, because there’s a huge online library of user-submitted and commercial scores that you can access with an account and download directly into the application, without shedding a single tear of inspiration. There are hundreds of high quality scores you can download, from Bach to bagpipes, with licenses varying from personal use to commercial modification, and opening a downloaded score is one of the best reasons to install MuseScore.

    • Chrome OS 74 adds support for backing up the Linux container

      Chrome OS version 74 has been reported on in the past, but if you’re running this version then you can now back up and restore the Linux container it uses.

    • Chrome OS 74 brings much-needed audio support to Linux apps

      Spotted in the most recent Dev builds by About Chromebooks, the virtual machine responsible for Chrome OS’s Linux apps is now able to pass audio to Chrome OS proper. Under the hood, this is handled by PulseAudio, a well-known Linux sound system which is capable of transmitting audio data over a network.

      If you’ve never installed Linux apps support before on your Chromebook, it should work after initial install from the newest Chrome OS 74 Dev build. Otherwise, the Chromium team has provided some simple instructions of commands to be run to enable audio.

    • Windows 10 Updates Are Still A Confusing Mess, And This One Image Proves It

      A new way of looking at how Windows 10 Updates behave may just melt your brain.

      [...]

      I’ll leave you with this webcomic by Brandon Bradshaw about how Linux updates your PC…

  • Server

    • Red Hat Launches New Certification Program to Support the Future of Telecommunications Innovations

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced a new training and certification program emphasizing the next-generation of telecommunications innovation. The Red Hat Certified Architect Program in Telco Cloud focuses on the skills that telecommunications engineers need to build network functions virtualization (NFV) clouds, critical technologies that can help drive advanced services like 5G. Used by Rakuten Mobile Network, Inc., as part of their collaboration with Red Hat in building a fully virtualized core-to-edge NFV cloud, the program is designed to help Red Hat Certified Engineers and Red Hat Certified Architects gain the knowledge needed to effectively use virtualized and cloud-native functions in building telecommunications infrastructure and services.

    • Open Outlook: Middleware (part 2)

      Beginning in the pre-virtualization era when software was architected as coarse-grained, “monolithic” compiled binaries installed on an operating system running on a physical server, middleware mostly consisted of standard libraries that were combined with custom code into the monolith at the moment of compilation. A later innovation was the “application server” approach, where foundational middleware functionality such as clustering, database connectivity, and transaction support was packaged into an independently installable and runnable unit onto which the custom application code was subsequently deployed. In addition, some middleware functionality was packaged into units such as data grids, rules engines, and service busses that ran independently and were called as “services”. So you had three basic ways to incorporate middleware into an application: include libraries in the deployment element, deploy the element to an application server that provided additional capabilities, and call out to surrounding services for even more capabilities.

    • MariaDB Boosts Security and Backup Features With Enterprise Database Server

      Open source database vendor announces its biggest release yet as it pushes forward into the enterprise.

      MariaDB announced its new Enterprise Server platform on Feb. 26, providing organization that rely on the database platform with increased quality and security alongside high-end features.

      Among the new features in MariaDB Enterprise Server are data-at-rest encryption and enhanced data backup. Improved quality assurance and security hardnening are also core areas of focus for the product.

    • KDE Participating in Google Summer of Code 2019, MariaDB Releasing New Open-Source MariaDB Enterprise Server, CentOS Celebrates 15th Birthday, Cmd Is a New Security Tool for Linux and Red Hat Announces Red Hat Certified Architect Program in Telco Cloud

      MariaDB announced it is releasing a new version of its MySQL-compatible database management system called MariaDB Enterprise Server 10.4. ZDNet reports that “This new business server comes with more powerful and fine-grained auditing, faster, highly reliable backups for large databases, and end-to-end encryption for all data at rest in MariaDB clusters.” The MariaDB Enterprise Server will be available in the second quarter of this year and will be fully open source.

      CentOS is celebrating its 15th birthday. As part of its birthday celebrations, the CentOS blog wants to talk with those who “were involved in the early days, as well as some that have joined later on, to talk about how and why people get involved in this project”. If you’re interested in telling your story, contact rbowen@centosproject.org for an interview.

    • Happy birthday, CentOS!

      15 years ago, the CentOS project started up in order to fill a gap left by a change in the way that Red Hat decided to market their product.

      Many of the people that were involved in those early days are still involved today, although in different capacities than they were then. Over they years, their involvement has changed, due to their own changing job responsibilities, as well as the shifting technological landscape.

    • CentOS 6 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Get Important Kernel Security Update

      An important kernel security update has been released for the CentOS 6 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 operating system series to address a recently discovered vulnerability and other bugs.

      Marked by the Red Hat Product Security team as having an “Important” security impact, the new kernel security update contains a fix for a race condition vulnerability affecting the raw MIDI kernel driver that could lead to a double-free or double realloc, as well as a fix for a bug that caused apps compiled with GCC 4.4.7 to trigger a segmentation fault.

      This kernel update removes a 64k limit check in the page fault handler in applications compiled with GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) version 4.4.7, ensuring the smooth running of these applications without triggering a segmentation fault. However, Red Hat noted that fact that removing the limit check has no impact on the integrity of the kernel itself.

    • Is UNIX dead? [Ed: No, IDG is dead. So it's coming up with provocative and false headlines, preceding that question mark that lets them make excuses when blasted for it.]
    • VMware offers pure open-source Kubernetes, no chaser

      Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in the IT world, you know Kubernetes, the container orchestration program of choice, is hotter than hot. Everyone’s using it, adding on to it, offering it as a service, the list goes on and on. But VMware wants you to know that, if all you want is Kubernetes without all the fancy trimmings, well, it can give you that, too, with VMware Essential PKS.

      PKS includes upstream Kubernetes; reference architectures to inform design decisions; and expert support to proactively guide you through upgrades or maintenance and help you troubleshoot it if you need a hand. That’s all. That’s it.

    • OpenShift Partner Reference Architectures

      Red Hat’s Partners play a key role in developing customer relationships, understanding customer needs, and providing comprehensive joint solutions. As customers use Red Hat technologies to help solve increasingly complex business issues, partners provide reliable guidance, technical information, and even engineered integrations to assist customers in making sound technology decisions.

      For this post, the focus is on partners that are helping to showcase their technology paired with the OpenShift platform. Whether this is technology from our system vendor partners, independent software vendors (ISVs), or cloud service providers, we are including a library of reference architectures here. Reference Architectures combine partner technology with Red Hat technology to formulate a best-practices design and to simplify the process for creating a stable, highly-available, and repeatable environment on which to run your applications on OpenShift.

    • Using sidecars to analyze and debug network traffic in OpenShift and Kubernetes pods

      In the world of distributed computing, containers, and microservices, a lot of the interactions and communication between services is done via RESTful APIs. While developing these APIs and interactions between services, I often have the need to debug the communication between services, especially when things don’t seem to work as expected.

      Before the world of containers, I would simply deploy my services on my local machine, start up Wireshark, execute my tests, and analyze the HTTP communication between my services. This for me has always been an easy and effective way to quickly analyze communication problems in my software. However, this method of debugging does not work well in a containerized world.

    • Kubernetes Warms Up to IPv6

      There’s a finite number of public IPv4 addresses and the IPv6 address space was specified to solve this problem some 20 years ago, long before Kubernetes was conceived of. But because it was originally developed inside Google and it’s only relatively recently that cloud services like Google and AWS have started to support IPv6 at all, Kubernetes started out with only IPv4 support.

      That’s a problem for organizations that are already committed to using IPv6, perhaps for IoT devices where there are simply too many IP addresses required. “IoT customers have devices and edge devices deployed everywhere using IPv6,” notes Khaled (Kal) Henidak, Microsoft principal software engineer who works on container services for Azure and co-ordinates Microsoft’s upstream contributions to Kubernetes.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Weekly News #123
    • FLOSS Weekly 519: Aion

      Matthew Spoke is the founder of Aion, a world-leading blockchain protocol designed to solve the most prevalent challenges limiting blockchains mainstream adoption: scalability, interoperability and governance. Matt serves as CEO of the Aion Foundation. Prior to his current role, Matt founded Deloitte’s first blockchain team, Rubix. Matt is an active and founding board member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and a founding director of the Blockchain Technology Coalition of Canada.

    • GeelRant #350 – Milestones, Monuments and Merriment

      The guys talks about the importance of breaking long-term goals into short-term milestones, celebrating big victories, and having fun along your financial journey.

    • Proper Pi Pedigree | LINUX Unplugged 290

      We head to the Raspberry Pi corner and pick the very best open source home automation system.

      Plus some great news for Gnome users, OBS studio has a new funding model, and a nostalgic chat with our study buddy Kenny.

      Special Guests: Alex Kretzschmar, Brent Gervais, and Martin Wimpress.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 797
  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.13

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.20.13 kernel.

      All users of the 4.20 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.20.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.20.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.19.26
    • Linux 4.14.104
    • Linux 4.9.161
    • A Number Of Additional Graphics Drawing Tablets To Be Supported By Linux 5.1

      For those interested in using graphics drawing tablets on Linux, a number of devices will now be supported with the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel cycle.

      A number of updates are pending to the “uclogic” HID driver for supporting various UC-Logic graphics tablet devices. This work for Linux 5.1 includes supporting a new version of the company’s device protocol and going on to add support for the Ugee 2150, Ugee M540, XP-Pen Star G540, XP-Pen Star G640, XP-Pen Deco 01, and Ugee G5.

    • Looking At Why Linux 5.0 Is Running Slower For Apache & PostgreSQL On Some Systems

      Last week I reported on some slowdowns when running on the Linux 5.0 development kernel for both Intel and AMD systems. As a few days passed and the regression didn’t seem to be figured out and addressed by upstream, and several inquiries from Phoronix readers, I spent some time looking at some of the slowdowns encountered when running on this bleeding-edge code.

      The slowdowns when encountered so far on a few different systems were some of the most sizable regressions since the Linux 4.14 to 4.15 transition when Spectre and Meltdown mitigations began rolling out. But with the 5.0 regressions, they haven’t been across the board and range from a few percent to about 10% or so.

    • Making ATA updates just work

      The fwupd project has supported updating the microcode on ATA devices for about a month, and StarLabs is shipping firmware on the LVFS already. More are coming, but as part of the end-to-end testing with various deliberately-unnamed storage vendors we hit a thorny issue.

      Most drives require the firmware updater to use the so-called 0xE mode, more helpfully called ATA_SUBCMD_MICROCODE_DOWNLOAD_CHUNKS in fwupd. This command transfers chunks of firmware to the device, and then the ATA hardware waits for a COMRESET before switching to the new firmware version. On most drives you can also use 0×3 mode which downloads the chunks and switches to the new firmware straight away using ATA RESET. As in, your drive currently providing your root filesystem disconnects from your running system and then reconnects with the new firmware version running.

    • The case of the supersized shebang

      Regressions are an unavoidable side effect of software development; the kernel is no different in that regard. The 5.0 kernel introduced a change in the handling of the “#!” (or “shebang”) lines used to indicate which interpreter should handle an executable text file. The problem has been duly fixed, but the incident shows how easy it can be to introduce unexpected problems and highlights some areas where the kernel’s development process does not work as well as we might like.
      By longstanding Unix convention, an attempt to execute a file that does not have a recognized binary format will result in that file being passed to an interpreter. By default, the interpreter is a shell, which will interpret the file as a shell script. If, however, the file starts with the characters “#!”, the remainder of the first line will be treated as the name of the interpreter to use (and possibly arguments to be passed to that interpreter). This mechanism allows programs written in almost any interpreted language to be executed directly; the user need never know which interpreter is actually doing the work behind the scenes.

    • Per-vector software-interrupt masking

      Software interrupts (or “softirqs”) are one of the oldest deferred-execution mechanisms in the kernel, and that age shows at times. Some developers have been occasionally heard to mutter about removing them, but softirqs are too deeply embedded into how the kernel works to be easily ripped out; most developers just leave them alone. So the recent per-vector softirq masking patch set from Frederic Weisbecker is noteworthy as an exception to that rule. Weisbecker is not getting rid of softirqs, but he is trying to reduce their impact and improve their latency.
      Hardware interrupts are the means by which the hardware can gain a CPU’s attention to signal the completion of an I/O operation or some other situation of interest. When an interrupt is raised, the currently running code is (usually) preempted and an interrupt handler within the kernel is executed. A cardinal rule for interrupt handlers is that they must execute quickly, since they interfere with the other work the CPU is meant to be doing. That usually implies that an interrupt handler will do little more than acknowledge the interrupt to the hardware and set aside enough information to allow the real processing work to be done in a lower-priority mode.

      The kernel offers a number of deferred-execution mechanisms through which that work can eventually be done. In current kernels, the most commonly used of those is workqueues, which can be used to queue a function call to be run in kernel-thread context at some later time. Another is tasklets, which execute at a higher priority than workqueues; adding new tasklet users tends to be mildly discouraged for reasons we’ll get to. Other kernel subsystems might use timers or dedicated kernel threads to get their deferred work done.

    • Linux Foundation

      • New Elisa Project Focuses on Linux In Safety-Critical Systems

        The project is called Elisa, for “Enabling Linux in Safety Applications,” and it’s aim is to create a shared set of tools and processes for building Linux-based systems that will operate without surprises in situations where failure could cause injury, loss of life, or result in significant property or environmental damage.

        These days computers are being used to perform a long and growing list of tasks that can have serious consequences if something goes wrong. This includes light rail systems where the trains often drive themselves, robotic devices, medical devices, and smart factories where potentially dangerous tasks are directed by single board computers spitting out X’s and O’s.

    • Graphics Stack

      • CUDA 10.1 Released With Performance Improvements, Lightweight GEMM Library

        As the first point release since last year’s CUDA 10.0 release, CUDA 10.1 is now available with a new GEMM library and various performance optimizations.

      • AMDGPU FreeSync Has A Last Minute Fix To Help Prevent Stuttering For Linux 5.0

        One of the major end-user features of the new Linux 5.0 kernel that is due to be released this weekend is support for FreeSync / Variable Rate Refresh on AMD Radeon GPUs via the mainline AMDGPU driver. There’s a last minute fix requested to help prevent stuttering with this long-awaited feature for Linux gamers.

        The AMDGPU FreeSync support has largely been in great shape when using the Linux 5.0 mainline kernel now and the latest user-space bits. In the next few days I should hopefully have the time to do a recap of the state and other details to help Linux gamers in making use of this functionality designed to address tearing and stuttering during the rendering of games and other supported applications.

      • Lima DRM Driver Strikes Version Two For Mali 400/450 Open-Source Support

        While the Mali 400/450 series era hardware is now 7~11 years old, the revived Lima DRM driver is still being pursued for mainlining in the Linux kernel to offer up open-source support for these once popular Arm graphics generations.

        Independent developer Qiang Yu is still working on the Lima DRM driver where Luc Verhaegen left it off several years ago. Qiang Yu believes the code is now ready for mainlining in the Linux kernel while in user-space he has also been nursing a Lima Mesa driver into shape. The Mali 400/450 series hardware is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0.

      • Gallium3D’s OpenCL “Clover” Begins Seeing New Activity Land For Mesa 19.1

        The first real commits to Gallium3D’s Clover OpenCL state tracker in several months were landed on Tuesday for Mesa 19.1. These new commits are part of the Red Hat led effort on improving the open-source OpenCL support with a focus on getting the Nouveau open-source NVIDIA driver compute stack up and running.

        The commits landing on Tuesday were primarily led by independent Nouveau developer Pierre Moreau who’s work has become of interest to Red Hat with the work being done by Karol Herbst and others on bringing up Nouveau OpenCL compute support atop Clover.

      • The Intel-Developed Vulkan Overlay Layer Picks Up New Features, Dump FPS To File

        It was just one week ago that developers from the Intel Open-Source Technology Center contributed their new Vulkan Overlay later to Mesa 19.1 for providing various performance metrics/statistics of use to application/driver developers. This Vulkan overlay continues being improved upon as well as making it more applicable to gamers/enthusiasts.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Performance Impact Of GCC CPU Tuning On The Linux Kernel’s Performance

        Last week there was the patch being proposed for the mainline Linux kernel that has long been carried by Gentoo’s kernel to provide CPU optimization options, which were quickly shot-down by upstream maintainers, there were many requests to benchmark said patches… Here are dozens of performance figures looking at the performance impact of these optimizations for AMD Zen (znver1), Skylake, and Skylake X (Skylake-AVX512) compared to a stock mainline kernel build on several different systems.

        The main patch proposed offers up Kconfig options so at build time users can select their CPU microarchitecture from old AMD Barcelona and Bobcat systems through Znver1 and then on the Intel side from Nehalem through Icelake and Cannonlake generations. Depending upon the CPU generation selected, the kernel would be built with the respective “-march=” compiler flag for optimizing the generated instructions for that particular generation of x86_64 processors. This functionality has long been an option for Gentoo users building their own kernel to cater their own build for their particular CPU in use, but over the years hasn’t been accepted upstream. The patch is quite simple with really GCC doing all of the actual work for the optimizations of the generated kernel binary.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Google Summer of Code 2019

        The KDE Community is happy to announce that we have been selected to participate in Google Summer of Code. This will be our our 14th year of mentoring students.

        Attention students: If you are a student who would like to work with KDE this summer you can apply to SoC, find more info on the KDE GSoC wiki page. Please note that your project proposal will need to link to some commits to the KDE codebase, so get started now fixing some bugs! If you are wondering what you can work on, also check out our ideas page.

      • KStars v3.1.0 is released!

        I’m glad to announce KStars first release of 2019: v3.1.0 for MacOS, Linux, and Windows. This release focuses on improvements to stability & performance of KStars. In 3.0.0, we introduced quite a few features which resulted in a few regressions that we worked hard to iron out in this release.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Some challenges for GNOME online accounts

        The cynical among us might be tempted to think that an announcement from the GNOME project about the removal of a feature — a relatively unused feature at that — would be an unremarkable event. In practice, though, Debarshi Ray’s announcement that the GNOME Online Accounts (GOA) subsystem would no longer support the “documents” access point touched off a lengthy discussion within the project itself. The resulting discussion revealed a few significant problems with GOA and, indeed, with the concept of online-account management in any sort of open-source umbrella project like GNOME.

        GOA is meant to provide a single sign on system integrating GNOME applications with web-based services. Any application that, for example, wants to access files stored in Google Drive would ordinarily have to ask the user for credentials and log into Drive separately, which gets tiresome for users running a lot of applications. By routing this access through GOA, the GNOME developers hope to simplify the process of using those services. GOA includes a number of different “integration points” for different types of services, including files, email, calendars, contacts, and more.

        The “documents” point was used by the Documents application, which is meant to help users manage their documents. It has suffered, though, from a lack of both users and developers and lacks basic features; Michael Catanzaro described it as “basically just ‘bad evince’”. That certainly restricts its prospects for success; as Ray put it: “it doesn’t stand any chance of adoption unless it can open files like /usr/bin/evince”. Documents has duly been removed from the core set of GNOME applications. Since it was the only core application using the “documents” integration point, that point is now being removed.

  • Distributions

    • 7 of The Best Linux Distros in 2019

      If you’re fresh to this whole Linux business, then it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed if you’re migrating over from Windows or Mac OS. For that reason, you may want to start simple, and Linux Mint is just what you need.

      Mint comes packed with much of the software you need to get straight back into your workflow, such as LibreOffice and some decent onboard media software. You have a choice of four main desktop environments, with Cinnamon being the most Windows-like with its pseudo-Start menu (though MATE remains a popular choice too). It’s pretty light resource-wise, too, loading faster and using less memory than the all-popular Ubuntu.

      Mint is always in sync with the latest Ubuntu LTS releases, meaning you don’t need to worry about being left vulnerable during zero-day scares or malware outbreaks (well, no more so than the Ubuntu crew anyway).

      Keeping this in mind, some people might also recommend Ubuntu or Elementary OS, but we will stick with Linux Mint.

    • Sparky news 2019/02

      The 2nd monthly report of 2019 of the Sparky project

    • New Releases

      • Embedded Linux OS LibreELEC 9.0.1 Is Out with Kodi 18.1 and Linux Kernel 4.19.23

        The development team behind the LibreELEC open-source and Linux-based operating system for embedded devices released the first maintenance update in the latest LibreELEC 9.0 “Leia” series.

        Released earlier this month, the LibreELEC 9.0 “Leia” series is based on the latest Kodi 18 “Leia” open-source and cross-platform media center software, which adds numerous new features and enhancements like retro gaming support, DRM support for streaming content from sites like Netflix or Amazon Prime, and much more.

        LibreELEC 9.0.1 is here today as the first point release a.k.a. maintenance update to the LibreELEC 9.0 “Leia” series, updating the Kodi media center to version 18.1 and the Linux kernel to version 4.19.23 for better hardware support. Furthermore, it improves support for TBS 5520SE tuning and Zotac remotes.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Fedora

      • Fedora IoT Docs are Live

        Design ideas: My focus was on technical content. The basic layout is dictated by the Fedora Docs project but a bit of design work on the welcome page and the addition of any IoT specific logos would be nice. Also, there are a few screenshots that could use a pointer or box to highlight the area described in the text.

        Verify links for downloads and upgrades: The working group now has regular updated images available in a CDN and the next downloadable image is in progress along with the final version of the landing page for downloads. Once the update and release schedule process is smoothed out, the documentation needs to be verified.

        Get ready for F30: When Fedora 30 is ready, the site will need some Release Notes and the User Guide will need some updates to cover new features. You can submit suggestions as iot-docs issues in pagure.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Systemd-Free Debian “Devuan” Planning Their First Developer Gathering This Spring

          For fans of Devuan, the downstream of Debian focused on “init system independence” or just “Debian without systemd”, their first-ever conference is happening in just over one month.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-8 Coming to Ubuntu Phones on March 6th with More Improvements

            Yes, we’re talking about Ubuntu Touch OTA-8, the next major update for devices running the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system, which promises several improvements to make your Ubuntu Phone experience more reliable. The Ubuntu Touch OTA-8 update comes one and a half months after the Ubuntu Touch OTA-7 release.

            Ubuntu Touch OTA-8 is slated for release next week, on March 6th, 2019, but before it hits the streets the UBports community needs your help to test drive the pre-release builds and report any issues you may encounter to ensure the quality of the final release for everyone. Details on how to test Ubuntu Touch OTA-8 are available below.

          • Ubuntu: The End of an Era?

            Today we will look at Ubuntu 19.04 daily build and ask this question: Is the era of Ubuntu over? This will be an interesting discussion talking about the pros and cons of the next releases rollout.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Lite 4.4 Slated for Release on April 1st, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS

              Based on the Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system, Linux Lite 4.4 will be released in a month from the moment of writing and promises to offer users an up-to-date live and installation media that also brings various minor changes to artwork with an updated Papirus icon theme and to software selection with the addition of the Sound Juicer CD ripper app.

              However, the biggest change of this new development cycle for Linux Lite is the move from Beta releases to RC (Release Candidate) releases to match the build quality of pre-release images much better. The RC build number will be displayed on the default wallpaper, login screen, and boot splash screen, which will be removed in the final release.

            • Linux Lite 4.4 RC1 Run Through

              In this video, we look at Linux Lite 4.4 RC1.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 open source behavior-driven development tools

    Behavior-driven development (BDD) seems very easy. Tests are written in an easily readable format that allows for feedback from product owners, business sponsors, and developers. Those tests are living documentation for your team, so you don’t need requirements. The tools are easy to use and allow you to automate your test suite. Reports are generated with each test run to document every step and show you where tests are failing.

    Quick recap: Easily readable! Living documentation! Automation! Reports! What could go wrong, and why isn’t everybody doing this?

  • A Brief History of FOSS Practices

    The origins of FOSS goes back to the 1950s. When hardware was purchased, there used to be no additional charges for bundled software and the source code would also be available in order to fix possible bugs in the software.

    It was actually a common Practice back then for users with the freedom to customize the code.

    At that time, mostly academicians and researchers in the industry were the collaborators to develop such software.

    The term Open Source was not there yet. Instead, the term that was popular at that time was “Public Domain Software”. As of today, ideologically, both are very much different in nature even though they may sound similar.

  • Events

    • Alexandru Băluț: FOSDEM impressions

      Earlier this month I got to FOSDEM in Brussels for the first time. Below is how I remember it. Overall it has been great.

      I quickly learned to look for a different room when there was a queue at the door. But this once I decided to wait in queue, hoping somebody would get out so I can enter. I and the person in front of me got close to the door, but unfortunately we did not get in. Luckily the next speaker and his colleague were also waiting, so we got a 1-1 (or more accurately 2 on 2) on quantum computing. That was quite cool.

      I was hoping to talk more with the GNOME devs, about Pitivi and things. At the GNOME stand it might have been possible, but it was not ideal. The stand table was between two others and it was pretty crowded. I think with some small space between the stands people would be able to get in front of them, to talk with the interested people, which would be nicer. These discussions over-the-table are not very inspiring.

      It was much better for KDE who had their stand at the end of the row, and also space between their table and the neighbor table to fit a person demoing stuff. Speaking of which, I stumbled upon the Kdenlive demo, seems the team also cares about stability, like we do.

    • 10 reasons not to attend Red Hat Summit

      Red Hat Summit 2019 is just a few months away, and we talk a lot about reasons that you might want to attend. But, in the interests of balance, we have also compiled a few reasons you might not want to attend Summit. After all, somebody has to stay home and mind the cats.

    • LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, Tokyo: Call for Papers is open

      Call for Papers for LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, held at the Nihonbashi Tokyo Tower (at Cyboze, Inc., Tokyo Office) on May 25th (Sat) and 26th (Sun), is now open.

      LibreOffice Asia Conference will be the first event gathering LibreOffice users, advocates and contributors (not only development, but also localization, PR/marketing, documentation, quality assurance, … etc.) from different countries in Asia, to exchange and share experiences and knowledge.

      During the conference, we will discuss LibreOffice related business such as supporting and training, migrating to LibreOffice and the ODF true standard format, developing, and any other community activity in Asia. In addition, we will have guests from the core team at The Document Foundation, which is a charitable foundation and the home of LibreOffice.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome/Chromium Begins Landing POWER PPC64LE Patches

        Raptor Computing Systems spent a lot of time last year working on Chrome’s PPC64LE support to enable Google’s web browser to run on the latest IBM POWER processors. Google was sitting on these patches without any action for months but finally they are beginning to be accepted upstream.

        It’s been a bit odd with the PPC64LE support for Chrome/Chromium taking so long with Google being a founding member of the OpenPOWER Foundation and also reportedly using some POWER9 CPUs within their data centers. But after this long and drawn out process, progress is finally being made on getting Raptor’s patches upstreamed.

    • Mozilla and Mycroft

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: Design and create themes for Firefox

        Last September, we announced the next major evolution in themes for Firefox. With the adoption of static themes, you can now go beyond customizing the header of the browser and easily modify the appearance of the browser’s tabs and toolbar, and choose to distribute your theme publicly or keep it private for your own personal use. If you would like to learn about how to take advantage of these new features or are looking for an updated tutorial on how to create themes, you have come to the right place!

      • Mozilla To Add Windows Hello Support In Firefox 66
      • Mozilla Thunderbird 60.5.2 Now Available on Linux, Windows, and macOS

        Mozilla has recently released a new update for its Thunderbird email client on all supported platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.

        With this new release, Thunderbird reaches version 60.5.2, and although the bigger changes take place on Windows, all users are recommended to update as soon as possible.

        First and foremost, there’s one important refinement for Windows users. The Thunderbird team at Mozilla explains that in the previous builds of the email client, the application could crash when users tried to send an email to a specific recipient.

      • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #41

        Welcome to episode 41 of WebRender’s newsletter.

        WebRender is a GPU based 2D rendering engine for web written in Rust, currently powering Mozilla’s research web browser Servo and on its way to becoming Firefox‘s rendering engine.

        Today’s highlights are two big performance improvements by Kvark and Sotaro. I’ll let you follow the links below if you are interested in the technical details.
        I think that Sotaro’s fix illustrates well the importance of progressively rolling out this type of project a hardware/OS configuration at a time, giving us the time and opportunity to observe and address each configuration’s strengths and quirks.

      • Sharing our Common Voices – Mozilla releases the largest to-date public domain transcribed voice dataset

        Mozilla crowdsources the largest dataset of human voices available for use, including 18 different languages, adding up to almost 1,400 hours of recorded voice data from more than 42,000 contributors.

        From the onset, our vision for Common Voice has been to build the world’s most diverse voice dataset, optimized for building voice technologies. We also made a promise of openness: we would make the high quality, transcribed voice data that was collected publicly available to startups, researchers, and anyone interested in voice-enabled technologies.

        Today, we’re excited to share our first multi-language dataset with 18 languages represented, including English, French, German and Mandarin Chinese (Traditional), but also for example Welsh and Kabyle. Altogether, the new dataset includes approximately 1,400 hours of voice clips from more than 42,000 people.

      • Securing privacy with Mycroft, an Open AI voice assistant

        Voice-assisted technologies are extremely popular; already there are 2.5 billion such devices in use and that’s expected to triple to 8 billion by 2023. This growth appears to be unstoppable—despite the privacy and security vulnerabilities in mainstream voice-assisted technology.

        One of these is the “open-window” vulnerability where, for example, a malicious person walks by an open window and shouts, “Hey, unlock the door!” and gains access to the house. Researchers have also identified thousands of false-positive wake words for Alexa and Google, potential attack vectors to inject malicious commands. Some people bring up the risk of subsonic commands injected over TV. Amazon may already be using frequency manipulations to keep Alexa from activating during its commercials. And, as with any web-connected computer device, there’s the potential for backdoors and other common vulnerabilities.

  • Databases

    • Scaling PostgreSQL with Kubernetes Operators

      Crunchy Data’s open source Crunchy PostgreSQL Operator is an Operator for PostgreSQL that is used in many production environments. It provides a simple yet powerful command-line interface that lets users deploy their own database-as-a-service system on any Kubernetes-enabled platform.

      For example, with the pgo create command, which is used to provision a database, you can set up a distributed, high-availability PostgreSQL cluster with full disaster recovery support along with a database monitoring sidecar powered by pgMonitor. In other words, in lieu of a complicated multi-step process or having to write your own scripts, you can create the type of PostgreSQL system required for production from a single command.

      While this may seem to be overkill if you are managing a handful of database clusters, the value of an Operator scales significantly if you need to support hundreds or thousands of different clusters. Having a standardized set of commands with the ability to flexibly deploy clusters for different workloads both eases the administration burden and provides more options for how a team can develop and deploy workloads into production.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice and the Google Summer of Code 2019

      Google Summer of Code (GSoC) an international annual program that has taken place every year since 2005 – and the LibreOffice Project has been involved since 2010. In GSoC, Google awards stipends to students who successfully complete coding tasks for free and open source software projects over the summer.

      This year, LibreOffice is taking part again! So if you’re a student, know some C++ and want to get involved with a well-known open source project (and get some financial support from Google too), join in! Proposals will be accepted starting on March 25, but in the meantime you can view a list of ideas for inspiration.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Free Software’s Radical Past

      Something is absurd about the idea that free and open source software (FOSS) is apolitical. How could a movement that changes the way software is produced and alters conventional notions about the rights of users not be political in the broadest sense? Admittedly, though, FOSS in 2019 seems less political than it used to be.

      Still, the idea remains widespread. Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman, for example, researched the Debian project, in the past one of the most radical FOSS communities, yet describes FOSS as a whole as “politically agnostic.” Similarly, many programmers would insist that what matters is the technology. Nor is it difficult to find left and right wingers working together in FOSS although not always harmoniously.

      The reasons for believing FOSS to be apolitical are not hard to find. For one thing, the foundations that govern many larger projects are often registered charities, and need to be cautious about political involvement so as not to lose their tax-free status. For another, after being condemned by Microsoft as “communism,” few FOSS participants were willing to declare any open political stance. That is especially true in the United States, where, decades after the cold war, coming out as a socialist has only started to become acceptable in the last year or two. Under some circumstances, keeping your head down and coding was only sensible.

      Moreover, how political free software appears depends very much on the communities with which you interact. To give an obvious example, The Apache Foundation with its permissive licenses is far less political than the GNU Project, with its advocacy of copyleft licenses and its connection to the Free Software Foundation.

      When examined, the idea that FOSS is apolitical is one of those generalizing half-truths — it contains bits of insights, but in the end is incomplete. While never the major focus of free software, political activism remains close to the heart of the movement. Sometimes, this activism is only a generalized and often naive mistrust of corporations and the profit motive, but frequently it has been more influenced by radical thought than most people –even participants — believe.

    • GNU Debugger GDB 8.3 Is On Approach With Many Improvements

      The code for the GNU Debugger “GDB” was branched overnight ahead of the upcoming v8.3 release. This release adds for compilation and injection of C++ code, RISC-V improvements, terminal styling capabilities, and a lot more.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Why CLAs aren’t good for open source

      Few legal topics in open source are as controversial as contributor license agreements (CLAs). Unless you count the special historical case of the Fedora Project Contributor Agreement (which I’ve always seen as an un-CLA), or, like Karl Fogel, you classify the DCO as a type of CLA, today Red Hat makes no use of CLAs for the projects it maintains.

      It wasn’t always so. Red Hat’s earliest projects followed the traditional practice I’ve called “inbound=outbound,” in which contributions to a project are simply provided under the project’s open source license with no execution of an external, non-FOSS contract required. But in the early 2000s, Red Hat began experimenting with the use of contributor agreements. Fedora started requiring contributors to sign a CLA based on the widely adapted Apache ICLA, while a Free Software Foundation-derived copyright assignment agreement and a pair of bespoke CLAs were inherited from the Cygnus and JBoss acquisitions, respectively. We even took a few steps towards adopting an Apache-style CLA across the rapidly growing set of Red Hat-led projects.

    • Let your engineers choose the license: A guide

      Imagine you are working for a company that will be starting a new open source community project. Great! You have taken a positive first step to give back and enable a virtuous cycle of innovation that the open source community-based development model provides.

      But what about choosing an open source license for your project? You ask your manager for guidance, and she provides some perspective but quickly realizes that there is no formal company policy or guidelines. As any wise manager would do, she asks you to develop formal corporate guidelines for choosing an open source license for such projects.

      Simple, right? You may be surprised to learn some unexpected challenges. This article will describe some of the complexities you may encounter and some perspective based on my recent experience with a similar project at Red Hat.

      It may be useful to quickly review some of the more common forms of open source licensing. Open source licenses may be generally placed into two main buckets, copyleft and permissive.

    • MariaDB CEO accuses large cloud vendors of strip-mining open source

      At MariaDB Corp’s user and developer conference MariaDB OpenWorks in Manhattan’s Financial District, MariaDB CEO Michael Howard pulled no punches at his company’s rivals: Big cloud, especially Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Oracle. Howard opened with saying big proprietary cloud were “strip-mining open-source technologies and companies,” he continued on the attack from there.

      “These companies, he continued, “You know they are — are really abusing the license and abusing privilege, not giving back to the community.” The MariaDB database management system (DBMS), started as a MySQL fork. Today, with its heart still licensed under the GPLv2, Senjeeve Mohan, a Gartner Research Director, called MariaDB “the gold standard for enterprise open-source DBMSs.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Today’s Context Demands Use of OER

        This movement is the most exciting thing to happen to higher ed in my lifetime. It brings together the humanity, respect for students (and instructors!) and impetus to make a positive change in students’ lives from thinkers like bell hooks, Paulo Freire and John Dewey with the technological know-how and thirst for openness, access and justice of Seymour Papert, Richard M. Stallman and Aaron Swartz.

        There is no point in my parodying the eloquence of the expositors of open pedagogy cited above — please go read them right now, if you haven’t yet. But one thing I can do is add a small point I haven’t see those authors emphasize, in the spirit (following Green) of exploring what motivates faculty. One thing that faculty members love (perhaps particularly at primarily research institutions, where they may be worried about something with enormous impact on pedagogy but which will require a large investment of their time) is their academic freedom.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • New Part Day: The STM32 That Runs Linux

        irst, that Linux support. The STM32MP157C was mainlined into Linux last summer, and there is support for Android. So yes, this chip can run Linux. There is an optional 3D GPU in this family, a MIPI-DSI controller, support for HDMI-CEC, USB 2.0, and 10/100M or Gigabit Ethernet. This brings us the inevitable question of whether you can build a Raspberry Pi clone with these parts. Maybe, champ, but if you’re asking that question it’s probably not you that’s going to build one. It looks as if this chip is designed for phones, set-top boxes, and smart TVs. That doesn’t preclude a single board computer, but the biggest problem there is maintaining software support anyway.

        The chip family in question all come with dual ARM Cortex-A7 processors running at a nominal 650MHz. There’s also a Cortex-M4 running at 209MHz, and the ST literature suggests that engineers are already running Linux on the A7 and an RTOS on the M4. This chip will need external memory, but DDR3 / DDR3L / LPDDR2 / LPDDR3 are supported.

      • Kano Computer Kit – Build Your Own Computer [Ed: Seems like an ad rather than an article from FOSS Mint]

        Kano Computer Kit is a collection of items that you can use to build your own computer for learning to code, playing with art, games, light, music, motion, etc.

        It includes over 100 step-by-step challenges that make for an interesting creating and learning experience as you work with various computer components including the much-loved Raspberry Pi.

        Kano Computer Kit PCs are Chrome OS-like and are as good as any other simple PC because you can use it to browse the Internet, create beats with Google Song Maker, make animations with Scratch, draw with Tux Paint, use WhatsApp, Gmail, etc.

  • Programming/Development

    • Traditional Face Detection With Python

      Computer vision is an exciting and growing field. There are tons of interesting problems to solve! One of them is face detection: the ability of a computer to recognize that a photograph contains a human face, and tell you where it is located. In this article, you’ll learn about face detection with Python.

      To detect any object in an image, it is necessary to understand how images are represented inside a computer, and how that objects differs visually from any other object.

      Once that is done, the process of scanning an image and looking for those visual cues needs to be automated and optimized. All these steps come together to form a fast and reliable computer vision algorithm.

    • PyCharm 2018.3.5

      We’ve release a minor update to PyCharm 2018.3, you can now download PyCharm 2018.3.5 from our website.

    • Introduction to the Python Pathlib Module
    • Coding in Python 10 – Comments and Style
    • Coding in Python 11 – Functions
    • Coding in Python 12 – Local vs Global Variables
    • GStreamer 1.15.2 unstable development release

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce the second development release in the unstable 1.15 release series.

      The unstable 1.15 release series adds new features on top of the current stable 1.16 series and is part of the API and ABI-stable 1.x release series of the GStreamer multimedia framework.

      The unstable 1.15 release series is for testing and development purposes in the lead-up to the stable 1.16 series which is scheduled for release in a few weeks time. Any newly-added API can still change until that point, although it is rare for that to happen.

    • This Week in Rust 275
    • scikit-survival 0.7 released

      This is a long overdue maintenance release of scikit-survival 0.7 that adds compatibility with Python 3.7 and scikit-learn 0.20. For a complete list of changes see the release notes.

    • Review of Igalia’s Web Platform activities (H2 2018)

      As mentioned in the previous report, Igalia has proposed and developed the specification for BigInt, enabling math on arbitrary-sized integers in JavaScript. We’ve continued to land patches for BigInt support in SpiderMonkey and JSC. For the latter, you can watch this video demonstrating the current support. Currently, these two support are under a preference flag but we hope to make it enable by default after we are done polishing the implementations. We also added support for BigInt to several Node.js APIs (e.g. fs.Stat or process.hrtime.bigint).

      Regarding “object-oriented” features, we submitted patches private and public instance fields support to JSC and they are pending review. At the same time, we are working on private methods for V8

      We contributed other nice features to V8 such as a spec change for template strings and iterator protocol, support for Object.fromEntries, Symbol.prototype.description, miscellaneous optimizations.

    • Zack’s Kernel News

      For a long time, the Linux kernel would only compile with the GNU C Compiler (GCC). Now, several compilers can do it, but each compiler has its own way of doing things, offering various extensions to the C language and optimizing code in different ways. The question of which compiler features to depend on can have an effect on whether other compilers can keep supporting Linux.

      Recently, Matthew Wilcox suggested using the -fplan9-extensions GCC option to handle some implicit type conversions. This way, a particular cyclic memory allocation could be made to embed a needed reference instead of requiring it to be passed explicitly to the function. If the code used the Plan 9 extensions, the functions would not need to be tweaked to accept the additional input.

    • AMD Zen 2 “znver2″ Support Lands In LLVM Clang 9.0

      While it didn’t make it in time for the soon to be released LLVM 8.0, the latest LLVM/Clang 9.0 development code has just added support for the Zen 2 “znver2″ processors.

      Back in October is when AMD published the Znver2 compiler patch for GCC that builds atop the existing Zen “znver1″ support while adding in the new instructions of Cache Line Write Back (CLWB), Read Processor ID (RDPID), and Write Back and Do Not Invalidate Cache (WBNOINVD). It was the first-cut support and still leveraged the same cost tables and scheduler data from the current-generation Zen processors. That support was quickly merged, making it for the upcoming GCC 9.1 stable compiler release, so that when these next-generation processors hit it will be possible to use -march=znver2 for generating optimized code for these 7nm AMD CPUs.

    • Rust build scripts vs. Meson

      One of the pain points in trying to make Meson work with Rust and Cargo is Cargo’s use of build scripts, i.e. the build.rs that many Rust programs use for doing things before the main build. This post is about my exploration of what build.rs does.

      Thanks to Nirbheek Chauhan for his comments and additions to a draft of this article!

      TL;DR: build.rs is pretty ad-hoc and somewhat primitive, when compared to Meson’s very nice, high-level patterns for build-time things.

      I have the intuition that giving names to the things that are usually done in build.rs scripts, and creating abstractions for them, can make it easier later to implement those abstractions in terms of Meson. Maybe we can eliminate build.rs in most cases? Maybe Cargo can acquire higher-level concepts that plug well to Meson?

    • Talk Python to Me: #201 Choosing JupyterHub and Python over MATLAB
    • Planar graph layout, Pandemic
    • 9 resources for data science projects
    • AMDGPU LLVM Backend Seeing A Number Of Fixes In Recent Days

      If you habitually use the latest open-source graphics drivers, you may want to pull down the latest LLVM code from SVN/Git as there has been a number of fixes to the AMDGPU back-end in recent days.

      For those that haven’t upgraded in a while or perhaps still on the LLVM 8 code-base, the latest LLVM 9 development code has been seeing a number of AMDGPU commits during the second half of February. There’s been enabling of function calls by default that fixes some crashes, other crash fixes, implementing various features, enabling the DPP combiner pass by default, and other bits.

    • PyCharm 2019.1 EAP 6

      A variable viewer for our native Jupyter Notebook support, an interpreter indicator in the status bar, and more. Try the PyCharm 2019.1 EAP now, you can download the latest version on our website.

    • Include the currency name into the forex application

      Hello and welcome back to this new python forex application project. In the previous chapter, we have successfully retrieved the name and the id pair for all the conbase supported currencies, and in this chapter, we will use that information to add the currency name beside each currency id when we are comparing that currency to the USD. Below is the modify version of this program.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Experiments, growth engineering, and exposing company secrets through your API: Part 1

      This is the first part of a two part series on modern testing infrastructure and methodologies. Part 2 will focus on an analysis of these companies’ testing habits – how often they introduce new tests, the methodology and thought process behind their tests, and any other information we may be able to glean from their testing configurations.

    • AV1 Image File Format v1.0 Finalized

      The AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) appears solid now with it having been promoted to version 1.0.0.

      The AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) is the specification for storing images and image sequences (animated images) compressed via AV1 in the HEIF High-Efficiency Image File Format. AV1, of course, being the promising royalty-free video coding format competing with the likes of HEVC/H.265. This is to AV1 as the WebP image format is to VP9/WebM.

      The AV1 Image File Format continues making inroads and being worked on by the likes of Netflix and Microsoft, among other tech companies. Back in December, Netflix began publishing sample AVIF sample images here.

Leftovers

  • USB 3.2 Is Here To Make Things More Confusing For Everyone

    But with the introduction of USB 3.2, things have become even more confusing.

    The USB standards body has now rebranded 5Gb/s devices as “USB 3.2 Gen 1,” 10Gb/s devices as “USB 3.2 Gen 2” and the latest standard offering 20Gb/s speed has been dubbed “USB 3.2 Gen 2×2” because two 10Gb/s connections run parallelly in the wire.

  • IRC vs IRL: How to run a good IRC meeting

    There’s an art to running a meeting in any format. Many people have learned to run in-person or telephone meetings, but Internet Relay Chat (IRC) meetings have unique characteristics that differ from “in real life” (IRL) meetings. This article will share the advantages and disadvantages of the IRC format as well as tips that will help you lead IRC meetings more effectively.

    Why IRC? Despite the wealth of real-time chat options available today, IRC remains a cornerstone of open source projects. If your project uses another communication method, don’t worry. Most of this advice works for any synchronous text chat mechanism, perhaps with a few tweaks here and there.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EPA knows this pesticide is dangerous, so why did it reverse the ban?

      In 2016, with over 30 years of data, the Obama administration ordered a ban on chlorpyrifos. But under the Trump administration, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed that decision. Last August, a court ordered the EPA to finalize a ban by early October. Prior to that deadline, the EPA filed its appeal allowing the continued use of a pesticide its own scientists said was too dangerous for children and endangered species to be exposed to.

      Simultaneously, the head of the Office of Children’s Health Protection whose office published a report on the adverse effects of chlorpyrifos was put on leave, the chief of EPA’s research office was replaced with a Koch industry engineer, and plans to eliminate the Office of the Science Advisor were announced — an apparent “scorched earth” approach to silence internal efforts to conduct and report sound science.

    • Girl died after FGM procedure, medics say

      “The postmortem was conducted following a directive from the family. We can confirm that the girl was circumcised. The wound was infected by bacteria which caused severe pneumonia. Specifically, she died from Cardiorespiratory arrest due to severe pneumonia and sepsis as a result of an infected type two FGM wound,” Dr Kariuki said.

    • Tens of thousands of Americans die each year from opioid overdoses

      Drugs now kill about 70,000 Americans every year—more than car crashes or guns (both 39,000), more than AIDS did at the height of its epidemic (42,000), and more than all the American soldiers killed in the entire Vietnam war (58,000). In 2017 about 47,600 of those deaths were caused by opioid overdose—a fivefold increase since 2000. Only 32% of those opioid deaths involved prescription pills; the rest were from illegal heroin and fentanyl (see chart 1). But three out of four heroin users first became addicted to pills.

    • Flint water crisis claims its youngest Legionnaires’ victim to date

      The funeral for one of the youngest victims of Legionnaires’ disease was held Sunday in Flint, Michigan. Jassmine McBride, only 30 years old, contracted the deadly lung disease at the height of the Flint water crisis in 2014. Her death brings the total to 13 people who have died from it. The disease infected at least 90 people.

    • What we know: Investigations into Michigan State, Catholic Church, Flint water

      Finally, Nessel said prosecutions related to the Flint water crisis will no longer be handled by private contract.

    • Alec Baldwin spotted in Michigan filming documentary on the Flint Water Crisis
    • Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy will take over Flint water cases

      Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud announced that Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy and her office, at the request of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, will be working in tandem with Hammoud to investigate and prosecute the Flint criminal cases.

    • Neglected today, ancient ponds could help overcome water shortage

      According to local agriculture officer Shahzad Mumtaz, keeping these ponds filled with sufficient rainwater also benefits the groundwater table in nearby areas. In addition, these ponds have a positive influence on the weather, curtailing severe hot weather and allowing plantations nearby to flourish.

      Mr Mumtaz noted that since these ponds have fallen out of use, a large number of town residents have faced an acute water shortage. Meanwhile the nearby Nata village overcame a water shortage by building a pond; in the past, they would fetch water from other localities.

    • Patents Under Debate As Pharma Executives Face US Senate Committee

      Executives of seven large pharmaceutical companies faced questioning yesterday from the United States Senate Finance Committee over high drug prices in the US, especially compared with other developed countries. One issue that came under the microscope was patents.

    • Harris: ‘Medicare for all’ is not socialism

      Medicare for all has become a sort of progressive litmus test among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, and is a marker of where many Democrats are pushing for their party and the country to go.

    • Warren rolls out universal child care proposal

      Warren’s child care plan is the latest proposal from a Democratic candidate that’s focused on helping young children and working parents. Last week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) reintroduced her bill to create a federal paid family leave program. That legislation is co-sponsored by Warren and a number of presidential candidates.

      Under Warren’s proposal, the federal government would partner with local governments, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and others to create a network of options for child care, such as day care centers, preschools and in-home child care options. The options would be available to every family, and providers would have to meet national standards.

    • Investigators open second criminal case following dysentery outbreak at schools catered by Prigozhin-linked business

      Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee has opened a second criminal case in response to an outbreak of dysentery in Moscow caused by contaminated food supplied to local schools, according to the news agency Interfax. A source says the new investigation was launched after 67 teachers and students at seven different schools in the city’s Eastern Administrative Okrug suddenly fell ill. The victims consumed meals prepared from food supplied by the “Vito-1” company. An inspection reportedly found that the business violates multiple sanitary regulations.

    • I’m a Journalist. Apparently, I’m Also One of America’s “Top Doctors.”

      My eyes narrowed when the woman on the voice message told me to call about my “Top Doctor” award.

      They needed to “make sure everything’s accurate” before they sent me my plaque, she said.

      It was a titillating irony. I don’t have a medical degree, and I’m not a physician. But I am an investigative journalist who specializes in health care. So I leaned forward in my seat with some anticipation when I returned the call last year. I spoke to a cheerful saleswoman named Anne at a company on New York’s Long Island that hands out the Top Doctor Awards. For some reason, she believed I was a physician and, even better, worthy of one of their awards. Puzzled and amused, I took notes.

      I asked how I had been selected. My peers had nominated me, she said buoyantly, and my patients had reviewed me. I must be a “leading physician,” she said.

      At this point, of course, it’d be tempting to dismiss the call, and the award, as ridiculous. But I knew such awards are the perfect dovetail of doctors’ egos and patients’ desperate need to find a good physician. Many patients assume that the awards are backed by rigorous vetting and standards to ensure only the “best” doctors are recognized. Hospitals and physicians lend credibility to the facade by hanging the awards in their offices and promoting them on their websites.

    • We Can’t Afford to Keep Our Failing Healthcare System. But We Absolutely Can Afford Medicare for All

      America’s healthcare system is a national disgrace.

      By almost every relevant metric, our system is the worst or nearly the worst among all rich countries. We are the only wealthy country to permit tens of millions to go uninsured. Far more people in the United States report skipping care because of cost issues than other rich countries. Our infant mortality rate is atrocious, and our life expectancy trails other wealthy nations and is actually dropping.

      There’s no excuse for any of this in such a rich nation. We can solve all of these problems—expanding coverage, eliminating underinsurance and co-pays, and improving health care and health outcomes—by improving Medicare and expanding it cover all Americans.

    • Our Revolution Celebrates Medicare For All Act of 2019
    • Because ‘GoFundMe Becoming One of the Most Popular Insurance Plans’ in US, Jayapal Introduces Medicare for All Bill

      Surrounded by fellow co-sponsors and scores of supporters, Rep. Pramila Jayapal officially introduced the ‘Medicare for All Act of 2019′ on Tuesday, arguing that the nation’s for-profit system has failed its people and the time for a more affordable and universal healthcare system is now.

      “Every day too many Americans are sick and dying because they can’t afford insulin or cancer treatments, and that is even as the price of prescription drugs is soaring and the price of insurance premiums is going up by double digits overnight,” Jayapal declared during introductory remarks outside the U.S. Capitol Building.

      “Americans are filled with worry – foreclosing on homes, cutting their pills at the kitchen table in half to tried to make them stretch out longer, and not going to the doctor unless it’s an emergency,” she continued. “Two-thirds of bankruptcies in the United States of America are because of medical issues. And GoFundMe is becoming one of the most popular insurance plans in the country.”

      And so, she asked, “Why is it that other major countries can guarantee universal health care for half—literally half—the cost of what the United States spends, and yet we can’t do it?”

    • Vowing to Fight ‘Until We Win,’ Advocates Plan Nationwide Mobilization to Pass Medicare for All

      With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and more than 100 other House Democrats standing behind sweeping new Medicare for All legislation, advocates on Wednesday immediately mobilized to pressure lawmakers to pass the bill.

      On Capitol Hill, leaders of National Nurses United unveiled their plan to initiate more than 1,500 local canvassing operations across the country to continue building grassroots momentum—tapping into the growing demand for Medicare for All among the public.

      “We will continue building our Medicare for All movement. Neighbor by neighbor. Conversation by conversation, as this bill moves forward,” said NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo. “And in honor of those who paid the price in an unfixable, immoral system we will win Medicare for All.”

    • Medicare For All Would Make The Program Far Better for Seniors
    • Jayapal’s Medicare for All Bill ‘Sets a New Standard’ for Guaranteeing Healthcare as a Human Right: Analysis

      The Medicare for All Act of 2019 “sets a new standard for universally and equitably guaranteeing healthcare as a human right in the United States.”

      That’s according to a new comprehensive assessment (pdf) of the legislation released Wednesday by the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), a movement that focuses on rights related to health, housing, education, and work with dignity.

      After analyzing the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Wednesday amid a groundswell of public support and grassroots organizing, NESRI concluded the plan “is by far the strongest healthcare proposal being considered by Congress.”

    • In ‘Historic Vote,’ Ohio City Residents Grant Lake Erie Legal Rights of a Person

      Tired of receiving notices warning that their drinking water may have been compromised and having little recourse to fight corporate polluters, voters in Toledo, Ohio on Tuesday approved a measure granting Lake Erie some of the same legal rights as a human being.

      Sixty-one percent of voters in Tuesday’s special election voted in favor of Lake Erie’s Bill of Rights, which allows residents to take legal action against entities that violate the lake’s rights to “flourish and naturally evolve” without interference.

    • ‘The Time for Medicare for All Has Come’: Jayapal Unveils Visionary Bill to Remake US Healthcare System

      In a historic step toward replacing America’s uniquely expensive and deadly for-profit healthcare system with a humane program that would leave no one behind, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Wednesday will officially introduce Medicare for All legislation that policy experts and advocates have praised as comprehensive, strong, and “battle-ready.”

      “The state of our healthcare system is absolutely atrocious,” Jayapal told reporters on the eve of the bill’s release. “How is it possible that the United States, the richest country in the world, is the only major country that does not guarantee healthcare to our residents?”

    • Rural America Needs Medicare for All Now

      Rural America is facing a health care emergency – and Medicare for All is the answer.

      Hospitals in rural Iowa, where I live, are closing or teetering on the brink of closure at an alarming rate. Over a hundred have shut down since 2005, and hundreds more are on life support. In some counties, they no longer deliver babies.

      Long-term care facilities are vanishing all across rural America, or being bought up by large corporations who care more about profit than the care of our loved ones.

      I know firsthand – I’m a registered nurse, and a lifelong Iowan from the country. I’ve kept a close eye on where we’ve been with health care, and where we appear to be headed. The future does not look bright if we stay on our current failed path.

      Medicaid expansion was supposed to improve access to care. But the opposite happened in Iowa when we passed this in 2013, then handed the entire program over to private, for-profit Managed Care Organizations. What we got in return was less care, more services denied, facilities shuttered, and lives lost to corporate greed.

  • Security

    • B0r0nt0K Ransomware Threatens Linux Servers

      ew cryptovirus called “B0r0nt0K” has been putting Linux and possibly Windows Web servers at risk of encrypting all of the infected domain’s files.

      The new ransomware threat and the ransom of 20 bitcoins (about US$75,000) first came to light last week, based on a post on Bleeping Computer’s user forum.

      A client’s website had all its files encrypted and renamed with the .rontok extension appended to them, the forum user indicated. The website was running on Ubuntu 16.04.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • ‘Thunderclap’ collection of hardware vulnerabilities affects Mac, Windows, Linux system
    • Thunderclap and Linux

      Thunderbolt security has been in the news recently: researches presented a set of new vulnerabilities involving Thunderbolt which they named Thunderclap1. The authors built a “fake” network card2) and performed various DMA attacks and were able to temper with memory regions that their network card should have no access to whatsoever. In some way this is not all that surprising because the foundation of Thunderbolt are PCIe tunnels to external hardware and one of the reasons that PCIe is fast is because it can do direct memory access (DMA).

      The current primary defense against DMA attacks for Thunderbolt 3 are the security levels: if enabled (the default on most systems) it gives the software the ability to decide on a per device level to allow or deny PCIe tunnels (and with that potentially access to the all the memory via DMA)3. While not protecting from DMA attacks per se it protects from some — maybe the most — prominent threat scenarios4: 1) somebody plugging that evil device into your computer while you are away or 2) you have to plug in a device into your computer that you don’t trust, i.e. a projector at a conference. On GNU/Linux boltd will authorize a plugged-in device only if an admin user is logged in and the screen is unlocked. For untrusted environments the authorization by boltd can be disabled, i.e. when you go to a conference, via the GNOME settings panel. The toggle is called “Direct Access” (see screenshot below).

    • Capsule8 Expands Threat Detection Platform for PCI DSS
    • Security researcher warns of power company customers’ passwords being stored in the clear, software provider responds with lawyer-letter

      The responses from SEDC general counsel Mark Cole split hairs over the security implications of storing unencryted passwords, insisting that because this was not prohibited by PCI-DSS, an industry regulation governing storage of customer billing information; and because logging in would not reveal billing information, there was no problem.

    • VFEmail

      As this issue goes to print, news is circulating about a catastrophic hack on the mail provider VFEmail. According to reports, two decades of saved data for all US users is lost – totally wiped out. Email providers are accustomed to getting attacked, and most of the attacks are stopped at the front door. Attackers sometimes get through, in which case, the most common scenario is that they encrypt some data and ask for a ransom. In this case, however, the attacker didn’t seem to really want anything, other than a chance to go on a rampage and destroy all the data.

      No attempt was made to deliver ransom demands. The crime did not look like extortion or theft but resembled something more like ordinary vandalism. The attacker careened around the network, reformatting disks and destroying data. Mail servers, file servers, VM servers, database servers, and even backup servers were lost. Although vandalism tends to appear random, this attack seems to have been carefully planned. According to reports, the attacker needed multiple passwords to access all these servers and therefore must have been lurking and listening on the network for some time to acquire the necessary access information.

      I won’t solve the mystery in the time it takes to write this column. Too much is unknown at this time. Was the attack from a disturbed loner who just wanted to destroy something? Was it a disgruntled customer or a former employee out for revenge? Was it an inside job? Another possible scenario is that the attacker was a customer with a secret who decided to destroy the evidence by destroying every account, rather than just deleting personal emails and risking leaving a trail.

      The VFEmail attack caught the imagination of the high tech press because it was just so weird. Nefarious as ransomware attacks might be, we are at least able to classify them as being somehow related to the quest for money (which we all secretly understand). A wanton attack of vengeance or vandalism scares us the way we are scared by a tornado or a madman with a knife. This attack underscores the dark reality that the Internet really is an unsafe place. Criminals and sociopaths from all over the world can ride a magic carpet to your front door, and the onus is on you to find the right kind of lock – and to continually change the lock as new techniques render old locks ineffective. It is actually profoundly strange that our whole economy and trillions of dollars in business interests are based on this model.

    • Linux Kernel Continues to Offer Mitigation for Spectre Mitigation
    • Open Source Voting

      Attempts by Russia to interfere with US elections have been headline news in the last year. But the problems with the election process in the United States goes deeper than the public generally realizes and includes obsolete, proprietary systems, a lack of funds for upgrades, and near monopolies on voting machines. As the 2020 US elections near, academics are working to provide solutions to these issues – and open source software and hardware are at the core of these solutions, together with modern interface design.

    • OpenShift Commons Briefing: State of Open Source Security Report Review with Liran Tal (Snyk) [Ed: Red Hat is entertaining anti-FOSS and Microsoft-connected FUDsters from Snyk]
    • When an internet emergency strikes

      Research shows that we spend more time on phones and computers than with friends. This means we’re putting out more and more information for hackers to grab. It’s better to be safe than sorry in an internet emergency, but how you prepare depends on the type of emergency you’re facing.

    • Critical WinRAR Flaw Found Actively Being Exploited

      A critical 19-year-old WinRAR vulnerability disclosed last week has now been spotted actively being exploited in a spam campaign spreading malware.

      The campaign, discovered by researchers with 360 Threat Intelligence Center, takes advantage of a path-traversal WinRAR vulnerability, which could allow bad actors to remotely execute malicious code on victims’ machines simply by persuading them to open a file.

    • WinRAR Flaw Being Actively Used To Load Malware In Windows PCs
    • GNOME Security Internship – The end?

      The first part regarding protecting the system from potentially unwanted new USB devices can be considered completed. Probably now it will requires just bug fixing and minor changes, if necessary. The required merge requests are up.

