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02.06.19

Links 6/2/2019: Vivaldi Browser 2.3, Wine Staging 4.1, IPFire 2.21, Snapcraft 3.1

Posted in News Roundup at 2:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • System76′s Refreshed “Darter Pro” Linux Laptop Is Now Available for Sale

      Announced last week, System76′s refreshed “Darter Pro” Linux laptop is now available for sale with improved battery life and updated components.
      The Darter Pro 2019 laptop is finally here to address the shortcomings of the previous model. It features a larger, long-lasting battery, smaller bezels, and a tactile, multi-color backlit chicklet keyboard, as well as upgraded internals to make it faster and more reliable while on the go. The extra battery life makes it perfect laptop for remote workers and travellers.

      “The Darter Pro was tested under a variety of conditions, including video, music, email, writing via the cloud, and online messaging programs. On average, the battery lasted about 7 hours. Customers have been requesting improved battery life for quite some time, so the company is confident that the Darter Pro will be a coveted option among those who prefer to work unplugged,” said System76.

    • New System76 Darter Pro Now Shipping At $999+

      Last week System76 announced the new Darter Pro laptop with Intel 8th Gen CPUs while today the ordering process has opened up on this latest 15-inch laptop from the Linux-focused vendor. They hadn’t revealed pricing information last week but we now know that information.

      The System76 Darter Pro pricing starts out at $999 USD for this 15-inch 1080p laptop when going for an Intel Core i5 8265U processor, and 8GB of RAM, 120GB SSD. If opting for the Intel Core i7 8565U, 16GB of RAM, and 250GB SSD, the pricing is $1368 USD.

    • System76 ‘Darter Pro’ laptop finally here — support the Linux community and buy it!

      At the end of last month, BetaNews shared with you that System76 was preparing to release a refreshed version of its Darter Pro laptop. This computer features a large 15.6-inch display and a rather thin and light body. There are many useful ports too, such as USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, USB-A, gigabit Ethernet, an SD Card slot, and both HDMI and DisplayPort for video. If you are a Linux user, the new Darter Pro really looks like a home run. System76 even managed to fit a number pad on the right side of the keyboard — a much desired feature for many consumers.

      We reported that the laptop would become available for purchase on February 5, and thankfully, that proved to be correct. Yes, dear Linux users, you can finally buy the new Darter Pro. Pricing is very competitive, starting at just $999! Best of all, by purchasing a System76 computer, you are supporting a longtime contributor to the Linux community.

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Going Linux #362 · Run your business on Linux – Part 3

      In this episode, we thought we’d provide some more ideas around software for every business. Accounting software. If you are running a small business and you are doing the bookkeeping yourself, you will likely quickly run into the need for ensuring that you keep track of your incoming revenue, your outgoing expenses, payroll, and other things related to money. Having to license or purchase accounting software, especially for starting businesses, is expensive. This episode will provide with a few things you can try out at no risk and at no charge to keep track of your business (and personal) finances.

    • LHS Episode #270: Logbook of the World Deep Dive

      Welcome to the latest episode of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts take a deep dive into the ARRL application Logbook of the World. It’s a logging application with two components: the online database and statistical analysis tools at the ARRL site and the TrustedQSL cross-platform application for managing certificates, encrypting and uploading QSO data and more. LHS takes a look at all of its features, caveats, uses and more. Thank you for listening.

    • Clean up After Yourself | LINUX Unplugged 287

      Why FOSDEM might be the quintessential community event, and our thoughts after playing with Pi-Hole.

      Plus community news for everyone’s favorite video player, GNOME Shell gets a major speed boost, and why cryptocurrency might truly be dead.

      Special Guests: Alan Pope, Brent Gervais, Daniel Fore, and Martin Wimpress.

  • Kernel Space

    • There’s Finally A GUI For Manipulating Intel CPU Voltages Under Linux

      On Windows there is no shortage of GUI configuration utilities for tweaking Intel CPUs around overclocking and under-volting, but less so on Linux with no official utility/library. But there is now an unofficial GUI project for manipulating Intel CPU voltages from the Linux desktop.

      Independent developer Luke Chadwick has developed a GUI for under-volting newer Intel CPUs on Linux in order to tweak the core/cache voltage, a GPU voltage if having onboard graphics, and uncore voltage.

    • GreenWithEnvy, an impressive tool for overclocking NVIDIA GPUs

      As always, my love for the open source and Linux community continues. When a company doesn’t do something officially, someone else comes along and does it. GreenWithEnvy is a recent one, to allow NVIDIA GPU owners to tinker with their hardware.

    • ARM Mali 400/500 DRM Driver Volleyed Out Again, Trying To Get Into The Mainline Kernel

      The open-source ARM Mali space certainly seems to be heating up this year… The Panfrost Gallium3D driver was just merged to mainline Mesa days ago as developers work on bringing up an open-source 3D stack for the Mali Midgard and Bifrost graphics processors. For those with older Mali 400/500 series hardware, the separate Lima-revived effort has sent out their latest patch series for trying to get their DRM driver into the kernel.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Sway 1.0 RC1 Rolls Out With Wayland Clipboard Managers, Swayidle/Swaylock Changes

        The big Sway 1.0 Wayland compositor release is upon us with now having weekly