      The second part regarding limiting the number of usable keys for untrusted keyboards reached a working stage. However it’s still under evaluation which is the best way to achieve it, because even if with the current solution works it doesn’t mean that this is the desirable way to do it.

    • Supply Chain Security Talk [iophk: “warning for Microsoft event; maybe don’t want to [attend] despite Bunnie presenting”]

      In the talk, I relay some of my personal trials authenticating my supply chains, then I go into the why of the supply chain attacks to establish some scenarios for evaluating different approaches. The talk attempts to broadly categorize the space of possible attacks, ranging from attacks that cost a penny and a few seconds to pull off to hundreds of thousands of dollars and months. Finally, I try to outline the depth of the supply chain attack surface, highlighting the overall TOCTOU (time of check, time of use) problem that is the supply chain.

    • Critical SHAREit Flaw Gives Attackers Full Access To Device Files

      Data sharing apps like SHAREit and Xender have transformed the way files are shared, since their release a few years ago. The apps transfer files over wifi which is much faster compared to sending files using Bluetooth.

    • High-Severity SHAREit App Flaws Open Files for the Taking

      SHAREit has fixed two flaws in its app that allow bad actors to authenticate their devices and steal files from a victim’s device.

      Two high-severity flaws in the SHAREit Android app allow an attacker to bypass the file transfer application’s device authentication mechanism – and ultimately download content and arbitrary files from the victim’s device, along with a raft of data such as Facebook tokens and cookies.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ICJ requests the UK to rapidly end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago

      The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, gave yesterday its Advisory Opinion in favour of Mauritius regarding the Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. The Court has ruled the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence and that the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.

    • Widow of Russian media entrepreneur says husband’s death may not have been caused by suicide

      Igor Malashenko, a major political figure in contemporary Russian history who founded the country’s first independent television station, died in Spain on February 25. Malashenko’s widow, Bozhena Rynska, wrote on Facebook that day that her husband had told her he did not plan to commit suicide approximately two months before. However, she added, he began expressing increased distress in November due to stress caused by “lawsuits and threats,” Interfax reported.

    • Popularity of #SayNoToWar Hashtag in India and Pakistan Indicates Appetite For Peace

      As India and Pakistan inch closer to war, the people of the two countries are making clear on social media that they’re not on board, with the hashtag #SayNoToWar trending in both countries.

      Indians and Pakistanis are urging caution from their leaders as the situation inches closer to war, turning to Twitter to get the message out.

    • As India and Pakistan Issue Veiled Nuclear Threats, New Ceasefire Urged to Defuse Kashmir Conflict
    • Pakistan Says 2 Indian Warplanes Downed, 1 Pilot Captured

      Pakistan’s military said Wednesday it shot down two Indian warplanes in the disputed region of Kashmir and captured a pilot, raising tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals to a level unseen in the last two decades.

      India acknowledged one of its air force planes was “lost” in skirmishes with Pakistan and that its pilot was “missing in action” on a chaotic day, which also saw mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the frontier dividing the two sectors of Kashmir kill six civilians and wound several others. A helicopter crash in the region also killed six Indian air force officials and a civilian on the ground.

      Pakistan responded by shutting down its civilian airspace as Prime Minister Imran Khan called for negotiations with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, to ensure “better sense can prevail.”

    • Is war coming to South Asia?

      India and Pakistan are headed towards a potential military escalation in the wake of the February 14 attack in Pulwama carried out by Pakistan-based armed group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which killed over 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers.

      On February 26, the Indian military launched what it said were retaliatory air raids which allegedly destroyed a “terrorist” training camp in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Pakistan for its part also responded with air raids across the line of control (LoC) which separates Indian- from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and claims to have downed two Indian fighter jets.

      Military standoffs or escalations between India and Pakistan are not new, nor is the use of military means to settle scores. However, what sets this round of escalation apart is that this is the first time since the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war that the two countries attack targets deep within each other’s territories.

      In the past, when India sent fighter jets to attack Pakistan (say during the Kargil war), it always made sure that the aircraft remained on its side of the LoC in Kashmir; Pakistan did so as well. Also, any cross-border attacks were always within Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a disputed territory, and not in Pakistan proper, as was the case with the September 2016 “surgical strike” in response to the Uri army camp attack in Indian-administered Kashmir.

      While India’s reasons to attack may have been partly influenced by the upcoming national elections in the country, with its counterstrike, Pakistan seeks to avoid embarrassment and to ensure that such attacks do not become routine in future. One side wants to create a new military normal, and the other side wants to desperately avoid that.

    • Navy Leaders Taken to Task by Lawmakers, Including One Who Was Grilling a Former Boss

      Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday expressed frustration to senior Navy leaders over the pace of reforms arising from two ship collisions in the Pacific that left 17 sailors dead.

      Rep. Elaine Luria, a newly elected Democrat from Virginia, asked at a hearing whether the Navy was moving quickly enough to deliver on promises made after the deaths of the sailors on board the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain in the summer of 2017.

      A former Navy commander, Luria displayed her insider knowledge of naval operations in rapid-fire questions to the admirals appearing before a House Armed Services Committee panel.

      Luria, who retired in 2017 after 20 years of service, had once served under one of those admirals, John Aquilino, current head of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

      “We continue to be incapable of properly manning, training and equipping our surface forces,” Luria said. “For nearly two decades, we prioritized efficiency over effectiveness.”

      Rep. Rob Wittman, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, said he blamed Navy leadership for the deaths of the sailors on board the Fitzgerald and the McCain. Both destroyers were hit by slow-moving cargo ships.

      “It is apparent that senior leadership failed to put adequate systems in place to prevent these collisions,” said Wittman, who has closely tracked the accidents over the past 18 months. “If the appropriate reforms are not properly implemented, these problems and these deaths will continue.”

    • The Right May Finally Get Its War on Iran

      ohn Bolton has never made a secret of his burning desire to stoke a war between the United States and Iran. But Bolton is not the only one on Donald Trump’s national security team who dreams of such a military confrontation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has joined with Bolton in recent months to prepare a case for possible war with Iran.

      The tactics used by Pompeo and Bolton bear a strong resemblance to those pursued by Dick Cheney when he pushed for an attack on Iran from 2004 to 2007. Like Cheney, Pompeo and Bolton have sought to generate a phony crisis over Iranian “proxies” in Iraq, and have created the equivalent of a myth of an Iranian covert nuclear weapons program by conjuring up a nonexistent Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat.

      When the plan for unprecedented economic sanctions on Iran was unveiled in May 2018, along with Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal—the administration denied that its objective was regime change. As Pompeo put it, Trump was “ready, willing and able to negotiate a new deal.”

      The Trump White House has taken advantage of Trump’s diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to sell the idea that he’s willing to negotiate a new relationship with Iran. In July, Trump said of the Iranians, “[A]t some point, they’re going to say ‘let’s make a deal.’ ”

      But the demands on Iran that accompany the administration’s pressure campaign belie the notion that its objective is to reach a new agreement. The key demands outlined by Pompeo on May 21, 2018, are clearly based on the policy agenda of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s an agenda for regime change and war, not a new deal with Iran.

      At the top of Pompeo’s list are demands that Iran end its support for Hezbollah, including its supply of ballistic missiles to the Lebanese Shiite organization, and the “halt [to] further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.”

    • Trump Threatens Venezuela, Revives Red Scare
    • Venezuelan vice president may visit Moscow as soon as this week

      On February 27, an anonymous source told Interfax that Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez may land in Moscow for an official visit by the end of this week. The previous week, Venezuela’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Gil said that visits are a regular component of Russian-Venezuelan relations in the latter country’s current crisis and said Rodríguez may visit Moscow very soon.

    • The UK Lobbies Germany to Sell Arms to the Saudis

      It is not enough for the UK to routinely violate the sovereignty of other nations. To work hand in glove with the United States in suppressing popular movements and democracy all over the globe. Not content with having invaded half the world. Displaced populations via slavery and moved others onto plantation islands. Deporting an entire nation of Chagos islanders as recently as the 60s.

      To make it an art: to really cement the United Kingdom as the arsehole of the world it really has to go over and above the call of duty.

    • German court hands down prison sentence to pro-Kremlin TV pundit’s nephew after he claimed in an interview that he fought with separatists in eastern Ukraine

      A court in Munich has convicted Sergey Kiselyov (the nephew of pro-Kremlin TV pundit Dmitry Kiselyov) of undergoing military training in St. Petersburg in August 2014 and planning to join separatist combat operations in eastern Ukraine, and sentenced him to two years and three months in prison. Sergey Kiselyov was found guilty of threatening state security and illegally possessing weapons — crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

      According to the Russian television network RTVI, the judge in the case said the prosecution failed to prove definitively that Kiselyov underwent training to fight in Ukraine, though the photographic and video evidence suggests as much. Kiselyov admits that he was waiting to be sent to the Donbass, but he denies any paramilitary training. Kiselyov says he did eventually go to eastern Ukraine, but he insists that he never killed anyone. If German officials later decide to prosecute him for direct combat operations, the case would go to federal court.

    • Bolsonaro, Trudeau, et al. Exterminators-in-Chief

      In Memory of Dave Vasey who knew first-hand about official callousness towards life in the small town of Walkerton where people died needlessly of water contamination. Dave dedicated his too short life to fighting against climate injustice, militarization, and the austerity state.

      I read the Canadian news today: “Pipeline expansion should be approved: regulator”

      Today the regulators ignorantly, negligently, criminally, and in contempt of life, yet again gave the go-ahead to money over incontestable science. Liberal democratic Canada is in league with Brazil’s military dictatorship and the Lima Group in overthrowing the Maduro government, and in deforesting the “lungs of the earth”. Theirs is a triple crime, of thrice proliferating greenhouse gas emissions at this time of the Earth’s sixth great extinction event. Venezuela is all about oil. The pipelines transport high emitting diluted bitumen from the tar sands and Bolsonaro aims to expand biofuel production (and criminalize the Landless Peasant Movement). These mega-projects involve deforestation of the boreal forest and the tropical Amazon rainforest, destroying the Earth’s major terrestrial carbon sink and amplifying the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Stone indictment presents no evidence of links between WikiLeaks and Trump campaign

      The indictment of right-wing political operative Roger Stone by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller presented no evidence of “collusion” by WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange with either the Trump campaign or Russian intelligence, after more than 17 months of investigation.

      The indictment of Stone, dated January 24, 2019, is at the same time a damning indictment of all those in the political establishment and the media—particularly the Guardian and Washington Post—who have taken part in the slanderous attempt to tarnish WikiLeaks and Assange as “agents” of Russia and Trump.

      The Stone indictment revealed nothing that was not already known regarding WikiLeaks, which it called “Organization 1.” It has simply underscored that WikiLeaks is a media organization which exercised the legally protected rights of the press under the First Amendment and the Supreme Court decision in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case. A media organization is entitled to publish information in the public interest, even if the source obtained it illegally.

    • Australian media union complicit in the persecution of Julian Assange

      Amid growing calls for the freedom of Julian Assange, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), which claims to be the peak union representing Australian journalists and media employees, has maintained a stoney silence on the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen.
      The union’s refusal to even mention Assange’s plight is all the more damning, given the growing support among independent journalists and principled defenders of democratic rights for Assange.
      The rallies called by the Socialist Equality Party in March, to demand that the Australian government end its collaboration with the US-led vendetta against the WikiLeaks founder, have been endorsed by world-renowned investigative journalist John Pilger, Pulitzer Prize-winning US journalist Chris Hedges, prominent human rights activist Professor Stuart Rees, acclaimed artist Roger Waters, the editors-in-chief of Disobedient Media and Consortium News, and Terry Hicks, the father of former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.

    • SEP national secretary James Cogan calls for maximum participation in rallies to free Julian Assange

      In this video, James Cogan, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) appeals to workers, students and youth to attend forthcoming rallies in Sydney and Melbourne to demand freedom for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

      Cogan explains the connection between the fight for Assange and the struggle against escalating government attacks in every country against freedom of the press and other basic democratic rights.

    • Julian Assange issued with new Australian passport

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was granted a new passport by his native Australia, marking what could be the clearing of a significant hurdle in his quest to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and return home.
      After lengthy discussions over whether Assange was subject to an arrest warrant for a “serious foreign offence,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed: “Mr Assange does have an Australian passport.”

      Confirmation was given at a Senate hearing on Thursday that Assange’s 2018 application for a new passport had been accepted. The WikiLeaks chief received his Australian passport in September 2018, news of which has only now been reported.

    • The Londoner: Julian Assange closer to a journey home

      Staff at the Ecuadorian Embassy have cause for celebration today with the news that they may finally be rid of their long-term house guest Julian Assange.

      The Australian government has confirmed that the WikiLeaks founder has a new Australian passport after years without one, and could now return to his home country.

      An official at Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade confirmed yesterday that “Mr Assange does have an Australian passport”. The timing is good: last year he said that he feared Ecuador was seeking to end his asylum. He has been holed up in the embassy in Knightsbridge since the day he walked in, breaking his UK bail conditions, in 2012.

    • Assange Reportedly Gets New Passport Despite Possible Arrest in UK

      The WikiLeaks founder’s previous passport expired several years ago, as he has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to avoid arrest and extradition to the US. Assange applied for a new passport in 2018, but the approval process was stalled by legal proceedings against him in the UK for violating his bail conditions.
      Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has received a new passport to replace an expired one after a lengthy approval process, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing the Consular and Crisis Management Division’s first assistant secretary, Andrew Todd. The media outlet added that Assange had received a passport in September 2018, but remained unreported until recently.

    • Authorities confirm Assange’s Australian passport was renewed last October
    • Attend March 10 Solidarity Vigil in London for Julian Assange

      The SEP (UK) calls on all defenders of civil liberties and democratic rights, all opponents of imperialist wars for regime change, to attend the March 10 vigil and make it known in your workplaces, campuses and schools.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Major Chinese Port Bans Australian Coal Imports, Report Says

      Dalian, Bayuquan, Panjin, Dandong and Beiliang harbors won’t permit Australian coal through customs, effective from the start of February, the port official said, and will cap overall coal imports for 2019 at 12 million metric tons, according to Reuters. The region imported about 13 million tons in 2017, about 7 percent of the country’s total.

      [...]

      The ban appears to be the biggest escalation yet of simmering tensions between Australian coal exporters and Chinese importers. Chinese customs clearance of the coal shipments have been delayed by as long as 40 days, raising speculation China is targeting Australia at a time of strained relations between the two nations. The Australian dollar fell as much as 1.1 percent, the most in two weeks, to around 0.7068.

    • Kariba Dam power generation cut in half as water levels dip
    • Zambia Cuts Power From World’s Biggest Man-Made Reservoir

      The dam has dropped to 43 percent of capacity from 85 percent in October, as inflows from the Zambezi River that feeds it dwindle. Flows at Victoria Falls about 120 kilometers (75 miles) upstream are less than half of what they were a year ago, and near a record low for this time of the year, according to data from the Zambezi River Authority, which manages the dam. Mines in Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, account for more than half of electricity demand and any shortages could cut output of the metal.

    • Canada’s health organizations demand action to prevent catastrophic climate change

      The mental and physical health of Canadians is already being harmed by climate change. Last year, tens of thousands of Canadians had their lives, homes or jobs threatened by wildfires, power outages, tornadoes and floods; millions in western Canada were forced to breath toxic air pollution as wildfire smoke blanketed their communities for days or weeks at a time; and millions in central and eastern Canada suffered through searing heat for much of the summer.

    • Airlines pledged to buy carbon offsets to slow warming, but that’s not enough

      The Paris Agreement didn’t set limits for carbon emissions from the aviation industry, but the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)—an agency of the United Nations that works with the aviation industry in 144 countries—attempted to take up that mantle. The ICAO agreed in 2016 that airlines would be required to buy carbon offsets for every ton of carbon that they emit over and above 2020 emissions projections.

      A letter published in Nature Climate Change today suggests that this requirement from the ICAO is not sufficient to mitigate the effects of the aviation industry’s increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Instead, the authors of the letter say the ICAO needs to mandate that the credits that airlines buy meet a specific set of criteria, to ensure that the aviation industry is actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Striking study finds a climate tipping point in clouds

      The word “hysteresis” doesn’t immediately seem threatening; it hints at a portmanteau of “history” and “thesis”—a dense read, perhaps, but those never killed anyone. But that’s not what the word means. Hysteresis is a profound behavior some systems can display, crossing a sort of point-of-no-return. Dial things up just one notch, and you can push the system through a radical change. To get back to normal, you might have to dial it down five or six notches.

      Earth’s climate system can provide examples. Take the conveyor-belt-like circulation of water in the Atlantic Ocean. Looking back at the past, you can see times that the circulation seems to have flipped into an alternate pattern regarding climatic consequences around the North Atlantic. Switching from one pattern to the other takes a significant nudge, but reversing it is hard—like driving up to the top of a ridge and rolling down into the next valley.

      A new study led by Caltech’s Tapio Schneider may have identified a disturbing hysteresis in Earth’s climate—a shift in cloud patterns in response to warming that could quickly heat the planet much further. If we were to continue emitting more and more greenhouse gas, we’d eventually end up running this experiment for real. (Let’s not, please.)

    • A World Without Clouds

      Now, new findings reported today in the journal Nature Geoscience make the case that the effects of cloud loss are dramatic enough to explain ancient warming episodes like the PETM — and to precipitate future disaster. Climate physicists at the California Institute of Technology performed a state-of-the-art simulation of stratocumulus clouds, the low-lying, blankety kind that have by far the largest cooling effect on the planet. The simulation revealed a tipping point: a level of warming at which stratocumulus clouds break up altogether. The disappearance occurs when the concentration of CO2 in the simulated atmosphere reaches 1,200 parts per million — a level that fossil fuel burning could push us past in about a century, under “business-as-usual” emissions scenarios. In the simulation, when the tipping point is breached, Earth’s temperature soars 8 degrees Celsius, in addition to the 4 degrees of warming or more caused by the CO2 directly.

      Once clouds go away, the simulated climate “goes over a cliff,” said Kerry Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A leading authority on atmospheric physics, Emanuel called the new findings “very plausible,” though, as he noted, scientists must now make an effort to independently replicate the work.

      To imagine 12 degrees of warming, think of crocodiles swimming in the Arctic and of the scorched, mostly lifeless equatorial regions during the PETM. If carbon emissions aren’t curbed quickly enough and the tipping point is breached, “that would be truly devastating climate change,” said Caltech’s Tapio Schneider, who performed the new simulation with Colleen Kaul and Kyle Pressel.

    • Possible climate transitions from breakup of stratocumulus decks under greenhouse warming

      Stratocumulus clouds cover 20% of the low-latitude oceans and are especially prevalent in the subtropics. They cool the Earth by shading large portions of its surface from sunlight. However, as their dynamical scales are too small to be resolvable in global climate models, predictions of their response to greenhouse warming have remained uncertain. Here we report how stratocumulus decks respond to greenhouse warming in large-eddy simulations that explicitly resolve cloud dynamics in a representative subtropical region. In the simulations, stratocumulus decks become unstable and break up into scattered clouds when CO2 levels rise above 1,200 ppm. In addition to the warming from rising CO2 levels, this instability triggers a surface warming of about 8 K globally and 10 K in the subtropics. Once the stratocumulus decks have broken up, they only re-form once CO2 concentrations drop substantially below the level at which the instability first occurred. Climate transitions that arise from this instability may have contributed importantly to hothouse climates and abrupt climate changes in the geological past. Such transitions to a much warmer climate may also occur in the future if CO2 levels continue to rise.

    • Arctic Cauldron

      When the scientists examined samples of the gases, they found the chemical signature of a “geologic” origin. In other words, the methane venting from the lake seemed to be emerging not from the direct thawing of frozen Arctic soil, or permafrost, but rather from a reservoir of far older fossil fuels.

      If that were happening all over the Arctic, Walter Anthony figured — if fossil fuels that had been buried for millennia were now being exposed to the atmosphere — the planet could be in even deeper peril.

    • Temperatures in Northern Finland to soar 40 degrees in one day

      However at the same time a weather system will dump freezing rain across the country. According to Yle meteorologist Matti Huutonen, it is unusual for both phenomena to have such a large-scale effect. He added that there are no records to indicate the last time there was such a radical temperature change in a 24-hour period.

    • Lambeth Council accused of covering up air pollution crisis

      “Lambeth Labour is covering up a deadly air pollution crisis. The council is choking its citizens and putting lives at risk by leaving air pollution in one of Britain’s dirtiest streets unchecked. It is unforgivable that pollution levels aren’t being measured, with no temporary systems in place pending repair of the permanent system.

      “Greens in Lambeth have continuously raised this with the council and have been fobbed off every time. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, but we simply can’t tackle air pollution effectively if we fail to measure it. Lambeth Council must install a temporary air pollution monitor in Brixton Road immediately, and fix the permanent one as a matter of urgency.

      “There are basic steps Lambeth Council can take to clean up our air and make the borough a healthier place to live and work. As a start we need to see tougher measures on vehicle engine idling, an end to waste incineration, incentives for businesses to use environmentally friendly methods, and proper no-drop off zones around schools. Nationally we desperately need the Government to back a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st century.”

    • Young forests use carbon most effectively

      For forests, it really does help to be young. British scientists who have identified the vital factor that shows what makes a forest a good carbon sink say young forests use carbon best and absorb it most efficiently.

      A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seems on the face of it to settle an old puzzle with an unsurprising answer. New and young forests make the most efficient and effective carbon sinks.

      Humans burn fossil fuels and emit vast quantities of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The felling, burning and clearing of natural forest releases ever more carbon.

      But green plants absorb CO2 to make tissue and turn the gas into root and branch, leaf and bark, trunk and fruit. So scientists, led by Tom Pugh of the University of Birmingham in England, addressed the question: what kind of forest is best as a carbon sink?

    • Entergy Gas Plant Opponents Question Integrity of New Orleans City Council as It Gives Final Approval

      On February 21, the New Orleans City Council unanimously voted to uphold approval of Entergy’s proposed natural gas power plant, which faces a growing number of lawsuits, and passed a resolution to impose a $5 million fine on the company for its role in a paid-actors scandal.

      Before the vote, in nearly three hours of often emotional testimony mostly against the plant, many contended that the $5 million fine was not a sufficient punishment. This was in light of the council’s commissioned investigation, which concluded the company “knew or should have known” that a subcontractor was paying actors to support its proposed power plant at council meetings.

      Opponents called for the contentious project’s permitting process to start again, in the interest of fairness, and questioned the council’s integrity, given several members’ past ties to Entergy.

    • Carbon rise could cause cloud tipping point

      Climate scientists have confirmed a high-level hazard, a cloud tipping point, that could send global warming into a dramatic upwards spiral.

      If carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere become high enough, the clouds that shade and cool some of the tropical and subtropical oceans could become unstable and disperse. More radiation would slam into the ocean and the coasts, and surface temperatures could soar as high as 8°C above the levels for most of human history.

      And this dramatic spike would be independent of any warming directly linked to the steady rise in carbon dioxide concentrations themselves, the scientists warn.

      In Paris in 2015, a total of 195 nations vowed to take steps to contain global warming to “well below” a maximum of 2°C above the average before the start of the Industrial Revolution, powered by the exploitation of fossil fuels.

    • The Rigors of Organizing: On the Road with the German Climate Resistance

      Recently, press in the United States told the story of the great transition that the German Coal Commission announced. Benevolent governments like Germany are deciding to make a just transition away from coal and have even set an end date, 2038, for a long-term orderly transition to occur. The mainstream media is hailing this transition as a model for the rest of the world.

      There are two problems with this narrative. First, the current German plan renders it impossible for Germany to meet its goals under the Paris accords. Despite what the German governmental spin is, Germany’s proposed coal exit is well behind the 2030 exit of other European countries and includes a transition to fracked gas.

      Second, the narrative overlooks the fact of how pressure is exerted and change is made. In the case of Germany, a powerful people’s movement takes over coal mines, sits in trees and engages in mass disruption and civic disobedience in order to exert pressure on the system.

      Ende Gelände,which in English means “here and no further,” is a broad coalition that has spent the better part of four years playing a significant role in the German climate resistance. They have organized annual takeovers of a lignite coal mine. Last fall, Ende Gelände was part of a mass mobilization of 50,000 people who came to defend over 80 tree-sit occupations in the Hambach forest, which is regularly encroached upon to clear land for mining. Ende Gelände is less an organization than a broad-based coalition and a true movement, which comes out of the rich tradition of German anti-nuclear organizing, a regular set of European climate camps, and local resistance and “buergerliche (citizen’s) initiatives. Many different small organizations and affinity groups have comprised and undergirded the larger Ende Gelände mobilizations.

    • Turning Screws: China’s Australian Coal Ban

      Overly reliant economies are dangerously fragile things. As it takes two parties, often more, to play the game, the absence of interest, or its withdrawal by one, can spell doom. The Australian economy has been talked up – by Australian economists and those more inclined to look at policy through the wrong end of a drain pipe – as becoming more diverse and capable of withstanding shock. In truth, it remains a commodity driven entity, vulnerable to the shocks of demand. Think Australia, think of looting the earth.

      Such carefree, plundering optimism lays bare the jarring fact that Australia remains obsessively and maddeningly committed to King Coal. To coal, she pays tribute, runs errands and sponsors with conviction. And it is coal that keeps the country tied to hungry markets which, for the moment, see use for it. But such hunger is not indefinite. India and China, traditional destinations for Australia’s less than innovative dig it and export it approach, have made it clear that their lust for coal is temporary. The appetite is diminishing, despite occasional spikes. Renewables are peeking over the horizon, forming the briefing documents of energy and trade departments.

      To this comes another problem. Australia has been rather bullish of late towards the country that receives most of its earthly treasures. The People’s Republic of China has made it clear that it does not agree with the ambitiously aggressive line Canberra has taken on a range of fronts. There is the issue of blocking Chinese influence in the Pacific, notably through the provision of alternative cyber infrastructure whilst excluding Huawei in bids to secure 5G telecommunications contracts. There has been a campaign to combat purported Chinese influence on university campuses and claims of meddling in the political process. (Meddling by the US, by way of contrast, remains gloriously free to continue.)

      All of these acts have shown Beijing less Australia’s independence and sovereign will than its unqualified, traditional commitment to the United States, for which it remains undisputed, kowtowing deputy. What Washington dictates, Canberra disposes.

    • Budgeting for Black-Out in South Africa

      The African country with by far the most advanced infrastructure and largest energy supply increasingly appears to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown, in its economic, ecological and electricity systems.

    • Trump’s Pick of Wealthy Climate Denier for UN Ambassador Decried as ‘Slap in the Face’ to Planet and Humanity

      Hauter said she is “disgusted but not surprised” by Trump’s decision—which comes after the president’s previous nominee, former State Department spokesperson and Fox News commentator Heather Nauert, withdrew her name from consideration—and added, “[A]t a time when the United States should be working harder than ever with the rest of the world to address our deepening climate crisis, to select an admitted climate denier to represent us before the U.N. is especially egregious.”

      “We have little confidence that Ms. Craft will be a competent advocate for clean air, safe water, and adequate public health either here or abroad if her nomination is confirmed,” Hauter concluded. “We strongly urge the Senate to reject Ms. Craft’s nomination out of hand.”

      Both Craft and her billionaire coal magnate husband are major donors to the Republican Party and Trump. According to the New York Times, “the couple donated more than $2 million to Mr. Trump’s candidacy and inauguration.”

      Craft, who is currently serving as U.S. ambassador to Canada, made headlines in 2017 after she said during an interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation that she respects “both sides” of climate science, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is driving global warming and threatening the future of the planet.

      “I believe there are scientists on both sides that are accurate,” Craft declared. “I think that both sides have their own results from their studies and I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science.”

    • How Do You Protect a Species You Can’t See?

      Lucy Keith-Diagne has spent years searching for African manatees in stretches of river the color of chocolate milk. The task is urgent. In the 21 countries where they are found, these manatees — relatives of the species found in Florida — are at risk of poaching, being caught in fishing nets and becoming isolated when dams sever their habitat.

      “I’ll be honest, I was a behavioral biologist when I started working in Africa, not a lab person,” says Keith-Diagne, executive director of the Senegal-based African Aquatic Conservation Fund. “But the manatee’s range in Africa is larger than the area of the United States. We need to figure out where they are sooner rather than later if we want to conserve this animal.”

    • Our Five Biggest Delusions About Climate Change

      The extreme weather of the last year has been so terrifying, and so very extreme, that it is tempting to look at the string of disasters around the world and think: Climate change is here. Certainly that’s what Jerry Brown meant when he described the wildfires ravaging California in the fall as “the new abnormal.”

      It will only get more so. We have already exited the environmental conditions that allowed the human animal to evolve in the first place, in an unplanned bet on just what we can endure. By the end of the century, if warming continues unabated, wildfires could burn 64 times as much land in California as they did last year, which was more than a million acres.

      But climate change isn’t binary, and this is one of the five major misapprehensions even engaged liberals have about warming. It’s not a question of whether it will happen or not, or whether it will be like the 2018 wildfire season or 64 times worse. Climate change is a function that will get worse over time as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gas.

      No matter how bad it gets, it will always be the case that the following decade could bring more suffering — or less. And believe it or not, the amount will always be up to us. Climate change may seem intimidatingly large, but the responsibility is entirely ours.

    • Battling for Big Oil: Manufacturing Trade Group Leads Assault on Climate Suits

      In its fight to stave off a wave of climate change-related lawsuits, the fossil fuel industry has found a vocal and unapologetic ally in the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The 123-year old trade group represents a wide range of the nation’s manufacturing companies, but it has frequently gone to bat for select segments of its membership during major liability battles. Currently, it is Big Oil’s staunchest defender.
      The group has filed briefs defending oil companies in liability lawsuits, launched campaigns to discredit the communities filing them, and has worked to stop shareholders from pressing the oil companies to disclose climate risks. In these roles, NAM has put itself front and center in the effort to keep fossil fuel companies from being held liable for their role in climate change, and from paying for the related damages that will run in the hundreds of billions of dollars to communities across the country.

      “Taxpayer resources should not be used for baseless lawsuits that are designed to enrich trial lawyers and grab headlines for politicians,” Lindsey de la Torre, executive director of NAM’s spinoff group, the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP), said in a statement after Rhode Island filed one of the climate liability lawsuits last year. NAM launched MAP in 2017 as a response to the increasing number of climate liability suits.

    • ‘Wouldn’t Have Happened Without Our Movement’: Climate Leaders Celebrate as McConnell Delays Cynical Green New Deal Vote

      Earlier this month, McConnell announced that he would hold a Senate vote on the newly introduced Green New Deal resolution as early as February 28, apparently believing that an up-or-down tally would expose and exacerbate divisions within the Democratic Party.

      But after climate leaders called McConnell’s bluff and welcomed his push for a Green New Deal vote—believing that it would backfire on the GOP—the Senate Majority Leader said on Tuesday that he has pushed the vote back until before the August recess.

      In an email to supporters on Wednesday, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash attributed McConnell’s decision to youth-led grassroots pressure, including the massive sit-ins and protests at the Kentucky senator’s Washington, D.C. office earlier this week that led to dozens of arrests.

      “Make no mistake. That wouldn’t have happened without our movement,” Prakash wrote. “Two weeks ago, [McConnell] was excitedly telling the media about his plans. Now, he seems happy to let this vote be forgotten.”

  • Finance

    • Facebook wants up to 30% of fan subscriptions vs Patreon’s 5%

      Facebook will drive a hard bargain with influencers and artists judging by the terms of service for the social network’s Patreon-like Fan Subscriptions feature that lets people pay a monthly fee for access to a creator’s exclusive content. The policy document attained by TechCrunch shows Facebook plans to take up to a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue minus fees, compared to 5 percent by Patreon, 30 percent by YouTube, which covers fees and 50 percent by Twitch.

    • Flat Broke, Black Voters Want More Than Just Another Black President

      Sen. Cory Booker’s announcement on February 1 that he is entering the 2020 presidential race brings the number of African-American Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to two, making the crowded primary field the “most diverse in history,” according to The New York Times.

      But while The New York Times, cable news and other liberal pundits exult in the White House bids of Booker and California’s junior U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, African Americans, ironically enough, have not uniformly mustered nearly as much enthusiasm for either candidate. “Cory Booker is running for president, y’all,” the popular African-American YouTube blogger Tim Black declared in a video hours after Booker’s announcement. “Who’s excited?” he asked mockingly with the sound of crickets chirping in the background.

      “Kamala Harris won’t get my black vote and she can kiss my black a$$!” reads the YouTube headline of a video released by the African-American blogger who bills herself as Mechee X on her Fly Nubian Queen channel.

      Black and Mechee X’s critiques are representative of the ennui and even hostility that characterizes African Americans’ response to the possibility of the nation’s second Black president, which is largely attributable to the fact that while we were distracted celebrating the first, someone walked into our homes and almost literally stole everything we own. Not since a severe financial downturn shuttered the Freedman’s Bank in 1874 have African Americans lost as much of our wealth as we did during Barack Obama’s eight years in office. Household wealth for the median Black family in the U.S. nosedived during the Obama administration, reaching roughly $3,600 in 2017, or about 2 percent of the $147,000 median net worth for an average white family, according to a study of Federal Reserve data compiled by the Institute for Policy Studies. More than a third of all African-American families have zero or negative wealth, while the typical Black family in Boston has a net worth of all of $8.

    • The Fed’s “Emergency Measures” Are Becoming the New Normal

      “Quantitative easing” was supposed to be an emergency measure. The Federal Reserve “eased” shrinkage in the money supply due to the 2008-09 credit crisis by pumping out trillions of dollars in new bank reserves. After the crisis, the presumption was that the Fed would “normalize” conditions by sopping up the excess reserves through “quantitative tightening” (QT) – raising interest rates and selling the securities it had bought with new reserves back into the market.
      The Fed relentlessly pushed on with quantitative tightening through 2018, despite a severe market correction in the fall. In December, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that QT would be on “autopilot,” meaning the Fed would continue to raise interest rates and to sell $50 billion monthly in securities until it hit its target. But the market protested loudly to this move, with the Nasdaq Composite Index dropping 22% from its late-summer high.
      Worse, defaults on consumer loans were rising. December 2018 was the first time in two years that all loan types and all major metropolitan statistical areas showed a higher default rate month-over-month. Consumer debt – including auto, student and credit card debt – is typically bundled and sold as asset-backed securities similar to the risky mortgage-backed securities that brought down the market in 2008 after the Fed had progressively raised interest rates.

    • The Key to the Brexit Backstory

      Partly, if not largely, because of failing to come to terms with its loss of a huge empire, the UK had been ramping up economic inequality since the late 1970s, reaching a point where the gap between rich and poor in Britain was wider than in any other European country.

      When India, and then most colonies in Africa, won their freedom, the British rich found themselves suddenly becoming much poorer. They blamed the trade unions and socialists in the 1970s. To try to maintain their position, from 1979 onwards they cut the pay of the poorest in a myriad of ways and vilified immigrants in the newspapers they owned or influenced, while managing to hold on to some of the pomp and ceremony that their imperial grandparents had enjoyed.

      Something had to break, and, in the end, it was a break with the EU — it was Brexit. It is true that Brexit was partly the language of the unheard — the masses cocking a snook at the demands of their overlords — and there were some who actually believed the propaganda that problems in health, housing, and education were due to immigrants, and some who really thought “their” country was being taken over by colonial and EU immigrants, by refugees from anywhere, or even by Islam. But there were many others who voted Leave out of hope. They just hoped for something better than what they had.

      The British had been distracted from the rise in inequality and the consequent poverty that grew with it by decades of innuendo and then outright propaganda suggesting that immigration was the main source of most of their woes. Without immigrants, they were told, there would be good jobs for all.

      Then they were told, at first in whispers, and later through tabloid headlines, that without immigrants their children could get into that good school, or the school they currently go to would not be so bad.

    • Charter Schools Exploit Lucrative Loophole That Would Be Easy to Close

      While critics charge that charter schools are siphoning money away from public schools, a more fundamental issue frequently flies under the radar: the questionable business practices that allow people who own and run charter schools to make large profits.

      Charter school supporters are reluctant to acknowledge, much less stop, these practices.

      Given that charter schools are growing rapidly — from 1 million students in 2006 to more than 3.1 million students attending approximately 7,000 charter schools now — shining a light on these practices can’t come too soon. The first challenge, however, is simply understanding the complex space in which charters operate — somewhere between public and private.

    • ‘It Was a Remarkably Successful Grassroots Campaign to Target Amazon’s Credibility’ – CounterSpin interview with Neil deMause on Amazon’s retreat from New York

      Janine Jackson: By the time Amazon chose New York and Virginia for its second headquarters in November, a funny thing had happened: People had been heard to question, not just the value to a community of hosting an anti-union corporation known for worker exploitation and hawking facial recognition software to ICE, but the whole idea of cities competing with one another to attract companies with huge bundles of tax breaks and subsidies—in New York’s case, a reported $3 billion worth.

      When Amazon abruptly pulled the deal off the table on February 14, there were the anticipated grumbles about anti-corporate activists spoiling what would have been a great opportunity for jobs and growth and all things good. But there were also cheers, not only for standing up to Amazon‘s particular demands, but for challenging the idea of tax incentives and subsidies as a way to grow or govern healthy communities.

      Our next guest has been reporting these issues for years. Journalist Neil deMause reports for Gothamist. His most recent book is The Brooklyn Wars, but he’s also co-author, with Joanna Cagan, of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit. He joins us now by phone from San Francisco. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Neil deMause.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • US Cyber Command attacked Russian [astroturfer] farm on Election Day 2018

      The United States Cyber Command launched an offensive campaign to silence one of Russia’s most notorious [astroturfing] operations on the day of the 2018 midterm elections, according to a new report by The Washington Post. The operation targeted the Internet Research Agency, a private company linked to the Kremlin and often used for disinformation campaigns.

    • How a Nigerian Presidential Candidate Hired a Trump Lobbyist and Ended Up in Trump’s Lobby

      This week, “Trump, Inc.” goes inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Located in the Old Post Office, the hotel is at the center of three lawsuits alleging President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause barring the president from taking gifts from foreign governments.

      We stayed the night. (Listen to our new episode about our visit.)

      Among the many prominent guests we saw: Nigerian presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and his entourage. Nigeria’s elections were last weekend, and Abubakar was the main challenger to the incumbent president out of a crowded field of candidates. After a tightly contested race, he came in second.

      Abubakar’s visit is surprising for several reasons. He had been reportedly barred from the U.S. for nearly 10 years for his alleged involvement in corruption while he was Nigeria’s vice president. Perhaps you remember the $90,000 in cash that was found in Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson’s freezer back in 2005? That was allegedly a bribe for Abubakar.

    • The Ghosts of Chauncey Gardner and Francisco Franco at the Trials of the Catalan Independentists in Madrid

      Watching the trials of the Catalan independentists now taking place at Spain’s highest court in Madrid, I have been reminded again and again of a scene from Hal Ashby’s marvelous 1979 movie “Being There”.

      The protagonist of that film, Chauncey Gardner, played by Peter Sellers, is a fiftyish man who has never ventured outside the confines of his birth home, and whose entire understanding of society has been shaped by television viewing. When, upon the death of his father, this man-child is finally expelled from the dwelling, he roams the streets of Washington DC with his TV remote control unit in his hand. And when he comes across sights that disturb him, he points the device at the offending scene the hopes of “changing the channel” on the reality before him. Needless to say, his efforts at discharging his anxiety through this mechanism are fruitless.

      Each of the 10 Catalan politicians and 2 civil society leaders currently sitting in the dock in the Spanish capital are there for allegedly having committed some combination of the crimes of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. The Spanish prosecutors been relentless in their attempts to underscore a narrative of events that will support state’s allegations against these promotors of the October 1st 2017 referendum on self-determination and the Catalan declaration of independence issued 26 days later.

    • How’d the Cohen Hearing Go? That Depends on Your Filter Bubble

      On social media and on partisan sites, the conversation split into like-minded echo chambers, with each side parroting the talking points of their party’s members who were sitting in the hearing room. What emerged was a sort of cacophonous bizarro world that would have seemed implausible just a year ago: Conservative pundits and political operatives, including Trump’s own children, worked overtime to discredit a man who spent 10 years as a close confidante to Trump, and until last June, served as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee. Liberals, meanwhile, spent their 240 characters sticking up for and even applauding the humility of a man who’ll head to prison in May for, among other things, lying to Congress to defend Trump and making hush money payments on his behalf.

    • Read Michael Cohen’s Prepared Testimony in Its Entirety

      President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer is preparing to tell a House committee Wednesday that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to his rival Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and that he is a “racist,” a “con man” and a “cheat.”

      Michael Cohen suggests in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press that Trump also implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project, which he says Trump knew about as Cohen was negotiating with Russia during the election.

      Cohen says Trump did not directly tell him to lie, but that “he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing.”

      Cohen said that “in his way, he was telling me to lie.”

      In the testimony, Cohen apologizes for his actions and says “I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.”

    • Legal Experts: Trump Loyalist Matt Gaetz Committed ‘Witness Tampering’ by Threatening Michael Cohen

      Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) “very clearly” committed witness tampering.

      That appeared to be the consensus view of legal experts and scholars on social media late Tuesday after the Florida Republican fired off a tweet accusing President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen of infidelity just hours before the latter was set to testify against his former boss in a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.

      “Hey @MichaelCohen212—do your wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” asked Gaetz, a fervent Trump loyalist.

    • Chicago’s Election Signals Break from the Past — in Wards and at City Hall

      The scene hardly had the look of history being made. On an Election Day with low turnout, the voting booths stood empty. Outside, the surrounding blocks in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood were mostly quiet except for the sound of the bitterly cold wind.

      On a nearby corner, Maria Hadden, the challenger for alderman of the city’s 49th Ward, waited to greet voters. Finally, a compact man in a heavy coat approached. He proudly told Hadden he had lived in Rogers Park for 30 years and was going to vote for her. They shook gloved hands.

      In Hadden’s view, the race came down to whether residents felt their neighborhood would remain vibrant and affordable.

      “Will we keep our economic and racial diversity?” she said. “Is the current leadership able to maintain that, or do we need new leadership?”

    • History Made in Chicago as Lightfoot and Preckwinkle, Two Black Female Progressives, Advance to Mayoral Runoff

      Chicago is set to see its first black female mayor after a historic election on Tuesday prompted a runoff between Democrats Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, both self-styled progressives who emerged as the top candidates in a crowded field that included Bill Daley, a longtime politico with an infamous last name.

      The closely watched and competitive race, which even brought about a board game (pdf), kicked off last year in the deeply Democratic city after former Mayor Rahm Emanuel—widely loathed as a “neoliberal nightmare” whose “tenure in office wreaked on Chicago’s communities of color”—announced he would not seek another term.

      As of late Wednesday morning, the unofficial results reported by the Chicago Tribune showed Lightfoot with 17.5 percent of the overall votes and Preckwinkle with 16 percent. Daley, who has conceded, ranked third among the 14 candidates. As no one received more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff between Lightfoot and Preckwinkle is scheduled for April 2.

    • House OKs Democrats’ Bill Blocking Trump Emergency on Wall

      House Democrats have ignored a veto threat and passed legislation that would stymie President Donald Trump’s bid for billions of extra dollars for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. The move has escalated a clash over whether he has abused his powers to advance the signature pledge of his 2016 campaign.

      The House’s 245-182 vote Tuesday to block Trump’s national emergency declaration fell well below the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override what would be the first veto of Trump’s presidency. Thirteen Republican backed the Democrats’ measure as top Republicans worked to keep defections as low as possible, wanting to avoid a tally suggesting that Trump’s hold on lawmakers was weakening.

      The issue is now before the Republican-run Senate, where there already were enough GOP defections to edge the resolution to the brink of passage. Vice President Mike Pence used a lunch with Republican senators at the Capitol to try keeping them aboard, citing a crisis at the border, but there were no signs he had succeeded.

    • Michael Cohen and Donald Trump Are Exactly the Same Person

      From a strictly legal standpoint, we don’t know much more today than we did before Donald Trump’s disgraced, disbarred former attorney and bagman Michael Cohen began testifying before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday morning. An arrangement between Cohen and special counsel Robert Mueller precluded the witness from holding forth on what he might know about collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian agents. That agreement may not have even been necessary. “Questions have been raised about whether I know or have direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia,” said Cohen during his opening statement. “I do not.”

      That opening statement was freighted with enough salacious material to keep the corporate news media buzzing throughout the day, though little of it could be described as groundbreaking new information. According to Cohen, Trump was informed by Roger Stone in advance of the now-infamous WikiLeaks document dump. Cohen ticked off a list of deeply racist comments made by Trump over the years. He alleged Trump was fully aware of ongoing negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign and lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He recalled a conversation in which Trump noted that his son, Donald Trump Jr., “had the worst judgement of anyone in the world.”

      Donald Trump is a chisler, a racist, a liar and the father of useless children. Stop the presses. Cohen knows more about Trump’s dirty dealings than he revealed at the hearing on Wednesday — he said as much several times when asked directly — but refused to elaborate, pointing to the ongoing investigations by Mueller along with state and federal agencies in New York as his reason for remaining silent on those topics. What we heard about Trump on Wednesday was, by and large, already public information many times over.

      We didn’t learn much of anything new about Michael Cohen, either. Seated before the very Congress he had previously lied to under oath, Cohen was as contrite as could be even as he was relentlessly lambasted by committee Republicans. No one will ever call Cohen a good witness. His career, before and including his time with Trump, is scarred by serial associations with cretins of equally low character.

    • Michael Cohen’s Testimony Underscores Rifts Between Parties
    • North Carolinians Voted to End Cooperation With Trump’s Deportation Force. ICE Retaliated.

      The federal agency stepped up raids after sheriffs stopped notifying it about the immigration status of people arrested.

      President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security frequently claims to be motivated by a dedication to law and order, but its immigration enforcement tactics are often directly contrary to local communities’ legal and electoral choices.

      Recent raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in North Carolina were a failed attempt to achieve by force what was soundly rejected at the ballot box last November: Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. ICE targeted places and people based on democratic decisions North Carolina counties made about their policing resources and values, including upholding the Constitution.

    • To Disempower Lobbyists, Give Congressional Staff a Raise

      If we want to diminish the power of corporate lobbyists in Congress, one of the best but most overlooked ways to do so would be to give congressional staffers a raise.

      Over the weekend, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that her office was going to ensure a living wage for all her staffers by paying no one less than $52,000, which constitutes a living wage in Washington, D.C., for two adults, with one working. Part of making that a reality in Ocasio-Cortez’s office means capping her staff salaries at $80,000. Staff salaries are not fixed: in 2018, each office had an average of $1.36 million to spend on staff salaries and official office expenses — the actual number will vary based on factors like the cost of renting an office in the member of Congress’s district. While $1.36 million may sound like a lot, with multiple roles to fill in D.C. and in the district, it’s spent quickly. In addition to in-district office space, members need staff who can draft legislation to enact a member of Congress’s policy proposals; staff dedicated to all the various policy issues a member of Congress must vote on; constituent services staff to help people who live in the member’s district; a scheduler to handle the flood of meeting requests and help the member manage the demands on their time; communications staff; and more. As Ocasio-Cortez noted, some of these staffers helping to run the country make around $30,000 in a district where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment goes for over $2,000 a month.

      Low staff salaries and limited staff budgets don’t just mean that we aren’t investing in the people who help ensure we have a well-functioning government — they also empower corporate lobbyists. The revolving door is the most familiar problem: Someone working for a deep-pocketed trade association (the sort of association that represents industries like banking or telecom, and spends time crafting proposed legislation, compiling research and lobbying Congress) can make multiple times what they’d make as a congressional staffer, especially if they have lots of connections, even though they’re doing the same work. However, the impact of low staff salaries goes beyond the temptation for a staffer barely making ends meet in a very expensive city to cash out. After all, businesses now spend more money lobbying Congress than taxpayers do for all congressional staff. Why? Because when congressional offices are overwhelmed or understaffed, corporate lobbyists and employees of trade associations are eager to fill in the gaps and provide free labor.

    • A Conman, a Liar, and a Rigged System

      The testimony will most probably be best remembered for Cohen referring to the President as a “conman” and a “racist”. These are not new claims to be sure. However, hearing them backed up with such rich ancedotes as Trump getting pleasure out of underpaying or not paying for services or questioning whether black people could successfully lead countries in private conversation, reinforces an image of him as morally corrupt and ethically despicable. It is all to easy to hear this testimony and conclude that our democracy has reached new lows – where ideals and governance have been replaced by political grandstanding and scandal.

      Predictably, Cohen’s statements have been met with very different responses by Democrats and Republicans. For Democrats, he is a former liar turned truth teller, a patriotic turncoat who is starting to expose Trump’s misdoings in detail. For Republicans he is not to be trusted – a greedy, selfish, ambitious, charlatan who will say anything for his fifteen minutes of fame and lucrative prospective book deal. Where one stands is less an indication of Cohen’s veracity and more a referendum on one’s own political positions.

      Yet this partisan battle ignores the deeper questions that Cohen’s testimony should raise for all of us. Namely, how did such a conman successfully come to power? What does this say about the state of our political and economic system? Quoting the famous American journalist H.L. Mencken “‘Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” We could add to this famous insight, that knowing what the people want and get is often the key to understanding the system that they are ruled by.

    • When We’re Dancing With The Angels

      The day-long testimony of Michael Cohen – “a loser with nothing to lose” who knows where the bodies are buried, and thus Trump’s worst nightmare – gave us the sordid if cleansing spectacle of “a liar, lout, thug, bully, scumbag, and admitted criminal (testifying) about his former client and our liar, lout, thug, bully, scumbag and criminal in chief.” Cohen, “a man trusted with the most unholy of unholies – the payouts, gag orders, and fetid details of his rotating stable of girlfriends, dalliances, hookups, and whatever the hell Trump and his pedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein had been up to,” is of course not a crass aberration, but “a perfect exemplar of Trump’s world: corrupt and corrupting, venal and vicious…the true picture of (Trump’s) ‘best people.’”

      Watching Cohen’s hang-dog, scathing appearance, where complicit Republicans were so frantic to trash him they failed to ask a single question about the mob boss at the center of it all, was like viewing a train wreck: It was both riveting – “He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.” – and, as House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) noted, deeply painful. In his stirring closing statement, Cummings urged lawmakers to work to “get back to this democracy that we want and that we should be passing on to our children.” “As a country, we are so much better than this,” he said with rising emotion. “When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?” Watch.

    • Americans Should Fear Trump Apathy

      Figuring out what is and is not an emergency in Donald Trump‘s America is far from straightforward.

      On February 15, in order to get funds to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, Trump declared a “national emergency”. And he did this even though the situation at the border is in no meaningful sense getting worse, let alone deteriorating rapidly enough to constitute an “emergency”. In fact, border crossings are actually declining, and as commentators across the ideological spectrum noted, Trump’s own words make clear that there is no “national emergency”.

      The efforts to prevent Trump from using this “national emergency” to build his border wall came quickly. Sixteen states sued in opposition. A majority of the House of Representatives is prepared to begin a process to reverse the declaration. Several Senate Republicans either oppose, or have expressed “concern” over Trump’s declaration, which is actually more intra-party opposition than normal under Trump. Progressive civil society organisations such as MoveOn assembled 277 events in 48 states with at least 50,000 attendees three days after the announcement.

      And a strong majority of the population – including Independents – oppose the declaration and deny there is an emergency, even as that opposition is not dramatic enough to faze an already deeply unpopular President Trump.

      From those indicators, one might think that there is neither an emergency at the border nor in American politics – a president is pursuing an unwarranted power grab and his efforts are being met with considerable resistance.

      And yet the sunny picture of effective opposition masks some clear warning signs for those who worry about Trump’s emergency declaration specifically and his assault on American democracy more generally.

      To start, while Congressional Democrats and presidential candidates have taken clear and definite stands against the announcement, the very normalcy of their reactions presents a marked contrast from the reaction to, for example, Trump’s “Muslim ban” in January of 2017. At that time, large crowds and elected Democrats protested at airports and at rallies that drew enormous crowds despite cold temperatures and little to no time for organising.

    • Push, Push, Push: How Movements Succeed

      There’s a sports cliche, often applied to political races, that devalues strong-but-losing contenders: “Close only counts in horseshoes,” they snort.

      For building a progressive movement, however, candidates, staffers and volunteers who lose a vote but run good campaigns — especially in tough political terrain — are, in fact, winners. Their campaigns attract new activists; develop the skills, talents and knowledge of all participants; increase support for particular issues and values; build political organizations and networks; and plant the seeds of change for the next campaign, either for the same candidates or for others who think, “Hey, with a few twists, maybe I could win.” In movement building, success requires constantly expanding the group.

      Bernie Sanders, for example, ran for office (and lost) four times before being elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981 (by only 10 votes!). But he didn’t get there by himself. Over the years, a steadily growing coalition organized around the wild-haired maverick and grew in numbers and governing abilities. When Bernie became mayor, the coalition was able to implement a range of landmark progressive policies. More voters equals more progress, which equals more trust, which equals more voters. Repeat.

      Big populist issues matter in movement building. Let’s take health care. If you have good insurance — as all corporate political and professional elites do — the quality of the U.S. health system is merely an intellectual issue. But if, like millions, your coverage is iffy to nonexistent, health care costs fall between a constant worry and a full-blown crisis. This glaring disparity cuts across all racial, ethnic, gender, religious and even partisan lines, so the demand for major reform unites a majority of voters. The candidates who did well last year did not offer vague proposals to “expand” Medicaid or “protect” Obamacare, but instead hammered a clarion call of “Medicare-for-All.”

    • News agency tied to Russia’s ‘troll factory’ says it was targeted in last November’s ‘failed’ cyberattack by the U.S. military

      Federal News Agency (FAN) — a media outlet that journalists have tied to catering tycoon Evgeny Prigozhin and his infamous “troll factory” in St. Petersburg — confirms that the U.S. military targeted its servers in a cyberattack.

      According to FAN, a cyberattack on November 5, 2018, disabled two of its internal office server’s four hard drives, and also erased the data stored on servers the publication leases in Sweden and Estonia. FAN says it remained online despite the outages, calling the cyberattack a “complete failure.”

    • Cuba Adopts a New Socialist Constitution

      On February 24, 2019, the Cuban people overwhelmingly adopted a new constitution, as 84.4% of resident citizens voted in the constitutional referendum, with 86.8 % voting “Yes,” 9% “No,” 2.5% blank ballots, and 1.6% annulled.

      Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Cuba has been striving to develop a socialist constitutional foundation. The evolving Cuban constitutionality includes: reformulations of liberal bourgeois concepts of political and civil rights, including the development of popular democracy; universal protection of social and economic rights; proclamation of the rights of nations to sovereignty and to control of their natural resources, in opposition to imperialism; and definition of the necessary role of the state in the protection of the rights of the people and the nation. Cuban socialist constitutionality has been developed on a foundation of extensive popular participation. And it has been developed with consciousness of its historic antecedents: The Constitution of Guáimaro of April 10, 1869, which created the Republic of Cuba in Arms; and the Constitution of 1940, an advanced and progressive constitution, not implemented by “democratic” governments and set aside by the Batista dictatorship.

      The revolutionary socialist constitutionality was announced on September 2, 1960, when the National General Assembly of the People of Cuba emitted the Declaration of Havana. It affirmed the right of peasants to the land and the rights of the people to a just wage, free education, and medical attention. And it declared full political, civil, and social rights for blacks, indigenous persons, and women. The National General Assembly of the People of Cuba was a mass meeting of one million, constituting 20% of the Cuban adult population. Along with the mass organizations of workers, peasants, students, women, and neighborhoods, the National General Assembly of the People was an early step in the development of “direct democracy.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Listen To CNN Correspondent’s McCarthyist Interview With Rania Khalek And Maffick Media’s Chief Operating Officer

      Facebook suspended the pages of In The Now, a Russia-backed project that produces videos that cover climate change, history, politics, and current events. They were led to censor content when CNN brought the pages to the social media company’s attention.

      [...]

      “We have made a policy of pointing out in advance our funding connection to the Russian government to every employee, freelancer, contractor, or otherwise with whom we work,” Sparks shared.

      “CNN continued to pursue a conspiratorial narrative, seeking, and finding support from NATO member-based think tank the German Marshall Fund, ironically financed through a consortium of public-private entities led by government-owned German banking giant KfW,” Maffick Media detailed in their press release.

      “None of The German Marshall Fund’s financial backers are displayed on their own Facebook page,” Maffick Media added. “Nevertheless, CNN’s Drew Griffin interviewed recent intern with the U.S. State Department in Moscow, Bret Schafer, who assured for the camera, ‘Oh, they’re definitely state-funded. I mean, you can pull the German registration data,’ conveniently restating facts of which CNN had already been informed in writing by Maffick themselves.”

      It all served to help CNN engineer the “false impression that there was potentially a sensational new Russian secret, perhaps even one Facebook should fear,” that required the company to take action.

      Shadowproof previously covered CNN’s report, which was published on February 15. What is crucial is even O’Sullivan, one of the reporters who worked on the story, said Maffick Media wasn’t “necessarily really hiding their Russian ties.”

      “If you were to start Googling these pages, you could quickly work it back to see,” O’Sullivan added during an interview for CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

    • No Indian movie to be released in Pakistan: information minister

      In the wake of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) violation of the Line of Control (LoC), Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said the Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association has “boycotted Indian content” and that no Indian movie is to “be released in Pakistan”.

      The information minister further said that he has “instructed Pemra (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) to act against made-in-India advertisements”.

    • Zambia: Kambwili in Cells for Hateful Language Against Foreigner

      Mr Kambwili was arrested for allegedly expressing hateful words against a foreigner believed to be of Indian origin.

    • We met to discuss BBFC’s voluntary age verification privacy scheme, but BBFC did not attend

      We invited all the AV providers we know about, and most importantly, the BBFC, at the start of February. BBFC are about to launch a voluntary privacy standard which some of the providers will sign up to. Unfortunately, BBFC have not committed to any public consultation about the scheme, relying instead on a commercial provider to draft the contents with providers, but without wider feedback from privacy experts and people who are concerned about users.

      We held the offices close to the BBFC’s offices in order that it would be convenient for them to send someone that might be able to discuss this with us. We have been asking for meetings with BBFC about the privacy issues in the new code since October 2018: but have not received any reply or acknowledgement of our requests, until this morning, when BBFC said they would be unable to attend today’s roundtable. This is very disappointing.

    • BBFC fails to explain its porn privacy scheme at meeting 300m from its office

      Following a roundtable meeting with Age Verification providers, the Open Rights Group (ORG) has demanded that the British Board for Film Classification (BBFC) meet with ORG to discuss their privacy scheme, which BBFC hope will protect some visitors to pornographic websites.

      Pornographic websites will soon have to verify the age of their website visitors, under the Digital Economy Act 2017. Late last year, BBFC added a voluntary privacy scheme to ensure that at least some of the age verification systems would be privacy protective. The Act, however, contains no powers which could make the scheme compulsory.

      BBFC have to date failed to explain if their Age Verification scheme will be consulted on publicly, and which company is being used to run the scheme.

      BBFC did not attend a roundtable with Age Verification providers and privacy experts organised by the Open Rights Group this morning, three hundred meters from BBFC’s offices.

    • New Russian bills on Internet speech may avoid automatically censoring users — as long as they censor themselves

      Two bills currently under consideration in Russia’s State Duma would introduce administrative penalties for those who share “unreliable information” or criticize the government online. The bills have already been approved after an initial reading and are expected to pass their second and third readings as well. On February 27, the chair of the Duma committee responsible for technology and communication bills, Leonid Levin, announced that new amendments were being added to both bills to give users the “right to make mistakes.”

    • Pissed Consumer Exposes New York Luxury Car Dealer’s Use Of Bogus Notarized Letters To Remove Critical Reviews

      In order to remove a review, the reviewer has to send a notarized letter retracting the review — one containing a sworn statement the review was inaccurate when it was posted. This helps prevent companies from impersonating users in order to remove their criticism.

      By spacing out these bogus letters, Luxsport went undetected for awhile, slowly cleaning up its review history at Pissed Consumer. But things changed last March. Another notarized letter arrived but was missing some of the required statements. Pissed Consumer spoke to the person who had written the review they now wanted removed… only to find out this person hadn’t sent a notarized letter.

      This happened again in October. Another review was removed with a notarized letter. Shortly thereafter, Pissed Consumer was contacted by the reviewer wondering why their review had been removed.

    • Wherein The Copia Institute, Engine, And Reddit Tell The DC Circuit That FOSTA Is Unconstitutional

      Ever since SESTA was a gleam in the Senate’s eye we’ve been warning about the harmful effects it stood to have on online speech. The law that was finally birthed, FOSTA, has lived up to its terrifying billing. So last year EFF and its partners brought a lawsuit on behalf of several plaintiffs – online speakers, platforms, or both – to challenge its constitutionality. Unfortunately, and strangely, the district court dismissed the Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al v. U.S. case for lack of standing. It reached this decision despite the chilling effects that had already been observed and thanks to a very narrow read of the law that found precision and clarity in FOSTA’s language where in reality there is none. The plaintiffs then appealed, and last week I filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Copia Institute, Engine, and Reddit in support of the appeal.

      The overarching point we made is that speech is chilled by fear. And FOSTA replaced the statutory protection platforms relied on to be able to confidently intermediate speech with the fear of it. Moreover, it didn’t just cause platforms to have only a little bit of fear of only a little bit of legal risk: thanks to the vague and overbroad terms of the statutory language it stoked fear of nearly unlimited scope. And not just a fear of civil liability but now also criminal liability and liability subject to the disparate statutory interpretations of every state authority.

    • Be Careful What You Wish For: Demanding Platforms Delete Disinformation May Make It Harder To Understand What Happened
    • Antitrust Enforcement Needs to Evolve for the 21st Century

      Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the creation of a new task force to monitor competition in technology markets. Given the inadequacies of federal antitrust enforcement over the past generation, we welcome the new task force and reiterate our suggestions for how regulators can better protect technology markets and consumers.

      Citing the 2002 creation of a task force that reinvigorated antitrust scrutiny of mergers, and ongoing hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection, FTC Chairman Joe Simons said, “[I]t makes sense for us to closely examine technology markets to ensure consumers benefit from free and fair competition.” Bureau Director Bruce Hoffman noted that “[t]echnology markets, which are rapidly evolving and touch so many other sectors of the economy, raise distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement.”

      We could not agree more.

      Unfortunately, antitrust enforcement in the U.S. has become strangled in an outmoded economic doctrine that fails to recognize the realities of today’s Internet. We recently submitted comments to the FTC explaining a few key ways to strengthen antitrust enforcement and enable it to better protect competition, the marketplace, and consumer welfare.

    • Informal Internet Censorship: Nominet domain suspensions

      In December 2009, Nominet began to receive and act on bulk law enforcement requests to suspend the use of certain .uk domains believed to be involved in criminal activity. [1] At the request of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Nominet subsequently consulted about creating a formal procedure to use when acceding to these requests and provide for appeals and other safeguards. [2] Nominet’s consultations failed to reach consensus, with many participants including ORG arguing for law enforcement to seek injunctions to seize or suspend domains, not least because it became apparent that the procedure would be widely used once available. [3]

      As with any system of content removal at volume, mistakes will be made. These pose potential damage to individuals and businesses.

      Nominet formalised their policy in 2014. [4] It can suspend any domain that it believes is being used for criminal activity; in practice this means any domain it is notified about by a UK law enforcement agency.

      A domain may be regarded as property or intellectual property. It can certainly represent an asset with tradeable value well beyond the cost of registration fees.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Microphones That May Be Hidden in Your Home

      The controversy around Google’s Nest home-security devices shows that consumers never really know what their personal technology is capable of.

    • TikTok Slapped With 5.7 Million Fine For Collecting Data From Children

      f you’re from the Indian subcontinent, there are strong chances that you must have heard about TikTok app, which was formerly known as Musical.ly. The app recently crossed 1 billion downloads on Google Play Store and App Store, out of which 250 million downloads are from India.

      A US-based industry self-regulatory group called Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) filed a complaint to FTC regarding TikTok’s data collection policies from users who are aged under 13. According to CARU, the app violates U.S. children’s privacy law by collecting the personal data of under age users without their parents’ consent.

    • Review of Secure, Privacy-Respecting Email Services

      I’ve been hosting my own email for several decades now. Even before I had access to a dedicated Internet link, I had email via dialup UUCP (and, before that, a FidoNet gateway).

      But self-hosting email is becoming increasingly difficult. The time required to maintain spam and virus filters, SPF/DKIM settings, etc. just grows. The importance of email also is increasing. Although my own email has been extremely reliable, it is still running on a single server somewhere and therefore I could stand to have a lot of trouble if it went down while I was unable to fix it

    • It’s Time for California to Guarantee “Privacy for All”

      Privacy is a right. It is past time for California to ensure that the companies using secretive practices to make money off of our personal information treat it that way.

      EFF has for years urged technology companies and legislators to do a better job at protecting the privacy of every person. We hoped the companies would realize the value meaningful privacy protections. Incidents such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal and countless others proved otherwise.

      Californians last year took an important step in the right direction, by enacting the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). But much work remains to be done. “Privacy for All,” a bill introduced today by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, builds on the CCPA’s foundation. It promises to give everyone the rights, knowledge, and power to reclaim their own privacy.

    • EFF Supporting California’s Privacy For All Bill, Which Puts People, Not Tech Companies, in Control of Personal Data

      he Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is standing with Californians demanding more control over their personal data by supporting the Privacy For All bill, which requires tech companies to get their permission to share and use private information.

      “All eyes are on California, which has taken the lead nationwide in passing a historic consumer privacy bill at a time when people across the country are outraged by the privacy abuses they read about every day,” said EFF Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon. “Privacy For All improves on the existing privacy law so that consumers can control who gets access to their data and how the data is being used.”

      Privacy For All was introduced in Sacramento today by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks and has the support of a broad coalition of 14 consumer advocacy groups, including the ACLU, Common Sense Kids Action, Consumer Federation of America, and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

    • Privacy, Mine: the Right of Individual Persons, Not of the Data

      We live in the age of surveillance marketing, where consumers’ privacy is being violated without their knowledge, consent or recourse. Data from and about consumers is collected en masse by ad-tech companies and traded for profit. But few consumers knew about it until things blow up like the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal. Most consumers think they are interacting with the sites they’re visiting or the apps (like Facebook) they’re using, but they aren’t aware of the dozens of hidden ad-tech trackers that siphon their data off to other places or the aggressive data collection and cross-device tracking of apps. Not only are they not aware, they also definitely did not give consent to third parties to use, buy and sell their data. They wouldn’t even know who ABCTechCompany was anyway if it asked for consent.

    • ‘We Are Here to Buy a Senator’: Ahead of Data Privacy Hearing, Digital Rights Defenders Target Lavish Telecom-Backed Fundraiser

      The group protested a “lavish” telecom industry-backed fundraiser—with tickets that reportedly cost up to $5,000—for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Sciences, and Transportation, ahead of a hearing about imposing federal data privacy protections.

      Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer expressed contempt for the fact that political action committees for AT&T and the trade group USTelecom scheduled the event to precede a Wednesday morning hearing on legislation “that could affect millions of people’s basic rights and safety.”

      “This type of corruption is seen as business as usual in Washington, D.C. but it’s shameful and it ought to be illegal,” she said.

      Gathered outside the pricey fundraiser at The Capital Grille on Tuesday, the digital rights defenders carried a big check from the “First Bank of Big Telecom” made out to Wicker, the committee chairman who has said he wants to impose federal privacy protections “without stifling innovation, investment, or competition.” Echoing a larger banner, the check’s memo line read, “We are here to buy one senator.”

    • EU Law Enforcement Preps To Start Sharing Sensitive Data With A Number Of Human Rights Abusers

      When someone starts talking about terrorism and national security, all rational thought goes out the window. The EU will share data with Egypt, which recently made the news for executing nine people who claimed their “confessions” were tortured out of them.

      Turkey isn’t much of an improvement, seeing how its government also likes to jail critics — going so far as to use other countries’ laws against foreigners to punish non-Turkish citizens for insulting the president.

      It’s hard to see how all of the data being shared is relevant to multi-national terrorism investigations. In fact, much of what would be shared seems more like blackmail material than evidence tying people to terrorist groups or acts. Why else would the EU include data about targets’ sex lives?

      In normal countries under normal circumstances, data about political and religious affiliations would be off limits, as would medical information and trade union memberships. This isn’t a case of creeping totalitarianism. This is full-blown enabling of existing totalitarian states, weaponizing the massive amount of data European law enforcement agencies collect on investigation targets.

    • Inside the biometrics of those post-Brexit blue passports

      In 2018, Gemalto was selected to make the new passports, in a £260 million contract that will run for 11-and-a-half years.

      The choice of a Franco-Dutch firm as the manufacturer ahead of a competing bid from British business De La Rue triggered accusations from the press and politicians that the government was being unpatriotic, despite the deal saving the public £10 million per year.

    • Facebook’s new privacy tool is a gamble that could backfire on its ad business

      Back in May 2018, as the Silicon Valley social networking giant battled with the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company was building a “clear history’ feature that would let users instruct the social network to delete its records of what websites it had visited and links it had clicked.

    • Facebook says it fired leaker for participating in conservative bias ‘stunt’

      The new report plays into longstanding conservative fears over bias on tech platforms, which have often been encouraged by President Trump. Those fears came to a head last year with a bizarre House Judiciary hearing on social media bias, which focused on Facebook’s alleged efforts to limit the network reach of the television personalities Diamond & Silk. In July, Twitter faced a similar panic over so-called “shadowbanning” of conservative accounts in the user search feature.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • This Film Tells the Real Story of the Green Book

      However, while the Oscars continue to stoke backlash towards regressive depictions of Jim Crow, a new documentary that premiered Monday evening on the Smithsonian Channel promises viewers a more accurate, beautiful, and terrible history of Victor Hugo Green’s Green Book. Blending archival footage with expert interviews, filmmaker and CUNY professor Yoruba Richen conjures both the freedom and terror black motorists felt driving across the United States in the mid-20th century.

    • Green Book Mapped Safe Route Through Era of Discrimination

      Scenes from the Oscar-nominated film Green Book depict post-World War II America as a land of wide prosperity, big cars, nation-spanning highways, and easy travel. But this was the Jim Crow era, before civil rights reforms, and discriminatory laws of the time made it challenging, even dangerous, for black motorists to move around the country. They simply weren’t welcome in most restaurants, hotels or other businesses.

      So, enterprising New York City mail carrier Victor Green began publishing a travel guide, listing businesses where black motorists were welcome. He called it The Negro Motorist Green Book. It was published annually, from 1936 until 1966. At first just listing restaurants, lodgings, night clubs, grocery stores and gas stations in the New York area, it gradually expanded to include as many as 10,000 sites in nearly every U.S. state and parts of Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.

    • Bethel Church’s Asylum Service Ends After 97 Day Marathon

      It’s unclear who originated the idea, but ultimately Bethel Church began to protect the Tamrazyans through an obscure Dutch law that prohibits police from interfering with an in-progress church service to make an arrest. Bethel Church recognized an opportunity, whereby on October 26th, 2018, Bethel’s pastors began to preach, and preach. Then preach even more.

    • From Badawi to Khashoggi: Freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia

      In the years following his arrest, Haidar fled to Canada with their three children. Since then, she has been meeting with world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking them to push for his release. Her efforts have cemented Badawi’s image and the story of their family’s plight as a symbol of how Saudi Arabia oppresses its people and criminalizes all forms of expression and dissent.”It’s not fair that our father is in prison. He hasn’t killed anybody. He just created a blog,” said one of Badawi’s children in an online video that has garnered almost 800,000 views. Unfortunately, there has been little news on his current condition.

    • Town says it’s ‘taken action’ after marshal’s encounter with young journalist

      The Town of Patagonia says it has taken unspecified action after Marshal Joseph Patterson was video-recorded telling a pre-teen journalist that it was against the law for her to put his image on the internet during an interaction in which he also allegedly threatened to have the girl arrested and jailed.

      The video by Hilde Kate Lysiak, reporter/publisher of the website Orange Street News, was reportedly recorded at around 1:30 p.m. Monday while she was biking down Roadrunner Lane in Patagonia in pursuit of a news tip. In a story posted to the site, Lysiak wrote that Patterson stopped her and asked for ID, and she identified herself as a member of the media.

    • It’s Time to Make Sure Our Kids Are No Longer Bound, Shackled, or Locked Away When They’re at School

      Congress is finally holding a hearing on the use of restraints and seclusion in our schools.
      In 1998, teachers in West Virginia strapped a 4-year-old autistic girl with cerebral palsy to a wooden chair. Why? She was being “uncooperative” because she needed to use the bathroom. The girl suffered bruises and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

      In 2003, school officials in Michigan held a 15-year-old autistic boy in a face-down restraint for an hour after he had a seizure and lost control of his extremities. He died without receiving medical attention.

      These are just two of many barbaric stories from a 2009 Government Accountability Office report on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. “Restraint” involves using physical, mechanical, or chemical means to restrict a child’s ability to move their arms, legs, head, or body; and “seclusion” is the involuntarily confining of a child alone.

      In collecting hundreds of stories, the GAO report found that children with disabilities were most likely to face abusive or even fatal use of restraint and seclusion. Moreover, it found that there were no federal laws or regulations restricting the use of seclusion and restraints in public and private schools as well as widely divergent state laws. Similar reports from the National Disability Rights Network highlighted the harms of restraint and seclusion and urged the federal government and Congress to take action.

    • ‘Fearless’ Progressive Jumaane Williams Elected NYC’s Public Advocate

      Jumaane Williams, a progressive activist, is New York City’s public advocate-elect.

      Williams, a city councilman from Brooklyn, won election as advocate with a plurality of votes on Tuesday, defeating 16 other candidates that included progressive journalist and activist Nomiki Konst and Queens councilman Eric Ulrich. Ulrich was the second place finisher, with 19 percent to Williams’s 33 percent.

      As advocate, Williams will have control over the office’s $3.5 million budget and the power to hold public hearings. Williams will be the only person of color in the top of city government—Mayor Bill De Blasio, acting public advocate Corey Johnson, and comptroller Scott M. Stringer are white men.

      The role of public advocate is seen as a stepping stone on the way to higher state office and the advocate replaces the mayor temporarily if the mayor leaves office early. De Blasio himself made the jump in 2013.

    • dream hampton on Making “Surviving R. Kelly” & the Grassroots Activists That Helped Bring Him Down

      R. Kelly was released from jail in Chicago on Monday, three days after he was arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. The charges involve four women and girls, three of whom were under the age of 17 at the time of the alleged crimes. A judge set bail at a million dollars and forced the singer to surrender his passport. Almost immediately after he posted bond and pleaded not guilty on Monday, Kelly was spotted at a McDonald’s in downtown Chicago—a spot his accusers say he used to frequent to prey on young girls. Kelly has been accused of abuse, predatory behavior and pedophilia throughout his career but has avoided criminal conviction despite damning evidence and multiple witnesses. Last month, the explosive documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” thrust the case back into the spotlight. We speak with the documentary’s executive producer, dream hampton.

    • At Least 4,500 Abuse Complaints at Migrant Children Shelters

      Thousands of accusations of sexual abuse and harassment of migrant children in government-funded shelters were made over the past four years, including scores directed against adult staff members, according to federal data released Tuesday.

      The cases include allegations of inappropriate touching to staff members allegedly watching minors while they bathed and showing pornographic videos to minors. Some of the allegations included inappropriate conduct by minors in shelters against other minors, as well as by staff members.

      Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., released the Health and Human Services Department data amid a hearing on the Trump administration’s policy of family separations at the border. The data span both the Obama and Trump administrations, and were first reported by Axios.

      From October 2014 to July 2018, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a part of Health and Human Services, received 4,556 complaints, including allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and inappropriate behavior. Of those, the Justice Department received 1,303 more serious sex abuse complaints, including 178 allegations of sexual abuse by adult staff, officials said.

    • Cohen Hearing Shows How Trump’s Presidency Is Built on Racism

      Michael Cohen’s explosive testimony Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee illuminated multiple issues. Many themes emerged during the hours-long public hearing on Capitol Hill featuring President Donald Trump’s former attorney, including cronyism, bribery, corruption, deception, greed and crime. But one of the enduring themes was racism—Trump’s racism in particular, and by extension, that of his colleagues in continuing to defend and protect him.

      Early in his opening remarks, Cohen said about the president, “He is a racist.” Later, he gave more detail, saying, “The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘shitholes.’ ” Giving actual examples of his personal interactions with Trump, Cohen explained, “In private, he is even worse. He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States.” He then gave a second example: “While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.”

      None of this is surprising to honest observers of the Trump presidency. Trump used discriminatory practices to build his real estate career. He took great pleasure for years in perpetuating the racist notion that President Obama was not a natural-born citizen. He jumped on the racist fears of a resentful white minority to scrape together an election win and then proceeded to feed the insatiable mob relentlessly with dehumanizing policies and rhetoric aimed at communities of color.

      So Cohen’s assertions of Trump’s racism were hardly shocking. They are perfectly consistent with many things the president has said and done prior to the election and during his presidency. But the Republican Party was having none of it. During Wednesday’s hearings, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) revealed a surprise guest—a black woman named Lynne Patton, who works at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and who is a friend of the Trump family.

      Meadows, whose aim was apparently to display Ms. Patton as a prop to undermine claims of Trump’s racism, said to Cohen, “You made some very demeaning comments about the president that Ms. Patton doesn’t agree with. In fact, it has to do with your claim of racism.” He added that, “As a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, [according to Patton] there is no way that she would work for an individual who was racist.” When asked, “How do you reconcile the two of those?” Cohen shot back, “As neither should I, as the son of a Holocaust survivor.”

    • Russian officials seize six children whose father says he’s being persecuted because he believes the USSR never collapsed

      Last September, Karelia’s Supreme Court took away the Kiselyovs’ children, after officials concluded that the married couple failed to provide adequate education and living conditions. Over the past several years, the family has been cited a dozen times for different violations. In response to the ruling, the Kiselyovs resorted to “evacuation.” The court then issued an arrest warrant for Lydia Kiselyova, who managed to evade the authorities until mid-January with her five children in tow. On January 17, police finally tracked her down in Moscow, where they pulled her off a bus and seized all the children, whose ages range from four to thirteen. They haven’t spoken to either of their parents since. Anatoly Kiselyov, Lydia’s husband and an activist with the “Union SSR” trade union, says he’s certain the loss of his children is punishment from the local authorities for his controversial political views.

    • California AG Says Journalist Broke The Law By Obtaining A List Of Convicted Officers Via A Public Records Request

      The UC Berkeley journalists asked for police misconduct documents from the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training — taking advantage of the state’s new law that opens access to these long-hidden files — and ended up with the entire list of law enforcement officers who have been convicted of crimes.

      This list of names is very definitely of public interest. The journalists are vetting the list to ensure they haven’t misidentified any of the 12,000 officers on the list and have not published it in full. Still, they’re being told by the man at the top of the law enforcement food chain they’ve broken the law simply by taking possession of a document handed to them by a state agency. He has ordered the documents destroyed. Good luck with enforcing that. If anything, AG Becerra’s incursions on the First Amendment will help ensure the information is published once it’s been vetted.

    • Police Investigating Themselves Leads to Predictable Results

      A deeper look at how police influence investigations into in-custody deaths, and what activists are trying to do to reform it. A discussion between Jacqueline Luqman, Stephen Janis, and Taya Graham

    • FBI, DA’s Office Open Investigation Of Fatal Houston PD Drug Raid

      The Houston Police Department has a huge problem. A recent no-knock drug raid ended with two “suspects” killed and four officers wounded. The PD says no-knock entrances are safer for officers, not that you’d draw that conclusion from this raid.

      The problem the PD has is its drug warriors are dirty. The raid was predicated on a tip from a confidential informant who doesn’t appear to exist. The warrant contained sworn statements about a heroin purchase that never happened and a large quantity of heroin packaged for sale that was not among the things seized from the dead couple’s residence. The heroin central to the raid appears to have been taken from the console of an officer’s squad car and run to the lab for some very unnecessary testing.

      Houston police officer Gerald Goines is the person behind this completely avoidable chain of events. After initially backing his officers, Police Chief Art Acevedo has reversed course in the face of contrary evidence he’s unable to ignore. His initial defense of officers who participated in a drug raid that only turned up personal use amounts of cocaine and marijuana was perhaps understandable, given his position. But it went against the image he’d made for himself as a reformer — someone who would clean up the department and repair its reputation.

      A leaked recording of Acevedo speaking to officers after the killing of an unarmed, mentally ill man seemed to make it clear there was zero tolerance for the usual cop bullshit. Acevedo criticized his officers for needlessly escalating interactions, bullying citizens for failing to show the respect officers feel is owed to them, and teaming up on post-incident paperwork to ensure most bad deeds went unpunished.

    • Torture Fans and War Criminals Determine US Foreign Policy

      Under normal circumstances, I would describe what I am experiencing as a “crisis of confidence” regarding the sudden eruption of serious foreign policy challenges facing the White House. Unfortunately, “normal circumstances” swelled up and died like a suicidal puffer fish more than two years ago. The U.S.’s current foreign policy varsity squad is comprised of torture advocate Mike Pompeo, the notoriously wrong John Bolton, his war criminal sidekick Elliott Abrams, the vacancy known as Mike Pence and, of course, Man Who Knows Everything He Will Ever Know Which Isn’t Much, Donald Trump.

      One must have at least a degree of confidence for a crisis to exist, or else it’s like trying to grow radishes on a runway. I have no confidence whatsoever in these men. Crisis? I think I’m just terrified. For all his serial horrors, Trump is well behind George W. Bush when it comes to racking up an international body count. A series of events have piled up in recent weeks, however, that could provide him an opportunity to catch up with dazzling speed.

      We begin in Vietnam, graveyard to millions murdered in what was the gold standard for illegal U.S. wars before the Bush family began and then escalated a 28-year-long killing spree in Iraq. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are meeting there this week to discuss nuclear disarmament and other matters, and a number of factors will be in play.

      The primary factor, of course, is Trump himself. It is hailing bricks at the White House right now, and the president is starved for the kind of fawning headlines he believes are his due. This desire could easily influence the sort of deal he may strike. A September summit between North and South Korea produced meaningful progress toward ending hostilities on the peninsula. Trump could bolster that progress or blow it all to pieces, depending on his mood. That mood is likely to be affected by today’s public testimony before Congress by former Trump attorney and bagman, Michael Cohen. This is not a comforting thought.

    • The Constitution Will Not Save Us From Trump’s “Emergency”

      Following President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to reallocate money for a border wall that Congress has refused to fund, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Republicans that “a Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well.” She suggested that a future Democratic president could enact gun control initiatives by calling a national emergency over gun violence. Other Democrats, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar, have floated similar ideas about climate change. “So, the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans,” Pelosi cautioned, a sentiment since repeated by those of various political leanings.

      Republicans are not heeding the warning. Despite a few dissenting voices and much performative handwringing, most Republicans are falling in line behind the president. Though initially discouraging the president from issuing the decree, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now supports the move as well.

      This is no political miscalculation on their part. Congressional Republicans would not happily support the president’s usurpation of constitutional powers reserved for Congress were it not in their own interest. They understand the political calculus at play. While Pelosi is correct that future Democratic presidents can declare emergencies, the implication that they could just as easily bypass Congress isn’t true.

    • At the Southern Border, an Escape Room With No Exit

      In Tijuana, there are the refugees themselves, who come from such far-flung countries as Yemen, Ethiopia, Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras, and who live in camps all over the city, places that bloom with hope and wither in despair, camps that exist one day and then vanish the next.

      This backdrop of humanity supports a bewildering array of refugee ecosystems. There are well-meaning volunteer organizations, and there are impenetrable state-run services. There is an underground network of “coyotes” to help refugees jump border fences, and there are aloof, nongovernmental organization workers with infuriating savior complexes. There are local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that create on-the-spot rules that contradict the directive given the day prior, and there are anti-immigrant groups within Mexico itself. There is aggressive suppression of journalists, and there is infighting among migrant factions.

    • Congress’s Cowardly “Emergency” Rebuke

      The fake “emergency” in question powers US president Donald Trump’s plan to divert money appropriated for other purposes to his pet “border wall” project (he used to swear up and down he’d find a way to make Mexico pay for the wall, but those days are clearly over).

      The resolution’s chances of passage by the US Senate are not quite as good, but the possibility exists.

      After which, there are the absolute certainties that first, Trump will veto the resolution and second, neither house of Congress will be able to drum up the votes needed to override that veto.

      Most news accounts mention that last part, but emphasize the notion that this Joint Resolution constitutes a damaging “rebuke” to the president.

      In fact, it’s just a cowardly way for Congress to avoid doing what it should do by pretending that it did “something,” then go back to business as usual while Trump proceeds merrily on his wall-obsessed way.

    • Keith Tharpe and the Death Penalty’s Racist Roots

      Recently, the appalling spectacle of a black man condemned by a Georgia jury, a jury that included a racist bigot, reentered the American consciousness; if you haven’t heard about this travesty of justice (yet), or, if you’ve forgotten its details, all you need to know about the Keith Tharpe case is: a now-deceased juror who sentenced Tharpe to death swore in an affidavit Tharpe was a “ni**er,” and further, “after studying the Bible,” he “wondered if black people even have souls.” Spared execution over these facts by a last-minute stay in September 2017, Tharpe’s case is, once again, back before the United States Supreme Court; the Court can grant a writ of certiorari, to consider the merits of Tharpe’s claim of racial bias, or, not.

      Predictably, opinion pieces urging the Justices to again intervene in Tharpe’s case – to call off this deplorable 21st-century-style lynching – have emerged from diverse corners, including: in a piece in Newsweek by conservative Republican attorney from Georgia, David Burge; from three bishops writing collectively in the Atlantic (urging, “The U.S. Supreme Court must intervene in [Tharpe’s] case to ensure that fairness is protected and justice is defended – before it’s too late. To do nothing would be tragic not only for Tharpe, but our collective dignity.”); the Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund; and, finally, at least in the current news cycle, Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy, who, in an olfactory-informed oped for the New York Times, argued Tharpe’s death sentence is hopelessly infected by “the stench of prejudice, not just a whiff.”

      This chorus of conscientious calls for the Supreme Court to act on Tharpe’s case – to prevent what retired Justice Anthony Kennedy termed in 2008 a “sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint” – is compelling. But, what’s equally important for all “woke” Americans to recognize about the Tharpe case, a fact I alluded to when writing about another death penalty case tainted by race: unacceptable racial bias is at the root of capital punishment; it is an ignominious bloody stain running deep, with terribly tragic results, in the frayed fabric of our country. Indeed, the history of the death penalty in America is hewn from the hell of slavery, subjugation and the suffering of black people.

    • The Battle Against the Racist in Chief Wages On

      Many dared hope, after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, that the United States could someday enter a “post-racial” era. The election eight years later of Donald Trump to the same office demonstrated, sadly, that the scourge of racism is alive and well in America. Trump’s profound racism was described by his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, when he testified before Congress Wednesday. Any attempt to heal the deep wounds of racism that scar this country must include a direct challenge to Donald Trump, our racist in chief.

      “I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat,” Michael Cohen said early in his statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. He elaborated: “The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘s***holes.’ In private, he is even worse. He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘s***hole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States.”

      Cohen continued: “While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”

    • California rapper killed in car was shot by police about 25 times, lawyer says

      A young California man fatally shot by police after they found him unresponsive in his car with a gun in his lap was hit about 25 times — with bullets striking the center of his face and throat and blowing off part of his ear, a lawyer for his family said.

    • Policing Islamic schools to secure the state

      A security source, who asked not to be named, said the school had a history of providing accommodation to southern insurgents and the training programme it offered to the students was actually unarmed combat training. It is not clear what was offered in this case to the students who were deported.

    • Rage and puzzlement over Muslim woman in hijab chosen for Swedish municipality’s welcome sign

      The Al-rashideen mosque and its imam, Abu Raad, were involved in a scandal a few years ago, after the leading local newspaper Gefle Dagblad accused him of spreading radical Salafist ideas and collecting money for terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

      The editor-in-chef received death threats over the criticism. The man who issued the threats was sentenced to two months in jail.

      It was not immediately clear whether Hindi is still associated with the mosque.

      Gavle itself was the scene of a national scandal in Sweden two years ago, when six people were tried for the abduction and murder of 23-year-old Afghan man Ramin Sherzaj over an extramarital affair. Five received life sentences for the crime, while one got a 14-year jail term.

    • Sweden Prosecuting Pensioners, Welcoming ISIS [Ed: The far right portrays Swedish authorities as "pro-ISIS" as if merely not being racist or being against racism is the same as supporting ISIS]

      Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, Swedes only feel more and more insecure in their own country. Four out of 10 women are afraid to walk outside freely, according to the new National Safety Report, published by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande Rådet or Brå).

    • Swedish journalist shares film of cars on fire, claims Muslim extremism
    • School reforms and Islamisation letting Turkish children down

      Instead, teachers are forced to stick to syllabi that have become increasingly politicised. School textbooks have been found to contain sexist, nationalistic and religious material, said Yılancı. At the same time, the AKP’s conservative religious roots have had a great impact on the teaching of science: biology classes, which are now limited to two hours per week, have not included teaching the theory of evolution since 2017.

      While students are asking for English language and media literacy lessons as electives, teachers said the system was pushing them towards religious classes instead.

    • To Improve Migrant Integration: Germans Plan To Drop English For Turkish In Schools

      Keltek said: “Lots of children speak Turkish, Russian or Polish, for example. For many German children, it would be simpler if they learned these languages.”

    • How far will Pope Francis go in rooting out sexual abuse?

      As the scandal has spread across the world since the 1990s, the focus has shifted from the conduct of individual priests to the role of their superiors in ignoring or covering up their behaviour. Francis has reacted defensively. In 2016 he shelved a plan to create a special tribunal to try bishops accused of failing to take action against abuse. And last year he leapt to the defence of a Chilean bishop accused of hiding abuse, saying he was a victim of “calumny”—before regretting those words.

    • Detroit imam: ‘Jews killed prophets, amassed gold, headed brothels in Europe’

      Al-Sheraa is a graduate of the Najaf Hawza in Iraq. He emigrated to the United States and serves as the imam of the Al-Zahraa Islamic Center of Michigan. He also founded the Scholarly Najaf Hawza in Northern America–Michigan.

      Following are excerpts:

    • Islamic scholar says fighting Jews in Israel is a religious mandate

      The interview, which was aired on February 3rd and posted on YouTube with English translation by Middle East Media Research Institute earlier this week, shows Al-Farra telling the interviewee that, “When the time Allah gave runs out, fighting them will become mandatory” – and that time is now.
      “This applies to plundering the Jews who drove out our fathers and forefathers,” he said. “Kill the polytheists wherever you may find them.”

    • LGBT Magazine Calls Trump ‘Racist’ For Telling Iran to Stop Killing and Jailing Gays

      Out Magazine, a pro-LGBT news publication that doubles as a gay advocacy platform, actually published a piece Wednesday claiming that it’s – stay with me here – “racist” for the Trump administration to pressure nations like Iran to decriminalize homosexuality.

      I’ll restate, for the record: an openly pro-gay magazine is calling Donald Trump racist for trying to get regimes that jail and kill people for being gay to stop jailing and killing people for being gay.

    • Is the Future of ISIS Female?

      And if by some measures, the rise of women as combatants represents a significant shift in a group notorious for its strict gender roles and misogyny — in the caliphate, men were supposed to fight, while women were supposed to stay home and raise as many children as possible — by other measures, the change is not as startling as it seems. The women once married to Islamic State militants who are now seeking to return to the West may claim to have simply been housewives, but from the beginnings of the group, some women were more radical than their husbands. One former fighter from Dagestan told me he knew of women insisting that their husband or sons join the terrorist group. He also knew of women who did not want to marry anyone other than front-line fighters because “they wanted to be a true mujahedeen family.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Uses Cherry-Picked Stats To Justify Giving Consumers A Giant Middle Finger

      One of the fundamental cornerstones of disinformation and propaganda is repetition. As in, if you state something often enough, the idea gets lodged in the recipient’s head and becomes truth by an act of sheer force and repetition. It’s called the “illusory truth effect,” and it’s been essential across most of the Trump administration as it attempts to convince the public that up is down, and black is white. Its been absolutely essential at the Trump FCC, where the agency has worked tirelessly to convince the nation’s gullible that kissing the ass of the biggest telecom operators is intelligent policy.

      You’ll of course recall that one of the FCC’s key justifications for killing consumer protections like net neutrality is that the relatively modest rules stifled industry investment. Objective data from a litany of different sources has confirmed that’s simply not true, including SEC filings, earnings reports, and the statements of countless industry CEOs. That hasn’t stopped Ajit Pai, major telecom providers, or the litany of dollar-per-hollar consultants and think tankers employed to create the illusion of widespread support for sucking up to the nation’s entrenched broadband monopolies.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Hikma Case Set for Supreme Court Consideration

      Although Hickma does a good job of nit-picking, the underlying reality is important — the Federal Circuit’s decision in Vanda is not easily reconciled with its Ariosa decision or the Supreme Court’s decision in Mayo v. Prometheus. And, the Federal Circuit and USPTO have effectively green-lighted patents on methods of treatment that would be ineligible if recharacterized as methods of diagnosis or creating a treatment plan.

    • Copyrights

      • Court Refuses To Allow Defendant In Copyright Trolling Case To Proceed, But Hints At Reform

        Over the course of the last year or so, coverage of copyright trolling stories turned up a common movie multiple times. That film was The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and the outfits contracted to push for fees via settlement letters were both prolific and devious in trying to manipulate the settlement offer amounts to achieve the highest conversion rates. Whatever the level of intelligence that goes into these operations, however, there will almost always be a misfire, with a wrong target picked in the wrong court in such a way that makes the troll look like, well, a troll.

        Such appears to be the case when Bodyguard Productions went after Ernesto Mendoza in court, claiming that he downloaded the film via bittorrent. The problem with the case is that Mendoza is both very, very insistent on his innocence and also manages to cast about as sympathetic a figure as one might be able to find. Mendoza is in his 70s and has end-stage cancer. When Bodyguard Productions attempted to voluntarily dismiss the case when it became clear that Mendoza wasn’t going to settle, he tried to push the court to force the case to go forward so that he could recover his legal expenses. Sadly, the court refused.

      • Dance dance dance: another episode in the Fortnite saga

        The US Copyright Office is reported in the NY Times (here) to have stated that the “Carlton dance” as popularised by the actor Alfonso Ribeiro, could not be copyrighted on the basis that it was “too simple”. Ribeiro was attempting to gain copyright in the dance move in parallel with the ongoing litigation against Epic Games.

        Readers will be well aware of the legal proceedings and the various issues covered in previous posts (here and here). This Kat thought that the recent news would be a purrfect opportunity to moonwalk readers through how the situation may have differed for Ribeiro if the “Carlton dance” had been subject to UK copyright.

      • Spotify Now Available in India, Apps Show Up on App Store, Google Play

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Will Waste No Time on Section 101. It Will, However, Waste Its Time on Obvious Patent Trolls.

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The future looks bright for software development in the US because software patents have perished

The green shirt

Summary: A roundup of American patent affairs; in short, nothing is really changing on the patent (scope) front and that’s a positive thing

THINGS are in general going well outside the chaotic EPO where António Campinos openly promotes software patents in Europe. Things improve in the sense that much of the world — including the US, Australia and Canada — are leaving software patents behind. They recognise that only lawyers and trolls want such patents; software developers strongly reject if not abhor such patents.

Deplorable patent lawyers from north America will never rest. They will never give up. Bereskin & Parr LLP’s Cameron Gale, for instance, has just willfully given bad advice to businesses in spite of knowing software patents are worthless; these people even blast the law itself (or the policy of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)). Pure greed. But we have gotten accustomed to that. As it turns out, based on LWN’s article “Patent exhaustion and open source” (it was freed from the paywall on Thursday morning, or about 10 hours ago), lawyers have even entered Free/Open Source software events. This one is about Lindberg and it mentions Alice:

A patent is a limited legal monopoly granted to protect an invention, giving the holder the right to exclude others from using, making, selling, and importing the invention (including things that embody the invention) for a fixed period of time. Much has been said and written over the years about the extension of patents to cover ideas that are expressed in software, but software patents are definitely with us at the moment.

There are, however, a number of limitations on the rights that a patent grants. One of these is patent exhaustion, which protects the ability of those lawfully in possession of goods embodying patents to use, sell, or import those goods without interference from the patent holder. Exhaustion prevents the patent holder from profiting more than once from the sale of any particular item; in Lindberg’s words, as soon as the patent holder puts something “into the stream of commerce”, the patent rights are exhausted. If Alice holds a patent for an invention embodied in a widget, and she sells a widget to Bob, then Bob is protected against accusations of patent infringement because he acquired the widget from the patent holder. If Bob sells his widget to Carol, she is similarly protected; not because she has licensed the patent from Alice, but because Alice’s patent interest in that widget was exhausted by that first sale to Bob.

[...]

We in the free software world have repositories, distributions, and mirrors; copies of source code are hosted by companies willy-nilly. Suppose that some company had mirrored a copy of a Linux distribution, with its thousands of constituent programs, each of which might embody one or more patents. Then that same company, because it is an authorized licensee for such of those patents as the company itself either held or had a right to use (by virtue of being in one or more patent pools or cross-licensing arrangements), would have exhausted those patent rights with respect to that software. Lindberg did add a caveat, however: courts frequently try to avoid surprising outcomes, therefore a court might follow the argument but decide not to allow it anyway.

At this point, Lindberg reminded attendees that Microsoft bought GitHub. After a short pause, the entire room, with a large proportion of lawyers in the audience, giggled, a sound that can only be described as chilling, then applauded. He then went further and proposed an N-way merge across copies of code bases sanitized by different distributors with respect to their different patent portfolios, to create code bases that are exhausted with respect to all patents that all those various distributors are authorized to use.

That Microsoft part is neither funny nor worthy of the applause. It is a real problem because Microsoft has weaponised patent trolls in order to sell Azure surveillance and entrapment. Maybe one day it will use the same tactics to push all code — private code too — into GitHub (for a fee).

While it seems unlikely that Alice is going away (any time soon), it’s worth keeping vigilant. The CCIA‘s Joshua Landau wrote on Twitter [1, 2] about Iancu’s attitude towards patent trolls and Alice: “This quote is a problem. American *patents* don’t treat anyone; progress does. Might need patents to make that progress, but as @PatentScholar, @colleen_chien, etc., argue, we don’t know for sure. Iancu could pursue the policy experiments to prove it. Not his priority. [...] The quote is symbolic of the misconception held by far too many – apparently including the @uspto director – that patents have inherent value, as opposed to being an instrument to drive progress and only being valuable insofar as they do so.”

“It is a real problem because Microsoft has weaponised patent trolls in order to sell Azure surveillance and entrapment.”Iancu is disgracing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by deliberately ignoring caselaw and granting patents he knows to be fake (like the President who gave him this job after his private firm had worked for him). Iancu is a symptom of the political meltdown and corruption under Trump. Decline in US patent quality has had the expected effect on litigation and application. Both are down, the former very sharply. It’s good news to everybody but lawyers (remember where Iancu came from).

Seeing that there’s no recourse, the lawyers have reverted to more action in Congress. Clueless Coons continues with his zombie legislation (two years in the making already [1, 2], still going nowhere in this fight against 35 U.S.C. § 101). It’s a bill that will never pass because technology companies have more power than the litigation industry. Here is what the litigation industry’s section of Bloomberg wrote some days ago:

House and Senate lawmakers are ramping up efforts to rewrite the definition of patent eligibility, in a bid to create greater legal certainty around patents held by pharmaceutical, life sciences and technology companies.

Lawmakers are quietly meeting with company and trade group representatives to ask for suggestions on how to rewrite Section 101 of federal patent law, which defines what inventions may be patented. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a series of decisions on patent eligibility that practitioners say have left the law poorly defined. Companies are uncertain about what inventions are patentable, and which granted patents can survive challenges.

“There have been a few Supreme Court rulings that have affected the ability of the patent office to know with certainty what is patentable, particularly in the realm of medical diagnostics and computer software, and these are areas of great growth,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), the new chairman of the House Judiciary’s intellectual property subcommittee, told Bloomberg Law.

This “Bloomberg Law” thing is just a litigation lobby in “news” clothing; we wrote about it before. We’re not surprised that they try to give rather than clip wings of this zombie legislation, which can be safely ignored for now (there are more such bills and they too have vanished).

“The person in question is an Internet troll, not just a patent troll.”It is also not surpising that patent maximalists like Dennis Crouch have not gotten tired of trying to push Section 101 questions into SCOTUS. Seeing that all these abstract patents are finished (good for nothing but putting in a frame and hanging on the wall like a trophy), they urge patent maximalists to give persuasive input and compel Justices to reevaluate the
Federal Circuit‘s stance.

It truly bothers these patent maximalists that not only courts throw out software patents (we have just seen several new outcomes to that effect and added these to our daily links because we no longer cover American patent cases); Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) have the same effect at a much broader scale (thousands of patents). Get used to it.

Speaking of SCOTUS, mind last night’s article about an upcoming case. Authored by Mike Masnick, it deals with two topics that TechDirt likes to cover: patents and attacks on free speech. “Calling a company a patent troll is not defamatory,” Masnick asserted. Here’s the introduction:

Over the years, there have been a few attempts — usually by companies that most of us would call patent trolls — to argue that calling a company a patent troll is defamatory. These arguments rarely get very far, because they completely misunderstand how defamation works. However, a company with some questionable patents around bank ATMs, called ATL, tried a few years back to sue a bunch of its critics over the “patent troll” name. Thankfully, the local court in New Hampshire correctly noted that calling someone a patent troll is protected speech under the First Amendment and is not defamatory.

The person in question is an Internet troll, not just a patent troll. He has been trolling me in Twitter even though I ignored him. A long time ago I came to consider that person to be borderline insane or a stalker and I was rather shocked to learn that the Supreme Court will give him even a minute of its time. Who next in SCOTUS? David Ike?

The Latest Brexit Developments Add Another Nail (Among Many) to the Unified Patent Court’s (UPC) Coffin

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unitary collapse; even the “Law Society” knows it by now; eDossier officially dies tomorrow

The Law Society Gazette

Summary: The Law Society one among many who have virtually given up on the Unitary Patent, knowing that Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) ratification is unlikely and Britain’s limbo prevents any further progress anyway; it means that national patent courts will continue rejecting a lot of European Patents, whose quality has declined considerably

TECHRIGHTS has never been about (pure) politics but rather about more technical things, including patents. Hence the focus on the EPO and USPTO along with legal cases. We’re not planning to write about pro- and anti-Brexit (there are lots of blogs out there which already cover it), but considering what happened over the past few days if not weeks it looks even more likely that UPC will never become a reality. The silence from Team UPC further reinforces this. They would be shouting from rooftops otherwise (but they don’t). Battistelli’s plan for the Office and for Europe goes down in flames.

“The silence from Team UPC further reinforces this.”Yesterday at IP Kat the Litigation ‘Society’ (“Law Society”) had its position outlined (“Law Society’s guidance on IP and No-Deal Brexit”); it’s just lobbying for more litigation and legal bills, as one might expect from a front group of law firms. But surprisingly enough UPC is not even mentioned. Their publications kept lobbying for the UPC under the guise of “news” (in the “Law Gazette”, which is really just “The Law Society Gazette”). Have they given up like IAM did? It is quite noteworthy that the EPO never mentions the UPC anymore (António Campinos has not uttered these words in many months), IAM isn’t covering the subject, JUVE covers it only on rare occasions (maybe once a month, echoing Team UPC) and the Law Society — unlike Team UPC — isn’t even listing it anymore.

Meanwhile at IAM, which has sunk in its ratings, there’s this self-promotional piece from Carpmaels & Ransford LLP (hence no paywall) that speaks of double patenting (we covered it some days ago). To quote:

For the first time, questions have been referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal specifically addressing the EPO’s approach to double patenting. They concern the circumstances, if any, in which there might be a legitimate interest in the same applicant being granted multiple patents for the same subject matter.

It is possible that the Enlarged Board’s answers will have a significant impact on filing strategies that are frequently employed at the EPO. For example, the answers could be relevant to strategies that involve filing divisional applications to protect against commercial or legal uncertainties. Another common strategy that might be affected is the use of parent and divisional applications to prosecute subject matter at an accelerated pace (eg, narrow claims of the highest commercial value), while prosecuting other subject matter at a slower pace (eg, claims of broader scope).

The questions come from the Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.01, which handles pharmaceutical matters, and concern an application filed by Nestec SA. The application (09159932.4) was refused by the Examining Division following an assessment that Claim 1 was “100% identical” to the subject matter claimed in the patent from which 09159932.4 claimed priority. The Examining Division therefore argued that the grant of 09159932.4 would be contrary to the prohibition on double patenting referred to in the obiter dicta of Enlarged Board decisions G1/05 and G1/06. Nestec SA appealed the Examining Division’s refusal.

Well, double patenting is a hallmark of patent maximalism, which goes together with the decline of patent quality in general. Courts across Europe will, over time, reveal just how severe the problem has become.

“Battistelli’s plan for the Office and for Europe goes down in flames.”Mondaq has in fact just reposted some other IAM nonsense from Selin Sinem Erciyas (Gün + Partners) in which she inadvertently highlighted yet more evidence of the collapse of patent quality at the EPO and the serious, potentially fatal, consequences (access to medicines). This one is about generics:

A Turkish generic company filed an invalidation action against a leading US pharmaceutical originator company in Turkey and requested the invalidation of its patent – a Turkish validation of a European patent granted by the EPO. The opposition proceedings were still pending before the EPO at the filing date of the invalidation action in Turkey. The patent owner subsequently requested a delay of the national proceedings, stating that the patent claims could still be amended during the opposition and appeal proceedings before the EPO. Further, if the EPO proceedings were still outstanding, there could be inconsistency between the claims of the European patent and the claims of the Turkish validation. In addition, per Article 138/3, in proceedings relating to the validity of the European patent the patent owner has the right to limit the patent by amending its claims.

[...]

Although there is no clear national provision in Turkey, envisaging the delay of invalidation proceedings until a final decision from the EPO, the new judge felicitously considered the options granted to a patent owner by Article 138/3 of the European Patent Convention and the possible unnecessary litigation costs and time that might arise from several expert examinations. The decision is a good example of the interpretation of indirect effects of the rights conferred to the patent owner by Article 138/3.

Turkey’s standards for patents probably aren’t so high; so it would be noteworthy when courts in Turkey too cite the EPC and reject European Patents. Also mind Moroğlu Arseven’s Gökçe Izgi and Yonca Çelebi with their new post titled “Patents in Turkey” (these include European Patents). Considering Battistelli’s love affair with China, one begins to wonder just how low patent quality has gone. The EPO recently decided to privately admit patent quality had gone awry (after a quarter billion euros were wasted). Speaking of coffins, Stephen Rowan and Nellie Simon said “eDossier Stock Management will stop on Friday 1 March 2019 at 16:00.” That’s tomorrow. eDossier and UPC can share a coffin.

02.27.19

Links 27/2/2019: X.Org Server 1.20.4, LibreELEC (Leia) 9.0.1, Go 1.12

Posted in News Roundup at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS 74 Dev Channel 74.0.3713.0 brings Linux container Backup/Restore feature (and it works!)

      Google released a new version of Chrome OS 74 for the Dev Channel on Monday and there are a ton of references to “Crostini”, which is the project that added Linux containers to Chromebooks. Among the many mentions — there are over 500 — is audio support fo Linux apps and the first implementation of a backup and restore feature for Crostini, which I mentioned was coming earlier this month.

  • Server

    • Open Outlook: Emerging Technologies

      If you look at Red Hat’s product portfolio, you’ll find one thing in common across the board — everything we ship today was once an immature technology you’d have been unwise to put into production. In some cases, it was even technology that may not have appeared to have production applications. The technologies we depend on today were once emerging technologies that weren’t guaranteed to make it into production.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • xorg-server 1.20.4
        A variety of bugfixes across the board, but primarily in Xwayland.
        Thanks to all who contributed with testing and fixes!
        
        A. Wilcox (1):
              DRI2: Add another Coffeelake PCI ID
        
        Adam Jackson (6):
              automake: Distribute meson's configure header templates
              dri3: Fix XACE access mode for open and get_supported_modifiers
              mi: When {en,dis}abling extensions, match names case-insensitively
              vnd: Fix a silly memory leak
              gitlab: Skip the docker-in-docker step
              xserver 1.20.4
        
        Alan Coopersmith (3):
              Update README for gitlab migration
              Update configure.ac bug URL for gitlab migration
              os: Report errors opening authorization file (#469)
        
        Ilia Mirkin (1):
              modesetting: fix conn_id termination and potential overrun by 1 byte
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (1):
              present: fix compile warning with debug traces
        
        Lyude Paul (1):
              modesetting: Actually disable CRTCs in legacy mode
        
        Maya Rashish (2):
              Fix typo in error message
              xfree86: Try nouveau on NetBSD as well.
        
        Michel Daenzer (2):
              travis: Use a single meson invocation
              Make artifacts of piglit results if job fails
        
        Michel Dänzer (22):
              xwayland: Plug leaks in xwl_present_sync_callback
              xwayland: Use xwl_present_reset_timer in xwl_present_timer_callback
              xwayland: Rename xwl_present_events_notify to xwl_present_msc_bump
              xwayland: Complete "synchronous" Present flips from xwl_present_msc_bump
              xwayland: Replace xwl_window::present_window with ::present_flipped
              xwayland: Add xwl_present_unrealize_window
              xwayland: Don't need xwl_window anymore in xwl_present_queue_vblank
              xwayland: Don't take buffer release queue into account for frame timer
              glamor: Check that storage format is compatible with RENDER format
              xfree86/modes: Don't clobber gamma LUT of compatibility output's CRTC
              Drop Travis Linux build in favour of GitLab CI
              gitlab-ci: Docker image can be generated as part of pipeline
              test: Use .../piglit instead of .../piglit-*.py
              gitlab-ci: Set LC_ALL=C.UTF-8
              gitlab-ci: Only run docker-image stage if relevant source files change
              gitlab-ci: Don't rely on $CI_PROJECT_NAME
              gitlab-ci: Add ccache to docker image, and leave in autotools
              gitlab-ci: Use ccache
              gitlab-ci: Add autotools build & test job
              present/wnmd: Allow flipping if the window pixmap matches the toplevel's
              glx,xquartz: Fix make distcheck
              gitlab-ci: Run make distcheck in autotools build & test job
        
        Olivier Fourdan (3):
              present/wnmd: Fix use after free on CRTC removal
              xwayland: do not crash if `gbm_bo_create()` fails
              xwayland: handle case without any crtc
        
        Peter Harris (1):
              os: Fix GetTimeInMicros resolution
        
        Peter Hutterer (2):
              test: fix failing tests
              Xi: lock the input thread for any pointer barrier list manipulation
      • X.Org Server 1.20.4 Released With XWayland Fixes

        Adam Jackson of Red Hat has issued the X.Org Server 1.20.4 point release with the latest stable updates primarily consisting of XWayland enhancements.

      • AMDVLK 2019.Q1.6 Vulkan Driver Released

        Normally AMD developers update the AMDVLK public source repositories on a weekly basis, but for whatever reason that hasn’t been communicated, there hadn’t been any source pushes in three weeks. But today that changed with AMDVLK 2019.Q1.6. While it’s three weeks worth of changes, the work isn’t too particularly exciting. As a reminder, AMDVLK is the official AMD open-source Vulkan driver derived from the same sources as their Windows driver as well as what is used by the Radeon Software PRO driver. RADV is the Mesa-based, open-source Radeon Vulkan driver alternative to AMDVLK.

      • AMD SEV Firmware Added To Linux-Firmware Tree For Easier Updating

        For those making use of Secure Encrypted Virtualization for secure VMs running on AMD EPYC platforms, the firmware bits required for supporting SEV have now been added to the linux-firmware.git tree to allow for easier updating to this virtualization security feature.

      • mesa 19.0.0-rc6

        Hi List,

        Sorry for the short summary, it took me longer to get the release ready than
        normal and I’m running a bit short on time.

        Mesa 19.0.0-rc6 is now available for your general consumption. Lots and lots in
        this release candidate, mostly Intel, AMD, and NIR changes, but with a few other
        things thrown in for good measure.

        The list of opened bugs blocking the 19.0 release is starting to get small, and
        several more bugs should be closed soon, so I’m hoping that this will be the
        last rc for 19.0 and the release can happen next week.

        Dylan

      • Mesa 19.0-RC6 Released With Many Intel & Radeon Fixes

        Mesa 19.0-RC6 is now available for testing and it’s quite a big update for this stage of development. Particularly if you are a RADV/RadeonSI AMD Linux user, this update is quite notable.

        For AMD Radeon users, Mesa 19.0-RC6 adds in the radeonsi_enable_nir DriConf option and immediately makes use of it to enable NIR by default for the Civilization 6 game. Enabling RadeonSI NIR for Civilization VI works around corruption problems. These changes were back-ported from Mesa 19.1 Git master.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC (Leia) 9.0.1 MR

        LibreELEC 9.0.1 (Leia) has arrived based upon Kodi v18.1, the 9.0.1 release contains many changes and refinements to user experience and a complete overhaul of the underlying OS core to improve stability and extend hardware support. Kodi v18 also brings new features like Kodi Retroplayer and DRM support that (equipped with an appropriate add-on) allows Kodi to unofficially stream content from services like Netflix and Amazon.

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 128 is ready for testing

        we have a great bunch of updates lined up for you with some great features that will improve IPFire’s IPsec VPN capabilities and a huge make-over for our Intrusion Prevention System. But before that, we have another maintenance update with a new kernel, introducing TLS 1.3 throughout the whole system and of course a whole package of bug fixes and other improvements.

        Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this Core Update with either sending in patches, testing, reporting bugs and many many other things. I am quite happy to see the team grow slowly and surely!

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Debian Family

      • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #200

        Holger Levsen submitted the Reproducible Builds project to the May/August 2019 round of Outreachy. Outreachy provides internships to work free software. Internships are open to applicants around the world, working remotely and are not required to move. Interns are paid a stipend of $5,500 for the three month internship and have an additional $500 travel stipend to attend conferences/events. So far, we received more than ten initial requests from candidates. The closing date for applicants is April 2nd. More information is available on the application page.

      • Linus Torvalds is wrong – PC not longer defines a platform

        Yes, the ability to easily by a cheap whitebox PC from CompUSA was the important factor in making X86 dominate server space. But people get cheap servers from cloud now, and even that is getting out of fashion. Services like AWS lambda abstract the whole server away, and the instruction set becomes irrelevant. Which CPU and architecture will be used to run these “serverless” services is not going to depend on developers having Arm Linux Desktop PC’s.

        Of course there are still plenty of people like me who use Linux Desktop and run things locally. But in the big picture things are just going one way. The way where it gets easier to test things in your git-based CI loop rather than in local development setup.

        But like Linus, I still do want to see an powerful PC-like Arm NUC or Laptop. One that could run mainline Linux kernel and offer a PC-like desktop experience. Not because ARM depends on it to succeed in server space (what it needs is out of scope for this blogpost) – but because PC’s are useful in their own.

      • Debian Policy call for participation — February 2019

        Here’s are some of the bugs against the Debian Policy Manual. Please consider getting involved.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-8 Won’t Move To Mir 1.1 + Unity 8 Due To Qualcomm Binary Blob Issues

            The Ubuntu Touch community team has put out their latest questions/answers about this effort continuing to let the Ubuntu effort live on for mobile devices like the Nexus and other hardware as well as looking ahead to get this mobile operating system running on the likes of Librem 5 and Pine64 phones.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 Is Coming To The Raspberry Pi 3

              I finally bought myself a Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+ and I’ve been discovering an endless amount of cool projects to spend far too much time on when I’m not indulging in retro gaming nostalgia. For example, did you know you can create your own personal DropBox-style file and backup server without even using the command line? But let’s get to why you’re here. The $35 single-board computer is about to get some fresh Ubuntu MATE, courtesy of Canonical’s Martin Wimpress.

              Wimpress recently announced that he’s working on Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 images for the Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3/3+. Just 24 hours ago he stated there was “nothing exciting to report just yet.” Today on Twitter he reports that “bootable images are a thing” and “the essential stuff works.” Well, that was speedy.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Get ready to rock at Red Hat Summit 2019

      Every year, one of the most exciting parts of Red Hat Summit is the entertainment. Two years ago, Red Hat Summit attendees watched as the Boston Red Sox took on the Baltimore Orioles at the iconic Fenway Park – president of Products and Technologies, Paul Cormier, even threw out the first pitch! Last year, we took it up a notch, attendees experienced a night of food, drinks, and music – featuring Grammy Award-winning band Weezer – at the San Francisco Armory.

  • Web Browsers

    • Beaker: the Decentralized Read-Write Browser

      The Beaker Browser project is creating a decentralized peer-to-peer web browser that, if successful, could return the web to its users. Let’s explore how this is done!

    • Mozilla

      • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: Announcing a New Management Structure for Ecma TC39

        In 2019, Ecma’s TC39 (the standardizing body behind JavaScript/ECMAScript) will be trying something new. The committee has grown in the last few years. As a result, the requirements of running the meeting have grown. To give you an idea of the scale — between 40 and 60 delegates (and sometimes more) meet 6 times a year to discuss proposed changes to the ECMAScript specification. Since we have grown so much, we will be changing our management structure. We will move away from single-chair and vice-chair roles to a flat hierarchy with three chairs sharing the responsibility.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Jingle Smash: Performance Work

        Performance was the final step to making Jingle Smash, my block tumbling VR game, ready to ship. WebVR on low-end mobile devices like the Oculus Go can be slow, but with a little work we can at least get over a consistent 30fps, and usually 45 or above. Here’s the steps I used to get Jingle Smash working well.

      • Mozilla Open Innovation Team: Sustainable tech development needs local solutions: Voice tech ideation in Kigali

        Developers, researchers and startups around the globe working on voice-recognition technology face one problem alike: A lack of freely available voice data in their respective language to train AI-powered Speech-to-Text engines.

        Although machine-learning algorithms like Mozilla’s Deep Speech are in the public domain, training data is limited. Most of the voice data used by large corporations is not available to the majority of people, expensive to obtain or simply non-existent for languages not globally spread. The innovative potential of this technology is widely untapped. In providing open datasets, we aim to take away the onerous tasks of collecting and annotating data, which eventually reduces one of the main barriers to voice-based technologies and makes front-runner innovations accessible to more entrepreneurs. This is one of the major drivers behind our project Common Voice.

        Common Voice is our crowdsourcing initiative and platform to collect and verify voice data and to make it publicly available. But to get more people involved from around the world and to speed up the process of getting to data sets large enough for training purposes, we rely on partners — like-minded commercial and non-commercial organizations with an interest to make technology available and useful to all.

      • Firefox 66 Beta 10 Testday Results
  • SaaS/Back End

    • Kubernetes Gets Smaller With K3S Project for the Edge

      The open-source Kubernetes container orchestration platform has become a de facto standard for cloud-native computing, but there is at least one catch–it’s not optimized by default for edge use cases.

      On Feb. 26, Rancher Labs formally announced the launch of the open-source K3S effort that builds a lightweight implementation of Kubernetes that requires only a fraction of the storage and memory footprint of a regular Kubernetes installation. Kubernetes is also often referred to as K8S, and K3S is all about being a smaller version that takes less than half the size.

      “We really have two goals with K3S: make Kubernetes small and consume less memory, and the other is make it really dead simple to operate,” Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, told eWEEK.

  • Databases

    • MariaDB readies new enterprise server

      At its annual user and developer conference MariaDB OpenWorks in Manhattan’s Financial District, MariaDB Corp announced it’s releasing a new version of its MariaDB, MySQL-compatible database management system (DBMS), MariaDB Enterprise Server 10.4. This new business server comes with more powerful and fine-grained auditing, faster, highly reliable backups for large databases, and end-to-end encryption for all data at rest in MariaDB clusters. This is the MariaDB for demanding companies that want the best possible DBMS.

      MariaDB Enterprise Server, which will be released in 2019′s second quarter, remains fully open source. Going forward, it will be the default version for MariaDB Platform on-prem or in the cloud customers. MariaDB CEO Michael Howard wants to make sure that MariaDB users and developers know that MariaDB Community Server is not becoming a second-class citizen. MariaDB’s corporate side will continue to collaborate with the community.

  • Education

    • The Value of Open Source Software In Higher Education

      Establishing curricular connections between in house open source expertise and the generation about to enter the 21st century workplace is a ‘win’ for all concerned. As data handling, computational skills and algorithmic literacy become integrated with an increasing number of subject areas, open source software offers the possibility of developing deep and significant understanding. Such engagement also offers the potential for students to become co-creators of their own learning.

      The future. Existing software categories, such as the LMS, are neither immutable nor the apogee of technology enhanced learning. Three years ago, EDUCAUSE consulted broadly around what they term the “Next Generation Digital Learning Environment”. The EDUCAUSE conception of the NGDLE demonstrates an emerging consensus about the direction of software to support teaching and learning. The NGDLE contains significant challenges in terms of realization, but we are also entitled to ask – in three years, why aren’t we closer? Could the closed nature of commercial proprietary software and its failure to innovate towards identified community needs be bound up in this failure?

    • SUSE, GroupLink, & TTP: FREE Resources for Academic Technology Teams (Recorded Webinar)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • City of Nijmegen reinvigorates OSS policy, forcing interoperability

      Nijmegen, the oldest and 10th largest city of the Netherlands, is reinvigorating its open source policy. Last month, the City Council unanimously adopted the resolution ‘Nijmegen digitally independent’. The resolution basically requires the City to deploy both the mandatory and the recommended open standards listed by the Dutch Standardisation Forum for external as well as internal communications. At the same time, the City wants external suppliers to have sufficient experience with open source solutions, and to explicitly include open source alternatives in their consultancy recommendations.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Amazon Adds RISC-V Support To FreeRTOS [Ed: What good is RISC-V when it’s totally (even physically) controlled by a secretive contractor of the Pentagon (might as well assume back doors and surveillance then)?]

        Amazon has maintained their own version of FreeRTOS, the MIT-licensed real-time operating system designed for embedded devices that works with dozens of micro-controller platforms, where they have supported OTA updates, WiFi, Bluetooth LE, and other features. The latest feature addition to Amazon FreeRTOS is RISC-V support.

  • Programming/Development

    • Go 1.12 is released

      Today the Go team is happy to announce the release of Go 1.12. You can get it from the download page.

      For details about the changes in Go 1.12, see the Go 1.12 release notes.

      Some of the highlights include opt-in support for TLS 1.3, improved modules support (in preparation for being the default in Go 1.13), support for windows/arm, and improved macOS & iOS forwards compatibility.

    • Golang 1.12 Released With Opt-In TLS 1.3, Better Modules Support & Performance Work

      Google’s team responsible for the Go programming language has released Go 1.12 with a half-year worth of improvements and new features.

      Go 1.12 adds opt-in support for TLS 1.3, Go’s race detector is now supported on Linux 64-bit ARM, Cgo is now supported on Linux PowerPC 64-bit, support for Windows 10 IoT Core on 32-bit ARM chips, improvements to modules handling, and various library improvements.

    • Go 1.12 released
    • The New Features & Changes With The LLVM Clang 8.0 Compiler Stack

      If all goes well, LLVM 8.0 will ship as soon as tomorrow along with the Clang 8.0 C/C++ compiler and the other sub-projects for this open-source compiler stack. Here’s a look at what LLVM 8 means for developers.

    • Eclipse IoT Milestones, Bare-Metal Cloud Computing Risk, Purism Announces PureBoot, Go 1.12 Released, and Qualcomm and Thundercomm Launched a Robotics RB3 Platform that runs Linux with Robot Operating System

      The Eclipse Foundation this morning announced that Eclipse IoT, “a leading collaboration of vendors working together to define an open, modular architecture to accelerate commercial IoT adoption”, has reached “3 million lines of code, 41 member companies, 37 IoT projects and 350 contributors”. See the Eclipse IoT website for more on how “Eclipse IoT is the open source center of gravity for IoT”. Eclipse IoT also wants to hear your thoughts and invites you to take its 2019 IoT Developer Survey.

    • On the Delivery of Data Science Projects – talk for Business, Analytics and Data Science meetup

      Last night I spoke at Pivigo’s Business, Analytics and Data Science meetup (thanks for having me!). I spoke on the key points that I cover in my public training (Successfully Delivering Data Science Projects) aimed at the meetup’s audience where many folk are earlier on their data science journey.

    • MQTT version 5 updates and how they apply to Qt MQTT

      Previously I have been writing about how topics in messages can have a significant impact on the amount of data for publishing via MQTT. Since then the MQTT version 5 standard has been released and first implementations are available. Naturally, Qt MQTT follows along and this post will reflect how new features in the standard are available in our Qt for Automation module.

      In this post, we will not go into every detail of the updated specification, but rather showcase some highlights and benefits for upgrading to the latest versions.

      Also, before we forget, make sure to sign up for my upcoming webinar on the same topic. Tune in and discuss!

    • RabbitMQ Scrapy Item Publisher in Python
    • How I Write Books about Python

      I get asked questions about my book writing process from time to time and I have been meaning to write about this topic for a while. The main reason I wrote my first book, Python 101, was because of the readers on my blog. They had been encouraging me to write a book on wxPython for a while and I decided that I should start by writing an introductory book so I wouldn’t need to include a bunch of introductory information in my intermediate level book if I ever got around to writing it.

      When I was writing that book, I had to search for ways to generate PDF, mobi (Kindle) and epub formats. I skipped Microsoft Word because I hadn’t seen good ways to convert that document type to other file types and it didn’t work well cross-platform anyway.

    • PyBites: PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 02, 2019
    • Generating Beautiful Code Snippets with Carbon and Selenium
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #357 (Feb. 26, 2019)
    • Test and Code: 66: Brian is interviewed by Phil Burgess
    • Continue developing the currency exchange application

      Hi, after deep thought I have decided to continue developing the currency exchange application which I have created in the previous chapter and make it a standalone python application. In the previous chapter, we had created a simple interface which will display all the usd/world currencies exchange rate in a tkinter label which we will further modify this interface and make it displays the other currency pair as well as we progress, but before we go even further we do need to convert the currency ID to their real name first, for example, it is very hard for the first timer to know which currency is this by just look at its ID : CAD, if we can convert the ID to the name of that currency then it will be better, for example, CAD = Canadian Dollar. In this chapter, we will just go to make an API call for the ID and the name of all the available currencies and print them out under the console.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • What I learned from going offline for 48 hours

      I was curious to know what this extraordinary traffic could be about. My work email was more or less where I had left it before I signed out, but everywhere else was chatter. I had more than a 100 notifications of birthdays, events, and important occasions that I had missed. Despite the fact that I had not produced any content, not initiated any conversations, and not engaged with any material, I had more than 400 notifications from five main social media apps, where people had tagged me, poked me and pulled me into long conversation threads that I could no longer recognise or trace back.

      An equal number of friendly algorithms had curated things that needed my attention and were warning me that I might have missed out on the most life-changing moments. My personal messaging system was filled with group messages, those from family and friends who were not talking to me but making me a witness to their conversations. There were also a few frantic messages, first checking if the messages were being delivered, then wondering why I was not responding, and then going into a rage about my rudeness for not even informing them that I wouldn’t be replying to them.

      I looked at the huge volume of information waiting for me to see, sort, and store it and create my own archives and digital footprints and was left thinking: how is it that even when I was offline, my digital avatar was in a state of continued interaction and conversation? What does it mean for us to be tagged without consent, to be pulled into chats with no notice, to be asked questions and sent information at a speed and volume that is almost impossible to fathom?

    • Capitalism Is Responsible for Your Depressing Office Building

      Ruskin’s conclusion was summarized in his most famous, if somewhat earnest and romantic passage, which is found in Unto This Last’s final essay: “There is no Wealth but Life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest numbers of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest, who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others.”

      In this, Ruskin pinpointed the root of capitalism’s deficiencies—deficiencies for which, some 160 years later, the system’s apologists are still unable to answer. It is a profoundly corrupt and inadequate way to organize a society, because it does not have as its end that which any healthy socioeconomic system should: beautiful buildings, happy workers, human fulfillment. Instead, it is organized solely for the benefit of capital. And the result, as Ruskin predicted, is ugly.

    • Anger Can Be Contagious — Here’s How To Stop The Spread

      Anger leads to more anger. But a single act of kindness can help stop the spread.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts

      The cost of having children in the U.S. has climbed exponentially since the 1960s. So it’s no wonder the growing crop of Democratic presidential candidates have been proposing ways to address or bring down the costs tied to raising a family.

      Most recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she wants to provide universal access to child care. According to her proposal, the U.S. would partner with local governments and other organizations to provide various child care options, paying for it with revenue from her wealth tax.

      Whether or not Warren’s proposal becomes law, the data show a worsening problem. In 2015, American parents spent, on average, US$233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17, not including college. This number covers everything from housing and food to child care and transportation costs. This is up 8 percent from 1990.

      As a mother myself, as well as a sociologist who studies families, I have experienced firsthand the unexpected costs associated with having a child. And this spike in costs has broad implications, including leading fewer families to have children.

    • Legislative Lowlights: Abortion Restrictions Sweep Through GOP-Held Legislatures

      Republican lawmakers on Friday introduced a measure that would require abortion providers to inform their patients that it may be possible to “reverse” the effects of a medication abortion. Four states (Arkansas, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah) currently require physicians to provide similar information, which has been debunked by the medical community. Georgia is the sixth state this year (after Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) to consider requiring physicians to promote the unproven treatment.

    • Corporate Media ‘Culpable,’ Say Women’s Rights Advocates, for Bolstering Trump’s Abortion Lies

      Women’s rights advocates were relieved late Monday when Senate Democrats blocked an extreme anti-choice bill from advancing to a floor debate—but were soon outraged by President Donald Trump’s lies about abortion care, as well as the corporate media for enabling his blatantly false characterization of the bill to stand.

      After Senate Republicans failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to push through the so-called “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Trump attacked Democrats for their rejection of a bill that would punish doctors for providing medical care to pregnant women and allow civil action against women themselves for making an often-painful, life-or-death decision about their health and family.

    • States Are Reconsidering Restrictive Medicaid Waiver Policies

      New governors and legislatures in Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and New Mexico are taking steps to protect access to health care for thousands of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries by reconsidering restrictive policies that their predecessors put in place through federal waivers, such as taking Medicaid coverage away from people who don’t meet rigid work requirements and imposing premiums and high cost-sharing.

      Mounting evidence from Arkansas shows the disastrous impact that work requirements in particular have on coverage. Since Arkansas became the first state to implement Medicaid work requirements in June, more than 1 in 5 beneficiaries subject to the new policy have lost Medicaid and likely became uninsured. Many of those losing coverage are working people and people with serious health needs who can’t overcome the red tape that these policies create. In fact, the number of people losing Medicaid coverage exceeds the number of those that this policy presumably targets — that is, those not working or not exempt from the requirement.

    • Numerous Mistakes Led to Fatal Blood Transfusion at St. Luke’s in Houston, Report Finds

      Six days after Thanksgiving last year, a 73-year-old woman showed up at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston. Her body was retaining too much fluid after a dialysis treatment, and she was in need of emergency medical care.

      What happened next could have killed her.

      Hospital staff put in a request to give the woman a blood transfusion, but the order was meant for another patient with a different blood type. Fortunately, the St. Luke’s laboratory caught the error, sparing the woman from harm.

      Four days later, however, hospital staff committed a similar mistake, only this time workers in the lab didn’t notice when a blood sample arrived with another patient’s blood in it. As a result, a 75-year-old woman was given the wrong blood, mistaken for a patient who had been in her ER room immediately before her.

      She died the next day after repeated bouts of cardiac arrest.

      The fatal mistake followed a pattern of blood labeling errors at St. Luke’s during the past year, according to a scathing report issued last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and made public Tuesday by the hospital. The government report came after a yearlong investigation by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica that documented numerous lapses in patient care at a hospital once regarded as among the nation’s best for cardiac care.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Linux security: Cmd provides visibility, control over user activity
    • Supermicro hardware weaknesses let researchers backdoor an IBM cloud server

      In short, BMCs are motherboard-attached microcontrollers that give extraordinary control over servers inside datacenters. Using the Intelligent Platform Management Interface, admins can reinstall operating systems, install or modify apps, and make configuration changes to large numbers of servers, without physically being on premises and, in many cases, without the servers being turned on. In 2013, researchers warned that BMCs that came preinstalled in servers from Dell, HP, and other name-brand manufacturers were so poorly secured that they gave attackers a stealthy and convenient way to take over entire fleets of servers inside datacenters.

      Researchers at security firm Eclypsium on Tuesday plan to publish a paper about how BMC vulnerabilities threaten a premium cloud service provided by IBM and possibly other providers. The premium service is known as bare-metal cloud computing, an option offered to customers who want to store especially sensitive data but don’t want it to intermingle on the same servers other customers are using. The premium lets customers buy exclusive access to dedicated physical servers for as long as needed and, when the servers are no longer needed, return them to the cloud provider. The provider, in theory, wipes the servers clean so they can be safely used by another bare-metal customer.

    • 4G/5G Vulnerabilities Lets Attackers Track Phones And Intercept Texts

      A recent report published by Techcrunch has revealed that newer broadband cellular network technologies including 4G and 5G are vulnerable to a number of privacy attacks.

    • New flaws in 4G, 5G allow attackers to intercept calls and track phone locations
    • New B0r0nt0K ransomware roughs up Linux servers [Ed: This impacts already-compromised boxes and has little/nothing to do with "Linux"; in fact, Windows too gets mentioned.]
    • ETS Isn’t TLS and You Shouldn’t Use It

      The good news: TLS 1.3 is available, and the protocol, which powers HTTPS and many other encrypted communications, is better and more secure than its predecessors (including SSL).

      The bad news: Thanks to a financial industry group called BITS, there’s a look-alike protocol brewing called called ETS (or eTLS) that intentionally disables important security measures in TLS 1.3. If someone suggests that you should deploy ETS instead of TLS 1.3, they are selling you snake oil and you should run in the other direction as fast as you can.

    • Open Source Maintainers Want to Reduce Application Security Risk [Ed: LF entertaining and giving a platform to Microsoft partners whose job is to demonise FOSS and sell proprietary software]
    • Plain wrong: Millions of utility customers’ passwords stored in plain text

      Those companies service 15 million or so clients (estimated from GIS data and in some cases from PR brags on the utility sites themselves). But the real number of affected Americans could easily be several times that large: SEDC itself claims that more than 250 utility companies use its software.

    • FastMail fears customer exodus due to encryption law

      Melbourne-based secure email provider FastMail says it has begun to see existing customers leave and potential customers go to other providers, and the reason cited is the government’s encryption bill.

    • Mozilla may treat Aussie staff as ‘insider threats’ to code base

      In separate submissions to a senate inquiry examining the now-passed laws, the two technology companies raised concerns about how they could trust their workers.

      Both Mozilla and FastMail worry that individual employees could be targeted by law enforcement to make secret changes to systems.

    • 5G already has its own security flaws

      The first of the vulnerabilities is called Torpedo and exploits a weakness in the paging protocol which alerts your phone to incoming calls or texts. By starting and cancelling a bunch of calls in quick succession, you can send a paging message to the device without actually triggering an alert. Not only does this leave the door open to blocking or inserting messages, but it can also lead to two more attacks.

      These are called Piercer and IMSI-Cracking, which use different methods but achieve the same thing. They let an attacker figure out your unique IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) number which leaves you wide open to remote eavesdropping, or even less welcome stalking.

    • Lime warns riders about ‘sudden excessive braking’ due to firmware bug

      According to Lime, the bug occurs in “very rare cases,” usually when a rider is going downhill at top speed and hits a pothole or obstacle, the scooter will unexpectedly brake the front wheel, which has led to some riders being injured. Lime says that the issue isn’t common, with less than 0.0045 percent of all Lime rides encountering the problem, but the company is warning customers anyway and noting that they should use extra caution while the issue is being fixed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Microsoft CEO defends $479 million contract with Pentagon after employee protest

      The Microsoft workers in the letter asked Nadella and Microsoft President Brad Smith to cancel the company’s plan to equip the U.S. military with HoloLens headsets, which will be used during combat.

    • Warren Buffett Joins the Crowd Struggling to Understand Oracle
    • The Christian Genocide During the Ottoman Empire Sounds a Dark Warning for the Future

      Israeli historian Benny Morris doesn’t do things by half. The footnotes of his new book on the 30-year genocide of Christians by their Turkish rulers, cowritten with his colleague Dror Zeevi, take up more than a fifth of the 640-page work. “It was nine years, a long haul,” he admitted to me this week, with an audible sigh over the phone. And he talks about the involvement of Ataturk in the later stages of the genocide of around 2.5 million Christians of the Ottoman empire; how “religions do drive people to excessive violence” – he has in mind the Turks, Isis, the Crusades – and even condemns the Arabs for their inability to criticise themselves.

      The mere title of the Morris-Zeevi book, The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities 1894-1924, is going to have the Turks enraged, from Erdogan down. The Armenians and other Christians will dispute his apparent claim that he has only just discovered that their slaughter lasted for 30 years – others have talked of the Armenian genocide of 1915 bookended by the late 19th-century massacres in Turkey and the post-1915 killing of surviving Armenians and Greeks, Assyrians and others. And the Arab world will challenge his view that the holocaust (my word) of Christians was more motivated by Islam than Turkish nationalism.

      [...]

      The authors briefly compare the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian genocide – I prefer the terms Jewish Holocaust and Armenian Holocaust – and there are some already published parallels. Armenians might be spared if they would convert to Islam or marry Muslim men. Jews could not save their lives by converting. The Turkish massacres were more sadistic. I rather think the German-inspired slaughter could be just as bad in the Second World War: witness the head-chopping at the Jasenovac camp on the Croatian-Bosnian border. Persecution of the Jews under the Nazis lasted at most 12 years, but persecution of Christians in Ottoman territories 30 years.

      German civilians played little role in the Jewish Holocaust. Turkish civilians played a far greater role. If 2.5 million Christians is the correct figure for those murdered in the 30 years – Morris warned me that it cannot be accurately tallied, and I’m sure he’s right – at least six million Jews were killed in the 1939-1945 period, and so it took the Nazis five times as few years to slaughter more than twice as many human beings. The Turks simply didn’t have the industrial tools to kill more Christians more quickly, because these mechanics were unavailable at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. But working on this basis, how many people will be killed in the future – and how quickly – with new technology?

    • Russian military court sentences two former cybersecurity officials to a combined 36 years in prison for treason, allegedly for selling intel to the FBI

      A military court in Moscow has sentenced former Federal Security Service Information Security Center agent Sergey Mikhailov and former Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity expert Ruslan Stoyanov to 22 years and 14 years in prison, respectively. Mikhailov was also stripped of his FSB rank and fined 400,000 rubles ($6,085). Stoyanov was fined 150,000 rubles ($2,280) and stripped of his police rank as a major.

    • India Strikes Inside Pakistan After Deadly Kashmir Attack

      A pre-dawn airstrike inside Pakistan that India said targeted a terrorist training camp and killed a “very large number” of militants ratcheted up tensions on Tuesday between the two nuclear-armed rivals at odds over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

      Islamabad said there were no casualties in the strike near the town of Balakot, close to the border with Pakistan’s section of Kashmir, where residents said loud explosions woke them up, rattling their homes.

      “It was the middle of the night, we were very scared,” one resident, 20-year old Mohammad Abbas to The Associated Press. “We didn’t think for a moment that it was from planes but the explosions were very powerful.”

    • India’s Attack on Pakistan Sparks Fear of Wider War

      Warplanes from India launched an attack on an alleged militant camp Tuesday morning, violating Pakistani airspace in the disputed territory of Kashmir in the latest escalation between the two nuclear powers. The attack carried with it fears of wider war between the two countries.

      “Armed conflicts once started take their own course without either side being in control to decide where such hostilities will end,” Professor Muzaffar Ahmed told Indian news service IANS.

      The aerial attack came in the wake of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, after a Feb. 14 suicide attack on Indian security forces in the Kashmiri town of Pulwama, which killed 42, led to India cutting Pakistan off from a key water source controlled by the former on Feb. 21.

      The result of the morning’s Indian incursion was unclear at press time. Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale claimed the attack struck a militant training camp and blamed the Pakistani government for allowing the camp to flourish. “The existence of such training facilities, capable of training hundreds of jihadis,” said Gokhale, “could not have functioned without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities.”

      Pakistani sources disagreed with the Indian version of events and said the Indian planes had dropped their payload without a target, showing craters near the small town of Balakot as evidence.

    • Historicizing the Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir

      The discourse of nationalism affects to make sense of the absurd loss of life that occurs. Human knowledge, however, is always tentative and arbitrary. We must learn to cross the frontiers of culture, nationality, language, and citizenship in order to make humanist responses to conflict situations.

      There is growing awareness among the people of Jammu and Kashmir that a satisfactory and lasting solution of the Kashmir problem is possible only if both India and Pakistan examine this problem from the interest of the good of the people of the state as a whole.

      The state of Jammu and Kashmir is so situated geographically that it depends for its economy on a free flow of trade to both countries. For ages, Kashmiri arts and crafts have found markets in India. At the same time, the rivers and roads of Kashmir stretch into Pakistan. Kashmir’s railhead used to be Rawalpindi and the traders in the Valley would use Karachi as the sea-port for overseas trade.

    • How to Avoid a War in Venezuela

      One month after Juan Guaidó, the speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly, said he was assuming the powers of the Venezuelan presidency, currently held by Nicolás Maduro, the country’s political crisis remains far from over. Tensions have escalated to the point that a full-blown civil war—a seemingly implausible scenario just weeks ago—is now becoming increasingly possible. At least four people died and hundreds were injured in violent clashes at Venezuela’s borders last weekend as government forces opened fire on an attempt by the opposition to bring aid convoys into the country.

      The Maduro regime is authoritarian, militarized, and ready to kill civilians to maintain power. The society is bitterly divided between the revolutionaries inspired by Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor, and a large and aggrieved opposition. Each side despises the other. The question is therefore a complex and practical one: what to do to help guide Venezuela away from civil war and toward a peaceful and democratic future?

      On this great challenge, US President Donald Trump’s administration has gravely miscalculated. When the United States chose to recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s president – along with a group of Latin American countries – and ban oil trade with the Maduro government, it was betting that the pressure would be sufficient to topple the regime. As a former senior US official told the Wall Street Journal, “they thought it was a 24-hour operation.”

    • The Open Veins of Venezuela

      John Bolton, Donald Trump’s maniacal National Security Advisor of Fox News-fame, tweeted that the whole “world is watching” the US-staged drama in Venezuela.

      Elliot Abrams, Donald Trump’s neocon “Special Representative for Venezuela,” is the man on the scene, despite (or because of) his record as a war criminal from Ronald Reagan’s war on Nicaragua, his role as a key architect of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, and his complicity in the failed 2002 coup in Venezuela against its elected President Hugo Chavez.

      Throw in the lapdog Juan Guaido, educated in Washington DC at George Washington University where the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank hold sway. Guaido is openly calling for US military intervention to put himself in power, so that he can inaugurate a Milton-Friedmanesque shock-doctrine austerity program to resolve Venezuela’s economic problems, and hand over Venezuela to Big Oil. I imagine he is also hoping to get a Nobel Prize someday.

      The cast of characters here alone tells the tale. The US government is once again proclaiming loudly that they are in command in Latin America, that governments in the empire’s back yard must show their loyalty to the Gringos, or else. No more talk of socialism, not even of the much-ballyhooed 21st-century variety.

    • The Coup Has Failed & Now the U.S. Is Looking to Wage War: Venezuelan Foreign Minister Speaks Out
    • Venezuela’s 23F: A Collective Victory for a Collective Future

      It was George W. Bush who invented the term: misunderestimating. And it’s what imperialism continually does with Venezuela.

      I recall an Aló Presidente program in which Chávez was talking about the 2002 coup attempt. He said that the US thought it could easily replace him. “As simply as this,” he said and demonstrated by moving a glass of water across the table where he was seated.

      Replacing Chávez wasn’t easy at all, as everybody knows. Pedro Carmona, the usurper, was quickly forgotten, whereas Chávez lasted another decade, and his movement is still in power today.

      Something very similar may have happened on Saturday, as Maduro resisted a concerted international effort to bring him down.

      What makes it so hard to replace Chávez and now Maduro? Certainly it’s not merely a question of leadership, since Maduro’s is middling at best. So, it must be something else: some quality or substance that generally goes unperceived on the political radar.

    • Why Bernie Sanders’ Statements On Venezuela Are Crucial To Efforts To Defeat Trump

      If elections were held in Venezuela in the next few months, with international observers present, and the people re-elected President Nicolas Maduro, would the political establishment in the United States accept the outcome?

      The question is key because the answer would likely expose how the push for regime change is not about helping those starving or suffering from dire poverty. Rather, it revolves around a fundamental disagreement about how the Venezuelan people, through Hugo Chavez and then Maduro, chose to organize their society and government by embracing programs of social democracy, which multinational corporations and wealthy elites oppose.

      President Donald Trump and his administration are committed to a political fight that they have cloaked in the language of humanitarian intervention. With Elliott Abrams as the special envoy to Venezuela, they are perverting the global struggle of human rights just as Abrams and other officials in President Ronald Reagan’s administration did while the U.S. was engaged in dirty wars in Central America.

      But even the few Democrats, who raise concerns about Trump’s agenda, do not clearly articulate the cynical nature of what the administration is really pursuing with Abrams, Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the forefront.

    • Notes From the Streets of Venezuela—The People Are Resilient in the Face of Foreign Intervention

      Across Venezuela, there are millions of people like Mariela. They are ordinary people, dirt under their fingernails, pride in their hearts. When the Bolivarians won the election and took power in 1999, 10 years after the Caracazo and 20 years ago, people like Mariela demanded more from the system. In La Vega, they spotted an empty plot of land that had been given to some developers. It was likely to be turned into a shopping center. Mariela, her family and 91 other families occupied the land. They approached Chavez and asked to build houses on the plot. “Can you do it?” Chavez said to them. “Yes,” Mariela told Chavez. “We built this city. We can build our own houses. All we want are machines and materials.”

      So, they built Kaikachi. It is a clean neighborhood of apartment buildings with a community center at one end. A bust of Chavez stands before the community center, where there is a bakery to provide good quality and low-price bread to the community, where there is a kitchen that feeds 400 people, where there is a community hall (with the obligatory mural of Che Guevara) where there is small room where women sew clothes in a self-help business. “We are Chavistas,” says a woman, her eyes shining, a child at her hip.

    • UK Rejects International Court of Justice Opinion on the Chagos Islands

      In parliament, Alan Duncan for the government has just rejected yesterday’s stunning result at the International Court of Justice, where British occupation of the Chagos Islands was found unlawful by a majority of 13 to 1, with all the judges from EU countries amongst those finding against the UK.

      This represents a serious escalation in the UK’s rejection of multilateralism and international law and a move towards joining the US model of exceptionalism, standing outside the rule of international law. As such, it is arguably the most significant foreign policy development for generations. In the Iraq war, while Britain launched war without UN Security Council authority, it did so on a tenuous argument that it had Security Council authority from earlier resolutions. The UK was therefore not outright rejecting the international system. On Chagos it is now simply denying the authority of the International Court of Justice; this is utterly unprecedented.

      Duncan put forward two arguments. Firstly that the ICJ opinion was “only” advisory to the General Assembly. Secondly, he argued that the ICJ had no jurisdiction as the case was a bilateral dispute with Mauritius (and thus could only go before the ICJ with UK consent, which is not given).

      [...]

      The International Court of Justice represents the absolute pinnacle of, and embodies the principle of, international law. In 176 decisions, such as Nigeria vs Cameroon or Malaysia vs Indonesia, potentially disastrous conflicts have been averted by the states’ agreement to abide by the rule of law. The UK’s current attack on the ICJ is a truly disastrous new development.

      I have taken it for granted that you know that the reason the UK refuses to decolonise the Chagos Islands is to provide an airbase for the US military on Diego Garcia. If Brexit goes ahead, the Chagos Islands will also lead to a major foreign policy disagreement between the UK and US on one side, and the EU on the other. The EU will be truly shocked by British repudiation of the ICJ.

      I have studied the entire and lengthy ICJ Opinion on the Chagos Islands, together with its associated papers, and I will write further on this shortly.

    • Navy Leaders Taken to Task by Lawmakers, Including One Who Was Grilling a Former Boss

      Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday expressed frustration to senior Navy leaders over the pace of reforms arising from two ship collisions in the Pacific that left 17 sailors dead.

      Rep. Elaine Luria, a newly elected Democrat from Virginia, asked at a hearing whether the Navy was moving quickly enough to deliver on promises made after the deaths of the sailors on board the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain in the summer of 2017.

      A former Navy commander, Luria displayed her insider knowledge of naval operations in rapid-fire questions to the admirals appearing before a House Armed Services Committee panel.

      Luria, who retired in 2017 after 20 years of service, had once served under one of those admirals, John Aquilino, current head of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

      “We continue to be incapable of properly manning, training and equipping our surface forces,” Luria said. “For nearly two decades, we prioritized efficiency over effectiveness.”

      Rep. Rob Wittman, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, said he blamed Navy leadership for the deaths of the sailors on board the Fitzgerald and the McCain. Both destroyers were hit by slow-moving cargo ships.

      “It is apparent that senior leadership failed to put adequate systems in place to prevent these collisions,” said Wittman, who has closely tracked the accidents over the past 18 months. “If the appropriate reforms are not properly implemented, these problems and these deaths will continue.”

    • Navy Promised Changes After Deadly Accidents, but Many Within Doubt It’s Delivering on Them

      After two of its destroyers were involved in deadly accidents in the summer of 2017, the Navy’s leaders pledged real change: more sailors for their ships, and better training for those sailors and the officers who led them. Old or broken equipment would be fixed, too. Most important, the Navy’s top command would stop forcing ships out to sea before they were ready.

      In late 2017, as part of an effort to assure commanders that the Navy was committed to genuine reform, Adm. Philip Davidson embarked on a speaking tour. Davidson was in charge of “readiness” — responsible for making sure that the Navy’s ships were fully staffed, and that sailors were adequately trained and equipped and ready for combat. He had recently authored a public report laying out dozens of specific weaknesses that the Navy had begun fixing.

      One of Davidson’s stops in November 2017 was in San Diego, and inside the base’s movie theater, he addressed hundreds of concerned commanders and officers. He was met with a series of tough questions, including a particularly sensitive one: If the commanders believed their ships were not ready, could they, as the Navy had promised, actually push back on orders to sail?

    • Is Your Ship Safe? Help Us Find Out Whether Navy Reforms Are Actually Making a Difference.

      This month we published an investigation into how top Navy brass ignored years of warnings from within its own ranks before two historically deadly accidents in 2017 killed 17 sailors on the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain.

      In the weeks since the investigation, scores of current and former Navy officers and sailors wrote and called us to say that not enough has changed: The Navy is continuing to neglect its ships and its crews.

      We are taking this outreach seriously.

      The Navy has promised reforms, but detailed information about the progress of those fixes is hard to come by. This is where you come in: We need as many active duty or recently retired Navy service members as possible to fill out the following questionnaire. Help us figure out whether substantive changes have actually been made. Are those changes addressing the problems uncovered by the crashes? How much of a difference are they making?

    • Progressives Endorse House Resolution Calling for Formal End to Korean War

      Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Ca.) introduced a House resolution to end the Korean War on Tuesday after 69 years of conflict. The resolution comes as President Donald Trump is in Hanoi, Vietnam, in advance of a historic meeting with North Korean President Kim Jong Un to discuss North Korean denuclearization.

      “Historic engagement between South and North Korea has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to formally end this war,” Khanna said in a statement. “President Trump must not squander this rare chance for peace.”

      Khanna’s resolution (pdf) was cosponsored by 18 House progressives, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Ca.), and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).

      Kim’s openness to dialogue with the American president comes after a thawing of relations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon and Kim met at the DMZ, or demilitarized zone, on April 26, 2018, as a show of unity in friendship. Since that meeting, Kim and Moon have pushed to end hostilities, but the push is complicated by the U.S. presence in South Korea and decades of tension.

    • ‘Incessant Warmongering’ Pays Off: Critics Respond to Nikki Haley Joining Boeing’s Board

      Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is expected to join the board of directors for weapons systems and aircraft maker Boeing on April 29 – a continuation of the Washington revolving door system between government and private corporations.

      “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to Boeing’s continued success as a cutting edge industry leader and a great American company,” Haley said in a statement.

      News of the Boeing appointment came less than 24 hours after Haley announced she was forming a new policy group, “Stand America Now.”

    • A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-1966

      Half a million people killed and more than a million imprisoned and tortured; the tragedy that befell Indonesia in 1965 was among the more dramatic moments in 20th-century history. It was also one of the most ignored. After more than half a century, Geoffrey B. Robinson’s new book is the first comprehensive history to appear in the English language.

      In 1965, Indonesian President Sukarno headed a coalition government that included the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), the largest such party outside of the socialist bloc. Arrayed against Sukarno and the PKI were powerful domestic forces that included the Army, the Council of Islamic Scholars, and the rightwing Indonesian Nationalist Party. Sukarno also faced external opposition from the United States and the United Kingdom. The US in particular had long tried toundermine the Sukarno government, and in 1957-98 the CIA conducted a covert operation to provide funding and weapons to opposition groups.

      When lower ranking Indonesian Army officers abducted and then killed six generals and a lieutenant on October 1, 1965, in what they said was an effort to stop a planned CIA-backed military coup, the Army swiftly responded with a loud propaganda campaign that falsely blamed the PKI for the killings. The Army then launched a campaign of mass slaughter, aimed at eradicating the PKI and its affiliates, including women’s, youth, peasant, and worker organizations. For the next several months the Army, under the command of Major General Suharto, systematically seized power, first sidelining President Sukarno and then later ousting him from his position.

    • To Prevent Victory for Hard-Liners, Calls for Iran’s Leaders to Refuse Resignation of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

      “While Zarif is not above criticism, over the past forty years, the U.S. and Iran have had few clear channels for negotiations, and Zarif has long been a major proponent of U.S.-Iran negotiations and deescalation,” noted National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Jamal Abdi. “Hard-liners in the U.S. have long cheered for Iran to be led by radical elements to make engagement difficult and validate calls for sanctions and military action. Should Zarif bow out of Iran’s political theater, Trump and his team may be getting exactly what they wish for—and the world will be worse for it.”

      The U.S.-educated Zarif, a longtime critic of hard-liners in both the United States and his own country, was instrumental in securing the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Iran has continued to comply with despite Trump’s withdrawal—along with other moves by the administration to ramp up tensions—and mounting frustration among the Iranian people over the impact of U.S. sanctions.

      The vague Instagram post—in which Zarif offered an “apology” for his “inability to continue to his service” but didn’t detail the reasoning behind his decision—came just hours after he met with a delegation of peace activists with the U.S.-based group CodePink. Medea Benjamin, the group’s co-founder, and U.S. Army veteran Ann Wright wrote that they were “deeply saddened” by the development but also shed some light on the frustrations he shared with them.

    • Trump’s Foreign Policy is Hated by Pundits but Popular With Voters

      President Trump keeps coming under attack for his foreign policy, predictably by Democrats but also by legacy Republican leaders.

      “I’m very concerned,” Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said about Trump’s plans to bring troops home from the Middle East.

      “It makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances and empower our adversaries,” said Marco Rubio.

      Trump’s late-2018 announcement that he planned to withdraw 2000 US troops from the meatgrinder of Syria’s brutal civil war prompted bipartisan dismay. Next the new Doha peace framework to end US involvement in Afghanistan had establishment politicos and pundits reviving their hoary, false canard that America’s “abandonment” of Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew in 1989 led to 9/11. Now he’s getting attacked for trying to reach a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea (possible bonus: a formal end to the Korean War).

      Deescalation? Why, that could cause peace! What could be a more dangerous threat to American interests?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Shifting the Centre of Gravity: Julian Assange Receives His Passport

      In March 2008, one Michael Horvath of the US Army Counterintelligence Center within the Cyber Intelligence Assessments Branch considered the risks posed by WikiLeaks in a 32 page document. Created under the auspices of the Department of Defence’s Intelligence Analysis Program. The overview suggests, importantly, the interest shown in Assange by the defence wing of the United States at the time it was starting to make more than a generous ripple across the pond of information discourse. Importantly, it suggests a direct interest of the military industrial complex in the activities of a guerrilla (read radical transparency) group.

      The question it asks remains a source of ongoing interest and curiosity about the role played by WikiLeaks in the information wars: “Wikileas.org – An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?” The answer is implicit in the text: its all of the above.

      The document remains salient for the persistent strategy adopted against WikiLeaks and its chief publishing head throughout. To avoid the integrity and credibility of the information, target the man, the organisation and the method. Suggest he is wonky, a crank, generally wobbly on principles and ethics. Suggest, as well, that his reputation is questionable, as are his moral inclinations.

      The document highlights a feature that gained momentum in the 2016 US presidential elections: that WikiLeaks might serve “as an instrument of propaganda, and is a front organisation for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).” (The only difference in 2016 was that the CIA had fallen out of the orbit of paranoid reckoning, replaced by wily Russian operatives in the US imaginary of electoral manipulation.) Not only had the organisation denied this, there was “no evidence” mustered “to support such assertions.”

      The DoD document makes the objective clear; nothing else will suffice than a campaign ranging on various fronts to target WikiLeaks and its system of obtaining and releasing information. “The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current and former insiders, leakers or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy the center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bailing Out Aging Coal Plants is an Unmitigated Disaster

      Montana’s Republican legislators have a long and horrific record of savaging Montana’s consumers while doing everything possible to increase the profits of the state’s utility corporations. Despite the devastating mistakes of the past, they’re at it again. This time with a bill that will allow Montana’s largest utility, NorthWestern Energy, to buy Colstrip for a buck — and inherit the liabilities that come with the shutdown and remediation of the antiquated and massively polluting power complex, which will then be passed on to the utility’s customers.

      Those with good memories will recall the disastrous deregulation bill passed by the Republican-dominated legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Marc Racicot in 1997. The measure was sponsored by Sen. Fred Thomas, a Hamilton Republican widely known back then as “the man of a thousand bad ideas.” Thomas is back in the legislature and, not surprisingly, still lives up to that description.

      The phony premise behind utility deregulation was that “competition” and “choice” would bring Montana’s consumers lower energy prices. Since Montana had the lowest-cost power in the region, it was pretty obvious competition was not going to lower our energy prices. But never letting facts interfere with ideology, the Republicans stuffed through the massive bill with their majorities and set in motion a tidal wave of disastrous consequences.

      Montana Power Company, then-owner of the Colstrip complex and a monopoly utility regulated by the Montana Public Service Commission, decided to sell its holdings in the coal plants and hydroelectric dams and then turned itself into Touch America, a communications company. The result? Montana’s electricity costs went from lowest in the region to highest while Montana Power went bankrupt and, tragically, took stockholder and pension funds down with it.

    • Trump climate advisory panel structured to avoid public records

      The group will be structured so that it can do its work off the record. The Post notes that a formal Federal Advisory Committee would include having meetings in public and creating extensive public records of its deliberations. As a result, the new plan is to create an ad-hoc working group instead, which avoids the need for any public disclosure.

    • Yes, The Paris Climate Agreement Sucks

      The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 was a big deal as 195 nations agreed to take steps to mitigate global temperatures to +2°C, but preferably +1.5°C, post-industrial or over the past 250 years. When temperatures exceed those levels, all hell breaks loose with our precious life-support ecosystems.

      Today, we’re already more than halfway to that first temperature guardrail but accelerating fast. Problematically, the latency effect of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions impacting global temperature is several years; similarly, a household oven turned to 450°F doesn’t immediately go to 450°F. Earth’s atmosphere, similar to that oven, takes time (years and years) to respond to GHGs that essentially turn up its thermostat.

      Implementation of Paris ‘15, however, is another matter. With four years of hindsight, the original Paris Agreement appears to be nothing more than “hope springs eternal.”

    • World may hit 56m year carbon level by 2159

      Humankind could be about to open the throttle on greenhouse gas emissions and revert to a 56m year carbon level – to a world with a global temperature marked by ice-free poles and crocodiles in the waters of the Arctic.

      And it could happen by the year 2159 – just five human generations or 140 years from now.

      By then, if humans go on burning ever-greater quantities of fossil fuels to underwrite ever-accelerating destruction of forests, wetlands and savannahs, they will have pumped into the atmosphere about as much carbon as accumulated during a geological period called the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a dramatic global warming event that reached its peak 56 million years ago.

      The long-ago warming event occurred naturally, and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere happened over a timespan of between 3,000 and 20,000 years.

    • What One Scientist Learned in 50 Years of Studying the Earth’s Climate

      When Warren Washington completed his doctorate in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University in 1964 he was just the second African American ever to earn a PhD in the atmospheric sciences. In May, Washington, now 82, will return to the school for a ceremony as a building is named in his honor.

      It’s just one more thing that Washington, a pioneer in the study of climate change, can add to a long list of accolades. In 2010 President Obama honored him with the National Medal of Science. And this month Washington was named winner of the Tyler Prize, the prestigious award recognizing environmental achievement. He shares this year’s prize with fellow climate scientist Michael Mann.

      Washington helped pioneer the field of atmospheric computer modeling, a tool that’s widely used today to help better understand climate change. At the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where he began working in 1963, he helped build one of the first computer models to understand the Earth’s climate. He worked there until retiring last year.

    • Game Over? Report Card on Our Planet’s Environment

      The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report for 2019 indicates that most experts point to environmental problems as being the most serious threats to global stability—just as they found in the previous two years. That report follows on one in October 2018 by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It said with “high confidence” that at the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, “global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.” Avoiding the worst-case consequences would require measures that have “no documented historic precedent.”

      As Americans see the evidence of climate-influenced destruction, they’re on edge: Seventy-two percent of those polled late last year considered climate change “important,” a 15-percentage point increase over 2015. Sixty-nine percent were “worried” about it.

      So here we are again, facing another round of bad news on the environment. Actually, the news is worse this time around. 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record; 2015-2017 are the other three. The Arctic experienced its second-warmest year ever. The head of the World Meteorological Organization said: “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.”

    • Of Insects and Men

      Insects are all over the world – in and over the waters at the edge of the seas, in and over the waters of lakes, rivers and creeks and swamps and irrigation ditches. They thrive in the forests, mountains, deserts, land, cities, villages, in the tropics and in the homes of the poor and the powerful. Their populations are the largest of all other species. They have been occupying the Earth for 400 million years.

      However, insects are tiny, short-lived organisms, hiding for the most part under the surface of the land, crawling in the floor, among rocks, and on everything that has roots, trunk or leaves. So, unless they are beautiful like the Monarch butterflies and obviously very useful like honeybees, insects are invisible.

      We call scientists who study insects entomologists from the Greek word for insect, entomon, something that is divided in parts. Aristotle gave this name to insects, saying these parts or notches are on the bellies or the backs and bellies of insects. He studied honeybees and mayflies and some other five-hundred animals in his pioneering zoological research. He founded science and biology as we know them.He urged us to study and love animals because we live in their midst. They make up the natural world, which is absolutely essential for human survival and happiness.

    • If Emissions Aren’t Curbed, Clouds May Disappear

      A study just published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows that if we continue with business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions, the atmosphere will hold 1,200 parts per million CO2 in about a century from now, which will cause stratocumulus clouds to disappear. Their absence could leave the Earth to warm by a staggering 8 degrees Celsius (8°C).

      The computer simulation used in the study showed that once that 1,200 parts per million (ppm) tipping point of atmospheric CO2 is breached, the Earth’s temperature would soar by 4°C just from the CO2. Then, it would increase by another 4°C due to the absent clouds no longer reflecting solar radiation back into space.

      Stratocumulus clouds cover around two-thirds of the planet, and play a key role in keeping the planet cool, due to their white color and reflective qualities. Research has shown that planetary warming correlates with the loss of clouds. This is yet another unforeseen climate feedback loop that could catapult us into catastrophic warming.

      Kerry Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is a leading authority on atmospheric physics, told Quanta Magazine that the results of the study still needed to be replicated independently, but that the possibility of the simulation being accurate was “very plausible.”

    • Another Oil Train Crashes as Alberta Government Gets Into Oil-by-Rail Business

      The government of Alberta, Canada, the heart of tar sands country, recently announced plans to get into the oil-by-rail business. Attempting to work around a lack of pipelines, the provincial government intends to spend $3.7 billion to lease 4,400 oil tank cars and locomotives to export more Canadian tar sands oil to the U.S. The announcement came just days after the latest oil train derailment and spill in Manitoba, Canada.

    • Sunrise Movement Turns Up the Heat on Congress

      Hundreds of protesters converged Monday at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in Washington, D.C., to demand support for the Green New Deal resolution. McConnell never appeared, and 42 people were arrested.

      The protest was organized by the Sunrise Movement, a youth-oriented environmental group that formed in late 2017. The movement’s profile was boosted last month when two Democrats, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, proposed the New Green Deal legislation to Congress.

    • The Sunrise Movement Hits Capitol Hill

      On Monday, hundreds of young climate activists from the Sunshine Movement converged on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Washington, D.C. office to demand that he and other legislators get behind the Green New Deal resolution. The Capitol Police arrested 42 people.

  • Finance

    • S.E.C. Wants Elon Musk Held in Contempt of Court for Tesla Post on Twitter

      The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday asked a federal court to hold Mr. Musk, chief executive of Tesla, in contempt of court for violating a settlement that he and the company reached with the commission last year. The S.E.C. said Mr. Musk issued an updated production outlook in a Twitter post on last Tuesday without first seeking approval from the company’s lawyers as required under the agreement.

    • SEC declares war on Elon Musk after another misleading tweet

      But the SEC argues that Musk broke those rules promise with last week’s tweet. On Wednesday, the agency wrote letters to Musk and Tesla asking whether Musk had gotten his tweet pre-approved as required by the settlement. In a Friday response, Tesla’s lawyer admitted that he hadn’t.

    • Americans Prefer Economic Insecurity Over Fair Minimum Wage, Says Heiress Ivanka Trump

      Workers’ rights advocates were among those who expressed a mix of amusement, anger, and shock—but not surprise—when Ivanka Trump waded into the national conversation on whether Americans should have the right to a living wage, despite her lack of experience in working to afford necessities.

      In an interview with Steve Hilton on Fox News, President Donald Trump’s adviser and eldest daughter attacked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal resolution, asserting that provisions in the climate action legislation including a $15 minimum wage and a guaranteed jobs program would be unpopular with the American people.

      Americans, she claimed, “want to work for what they get” instead of “being given something.”

    • Photo Essay: Oakland Teachers Fight for Public Education
    • New investigative report says ‘Putin’s chef’ earned billions of dollars in shady state procurement deals over the past eight years

      According to a new report by Current Time, companies with ties to the catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin have won a whopping 5,393 state procurement contracts worth more than 209.2 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) since 2011. The new investigative study by Mikhail Maglov, Timur Olevsky, and Dmitry Treshchanin states that Prigozhin’s empire uses a network of different firms, fielding different bids for the same contracts to create the illusion of competition.

      Current Time warns that it wasn’t able to find all of Prigozhin’s likely government contracts, pointing out that an order by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2017 allowed Defense Ministry subsidiaries to start classifying most procurement purchases.

    • Foxconn Played Wisconsin—With Scott Walker’s Help

      A newspaper photograph last summer portrayed three guys in suits and ties shoveling dirt. They were Donald Trump, then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and the chairman of Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics conglomerate.
      They were doing a PR groundbreaking for a new Foxconn plant that supposedly would hire thousands of blue-collar workers in Wisconsin to make flat-screen televisions. All three hailed the event as the start of a Made-in-the-USA manufacturing renaissance.
      But it was actually a corporate scam.
      Walker, who was up for re-election, was giving away a whopping $4 billion from his state’s taxpayers to lure Foxconn. Still, Trump hailed the deal as “the eighth wonder of the world.”
      Less than a year later, though — oops — it turns out the three had been shoveling BS.
      In January, Foxconn quietly backed away from its promise of all those factory jobs, declaring that “the global market environment” had changed. “In terms of TV,” they said, “we have no place in the U.S.” Having already pocketed much of Walker’s bribe money, Foxconn was downsizing its project from a mass-production blue-collar factory to a much, much smaller R&D operation.

    • To Save Independent Journalism, ‘Ambitious’ Proposal Urges Tax on Tech Giants That Helped Destroy News Industry

      “While this approach doesn’t pretend to solve all of the problems surrounding platforms or journalism, a tax on advertising revenues is a winnable fight and achievable through an act of Congress,” charges the report, Beyond Fixing Facebook (pdf). “If we want to get serious about confronting corporate power and reversing local journalism’s downward spiral, this is where to start.”

      Co-authored by Craig Aaron, Free Press president and CEO, and Timothy Karr, the group’s senior director of strategy and communications, the report outlines how independent and local journalism has increasingly disappeared, to the detriment of democracy, as social media platforms and search engines have greatly expanded and “hastened the spread of hate speech and propaganda and exploited people’s personal data and private information in myriad ways with little accountability, transparency, or consequences.”

    • Want to Save Journalism? Tax the Attention Economy

      Way, way back in 2009 as Facebook was celebrating its fifth anniversary, CEO Mark Zuckerberg blogged that the company was founded “to give people the tools to engage and understand the world around them.”

      In the 10 years since then, Facebook’s user base has multiplied more than 10 times. But instead of giving people the tools to better understand the world, Zuckerberg’s creation has hastened the global spread of misinformation designed to divide populations and manipulate voters.

      At the same time, news organizations are laying off scores of hard-working journalists, those we rely on to set the record straight. Since 2004, about 20 percent of U.S. newspapers have stopped printing, leaving nearly 200,000 newsroom employees without work and at least 900 communities without anyone covering local news.

      While the news industry is in free fall, Facebook rode its year of nonstop scandals to record profits, reporting a net fourth-quarter income in 2018 of nearly $6.9 billion, up 61 percent from the same period in 2017.

      The most recent rounds of layoffs, including sizable cuts at digital news sites Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Vice, have awakened people to just how dire the economics of news have become. If we don’t act now, the downward spiral for local and independent journalism may be irreversible, with harrowing consequences for our democracy.

    • Russian police issue APB for former director of Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation

      Russian police have issued an all-points bulletin naming Roman Rubanov, the former director of Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Records available in the Interior Ministry’s database do not indicate the charges against Rubanov, whose phone was turned off on Tuesday. FBK director Ivan Zhdanov did not respond immediately to Meduza’s request for more information about Rubanov’s case.

      Russian Civic Chamber member and notorious Navalny critic Ilya Remeslo told the website Ruposters that he believes Rubanov is wanted in connection with his alleged felony refusal to abide by a ruling in a defamation lawsuit against FBK. Since October 2018, Russian Criminal Code Article 315 (“non-execution of a court’s judgement”) has applied not only to state officials but also ordinary citizens who have committed the same misdemeanor offense within the past 12 months.

    • Survival of the Richest

      Like a gilded coating that makes the dullest things glitter, today’s thin veneer of political populism covers a grotesque underbelly of growing inequality that’s hiding in plain sight. And this phenomenon of ever more concentrated wealth and power has both Newtonian and Darwinian components to it.

      In terms of Newton’s first law of motion: those in power will remain in power unless acted upon by an external force. Those who are wealthy will only gain in wealth as long as nothing deflects them from their present course. As for Darwin, in the world of financial evolution, those with wealth or power will do what’s in their best interest to protect that wealth, even if it’s in no one else’s interest at all.

      In George Orwell’s iconic 1945 novel, Animal Farm, the pigs who gain control in a rebellion against a human farmer eventually impose a dictatorship on the other animals on the basis of a single commandment: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In terms of the American republic, the modern equivalent would be: “All citizens are equal, but the wealthy are so much more equal than anyone else (and plan to remain that way).”

      Certainly, inequality is the economic great wall between those with power and those without it.

      As the animals of Orwell’s farm grew ever less equal, so in the present moment in a country that still claims equal opportunity for its citizens, one in which three Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom half of society (160 million people), you could certainly say that we live in an increasingly Orwellian society. Or perhaps an increasingly Twainian one.

      After all, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner wrote a classic 1873 novel that put an unforgettable label on their moment and could do the same for ours. The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today depicted the greed and political corruption of post-Civil War America. Its title caught the spirit of what proved to be a long moment when the uber-rich came to dominate Washington and the rest of America. It was a period saturated with robber barons, professional grifters, and incomprehensibly wealthy banking magnates. (Anything sound familiar?) The main difference between that last century’s gilded moment and this one was that those robber barons built tangible things like railroads. Today’s equivalent crew of the mega-wealthy build remarkably intangible things like tech and electronic platforms, while a grifter of a president opts for the only new infrastructure in sight, a great wall to nowhere.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Getting Sanders Backwards

      I live in Rhode Island, the Petri dish of Democratic Party policy initiatives, the incubator where legislative measures are given a test drive before making a wider premiere first along other sections of the I-95 corridor and later nationwide. In the past 4 years that Bernie Sanders has been a force on our national political landscape, the impact has been wildly erratic, spanning a range from notable to negligible. Yet even at its most impactful, something that I will elaborate upon momentarily, his impact has been in the realm of protest politics, not Washington policy initiatives, and claims to the contrary amount to little more than wishful thinking combined with self-important grandstanding.

    • ‘He has learned nothing,’ Zuckerberg considers crowdsourcing news fact-checks for Facebook

      Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveals the company may crowdsource fact-checking as a new model for Facebook’s third-party factchecking partnerships, now that they’ve botched the deal they had with Snopes.

    • Congress Is Unlikely to Stop Trump’s “Emergency,” But Lawsuits Could

      Today, the House of Representatives is poised to adopt a resolution overturning Donald Trump’s trumped-up “national emergency” proclamation, in which he claims authority to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall at the southern border.

      The National Emergencies Act requires Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the House resolution to a vote within 18 days. In order to prevail in the Senate, four Republicans would have to defy Trump. If the bill passes both houses of Congress, Trump has pledged to veto it and there is little chance Congress could muster the two-thirds necessary to override his veto.

      In the likely event the legislature fails to void Trump’s “emergency” declaration, the judicial branch will have the opportunity to check and balance the executive. Six lawsuits have already been filed in federal courts around the country. They quote Trump’s own words to demonstrate that even he doesn’t believe there’s a bona fide emergency. The suits claim Trump violated the Constitution’s Separation of Powers mandate by circumventing the will of Congress, which has rejected Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for his wall. And they allege violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

    • Scurrying Fascist Cockroaches

      The question of the appropriation of Environmental movements by Capital is one that has been resisted even more than I had anticipated. So, right off the bat I encourage you to read Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer’s Wrong Kind of Green…especially now, part four.

      Now this stuff links directly with the rise of the newest wave of sheepdogging Democratic Party hopefuls. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and now, Ilhan Omar, are the darlings of liberal media and punditry. Omar read (haltingly) from a prepared text as she questioned war criminal Elliot Abrams. She essentially called him a liar, which he is, but which is also what the US government itself already calls him. And she mentioned El Mozote. But, when push came to shove, as they say, Omar like Ocasio Cortez, signed on for regime change in Venezuela.

      Now, Ocasio Cortez is floating something she calls the Green New Deal (which, in another form, was already promoted by Green Party candidate Jill Stein) and which is a nakedly pro capitalist bit of three card monte that will provide a boost to the nuclear power industry and line various corporate pockets. Its capitalism. Omar and Ocasio Cortez also signed the odious Code Pink letter condemning US involvement in coups while at the same time slandering and fabricating stories about Maduro. The logic of the letter was that US proxy forces and covert activities had a counter productive effect and only helped to shore up the credibility of the Maduro government. In other words, fascism is OK, is just fine, only please do it in ways that will not bruise my delicate sensitivities.

    • Time to Get on Board With Bernie

      On CNN last week, morning host Poppy Harlow interviewed liberal Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island. Harlow aired a poll showing that socialism is now preferred over capitalism by fully 57 percent of U.S. Democrats. Then she asked Cicilline if this indicates that the Democratic Party is shifting in the direction of socialism.

      Cicilline denied any such radical change. He declared all the Democratic presidential candidates besides Bernie Sanders to be capitalists, and said, “I don’t see any movement in the Democratic Party towards socialism at all. I know the president is making that argument; I think it’s a silly one.”

      It’s curious that a five-term, liberal House Democrat insists that his party is still true-blue capitalist and is making no “movement toward socialism at all,” even as the percentage of Democratic voters who prefer socialism over capitalism climbs up to 6 in 10.

    • Ukania’s Party Defections

      The shambolic meanderings of Brexit took another turn, when 8 Labour MPs and 3 of their Tory counterparts defected from their respective parties to form The Independent Group (TIG).

      A ninth Labour MP, Ian Austin, left without joining TIG– the Tiggers want a second Brexit referendum, which Austin opposes.

      Ukania’s Labour party has faced constant disruption from its Blairite rump, hell-bent from the beginning on undermining the leadership and policies of Jeremy Corbyn.

      The 8 Labour Tiggers and Ian Austin cited Corbyn’s handling of Brexit and alleged mishandling of the antisemitism “crisis” within the Labour party as the primary reasons for their defection.

    • Sanders Tackles Democratic Socialism, Racial Inequality, the ‘Fraud’ of Trump, the ‘Existential’ Climate Crisis, and Much More During CNN Town Hall

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) covered the issues of democratic socialism, Trump’s endless lying, racial inequality and reparations for slavery, Medicare for All, what he called the “existential crisis” of climate change, student debt, foreign policy and U.S. military intervention, and much else during Monday night’s town hall event hosted by CNN.

      The overall message of his campaign, Sanders said, “is that we have got to bring the American people together around an agenda which creates a government that works for all of us, not just those on top.”

      For those who missed it, here’s a selection of key moments.

    • Can Bernie Sanders Fix the Broken American Dream?

      Watching Sanders this morning, cajoling his troops, emoting his followers and leading them again, it is clear that what underlies his movement and gives him energy is the cause. The objective is to give more and more people access to some of the enormous wealth of this extraordinary country.
      “The way he was talking, you’d be mad to rule out another presidential bid in 2020.”

      This was my conclusion to an article published following a weekend at the Sanders Institute in Vermont last November. It ran counter to the prevailing wisdom that Bernie Sanders shouldn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t run for the US presidency again on the grounds that he was too old. If elected in 2020 he will be 79 years old, which would make him the oldest Democratic president ever.

    • Democrats, It’s Time We Had A Talk About Power

      It should not be difficult for Democrats to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 3 million votes. His overall approval rating has never ― not for one day ― eclipsed 50 percent. His main political tactic, scapegoating immigrants, doesn’t work very well. After making the 2018 midterms a referendum on a migrant caravan, Trump ended up ceding 41 House seats to the Democratic Party ― the worst result for Republicans since 1974.

      But if anybody can screw this thing up, it’s the leadership of the modern Democratic Party. They did, after all, manage to lose to this guy three years ago.
      And one troubling sign is the dangerous new orthodoxy that seems to be hardening in Washington, in which Democrats are forbidden from criticizing other Democrats to avoid empowering Trump ahead of the election. It’s fine to debate policy, this thinking goes, but it’s not OK to criticize governing records, question priorities or impugn motivations. Any hint of intra-party infighting, it’s argued, would only weaken the eventual 2020 nominee.

    • 2020 Democratic Hopefuls Embrace New Meaning of Reparations

      Several Democratic presidential candidates are embracing reparations for the descendants of slaves — but not in the traditional sense.

      Over the past week, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro spoke of the need for the U.S. government to reckon with and make up for centuries of stolen labor and legal oppression. But instead of backing the direct compensation of African-Americans for the legacy of slavery, the Democratic candidates are talking about using tax credits and other subsidies.

    • For a more perfect union, Restore the Voting Rights Act

      Automatic registration. Vote-by-mail. Same-day registration. Early voting.

      These voting practices are the gold standard. These voting practices are what democracy looks like.

      Many factors affect voter turnout throughout the United States – income, education, race and transportation, for example. One of the greatest influences, though, is the ease and accessibility with which voters can make their voices heard at the polls.

      Voting is the very cornerstone of our democracy. Everything starts with the vote – representation, districting and policies that impact every single American. In the United States, though, voting rights are under attack. Old battles have become new again.

    • Push to Elect Presidents by Popular Vote Gains Momentum

      After Hillary Clinton’s bruising 2016 election loss, when she won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College—the second time in five election cycles this outcome has occurred—multiple advocacy groups, the editorial board of The New York Times and some state legislatures renewed calls for abolishing the Electoral College.

      Now, as NBC affiliate KUSA reports, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, plans to sign a bill that provides for the state’s nine electoral votes for president to go to the candidate who wins the nationwide popular vote, not to the candidate who wins the most votes in the state.

      Eleven other states and Washington, D.C., have joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a joint agreement that would give these states’ votes to the national popular-vote winner. The agreement will only be enacted, however, if states collectively representing 270 electoral votes join. Under the Constitution, states can decide how to “spend” their votes, and most award them to the candidate who wins the most votes in the state.

    • This Moron Is the Only Emergency

      Almost 60 former senior national security officials and grownups, both Democrats and Republicans, just wrote an open letter protesting there is “no emergency that remotely justifies” the Trumpster Fire’s illegal move to build a border wall. Noting that “collectively we have devoted a great many decades to protecting the security interests of the United States,” the 58 former secretaries of state, secretaries of defense, secretary of homeland security, CIA director, head of national intelligence, national security adviser, multiple directors of counterterrorism agencies and many ambassadors declared Trump’s actions “at odds with the overwhelming evidence in the public record, including the administration’s own data.” Citing a mountain of documentation known to anyone not deranged – record low illegal border crossings and no terrorist, national security, violent crime, human or drug trafficking emergency threats – they find “under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today” that entitles Trump to carry on with his wall madness.

    • This 2007 Bernie Sanders Interview Is Still Tragically Relevant

      This video is one of the many Sanders videos that bolster this theory. In this interview with Sanders conducted by Truthout reporter Geoff Millard back in 2007, the Vermont senator holds forth on a number of the pressing topics of the day. Twelve years later, however, Sanders’s words are surprisingly apt in describing the current situation, as well, given Donald Trump’s aggressive ignorance regarding his legal responsibilities, and the ongoing national crisis of money in politics and media.

    • The Return of the Inexplicable Republican Best Friend – Media present GOP left-bashing as good-faith advice

      It’s a trope that dates back more than a decade, but the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has seen a recent surge in the Inexplicable Republican Best Friend (IRPF), a specific genre of concern-trolling where a long-time Republican operative, politician or pundit offers “advice” to Democrats about how they should avoid going “too far left.”

      These takes—frequently featured as earnest appeals in liberal and centrist outlets—are ostensibly framed as straight-talk advice that should be accepted as objectively in the Democrats’ best interest, and never presented as an ideological argument that would otherwise make sense coming from a right-winger. “Republican hates socialism” isn’t that newsworthy, whereas “GOP operative identifies Democrats’ best interests” somehow is.

    • To Counter Trump’s Fake Border Crisis, Poor People’s Campaign Tour Aims to Expose ‘Real Emergencies’ Nation Faces

      “Instead of tackling the real emergencies,” said campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, “the president is diverting funds to build a monument to white supremacy at our southern border.” Meanwhile, she pointed out, 140 million Americans (pdf) are “just one emergency away from poverty,” and 14 million households can’t even afford their water bills.

      The National Emergency Truth & Poverty Bus Tour is set to begin in late March and has stops scheduled in 27 states and Washington, D.C. It will focus on five sweeping issues impacting Americans: systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy, and “our distorted moral narrative.”

      Although the tour comes partly as a challenge to Trump’s racist anti-immigration policies, campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber II emphasized that these “socio-political and moral emergencies” need to be addressed by lawmakers across the political spectrum. As Barber put, “Democrats haven’t done enough to make things better and Republicans do too much to make things worse.”

      “Part of the problem that we see in policies of Democrats vs. Republicans is one talks about they want the wall and the other side said they don’t want the wall,” Barber told The Associated Press. “But nobody has sat down and said: ‘Here are the real emergencies and here is how these resources could be used to address these real emergencies.’”

    • ‘Please Do Your Job’: Grassroots Group Circulates New Pledge Calling on Lawmakers to Support Trump Impeachment

      Calling on election officials to move “off the fence and into action to remove Donald Trump from office,” a grassroots coalition on Tuesday introduced a pledge for members of Congress to sign stating that they will vote to impeach President Donald Trump and support the national movement to ensure that impeachment is pursued by lawmakers.

      The national group By the People joined with CREDO Action and other progressive action groups in circulating the pledge, which reads, “I pledge to defend the Constitution and the American People by voting to impeach President Donald J. Trump.”

      As of Tuesday afternoon, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) were the only two members of Congress who had signed the pledge.

      “As I always say: Tick tock, Individual 1,” said Tlaib, using the code name that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has used to refer to Trump in documents. “I can’t wait for us to show people, especially families in my district, that they are being put first—and that we’re going to hold everyone accountable to the law, including the President of the United States.”

    • Golf Claps and Clapbacks Are Not Solidarity

      Solidarity is the foundation of building political power. When an elected official steps in and lends their voice to an issue that we care about, our voices are amplified. Elected officials are theoretically there to speak up on our behalf, fight for what we believe in, and to take positions that are risky.

      The problem is that we ascribe the same amount of value to every statement that an elected official makes, no matter how calculated and self-serving it is. More often than not, elected officials are bound by message discipline that keeps them from the kind of nuanced judgments required by social issues.

      When they speak up on issues that matter to us or they speak out against an issue that plagues us, they’re rarely taking an uncalculated risk. It takes very little work of reading between the lines when that message discipline helps them build power. If they’re repeating a position instead of responding to the actual content of an issue, they’re hoping to sell us a vehicle without us ever taking a peek under the hood.

      When any public figure, especially elected officials, is anti-Semitic, homophobic, or accused of human rights abuses, we want others to speak up. However, as 84% of Americans think money has too much influence in politics, nearly the same number are afflicted with magical thinking when they assume elected officials are speaking from the heart.

    • Follow the Money to the Border Wall

      Readers may rightly believe that the government and segments of this society have fallen to their absolute lowest levels just as a new outrage becomes obvious. Such is the case with Trump’s (read his far-right handlers) border wall.

      What are the objectives of the border wall? In other words, just what does the man behind the curtain and his handlers have in mind? First, they placate their base of haters and ignoramuses. Next, they make lots and lots of money for their special interests such as security companies, gun manufacturers, infrastructure companies, the military, and other government agencies.

      The Real News Network presents a compelling recounting of just who will profit from Trump’s latest outburst of hate in “Trump’s Border Wall: Who Profits?” (February 25, 2019). Not surprisingly, some companies, like selected Israeli security companies that supply all manner of security equipment such as is used on Israel’s border wall (the Israeli West Bank barrier) at its border with the West Bank, have already seen their stock prices skyrocket: Follow the money: Make some good bets! Readers may be able to see the demonization of immigrants trying to enter the U.S. at the U.S./Mexican border connected to the plight of the Palestinian people in the West Bank. The comparison is more than valid.There’s lots of money to be made around the world from so-called security devices.

    • Chicago Will Elect a Black Woman as Its Mayor for First Time

      A former federal prosecutor and a county board leader will face each other in a runoff to become Chicago’s first black female mayor after leading a large field Tuesday that included a member of the Daley family that has dominated the city’s politics for much of the last six decades.

      Political outsider Lori Lightfoot, who was a federal prosecutor in northern Illinois, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle were the top two vote-getters among 14 candidates, but neither received more than the 50 percent needed to avoid an April 2 runoff. The winner will succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lead the nation’s third-largest city. Emanuel did not seek re-election.

      Among those they defeated was William Daley, who has never held major elected office but featured the most famous surname in the race. His father, Richard J. Daley, and brother, Richard M. Daley, held the city’s top job for nearly 43 years of a 55-year span before Emanuel took the oath in 2011. Daley is a former U.S. Commerce secretary who, like Emanuel, served as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Police open three investigation papers over insults on Islam (Updated)

      Police have initiated investigation papers into three cases of social-media users insulting Islam, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said today.

      He said in the first case, a total of 478 police reports were lodged against a Facebook user, who posted words and infographics that were insulting to Islam.

    • Dr Arslan Khalid appointed as Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media

      According to an earlier notification shared on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) website, Dr Khalid was appointed as the Secretary Social Media of PTI on March 1, 2018. Before this, he had served as the Operations Head of the party’s social media team.

    • FIA watching social media to curb ‘anti-national propaganda, hate speech’

      A senior official confirmed that after the decision of the federal government, all three FIA cybercrime centres in Sindh — Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur — had been officially directed to keep a close eye on social media and all digital platforms.

    • New Govt. Proposals Aim to Restrict Pirate Sites in India

      The latest draft of India’s National E-Commerce Policy includes a number of measures to crack down on pirate sites. Among other things, intermediaries will be required to restrict distribution of copyrighted content while search engines will have to purge their results of identified pirate sites.

    • YouTube And Demonetization: The Hammer And Nail Of Content Moderation

      Last week we had a story about a bunch of Pokemon YouTubers discovering their accounts were dropped after YouTube confused their discussion of “CP” (Combat Points), thinking it might actually refer to a different “CP”: child porn. The accounts were reinstated after a bit of an outcry.

      It appears that this was part of a larger effort by YouTube to deal with a variety of problems on its platform (and, yes, its platform has problems). But some of the resulting stories suggest that YouTube is so focused on “demonetization” as a tool that it’s losing sight of alternatives. The Pokemon story appears to have actually been part of a larger effort to respond to claims that child predators were using the comments of certain, perfectly normal videos of kids to, well, do bad stuff. The whole thing is pretty sickening and horrifying and I have no interest in going into the details.

      As the controversy over this — quite reasonably — gained attention, some pointed out that these videos with exploitative comments were, in many cases, being monetized with big brand name ads appearing next to them. This type of complaint is… not new. People have been complaining about brand names appearing in ads next to “bad” content or “infringing” content for many years. Of course, it’s pretty much all matched by algorithm, and part of the problem is that because people are gaming the system, the algorithm (and YouTube) hadn’t quite caught on to what was happening. Of course, the outcry from the public — especially about the monetization — then resulted in advertisers pulling all their ads from YouTube. And, whether it was the advertisers leaving or the general public outcry (it was almost certainly both, but I’m sure most people will assume it was the advertisers bailing that really made the difference), YouTube went on a big new effort to pull ads from lots of videos.

    • Beware The Rise Of Censorship Under The Guise Of Stopping Fake News: UK Regulators Push For Dangerous Plan

      When we last checked in with UK Parliament Member Damian Collins, he was creating fake news at a hearing he set up to scold Facebook for enabling fake news. If you don’t recall, Collins held a very theatrical hearing, in which his big reveal was that Facebook had actually become aware of Russians hacking its API with billions of questionable requests back in 2014, years before anyone thought they were doing anything. Except, as became clear hours later, Collins completely misrepresented what actually happened. It wasn’t Russians. It was Pinterest. And it wasn’t billions of requests for data. It was millions. And it wasn’t abusive or hacking. It was something going a little haywire on Pinterest’s end. But, to Collins it was a smoking gun.

      It appears that that little incident has not deterred Collins from his war on Facebook, in which he’s using moral panic and fear mongering over “fake news” to try to censor content he doesn’t like. Recently, Collins’ committee — the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee — published its big report on fake news, in which it calls for new regulatory powers to “oversee” what content goes on sites like Facebook. With the report, Collins put out quite the bombastic comment about all of this.

    • China Extends Its Censorship To Australian Books, Written By Australian Authors For Australian Readers

      As the story in the Australian newspaper The Age explains, the reason why Chinese censors are able to impose their views on books designed for the Australian market is that it’s cheaper to have books printed in China than in Europe, say, especially it if involves color illustrations. As a result, publishers can be faced with the choice of accepting Chinese demands, or not publishing the book at all because the costs are too high.

      The list of taboo topics is long, albeit pretty specific to China. It includes mention of major Chinese political figures, such as Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping, as well as a list of 118 dissidents whose names may not be mentioned. Political topics such as Tiananmen Square, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Tibetan independence, Uyghurs and Falun Gong are all out. Pornography is completely forbidden, but even artistic nudity can be censored. The Chinese authorities are very sensitive to how maps are drawn, since they can involve disputed borders. More surprising is the ban on mentioning major religions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • UK Suggests US Worries About Huawei Spying Are Being Overblown

      So, while there’s really no denying that Chinese smartphone and network gearmaker Huawei engages in some clearly sketchy behavior, it’s not anything that can’t be matched by our own, home-grown sketchy telecom companies. And while the Trump administration has been engaged in a widespread effort to blackball Huawei gear from the American market based on allegations of spying on Americans, nobody’s been able to provide a shred of public evidence that this actually occurs. At the same time, we tend to ignore the fact that the United States broke into Huawei to steal code and implant backdoors as early as 2007.

      In short, this subject is more complicated that the blindly-nationalistic U.S. press coverage tends to indicate, and a not-insubstantial portion of this hand-wringing is driven by good old-fashioned protectionism.

    • AT&T Throwing FundRaiser For Senate Chair Ahead Of Privacy Hearings

      Scandal after scandal after scandal has resulted in many finally realizing that the United States is likely going to have to craft at least some basic privacy guidelines moving forward. The problem: with so many justly wary of Congressional Luddites screwing it up, and so many wealthy industries lobbying jointly to try and weaken the potential guidelines, this isn’t going to be a pretty process. If we come out of it with anything even closely resembling a decent privacy law for the digital age (one that doesn’t make things worse) we’ll be very fortunate.

      But it’s hard to craft much of any meaningful privacy rules when Congress is so grotesquely beholden to the industries they’re supposed to be holding accountable. That was made pretty obvious when the telecom sector lobbied to kill some basic FCC privacy guidelines the FCC had approved before they could even take effect back in 2017. Those rules simply required that ISPs be transparent about what data is being collected and who it would be sold to, something that could have proven extremely useful in the wake of these revelations of carriers selling your location data to any and every nitwit in America.

    • Watching the Black Body

      To his shock, Balogun later discovered that the FBI had been monitoring him for years. He also discovered that he had been arrested that day for one specific reason: he had posted a Facebook update that criticized police.

      Balogun is considered by some to be the first individual prosecuted under a secretive government program that tracks so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIEs).

    • Germany’s Federal Data Protection Commissioner: EU copyright reform poses risks to data protection

      In my previous post I reported and commented on the two-thirds majority of the members of the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee (JURI) that voted in favor of the proposed EU Copyright Directive and announced at the end that I was going to translate–in the post you now have in front of you–a statement that came out just before the JURI vote and may help with a view to the European Parliament’s plenary vote as well as the further process, provided there is a further process, which requires the Parliament to reject or amend the directive.

      The Federal Data Protection Commissioner of Germany, Ulrich Kelber, issued a statement voicing his concerns about the most problematic element of the bill in its current form: upload filters. The bill doesn’t mention them explicitly, but simply makes them a de facto requirement, and Mr. Kelber’s statement (in German; I’ll translate the full text below) addresses the ramifications of upload filters for data protection.

    • India Proposes New E-Commerce Rules To Store Data Locally

      Months after India came up with new rules on FDI in e-commerce, India has now proposed new standards in the e-commerce sector with a focus on local data centers in the country and enhanced privacy measures.

      The proposed rules hint at data centers and server farms in India to ensure that users’ data stay in the country.

    • Companies reveal mountains of sensitive commercial data in their APIs
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Behind “Right to Fail,” a ProPublica-Frontline Collaboration to Overcome Roadblocks and Privacy Restrictions

      In early 2017, I received a tip that the New York State Department of Health was trying to evade a federal court order that required officials to move thousands of people with mental illness out of troubled adult homes and into their own apartments.

      [...]

      I started to hear stories of those struggling in their new apartments, almost completely out of sight from the state. An independent court monitor appointed to oversee the transition had noted in his reports that the state failed to track bad outcomes for those who had moved out of adult homes. While the monitor said many in supported housing were doing well, he recounted cases of some who were not. My editor, Alexandra Zayas, and I found the anecdotes alarming, both in the depth of the despair and the lack of involvement by state and social service agencies.

      One woman stopped taking her medication, began soliciting sex from passing cars, swapped alcohol for drugs with neighborhood children and ultimately became homeless. We began thinking about how to assess the extent of the problem. If the government wasn’t tracking it, maybe we could.

    • California keeps a secret list of criminal cops, but says you can’t have it: Attorney General warns reporters it’s illegal to possess list of thousands of cop convictions

      But when Becerra’s office learned about the disclosure, it threatened the reporters with legal action unless they destroyed the records, insisting they are confidential under state law and were released inadvertently. The two journalism organizations have rejected Becerra’s demands.

    • ‘Shocking’ Report Reveals Thousands of Migrant Children Have Been Sexually Abused While in US Custody

      A House hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy on Tuesday revealed that thousands of children in U.S. custody over the past five years have been subjected to sexual abuse in migrant detention centers.

      Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) released documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing that more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse against minors were filed between 2014 and 2018. More than 1,300 complaints were referred to the Department of Justice.

      “I am deeply concerned with documents that have been turned over by HHS that record a high number of sexual assaults on unaccompanied children in the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement,” Deutch said. “Together, these documents detail an environment of systemic sexual assaults by staff on unaccompanied children.”

      Immigrant rights advocates decried the revelations. Among them was Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) who wrote on social media that the report details “taxpayer-funded abuses of migrant refugee children.”

    • Nearly 6,000 Abuse Complaints at Migrant Children Shelters

      Thousands of accusations of sexual abuse and harassment of migrant children in government-funded shelters were made over the past four years, including scores directed against adult staff members, according to federal data released Tuesday.

      The cases include allegations of inappropriate touching, staff members allegedly watching minors while they bathed and showing pornographic videos to minors. Some of the allegations included inappropriate conduct by minors in shelters against other minors, as well as by staff members.

    • More Reports Of ‘Gladiator Fights’ As California Prison Officials Tear Up Cells To Find Recording Device

      Another fight between rival prisoner groups took place at the state prison in Corcoran, California on the morning of February 20.

      The fight happened during what the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) calls “incremental release,” when small groups of prisoners are released onto the yard together for recreation.

      Prisoners, their families, and advocates argue officials are scheduling incrementals with members of racial groups they know are in conflict. For that reason, they call them “gladiator fights”—a nod to fights orchestrated by Corcoran corrections officers in the 1990s.

      CDCR denies the fights are set up by prison officials.

      The February 20 incident at Facility 3C involved four prisoners from the racial factions known as the Sureños and the Bulldogs, and happened at around 9:40 AM. Officers used a “pepper spray instantaneous blast grenade to quell the incident,” CDCR told Shadowproof, noting prisoners were “decontaminated from the pepper spray and medically evaluated.” No injuries were reported.

    • FBI Debuts ‘First And Only’ Police Shooting Database That Is Neither ‘First’ Nor ‘Only’

      Most of this announcement is incorrect. The Washington Post has been collecting data on shootings by cops for a few years now. The Guardian put a couple of years into this project before dropping it. Fatal Encounters has been around since 2012 — the side project of former newspaper editor D. Brian Burghart… one that now requires 10 hours a day to maintain. There’s even a database of dogs killed by police officers, something no one in the government has ever offered to track.

      So, the FBI is far from the first. It’s not even the “only.” But it could have been both.

      The FBI had a head start. The DOJ’s been charged with collecting this data for more than 15 years now. Its efforts on this front have been nonexistent. The DOJ decided the best way to obtain compliance from the nation’s law enforcement agencies was to do nothing at all. Reporting was completely voluntary, putting the FBI well behind private parties unwilling to wait for law enforcement agencies to pass along data on shootings.

    • Incarceration Is a Deadly Health Risk: Former Chief Medical Officer of NYC Jails Speaks Out

      The former chief medical officer of New York City jails has just published a remarkable new book about the health risks of incarceration. The book is titled “Life and Death in Rikers Island.” Dr. Homer Venters offers unprecedented insight into what happens inside prison walls to create new health risks for incarcerated men and women, including neglect, blocked access to care, physical and sexual violence, and brutality by corrections officers. Venters further reveals that when prisoners become ill, are injured or even die in custody, the facts of the incident are often obscured. We speak to Dr. Venters and Jennifer Gonnerman, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

    • Amy Klobuchar’s Defenders Mistake the Promise of Feminism

      Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s 2020 presidential bid has been beset by grim reporting on her treatment of staff members since the Minnesota Democrat declared her intent to run earlier this month. Reports of Klobuchar’s abuse of staff members have included allegations that she has thrown office supplies such as phones and binders in the direction of underlings in fits of anger, that she regularly berates her workers, and that she has attempted to sink job prospects for staffers departing her office as revenge for their leaving. Her reputation for ill treatment of those in her employ apparently made it difficult for her to put together a team to staff her presidential campaign.

      The reports drew criticism of Klobuchar from most commentators. But some people weren’t convinced. In fact, as former staffers have continued to speak with reporters and allegations of Klobuchar’s office antics have continued to emerge, a specifically feminist line of defense has arisen regarding the senator’s methods of doing business.

    • Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: The Crisis of Online Feminism Today

      I heard this expression frequently when feminist groups would break down and a women would eventually exclaim exasperatingly, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” Over the past few months in feminist groups from the US to the UK, I have witnessed a train wreck of conflicting egos, political narratives that are deemed “incorrect” and myriad other scenarios of women being quite cruel and controlling of other women, albeit on social media which is never known for bringing out the best in people. Still, there are serious problems within feminism online activist circles that have revealed serious issues of elitist narratives that seeks to dispossess others from having a seat at the table in the UK to the meeting of feminists at a far-right venue in Washington DC which sparked the outrage on the other side of the pond. While understandably there are different opinions on how best to do political feminist work, rational discussions are few and far between with mass-shaming quickly becoming the default to a calm online discussion.

      Then I was tagged on one feminist’s wall where she posted about a new French law which will make filling out paperwork for most parents and guardians less confusing. The discussion focussed upon France’s National Assembly having passed a law that will remove the labels “mother” and “father” from forms used in the country’s schools. Today, the number of paper and online forms that automatically default to mother and father make having to deal with every followup problem later (when your form is rejected because you “forgot” to fill out the father) a nightmare. Even signing into municipal portals for childcare placement, online applications for passport renewals and providing details that even free software defaults to a two-parent system, this is a law that is welcome to most because it will save parents time. One would think that of all people, feminists might get behind such a gesture given that women still tend to be the parent that does most of the childcare.

    • U.S. Accused of Trying to Unconstitutionally Strip Citizenship of U.S.-Born Woman Who Joined ISIS

      With the self-proclaimed Islamic State on the verge of losing its last area of control in Syria, nations around the world are debating what do with the men and women who joined ISIS but now want to return home. Here in the United States, the debate centers on a 24-year-old U.S.-born woman who left her family in Alabama in 2014 and moved to Syria, where she lived in the ISIS-controlled caliphate. While in Syria, Hoda Muthana married a series of ISIS fighters, all of whom died in battle. Now she is living in a refugee camp in Syria with her 18-month-old son but is seeking to return to the United States, setting off a constitutional debate. Last week, President Trump tweeted, “I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” The Trump administration is claiming Muthana is not a U.S. citizen, even though she was born in the United States and has been issued U.S. passports. We speak to her family’s attorney, Charlie Swift, the director of the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America.

    • What Does Alabama’s Attorney General Have to Hide in the Police Killing of EJ Bradford?

      In Alabama, a family is still grieving after local police killed their son on Thanksgiving night after a gunman opened fire at a mall. But several months after the incident, the Alabama attorney general is still keeping the Bradfords, and the region’s Black community, in the dark about critical details of what happened that night. The Bradfords and the community still don’t know the identity of the Hoover Police Department officer who fired the fatal shots and the state attorney general refusing to release the evidence he relied on to decide the officer won’t face charges for taking the life of an innocent man.

    • Prosecutors Have the Power to Stop Bad Roadside Drug Tests From Ruining People’s Lives

      Three years ago on New Year’s Eve, Dasha Fincher was arrested in Monroe County, Georgia, after the deputies performed an on-the-spot test of a bag of blue substance that they found in the car in which she was a passenger. The suspicious stuff in the bag came up positive for methamphetamines. After her arrest, the judge in her case set bail at $1 million because she was perceived as a drug trafficker.

      There was just one problem. The roadside drug-test was wrong. The blue substance wasn’t meth — it was cotton candy. Fincher would spend three months in jail because of the faulty test.

      Fincher’s story of cotton-candy-gone-meth isn’t an aberration. The prevalence of false-positive results associated with roadside drug tests is terrifyingly common. ProPublica warned that “a minimum of 100,000 people nationwide plead guilty to drug charges that rely on field-test results as evidence” and that because the tests are so frequently used “even a modest error rate, then, could produce hundreds or even thousands of wrongful convictions.”

    • Texas Is Planning an Execution Based on Fraudulent Testimony

      Billy Wayne Coble was convicted of a Texas triple homicide in 1989. On Thursday, he is scheduled for execution.

      A former ACLU client, Coble’s story was not a happy one before he found himself on death row. He was a Vietnam veteran who had been raised by a mother who was institutionalized for mental illness and by a father debilitated by alcoholism. But if Coble’s execution goes forward, he will be killed not for who he is or for what he’s been convicted of, but because of the testimonies of so-called “experts” whose testimony can be summed up in two words: unreliable junk.

      Years after Coble was initially sentenced to death in 1990, an appellate court in 2007 threw out that death sentence because the trial judge had erred in instructing the sentencing jury. At Coble’s 2008 re-sentencing trial, his behavior in prison between 1990 and 2007 posed a challenge to the state’s claim that, as required for a Texas death sentence, Coble would be a danger to other prison staff and prisoners if not executed.

      As the court later described him, Coble “did not have a single disciplinary report for the eighteen years he had been on death row.” Rather than posing a threat, Coble had instead become known for helping both staff and fellow prisoners alike.

    • Not for Prime Time:“US Kills 951 Civilians!”

      A dry statistic emerged from the UN yesterday reporting that close to 4,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year. It estimated how many were victims of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and then attributed 951 casualties to the U.S. [1]

      These are civilians we killed, and it isn’t even news.

      What is news and what isn’t continues to mystify. It seems when we are the victims, its news; when they are it isn’t.

      Seventeen children were killed in the Parkland shooting. The US media had a blockbuster run on that story featuring it 7,900 times [2]

      Nine people were killed in the Charleston church shooting and the story was wall-to-wall 24-7. [3][4]

      But America’s Afghan killing spree?

      No way.

      These were not “terrorists” or “militants,” by the way, or any of the familiar categories we use to distance ourselves from our actions. These were regular, men, women, children, grandparents, aunt’s, uncles, and cousins who succumbed to American bullets and bombs.

    • No One Is More Oppressed Than Children

      Social justice has become such a loaded term in the Twenty-Teens. There was a time when only renegades gave a flying fuck about the disenfranchised. Now its been hijacked, in name only, by the state to justify its own malign existence. This leads to far too many reactionary renegades either embracing the state as a solution to the woes it perpetuates or conversely rejecting social justice out of hand. The sad reality here is that this has left many oppressed people without any legitimate advocacy outside of their own embattled tribes. The Civil Rights Movement has been twisted into a distraction from the very class issues that serve as the source of virtually all forms of bigotry and too many class warriors have written off social justice as a whole as some kind of neoliberal vanity project. But people are still fucked for more reasons than class even if class is the foreplay that makes that fucking possible.

      Among so-called Social Justice Warriors, the conversation often devolves into a squabble over who gets fucked worst; The blacks or the browns? The trans of the gays? This bickering rarely serves any justifiable purpose but I’m always perplexed by the fact that no one takes the side of the most obvious winner of this dubious distinction. Across the globe, without exception, the most roundly fucked class of people on the planet are children and if that sentence makes you uncomfortable then that’s a start. The fact that this obvious truth is still a total mystery to even the most obsessive compulsive SJW’s only further proves the point. But really think about it, dearest motherfuckers.

      Even here in the supposed civil rights bacchanalia of the West, children are afforded all the rights of pets. They are essentially the property of their adult guardians or even worse, the state, if they see fit to interfere in the oppression process. If you are beneath the sacred age of eighteen in this country, you can’t vote, you can’t own property, you can’t work, and you have absolutely zero say in your living situation. The oppression begins at birth with the glorified genital mutilation of circumcision and, even worse, the painful and invasive surgery that defines intersex children’s physical sex before they can even speak. Children are routinely conditioned to be well-behaved cattle, to be seen but not heard. They are instructed to obey adults without question and do as they’re told. Is it any wonder that children are the number one victims of abuse in this country with the lion share of the abuse being dolled out by the very authority figures they’re groomed to obey; Parents, cops, teachers, priests.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Russia’s government bans the use of satellite Internet without ground stations

      The Russian government has adopted a resolution requiring all satellite traffic in Russia (including telephone and Internet communications) to transmit through ground stations. The new requirements take effect in six months.

      According to the magazine RBC, the resolution is based on findings by the Communications Ministry that operators might create a national security threat by offering “uncontrolled use of foreign satellites communication systems and access to the Internet across Russia.”

    • Judge Ruling In AT&T Merger Again Highlights Broken Antitrust Enforcement, Court Myopia

      Last year AT&T defeated the DOJ’s challenge to the company’s $86 billion merger with Time Warner thanks to a comically narrow reading of the markets by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon. At no point in his original 172-page ruling (which approved the deal without a single condition) did Leon show the faintest understanding that AT&T intends to use vertical integration synergistically with the death of net neutrality and neutered FCC oversight to dominate smaller competitors and tilt the entire internet ecosystem in its favor.
      While the DOJ lost its original case, it was quick to appeal late last year, highlighting how within weeks of the deal AT&T had jacked up prices on consumers and competitors like Dish Networks, which says it was forced to pull HBO from its lineup because it could no longer afford the higher rates. Those rate hikes were directly courtesy of the huge debt AT&T incurred from both its 2015 merger with DirecTV (which eliminated a direct pay TV competitor from the market), and last year’s Time Warner merger.

    • Iran Experts: Zarif Resignation May Bolster Iran’s Hardliners and Trump’s Hawkish Policies
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • BREAKING NEWS: Huawei and Samsung settle their patent infringement dispute

      Huawei and Samsung just filed a joint motion to stay the appellate proceedings before the Federal Circuit relating to Samsung’s antisuit injunction. The reason for the request for a stay (at a stage where everything but the appellate decision had happened already) is that they entered into a settlement agreement yesterday.

    • Radical changes in the SPC system in the EU: SPC export and stockpiling exception soon a reality

      During an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, scheduled for today, February 26th, the Committee will (as it seems) vote on the provisional agreement reached in the trilogue negotiations (you may watch the announcement of the results of the trilogue negotiations here). Assuming that the provisional agreement will be confirmed, this will allow the European Parliament to adopt the agreement in plenum. With the upcoming EU elections in May 2019, one could expect that the Proposal will be voted by the Parliament already in April 2019.

      The goal of the Proposal for a new Regulation is to adapt the SPC Regulation to the modern needs of the pharmaceutical marketplace (taking into consideration the needs of generics and the biosimilars industry) while at the same time preserving the rights of the certificate-holder.

    • Qualcomm surprisingly enlists America’s leading female lawyer for a sideshow lawsuit against Apple

      In a high-stakes case over tens of billions of dollars, where the late “processing” charge alone accounts for more than $1.3 billion, you obviously would want to bring in the best–and only the best–in order to maximize your chances to win. But case no. 3-17-cv1375 in the Southern District of California never was a high-profile case, and by now it is, at first sight, just a nuisance lawsuit. There was the aforementioned ruling that limits the potential for damages, and there was a summary judgment that Apple doesn’t infringe a patent from the same Qualcomm patent family as the one that gave rise to an agnostic injunction in Munich. Also, the way things have gone in the ITC case to which Qualcomm’s 17cv1375 lawsuit was just a companion complaint for the purpose of seeking damages (which the ITC can’t award) doesn’t suggest there’s much that can come out of it. The only patent that an ITC judge held infringed (only a preliminary finding that may or may not be overturned) has been worked around already by means of an iOS update.

      Tiny damages in play; one patent thrown out; five (including the one I just mentioned) already failed in the ITC; and the only one that’s still in play at the ITC has been worked around. The combination of those circumstances would normally make it highly counterintuitive that a litigant–Qualcomm in this case–would throw a huge amount of good money after bad. So why is Qualcomm doing this?

    • CODA Development s.r.o. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Finally, the panel held that the District Court erred in not permitting CODA to file its amended complaint. The opinion cites Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 181–82 (1962), for the principle that “in the absence of any apparent reason (e.g., undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previously allowed amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, futility), leave to amend should be freely given, as Rule 15 requires.”

    • Express Mobile, Inc. v. Code and Theory LLC (N.D. Cal. 2019)

      Two related patent cases Express Mobile, Inc. v. Code and Theory LLC and Express Mobile, Inc. v. Pantheon Systems Inc. within the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California each involve allegations that the various Defendants infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,546,397 (the ’397 patent) and 7,594,168 (the ’168 patent), which share the same specification.

      Defendants in these two actions moved to dismiss, contending that the patent claims are drawn only to abstract ideas, ineligible for protection under § 101 of the Patent Act, as explained in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014), and its progeny. The Court, however, found that the patents described a novel technological solution, and that Defendants’ characterization of the patents as claiming only an abstract idea failed. Thus, the motions to dismiss were denied.

      The patents relate to building web pages. The inventive methodology described in the patents involves building a web page by defining it as a set of user-selected “objects” and/or “settings.” The result is not a markup language code file for the web page, but instead a collection of user selected objects and object attributes. These can be saved in a database, for ease of access and efficient storage. Because complete code files for each page do not need to be stored, the page structure—the full HTML code itself—is created on the fly each time the page is loaded in a user’s Web browser. This is achieved in part through a browser-appropriate “run time engine” and related files.

      [...]

      Thus, the Court focused on the claims being directed to a specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities versus a process that qualifies as an “abstract idea” for which computers are invoked merely as a tool. The claims were not found to be directed to tasks for which a computer is used in its ordinary capacity.

      The Defendants further argued that any potentially patent-eligible technological improvements set out in the specification were not fully reflected in the actual claims. But the Court stated that dismissal under Alice is not appropriate, at least at this juncture, for such reasons because full claim construction is needed. It simply cannot be said on the present record that the claims are drawn so broadly as to be divorced from the potentially patent-eligible purported technological improvements described in the specification. Accordingly, the Court denied the motions to dismiss, and the patents survived a first challenge in the litigation.

    • No Sovereign Immunity for Patent-Asserting State University

      UF’s asserted patent is titled “Managing Critical Care Physiologic Data Using Data Synthesis Technology.” U.S. Patent No. 7,062,251. From the patent title, keen Patently-O readers will recognize a potential eligibility problem. N.D.Fla. District Court Judge Mark Walker dismissed the case on a R.12(b)(6) motion without taking any evidence — finding the asserted claims ineligible as a matter of law. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.

      [...]

      The 11th Amendment has been seen as quite strong — preventing the Federal Courts from hearing “any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const. amend. XI.

      The for UF here is Waiver — UF filed the infringement lawsuit against GE and GE raised invalidity as a defense. The Federal Circuit has clear precedent that “a state waives its Eleventh Amendment immunity when it consents to federal court jurisdiction by voluntarily appearing in federal court.” Regents of the Univ. of N.M. v. Knight, 321 F.3d 1111 (Fed. Cir. 2003). As the court explained in a prior case, “the Eleventh Amendment applies to suits ‘against’ a state, not suits by a state.” Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Eli Lilly & Co., 119 F.3d 1559, 1564–65 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

    • University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc. v. General Electric Co. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      The panel found nothing in the ’251 patent that identified and “specific improvement to the way computers operate” such as was found in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327, 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2016). The very generality used to avoid unduly limiting the scope of the invention became in the Court’s hands evidence that there was nothing analogous to the improvement in computer function that the Court held sufficient to avoid invalidation in Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp., 867 F.3d 1253 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (eliciting another “We are not persuaded” from Judge Moore). The distinction is that here the claimed components UFRF attempts to rely upon are “described in purely functional terms” (emphasis in opinion) in both the specification and claims, without providing any “technical details for the tangible components.” Accordingly the Court held that “at Alice step one that representative claim 1 is directed to the abstract idea of ‘collecting, analyzing, manipulating, and displaying data.’”

      [...]

      Under these facts, the Court readily affirmed the District Court’s invalidation of the ’251 patent for failure to claim a patent-eligible invention under § 101.

    • Copyrights

      • Jiarui Liu on the Dominance and Ambiguity of Transformative Use

        Liu also examines data such as the win rate for transformative use over time, by circuit, and by subject matter. But I particularly like that Liu is not just counting cases, but also arguing that courts are using this doctrine as a substitute for in-depth policy analysis.

      • An Empirical Study of Transformative Use in Copyright Law

        This article presents an empirical study based on all reported transformative use decisions in U.S. copyright history through January 1, 2017. Since Judge Leval coined the doctrine of transformative use in 1990, it has been gradually approaching total dominance in fair use jurisprudence, involved in 90% of all fair use decisions in recent years. More importantly, of all the dispositive decisions that upheld transformative use, 94% eventually led to a finding of fair use. The controlling effect is nowhere more evident than in the context of the four-factor test: A finding of transformative use overrides findings of commercial purpose and bad faith under factor one, renders irrelevant the issue of whether the original work is unpublished or creative under factor two, stretches the extent of copying permitted under factor three towards 100% verbatim reproduction, and precludes the evidence on damage to the primary or derivative market under factor four even though there exists a well-functioning market for the use.

        Although transformative use has harmonized fair use rhetoric, it falls short of streamlining fair use practice or increasing its predictability. Courts diverge widely on the meaning of transformative use. They have upheld the doctrine in favor of defendants upon a finding of physical transformation, purposive transformation, or neither. Transformative use is also prone to the problem of the slippery slope: courts start conservatively on uncontroversial cases and then extend the doctrine bit by bit to fact patterns increasingly remote from the original context.

        This article, albeit being descriptive in nature, does have a normative connotation. Courts welcome transformative use not despite, but due to, its ambiguity, which is a flexible way to implement their intuitive judgments yet maintain the impression of stare decisis. However, the rhetorical harmony conceals the differences between a wide variety of policy concerns in dissimilar cases, invites casual references to precedents from factually unrelated contexts, and substitutes a mechanical exercise of physical or purposive transformation for an in-depth policy analysis that may provide clearer guidance for future cases.

      • Two-thirds majority in European Parliament’s legal affairs committee (JURI) for proposed EU Copyright Directive with upload filters: 16-9

        So I’m speaking from successful experience as opposed to exhorting people to hold out as a matter of principle. Today is not a setback. In fact, a 55%-45% approval of the bill would already have been a surprise, like an upset victory (though technically it would have been a defeat), just because of JURI’s unique composition that is not representative of the plenary.

      • Why 65 Intellectual Property Scholars Filed an Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Google’s Petition for Cert in the Oracle Case

        In January 2018, Google filed a petition to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review two adverse rulings by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the Oracle Am. Inc. v. Google Inc. case. The first was the Federal Circuit’s 2014 decision overturning a district court ruling that several thousand declarations that Google used for its Android platform, which it derived from 37 of 166 Java application program interface (API) packages, were unprotectable by copyright law. Although disagreeing with the lower court’s copyrightability analysis, the Federal Circuit remanded the case, saying that there was a triable issue of fact on Google’s fair use defense. In the spring of 2016, Google’s fair use defense prevailed before a jury. The second adverse ruling was the Federal Circuit’s decision that no reasonable jury could have found fair use. Google’s petition asks the Court to review both the copyrightability and fair use rulings. Oracle will be filing its brief opposing Supreme Court review later this spring. Amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, whether in support of Google’s petition or in support of neither party, were filed this week.

      • Google v. Oracle Filings Thus Far
      • Mozilla Asks Supreme Court to Protect App Development

        Mozilla, joined by Medium, Etsy, Mapbox, Patreon, and Wikimedia, filed a friend of the court brief in Oracle v. Google asking the Supreme Court to review the Federal Circuit court’s holding that Google committed copyright infringement by reusing Oracle’s APIs. The court’s order found that the APIs for the Java platform are protected by copyright and can’t be used by others except with Oracle’s paid permission.

        We disagree. Let’s say a manufacturer produces a toaster and publishes the dimensions of the slots so bakers know exactly what size loaf will fit. Bakers can sell bread knowing it will fit in everyone’s toasters; manufacturers can make new toasters knowing they will fit people’s bread; and everyone can make toast regardless of which bakery they frequent.

        Should other toaster manufacturers be prohibited from using those square dimensions for their own toasters? Of course not. No one has ever bought a toaster and a loaf of bread and needed to ask themselves if they’d fit together. Yet this is what the Federal Circuit’s ruling could do to software programming, and the ability of different pieces of code or software or hardware to talk to each other. The result is ownership not only of the toaster (the Java platform) but also of the dimensions of the toast (the Java APIs).

Teff Just One Among Countless Examples of Sheer Disregard for Patent Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Focusing only on Teff is obsessing over the needle in the haystack of low-quality European Patents

A haystack

Summary: European Patents on Eragrostis tef (causing ‘Teffgate’) have belatedly become a mainstream media topic, at least in Dutch circles; in fact, there’s overwhelming evidence that the EPO became so rogue that it shamelessly violates the law pertaining to patent scope (and courts generally agree)

IT was described as a “crisis” in the media as recently as some days ago. Team Battistelli (or Team António Campinos) had an urgent meeting about it. People aren’t happy. The public loses faith in this system. Examiners lose pride in their job.

“People aren’t happy. The public loses faith in this system. Examiners lose pride in their job.”What good are patents that courts basically reject? Those are only of limited/conditional use when exploited for extortion purposes (outside courts), typically by patent trolls that do this in bulk (several patents or thousands of threat targets, making the blackmail economic and efficient). Is this what Campinos wishes for Europe? Judging by those whom he chose to meet earlier this month in the United States, definitely!

A European Patent Office (EPO) critic and attorney Dr. Thorsten Bausch comments on the 'Teffgate' again — arguably a very clear symptom of declining patent quality at the Office. To quote:

So the claim seems to pertain to the Ethiopian grain Eragrostis tef (also known under its common name Teff), characterized by a certain parameter, i.e. the “falling number of the grain at the moment of grinding”.

I have to say that claims of this type always make me quite curious, not to say suspicious. Two questions immediately spring to mind: (i) What is so special about this parameter, and (ii) how does one obtain a teff satisfying this parameter?

[...]

Wait a minute? A baking product “with acceptable quality” is supposed to have a falling number of at least 250? But isn’t this what the claim is supposed to cover? So does the claim cover all baking products made of Teff having an acceptable quality? It indeed seems so.

Now, the patent further discloses (in [0007]) that Teff has been cultivated for human consumption in mainly Ethiopia and Eritrea for more than 5000 years, and that it is traditionally used for preparing injera, a spongelike, gray pancake. This leaves only two possibilities: Either these people from Ethiopia and Eritrea never managed to produce a baking product (such as a pancake) with acceptable quality for the last 5000 years. Or there is perhaps something wrong with this patent claim.

This was mentioned by SUEPO in their site a day or so later. A lot of comments have appeared (almost a couple dozen, more than the typical zero). Comments such as this one:

What next, for goodness’ sake? Perhaps this:

What I claim is: Bottle of wine having a BS number of > 250.

Specification: Our insight is the surprising one, that high BS numbers deliver wine with a nicer taste. What do you do, if you want to increase the BS number? Store your bottle of wine in a cellar for a year or two, before you open it and drink it.

EPO Examiner: Novel. No mention in the state of the art of any such thing as a BS number. Therefore it did not form part of the state of the art. Inventive. The state of the art contains no hint or suggestion to select for drinking wines with a high BS number.

Come on EPO. You can do better than that.

People generally agree with Bausch, with only few and sporadic exceptions. SUEPO deemed it worthy of citing, we can only assume so as to highlight the quality problems SUEPO long spoke about.

I’ve often wondered what goes through the minds of people who grant these patents or what sort of sick bureaucracy compels examiners to do so (maybe against their will and intuition). Stupid terms like “claim construction”, “technical effect”, “problem-solution” and so forth are used to assess or look at these arrogant claims that someone invented something (which often existed for decades if not eternity). Using terms like “prior art” even in the context of nature as if it’s OK to patent it? How about this new article about “prior art in patent disputes”? To quote: “Although China’s three-step method draws on the rules of the European Patent Office (EPO), it does not draw on the EPO’s practice when it comes to the first step of selecting the closest prior art. The guidelines for examination in the EPO require that, “In selecting the closest prior art, the first consideration is that it must be directed to a similar purpose or effect as the invention, or at least belong to the same or a closely related technical field as the claimed invention.” When reviewing a case, the EPO is required, based on the above-mentioned rule, to render a determination as to whether the selection of the closest prior art is appropriate, which will be a focus of the dispute between the parties.”

“They’re combining nature (marijuana) with all sort of paraphernalia to claim “inventions”.”Shouldn’t nature itself be “prior art” in the above case? Come on…

There’s also the term “priority”, which was mentioned yesterday by Preu Bohlig & Partner’s Alexander Harguth. “In the judicial enforcement of patents claiming priority of a previous application,” he started, alluding to a subject we covered the other day. These people are falling into that same old trap which we wrote about a decade ago in relation to the US. Just because something isn’t documented in patent form doesn’t mean it never existed. Many new marijuana patents in the US now exploit this patent gap, knowing that marijuana use was completely illegal and suddenly it’s a “business opportunity”. They’re combining nature (marijuana) with all sort of paraphernalia to claim “inventions”. Much like the above…

The “inventive step” here is a colonialist boot. A boot on the farmers’ necks.

“So here we go back again to seed monopolies.”The truth of the matter is that patents like the above contribute nothing to innovation, only to animosity; the EPO insults Africans by giving Europeans a patent monopoly over everything in Africa, even the source of food. These patent monopolies on seeds are promoting nothing but fury because patents like these are robbery — not just of knowledge but also farming rights. And speaking of which, mind yesterday’s article from IP Watch regarding RCEP — a Trojan horse for software patents [1, 2] among other things. To quote: “The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement under negotiation among Asia and Pacific nations must not include measures that would undercut countries’ ability to protect diverse local farming systems and sustainable plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, a range of Asian nongovernmental organisations argue. Groups in India, Malaysia and the Philippines this week specifically called for the RCEP not to include the high-level protections under the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).”

So here we go back again to seed monopolies. We wrote a lot about the subject in relation to Monsanto one decade ago. Over at IP Kat they have decided to write about this as well:

In its judgment, the Dutch Court of Hague held that the patents were invalid as none of the various features described in the claims [ripening characteristic, preferred range, mixing with flour from another crop] conferred inventiveness. See paragraph 4.24.

It also held that the claims on the patents combined or considered separately were obvious and lacked inventiveness. Accordingly, the court rejected the patent claims and held that no infringement could be made on invalid patents. See paragraph 4.24 of the judgment.

There’s nothing particularly new in this IP Kat post, but the first comment is noteworthy as it highlights the sick mentality of those causing the problem in the first place. Dutch firms like Novagraaf have just promoted UPC again, even though chances of fruition became yet slimmer considering the latest developments in Brexit (another referendum possible and/or a two-year extension). Workshops have also just been advertised with a session on “The Unitary Patent, the Unified Patent Court and Brexit”. Remember that UPC is about bypassing these ‘pesky’ courts that keep saying “no” to bogus European Patents and now see the strident comment from a patent attorney. There’s a comment there from Bart van Wezenbeek, apparently this patent maximalist who writes for Kluwer Patent Blog, calling it “unjustified propaganda.”

This report is one in a series of reports that have reached the Dutch newspapers and even the 8 o’clock news on the patent on teff.

The case that is reported here was indeed an infringement case between the Dutch patent holder and one of its competitors. However, in spite of the suggestion that is made in this report, the Ethiopian government has not played any role and/or has not had any influence on the outcome of this case.

Indeed the patent has been found invalid, because it was denied an inventive step. However, in spite of the suggestion in the report that this was on basis of lack of inventivity over the traditional knowledge of Ethiopia on the culturing and use of the teff grain, it was found to lack inventive step over a newsletter that was published by the patentees themselves prior to the priority date of the patent(s) in suit.

In the comment to the report, the author mentions that the patent would prevent Ethiopia to export teff flour to Europe. This is certainly not (completely) true. Initially the patent covered a subset of teff flour with specific characteristics (which would make it suitable for baking ‘modern’ baking products, such as bread), but during the court case that patent was voluntarily limited to a method for baking these baking products using this special selection of teff flour. It is thus incorrect to state that the patent would prevent people (in Europe) to make injera – the traditional Ethiopian bread. As a matter of fact, the production of injera was literally excluded from patent protection in the claims of the patent.
Accordingly, there was no limitation to the Ethopians on exporting teff for the uses for which it was traditionally used.

Also the ‘claims’ from the Ethiopian government that they are fighting the validity of the patent before the Court of Arbitration in Paris are questionable. As a matter of fact, I am the patent attorney that has drafted and prosecuted the patent and the patentee, nor I as his legal representative, have never been informed about any action against the Dutch patent or any of its European equivalent patents other than in the presently reported court case (where the Ethiopian government was not involved).

Regarding the access and benefit of ‘traditional knowledge’ it should be stated that the patentees did negotiate an agreement with the Ethiopian government already in 2005. Please remember that such an action at that time was far from obligatory, since, although the Biodiversity Convention was already concluded at that time, there was not yet a thing like the Nagoya protocol, nor had Ethiopia any legislation regarding access to genetic resources. The suggestion that Ethiopia was not able to claim its benefits because of the bankruptcy of the company that originally closed the agreement also is not trustworthy, because there have been no benefits to share at all thus far. Maybe the Ethiopian government wants to share the losses due to the court decision with the patentees?

The suggestion from the author to have access and benefit-sharing agreements be notified to e.g. WIPO seems a nice suggestion, but is nowadays in principle already implemented through the Nagoya protocol, that already recognizes that a party that wants access to genetic resources should establish prior informed consent and should conclude an agreement on mutually accepted terms. Countries that have the Nagoya protocol implemented in their legislation then can provide the applicant with an internationally-recognized certificate.

All in all, I find it a pity that this case is misused to make unjustified propaganda. Especially, this is a pity, when not only local newspapers (that do not understand patents) make room for this propaganda, but when a respected and top IP-blog publishes a report like the current one.

Someone has thankfully responded since, as follows:

Dear Mr Van Wezenbeek,

That some propaganda has been made about this case by people not having a clue about patents, and that journalists sometimes oversimplify matters to make them more palatable is not a surprise.

But this does not warrant your reply and its condemning tone. It is clear that traditional knowledge was not the source of the lack of inventive step. It was a publication by the applicants which was fatal. The problem with traditional knowledge is that is often not written down with all the certainty needed in the patent business.

On the other merely browsing through general literature about flour and baking, one get the feeling that the flour claimed was the mere result of trial and error. It appears to be a well-known fact that flour has better qualities when the grain is stored before milling. This is valid for lots of flours from different grains, and it cannot be surprising that it applied to teff grains.

But there is sometimes some justice. By wanting to sell stuff before having filed an application on it, is nothing new. It happens time and time. I wonder if they told their representative at the time that important information was disseminated beforehand

At least we now understand how the “other side” justifies patents on seeds; it’s not only disrespectful to hard-working Ethiopian farmers but also intellectually-dishonest. But as the old saying goes, “[i]t is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

The Dane Jakob Pade Frederiksen (Inspicos P/S) decided to write about that and said that “Appeal Board vetoes EPC regulation”. He wrote about it more broadly (than Teff):

Following the so-called Tomato II and Broccoli II decisions rendered by the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) in 2015, the politically delicate question of patentability of plant or animal varieties as well as essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals has once again occupied the EPO, now with the uncomfortable implication that a Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO has revealed a conflict between two legal provisions within the framework of the EPC.

The Tomato II and Broccoli II decisions, G 2/12 and G 2/13, held that products derived from essentially biological processes may be patentable, even if the process used to obtain the product is essentially biological and hence not patentable. In particular, the EBA concluded that Article 53(b) EPC, excluding plant or animal varieties and essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals from patentability, did not extend to plants or plant material or plant parts other than a plant variety.

Patents on nature and life are clearly an abomination; but that doesn’t stop there before the EPO is still promoting European software patents almost every day, calling these “computer-implemented inventions” (CII) as recently as hours ago when it tweeted: “Together with @prv_se, we invite you to the seminar on computer-implemented inventions in #MedTech with a focus on the value of patents for SMEs.”

“Patent maximalism does not make Europe stronger; it makes it weaker, except for patent lawyers.”Really? SMEs? The EPO never cared about SMEs. It actively discriminated against SMEs. Moreover, a policy of patent maximalism harms SMEs the most as they’re least capable of legal defense (due to tight budgets).

This leads us to the closing part, which is partly a cautionary tale. Yesterday Florian Müller wrote about yet more European Patents that may turn out to be bogus. In his own words, regarding Landgericht Mannheim:

The real showdown between Apple and Qualcomm will take place in San Diego starting April 15, with Apple stressing antitrust, FRAND and patent exhaustion arguments while Qualcomm seeks to emphasize various contracts it used to have or still has in place with Apple and its four contract manufacturers. But in addition to that one, infringement cases are pending in multiple jurisdictions (U.S., Germany, China) because Qualcomm hoped to gain leverage over Apple ahead of the San Diego trial. False hopes, as we know by now.

Today the Mannheim Regional Court (in German: Landgericht Mannheim) ordered a stay of the case in which Qualcomm is asserting the German part of its European patent EP3036768 on a “layout construction for addressing electromigration” against Apple. The infringement proceedings are stayed until a decision by the Federal Patent Court of Germany on Apple and Intel’s nullity complaint (or any alternative resolution of the validity action). In their efforts to get that Qualcomm patent invalidated, Apple and Intel are represented by patent attorneys from Samson & Partner, for whom this order to stay the case is a victory, at least for the time being.

At the October trial (see my report), Presiding Judge Dr. Holger Kircher had already suggested that counsel for Qualcomm stipulate to a stay, given that Qualcomm was seeking to differentiate its amended claim (after the original claim turned out to be indefensible) through a claim limitation devoid of any technical substance. They added a chip layout element that has nothing whatsoever to do with the stated goal of the patent, which is to reduce electromigration. Four months earlier, Quinn Emanuel’s Dr. Marcus Grosch had stipulated to a stay of another Mannheim case, but declined to do so again.

Perhaps “Apple doesn’t infringe a patent from the same Qualcomm patent family as the one that gave rise to an agnostic injunction in Munich,” said a separate post regarding ITC. A lot of these patents that Munich (and Landgericht Mannheim) throw out are the equivalents of patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). And speaking of the USPTO, it now seems to be confirmed that “Apple [is] shutting Down Stores In East Texas To Avoid Patent Trolling Cases In The Troll’s Favorite Docket”. Müller cited a rumour about it a few days ago. It sounded pretty solid, especially as it would not be unprecedented. We have mentioned it in passing the other day (the likes of VirnetX being among the culprits) and this is what TechDirt wrote yesterday:

For nearly fifteen years, we’ve written about how patent trolls love East Texas, and spent years building an entire industry in some small Texas towns centered around patent trolling, and dragging companies from all over into east Texas to face lawsuits. Almost two years ago, we were pretty thrilled to see the Supreme Court slam the door on the most blatant jurisdiction shopping by patent trolls in the TC Heartland case. And while some of the East Texas judges have tried to come up with creative ways to reinterpret the Supreme Court’s ruling, so far that hasn’t worked that well.

Still, a key aspect of the TC Heartland case was that the proper venue was the judicial district where a company actually “resides,” which the Supreme Court suggested is where the company was incorporated and not just where it sold products. However, in that appeals court ruling mentioned above, interpreting part of the TC Heartland ruling, the Federal Circuit noted that there “must be a physical place in the district” as one part of a larger test. For lots of companies, that’s no big deal, but Apple (a company that faces more than its fair share of patent troll lawsuits) realized it had a problem: while it’s certainly not incorporated or headquartered in East Texas, it does have retail stores there. Or did. The company is shutting those stores down to prevent trolls from using that retail presence to argue East Texas is an appropriate venue.

For similar reasons, the EPO and UPC fantasy can drive many companies out of Germany and Europe/EU at large. Patent maximalism does not make Europe stronger; it makes it weaker, except for patent lawyers. Learn from the mistakes of the United States. “There is one lawyer for every 265 Americans,” as this page puts it. More than twice compared to Germany and second to none.

02.26.19

Links 26/2/2019: Plasma 5.15.2, NuTyX 10.6, Purism Working on PureBoot

Posted in News Roundup at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tinkering Is Essential, But How Do We Get Open Source Robocars?

    The auto industry got its start with tinkerers. Much of what’s good in software has come from open source tinkerers to.

  • RoleplayU Is An Open Source VR App For Playing Dungeons & Dragons
  • Sterlite Tech becomes O-RAN Alliance Contributor to build Near Real Time Controllers for 5G

    Sterlite Tech [BSE: 532374, NSE: STRTECH], a global data network solutions company, will be contributing to the O-RAN Alliance, a global carrier-led consortium that promotes software-based, extensible Radio Access Network (RAN).

    Building on a foundation of virtualised network elements and standardised interfaces that fully embrace higher levels of embedded intelligence and openness, Sterlite Tech will contribute to and leverage reference designs developed by the O-RAN Alliance, such as their open-source code to build a near real-time controller and distributed units, with white box hardware.

  • Death Generator lets you put custom text in all the classic video games

    There exist a lot of meme generators on the internet, but few are better organized or authentically made than the Death Generator. Created by programmer Foone Turing, the open-source tool first began as a generator for death screens from Sierra games, starting with Police Quest 2 in 2017. Turing gets most of his screenshots by actually playing through the games, and he’s now up to dozens of classic titles and newer games alike, from SimCity 2000 to Animal Crossing: Wild World.

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

    The developers of this week’s highlighted project say their idea isn’t new, harkening back to a 1970s development paradigm from IBM, but that its support for any JavaScript transpiling language and its ecosystem of existing tools and integrations makes flow-based programming of JavaScript components more accessible. NoFlo is an open-source flow-based programming implementation for JavaScript,

  • What Might Be Missing from Your Open Source Evaluation

    Most enterprises considering an open source solution understand they need to rigorously evaluate the software’s licensing terms and gauge the long-term health of its community and ecosystem. What still happens less frequently – but is just as crucial to these risk assessments – is developing a thorough understanding of the business models governing the commercial organizations attached to each solution being considered.

    You must discern the underlying motivations of the vendors or managed service providers (MSPs) you depend on to deliver or support open source software (as well as those vendors with strong influence over its development and maintenance). By acutely understanding these incentives, you can identify if, where, and how they may map to possible risks to your enterprise’s adoption and ongoing open source implementation. Don’t limit the assessment to licenses and community health.

  • Open Source Code: Democratic tech or Oligarchic tool?
  • The Apache® Software Foundation Announces Apache Arrow™ Momentum
  • The Apache® Software Foundation Unveils Apache® Arrow™, the Open Source Big Data In-memory Columnar Layer

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, today announced Apache® Arrow™, the Open Source Big Data in-memory columnar layer.

  • OPFPControl open source app allows more animations, colors in OnePlus 6T in-display fingerprint scanner

    OnePlus’ mid-year refresh of the flagship brought in-display fingerprint scanner upgrade in the OnePlus 6T. While the optical scanner works fine, it is certainly not the fastest. Coming from a physical fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 6, users have mostly found the in-display scanner a bit slow. Also, OnePlus 6T users have very limited options to customize the animation around the optical scanner.

    Considering the popularity of OnePlus devices, an XDA recognized developer ‘Zacharee1’ has come up with an open source app called OPFPControl, which allows more animation and color options around the optical scanner in OnePlus 6T. The app can be found on Github (via XDA-developers) and anyone with an unlocked bootloader can download and use the app. The only thing here is, OPFPControl app will only get installed if you have rooted your OnePlus 6T.

  • This looks fun: open source modular synth software that takes you back to how it was in the 70s.

    The synth setups for guys like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman still conjure a sense of awe in me. How did they manage these stacks of refrigerator-sized modules of electronic? How did they work? How did you program them? And damn, they looked cool.

    [...]

    Open Culture points us to some open source and completely free modular synth-style-based software that will help you uncover your inner Keith Emerson.

    And if you are a keyboardist, prepare to loose yourself in the sounds of 70s- and 80s-era machinery of the kind built by Bob Moog and Don Buchla.

  • OpenAI refuses to make its AI writer open source over fake news fears [Ed: Excuses for staying proprietary]

    Although the technology can effortlessly write stories, researchers fear it could be used maliciously
    The accidental creation of an AI system capable of creating sophisticated fake news stories will be withheld from the open source community over fears it will be abused for malicious purposes.

    Researchers at OpenAI institute said they were attempting to create an algorithm that could produce natural sounding text based upon extensive research and language processing, but soon realised it was capable of creating fake news stories taking cues from the 8 million web pages it trawled to learn about language.

  • AI researchers debate the ethics of sharing potentially harmful programs

    Research lab OpenAI shared details of a new text-generation algorithm, but it withheld the model itself, worried about “malicious applications.”

  • Novel software may help detect heart diseases: Study

    “We believe that ElectroMap will accelerate innovative cardiac research and lead to wider use of mapping technologies that help to prevent the incidence of arrhythmia,” said Kashif Rajpoot, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham Dubai.

    “This is a robustly validated open-source flexible tool for processing and by using novel data analysis strategies we have developed, this software will provide a deeper understanding of heart diseases, particularly the mechanisms underpinning potentially lethal arrhythmia,” Rajpoot said.

  • Standards and open source: Why are patents treated differently?

    Development of standards specifications and development of open source software have much in common: both are mechanisms by which competitors can collaborate; both can facilitate interoperability; both can be used to facilitate the adoption of new technologies; both can be used to crystallize or harmonize mature technologies.

    A technology may use both standards and open source: sometimes one precedes the other; in other cases, they may proceed in parallel. Increasingly, they may use similar tooling and process practices (e.g., fine-grained version control; driving certain development discussions with issue trackers).

  • Purism Announces PureBoot to Help You Better Secure Your Linux Computers

    Dubbed “the high security boot process,” PureBoot promises to be a complete and secured solution for more secure boot process on laptop and desktop computers that run a Linux-based operating system, including Purism’s Debian-based PureOS, which comes pre-installed with the Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops.

    PureBoot is not a new software, but a collection of software and security standards that Purism already uses on its Linux laptops, including the Librem Key USB security token, a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip, the coreboot free BIOS replacement, the Heads tamper-evident boot software, the disabled Intel ME (Management Engine), and multi-factor authentication.

  • PureBoot, the High Security Boot Process

    The boot process, in computer hardware, forms the foundation for the security of the rest of the system. Security, in this context, means a “defense in depth” approach, where each layer not only provides an additional barrier to attack, but also builds on the strength of the previous one. Attackers do know that if they can compromise the boot process, they can hide malicious software that will not be detected by the rest of the system. Unfortunately, most of the existing approaches to protect the boot process also conveniently (conveniently for the vendor, of course) remove your control over your own system. How? By using software signing keys that only let you run the boot software that the vendor approves on your hardware. Your only practical choices, under these systems, are either to run OSes that get approval from the vendor, or to disable boot security altogether. In Purism, we believe that you deserve security without sacrificing control or convenience: today we are happy to announce PureBoot, our collection of software and security measures designed for you to protect the boot process, while still holding all the keys.

  • Purism Working On PureBoot To Secure Your Data & Fully Verify The Linux Boot Process

    Purism has another announcement to make today… PureBoot! PureBoot is the privacy-minded, Linux-focused company’s collection of safeguards to protect the boot process while empowering the end-user.

    Purism’s PureBoot consists of having the Intel Management Engine permanently disabled, Coreboot as a replacement to the system BIOS, a TPM chip, Heads as their boot software, the USB Librem Key as the security token, and multi-factor authentication to handle disk encryption via the Librem Key.

  • Measured Boot Support Is Heading To Coreboot

    Developers have been working on TPM-backed measured boot support with Coreboot. The patches are pending for upstream Coreboot to be able to offer this trusted boot integration.

    Coreboot/LinuxBoot developer Philipp “_zaolin_” Deppenwiese has been working on the measured boot support for Coreboot’s vboot (verified boot) component to enhance the verification/trust steps around the boot process; Vboot is most notably used by Google for verification purposes on Chromebooks.

  • Events

    • Open Source Summit urges more support to segment to fuel innovation

      The second edition of Open Source Summit was organised in New Delhi by Bharat Exhibitions and it was a roaring success. “Open Source is where all the innovation happens”, said Peter Lees, Chief Technologist & Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, SUSE, while speaking at the inaugural session of the “Open Source Summit, 2019″.

      According to him, all the new technologies, all the new ideas and all the new approach have their foundation in open source. “In the past few years, open source has exploded. There are millions of open source projects that can help manage your business,” he further added.

      “There are government policies which recommend or mandates use of open source, open API, open platforms within the government establishments. The adoption is increasing”, said Anand Pande, Senior Vice President & CISO, Goods & Service Tax Network (GSTN), commenting on the adoption of Open Source in the government sector.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Front-End Performance Update #13

        It’s been just a little over two weeks since my last update, so let’s see where we are!

        A number of our projects are centered around trying to improve start-up time. Start-up can mean a lot of things, so we’re focused specifically on cold start-up on the Windows 10 2018 reference device when the machine is at rest.

        If you want to improve something, the first thing to do is measure it. There are lots of ways to measure start-up time, and one of the ways we’ve been starting to measure is by doing frame recording analysis. This is when we capture display output from a testing device, and then analyze the videos.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • LibreOffice

    • Next C++ workshop: Recursion and fractals, 28 February, 19:00 UTC

      Yes, it’s that time again! You can improve your C++ skills with the help of LibreOffice developers: we’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting. For the next one, the topics are recursion (third part) and fractals. Start by watching this presentation:

  • Education

    • Principles Of 2019 Web Game Development For Open Source Educators

      We owe this evolution to game developers most of all. The web-based graphics engine OpenGL alone has become the standard for the massively popular apps.

      An overview of the tools and use cases written by open source advocate Mozilla sparks some interesting ideas for teachers, instructional designers, and developers of learning technologies.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Dating

      I recently wrote a post for the FSF on dating as a free software issue. It’s also something I talked about at SFScon back in November. I wanted to write a bit about it for my own blog, to reflect my own ideas and not just those of the FSF, as well as provide a bit of a summary from my talk. My slides from SFScon are available on Gitlab. The talk is only 15 minutes long, so I recommend checking it out if you want to listen.

      I wanted to have some fun when talking about software freedom. I feel like when we talk about the rights of users we have a tendency to focus on the extreme cases of freedom: dissidents, whistleblowers, and revolutionaries. We think about people whose lives literally depend on their technology. In doing so, we tend to ignore the less showy ways people’s lives depend on their technology — I talked about my own experiences of life-saving technology at SeaGL.

      [...]

      One of the things I talked about is the opacity of algorithms. Algorithms have been shown to be racist and sexist. Tinder likes to occasionally show men to lesbians.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Teaching scientists how to share code

      The Open Science MOOC is divided into 10 core modules, from the principles of open science to becoming an open science advocate.

    • Atypon acquires Authorea and Manuscripts and signals its plans for open science

      Atypon has announced today its acquisition of two authoring platforms – Authorea and Manuscripts – enabling the company to provide free HTML-first authoring and collaboration tools for researchers. Already used by over 200,000 researchers across the globe, these tools enable researchers to write, cite, collaborate, host data, and publish.

      “We were incredibly impressed with the teams at Authorea and Manuscripts, and how they quickly developed innovative solutions to the challenges their founders faced in their own research careers,” said Atypon’s Chairman, Georgios Papadopoulos. “We share a vision to help researchers be successful – to provide them with tools that simplify their communications and help with organizing so they can spend more of their time progressing science and their careers.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • DIY Open source HiFi preamplifier running CircuitPython

        Developer Max Williams has published a new tutorial to the Hackster.io website providing details on how you can build your very own open source HiFi preamplifier. The project includes schematics, PCB layouts, CircuitPython code via GitHub, BoMs, measurements and photos.

      • Bluespec to Co-Host Upcoming SiFive Technical Symposium
      • MIPS’ Rising Stature Challenging RISC-V?

        When Wave Computing acquired MIPS, “going open source” was the plan Wave’s CEO Derek Meyer had in mind. But Meyer, a long-time MIPS veteran, couldn’t casually mention his plan then. Wave was hardly ready with the solid infrastructure it needed to support a legion of hardware developers interested in coming to the MIPS open-source community.

        To say “go open source” is easy. Pulling it off has meant a huge shift from MIPS, long accustomed to the traditional IP licensing business.

        Wave’s first step was hiring Art Swift as president of its MIPS licensing business. Swift fit the bill as someone who knows the best of both worlds — old (traditional IP for licensing) and new (open source). Swift had served as vice-chair of the RISC-V Foundation’s Marketing Committee and was vice president of marketing and business development at MIPS Technologies from 2008 to 2011.

      • How Open Source Hardware Empowers Procurement

        The advent of processors based the RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) is not just exciting for engineers and designers—open source hardware benefits procurement, experts said.

        “Open source does two things for you: it rationalizes price and motivates adoption and investment,” explained Keith Witek, senior vice president, Corporate Development, Strategy, and General Counsel at SiFive, a provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP. “If I charge you too much, you can leave and go to different vendor. I can’t lock you up with proprietary architecture or tools. And you feel like you can invest, because no one can take it away from you. RISC-V takes a big part in democratizing silicon.”

      • RISC-V Support Added To The GRUB Bootloader

        The mainline GNU GRUB boot-loader now supports the RISC-V architecture as another important step for better mainline support for this new, royalty-free processor ISA.

        As working towards this year’s GRUB 2.04 update, we’ve known they have been on the finishing stretch for merging RISC-V support and as of this morning that milestone has been crossed.

      • A Raspberry Pi Grimoire For The Command Line Wizard

        In the series of videos after the break, viewers have the opportunity to watch a project go from idea to final product. The first video was uploaded nearly a month before the project was completed, and goes over some of the design elements of the project as well as different ideas [Kamitech] had in terms of things like component placement. Throughout the video, he illustrates his ideas in TinkerCAD, which might not have been our first choice for a project this complex, but it does go to show what’s possible in the free web-based CAD package.

        By the second video, [Kamitech] has printed some parts and now has the hardware coming together. The general idea is that the outside panels of the “book” are made out of steel cut from the side panel of an old computer, with the 3D printed components taking the form of spacers between the electronic components. These plastic “pages” are not only easier and faster to print than a complete case, but help sell the appearance of the book when viewed from the sides.

  • Programming/Development

    • LLVM/Clang 9.0 Picks Up Support For Arm’s Cortex-A76

      For those interested in Arm’s Cortex-A76 that was announced last year, this CPU with “desktop-class performance with smartphone efficiency” is now supported by the LLVM Clang compiler.

      As of this Clang commit and this LLVM commit on Monday, there is back-end support now wired up for the Cortex-A76 and Cortex-A76AE. With the cortex-a76 and cortex-a76ae values for -mcpu=, the Clang compiler can generate optimized machine code for this Arm CPU.

    • Why Programmers Should Learn LAMP Stack Development?

      A stack is basically a bundle of different components that are brought together to form a unified platform designed to perform specific tasks. In most cases, stacks are named depending on the software that it contains. Typically, a stack consists of an operating system, programming language, web server, and database software.

      In this case, LAMP is an acronym that stands for Linux, Apache HTTP server, MySQL, and PHP. It is the world’s most popular platform for web development.

    • Building A Simple Python API for Internet of Things Gadgets

      It’s no secret that I rather enjoy connecting things to the Internet for fun and profit. One of the tricks I’ve learned along the way is to spin up simple APIs that can be used when prototyping a project. It’s easy to do, and simple to understand so I’m happy to share what has worked for me, using Web2Py as the example (with guest appearances from ESP8266 and NodeMCU).

      Barring the times I’m just being silly, there are two reasons I might do this. Most commonly I’ll need to collect data from a device, typically to be stored for later analysis but occasionally to trigger some action on a server in the cloud. Less commonly, I’ll need a device to change its behavior based on instructions received via the Internet.

    • Stack Overflow: Python is on fire, and Kubernetes needs some housecleaning

      Google’s Felipe Hoffa just published an excellent analysis of Stack Overflow questions, trying to uncover the direction developers are moving. For example, it’s interesting to know that developers have a long-standing affinity for Java (which also shows up in the Redmonk rankings and elsewhere), it’s much more interesting (and surprising) to see that Java doesn’t crack the top 10 in the most recent quarter, and even vanishes from the top 30 questions (measured by current page views).

      Java, a mainstay for decades, struggles to get noticed with developers today, according to Stack Overflow data. Python, by contrast, is on fire, largely due to its flexibility and applicability to the burgeoning world of data science.

    • Top 20 emerging skills that American tech companies are looking for

      Hadoop tops the list of 20 fastest-growing skills in the Upwork Skills Index

    • The Eclipse Foundation Specification Process

      The Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP) defines a general framework for developing specifications in open source at the Eclipse Foundation. At the heart of the EFSP is the notion of an open source project and, much like an open source software project, an open source specification project is concerned with creating various artifacts in an open and transparent manner. In the case of a specification project, however, at least one of the artifacts that’s produced is a specification document that describes how software should be implemented.

      The EFSP extends the Eclipse Development Process (EDP). The EDP defines the governance of open source projects at the Eclipse Foundation. This EDP describes, for example, our open source “rules of engagement” (open, transparent, meritocratic), how open source projects are structured, roles and relationships, and our review process around releases. The EFSP adds a few extra checks and balances.

    • ActiveState Offers Free Methodology to Implement Open Source Language Automation
    • Imperva Open Sources Active Directory Java Connector
    • Learning from DevOps nightmares
    • Podcast.__init__: – Episode

      Any time that your program needs to interact with other systems it will have to deal with serializing and deserializing data. To prevent duplicate code and provide validation of the data structures that your application is consuming Steven Loria created the Marshmallow library. In this episode he explains how it is built, how to use it for rendering data objects to various serialization formats, and some of the interesting and unique ways that it is incorporated into other projects.

    • Gina Helfrich on the Changelog Podcast

      I was happy to be an invited guest on the popular Changelog podcast to talk about NumFOCUS and open source sustainability, the difference between sponsored and affiliated projects, corporate backing, and more. You can listen to my conversation with Adam Stacoviak and Jerod Santo by clicking “play” below.

    • Student Made Stress Management Mask

      Sean Tibor, a teacher based at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been in touch about a cool project created by one of his students called Dilnaam D.

      Sean is one of the co-hosts (along with his colleague Kelly Schuster-Pared) of the excellent Teaching Python podcast. I’ve been working through the available episodes and constantly find myself grinning like the Cheshire Cat as I’m reminded of my own experiences as a teacher (of music), and learn how this talented duo of pedagogical pros practice the art of teaching technology, and especially Python. I heartily recommend you take a listen.

      Onto the intriguing student project…

    • Sorting and Merging Single Linked List

      In the last article, we started our discussion about the linked list. We saw what the linked list is along with its advantages and disadvantages. We also studied some of the most commonly used linked list method such as traversal, insertion, deletion, searching, and counting an element. Finally, we saw how to reverse a linked list.

      In this article, we will continue from where we left in the last article and will see how to sort a linked list using bubble and merge sort, and how to merge two sorted linked lists.

    • Eighth Annual PyLadies Auction at PyCon 2019

      PyLadies is an international mentorship community for women that use Python. Since it’s founding in 2011, PyLadies has continued to bring women into the Python community through a variety of methods, including hosting events in local PyLadies chapters and offering grant opportunities to attend PyCon. Their mission is to promote, educate and advance a diverse Python community through outreach, education, conferences, events, and social gatherings.

      The Python Software Foundation (PSF) is proud to announce the Eighth Annual PyCon Charity Auction for 2019.

    • Programming Lessons and Methods
    • Find the currency exchange rate with python
    • Create the mana object with Pygame
    • Protecting Code Integrity with PGP — Part 1: Basic Concepts and Tools
    • PyDev of the Week: Lilly Ryan
    • PyBites: PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 02, 2019
    • Top 7 Programming Tools for Kids

      The Raspberry Pi created a lot of interest in the press for its low cost and credit-card size. The main reason for the creation of the Raspberry Pi was to see it used by kids all across the globe to learn programming. Computer classes in the UK have been constrained by the national curriculum for ICT, with students having to limit their computing activities to learning applications such as Word and PowerPoint, and using the internet to help with their school work. However, learning how to use Microsoft Office is often of little or no interest to students. Students are motivated by interactive activities such as programming, as they like to make things to find out how they work.

      The art of programming is often perceived as being a difficult activity. This is, in part, because coding can be quite unforgiving with lots of information to remember. It is not a simple activity such as surfing the net, or formatting paragraph text.

      Fortunately, there is a growing range of software, often open source, that helps students learn how to code. Stripping away the complexity, the programming languages and associated tools featured in this article aim to create new ways of helping students create projects that appeal to younger minds.

    • Jekyll and GitHub pages: access the download URL (aka browser_download_url) for an asset of your latest release via site.github
    • RcppStreams 0.1.3: Keeping CRAN happy
    • C Command Line Tutorial 6 – Code indentation, increment/decrement operators, do-while and for loops, and more
    • Happy Little Accidents – Debugging Javascript
    • Python 3.8.0a2 is now available for testing
    • Understanding ROC Curves with Python
    • Python dis module and constant folding
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxvi) stackoverflow python report
    • The First Baby Step Towards Intel’s SYCL Support In LLVM Clang Lands In Git/SVN

      On the LLVM/Clang front one of the milestones we are looking forward to hopefully see happen in 2019 is the merging of Intel’s SYCL back-end. The first baby step in that direction has now been merged to Clang albeit it’s not the actual back-end and just preparatory work.

      In early January we reported that Intel was looking to add SYCL support to LLVM/Clang for the single-source programming model based on C++ that in turn can target accelerators from GPUs to FPGAs and DSPs. This SYCL effort for mainline Clang is most likely part of Intel’s oneAPI initiative they announced back in December.

    • Python Community Interview With Ali Spittel

      Happy 2019! For our first community interview of the year, I’m joined by Ali Spittel.

      Ali is a Pythonista with a passion for CSS art and teaching Python. Join us as we talk about her non-traditional path to learning to code, teaching at a Bootcamp, and her recent move to one of the most positive developer communities around.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New Research Study Describes DNDi As A “Commons” For Public Health

      Since 2003, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) has worked to meet the public health needs of neglected populations by filling gaps in drug development left by the for-profit pharmaceutical industry

    • SPCs not available for animal feed additives

      The fundamental question which types of products are amenable to SPC protection and which types of marketing authorizations allow the filing of SPCs has aroused much controversy in Europe, and reached a climax when the CJEU in its judgment Boston Scientific (C-527/17) of 25 October 2018 denied the grant of SPCs on the basis of CE-mark approvals for medical devices, as previously reported on this blog.

      The series of disappointments to SPC applicants continues as the German Federal Patent Court in a recent decision denies SPC protection for animal feed additives.

      While the SPC Regulation (EC) 469/2009 establishes in Article 2 that SPCs are available for the active ingredients of medicinal products approved in accordance with Directive 2001/82/EC (on veterinary medicinal products) or Directive 2001/83/EC (on human medicinal products), feed additives are explicitly excluded from the scope of Directive 2001/82/EC and are instead approved under Regulation (EC) 1831/2003 (on additives for animal nutrition).

    • Wolters Kluwer publishes a Practitioner’s Guide covering almost everything you need to know about SPCs
    • More States Say Doctors Must Offer Overdose Reversal Drug Along With Opioids

      In a growing number of states, patients who get opioids for serious pain may leave their doctors’ offices with a second prescription — for naloxone, a drug that can save their lives if they overdose on the powerful painkillers.

      New state laws and regulations in California, Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, Washington, Vermont and Rhode Island require physicians to “co-prescribe” or at least offer naloxone prescriptions when prescribing opioids to patients considered at high risk of overdosing. Patients can be considered at high risk if they need a large opioid dosage, take certain other drugs or have sleep apnea or a history of addiction.

      Such co-prescribing mandates are emerging as the latest tactic in a war against an epidemic of prescription and illegal opioids that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives over the past two decades.

      The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to recommend naloxone co-prescribing nationally (an FDA subcommittee recently voted in favor), and other federal health officials already recommend it for certain patients. And the companies that make the drug are supportive of the moves. It’s not hard to see why: An FDA analysis estimated that more than 48 million additional naloxone doses would be needed if the agency officially recommended co-prescribing nationally.

      Most states have limited the volume of opioids doctors can prescribe at one time and dramatically expanded access to naloxone. In California, for example, pharmacists can provide naloxone directly to consumers who are taking illegal or prescription opioids or know someone who is.

    • In Memoriam: Dilip Shah (1941-2019)

      It is hard to overstate Dilip’s importance in advancing India’s position as pharmacy of the developing world. He first became known to many working outside India toward enhanced access to medicines around the year 2000. Concerns were rising as the effects of the TRIPS Agreement began to manifest themselves, and various developing country delegations, NGOs and inter-governmental organizations convened in Geneva and the surrounding area to consider ways and means to ameliorate the impact. Dilip arrived on behalf of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance that was newly-formed to represent the interests of a key group of Indian pharmaceutical producers that would face increasing obstacles from the barriers being erected.

  • Security

    • Criminals Weaponize Open Source Tools, Target IoT [Ed: Oh, look, someone uses code that isn't secret code to do something bad, hence FOSS is bad?]
    • Addressing Inherent Risks in Code Repositories [Ed: There is a similar risk in proprietary software and the source of the binaries]
    • HackerOne CEO on the Evolving Bug Bounty Landscape
    • Millions of websites threatened by highly critical code-execution bug in Drupal
    • Strategies for securing container deployments [Ed: containers are often ramps for proprietary software on servers and secret code cannot be secured, only blindly trusted]
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Reducing security risks with centralized logging

      Logging is, to be specific, an append-only sequence of records written to disk. In practice, logs help you investigate an infrastructure issue as you try to find a cause for misbehavior. A challenge comes up when you have heterogeneous systems with their own standards and formats, and you want to be able to handle and process these in a dependable way. This often comes at the cost of metadata. Centralized logging solutions require commonality, and that commonality often removes the rich metadata many open source logging tools provide.

    • Linux and Open Source FAQs: Common Myths and Misconceptions Addressed

      LinuxSecurity debunks some common myths and misconceptions regarding open source and Linux by answering a few Linux-related frequently asked questions.

      Open source and Linux are becoming increasingly well-known and well-respected because of the myriad benefits they offer. Seventy-eight percent of businesses of all sizes across all industries are now choosing open source software over alternative proprietary solutions according to ZDNet (https://zd.net/2GCrTrk). Facebook, Twitter and Google are are among the many companies currently using, sponsoring and contributing to open source projects. Although Linux and open source are widely recognized for the advantages they provide, there are still many myths and misconceptions that surround these terms. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Linux and open source:

      Question: What are the advantages of the open source development model? How can using and contributing to open source software benefit my business?

      Answer: Open source offers an array of inherent advantages which include increased security, superior product quality, lower costs and greater freedom and flexibility compared to other models. It also is accompanied by strong community values and high standards, which encourage the highest levels of creativity and innovation in engineering.

    • Hackers Can Now Run Malicious Code From Your Browser When Not in Use [Ed: Web sites should never be proprietary programs anyway]

      Cyber attacks are common nowadays with precautionary measures becoming a necessity. In the latest event, a new browser attack has been found that can infect you even after closing the browser. According to reports, the new browser attack has been devised by Academics from Greece. Through the attack, the hackers get to run malicious code in your browsers.

    • New browser attack lets hackers run bad code even after users leave a web page [Ed: Drama queen Cimpanu is being a drama queen, as usual. This is not a new kind of "attack". CBS just baiting for hits, i.e. more of the same.]
    • A basic question about TCP

      This isn’t just a basic question, it is the basic question, the defining aspect of TCP/IP that makes the Internet different from the telephone network that predated it.

      Remember that the telephone network was already a cyberspace before the Internet came around. It allowed anybody to create a connection to anybody else. Most circuits/connections were 56-kilobits-per-secondl using the “T” system, these could be aggregated into faster circuits/connections. The “T1″ line consisting of 1.544-mbps was an important standard back in the day.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Diego Garcia: UN Court Calls on Britain to ‘Decolonize’ Chagos Islands

      The United Nations’ highest court on Monday called Britain’s claim of sovereignty over the Chagos Islands “illegal” and urged London to “decolonize” the remote archipelago — which is home to one of the most important US overseas military bases — by returning the islands to Mauritius.

      In a 13-1 vote, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands issued an advisory opinion declaring that the Chagos Islands were not lawfully separated from the former British colony of Mauritius, which was forced to give up the islands in 1965 in exchange for independence. ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the “unlawful” separation had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned” and was therefore a “wrongful act.”

      “The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring an end to its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, thereby allowing Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory,” Yusuf asserted.

      The ICJ agreed with Mauritius’ submission, which argued it had been coerced into giving up the islands. Such an act is a violation of UN Resolution 1514, which prohibits the breakup of colonies before independence. The only judge who dissented from the court’s main opinion was Joan E. Donoghue of the United States.

    • VICTORY FOR THE CHAGOS ISLANDERS 25.02.19 00:00

      The International Court of Justice in The Hague has handed down a momentous judgement that says Britain’s colonial authority over the Chagos Islands is no longer legal. John Pilger, whose 2004 film, Stealing a Nation, alerted much of the world to the plight of the islanders, tells their story here.

    • Russian newspaper deletes article by defense analyst who accused Moscow of sabotaging long-range missile shipment to China

      Last week, Meduza summarized a column by Pavel Felgenhauer that appeared in Novaya Gazeta on February 21 where the defense analyst accused Moscow of sabotaging a shipment to China of 40N6 very-long-range missiles for the S-400 air-defense system. (Felgenhauer believes the weapons aren’t ready yet.) That text has since disappeared without explanation from the newspaper, though it’s been republished at several other websites. (You can still read it here, for example, but the original hyperlink leads to a “404 Not Found” error, and Novaya Gazeta’s most recent published article by Felgenhauer is currently from February 9.)

      In her weekly radio show on Ekho Moskvy, fellow Novaya Gazeta columnist Yulia Latynina expressed similar doubts about the bungled missile delivery, though she didn’t mention Felgenhauer’s article or say outright that the Russian authorities deliberately damaged the cargo.

    • On War and Dehumanization

      Dressler at boulevard Kurfürstendamm, being close to my hotel, became a regular late stop after long city trails – my turn to lean back into the shadows and watch wanderers from the vantage point of a pavement café table. As did the impassive immortals of Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire – those curious Crombie-coated angels perched on the Brandenburg Gate – I peered hard into the faces of passers-by, trying to tune in to their thoughts. Everyone has been drenched in accounts about the people in this part of the world, few of them good, and dark imaginings undoubtedly surface in the mind of every tourist wandering the city. The Wall crumbled, but barriers persist. The immortals had to give up their wings and fall to Earth if they desired to fully understand those ordinary humans living ordinary lives in the ordinary streets below. I wondered what it would take should ordinary others desire to do the same.

      Bertolt Brecht is buried in Berlin. I fell upon his grave quite by accident one morning among the stylish, avant-garde headstones, and it was clear I had hit a lucky run when I happened upon Hegel, Fichte and Schinkel soon afterwards. The graveyards were high on my to-do list on this visit to Berlin, but the plan ended there and I didn’t know who I might find, or what to expect. I knew the boneyards of Paris well enough, though it took me several visits to find Beckett in Montparnasse. Being near the front gate, Sartre and De Beauvoir were easy to find – people throw Metro tickets on Sartre’s grave (an ironic twist on a spent journey), with words written on them like ‘see ya’. Hell really is other people. Serge Gainsbourg has a decorative display of floral bouquets, photographs, cards and letters – some Christmas tree lights would give the perfect finishing touch. But just the bare bones for Beckett: plain, polished plinth, grey granite grave.

    • Brazil Is Now Effectively Run by a Military Junta

      It was a little more than 45 days of the most bizarre power experiment in Brazilian history, but it’s over. The Jair Bolsonaro government, as the victorious power arrangement that won at the ballot box in 2018, no longer exists. A new phase two is beginning, of a regime that is ending the period of the people’s Constitution of 1988. A military junta is taking power in a government which they already dominated. There are 4 generals encapsulated in the Presidential Palace: Augusto Heleno, Hamilton Mourão, Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz and Eduardo Villas Bôas. In the next few days, the Junta may incorporate General Floriano Peixoto Neto, who is slated to substitute General Secretariat Minister Gustavo Bebianno, Bolsonaro’s campaign coordinator who was recently ousted on money laundering charges.

      It is not exactly a coup d’état. The coup took place in 2015-2016. They were already there. Now they occupy all of the key positions in the government. They have taken the power that was left vacant by the cartoon caricatures of Bolsonaro and his sons. Captain Jair may continue living in the Presidential Palace and even play video games in his office in the Capital building. All he has to do is obey his commanding officers, the generals.

      The most prominent member of the Military Junta will probably be Villas Bôas. He was the great strategist, the negotiator, the man who took the initiative to betray democracy, ordering the Supreme Court to block Lula’s freedom and impeding the ex-President’s candidacy and with this, guaranteeing the rise of a new regime. The decisive role of Villas Bôas, which should have remained in the shadows, turned public in a pathetic manner – like everything in this process – by the clumsy Jair Bolsonaro. During the January 2 inauguration ceremony for Defense Minister, General Fernando Azevedo e Silva (one more general), the now zombie President publicly mumbled, “General Vilas Boas, what we spoke about privately will remain a secret. You are one of the people responsible for me being here.”

    • ‘Not Every Option Is on the Table’: EU Leaders Reject Idea of US-Led Military Intervention in Venezuela

      The European Union and the Spanish government on Monday both rejected calls by the Trump administration and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to keep “every option on the table” to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power—saying they do not support, nor would they would participate, in military intervention.

      “Not every option is on the table,” Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told the Spanish news outlet Efe on Sunday. “We have clearly warned that we would not support—and would roundly condemn—any foreign military intervention, which is something we hope won’t happen.”

    • Abe Signals He’ll Ignore Will of Okinawa Voters Who Just Overwhelmingly Rejected New US Military Base

      Voters in the Japan’s Okinawa prefecture on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected construction plans to build a new U.S. military base to replace another “noisy and dangerous” base, sending a clear message to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration that residents remain frustrated by the significant presence of American armed forces in the region.

      More than 72 percent of those who turned out for the referendum—representing nearly 40 percent of the southwestern prefecture’s eligible voters—came together across age groups and political parties to oppose “the landfill work for the construction of the U.S. base that the government is planning in Henoko, Nago City, as a replacement for the Futenma airfield.”

      “The central government should reconsider its policy that Henoko is the only candidate site for relocation, and suspend the [ongoing land reclamation] work,” said Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, according to the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. “We will also strongly demand that the central government start dialogue with the Okinawa prefectural government toward the closure of the Futenma air station and return of its land [to Japan].”

    • As the Coup Attempt in Venezuela Stumbles, It’s Time that Guaidó Recognize that Regime Change has Failed

      On January 28, COHA’s Editorial Board released a statement condemning the US-backed coup attempt in Venezuela and in support of the dialogue promoted by the government of Mexico and the United Nations to settle the conflict peacefully. Since then, the regime change effort has severely lost momentum. The strained attempt to legitimize self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó, a previously unknown 35-year-old National Assembly member of the right-wing Voluntad Popular party, has largely failed. The government of President Nicolás Maduro remains firmly in power and only a handful of military leaders have defected to Guaidó’s side. In spite of multiple US allies in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and beyond having formally recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, four of the five major emerging BRICS nations – Russia, China, India, and South Africa – continue to recognize Maduro, along with 15 other African countries, some of the Caricom nations and stalwart regional allies Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

    • Forget the Blunders on Brexit and Foreign Policy, the ISIS Mother and Her Infant are the “Real Threat”

      The decision of home secretary Sajid Javid to strip former Isis mother Shamima Begum of her British citizenship is evidently motivated by his wish to be seen – along with Theresa May – as tough and proactive amid the chaos and uncertainties of Brexit. The decision is probably illegal, given that Begum does not have a Bangladesh passport, but by the time the case works its way through the courts, the gesture will have served its turn.

      The frenzy over the Begum story is partly impelled by the media’s desperation to report something other than Brexit. But taking away Begum’s right to a British passport is only the latest in a series of bizarre gestures by ministers designed to give the impression of a government in control at home and abroad, though the weirdness of its actions suggests one that is rattled and does not know where it is going.

      Sending the giant aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to disputed waters off China has a fine “Britain rules the waves” feel to it. Defence minister Gavin Williamson says it is a display of “hard power” and “lethality”. Except we do not rule the waves anywhere much and certainly not in the South China Sea, and to pretend otherwise gives a very large hostage to fortune.

      There is even an ominous echo here, which probably passed Williamson by, of a spectacularly ill-judged bit of gesture strategy. Churchill sent the warships Prince of Wales and Repulse to the far east to serve as a “veiled threat” to deter Japanese aggression. Both vessels were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft and their fate should have served as a warning to any power that bluffs without thinking through what will happen if that bluff is called.

    • Following Putin comments, pro-Kremlin pundits gleefully (and incorrectly) imagine a missile strike against the U.S.

      In his annual State of the Nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government is preparing a response to the possible transfer of American missiles to Europe, where “their flight time to Moscow could be as low as 10 – 12 minutes.” Putin said a symmetrical response would not only target rocket launchers; it would target “the territories where decisions are made to deploy missile complexes that threaten us.”

      “Naturally, it is their right to think what they want. But can they do math? They probably can. Let them calculate the range and speed of our own advanced weapons systems. That’s all we’re asking: they should calculate first and only later start making decisions that can present new, serious threats to our country and, naturally, lead to retaliatory measures on Russia’s side,” Putin said, addressing the United States directly.

    • With US Dropping ‘More and More Bombs,’ Afghan Civilian Deaths Hit Record High in 2018

      According to the data released Sunday by the United Nations, there were 3,804 civilian deaths last year, which marks an 11 percent increase compared to 2017.

      Among those thousands were 927 children—a figure U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called “particularly shocking.” The U.N. also said it was the highest child death toll recorded during a single year. Women and children together represented 38 per cent of all the civilian casualties.

      “The report’s rigorously researched findings show that the level of harm and suffering inflicted on civilians in Afghanistan is deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. secretary-general’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “All parties need to take immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed.”

      Revealing the scope of “human misery and tragedy,” Yamamoto added that 32,000 civilians were killed over the last decade.

    • Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Resigns Hours After Meeting With US Peace Delegation

      Instead, President Trump quit the agreement and implemented even more sanctions on Iran and on any international company that has economic dealings with Iran. Now just 51 percent of Iranians think the nuclear agreement is a good idea because it has brought no economic relief to the Iranian people. Jarif expressed frustration with the Europeans, who say they want to salvage the deal but refuse to provide real economic relief.

      We left the meeting feeling so impressed by the depth of Zarif’s knowledge, his diplomatic skills and his commitment to finding peaceful ways to deal with conflicts—including his efforts to solve the crisis in Yemen. We also left understanding the difficult position he was in, having staked his reputation on the success of the nuclear deal.

    • “You Can Stop This” — Venezuela’s Message to Americans

      The American people can stop a war on Venezuela, that country’s foreign minister told Democracy Now! on Monday.

      “I believe that the American people and the American institutions can stop this from happening, this insane proposal of invading Venezuela,” Jorge Arreaza told Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales during an interview. “And this is the right time to do it.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The man from Ukhra helping whistleblowers stay invisible

      Living in the age of snoops can be difficult. It’s hard enough to escape garden variety profiling, let alone become a whistleblower. Living up to the expectations of Edward Snowden and a high profile team building tech to help the free press is without a doubt harder. One misstep and it could cost jobs or even lives of people.

      “We have bad information security for whistleblowers in India. They routinely get compromised by accident,” says Kiran Jonnalagadda, the co-founder of Bengaluru based HasGeek, a community for geeks.

      Helping Snowden and dozens of news organisations — which includes the likes of The Guardian, Associated Press and The Intercept — build a top grade system that facilitates whistleblowers send documents securely to journalists is West Bengal born Kushal Das, an open source programmer, known little outside of the tight-knit community.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Striking for the Right to a Future

      She began cutting school on Fridays and simply sitting on the steps of the Swedish parliament. Her name was Greta Thunberg. She was 15 years old, with a mind of her own and a sign demanding a school strike against climate change. Her parents wanted her to go back to school, but Friday after Friday she kept at it until others (including one of her teachers) began joining her.

      She handed out leaflets that said, “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” She demanded that her country’s politicians “prioritize the climate question, focus on the climate and treat it like a crisis” — like, that is, the one that could take down civilization and cripple the planet. She knew that it was time to panic. (“I want you to panic,” she insisted in a speech directed at the ultra-rich in Davos, Switzerland. “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”)

    • ‘A World Without Clouds. Think About That a Minute’: New Study Details Possibility of Devastating Climate Feedback Loop

      Stratocumulus clouds cover about two-thirds of the Earth and help keep it cool by reflecting solar radiation back to space. Recent research has suggested that planetary warming correlates with greater cloud loss, stoking fears about a feedback loop that could spell disaster.

      For this study, researchers at the California Institute of Technology used a supercomputer simulation to explore what could lead these low-lying, lumpy clouds to vanish completely.

    • The Green New Deal Can Work – Here’s How

      The Green New Deal resolution recently submitted by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) proposes a broad vision to transform America. It calls for a mobilization to create a climate-safe America and thereby “create millions of good, high-wage jobs, virtually eliminate poverty, provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic securing for all U.S. persons, and counteract systemic injustices.” Here’s a strategy for how it can succeed.

    • Evidence of Human-Caused Climate Crisis Has Now Reached ‘Gold Standard’-Level Certainty, Scientists Say

      Most Americans now recognize the scientific community’s consensus that human activity is fueling the climate crisis, according to polls—but for those who are still unconvinced of the conclusion reached by 97 percent of climate scientists, a new study makes an even more definite assertion.

      Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California found that the information available can now be classified as “five-sigma”—a standard in the scientific community meaning that there is a one-in-a-million chance that the same data would be observable if humans were not causing the planet to grow warmer through activities like fossil fuel extraction. The classification represents a “gold standard” level of certainty.

    • Slandering the Not-So Radical Green New Deal: A Bipartisan Operation

      But calling the Left “antis” – people who are just against stuff but not for anything– is only one of the rhetorical mechanisms employed to slander and demean radicals and progressives. Another set of false accusations come into play when progressive solutions see the light of day and threaten to garner significant popular support. When that happens, it no longer suffices to say that the Left offers no alternatives. The slander shifts and portside activists and intellectuals are accused of calling for too much, not for too little. They are charged with authoritarian, even totalitarian overreach. At the same time, Left proposals are smeared as “unrealistic,” “fantastic,” “pie-in-the sky,” “dreamy,” and the like.

      As with the “no solution” slur, this different set of allegations come not just from Republicans but also and most dangerously from the reigning corporate and neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party, assigned the task of defining and policing the narrow leftmost boundaries of acceptable political and policy debate in the United States.

      [...]

      Feinstein’s statement that her job is to draft a “responsible resolution” and that climate change “won’t get turned around in ten years” revealed her belief that the GND is pie-in-the-sky. Congressional Democrats might be more likely than their insane white-nationalist Republican counterparts to accept clime science, but so what? Feinstein’s perspective, downplaying the urgent action required, is the standard “mainstream” Democratic perspective, befitting that party’s longtime status as the nation’s Inauthentic Opposition (the late Sheldon Wolin’s dead-on description of the deplorable corporate Democrats).

      Who who needs right-wing enemies when you’ve got “liberal” friends like Pelosi, Feinstein, Durbin, Scarborough-Brzezinski, O’Sullivan, Chait, Pesca, Bloomberg, and Moniz et al ?

      Equally representative of the Inauthentic Opposition party’s longstanding alliance with reigning corporate interests is its collaboration with the Republicans and the Trump administration in support of a coup to oust the democratically elected socialist government of Venezuela. The regime-change campaign Washington and Wall Street are mounting against the Bolivarian government in Caracas is meant among other things to help the United States and its transnational oil corporations maintain imperially proper control of the Latin American nation’s massive petroleum reserves (more vast than Saudi Arabia’s). It’s another bipartisan operation.

    • Chernobyl’s legacy imperils many thousands

      The risk of an accident with civil nuclear power may be small, but when an accident does happen the impact may be immense, as a new book on Chernobyl’s legacy makes clear.

      The nuclear industry promotes its technology as a key way of battling climate change. A nuclear reactor can supply vast amounts of energy; compared with coal, oil or gas-fired power plants there are few or no emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

      But nuclear energy does have considerable drawbacks. A nuclear power plant costs many billions of dollars to build – and is even more expensive to decommission at the end of its working life.

    • Green Party responds to record breaking February temperatures

      Responding to reports from the Met Office that temperatures today surpassed 20 degrees for the first time on record, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said:

      “I like spending an afternoon in the sunshine as much as anyone, but it’s impossible to shake the feeling that this isn’t right. After last year’s unprecedented global heatwave and last month’s deadly temperatures in Australia, our baseline perception of what’s normal is shifting.

    • Greens win climate emergency declarations from 27 councils

      The Green Party launched the campaign, which aims to see every council in England and Wales declare a climate emergency, in response to the UN’s warning we have until 2030 to take positive action limit climate catastrophe [1].

      With the Government in Westminster failing to take the action needed to meet the scale of this challenge, Green Party councillors and members are stepping up to take local action to curb climate breakdown.

      Motions calling for councils to declare a climate emergency have been passed on 25 principal authorities across England and Wales [2], with many speeding up commitments to go carbon neutral. Climate emergencies have also been declared on 10 parish or town councils [3].

    • Wildlife Corridors Not High-Speed Rail Coming to California

      In a rare historical moment that counters half a millennium of Modernity, non-human species, their native environments and their freedom of movement, have been privileged over the transportation of humans within the State of California.

      In a month when Gavin Newsom, the newly appointed Governor of California, in his state of the State address, all but threw in the towel over high-speed rail, agreeing to call it quits after the rump line between Merced and Bakersfield in the Central Valley is finally built, the County of Ventura plans to institute a Wildlife Corridor Overlay Zone that will enhance the possibilities of survival for the County’s fragmented wildlife populations.

      Is it entirely specious to couple these two events?

      For one shining instant, can Californian wildlife corridors and the high-speed rail system co-exist within the public imagination and register the smallest of tremors, a foreshock that presages a shift in the zeitgeist? Allow me to savor the possibilities of the moment.

      Upon returning from this fanciful conflation, it is appropriate to remind ourselves, in these days of spurious States of Emergency (can we doubt that more will carom down the Trumpian track?) that,

      “Of all the decisions any society must make, perhaps the most fundamental ones concern the natural world, for it is upon the earth’s biota – its plants, animals, waters, and other living substances – that all human existence ultimately depends.” Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature, 2001.

    • At a Climate Crossroads: Nonviolence or Violence

      Sixty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King declared, “Today the choice is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” Emboldened by the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott two years earlier, King saw nonviolence not only as a powerful strategy for achieving social change; he viewed it as a philosophy and way of life that gave the world its only genuine alternative to the doomsday scenarios posed by the cold war arms race. As he said, “In a day when Sputniks and Explorers dash through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, nobody can win a war.”

      Today, as efforts to control nuclear proliferation appear to be unravelling or failing, and as countries like the U.S. and Russia are engaging in a newly intensified arms race, Dr. King’s words carry new urgency. But there’s another reason for urgency: climate change. Recent scientific reports, including a report issued this past October by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, predict that at the present rate of fossil fuel consumption, the earth will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels by 2040, decades earlier than previously predicted. Severe impacts (major coastal flooding, intense droughts, increased levels of poverty around the world) will likely occur within the lifetimes of many people living today.

      These developments carry profound implications for human society – and for the issues of war and peace. Many researchers and policy makers acknowledge climate change as a major driver of human migration. Increasing numbers of people, displaced by flooding, decreasing crop productivity, and water shortages, will be forced to leave their homes in search of habitable spaces and viable livelihoods. The World Bank issued a report last March predicting that as many as 150 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia could be displaced within their home countries by mid-century. The United Nations has issued similar predictions as well.

      In the United States, defense analysts and policy-makers, have, however, tended to frame these climate-related issues in conventional terms of national security, i.e. climate change as a “security threat.” This past January, for example, the Director of National Intelligence issued a “Worldwide Threat Assessment” in which climate change, along with other environmental factors, is seen as “likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond.” Back in 2017, the U.S. Congress included language in a defense policy bill to indicate that climate change “is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist.”

    • The Showbiz of Conservation: PETA, Google and Steve Irwin

      The world of conservation has thrown up various voices of tenacity. There was Aldo Leopold, a vital figure behind establishing the first wilderness area of the United States when he convinced the Forest Service to protect some five hundred thousand acres of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. There was Robert Marshall, the founder of The Wilderness Society. There was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), a solidly aimed blow at the use of DDT and its environmental effects.

      Then there are the savvy showmen, the exploiters few short of a scruple, and manipulators keen on lining pockets. The animal kingdom, for such types, is entertainment, much in the way that the automobile world is there for a figure such as Jeremy Clarkson. Awareness of the existence of animals – their importance, their relevance – is drummed up by means of display and provocation. The more dangerous, in a sense, the better, for here, human kind can be shown to be jousting with crocodile, sting ray and lion. Humankind can return to savage roots, confronting other species in gladiatorial encounters with film crew and an extensive promotion strategy. This is bullfighting, with a conservationist twist.

      Such a figure was Steve Irwin, who made his way from Australia to the US, assisted by the solid contacts of his American wife Terri Raines, to build a name in the animal show business. He became – and here the language is instructive – the self-styled Crocodile Hunter, audacious, brash and vulgar in his animal chase. He established Australia Zoo, which sports a vision of being “the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the entire world, and” (note the entertainment gong here) “there is no other zoo like Australia zoo!” The emphasis here is also vital: zoos vary in history in terms of what they have done for conservation, turning species as much into museum species for spectacle as any act of preservation.

      Irwin teased out the voyeur in the spectator: would he be added to the crocodile’s next meal? Or, even more daringly, would he add his baby to it? Punters, take your pick, and wait for the outcome – you know you are in store for something grand and grisly.

      This assertion is not far-fetched; in 2004, the showman introduced his one-month old son in what was promoted as “Bob’s Croc Feeding Debut” to a crocodile at feeding time, real fun for the family. While apologising for his actions in the face of strident protest, Irwin’s rather particular view on animal advertising came through. He had, for one, been professional in keeping “a safe working distance with that crocodile when that took place”. He would also have been “a bad parent if I didn’t teach my children to be crocodile savvy because they live here – they live in crocodile territory.” Responsible, indeed.

    • Utilities Are Starting to Invest in Big Batteries Instead of Building New Power Plants

      Due to their decreasing costs, lithium-ion batteries now dominate a range of applications including electric vehicles, computers and consumer electronics.

      You might only think about energy storage when your laptop or cellphone are running out of juice, but utilities can plug bigger versions into the electric grid. And thanks to rapidly declining lithium-ion battery prices, using energy storage to stretch electricity generation capacity.

    • Youth Climate Activists Demanding Green New Deal Arrested for Sit-In at #OilMoneyMitch McConnell’s Office

      As recent polling shows more than 80 percent of Americans back key elements of the Green New Deal put forth by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the mobilization to increase pressure on McConnell comes after the majority leader announced last week that he plans to rush a floor vote on the resolution, which critics denounced as a ploy to fuel divisions in the Democratic Party.

      “Kentucky youth traveled here today because their state needs a Green New Deal. Mitch McConnell’s Green New Deal vote is a political stunt to score some points for his wealthy donors,” Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said in a statement. “We’re here to warn him and all senators: if you refuse to back the Green New Deal, young people will remember next time you ask for our votes.”

  • Finance

    • Brexit could be delayed until 2021, EU sources reveal

      Brexit could be delayed until 2021 under plans being explored by the EU’s most senior officials, at a time of growing exasperation over Theresa May’s handling of the talks, the Guardian can reveal.

      A lengthy extension of the negotiating period is gaining traction as the EU’s default position should the Commons continue to reject May’s deal, and a request emerge.

      Replacing the 21-month transition period with extra time as a member state would allow the UK and the EU to develop their plans for the future relationship with the aim of making the contentious Irish backstop redundant.

    • Kremlin press secretary rejects reports that Putin defended the case against U.S. investor Michael Calvey

      Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary to Vladimir Putin, said the Russian president did not defend the country’s prosecution of American citizen Michael Calvey, who leads the major investment fund Baring Vostok.

    • Investment firm Baring Vostok asks Putin to ‘take personal control’ of the criminal case against its partners

      The investment firm Baring Vostok has published an open letter to Vladimir Putin, asking the president to “take personal control of the criminal case” against Michael Calvey and five other suspects, “in order to ensure a comprehensive, independent, and objective investigation.”

      Published in both Russian and English, the text states that the charges against Calvey and his supposed accomplices were “launched in the midst of a commercial conflict related to Vostochny Bank.” The company argues that the defendants are “accused of offenses in connection with the execution of normal management functions at a commercial organization.” Baring Vostok also protests the suspects’ imprisonment, pointing out that it contradicts Russia’s declining use of jail as a form of pre-trial detention “for cases related to commercial activities.”

    • Why cities should stop playing Amazon’s game and quit offering companies tax incentives

      Amazon’s decision to walk away from its plan to build a new headquarters in Queens stunned city and state officials, who had promised US$3 billion in incentives in exchange for some 25,000 jobs. They had never questioned whether the promised jobs and economic stimulus would actually appear.

      In my own research as an economist studying corporate welfare, I have found and reviewed much evidence on the effectiveness of tax and other incentives. My conclusion: Incentives just don’t work.

    • The Growing Wealth Gap Marks the Return of Oligarchy

      One of the most striking features of our era is the widening gap between rich and poor. In fact, wealth inequality may be higher today than any other era, although we lack the data to draw meaningful comparisons with the distant past. Moreover, the gap between the haves and the have-nots seems to be growing, as the annual reports from the development charity Oxfam clearly indicate. What are the key reasons for the growing divide between rich and poor, especially when governments claim that there is a recovery underway since the 2008 global financial crisis? And what can be done to reorganize society so wealth is no longer concentrated into so few hands while millions of people live in extreme poverty or are barely subsisting? In the interview below, Thomas Weisskopf, emeritus professor of economics at the University of Michigan and a long-time member of the Democratic Socialists of America, offers his insights on the state of economic injustice.

    • Trump’s Tax Cut Has Failed to Deliver Promised Investment Boom

      Last week, the Commerce Department released data on equipment investment for December 2018. Orders for new equipment were up just 2 percent from year–ago levels and actually down almost 2 percent from the levels reached in July 2018. In fact, even the peak level reached in July was lower than the peak reached under Obama in March of 2012, and that’s before adjusting for inflation.

      The other categories of investment don’t look much better. The smaller categories of intellectual property products and nonresidential construction are both seeing modest single–digit increases. This is fine for normal times, but there is no acceleration from the growth rate we saw under Obama. In short, we clearly are not seeing the investment boom promised by the Trump administration and other proponents of its tax cut.

      In case folks had forgotten, the main rationale for the tax cut was supposed to be that it would trigger a huge surge in investment. This was supposedly the reason that corporations received the bulk of the tax cuts.

      While the immediate beneficiaries of a cut in corporate taxes are shareholders, who are disproportionately the rich and very rich, the argument was that ordinary workers would ultimately be the biggest beneficiaries. The story was that lower tax rates would give corporations more incentive to invest. More investment would lead to more productivity growth. With workers getting their share of productivity growth in higher wages, the typical working family would be $4,000 better off as a result of the tax cuts, after just four years.

    • ‘We Are Crushing the Next Generation’: Young Millennials Saddled With $1,005,000,000,000 in Student Debt

      In the last quarter of 2018, outstanding student loan debt went up $15 billion to $1.46 trillion. Credit card balances shot up as well, raising $26 billion to $870 billion, according to (pdf) the most recent quarterly housefold debt report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data.

      The youngest age bracket in the report, those aged 19-29, had over $1 trillion in debt in 2018. “That’s the highest debt exposure for the youngest adult group since late 2007,” Bloomberg reported. Moreover, “Student loans make up the majority of the $1,005,000,000,000 owed by this cohort, followed by mortgage debt,” the reporting adds.

      “We are crushing the next generation with debt,” tweeted Democratic presidential hopeful and Universal Basic Income proponent Andrew Yang in response to the findings.

    • Worker Visas in Doubt as Trump Immigration Crackdown Widens

      Immigrants with specialized skills are being denied work visas or seeing applications get caught up in lengthy bureaucratic tangles under federal changes that some consider a contradiction to President Donald Trump’s promise of a continued pathway to the U.S. for the most talented foreigners.

      Getting what’s known as an H-1B visa has never been a sure thing — the number issued annually is capped at 85,000 and applicants need to enter a lottery to even be considered. But some immigration attorneys, as well as those who hire such workers, say they’ve seen unprecedented disruptions in the approval process since Trump took office in 2017.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Citing Vision of Granny D, Elizabeth Warren Vows Campaign Built on ‘Ideas and Principles – Not Money and Access’

      Announcing her campaign will shun the tradition of “fancy receptions,” endless phone calls, and “big money fundraisers” with deep-pocketed donors “who can write big checks,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday—inspired by the courageous activism of Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who in her late eighties walked thousands of miles against the corrupting influence of big money in politics—told supporters that she will walk a path focused on small donors as she pursues the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

      “For every time you see a presidential candidate talking with voters at a town hall, rally, or local diner, those same candidates are spending three or four or five times as long with wealthy donors—on the phone, or in conference rooms at hedge fund offices, or at fancy receptions and intimate dinners—all behind closed doors,” Warren wrote in an email to supporters early on Monday. “When I thank the people giving to my campaign, it will not be based on the size of their donation.”

    • At Chicago City Hall, the Legislative Branch Rarely Does Much Legislating

      She saw it as an example of why she and her 49 City Council colleagues have so much power over their wards, down to their alleys and sidewalks.

      Residents “need to have a go-to person, someone you can expect to address your issue,” Dowell said. “That person needs to be on the ground with you.”

      From 2011 through 2018, Dowell was the chief sponsor of more than 900 separate ordinances in the City Council, most of them pertaining to such hyperlocal issues as business sign permits, driveway alley access and parking meter hours for single addresses or blocks.

      That volume of ward-specific legislation is typical for Chicago aldermen. Dowell and others have fought for more oversight of city government. But the city’s legislative branch is largely consumed with processing small-bore and neighborhood administrative matters, with few aldermen taking the lead on issues beyond their ward boundaries, a ProPublica Illinois analysis of more than 100,000 pieces of legislation has found.

      The structure of the council has received new attention over the last several months, as the city’s political establishment has been rocked by scandals involving aldermen. In January, federal prosecutors charged Ed Burke, the council dean and Finance Committee chair, with trying to shake down a Burger King franchisee that needed building and driveway permits for a restaurant in his Southwest Side ward. Burke has said he is not guilty.

    • Kremlin press secretary’s daughter scores internship with right-wing European Parliament member

      Yelizaveta Peskova, the daughter of Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, has found work as an intern in the European Parliament. The television channel Nastoyashchee Vremya discovered her position on February 25.

    • Behind Paul Manafort’s sordid career: Hints of a much larger Trump conspiracy

      Most of you probably didn’t stay up late on Friday night on pins and needles waiting for the sentencing memorandum in Paul Manafort’s case to drop. That would be because you are sane people who have lives. Quite a few journalists and news junkies obviously can’t say that, because we sat there in front of our phones and keyboards, checking Twitter every few moments in the vain hope that the “Big Reveal” was finally coming and Robert Mueller was going to lay out whatever he’s got.

      As it turned out, the memorandum wasn’t filed until Saturday afternoon and it turned out to be a richly detailed 800-page document about Paul Manafort’s sordid history of criminality. There is little doubt that this man has spent a lifetime consorting with terrible people doing terrible things and making a lot of money at it. You’d think Donald Trump would have done a little bit of research before he tapped such a person to run his campaign, particularly since one of his major campaign promises was that he would only hire the very best people. Considering how many other corrupt, criminal, incompetent hires there have been to his campaign and administration, that clearly cannot be among those “promises kept” he likes to brag about. There has never been a more motley group of misfits populating one presidency in American history.

    • Trump Campaign Staffer Becomes 23rd Woman to Publicly Accuse President of Sexual Assault

      Women’s rights groups pledged their support on Monday for Alva Johnson, a former staffer on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign who has alleged that the president sexually assaulted her on the campaign trail weeks before he won the election.

      According to the Washington Post, Johnson is alleging in a new lawsuit against Trump that he kissed her without her consent at a campaign event in Florida on August 24, 2016.

      “I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it,” Johnson said, calling Trump’s actions “super creepy and inappropriate.”

      “Johnson’s story should serve as a reminder to all Americans that Donald Trump is a self-confessed sexual predator—who will never stop abusing women,” said Emma Boorboor, deputy director of organizing for UltraViolet, noting that “she joins more than twenty other women who have had the courage to share their stories of sexual abuse by Donald Trump with the American people.”

      “We cannot truly tackle the epidemic of sexual violence in this country until we hold Donald Trump and his enablers accountable. We urge Congress to investigate these latest accusations against Trump,” Boorboor added.

    • America Has Already Fired Trump

      Special counsel Robert Mueller’s soon-to-be-delivered report will trigger months of congressional investigations, subpoenas, court challenges, partisan slugfests, media revelations and more desperate conspiracy claims by Donald Trump, all against the backdrop of the burning questions: Will he be impeached by the House? Will he be convicted by the Senate? Will he pull a Richard Nixon and resign?

      In other words, will America fire Trump?

      I have news for you. America has already fired him.

      When the public fires a president before election day – as it did with Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover – they don’t send him a letter telling him he’s fired. They just make him irrelevant. Politics happens around him, despite him. He’s not literally gone, but he might as well be.

      It’s happened to Trump. The courts and House Democrats are moving against him. Senate Republicans are quietly subverting him. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him to end the shutdown.

    • Mueller Report: Secrecy Shouldn’t be an Option

      As February draws to an end, rumors abound that we’re about to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Or at least that someone — namely, newly confirmed US Attorney General William Barr — is about to see that report. The rest of us, maybe not so much.

      “I don’t know at the end of the day what will be releasable,” Barr told the US Senate during his January confirmation hearing. “I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations.”

      That’s not good enough.

      Robert Mueller has spent nearly two years and more than $25 million supposedly getting to the bottom of the “Russian meddling” claims — claims that have, both before and throughout his tenure, roiled the news cycle and called the integrity of American elections into question.

      Mueller may answer to Barr, but both he and Barr claim to work for the public. And that money didn’t come out of Mueller’s pockets or Barr’s. It came out of your pocket and was supposedly spent on your behalf.

      That report is, by any reasonable standard, your property.

    • Women Marched for Korean Reconciliation. Washington Is in Our Way.

      In 2015, we were among 30 women from around the world who came together to cross the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), the infamous strip of land that has separated North and South Korea since a “temporary” cease-fire halted the Korean War 65 years ago.

      We marched to show this anachronistic conflict need no longer separate families, prohibit communication, and provide excuses for land mines, nuclear weapons and an expensive, ongoing U.S. military commitment. Among us were women who had won Nobel Peace Prizes for helping to bring peace to Liberia and Northern Ireland.

      Despite criticism that we were naively playing into the sinister plans of one side or the other, we held a peace symposium in Pyongyang with hundreds of North Korean women, and marched with thousands in the capital and in Kaesong. After crossing the DMZ, we walked with thousands of South Korean women along the barbed-wire fence in Paju.

      We never could have predicted that only three years later, the leaders of South and North Korea would meet in the DMZ and declare that “there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula.” This put in motion the kind of steps toward peace that we had marched for — soldiers from both sides shaking hands and removing guard posts, the beginning of land-mine removal from the DMZ. The new reality is a tribute to Korean leaders and their determination to end the standoff that has separated their people for three generations.

    • The Economic Rationale for the Democrats’ Aggressive Agenda

      Just because Congress is anchored in a toxic combination of partisan gridlock and Trumpian chaos doesn’t mean policy debates are dead. Democrats are working overtime to craft an alternative to the status quo, including progressive tax reform, jobs programs, pushback on climate change, universal health care, expanded Social Security and more.

      As it happens, economic conditions right now make this an excellent time for a bolder-the-better agenda.

      First, the Federal Reserve recently announced that its previously planned interest-rate increases were on pause. After holding the benchmark rate they control at zero for an unprecedented six years, in late 2015, the Fed began raising rates. A few years later, even as interest rates and unemployment remained historically low, enough economic head winds developed that the bank realized it had better stop tapping the growth brakes.

      There were lots of reasons for those head winds, including President Trump’s trade war, global growth problems, stock market volatility and more. But there’s always a lot of other stuff going on in global markets. The key fact is that the U.S. economy started to wobble with the Fed funds rate at 2.5 percent, a level that’s but one-half of its long-term average.

    • The missing piece from the DCMS report? Themselves

      The Disinformation and ‘fake news’ report from the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee splashed onto front pages, news feeds and timelines on 18 February. And what a response it provoked. Parliamentarians are once again talking tough against the role of big tech in one of the key areas of our life: the democratic process. The custodians of the democratic tradition are vociferously calling time on “out of control” social media platforms and demanding further regulation.

      In all the outrage and column inches generated by the report, however, campaigners for political office and representatives of political parties being angrily vocal about platforms and adverts and elections have failed to acknowledge one of the most critical actors in personal data and political campaigning: themselves.

    • Ex-Trump Campaign Staffer’s Lawsuit Challenges Nondisclosure Agreements

      Alva Johnson, a staff member of Trump’s 2016 presidential run, sued the campaign in a Florida federal court on Monday, Ronan Farrow reports in The New Yorker, alleging “that she experienced ‘racial and gender discrimination’ while working for the campaign, that she was paid less than male and white colleagues, and that Trump once kissed her partially on the mouth, without her consent.”

      Johnson, who is African-American, had multiple roles on the campaign, including director of outreach and coalitions in Alabama and administrative field-operations director in Florida. In addition to Johnson being paid “substantially less” than white men in similar roles, as the lawsuit alleges, Farrow reports that “campaign staffers made comments about race that made her uncomfortable.”

      Four people on the campaign, plus Johnson’s mother, father, and partner, report hearing about the kiss. Two people who were said to be near Trump and Johnson at the time, campaign staffer Karen Giorno and Trump surrogate Pam Bondi, both denied the incident. Bondi told Farrow, “Had it happened, I feel I would have seen it, because I was there the entire time.”

    • Time For Socialist History Month?

      This season, Black history month’s coinciding with the start of the presidential candidate primaries. On the Democratic side, we’re already seeing journalists stretching for their pencils to divvy the candidates up. So far, the main divides they’ve identified seem to stem from which of the contenders lead with race and gender justice, and which want to sock it to the corporations.

      But those social vs economic distinctions aren’t going to hold up for long when every last Democrat, for all their faults, is a civil rights paragon in contrast to the Klan endorsed guy in the White House.

    • Bernie Sanders Says 1,000,000 People Have Signed Up as Campaign Volunteers

      It took less than one week, but the Bernie Sanders campaign on Monday announced that more than one million people have now volunteered to support the senator’s 2020 bid.

      “We did it,” Sanders said in an email just before noon. “We hit this first important goal we needed to reach if we’re going to win this campaign. But the truth is, that goal is just a start.”

      While the campaign generated headlines last week by raising nearly $6 million in its first 24 hours—including approximately $600,000 in recurring monthly giving—hitting its volunteer goal in less than six days shows that there’s plenty of energy among the progressive base of his supporters.

    • The Judiciary Won’t Save American Democracy

      Now that President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to pave the way for construction of his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the question is whether anyone or anything can stop him.

      On Tuesday, the House is expected to pass a joint resolution terminating the emergency. The resolution will then head to the Senate, which should vote on it by mid-March. In addition, at least six high-profile federal lawsuits have been filed to contest the emergency decree.

      Unfortunately for anyone concerned with preserving the last vestiges of American democracy, the emergency declaration is likely to stand. Before explaining why, it’s helpful to recall how we got here.

      Trump proclaimed the emergency on Feb. 15 in a rambling, self-centered, stream-of-consciousness Rose Garden speech more suited to a psychiatric session than a presidential event. Careening from such far-flung topics as his personal relationship with China’s Xi Jinping and his admiration of China’s death penalty for drug offenders to the second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the status of Brexit and the latest military developments in Syria, Trump finally got to the point and explained he was dissatisfied with the $1.375 billion Congress had appropriated for 55 miles of new border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley to avert another government shutdown.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Latest Garbage Twitter/Terrorism Lawsuit Is The Stupidest Twitter/Terrorism Lawsuit

      Because there’s no shortage of people willing to pay money for the thrill ride that is losing a lawsuit in federal court, 1-800-LAW-FIRM and Excolo Law remain viable entities. The lawsuits they bring aren’t viable, but presumably retainers have been collected before the inevitable process of dismissal-appeal-dismissal begins.

      These two firms are behind most of the lawsuits we’ve covered featuring plaintiffs attempting to hold a number of social media platforms responsible for acts of terrorism. The underlying events are tragic, but these lawsuits aren’t the answer. They’re ridiculous. Despite not having racked up a win at any level of the court system, the lawsuits continue to be filed. This doesn’t reflect well on the law firms specializing in taking money from victims of terrorist attacks while offering them false hope of closure, if not actual compensation.

      The latest lawsuit filed by these firms is only novel in the respect that it features a Dallas transit officer as a plaintiff, rather than someone from the private sector. Retana was wounded in the ambush of Dallas law enforcement officers back in 2016. This is where the Twitter+terrorists boilerplate — which fills most of the lawsuit’s 96 pages [PDF] — gets really weird. (h/t Eric Goldman)

      To get around the obvious Section 230 roadblock, these lawsuits invoke the US Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The filings tend to spend numerous pages detailing the history of whatever terrorist organization is relevant to the case, followed by a bunch of screenshots of supposed members of these groups utilizing Twitter, Facebook, et al. With this, the plaintiffs hope to convince a judge that the mere existence of terrorists on social media networks is “material support for terrorism” — a violation of multiple anti-terrorism laws.

    • Has the Elite’s Slavish pro-Israel Agenda Finally Gone Too Far?

      Hezbollah’s defeat of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the July war of 2006 was heroic and an essential redress to the Middle East power balance. I supported Hezbollah’s entirely defensive action then and I continue to applaud it now. That, beyond any shadow of a doubt, makes me guilty ofn the criminal offence of “glorifying terrorism”, now that Sajid Javid has proscribed Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. I am unrepentant and look forward to the prosecution.

      A large majority of the public, and certainly almost everyone who remembers that 2006 invasion, would revolt from my being prosecuted on those grounds. The very absurdity of it is a sure measure that Sajid Javid has simply gone too far in naming Hezbollah – the legitimate political party representing in parliament the majority rural population in Southern Lebanon – as a terrorist organisation.

      Together with the largely manufactured “Corbyn anti-semitism” row, Javid’s move is aimed at achieving in the UK the delegitimisation of political opposition to Israeli aggression and absorption of the occupied territories and the Golan Heights, in the way that has been achieved in the USA. However, there is a much better educated population in the UK and a great deal of popular awareness of decades of Israeli crimes. In fact, the continuing resilience of the Labour vote shows that at least over a third of the British population does not buy the “anti-semitism” tag applied to all those concerned at the continued plight of the Palestinians.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Governments Must Face the Facts about Face Surveillance, and Stop Using It

      It’s time for governments to confront the harmful consequences of using facial recognition technology as an instrument of surveillance. Yet law enforcement agencies across the country are purchasing face surveillance technology with insufficient oversight—despite the many ways it harms privacy and free speech and exacerbates racial injustice.

      EFF supports legislative efforts in Washington and Massachusetts to place a moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology. These bills also would ban a particularly pernicious kind of face surveillance: applying it to footage taken from police body-worn cameras. The moratoriums would stay in place, unless lawmakers determined these technologies do not have a racial disparate impact, after hearing directly from minority communities about the unfair impact face surveillance has on vulnerable people.

      We recently sent a letter to Washington legislators in support of that state’s moratorium bill.

      We also support a proposal in the City of San Francisco that would permanently ban government use and acquisition of face surveillance technology.

    • More Consumer Data Privacy Hearings Without Enough Consumer Data Privacy Advocates

      Last year, the U.S. Senate held a hearing about consumer privacy without a single voice for actual consumers. At the time, we were promised more hearings with more diverse voices. And while a hearing a month later with consumer advocates did seem to be a step forward, this week’s two hearings–only MOSTLY full of witnesses from tech companies–make us worried about a step back.

      EFF actively supports new consumer data privacy laws to empower technology users and others. Today, 90 percent of Americans feel they no longer have control over their data when they go online. Laws that impose legal duties on large technology companies that monetize consumer data, coupled with strong enforcement such as a private right of action, will give users back control.

      In order to create an enforceable law that actually protects consumers, Congress needs to consider many different aspects of the issue. This week, both the House and the Senate are holding hearings on this topic, but unfortunately, instead of hearing a variety of voices and perspectives on this topic, once again, Congress decided to hear mostly from tech companies.

    • Court Says DOJ’s Attempt To Force Facebook To Break Encryption Can Remain Under Seal

      Late last summer, the DOJ attempted to get a court to force Facebook to break encryption on its Messenger service so investigators could tap into phone calls being made by criminal suspects. Facebook responded that doing so would fundamentally alter the way Messenger works. The request was a non-starter according to Facebook. According to the DOJ, it was nothing more than asking a few smart people to do a few smart things, so the burden Facebook complaints about “burdensome requests” was overstated.

      A couple of months later, the DOJ had again failed to obtain favorable anti-encryption precedent. The underlying documents remain under seal, but sources “close to the case” had indicated the court had sided with Facebook.

      The secret litigation over software alterations that would affect millions of Facebook users continues. Messenger’s encryption is no longer at stake — at least not for the time being — but the government still wants the public to stay out of its private discussions with our federal court system.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Supreme Court Rightly Cited the Black Codes in Ruling Against Excessive Fines, Fees, and Forfeitures

      The justices held that the Eighth Amendment protects people from state and local authorities’ abusive reliance on monetary penalties to raise money.
      Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare unanimous ruling in Timbs v. Indiana, holding for the first time that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to state and local governments — not just federal authorities.

      The fact that this landmark decision is unanimous is itself remarkable. But it bears noting that in separate opinions, both Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledge the historical context for the modern-day protection against excessive fines, fees, and forfeitures: southern states’ abuse of fines to enforce white supremacy in the years following the Civil War.

      The question presented by Timbs is whether the Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated by the 14th Amendment and therefore applicable to the states. When the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, it applied only against the federal government. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to formerly enslaved people and, among other things, prohibited state governments from depriving people “of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that most of the protections in the Bill of Rights apply to the states because they are incorporated by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

    • Intrepid Journalism 101: Watch This Reporter Jump Over the Border Wall!

      Bestowing vital hope on beleaguered journalists everywhere, Hilde Lysiak, 12-year-old reporter, editor and publisher of the Orange Street News, last week faced down an Arizona cop who threatened to “have you arrested and thrown in juvey” for chasing down a tip on her bike, aka doing her job – or as Lysiak conscientiously reported, “The OSN was working on a story in Patagonia, Arizona when a law enforcement officer threatened the reporter with arrest unless she stopped reporting the news.” This was her second encounter with Marshall Joseph Patterson, who’d variously charged her with disobeying his “lawful order,” riding on the wrong side of the road and acting unsafely with a possible mountain lion in the area. Filming him as she repeatedly asked just what crime she’d committed, he retorted it was illegal to film him or “paste my face on the Internet” – not – and he didn’t “want to hear about any of that freedom-of-the-press stuff.” In the end, she writes, “The officer told the reporter he was calling her parents. ‘You aren’t an adult so don’t act like it,’ before driving off.”

      This was not Lysiak’s first run-in with recalcitrant police; she says the cops in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania “definitely don’t like to talk to me – I’d have more luck getting answers from a tongue-less cat.” The daughter of a former New York Daily News reporter who used to take her along on stories, she began her career covering events in her family or community – “My first issue was the birth of my baby sister. Lame.” – went on to report small crimes like vandalism, and at nine broke her most famous story of a homicide, interviewing witnesses before other media had reached the scene and dismissing skeptics with panache: “Just because I’m nine doesn’t mean I can’t do a great story.” That one was “easy”; she’s proudest of her investigative piece on a serious drug problem at the local high school that had gone unreported and ultimately prompted action by the school district. After working on it for months, “My sources were going to let me ride along on a heroin run to a nearby town and report how it all went down, but my parents said no.”

    • Florida Dept. Of Corrections Sued For Screwing Inmates Out Of $11.3 Million In Digital Purchases

      Last fall, the Florida Department of Corrections decided it needed to enrich itself at the literal expense of its inmates. It signed a new contract with new provider of jailhouse entertainment, instantly making $11.3 million in purchased digital goods worthless. You don’t own what you paid for, even at inflated prison prices.

      The new contract with JPay rendered the purchased content unusable. Even the players purchased by inmates aren’t technically theirs and must be returned to the vendor. Not that keeping the players would help much. The licensing agreements covering the content are only valid if the previous contractor is providing the service. Since it’s not, the mp3s and ebooks can’t be transferred to JPay devices.

      Unsurprisingly, inmates are furious. So are their families — the ones who paid extortionate rates to give their imprisoned family members a little music to enjoy. The DOC recognized this was a problem and created a portal for the filing of complaints related to this disappearance of purchased digital goods. That portal is going to be very useful in the upcoming lawsuit against the Florida DOC for screwing inmates out of their purchases.

    • Petition Delivered to Philly DA Calling for Fair Appeal for Mumia

      As you know, respected human rights groups like Amnesty International have criticized the 1982 trial that convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal – as well as the corrupted appeals process that followed. Amnesty pointed to racial bias at the trial and “possible political influences that may have prevented him from receiving an impartial and fair hearing.” Since that tainted trial, Mr. Abu-Jamal has spent roughly 37 years in prison, much of it on death row in solitary confinement.

      After [Pennsylvania Common Pleas] Judge Leon Tucker recently granted Mr. Abu-Jamal the right of appeal based on the appearance of bias in the appeals process, we were dismayed to hear you have decided to challenge Judge Tucker’s decision, apparently over concern that it might open the way for appeals by other less prominent convicted prisoners.

      We urge you to drop your appeal of Judge Tucker’s ruling – and we ask you: Given the racial, judicial and political biases that have tarnished Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case from day one, isn’t nearly four decades behind bars more than enough?

    • Supreme Court Screw-Up Sullies U.S. Constitution

      Giving a speech at Georgetown University, late Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., said: “[T]he Constitution is a sublime oration on the dignity of man.” However, after the Supreme Court’s February 7 refusal to stay devout Muslim Domineque Ray’s execution – despite Ray’s unrebutted claim only Christian prisoners in Alabama are afforded a spiritual advisor during their final moments – this high-minded aspiration for one of our country’s founding documents appears to be, as it has before (see, for example, Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu), empty words. As Justice Kagan observed in dissent, it was “profoundly wrong.”

      The morning after Ray’s unholy execution, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist John Archibald wrote: “There was a lot of legal maneuvering in the days and hours leading up to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed his 6 p.m. execution. The prison ultimately gave him back his Quran and the state said it would not force him to have the Christian chaplain present, though it would not let any outsider into the execution chamber for security reasons, even in the name of religious freedom. That protocol, prison officials said, has not changed.”

      Callously and without any indication he was copycatting the state’s own abominable proposal – one made during last-minute litigation to ensure Ray’s execution – Archibald asserted: “The answer seems pretty simple. If Alabama can’t allow an inmate to choose his own religious guide as he exits this earth, maybe they shouldn’t let any religious leaders into the execution chamber at all. Easy. But Ray is dead. I do not ask you to grieve for him, the grief is more appropriate for his victims Earnest and Reinhard Mabins and Tiffany Harville.”

    • Respectability Politics Is Losing Ground in Black Liberation Struggles

      We held signs of Michael Brown and chanted his last words, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” Hundreds of protesters made a human wall on the Brooklyn Bridge. It was night and the car headlights nearly blinded us, but we stopped traffic. We forced the city to see the images of young Black men killed by police.

      It was 2014 and Glenn Loury, a Black economist at Brown University, said “Michael Brown is no Rosa Parks.” He invoked a form of respectability politics to say Brown’s death should not spark a movement, and that Black Lives Matter was misguided. His critique is shared by a few older civil rights activists like Barbara Reynolds, who oppose its rhetoric and tactics.

      Now in 2019, it’s clear that respectability politics, a conservative ideology, is waning. Black activists have decidedly turned away from mirroring middle-class, white values. This February, as we near the end of Black History Month, it is vital to look at the timeline of this radical transformation. How did it come to pass, and what does it mean for the future of racial justice activism?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • How to decentralize social media, according to Wikipedia’s co-founder

      The problem about social media is that it is centralized. Centralization empowers massive corporations and governments to steal our privacy…

    • Trump Administration’s ‘National Broadband Plan’ Comically Refuses To Acknowledge A Lack Of Competition

      We’ve well documented how the telecom sector is a pit of regulatory capture and dysfunction, pretty evident if you’ve ever tried to switch ISPs, negotiate a lower rate, or contact Comcast customer support. And since these companies have their lobbying teeth stuck deep into regulators and lawmakers (something that teeters toward parody on the state level), the government’s “solutions” to the problem tend to wind up being of the decidedly half-assed variety. That’s not helped by many folks who still labor under the misconception that you motivate natural monopolies to behave by eliminating already modest regulatory oversight.
      So every few years, regardless of the party in charge, the government will put forth a new broadband plan it promises will finally address this cavalcade of dysfunction. And time and time again, these proposals fall well short of actually pushing policies that could actually drive more competition to market, because that’s the very last thing the companies holding sway over our lawmakers and regulatory agencies actually want. The result is plans that sound really good upon superficial inspection, but don’t come close to fixing the real problem. Again, because the wealthiest providers don’t want it fixed.
      That was certainly the case with the FCC’s 2010 “national broadband plan,” a collection of politically-timid policy goals set forth by Obama’s first FCC boss, Julius Genachowski. The plan failed to really offer a solution to drive competition to market, downplayed the potential role of open access, public/private partnerships, and community broadband as useful motivators for natural monopolies, and failed to really even mention the competitive logjam at the heart of the problem.

    • Charter Spectrum Keeps Mindlessly Jacking Up Its Bullshit Fees

      When Charter Communications (Spectrum) proposed merging with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016, the company repeatedly promised that the amazing “synergies” would lower rates, increase competition, boost employment, and improve the company’s services. Of course like countless telecom megamergers before it, little if any of those promises actually materialized.

      Instead, the company quickly set about raising prices to manage the huge debt load. And its service has been so aggressively terrible that the company recently almost got kicked out of New York State, something I’ve never seen in 20 years of covering telecom. All the while, the company continues to not only jack up its standard pricing, but the sneaky fees it uses to advertise one rate, then charge users something else when the bill actually comes due.

      We’ve noted for some time how cable providers over the last few years have added a “broadcast TV” fee to customer bills. Such a fee, which simply takes a part of the cost of programming and buries it below the line, lets cable providers advertise one rate, then hit customers with a higher bill. It’s false advertising, but you’d be hard pressed to find a regulator anywhere in North America that gives much of a damn about the practice, be it in telecom, cable TV, the airline sector, or anywhere else. Culturally, American “leadership” appears to view such fees as the pinnacle of capitalistic creativity.

      So it just keeps on going. The Los Angeles Times notes that Spectrum is informing its already angry customers that they’ll soon be facing yet another $2 monthly hike in the company’s broadcast TV fee, on the heels of another hike just last fall. The fall hike bumped the fee 12% to an additional $8.85 per month. This latest hike bumps it another $2 (20%) to $12 per month. And again, this is just for the cost of programming, something you’re supposed to have already paid for in your base, above the line bill.

    • Surprise: Uganda’s New Social Media Tax Seems To Have Led To Fewer People Using The Internet, And Total Value Of Mobile Transactions To Drop

      Techdirt has been following the regrettable story of African governments imposing taxes and levies on Internet use. For example, Uganda has added a daily fee of 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.05) that its citizens must pay to access social media sites and many common Internet-based messaging and voice applications (collectively known as “OTT services”). It has also imposed a tax on mobile money transactions. When people started turning to VPNs as a way to avoid these charges, the government tried to get ISPs to ban VPN use. As we pointed out, these kind of taxes could discourage the very people who could benefit the most from using the Internet.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Keeping up with the Copyright Directive

        Copyright reform in the EU has been in progress for many years now. In September 2016 the EU Commission proposed a new directive to update its copyright framework after years of public consultation. Since then, we have seen much negotiation and several amendments to the proposal. The most controversial parts of the proposed EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market are of course Article 11 [press publishers rights, Katposts here] and Article 13, which was intended to address the so-called “value gap” [Katposts here]. See Katpost here for views from Jaime de Mendoza Fernandez (Legal Officer DG CNECT, European Commission, Brussels) and Tobias McKenney (Senior EU IP Policy Manager, Google).

        The final text has now been agreed and will be put to the Parliamentary vote in the coming weeks.

      • EFF Asks the Supreme Court to Clean Up the Oracle v. Google Mess

        EFF has just filed an amicus brief in support of Google’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the long-running case of Oracle v. Google. The case asks whether functional aspects of computer programs are copyrightable, and involves two dangerous court opinions that held that functional works are both copyrightable and are not fair use as a matter of law.

        That Supreme Court review is long overdue. Nine years ago, Oracle filed a copyright suit against Google over the application program interface (API) of the Java programming language. The trial court ruled in Google’s favor, finding the APIs in question weren’t copyrightable. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed, and Google asked the Supreme Court to review that disastrous ruling. Unfortunately the Court declined, sending the parties back to the trial court to determine whether Google’s use was a fair use. Google won, again, and the Federal Circuit reversed, again. And that means Supreme Court now has another chance to fix this mess.

        It should take it. As we’ve explained before, the two Federal Circuit opinions are a disaster for innovation in computer software. Its holding that APIs are entitled to copyright protection ran contrary to the views of most other courts and the long-held expectations of computer scientists. Indeed, excluding APIs from copyright protection was essential to the development of modern computers and the Internet.

      • Who Needs Article 13: Italian Court Finds Facebook Liable For Hosting Links

        Got that? This is a case where someone posted links to (likely) infringing videos on YouTube to Facebook. And of all the possible parties liable for infringing content on YouTube… the court agreed that it’s Facebook that is liable because a Facebook user posted links to content on YouTube that is likely infringing. And somehow that’s Facebook’s fault. This is… ludicrous. But, this is also why the legacy entertainment companies are licking their chops over similar bad court rulings in the EU even absent Article 13.

        The ruling’s problems don’t stop there. It does suggest that knowledge of the infringement is necessary, but (unlike the very reasonable — and only workable — standard in the US that the knowledge be specific of the infringing work and where it is) decided that no specific details are necessary for Facebook to become liable.

02.25.19

Links 25/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC8 and Second Mageia 7 Beta

Posted in Site News at 4:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • CAST Software creates index for Software Heritage open-source repository

    Software Heritage, a non-profit dedicated to building a universal archive of source code, has some 88 million open-source projects with 5.6 billion source files in its repository. Lev Lesokhin, EVP of strategy and analytics at CAST, described it as “the largest repository out there. The patents we acquired with this technology that we bought has a patent for an index to search through Software Heritage, to be able to go backwards and find the provenance, the origin, of any component in this repository. Without this index it’s a brute-force search that’s like impossible to do,” Lesokhin told SD Times.

    The index, when connected to the company’s software intelligence platform CAST Highlight, will be able to identify third-party source code and detect any risks that might be associated with it, the company said.

    “The lack of software intelligence around open-source versioning and licensing puts many companies in danger of losing valuable IP, as most executives are unaware of their risk exposure,” CAST founder and CEO Vincent Delaroche said in the announcement. “Business leaders should be aware when open source and other external components in code expose their organization to non-compliance, legal action and possible loss of proprietary IP.”

    CAST Software has always been about software intelligence, and last October, built SCA capabilities into its Highlight product, Lesokhin said, enabling the company to go after WhiteSource and Black Duck in the open-source software analysis market, Lesokhin said.

  • Events

    • Open Source is where innovation happens

      New Delhi [India] Feb 22 (ANI): The second edition of Open Source Summit was organised in New Delhi by Bharat Exhibitions and it was a roaring success.

      “Open Source is where all the innovation happens”, said Peter Lees, Chief Technologist

      Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, SUSE, while speaking at the inaugural session of the

      “Open Source Summit, 2019″.

      According to him, all the new technologies, all the new ideas and all the new approach have their foundation in open source.

  • Web Browsers

    • CERN recreated the original WorldWideWeb browser for you to try out

      30 years ago next month, engineers at CERN issued a proposal for a new program to help with managing information within the organization called “Information Management: A Proposal.” After some revisions, the proposal laid out the framework for a program that would provide an interface to the user to present information, utilizing links to allow users to browse the information systems at the organization. CERN engineer Tim Berners-Lee developed the system on a NeXT computer, which he called WorldWideWeb, which became the forerunner to the modern internet.

    • Mozilla

      • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Changes in the core team

        With Rust 2018 having shipped, this is a natural time of transition. While we’ll miss Nick and Aaron’s contributions to the core team, we are very excited for them to be focusing on something new, and we’re very happy that they are still going to stay involved with Rust. We’re also looking into growing the core team to help with the work ahead.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Bringing Firefox Reality to HoloLens 2

        Our Mixed Reality program at Mozilla is focused on bringing the best browsers, services, and tools for developers to ensure that users have a safe, private experience with open, accessible technology. Alongside our desktop and standalone VR browser efforts, this prototype of Firefox Reality for HoloLens 2 will ensure that the immersive web works for all users, regardless of device they are on.

      • Mozilla Future Releases Blog: Exploring alternative funding models for the web

        The online advertising ecosystem is broken. The majority of digital advertising revenue is going to a small handful of companies, leaving other publishers with scraps. Meanwhile users are on the receiving end of terrible experiences and pervasive tracking designed to get them to click on ads or share even more personal data.

        Earlier this month, we shared our perspective about the need to find a better web ecosystem balance that puts publishers and users at the center of the online value exchange. For users, we began our efforts with curbing pervasive tracking as we believe that this is necessary to protect privacy as a fundamental human right. For publishers, we believe that these same measures will help shift long-term ecosystem incentives which are currently stripping value from publishers and fueling rampant ad fraud. However, it is important to acknowledge that such change can take time and that publishers are hurting today.

        That’s why we’ve turned our attention toward finding a more sustainable ecosystem balance for publishers and users alike. But unlike other companies that would explore possible solutions behind closed doors, we’re transparent and experiment with new ideas in the open, especially when those ideas could have a significant impact on how the web ecosystems works, or fundamentally change the value exchange we have with the people who rely on our products and services. In 2019, we will continue to explore new product features and offerings, including our ongoing focus on identifying a more sustainable ecosystem balance for both publishers and users.

      • Exercising software freedom on Firefox

        I’m becoming a minority in another way: I use Firefox. And Firefox uses GTK+. That means I can use Emacs keybindings in Firefox.

        Ah, but there’s a rub. Firefox binds C-n (or as most people would call it, “ctrl-n”) to new window. This is probably okay for people who don’t have the intersectionality of Emacs keybindings everywhere and Firefox. But for me, it’s intolerable. If I want to move a cursor down, I have to instead perform a very unnatural-feeling motion of moving my right hand to the arrow keys and hit the arrow down button. For those accostumed to using arrow keys, imagine if every time you pressed the down arrow Firefox would open a new window. Imagine software reacting so at odds to your habituation.

        Up until Firefox 56 there was an easy workaround. You could download extensions that would let you configure Firefox’s keyboard shorcuts, including disable some of them. I used to do this. The world, however, marches on and so does Firefox. Many extensions cannot do what they once did and the easy fix was gone.

  • Network

    • ATIS brings open source oneM2M support to embedded mobile IoT modules

      The enhanced OS-IoT platform allows sensor applications to run directly on the NB-IoT mobile module without the need for an additional external microcontroller to act as an application processor.

    • ATIS Brings Open Source oneM2M Support to Embedded Cellular IoT Modules

      ATIS today announced that it has successfully demonstrated a cellular IoT module using the ATIS OS-IoT software accessing cloud-based oneM2M standard services over Vodafone’s Open Lab Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT) test network. The global oneM2M standard defines a common, interoperable platform for IoT systems, providing application-independent building blocks that fulfill core tasks of secure data collection, management and distribution. The NB-IoT standard, defined by 3GPP, provides economical and efficient support of narrow-bandwidth communication services to IoT applications with wide geographic coverage by adding IoT optimizations to mobile cellular networks. The demonstration shows how applications built on the Open Source OS-IoT platform can use oneM2M and NB-IoT standards together to provide IoT capabilities suitable for global markets.

    • Open Mobile Evolved Core is part of the larger CORD project

      In 2017, Sprint worked with Intel Labs on an open source mobile core dubbed C3PO–Clean CUPS Core for Packet Optimization with CUPS meaning Control and User Plane Separation. Now, Sprint took that work and used it to seed an Open Networking Foundation project that has resulted in what the group call the Open Mobile Evolved Core (OMEC).

      Sprint’s initial work focused on seven network functions: serving gateway, packet gateway, deep packet inspection, child protection filtering, carrier-grade network address translation, static firewall and service function chaining classification. OMEC is based on 3GPP Release 13 and supports a wide range of evolved packet core and charging functions.

      Ron Marquardt, Sprint vice president of technology, said in a statement, “We plan to conduct field trials using OMEC for edge applications this year, and we’re thrilled to be working with the ONF to build a broader community to leverage and build upon OMEC.”

    • IoT roundup: Outer space, the building is getting smart, and trucking

      The goal is to provide truly global, ends-of-the-Earth LoRaWAN coverage to any IoT device on the platform. Registered devices connect to a satellite for connectivity back to a home network. The company launched its first “nanosatellite” in 2018, and boasts that companies ranging from Fortune 500s to small startups have jumped at the chance to register devices for the Project Galaxy network.

    • Open Networking Summit (ONS)
    • Ericsson joins O-RAN Alliance

      Ericsson will also focus on the upper-layer function as specified in 3GPP to provide interoperable multivendor profiles for specified interfaces between central RAN functions, resulting in faster deployment of 5G networks on a global scale.

  • LibreOffice

    • 5 free alternatives to Microsoft Word

      LibreOffice Writer, like OpenOffice, is a completely free and open-source product that offers word processing, support for .doc and .docx file formats, and all the tools the average Microsoft Word user will need in a word processor.

      LibreOffice Writer and OpenOffice Writer are similar in a lot of ways: Interface style, file format support, lack of cloud integration and real-time collaboration, and general word processing features. Both are solid choices for those looking for a free alternative to Microsoft Word, and selecting one over the other largely comes down to preference.

      One aspect of LibreOffice stands out, and it isn’t what’s in the app—it’s the community-driven nature of the platform. Collaborating with users and developers to improve the product is front and center on LibreOffice’s website, and that focus has grown LibreOffice into a thriving community of users and coders that keep making it better.

    • LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, Tokyo: Call for Proposal is open

      LibreOffice Asia Committee calls for proposals of talks for LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, Tokyo held at the Nihonbashi Tokyo Tower (Cyboze, Inc. Tokyo office) on May 25th (Sat) and 26th (Sun).

      LibreOffice Asia Conference is the event to gather LibreOffice users and contributors (such as development, translation, PR/marketing, quality assurance, or else) in the Asian region to exchange each knowledge. In there, we will discuss LibreOffice business such as support and training, the current status of migrations for LibreOffice and its standard format ODF, how to use, development, and any other community activities around Asia in it. This year’s Tokyo conference is the first Asia Conference.

      We will also invite various guests includes some of the board of directors of The Document Foundation which is the charitable Foundation to be a home of LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • New open-source bioinformatics tool identifies factors responsible for diseases

      Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have developed and tested a new computational tool, Candidate Driver Analysis (CaDrA), which will search for combinations of factors that are likely to cause a specific disease. CaDrA recognizes that diseases are complex and likely induced by multiple causes. It is now available free to members of the research community.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Legislators Take Another Stab At Eliminating Fees For PACER Access

        Last year’s bill died after being referred to the House Judiciary Committee, most likely trampled underfoot by Congressional hearings and wall-related legislation. Either that or it’s tough to get Congress members excited about eliminating fees they already don’t have to pay.
        There have been no successful attempts to curb PACER fees, much less turn it into a free service. We know this because PACER still charges $0.10/page for documents and dockets as if it were an aged librarian keeping close tabs on the Xerox machine.
        It has been nearly 20 years since PACER opened its doors to the public. Since its inception, prices have increased, fee collections have steadily ticked upward, and almost none of that money is being spent trying to lower access costs or update the archaic system that punishes the public for expressing an interest in court proceedings.
        The only thing PACER has really done over the last twenty years is attract legislation and lawsuits. While it did create an online portal for court documents that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, that’s about all it’s done with the time and money the US court system has had at its disposal. It’s not that this step wasn’t important. It was a huge step forward. Since then, the PACER system has been characterized by its inertia.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Flux Engine Reads Floppies

        It is a bit of a paradox that we are storing more and more information digitally, yet every year more and more of it is becoming harder to access. Data on a variety of tapes and disks that were once common, is now trapped on media due to lack of hardware to read it. Do you have a ZIP drive? Do you have a computer that it will work with? Floppies are problem too. You might think you beat the system just by having a USB floppy drive. While these do exist, they typically won’t read oddball formats. That is, except for Flux Engine, an open source USB floppy drive.

  • Programming/Development

    • Trip report: Winter ISO C++ standards meeting (Kona)

      A few minutes ago, the ISO C++ committee completed its winter meeting in Kona, HI, USA, hosted with thanks by Plum Hall, NVIDIA, and the Standard C++ Foundation. As usual, we met for six days Monday through Saturday, including most evenings. This and the previous meeting were the biggest ISO C++ meetings in our 29-year history, and this time we had a new record of 13 voting national bodies represented in person: Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States. For more details about our size increase, including how we adapted organizationally to handle the load, see my San Diego “pre-trip” report and my San Diego trip report.

    • Coroutines & Modules Added For C++20

      The ISO C++ committee has wrapped up its winter meeting in Hawaii that also served as the last meeting for approving new features for the upcoming C++20 revision to the C++ programming language.

      At this week’s meeting, the last of the C++20 features were considered while at the next meeting in the summer will be taking care of some loose ends and then taking C++20 to the international comment ballot.

    • Redox OS Exploring Coreboot Payload, Other Improvements

      It’s been a while since last having anything significant to report on Redox OS, the Unix-like operating system written in the Rust programming language and pursuing a micro-kernel design, but fortunately this open-source OS is still moving along and they have some interesting plans moving forward.

      Lead Redox OS developer Jeremy Soller tweeted that “it’s time for Redox OS to become a Coreboot payload.” It looks like Redox OS is working on native Coreboot payload support for this interesting Rust operating system rather than first needing to use one of the bootloaders as a Coreboot payload before hitting Redox OS.

    • rpick

      I spent some time doing my first non-humor program in Rust, rpick. It’s still a simple program, but I find it useful because I have a very hard time making simple decisions such as which restaurant to go to, or which album to listen to next. rpick uses a Gaussian probability model to pick from an ordered list of candidates, ordered from least recently chosen to most recently chosen. It has a higher chance of picking the less recently chosen items, while still allowing some fun room for the roll of the dice to surprise you. It’s coming soon to a Fedora release near you.

    • How to write a Python web framework. Part II.
    • Data from dingbats: copying down
    • Git v2.21.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.21.0 is now available at the
      usual places. It is comprised of 500 non-merge commits since
      v2.20.0, contributed by 74 people, 20 of which are new faces.

      The tarballs are found at:

      https://www.kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/

      The following public repositories all have a copy of the ‘v2.21.0′
      tag and the ‘master’ branch that the tag points at:

      url = https://kernel.googlesource.com/pub/scm/git/git
      url = git://repo.or.cz/alt-git.git
      url = https://github.com/gitster/git

      New contributors whose contributions weren’t in v2.20.0 are as follows.
      Welcome to the Git development community!

      Alessandro Menti, Arti Zirk, Brandon Richardson, Chayoung
      You, Denis Ovsienko, Emilio Cobos Ãlvarez, Erin Dahlgren,
      Fabien Villepinte, Force Charlie, Frank Dana, Issac Trotts,
      Katrin Leinweber, Laura Abbott, Patrick Hogg, Peter Osterlund,
      Shahzad Lone, Slavica Djukic, Yoichi Nakayama, Zhilei Han, and
      Tanushree Tumane.

      Returning contributors who helped this release are as follows.
      Thanks for your continued support.

      Ãvar ArnfjÃrà Bjarmason, Alexander Shopov, Ben Peart,
      Brandon Williams, brian m. carlson, Carlo Marcelo Arenas BelÃn,
      Christian Couder, Christopher DÃaz Riveros, David Turner,
      Derrick Stolee, Elijah Newren, Eric Sunshine, Eric Wong, Fangyi
      Zhou, Jean-NoÃl Avila, Jeff King, Jiang Xin, Jimmy Angelakos,
      Johannes Schindelin, Jonathan Nieder, Jonathan Tan, Jordi
      Mas, Josh Steadmon, Junio C Hamano, Kevin Daudt, Kim Gybels,
      Kyle Meyer, Linus Torvalds, Luke Diamand, Martin Ãgren,
      Masaya Suzuki, Matthew DeVore, Matthieu Moy, Max Kirillov,
      Nguyán ThÃi Ngác Duy, Olga Telezhnaya, Orgad Shaneh, Peter
      Krefting, Phillip Wood, Pranit Bauva, Ralf Thielow, Ramsay Jones,
      Randall S. Becker, Renà Scharfe, Sebastian Staudt, Sergey
      Organov, Stefan Beller, Stephen P. Smith, Sven van Haastregt,
      SZEDER GÃbor, Thomas Braun, Thomas Gummerer, Todd Zullinger,
      and Torsten BÃgershausen.

      —————————————————————-

      Git 2.21 Release Notes
      ======================

      Backward Compatibility Notes
      —————————-

      * Historically, the “-m” (mainline) option can only be used for “git
      cherry-pick” and “git revert” when working with a merge commit.
      This version of Git no longer warns or errors out when working with
      a single-parent commit, as long as the argument to the “-m” option
      is 1 (i.e. it has only one parent, and the request is to pick or
      revert relative to that first parent). Scripts that relied on the
      behaviour may get broken with this change.

      Updates since v2.20
      ——————-

      UI, Workflows & Features

      * The “http.version” configuration variable can be used with recent
      enough versions of cURL library to force the version of HTTP used
      to talk when fetching and pushing.

      * Small fixes and features for fast-export and fast-import, mostly on
      the fast-export side has been made.

      * “git push $there $src:$dst” rejects when $dst is not a fully
      qualified refname and it is not clear what the end user meant. The
      codepath has been taught to give a clearer error message, and also
      guess where the push should go by taking the type of the pushed
      object into account (e.g. a tag object would want to go under
      refs/tags/).

      * “git checkout [<tree-ish>] path…” learned to report the number of
      paths that have been checked out of the index or the tree-ish,
      which gives it the same degree of noisy-ness as the case in which
      the command checks out a branch. “git checkout -m <pathspec>” to
      undo conflict resolution gives a similar message.

      * “git quiltimport” learned “–keep-non-patch” option.

      * “git worktree remove” and “git worktree move” refused to work when
      there is a submodule involved. This has been loosened to ignore
      uninitialized submodules.

      * “git cherry-pick -m1″ was forbidden when picking a non-merge
      commit, even though there _is_ parent number 1 for such a commit.
      This was done to avoid mistakes back when “cherry-pick” was about
      picking a single commit, but is no longer useful with “cherry-pick”
      that can pick a range of commits. Now the “-m$num” option is
      allowed when picking any commit, as long as $num names an existing
      parent of the commit.

      * Update “git multimail” from the upstream.

      * “git p4″ update.

      * The “–format=<placeholder>” option of for-each-ref, branch and tag
      learned to show a few more traits of objects that can be learned by
      the object_info API.

      * “git rebase -i” learned to re-execute a command given with ‘exec’
      to run after it failed the last time.

      * “git diff –color-moved-ws” updates.

      * Custom userformat “log –format” learned %S atom that stands for
      the tip the traversal reached the commit from, i.e. –source.

      * “git instaweb” learned to drive http.server that comes with
      “batteries included” Python installation (both Python2 & 3).

      * A new encoding UTF-16LE-BOM has been invented to force encoding to
      UTF-16 with BOM in little endian byte order, which cannot be directly
      generated by using iconv.

      * A new date format “–date=human” that morphs its output depending
      on how far the time is from the current time has been introduced.
      “–date=auto:human” can be used to use this new format (or any
      existing format) when the output is going to the pager or to the
      terminal, and otherwise the default format.

      Performance, Internal Implementation, Development Support etc.

      * Code clean-up with optimization for the codepath that checks
      (non-)existence of loose objects.

      * More codepaths have become aware of working with in-core repository
      instances other than the default “the_repository”.

      * The “strncat()” function is now among the banned functions.

      * Portability updates for the HPE NonStop platform.

      * Earlier we added “-Wformat-security” to developer builds, assuming
      that “-Wall” (which includes “-Wformat” which in turn is required
      to use “-Wformat-security”) is always in effect. This is not true
      when config.mak.autogen is in use, unfortunately. This has been
      fixed by unconditionally adding “-Wall” to developer builds.

      * The loose object cache used to optimize existence look-up has been
      updated.

      * Flaky tests can now be repeatedly run under load with the
      “–stress” option.

      * Documentation/Makefile is getting prepared for manpage
      localization.

      * “git fetch-pack” now can talk the version 2 protocol.

      * sha-256 hash has been added and plumbed through the code to allow
      building Git with the “NewHash”.

      * Debugging help for http transport.

      * “git fetch –deepen=<more>” has been corrected to work over v2
      protocol.

      * The code to walk tree objects has been taught that we may be
      working with object names that are not computed with SHA-1.

      * The in-core repository instances are passed through more codepaths.

      * Update the protocol message specification to allow only the limited
      use of scaled quantities. This is to ensure potential compatibility
      issues will not get out of hand.

      * Micro-optimize the code that prepares commit objects to be walked
      by “git rev-list” when the commit-graph is available.

      * “git fetch” and “git upload-pack” learned to send all exchanges over
      the sideband channel while talking the v2 protocol.

      * The codepath to write out commit-graph has been optimized by
      following the usual pattern of visiting objects in in-pack order.

      * The codepath to show progress meter while writing out commit-graph
      file has been improved.

      * Cocci rules have been updated to encourage use of strbuf_addbuf().

      * “git rebase –merge” has been reimplemented by reusing the internal
      machinery used for “git rebase -i”.

      * More code in “git bisect” has been rewritten in C.

      * Instead of going through “git-rebase–am” scriptlet to use the “am”
      backend, the built-in version of “git rebase” learned to drive the
      “am” backend directly.

      * The assumption to work on the single “in-core index” instance has
      been reduced from the library-ish part of the codebase.

      * The test lint learned to catch non-portable “sed” options.

      * “git pack-objects” learned another algorithm to compute the set of
      objects to send, that trades the resulting packfile off to save
      traversal cost to favor small pushes.

      * The travis CI scripts have been corrected to build Git with the
      compiler(s) of our choice.

      * “git submodule update” learned to abort early when core.worktree
      for the submodule is not set correctly to prevent spreading damage.

      * Test suite has been adjusted to run on Azure Pipeline.

      * Running “Documentation/doc-diff x” from anywhere other than the
      top-level of the working tree did not show the usage string
      correctly, which has been fixed.

      * Use of the sparse tool got easier to customize from the command
      line to help developers.

      * A new target “coverage-prove” to run the coverage test under
      “prove” has been added.

      * A flakey “p4″ test has been removed.

      * The code and tests assume that the system supplied iconv() would
      always use BOM in its output when asked to encode to UTF-16 (or
      UTF-32), but apparently some implementations output big-endian
      without BOM. A compile-time knob has been added to help such
      systems (e.g. NonStop) to add BOM to the output to increase
      portability.

      Fixes since v2.20
      —————–

      * Updates for corner cases in merge-recursive.
      (merge cc4cb0902c en/merge-path-collision later to maint).

      * “git checkout frotz” (without any double-dash) avoids ambiguity by
      making sure ‘frotz’ cannot be interpreted as a revision and as a
      path at the same time. This safety has been updated to check also
      a unique remote-tracking branch ‘frotz’ in a remote, when dwimming
      to create a local branch ‘frotz’ out of a remote-tracking branch
      ‘frotz’ from a remote.
      (merge be4908f103 nd/checkout-dwim-fix later to maint).

      * Refspecs configured with “git -c var=val clone” did not propagate
      to the resulting repository, which has been corrected.
      (merge 7eae4a3ac4 sg/clone-initial-fetch-configuration later to maint).

      * A properly configured username/email is required under
      user.useConfigOnly in order to create commits; now “git stash”
      (even though it creates commit objects to represent stash entries)
      command is exempt from the requirement.
      (merge 3bc2111fc2 sd/stash-wo-user-name later to maint).

      * The http-backend CGI process did not correctly clean up the child
      processes it spawns to run upload-pack etc. when it dies itself,
      which has been corrected.
      (merge 02818a98d7 mk/http-backend-kill-children-before-exit later to maint).

      * “git rev-list –exclude-promisor-objects” had to take an object
      that does not exist locally (and is lazily available) from the
      command line without barfing, but the code dereferenced NULL.
      (merge 4cf67869b2 md/list-lazy-objects-fix later to maint).

      * The traversal over tree objects has learned to honor
      “:(attr:label)” pathspec match, which has been implemented only for
      enumerating paths on the filesystem.
      (merge 5a0b97b34c nd/attr-pathspec-in-tree-walk later to maint).

      * BSD port updates.
      (merge 4e3ecbd439 cb/openbsd-allows-reading-directory later to maint).
      (merge b6bdc2a0f5 cb/t5004-empty-tar-archive-fix later to maint).
      (merge 82cbc8cde2 cb/test-lint-cp-a later to maint).

      * Lines that begin with a certain keyword that come over the wire, as
      well as lines that consist only of one of these keywords, ought to
      be painted in color for easier eyeballing, but the latter was
      broken ever since the feature was introduced in 2.19, which has
      been corrected.
      (merge 1f67290450 hn/highlight-sideband-keywords later to maint).

      * “git log -G<regex>” looked for a hunk in the “git log -p” patch
      output that contained a string that matches the given pattern.
      Optimize this code to ignore binary files, which by default will
      not show any hunk that would match any pattern (unless textconv or
      the –text option is in effect, that is).
      (merge e0e7cb8080 tb/log-G-binary later to maint).

      * “git submodule update” ought to use a single job unless asked, but
      by mistake used multiple jobs, which has been fixed.
      (merge e3a9d1aca9 sb/submodule-fetchjobs-default-to-one later to maint).

      * “git stripspace” should be usable outside a git repository, but
      under the “-s” or “-c” mode, it didn’t.
      (merge 957da75802 jn/stripspace-wo-repository later to maint).

      * Some of the documentation pages formatted incorrectly with
      Asciidoctor, which have been fixed.
      (merge b62eb1d2f4 ma/asciidoctor later to maint).

      * The core.worktree setting in a submodule repository should not be
      pointing at a directory when the submodule loses its working tree
      (e.g. getting deinit’ed), but the code did not properly maintain
      this invariant.

      * With zsh, “git cmd path<TAB>” was completed to “git cmd path name”
      when the completed path has a special character like SP in it,
      without any attempt to keep “path name” a single filename. This
      has been fixed to complete it to “git cmd path\ name” just like
      Bash completion does.

      * The test suite tried to see if it is run under bash, but the check
      itself failed under some other implementations of shell (notably
      under NetBSD). This has been corrected.
      (merge 54ea72f09c sg/test-bash-version-fix later to maint).

      * “git gc” and “git repack” did not close the open packfiles that
      they found unneeded before removing them, which didn’t work on a
      platform incapable of removing an open file. This has been
      corrected.
      (merge 5bdece0d70 js/gc-repack-close-before-remove later to maint).

      * The code to drive GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF command relied on the string
      returned from getenv() to be non-volatile, which is not true, that
      has been corrected.
      (merge 6776a84dae kg/external-diff-save-env later to maint).

      * There were many places the code relied on the string returned from
      getenv() to be non-volatile, which is not true, that have been
      corrected.
      (merge 0da0e9268b jk/save-getenv-result later to maint).

      * The v2 upload-pack protocol implementation failed to honor
      hidden-ref configuration, which has been corrected.
      (merge e20b4192a3 jk/proto-v2-hidden-refs-fix later to maint).

      * “git fetch –recurse-submodules” may not fetch the necessary commit
      that is bound to the superproject, which is getting corrected.
      (merge be76c21282 sb/submodule-recursive-fetch-gets-the-tip later to maint).

      * “git rebase” internally runs “checkout” to switch between branches,
      and the command used to call the post-checkout hook, but the
      reimplementation stopped doing so, which is getting fixed.

      * “git add -e” got confused when the change it wants to let the user
      edit is smaller than the previous change that was left over in a
      temporary file.
      (merge fa6f225e01 js/add-e-clear-patch-before-stating later to maint).

      * “git p4″ failed to update a shelved change when there were moved
      files, which has been corrected.
      (merge 7a10946ab9 ld/git-p4-shelve-update-fix later to maint).

      * The codepath to read from the commit-graph file attempted to read
      past the end of it when the file’s table-of-contents was corrupt.

      * The compat/obstack code had casts that -Wcast-function-type
      compilation option found questionable.
      (merge 764473d257 sg/obstack-cast-function-type-fix later to maint).

      * An obvious typo in an assertion error message has been fixed.
      (merge 3c27e2e059 cc/test-ref-store-typofix later to maint).

      * In Git for Windows, “git clone \\server\share\path” etc. that uses
      UNC paths from command line had bad interaction with its shell
      emulation.

      * “git add –ignore-errors” did not work as advertised and instead
      worked as an unintended synonym for “git add –renormalize”, which
      has been fixed.
      (merge e2c2a37545 jk/add-ignore-errors-bit-assignment-fix later to maint).

      * On a case-insensitive filesystem, we failed to compare the part of
      the path that is above the worktree directory in an absolute
      pathname, which has been corrected.

      * Asking “git check-attr” about a macro (e.g. “binary”) on a specific
      path did not work correctly, even though “git check-attr -a” listed
      such a macro correctly. This has been corrected.
      (merge 7b95849be4 jk/attr-macro-fix later to maint).

      * “git pack-objects” incorrectly used uninitialized mutex, which has
      been corrected.
      (merge edb673cf10 ph/pack-objects-mutex-fix later to maint).

      * “git checkout -b <new> [HEAD]” to create a new branch from the
      current commit and check it out ought to be a no-op in the index
      and the working tree in normal cases, but there are corner cases
      that do require updates to the index and the working tree. Running
      it immediately after “git clone –no-checkout” is one of these
      cases that an earlier optimization kicked in incorrectly, which has
      been fixed.
      (merge 8424bfd45b bp/checkout-new-branch-optim later to maint).

      * “git diff –color-moved –cc –stat -p” did not work well due to
      funny interaction between a bug in color-moved and the rest, which
      has been fixed.
      (merge dac03b5518 jk/diff-cc-stat-fixes later to maint).

      * When GIT_SEQUENCE_EDITOR is set, the command was incorrectly
      started when modes of “git rebase” that implicitly uses the
      machinery for the interactive rebase are run, which has been
      corrected.
      (merge 891d4a0313 pw/no-editor-in-rebase-i-implicit later to maint).

      * The commit-graph facility did not work when in-core objects that
      are promoted from unknown type to commit (e.g. a commit that is
      accessed via a tag that refers to it) were involved, which has been
      corrected.
      (merge 4468d4435c sg/object-as-type-commit-graph-fix later to maint).

      * “git fetch” output cleanup.
      (merge dc40b24df4 nd/fetch-compact-update later to maint).

      * “git cat-file –batch” reported a dangling symbolic link by
      mistake, when it wanted to report that a given name is ambiguous.

      * Documentation around core.crlf has been updated.
      (merge c9446f0504 jk/autocrlf-overrides-eol-doc later to maint).

      * The documentation of “git commit-tree” said that the command
      understands “–gpg-sign” in addition to “-S”, but the command line
      parser did not know about the longhand, which has been corrected.

      * “git rebase -x $cmd” did not reject multi-line command, even though
      the command is incapable of handling such a command. It now is
      rejected upfront.
      (merge c762aada1a pw/rebase-x-sanity-check later to maint).

      * Output from “git help” was not correctly aligned, which has been
      fixed.
      (merge 6195a76da4 nd/help-align-command-desc later to maint).

      * The “git submodule summary” subcommand showed shortened commit
      object names by mechanically truncating them at 7-hexdigit, which
      has been improved to let “rev-parse –short” scale the length of
      the abbreviation with the size of the repository.
      (merge 0586a438f6 sh/submodule-summary-abbrev-fix later to maint).

      * The way the OSX build jobs updates its build environment used the
      “–quiet” option to “brew update” command, but it wasn’t all that
      quiet to be useful. The use of the option has been replaced with
      an explicit redirection to the /dev/null (which incidentally would
      have worked around a breakage by recent updates to homebrew, which
      has fixed itself already).
      (merge a1ccaedd62 sg/travis-osx-brew-breakage-workaround later to maint).

      * “git –work-tree=$there –git-dir=$here describe –dirty” did not
      work correctly as it did not pay attention to the location of the
      worktree specified by the user by mistake, which has been
      corrected.
      (merge c801170b0c ss/describe-dirty-in-the-right-directory later to maint).

      * “git fetch” over protocol v2 that needs to make a second connection
      to backfill tags did not clear a variable that holds shallow
      repository information correctly, leading to an access of freed
      piece of memory.

      * Some errors from the other side coming over smart HTTP transport
      were not noticed, which has been corrected.

      * Code cleanup, docfix, build fix, etc.
      (merge 89ba9a79ae hb/t0061-dot-in-path-fix later to maint).
      (merge d173e799ea sb/diff-color-moved-config-option-fixup later to maint).
      (merge a8f5a59067 en/directory-renames-nothanks-doc-update later to maint).
      (merge ec36c42a63 nd/indentation-fix later to maint).
      (merge f116ee21cd do/gitweb-strict-export-conf-doc later to maint).
      (merge 112ea42663 fd/gitweb-snapshot-conf-doc-fix later to maint).
      (merge 1cadad6f65 tb/use-common-win32-pathfuncs-on-cygwin later to maint).
      (merge 57e9dcaa65 km/rebase-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge b8b4cb27e6 ds/gc-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge 3b3357626e nd/style-opening-brace later to maint).
      (merge b4583d5595 es/doc-worktree-guessremote-config later to maint).
      (merge cce99cd8c6 ds/commit-graph-assert-missing-parents later to maint).
      (merge 0650614982 cy/completion-typofix later to maint).
      (merge 6881925ef5 rs/sha1-file-close-mapped-file-on-error later to maint).
      (merge bd8d6f0def en/show-ref-doc-fix later to maint).
      (merge 1747125e2c cc/partial-clone-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge e01378753d cc/fetch-error-message-fix later to maint).
      (merge 54e8c11215 jk/remote-insteadof-cleanup later to maint).
      (merge d609615f48 js/test-git-installed later to maint).
      (merge ba170517be ja/doc-style-fix later to maint).
      (merge 86fb1c4e77 km/init-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge 5cfd4a9d10 nd/commit-doc later to maint).
      (merge 9fce19a431 ab/diff-tree-doc-fix later to maint).
      (merge 2e285e7803 tz/gpg-test-fix later to maint).
      (merge 5427de960b kl/pretty-doc-markup-fix later to maint).
      (merge 3815f64b0d js/mingw-host-cpu later to maint).
      (merge 5fe81438b5 rj/sequencer-sign-off-header-static later to maint).
      (merge 18a4f6be6b nd/fileno-may-be-macro later to maint).
      (merge 99e9ab54ab kd/t0028-octal-del-is-377-not-777 later to maint).

    • Git 2.21 Released With Performance Improvements, Human Date Option

      Git maintainer Junio Hamano has just announced the release of Git v2.21.0 with more than 500 commits since the previous release from more than six dozen developers.

      Git 2.21 continues working on performance improvements for large repositories, a configuration tunable was added to force the HTTP version to use for fetching/pushing, a new –date=human type, introducing a new UTF-16LE-BOM encoding type to use UTF-16 with BOM in little endian byte order, updates to git-multimail, BSD port updates, and dozens of fixes.

    • Most Popular Open Source Projects In Python Programming

      Machine learning and software development make up a large part of all the open-sources projects created with the help of Python. In recent years, these projects caused the creation of many working places for programmers interested in open-source development. Naming the most popular such open-source projects written in Python, it is necessary to mention TensorFlow, Keras, Scikit-learn, Flask, Django, Tornado, Pandas, Kivy, Matplotlib, and the Requests.

    • Most popular programming language frameworks and tools for machine learning

      More than 1,300 people mainly working in the tech, finance and healthcare revealed which machine-learning technologies they use at their firms, in a new O’Reilly survey.

      The list is a mix of software frameworks and libraries for data science favorite Python, big data platforms, and cloud-based services that handle each stage of the machine-learning pipeline.

    • GitLab considers moving to a single Rails codebase by combining the two existing repositories

      The team at GitLab is now considering to move towards a single Rails repository by combining the two existing repositories. Although the GitLab Community Edition code would remain open source and MIT licensed and also the GitLab Enterprise Edition code would remain source available and proprietary.

    • $1.1 billion GitLab hires two new executives as it takes on GitHub and prepares to go public in 2020

      As it prepares to go public in November 2020, $1.1 billion code-sharing startup GitLab announced on Tuesday that it is hiring two new executives into its highest levels of leadership.

      Michael McBride, who was previously at the security company Lookout, is joining GitLab as Chief Revenue Officer. Todd Barr, who was most recently at Red Hat, joins as Chief Marketing Officer.

      “The company grew tremendously,” McBride told Business Insider. “We’re in a new chapter of growth that is global. We’re serving markets all over the world. It’s also very horizontal. That scope is a new sort of stage for us.”

      McBride and Barr both see challenges ahead for GitLab in terms of competition, as companies like Microsoft’s GitHub and Atlassian are delivering similar products. GitLab, like its rivals, helps large teams of programmers all work on the same code at the same time, making it possible to build ever-larger software products.

    • Diving into Merkle Trees

      This is a transcript of my talk on Diving into Merkle Trees that I will give at Lambda Days and ScaleConf Colombia. Slides and video should be up soon!

      Introduced in 1979 by Ralph C. Merkle in his Thesis: Secrecy, Authentications, and Public Key Systems, the Merkle Tree, also known as a binary hash tree, is a data structure used for efficiently summarizing and verifying the integrity of large sets of data enabling users to verify the authenticity of their received responses.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?

      He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

    • One in ten people now use cryptocurrency: Survey

      There are a growing number of businesses now offering cryptocurrency as a payment method, with retailers and food outlets now accepting it. Prices are falling and major sports teams are even partnering with crypto-exchanges. Yet, as people show interest in using cryptocurrency to both invest and spend their money, their funds are vulnerable to being stolen from cryptocurrency wallets, insecure exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). There have been high profile incidents where sums of up to $530 million worth of digital tokens have been stolen.

    • Age below 20 or above 50 more susceptible to fake news: Report

      An extensive survey based study titled, ‘Countering Misinformation (Fake News) in India’ by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Factly has found that people below the age of 20 or those above the age of 50 are most susceptible to be swayed by fake news.

      The report is based on an extensive survey covering 891 respondents, along with structured interviews of 30 interviewees from the Technology & Internet Service Providers, Government officials, Law Enforcement, Media & Influencers, Fact Checkers, Academia Political Parties.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Generics discuss fallout from major pharma patent cases

      Legislation funded by big pharma’ politicians to ban more #generics http://www.managingip.com/Article/3860173/Generics-discuss-fallout-from-major-pharma-patent-cases.html

    • Agribusiness’s secretive plans to unravel food safety and worker protections

      As Congress and the public debate the pros and cons of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), or New NAFTA, behind the scenes and in the shadows transnational corporations are doubling down on their plans to weaken and eliminate public protections through a related entity, the secretive Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). This little-known council has the mission of promoting trade by “reducing, eliminating or preventing unnecessary regulatory differences” between Canada and the United States. Since the RCC’s inception, agribusiness—including factory-farmed livestock producers, the feed industry, and chemical and pesticide manufacturers and linked transportation businesses—has had a seat at the regulatory cooperation table. Their focus, without exception, has been advocating the scaling back and even elimination of important safety protections in both countries. In the U.S., recommendations made by the RCC feed directly into regulations enacted (or eliminated) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

      Cross-border regulatory cooperation activities aimed at eliminating so-called “non-tariff barriers” to trade—standards that can increase the cost of importing products that don’t meet another country’s health and safety protections, or prevent the import altogether—began following the signing of the original NAFTA. Initially, informal working groups were established to harmonize pesticide and other regulations. The RCC was formally created in 2011 by an Executive Order from President Obama, and proceeded to establish work plans to harmonize U.S. and Canadian regulations in 23 policy areas, including meat and plant inspections, food safety, workplace chemicals, chemicals management, rail safety and transport of dangerous goods. The RCC was revitalized in June 2017 by the Trump and Trudeau administrations with a new Memorandum of Understanding.

    • African-American women with HIV often overlooked, under-supported

      The face of HIV in the United States has long been white gay men, even though the epidemic has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on African-American communities.

      This is especially true among women; 60 percent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in women in 2017 were African-American. Yet, African-American women’s voices are notoriously absent from the national discourse on HIV.

      Largely invisible to a fractured health care system, these women are often breadwinners and matriarchs whose families count on them for support and care.

      Treatments to help people who are HIV-positive manage their illness and survive into older age have improved greatly, yet the unique health needs of African-American women living and aging with HIV – estimated at about 140,000 – are often ignored.

      While many are actively taking medication and receiving care, some do not know their HIV status. After diagnosis, many have difficulties managing their HIV, which can contribute to their other health challenges.

    • Pro-Choice Bills Could Cement Illinois as the Midwest’s Abortion Care Oasis

      Illinois Democrats recently introduced legislation to secure and expand reproductive rights, changes that could have far-reaching effects, as people travel to Illinois to secure abortion care that is difficult to access in neighboring states.

      And one part of that legislation could help providers cope with that influx of out-of-state patients by expanding the number of medical professionals who can provide in-clinic abortion services.

      The two bills proposed last week in the Illinois General Assembly would repeal decades-old statues intended to criminalize abortion providers and require parental notification for minors to receive abortion care. The measures have large Democratic support in the general assembly where Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers.

      “It’s pushing back against a deliberate strategy of the anti-abortion movement of stigmatizing and siloing women’s reproductive health care, and these bills are saying we need to treat reproductive health care like any other health care,” Colleen Connell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, told Rewire.News.

    • Judge in Monsanto Roundup Trial Is Already Hindering Testimony

      Anyone concerned about probable carcinogens in the environment needs to keep an eye on the trial of Edward Hardeman v. Monsanto Company, which begins on February 25, in the Federal District Court in San Francisco. A bellwether for future challenges against the company, the federal court has grouped hundreds of plaintiffs into this multidistrict litigation case. The plaintiffs have sued Monsanto claiming to have contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) after being exposed to Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide. While there are an estimated 9,300 lawsuits against the chemical giant because of Roundup, Hardeman will be only the second NHL trial against Monsanto ever.

      Judge Vince Chhabria has already granted an unusual motion by Monsanto to split the Hardeman trial into two phases. Characterized as “unheard of” by the plaintiffs, this way of trying a case is called bifurcation, consisting of a first phase that would have the jury determine if there is a preponderance of scientific evidence that Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer. If the jury finds this to be true, they will then be allowed to decide if Monsanto knew of and attempted to hide the dangers of Roundup. To do this, they will be shown internal Monsanto documents that reveal how the company ignored or tried to discredit legitimate science and scientists, ghostwrote scientific studies and manipulated regulators. (I saw this evidence firsthand, because I was a juror on the first ever NHL trial, Dwayne Lee Johnson v. Monsanto.)

      Monsanto’s attorneys asked the judge to bifurcate the upcoming trial because they think that jurors will be swayed by the emotions brought forth from seeing the documents exposing systematic corporate malfeasance. This is not the first time Monsanto has inferred that a jury might, or might have, reached a verdict based on emotions.

      After the historic $289 million award to the plaintiff in Dwayne Lee Johnson v. Monsanto on August 10, 2018, defense attorneys asked Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos to toss the jury’s nearly unanimous verdict claiming, in part, that they were “inflamed” by some of the rhetoric in the plaintiff’s closing argument.

    • Paid family leave is an investment in public health, not a handout

      Most Americans – on both sides of the political aisle – say they support paid parental leave. However, we haven’t yet found the political will to make it happen. In part, that’s because the discussion always seems to start with the question, “How do we pay for it?”

      That question goes only halfway, though. As a researcher who focuses on stress and health within families, I believe there’s a more important question to ask: “How do we pay for the lack of parental leave?” In other words, how does the stress of a rapid return to work affect parents, and in turn, cost society as a whole? Recently, I sought to answer this question by delving into research on the many changes that new parents experience in the first weeks, months, and years after the birth of a new child – and the possibility that all these changes might not just compromise children’s well-being, but also put parents’ long-term health at risk.

      [...]

      I reached out to Stanford economist and family leave policy expert Maya Rossin-Slater to help digest the body of research on health and family leave. Together with developmental neuroscientist Diane Goldenberg, we reviewed existing studies and proposed future directions for research and policy in a recent paper published in American Psychologist.

      Psychologists already know that the transition to parenthood is a high-risk time for mental health problems like anxiety and depression. New parents are about twice as likely to report clinically significant depression as are adults at other life stages.

      Physical health risks may worsen during this time as well. For example, obesity: many mothers gain in excess of physician-recommended weight guidelines during pregnancy, and may struggle to lose this weight after birth. New fathers also gain weight: “Dad bod” is real.

    • Does “Special Ed” Serve Students? Disability Activists Say No.

      As a child born with cerebral palsy in the 1950s, Gail Cartenuto-Cohn had one option when she was old enough to go to school: enroll in an isolated public program specifically for kids with disabilities. There was no interaction with nondisabled kids, and there were just three classrooms: one for kindergarten through second grade, another for grades three through five, and a third for sixth through eighth.

    • As Industry Ramps Up Efforts to Kill Medicare for All, New Tool Shows ‘Why We Desperately Need, and Can Absolutely Afford, #SinglePayer’

      They’ve recently joined to form the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), with Lauren Crawford Shaver, a veteran of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, at the helm. Politico previously reported on the coalition, as did The Intercept.

      The group’s focus is not on extending healthcare to all Americans but keeping the Affordable Care Act, and with members including powerful groups like the American Medical Association, Federation of American Hospitals, PhRMA, and HCA, PAHCF’s “reach is undeniable,” as the Times notes. Seeing legislative proposals, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act, fast approaching, the group is ready to “step up the tempo,” the Times reports.

      Indeed, last week, it announced a six-figure digital campaign “to inform the American public about ways to protect and strengthen our nation’s existing healthcare system, while warning them that a one-size-fits-all health care program—whether called Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, single-payer or public option, will lead to higher taxes and less patient choice for every American family.” A recent analysis, however, showed that a single-payer system would slash healthcare costs, boost systemic efficiency, and expand coverage.

    • ‘These Women’s Lives Mattered’: Nurse Builds Database Of Women Murdered By Men

      In February 2017, a school nurse in this Dallas suburb began counting women murdered by men.

      Seated at her desk, beside shelves of cookbooks, novels and books on violence against women, Dawn Wilcox, 55, scours the internet for news stories of women killed by men in the U.S.

      For dozens of hours each week, she digs through online news reports and obituaries to tell the stories of women killed by lovers, strangers, fathers, sons and stepbrothers, neighbors and tenants.

    • Parents say a Russian pediatrician gave kids fake vaccines and tests for years

      On February 21, several Moscow doctors publicly announced a set of frightening accusations made against one of their colleagues, the pediatrician Yevgeny Likunov. The parents of Likunov’s former patients accused him of fraud: they said the pediatrician forged their children’s test results and gave them fake vaccines either by merely pretending to perform injections or by using an insulin syringe to inject saline solution instead of an actual vaccine. Meduza spoke with Likunov’s colleagues and patients and discovered that he has been deceiving patients for several years, all while hosting talk shows about health and appearing in the news media as a medical expert.

    • Trump Administration Attacks Vital Healthcare in New Rule

      “This rule will be deadly. It will restrict reproductive and sexual rights, putting the lives of all people at significant risk, especially women of color and low-income women who are under-insured or uninsured.

    • Trump Sets Up Abortion Obstacles, Blocking Funds Over Referrals

      The Trump administration on Friday set up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals. The new policy is certain to be challenged in court.

      The final rule released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department also would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers, and require stricter financial separation.

      Clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients, along with other options. However, that would no longer be required.

    • What You Need to Know About Trump’s Attacks on the Federal Family Planning Program

      Reproductive health advocates are bracing themselves for the finalization of the Trump administration’s Title X “domestic gag rule.” The anti-choice policy would ban providers receiving Title X funds from referring patients for abortion services and force abortion providers under the program to physically separate abortion services from other family planning services.

      But what is the Title X family planning program, and why do the administration’s policies threaten access to reproductive health care?

      In order to provide public funding and support to family planning services nationwide, the federal grant program commonly referred to as “Title X” was created as part of the Public Health Service Act, signed into law by Republican President Nixon in 1970. With Title X, Nixon made good on his campaign promise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

      Around the 1960s, when courts were ruling to allow the use of contraception in the United States, new research found that access to family planning and contraceptive services could help prevent unplanned pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. More studies revealed the long-term socioeconomic benefits of preventing unplanned pregnancies and the health benefits of spacing pregnancies. The problem was that access to care was largely determined by income. The first federal grants to address this issue and support family planning services for low-income women came in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty efforts. Nixon’s Title X followed.

  • Security

    • Cyber-Mercenary Groups Shouldn’t be Trusted in Your Browser or Anywhere Else

      Browsers rely on this list of authorities, which are trusted to verify and issue the certificates that allow for secure browsing, using technologies like TLS and HTTPS. Certificate Authorities are the basis of HTTPS, but they are also its greatest weakness. Any of the dozens of certificate authorities trusted by your browser could secretly issue a fraudulent certificate for any website (such as google.com or eff.org.) A certificate authority (or other organization, such as a government spy agency,) could then use the fraudulent certificate to spy on your communications with that site, even if it is encrypted with HTTPS. Certificate Transparency can mitigate some of the risk by requiring public logging of all issued certificates, but is not a panacea.

    • This is bad: the UAE’s favorite sleazeball cybermercenaries have applied for permission to break Mozilla’s web encryption

      Now Darkmatter has applied to Mozilla to become a “Certificate Authority,” which means they’d get the ability to produce cryptographically signed certificates that were trusted by default by Firefox and its derivatives, giving them the power to produce cyberweapons that could break virtually any encrypted web session (though Certificate Transparency might expose them if they’re careless about it).

      And since Moz’s root of trust is used to secure Linux updates, this could affect literally billions of operating systems.

    • Spectre is here to stay: An analysis of side-channels and speculative execution

      As a result of our work, we now believe that speculative vulnerabilities on today’s hardware defeat all language-enforced confidentiality with no known comprehensive software mitigations, as we have discovered that untrusted code can construct a universal read gadget to read all memory in the same address space through side-channels.

    • Experts Find Serious Problems With Switzerland’s Online Voting System Before Public Penetration Test Even Begins

      The public penetration test doesn’t begin until next week, but experts who examined leaked code for the Swiss internet voting system say it’s poorly designed and makes it difficult to audit the code for security and configure it to operate securely.

    • A Decryption Key for Law Firm Emails in Hacked 9/11 Files Has Been Released

      The release of the files was part of an extortion scheme against The Dark Overlord’s hacking victims, and followed the group’s established technique of stealing information and then approaching media outlets with the files in an attempt to exert further pressure on the group’s targets. The Dark Overlord also distributed a set of encrypted folders, ready to be unlocked at a later date, and which they claimed contained more 9/11-linked material.

      Now, around two months after the first data dump, someone has released another encryption key for the third layer of stolen material, which appears to contain thousands of emails, at least some of which are between different law firms.

    • B0r0nt0K Ransomware Wants $75,000 Ransom, Infects Linux Servers [Ed: This is misleading. This relies on the servers being compromised some way else.]

      A new ransomware called B0r0nt0K is encrypting victim’s web sites and demanding a 20 bitcoin, or approximately $75,000, ransom. This ransomware is known to infect Linux servers, but may also be able to encrypt users running Windows.

      In a BleepingComputer forum post, a user stated that a client’s web site was encrypted with the new B0r0nt0K Ransomware. This encrypted web site was running on Ubuntu 16.04 and had all of its files encrypted, renamed, and had the .rontok extension appended to them.

    • New backdoor Trojan affecting Linux servers [Ed: This, again, relies on the server already being cracked.]
    • Securing Container Images in the DevOps World

      According to 451 Research, the application container market will experience significant growth over the next five years. In its “2017 Cloud-Enabling Technologies Market Monitor & Forecast report,” the research firm noted that “annual revenue is expected to increase by 4x, growing from $749m in 2016 to more than $3.4bn by 2021, representing a CAGR of 35%.”

      Automating deployment is a must-have capability for SMBs and enterprises. Leveraging container automation has reshaped how quickly and effectively an organization can leverage internal and external virtual environments.

    • Will This Vulnerability Finally Compel Bitmain to Open Source Its Firmware?

      As if Bitmain’s year hasn’t been rough enough, having posted big losses and laying off entire departments, its flagship product now has a firmware vulnerability.

      A few weeks ago, Bitcoin Core contributor James Hilliard discovered an exploit in Bitmain’s S15 firmware. The pseudonymous Twitter user 00whiterabbit, also known simply as “john,” subsequently wrote exploit code based on Hilliard’s findings. A video proving that the exploit code worked was shared on Hilliard’s Twitter account last week.

      Hilliard is offering to disclose the vulnerability to Bitmain but under one condition: Bitmain would have to comply to the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), the popular open source license that the Chinese mining giant is currently breaching, and open source its firmware.

    • Deep dive into Electrum hack reveals 70% of network was controlled by attackers
    • Pragmatic Political Campaign Security

      Election campaigns cannot exist without money. Being robbed blind is an existential threat to a campaign. This is actually a counterintuitive point for information security professionals. To cripple a candidate’s campaign it’s easier to just steal their money, rather than craft an effective information operation. The 419 hackers who just want to take the money are a very real risk (they target everyone, even small campaigns), and actually present an existential threat.

    • Google Says Spectre Flaws Cannot Be Defeated By Software Alone
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 135 – Passwords, AI, and cloud strategy

      Josh and Kurt talk about change your password day (what a terrible day). Google’s password checkup (not a terrible idea), an AI finding new spice flavors we expect will one day take over the world, and we finish up on a new DoD cloud strategy. Also Josh burnt his finger, but is going to be OK.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • From Karl Lagerfeld to George H. W. Bush: When Is It “Too Soon” to Criticize the Dead?

      The passing of legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has once again raised the question: “When is it too soon to publicly discuss the less-than-positive legacy of a dead person?”

      To me, the answer depends on a single factor: How much power the person wielded in life. The more powerful the individual, the more influence they had on the world around them, the more their words and deeds are fair game to be raised, discussed and analyzed. And, let us be clear: I do not mean salacious details about the private life of the dead, or some minor social infractions. I mean actions and public statements that were of broad social significance

      The same day it was announced that former US President George H. W. Bush had died, I tweeted out the fact that, as the former head of the CIA, Bush had overseen the support of military dictators in Latin America who had murdered, in the most horrific fashion, thousands of innocent civilians. This tweet was spurred by the spread on Twitter of a letter Bush had left in the Oval Office for then-incoming President Bill Clinton, a letter many on the social media platform held up as evidence of both Bush’s fundamental decency and the loss of civility in US politics in an age of Trump. Such a definition, I tweeted, would likely strike the families of those killed with the support of the CIA as somewhat ironic, if not perverse.

    • Dreaming Their Sweet Dreams: a Peace to End Peace

      The setting for Margaret MacMillan’s lecture “Making peace is harder than waging war” could not have been better. Held in the Ottawa war museum’s lower floor, the LeBreton Gallery, one is enclosed in, surrounded by WW II bulky Canadian tanks and scary heavy artillery. Looking up, one cannot miss a Canadian jet ready to explode into space. Upstairs, the haunting “Victory 1918: the last hundred days” in the last days of its exhibit.

      Margaret MacMillan is a tall, regal women who has, rightly so, established herself as one of the world’s leading historians of the first world war and the peace talks in Paris, 1919. Her award-winning book, Paris 1919: six months that shook the world (2001) sweeps us into the multiple worlds of the Paris peace conference. A world teeming with plots and parties, proposals and counterproposals about, as it turned out, how the British and French empires ought to divvy up the smashed-up world map of 1914 and subvert Woodrow Wilson’s endless plotting to create a league of nations. MacMillan’s lecture theme—the conditions of peace were not present for peace to occur—startles us out of any dreams of war-no-more coming soon to a nearby theatre.

      In fact, Kant’s famous short text, “Perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch,” penned in 1795, offered humankind a profound statement of what conditions had to be present for perpetual peace to come. Gripped by a sense of war’s horrors, Kant thought that if we could not create a league of nations that constrained war, we would “destroy each other and thus find perpetual peace in the vast grave that swallows both the atrocities and their perpetrators.” WW I was a vast grave that swallowed up 9.7 million military personnel and 10 million civilians. What would Kant have thought 125 years down the road? Does his ghost hover over all discussions of a world of unity and peace beyond nation-state self-interest and contestation—whispering encouragement in the collective ear?

    • Who Was Behind the Plan to Give Saudi Arabia Nuclear Power, and What Was Their Agenda? — “Trump, Inc.” Extra

      For a year, “Trump, Inc.” has been digging into the 2017 inauguration. That reporting led us to look closely at the man Donald Trump picked to run the event, Tom Barrack, a wealthy businessman who’s been friends with Trump for decades.

      As we were finishing our Barrack episode — just out this week — the House Oversight Committee released a report detailing how the Trump administration pursued a plan to export nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

    • Twenty-First Century Indian Wars

      The American war against its indigenous people is incessant, interminable and indefensible. From the Pequot Wars blessed by the English Puritan John Winthrop to the present day destruction of native culture and community in the name of resource extraction, there are very few episodes in human history more bloody, brutal and relentless. The recent attempts by indigenous Americans to defend their lands and culture against the rapacious designs of the energy industry on Canada and the United States exist as blatant reminders of this history. When members of various indigenous nations represented their peoples (along with allies) in the Idle No More protests that began in Canada in 2014, the response from the authorities was swift, occasionally brutal, and mostly dismissive of the native people’s claims and demands. A very similar scenario played out in the US Midwest during the direct actions against the DAPL pipeline at Standing Rock.

      Nick Estes, author of Our History is the Future, makes this very clear. Given the history of their treatment at the hands of the European invaders and their descendants, Estes’ book title takes on a double meaning. The history of genocide is as much a potential future for the Native Americans as is the history of their resistance a hopeful response to the genocidal legacy. A member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and co-founder of The Red Nation, Estes participated in the Standing Rock resistance. It is within the resistance at Standing Rock that Estes bookends his history of indigenous history in North America, especially the land known as the United States.

    • Trump Administration Escalates Regime Change Operation Against Venezuela With ‘Humanitarian Aid’ Delivery Attempt

      The United States government, with the support of Latin American governments in countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, escalated a regime change operation against Venezuela by attempting to force the delivery of “humanitarian aid.”

      Opposition groups targeted three border bridges that Venezuelan government forces had no trouble defending, which was possibly the plan. The spectacle of force deployed to block what much of the world views as legitimate aid would help the opposition stir more sympathy for overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro.

      Trucks carrying aid on the were set on fire on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge that connects the towns of Cucuta, Colombia, and Urenas, Venezuela, gave the opposition the kind of horrifying imagery it wanted. The blazing trucks were immediately blamed on Venezuela national guard forces.

      “Masked thugs, civilians killed by live rounds, and the burning of trucks carrying badly-needed food and medicine,” John Bolton, national security adviser to President Donald Trump, tweeted. “This has been Maduro’s response to peaceful efforts to help Venezuelans. Countries that still recognize Maduro should take note of what they are endorsing.”

      But it was not exactly clear what happened to the trucks. A number of members of the armed forces defected and crossed the bridge into Colombia. They may have been involved in firing upon the trucks that erupted in flames.

    • What War Films Never Show You

      Critical acclaim has poured in from all corners for the BBC production They Shall Not Grow Old, a technical and emotional masterpiece on the First World War — the war Woodrow Wilson said would “make the world safe for democracy.”

      The way the film brings old footage, and therefore the soldiers, to life is almost magical and powerfully moving. But because of how director Peter Jackson defined his film, a critical element is virtually invisible: the wounded.

      Jackson distilled the stories of 120 veterans who spoke on some 600 hours of BBC audio tape done in the 1960s and ‘70s. His goal was to have “120 men telling a single story…what it was like being a British soldier on the Western Front.” He artfully presents it, using no narration other than the archive of BBC interviews.

      But since dead men tell no tales, nor do the severely wounded often live into their 70s and 80s, the film narrows its focus to the camaraderie and adventures of young men growing up with shared experiences of tinned rations, trench life, and rats. The dead flit across the screen in graphic but limited numbers of colorized photos of corpses.

      The wounded receive mute witness with brief footage of gas attacks, and a classic photo of seven British troops carrying one wounded comrade through the knee-deep mud of Passchendaele.

      Jackson’s team brilliantly turned herky-jerky, silent, monochrome youths into breathing, talking, living color, with compelling stories. But because of his cinematic goal, this assured award-winner misses the depth of feeling and realism it could have projected by giving similar treatment to the agony of the wounded.

    • ‘We Refuse to Create Technology for Warfare and Oppression’: Microsoft Workers Demand Company End Army Contract

      Declaring to chief executives that they refuse “to become war profiteers,” a group of Microsoft workers on Friday demanded the company cancel a contract with the U.S. Army that they say would “help people kill” and turn warfare into a “video game.”

      Their open letter is addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, and, according to the “Microsoft Workers 4 Good” Twitter handle, which posted the document, it got over employee 100 signatures in its first day.

    • How Kushner and other Key Trump Officials Plotted to Give Saudis the Atom Bomb in Return for Billions

      The House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform has issued a Report on a plot to make billions of dollars by selling Saudi Arabia sensitive American nuclear technology that could allow the Kingdom to develop nuclear weapons. The scheme required breaking US law, which forbids technology transfers that might allow nuclear proliferation.

      The plot was pushed by a “company” formed for this express purpose called IP3 International, which doesn’t seem to have actually existed except as a sort of shell for lobbying the Trump administration. IP3 was, according to the committee, helmed by “General Keith Alexander, General Jack Keane, Mr. Bud McFarlane, and Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, as well as the chief executives of six companies— Exelon Corporation, Toshiba America Energy Systems, Bechtel Corporation, Centrus Energy Corporation, GE Energy Infra structure, and Siemens USA—“ All “signed a letter to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The letter presented ‘the Iron Bridge Program as a 21st Century Marshall Plan for the Middle East.’”

    • Warning ‘Every Option Is On the Table,’ Pompeo Stokes Fears of Military Force in Venezuela

      Unrest and fears of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela continued on Sunday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the Trump administration’s warning that “every option is on the table” and that it would galvanize a “global coalition to put force behind the voice” of those calling for the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro.

      Pompeo made the comments on “Fox News Sunday” hours after he tweeted that the “U.S. will take action against those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy in #Venezuela,” an apparent reference to those who do not back a regime change to opposition leader and self-declared acting president Juan Guaido.

    • ICJ Delivers Chagos Advisory Opinion, UK Loses Badly

      Earlier this afternoon the ICJ delivered its Chagos advisory opinion. Briefly, the Court found that the separation of the Chagos archipelago from the British colony of Mauritius was contrary to the right to self-determination and that accordingly the decolonization of Mauritius was not completed in conformity with international law. As a consequence, the Court found that the UK’s continuing administration of the archipelago, which includes the largest US naval base in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, is a continuing internationally wrongful act, which the UK was under an obligation to cease as soon as possible. The Court was almost unanimous – its decision not to exercise discretion and decline giving an opinion was made by 12 votes to 1, while its findings on the merits were made by 13 votes to 1 (Judge Donoghue dissenting). The AO and the various separate opinions is available here.

      Here are some key takeaways.

      First, on the issue of the exercise of discretion/propriety to give an opinion, the key issue here was whether, in answering the questions posed by the General Assembly the Court would be effectively deciding on a bilateral dispute between states over territorial sovereignty, which one of them (the UK) did not consent to (for more background on this issue see Dapo’s earlier post here). Here Judge Tomka joined Judge Donoghue in thinking that the Court should have declined giving an opinion, consistently with his prior position in the Kosovo AO. The Court effectively gets around this problem by labeling the advisory proceedings as being about decolonization, an issue in which the UNGA has a longstanding interest, rather than about sovereignty. Technically, the Court is right, except that its finding on the illegality of the decolonization process inevitably impacts on the British sovereignty over Chagos – either the UK really has no sovereignty over the islands at all, or it is the sovereign but is obliged to relinquish that sovereignty to Mauritius as soon as practicable. The situation is comparable to some extent to the South China Sea arbitration, in which the arbitral tribunal technically avoids issues of sovereignty but by deciding on the nature of certain maritime features, and their (in)ability to project maritime areas, it effectively completely demolishes China’s claim to these areas.

    • How Britain forcefully depopulated a whole archipelago

      There are times when one tragedy tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments often justify their actions with lies.

      In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the British government of Harold Wilson expelled the population of the Chagos Islands, a British colony in the Indian Ocean, to make way for an American military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island. In high secrecy, the Americans offered the British payment for the islands in the form of a discount on the Polaris nuclear submarine system.

      The truth of this conspiracy did not emerge for another 20 years when secret official files were unearthed at the Public Record Office in London by lawyers acting for the former inhabitants of the coral archipelago. Historian Mark Curtis described the enforced depopulation in Web of Deceit, his 2003 book about Britain’s post-war foreign policy.

      The British media all but ignored it; the Washington Post called it a “mass kidnapping”.

      I first heard of the plight of the Chagossians in 1982, during the Falklands War. Britain had sent a fleet to the aid of 2,000 Falkland Islanders at the other end of the world while another 2,000 British citizens from islands in the Indian Ocean had been expelled by British governments and hardly anyone knew.

      The difference was that the Falkland Islanders were white and the Chagossians were black and, crucially, the United States wanted the Chagos Islands – especially Diego Garcia – as a major military base from which to command the Indian Ocean.

      The Chagos was a natural paradise. The 1,500 islanders were self-sufficient with an abundance of natural produce, and there was no extreme weather. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life – until a secret 1961 Anglo-American survey of Diego Garcia led to the expulsion of the entire population.

    • The Banality of Empire

      This month freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar questioned Trump’s nominee for envoy to Venezuela, Elliot Abrams. While her interrogation was somewhat tepid in regard to American imperialism (she said “no one disputes” that the US goal has always been to support democracy and defend human rights), she did bring up the role of the US in the massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s. Massacres in which Abrams is implicated. It was also instructive in that it provided a visual to how deeply debased the American political landscape actually is. Abrams is a Presidential pardoned liar who provided cover for some of the most heinous war crimes of the 20th century. That he has reemerged again to lead a coup against the democratically elected government of yet another Latin American country is testament to the banality of American Empire and how uninterested it is in its own history or unending brutality and corruption.

      The history of US imperialism in this region, like so many others around the world, is one drenched in blood. In 1954 a mercenary army hired by the United Fruit Company and assisted by the US government staged a military coup which overthrew the democratically elected, reform oriented, government of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was installed as the new president of Guatemala and thus began a military dictatorship that would span the latter half of the 20th century. The indigenous Maya of the country had long been viewed as sub-human by the ruling, Spanish descended, elite, a supremacist stain that remains to this day. Some Mayans and others protested their oppression under this neo-fuedalistic tyranny, but all Mayans were collectively punished, culminating in a multi-stage genocide that took the lives of at least 200,000 people and created millions of refugees. It was a presage to the current migrant crisis in North America.

      Israel was also complicit in the genocide, supplying arms and training mercenaries. In fact General Rios Montt, the military general who is largely blamed for directing the genocide, gave his personal thanks to both the US and Israel for assisting him conducting the systematic rape, torture and slaughter of the country’s indigenous population. Trained at the infamous School of the Americas Montt, who died in April of last year, was an evangelical Christian minister and a personal friend of ultra-conservative televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. This is instructive since we now have Christian dominionists like Pence and Pompeo at the helm. Montt was also unquestioningly supported and praised by President Ronald Reagan. “President Ríos Montt,” Reagan said, “is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”

    • The Coup Has Failed and Now the US Is Looking to Wage War in Venezuela

      Venezuela’s opposition is calling on the United States and allied nations to consider using military force to topple the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is heading to Bogotá, Colombia, today to meet with regional leaders and Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president, opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The meeting follows a dramatic weekend that saw the Venezuelan military blocking the delivery of so-called humanitarian aid from entering the country at the Colombian and Brazilian borders. At least four people died, and hundreds were injured, after clashes broke out between forces loyal to Maduro and supporters of the opposition. The United Nations, the Red Cross and other relief organizations have refused to work with the U.S. on delivering aid to Venezuela, which they say is politically motivated. Venezuela has allowed aid to be flown in from Russia and from some international organizations, but it has refused to allow in aid from the United States, describing it as a Trojan horse for an eventual U.S. invasion. On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Maduro’s days in office are numbered. We speak with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who has recently held secret talks with Trump’s special envoy Elliott Abrams.

    • Britain’s Paintball Strategist

      The eyebrow-raising was not surprising, because Williamson was referring specifically to President Macron, which is not exactly what diplomacy and international relations are all about. But Williamson is not content with insulting and threatening Britain’s allies in the European Union. He goes further afield, such as when he declared last year that “Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up,” which was probably the most fatuously immature statement by a British defense minister since the post was created in 1936.

      In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute on February 11 he rejoiced that Britain’s Brexit calamity provided an opportunity to demonstrate military prowess. He told his audience that “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

      Williamson has decided that Britain’s armed forces will be sent around the world because “the UK is a global power with truly global interests” and “wherever I go in the world I find that Britain stands tall.”

      Please stop laughing.

      The uncomfortable but undeniable truth is that Britain is not a global power, or anywhere near one, and that if Williamson imagines that Britain “stands tall” around the world he has a serious problem with comprehending height and foreign sentiment.

      It’s what might be called the paintball mentality.

    • Another Russian federal agent is attacked in the street

      Someone in Moscow walked up to a federal agent on February 24, punched him in the face, and stole his wallet. According to the Moskva news agency, the 41-year-old victim serves as a Federal Security Service (FSB) local department chief in Khabarovsk. He says the attacker ran away with his badge, bank card, and 24,000 rubles (about $370) in cash. Local police are still trying to identify the assailant.

      Earlier in February, unknown men in Moscow attacked FSB Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Budagotsky, throwing a bottle at his service vehicle and then beating him up. Budagotsky serves in the agency’s “Department K,” which investigates economic crimes.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Endangered Wildlife Are Getting Dosed With Rat Poisons

      People who consider rodents to be pests often turn to an array of products, known as anticoagulant rodenticides, which are marketed to lethally “solve” the issue with poisoned bait. But researchers have been collecting evidence for years showing that it’s not just nuisance rats that can end up dead.

      Some of the most recent studies, conducted in California, found that everything from Pacific fishers to bobcats to northern spotted owls often become victims of rodenticides. The list of potentially affected wildlife is long — basically anything that preys on a rodent could be at risk, because the poisons are so toxic they travel up the food chain, and in some cases, can remain in an animal’s body for years. It can even leapfrog in utero from one generation to the next.

      “If you have a very poisoned rat, you’re going to have a very poisoned hawk,” says Kelle Kacmarcik, director of wildlife solutions and advocacy at WildCare, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Marin County, California.

      And that’s a huge problem.

    • “Realists” Are Courting Global Devastation

      In a recent confrontation with representatives of the Sunrise Movement, Senator Diane Feinstein referred to herself as a “realist” when challenged to support the Green New Deal.

      She’s not alone. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referred to the GND as a dream, and nearly every article about it alludes to it being unrealistic, while the pundits pile on with charges of political doom for the Dems if they support it.

      Ponder this for a moment. We are faced with a planet wrecking problem – something that, if left unchecked, could literally lead to the deaths of billions of people, the extinction of nearly half of all species, and the destruction of the ecological systems which allowed for the development of civilization – and the people who want to do something about it are labelled unrealistic, and those who advocate ineffective half-measures are considered “realists.”

      This tells us a great deal about the state of our politics, and none of it is good.

      For starters, it tells us that our entire political process has been overtaken by monied interests. The Constitution and its principles have been discarded in exchange for campaign funds and a revolving door that allows politicians to cash in on public service.

    • The Hard Lessons of Dianne Feinstein’s Encounter with the Young Green New Deal Activists

      One imagines that Senator Dianne Feinstein would like a do-over of her colloquy with some young people on Friday afternoon. A group of school students, at least one as young as seven, went to the senator’s San Francisco office to ask her to support the Green New Deal climate legislation. In a video posted online by the Sunrise Movement, she tells them that the resolution isn’t a good one, because it can’t be paid for, and the Republicans in the Senate won’t support it. She adds that she is at work on her own resolution, which she thinks could pass. Then, when the group persists in supporting the Green New Deal, which was introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Feinstein responds, “You know what’s interesting about this group? I’ve been doing this for thirty years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and you say, ‘It has to be my way or the highway.’ I don’t respond to that. I’ve gotten elected, I just ran, I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality,” she continued. “And I know what I’m doing. So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.”

      Well, maybe. But Feinstein was, in fact, demonstrating why climate change exemplifies an issue on which older people should listen to the young. Because—to put it bluntly—older generations will be dead before the worst of it hits. The kids whom Feinstein was talking to are going to be dealing with climate chaos for the rest of their lives, as any Californian who has lived through the past few years of drought, flood, and fire must recognize.

      This means that youth carry the moral authority here, and, at the very least, should be treated with the solicitousness due a generation that older ones have managed to screw over. Feinstein’s condescension, though it’s less jarring in the video of the full encounter, which also shows gracious moments—including one when she offers a young person an internship—echoed that of Nancy Pelosi, from earlier this month, when the Speaker of the House talked about “the green dream, or whatever they call it. Nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”

    • The Kids Might Save Us All

      I became involved in climate advocacy when I realized how dramatically my son’s life would be affected by climate change if we don’t do anything.
      He was three years old when I started to imagine what his world would be like when he graduates from school, when he gets his first job, when he wants to start a family, and when he’s ready to retire. In different ways, the impacts of climate change will affect all of these moments.
      Climate change will disproportionately affect my kid’s generation, and all future generations. And that terrifies me.
      I want my little boy to inherit a beautiful, healthy world — not just to grow up in, but also to grow old in. There are a lot of other issues I care about, but if we don’t address climate change, and soon, the rest won’t matter.
      At first I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do with my outrage and my worries. But I was lucky enough to meet like-minded individuals who were already fighting for a healthy planet and a hopeful future for humanity. Together we founded a local climate advocacy group and organized our first annual climate rally in Northern Virginia.

    • Newly Uncovered Documents Show Pruitt Spent Nearly $900,000 on Personal Security for Travel
    • Green New Deal Is Feasible and Affordable

      There are three main ideas of the Green New Deal Resolution introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey.

      The first is to decarbonize the US energy system — that is, to end the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil and natural gas, in order to stop global warming.

      The second is to guarantee lower-cost, high-quality health coverage for all.

      The third is to ensure decent jobs and living standards for all Americans, in part by making colleges and vocational schools affordable for all.

      The right wing and corporate lobbies are already hyperventilating: It is unachievable; it will bankrupt us; it will make us into Venezuela.

      These claims are dead wrong. The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable. This will become clear as the agenda is turned into specific legislation for energy, health care, higher education, and more.

      The Green New Deal combines ideas across several parts of the economy because the ultimate goal is sustainable development. That means an economy that delivers a package deal: good incomes, social fairness, and environmental sustainability. Around the world, governments are aiming for the same end — a “triple-bottom line” of economic, social, and environmental objectives.

    • In the Arctic Refuge, a Life Force Hangs in the Balance

      A lot has been written lately about the possibility of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

      This is hardly new. In 2001, as George W. Bush and his Interior Secretary Gail Norton were pushing to open up the Refuge, a photographer friend and I flew from the Canning River at the western edge of the Refuge to Prudhoe Bay. In 60 miles, we’d traveled from the largest protected wilderness area in the United States to one of the largest industrial complexes in the world, measuring over 200,000 acres.

      Prudhoe Bay resembled Gary, Indiana in the 1980s, its giant stacks coughing smoke and fire. It was a stark reminder that wilderness and oil have long had an uneasy relationship in Alaska.

      Although politicians and oil companies have been trying to get at the Refuge’s reserves for decades, their most recent attempt might be the most daring.

    • The fight to #StopTMX continues as feds approve their own pipeline

      The NEB’s new report focused on the impacts of marine shipping (including on the highly endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales) which was excluded from the original review. It was one of the 2 factors that caused the Federal Court of Appeal to quash the pipeline’s approvals and permits in their August 2018 ruling. The other was the inadequate consultation with affected First Nations, which the government says it is addressing through a new round of consultations that began in October.

      The new report states that the proposed project will have significant “adverse environmental effects” on orcas and Indigenous culture, significant climate pollution, and significant damage in the event of a worst-case oil spill, and recommends approval in the face of these. Alongside the approval, the report recommends 16 conditions aiming to better protect marine life.

      This report delivery also technically starts the clock on a 90-day deadline for Trudeau’s cabinet to decide whether the project will proceed, but this is something officials are already signalling could be pushed back.

      Earlier this week, the National Energy Board (NEB) also rejected a motion supported by environmental groups, First Nations, municipal governments, and community groups to include climate impacts in its new review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX). The motion was asking the NEB to adopt the same climate impact standards it had already adopted for Energy East, that were a key factor in TransCanada finally abandoning the project.

    • After 40 Years of Government Inaction on Climate, Have We Finally Turned a Corner?

      In 2015, 21 young people sued the U.S. government for promoting the fossil fuel industry even when it was aware of the dangers of climate change. In Juliana v. United States, the youths accused the government of endangering their future well-being thereby violating the government’s public trust responsibility and their constitutional rights.

      The U.S. government has repeatedly tried to stop this case from moving to trial. Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have denied or refused to rule on government challenges. The case is currently before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on yet another motion to dismiss.

      The suit centers on whether the government actively promoted the use of fossil fuels despite being aware of evidence that such action endangered the future of the planet. The youths, represented by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, retained experts to contribute supporting reports for the suit, including from environmental lawyer and climate policy expert James Gustave Speth. He reviewed what each administration from Carter to Trump knew about climate change and alternative energy and what actions were taken. Speth concluded in his report, which was filed in 2018, that every administration “continued full-throttle support for the development and use of fossil fuels.” This pattern is “the greatest dereliction of civic responsibility in the history of the Republic,” he wrote.

    • ‘Stop Funding Climate Change!’: Jamie Dimon Interrupted for Important Planetary Message

      Climate activists interrupted JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Saturday to make a clear demand: “Stop funding climate change!”

      Dimon was the key speaker at a morning session of the National Governors Association’s (NGA) annual winter meeting, taking place in Washington, D.C. The session (pdf) was to “offer governors unique insights into the intersection of public policy and the modern economy.”

      As Dimon was speaking, activists affiliated with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the D.C. chapter of 350.org rose to ask, “How is [climate change] not one of your policy priorities?” and repeatedly said, “Jamie Dimon, stop funding climate change!”

      Dimon continued to talk over the activists, who stood and held a banner reading, “Chase: Stop profiting off dirty energy and rights abuses.”

    • Can YouTube Solve Its Serious Climate Science Denial Problem?

      “Will the temperature resume an upward trend? Will it remain flat for a lengthy period? Or will it begin to drop? No one knows, not even the biggest, fastest computers.”

      The video — with the clickbait title “What They Haven’t Told You about Climate Change” — has been watched more than 2.5 million times on the Google-owned video platform.

    • Vandana Shiva: We Must Fight Back Against the 1 Percent to Stop the Sixth Mass Extinction

      New research finds at least a third of the Himalayan ice cap will melt by the end of the century due to climate change, even if the world’s most ambitious environmental reforms are implemented. A report released earlier this month by the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment warns rising temperatures in the Himalayas could lead to mass population displacements, as well as catastrophic food and water insecurity. The glaciers are a vital water source for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush Himalaya range, which spans from Afghanistan to Burma. More than a billion-and-a-half people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayan peaks. We speak with world-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva about climate change, seed sovereignty and her new book, “Oneness vs. the 1%.” Shiva is an Indian scholar, physicist, and food sovereignty and seed freedom advocate. She was was born in Doon Valley in the Himalayan foothills.

    • Extinction Rebellion

      There is one desperate chance left to thwart the impending ecocide and extinction of the human species. We must, in wave after wave, carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries, crippling commerce and transportation, until the ruling elites are forced to publicly state the truth about climate catastrophe, implement radical measures to halt carbon emissions by 2025 and empower an independent citizens committee to oversee the termination of our 150-year binge on fossil fuels. If we do not do this, we will face mass death.

      The British-based group Extinction Rebellion has called for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience on April 15 in capitals around the world to reverse our “one-way track to extinction.” I do not know if this effort will succeed. But I do know it is the only mechanism left to force action by the ruling elites, who, although global warming has been well documented for at least three decades, have refused to carry out the measures needed to protect the planet and the human race. These elites, for this reason alone, are illegitimate. They must be replaced.

      “It is our sacred duty to rebel in order to protect our homes, our future, and the future of all life on Earth,” Extinction Rebellion writes. This is not hyperbolic. We have, as every major climate report states, very little time left. Indeed, it may already be too late.

      In Britain, Extinction Rebellion has already demonstrated its clout, blocking roads, occupying government departments and amassing 6,000 people to shut down five of London’s bridges last Nov. 17. Scores of arrests were made. But it was just the warm-up act. In April, the group hopes, the final assault will begin.

  • Finance

    • Cowboy Welfare

      The Federal Government just reduced its grazing fee to $1.35 an AUM for ranchers with grazing privileges on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands. Grazing on other public lands According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service is often higher as is grazing on private lands that typically runs $22.60 an AUM or more.

      Furthermore, the price of grazing privileges on public lands has not kept up with inflation. The current formula for setting grazing fees was established in 1966 when the cost per AUM was $1.26. If you adjust for inflation, the minimal cost should be $9.47.

      Compounding this already subsidized cost is that since 1966, the average cow and calf are considerably larger, and require more forage. As a result, an AUM or the amount of vegetation needed to sustain a cow and calf in 1966 is now considerably less, but most grazing allotments have not been adjusted to reflect these changes in the size (appetite) of cattle.

      Due to failure to keep up with inflation, the price paid to graze on public lands is estimated by one 2015 study to be more than a billion dollars annually and covers only 7% of the real costs of administrating these lands.

    • New York Times Provides Cover for Austerity Cranks

      It’s not uncommon to read news stories that quite explicitly identify economic mismanagement. For example, news reports on the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe routinely (and correctly) attribute the cause to the poor economic management by its leaders. We will see similar attributions of mismanagement to a wide range of developing countries.

      One place we will never see the term mismanagement or any equivalent term applied is in reference to the austerity imposed on the euro zone countries by the European Commission, acting largely at the direction of the German government. In fact, major news outlets, like the New York Times, seem to go out of their way to deny the incredible harm done to euro zone economies, and to the lives of tens of millions of people in these countries, as a result of needless austerity.

      A decade ago, it would at least have been an arguable point as to whether austerity, meaning budget cuts, in the wake of the Great Recession, was reasonable policy. There was some research suggesting that the boost to confidence from lower budget deficits could spur enough investment and consumption to offset the impact on demand of reductions in government spending.

      Since then, however, we have far more evidence on the impact of deficit reduction in the context of an economy coming out of recession. There have been numerous studies, most importantly several from the International Monetary Fund’s research department, which show that lower deficits in this context slow growth and raise unemployment.

    • What’s behind the teacher strikes: Unions focus on social justice, not just salaries

      For the past few years I’ve been studying teacher unions and teachers strikes throughout the Americas. My research has taken me from the Mexican state of Oaxaca – where teacher protests in 2006 led to both violent repression and a broad-based social movement for direct democracy – to the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, to coal-mining towns in West Virginia.

      I’ve learned that certain conditions prompt teacher unions to adopt new forms of activism and take up broader issues of social justice that go beyond how much teachers are paid.

      Now is such a time in the United States.

    • Why Bay Area Tech Workers Should Support the Oakland Teachers

      As Bay Area tech workers and activists, we see clearly that the struggles faced by tech workers are fundamentally connected with those faced by the teachers who are on strike in Oakland.

      When one section of the working class fights and wins, it raises the hopes and expectations for all working people. Now that the strike wave that swept through Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona is coming to Silicon Valley’s own backyard, it’s time for us to show up, support the striking teachers and learn from their struggle.

      Many of the social and economic forces that are impacting teachers also directly impact tech workers.

      The already sky-high cost of housing means that even relatively well-paid tech workers (who are not the majority of tech workers) spend a significant portion of each paycheck on renting a place to live. The striking teachers point out that Oakland rents have increased 32 percent since 2014, and wages have not risen at the same pace.

      There are other ways the teachers’ struggle impacts workers in tech. Educators are having a harder time doing their jobs, which means that raising a family in the Bay Area becomes a choice between scrambling for access to better schools or sending the kids to private or charter schools (schools that are run privately but receive state funding).

    • ‘Serial Forger of Documents’ Craig Wright Attempts to Patent Smart Contracts for Bitcoin
    • Neil deMause on Amazon’s Retreat, Nina Besser Doorley on Women’s Healthcare Restrictions

      This week on CounterSpin: Corporate media aren’t in the business of challenging the idea that corporations are benevolent social actors who bring benefits to the communities lucky enough to have them. So even if Amazon didn’t own a major newspaper, there was no reason to expect much by way of deep media criticism of the company’s search for a second “HQ”—even as that led to cash-strapped US cities falling over one another to offer tax breaks and subsidies to a corporation that paid zero federal taxes last year on profits of over $11 billion. Surprisingly, some media followed the lead of community organizers and questioned the deal—questions Amazon pulled out over rather than engage. More surprisingly, the deal’s end didn’t end the questions. We’ll hear that story from journalist Neil deMause, author of, most recently, The Brooklyn Wars.

    • Need a Good Bitcoin Client?

      Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer payment system and digital currency that is powered by its users with no central authority, central server or middlemen. Instead, managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world.

      Bitcoin is a digital currency that enables instant payments. It offers a path to lower payment processing and more secure transaction. It has often attracted attention for its popularity in black markets, and for its volatility in its value. However, there is a growing number of organizations and individuals that use Bitcoin for mainstream transactions, attracted to the lower payment processing charges, and the ability to receive micropayments, payments much smaller than what the traditional financial system can handle.

      In exchange for its low-cost peer-to-peer system, Bitcoin’s network contains no recourse if bitcoins are lost or hacked. Consequently, security is a vital concern with Bitcoin. How to store Bitcoins is therefore a very important decision for a Bitcoin user to make. Desktop bitcoin clients offer a reasonably secure and advanced way to store. Bitcoin supports native wallet encryption so that people who steal your wallet file do not obtain access to your Bitcoins.

    • What States Can Do to Reduce Poverty and Inequality Through Tax Policy

      States have an opportunity to act to close the loopholes that hide and protect the wealth of the top 1%, remedy the impact of the new federal tax law that lowers taxes on the wealthy, and make critical investments in infrastructure, energy systems, and programs that create broader opportunity and shared prosperity. Concentrations of wealth are distorting our economy and undermining our democracy and civic health. State Administrations and State Legislatures can act to close the loopholes, put a brake on economic inequality and concentrations of wealth, and generate significant revenue.

    • Cuba’s leaders adopt social media, not democracy
    • Trump Threatens a Second Embargo of Cuba

      The Trump administration is threatening to unleash a flood of lawsuits involving Cuba, which no U.S. president has ever done. It has set a deadline of March 2 to announce whether it will create, in the words of the National Lawyers Guild, “a second embargo” of Cuba — “one that would be very difficult to dismantle in the future.”

      Trump may give current U.S. citizens standing to sue in U.S. courts even if they were Cuban citizens when the Cuban government nationalized their property after the 1959 Revolution. They would be able to bring lawsuits against U.S. and foreign companies that allegedly profit from the nationalized properties.

      In accordance with international law, the Cuban government had offered compensation to U.S. nationals for the taking of their property, as I explain below. If Trump permits myriad new lawsuits to proceed, it would unleash a tsunami of litigation that would harm U.S. companies and punish the Cuban people even more.

      For 59 years, the United States has maintained a cruel embargo against Cuba. “The embargo on Cuba is the most comprehensive set of U.S. sanctions on any country, including the other countries designated by the U.S. government to be state sponsors of terrorism — Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria,” according to the U.S. government.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Living Wage for Staff Is ‘Common-Sense’ Policy Not ‘Communism’

      Add Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) paying a living wage to staffers to the ideas Fox News considers “communism.”

      On Sunday, “Fox & Friends” host Pete Hegseth railed against a report that Ocasio-Cortez will start staff salaries at $52,000 a year and cap salaries at $80,000 a year. The cap will allow the Congresswoman to pay interns $15 an hour, a pledge she made in December.

      “Everyone’s between 52 and 80,” said Hegseth. “It’s actually socialism and communism on display.”

      Hegseth’s comments came on the heels of a Saturday tweet by Fox News contributor Dan Bongino, who took issue with the fact that Ocasio-Cortez’s office is funded by taxpayers. “She’s NOT paying this ‘living wage,’ YOU are,” wrote Bongino.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Stepping Down From Board

      Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone started the San Francisco-based social media company in 2006 that is known for its original 140-character limit on messages. He served in various roles, including chief executive officer, chief product officer and chairman before giving up day-to-day responsibilities in late 2010. He started Medium in 2012. Twitter went public in 2013.

      [...]

      Williams has apologized previously for Twitter’s potential role in helping Trump get elected, adding that the election results underscored his concern that social-media platforms are helping to “dumb the entire world down.”

    • The Death Of Local News Is Making Us Dumber And More Divided

      It began with the death of your local hometown newspaper. It’s been compounded by an online media industry that’s too busy laying off existing reporters to spend much time expanding local reporting. Now the last bastion of local journalism, local TV broadcasters, are increasingly being hoovered up by giant companies for which real journalism isn’t much of a priority.

      A new joint study out of Stanford and Emory University indicates that this shift is having a profoundly-negative impact on the American public, public discourse, and the democratic process. The researchers found that the erosion of quality local reporting is not only leaving America less informed, but more divided than ever before.

    • Democrats Might Oppose Trump’s National Emergency, But They’re Hardly the Resistance

      In a letter to Members of Congress yesterday, Nancy Pelosi wrote in response to Trump’s emergency declaration, that, “The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated” and that “We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.” Though this challenge is important to ending the emergency declaration, like the 1.4 billion dollars afforded to the government to build a wall, neither democrats or republicans are willing to address the fact that the US is manufacturing an immigration crisis through the violence it conducts spanning the globe from South and Central America to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

      According to the UNHCR, there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world and 57% of refugees worldwide come from three countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. For anyone paying attention, its no coincidence that two of the three countries have the highest numbers of refugees are Afghanistan and Syria—countries that have born a large brunt of the US’ War on Terror.

      There are 2.6 million Afghan refugees alone—an appalling figure that stands as a reminder that this is the US’ longest running war in it’s history. But as old as the war in Afghanistan is, it’s as new as the “virtual invasion,” Trump referenced in his speech is. Yet, the response from Congress has not been to end the violence directed at other countries that has caused forced migration—it is simply to call the legality of Trump’s actions into question. The irony of course is that for countries on the receiving end of the US’ violence, a “virtual invasion,” might be preferable than an actual one that leaves behind instability, death, and destruction—violence that both parties have supported.

    • We Need a New Standard for When Politicians Should Step Down

      In the 400th year since chattel slavery began in the colony of Virginia in 1619, the Commonwealth has been under severe duress, with its heads of state embroiled in controversies descended from the colony’s founding sin.

      For weeks, Democrats and Republicans statewide — and nationwide — have called for the resignations of Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, for the racist act of wearing blackface as young adults (a claim Northam denied after initially admitting to being in a photo that surfaced weeks ago).

      Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax also drew demands for resignation, after sexual assault and rape allegations were brought against him by two different women. (Fairfax denies the allegations.)

      Virginia constituents (including myself) have been vocal in the debate over whether the men should step down. Complicating matters, next-in-line GOP House Leader Kirk Vox would take office if all three stepped down, restoring Republican control of the state after the party lost badly in the last elections.

      The firestorm in Richmond has since calmed. Out of fear of being branded a “racist for life,”Northam announced a “Racial Reconciliation Tour” as a way to save face and remain governor.

    • Trump Vows Veto as Democrats Try to Block Emergency Order

      Democrats controlling the House have teed up a vote next week to block President Donald Trump from using a national emergency declaration to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, accelerating a showdown in Congress that could divide Republicans and lead to Trump’s first veto.

      The Democrats introduced a resolution Friday to block Trump’s declaration, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would vote on the measure Tuesday. It is sure to pass, and the GOP-run Senate may adopt it as well. Trump quickly promised a veto.

    • Manafort ‘Brazenly Violated the Law’ for Years, Mueller Memo Says

      Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort committed crimes that cut to “the heart of the criminal justice system” and over the years deceived everyone from bookkeepers and banks to federal prosecutors and his own lawyers, according to a sentencing memo filed Saturday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

      In the memo, submitted in one of two criminal cases Manafort faces, prosecutors do not yet take a position on how much prison time he should serve or whether to stack the punishment on top of a separate sentence he will soon receive in a Virginia prosecution. But they do depict Manafort as a longtime and unrepentant criminal who committed “bold” crimes, including under the spotlight of his role as campaign chairman and later while on bail, and who does not deserve any leniency.

      “For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law,” prosecutors wrote. “His crimes continued up through the time he was first indicted in October 2017 and remarkably went unabated even after indictment.”

    • The Bitter Fruit of Trump’s China Bashing: Anti-Asian Racism

      Donald Trump’s New Cold War with Beijing has caught Chinese foreign students at U.S. universities in its crosshairs.

      The Trump administration has tightened restrictions on their visas, accused them of spying for the Chinese state and its high tech giants, and in the process whipped up a climate of Anti-Asian racism.

      Trump’s policies yielded bitter fruit most recently at Duke University. The chair of the graduate program in biostatics, Megan Neely, in the wake of complaints from a faculty members about Chinese grad students “speaking Chinese (in their words VERY LOUDLY)” in the student lounge and study areas, wrote an email scolding students for speaking their native language.

      She told students to “commit to using English 100 percent of the time” while in department buildings or “any other professional setting.” Even worse she warned them that if they didn’t it might impact their ability to get internships and jobs: “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak Chinese.”

      This was not the first time that Neely had criticized students for speaking a language besides English in their private time. Last year she sent a message to all the biostatistics students saying, “I don’t like being the language police [but] … speaking in your native language in the department may give faculty the impression that you are not trying to improve your English skills and that you are not taking this opportunity seriously.”

    • How Bernie Can Win Over Black Voters (Video)

      Jacqueline Luqman and Prof. Lester Spence discuss how Sanders might distinguish himself and contend with Black candidates such as Corey Booker and Kamala Harris, Watch the full conversation in the video player above and read the transcript below.

    • State of Money in Politics: Billion-dollar ‘dark money’ spending is just the tip of the iceberg

      Secret donor-funded “dark money” spending reported to the Federal Election Commission has officially exceeded $1 billion according to a new analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, and that barely begins to scratch the surface of political spending by groups that don’t fully disclose their donors.

      Along with another billion dollars spent by partially-disclosing groups that keep some donors hidden or are funded by dark money sources, spending by groups that don’t fully disclose donors has exceeded $2 billion since the 2006 election cycle.

      Direct dark money spending by groups funded entirely by anonymous donors hit nearly $150 million reported to the FEC for the 2018 election cycle alone. That doesn’t include additional money funneled to other groups spending in elections or spent on political ads couched as issue advocacy and digital advertising that remains largely untouched by FEC disclosure requirements. Dark money has hardly waned. Instead, it has begun manifesting in new forms that are often harder to track and quantify.

      More than half of all 2018 election spending by outside groups, excluding party committees, was by groups that do not fully disclose their donors.

    • How I Learned to Let Communities Guide Our Local Reporting Projects

      The journalism event we’d planned for months in East St. Louis, Illinois, was hours away. And I couldn’t get rid of the nerves churning in my stomach.

      So I did what I do when I’m anxious: overprepare. I made a Walmart run to stuff food and supplies in my car, not really sure how many people would attend. My ProPublica Illinois colleague Derrick Clifton and I stuck flyers in door handles at a federally subsidized housing complex. We chatted with people there, telling them why we were in town.

      I was in Illinois to bring our findings on the crumbling state of federally subsidized housing to the residents actually impacted by it. Our partner, Molly Parker, of The Southern Illinoisan, had spent months investigating housing issues in East St. Louis. The Southern Illinoisan was part of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network — our initiative to support local investigative journalism.

    • Say Goodbye to Mitch McConnell’s America

      We stand today upon the fulcrum of history, a crossroads at midnight with a blood moon rising. Down one road lies fire, flood, famine, failure and the final triumph of greed. What awaits down the other road is unknown, terra incognita, a mystery to be solved one gentle step at a time. As a species, we tend to recoil from what we do not know, often choosing the awful alternative simply because it is familiar. Now, even that poor option is a suicidal indulgence leading inexorably to our common doom.

      Everyone, from leader to laborer, is a teacher delivering a simple lesson: how to be, or how not to be. We go to school on the words and behavior of others, and it falls to us as individuals to either absorb what those others teach us by being who they are, or to cast their lessons aside in search of more worthy instruction. As bad lawsuits make bad law, however, bad people make worse people by example. We are often childlike in our emulation of what we see, and if we only see scoundrels, well … that script writes itself.

      Which brings us to a most valuable teacher: a privileged, compromised, cowardly, racist, sexist, hate-swaddled, power-mad, greed-gorged, double-dealing, fathomless void where all integrity goes to die. I speak, of course, of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If Donald Trump is the Devil waiting at that moonlit crossroads to tune our guitar at the cost of our souls, Mitch McConnell drove him there and paid for the gas.

    • One-party rule in 49 state legislatures reflects flaws in democratic process

      Across the U.S., Republicans control 30 statehouses and the Democrats control 18. That is the largest number of one-party controlled state legislatures since 1914.

      Minnesota is currently the only state where there’s not one party in control of the state legislature – Republicans have a majority in the state Senate chamber, while Democrats hold the state House chamber.

      The Democrats’ so-called “blue wave” in the 2018 midterm elections was not big enough to put a major dent into the Republican’s control of state legislatures.

      As a scholar of state politics, I believe partisan gerrymandering is a major reason why the Democratic wave fizzled as it reached the states. It is also why Democrats will likely have a difficult time regaining control in states as the redistricting process begins in 2020.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube Filters At It Again: Pokemon YouTubers Have Accounts Nuked Over Child Porn Discussions That Weren’t Occurring

      It’s clear at this point that the automated filtering and flagging done by YouTube is simply not good. Whatever legitimacy the platform might want to have by touting its successes must certainly be diminished by the repeated cases of YouTube flagging videos for infringing content that isn’t infringing and the fact that the whole setup has been successfully repurposed by blackmailers that hold accounts hostage through strikes.

      While most of these failures center around ContentID’s inability to discern actual intellectual property infringement and its avenues for abuse, YouTube’s algorithms can’t even suss out more grave occurrences, such as child exploitation. This became apparent recently when multiple Pokemon streamers had their accounts nuked due to discussions about child pornography that never occurred.

    • Win in Washington State: Judge Strikes Down Unconstitutional ‘Cyberstalking’ Law Chilling Free Speech

      Great news out of Washington state: a federal judge has ruled that the First Amendment protects speech on the Internet, even from anonymous speakers, and even if it’s embarrassing.

      EFF has been fighting this statute for a long time. It’s a prime example of how sloppy approaches to combatting “cyberstalking” can go terribly wrong. As we explained in an amicus brief filed in this case by EFF and the ACLU of Washington, the law could potentially block the routine criticism of politicians and other public figures that is an integral part of our democracy.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Guess who’s working on a health data-slurping digital tool? Bzzt! Nope, it’s the UK Department for Work and Pensions

      The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions is drawing up plans for an internal service that allows it to automate slurps of medical data on claimants to dole out health-related benefits.

      In an ad posted on the UK’s Digital Marketplace, DWP said the work was currently in alpha and it now wanted a supplier to deliver a technical proof of concept to expose NHS data to the department’s systems.

      The aim, it said, is to cut down the time and cost involved in gathering information the department needs to make a decision about “the right support” for someone with a health condition or disability.

    • The Microphones That May Be Hidden in Your Home

      Google apologized Wednesday to customers who purchased its Nest Secure home-security system. The device is equipped with a microphone that has gone unmentioned since it went on sale in 2017. Earlier in February, Google announced on Twitter an upcoming software update that activated the microphone, making the Nest Guard responsive to voice commands and Google Assistant technology. The tweet startled users, who were never told the system could pick up sound.

      “Have I had a device with a hidden microphone in my house this entire time?” one user asked.

      Missing from the Nest account’s response was the word yes, but to be clear: Yes.

      “We included a microphone in the Nest Guard with features such as the Google Assistant in mind. It has not been used up to this point, and you can enable or disable it at any time using the Nest app,” the company wrote on Twitter.

    • Report: Code of Practice for the use of personal information in political campaigns: ORG response

      Activity, which relates to elections or referenda, in support of, or against, a political party, a referendum campaign or a candidate standing for election.

    • Facebook Grew Too Big to Care About Privacy

      Two years ago, a Yale Law School student published what became an influential paper about how antitrust law should apply to one of America’s superstar technology companies, which don’t fit the conventional mold of Standard Oil monopolists.

      Now, another academic paper from a former advertising technology executive and Yale law graduate is arguing that Facebook Inc. abuses its power. Titled in part “The Antitrust Case Against Facebook,” its author, Dina Srinivasan, offers a deeply researched analysis of Facebook’s pattern of backtracking on the user data collection that allowed the company to become a star. Once Facebook was powerful and popular, Srinivasan says, it was able to overrun objections about its data-harvesting practices.

    • Report: Apps are sharing sensitive data with Facebook without informing users

      The Journal found 11 apps with tens of millions of users among them that were sharing the information with the social network, with little to no disclosure to its users.

    • Huawei Frightens Europe’s Data Protectors. America Does, Too

      As the U.S. pushes ahead with the “Cloud Act” it enacted about a year ago, Europe is scrambling to curb its reach. Under the act, all U.S. cloud service providers from Microsoft and IBM to Amazon — when ordered — have to provide American authorities data stored on their servers regardless of where it’s housed. With those providers controlling much of the cloud market in Europe, the act could potentially give the U.S. the right to access information on large swaths of the region’s people and companies.

    • California Data Privacy Proposal May Give Law Tough New Teeth

      The strongest data privacy law in the country may be about to get sharper teeth, and lobbyists representing the tech industry think it’s a disastrous idea.

      Companies that amass user data could be the target of mass class-action litigation from California consumers if they’re accused of violating the California Consumer Privacy Act, under a proposed amendment to the law filed Feb. 22.

      The measure would allow consumers to sue such companies, including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., for monetary damages should they be accused of breaking the law. If approved, the measure would dramatically raise the stakes of adhering to the statute and shape the conversation around federal regulations being considered by Congress.

    • Facebook is shuttering its Onavo VPN app over teen privacy scandal

      Last month, it was revealed that Facebook was targeting teenagers with a ‘market research’ app that offered $20 per month in exchange for allowing it to intercept web traffic and hoover up the data.

      Onavo, purchased by Facebook in 2013, was at the heart of the app, enabling web traffic to be redirected through Facebook servers, and now Facebook has decided that the jig is up.

      The VPN app will be shut down at a later date, but will immediately cease being used as a source for data mining. Questions had been asked about why it was such a data hog long before the truth came out.

  • Civil Rights/Policing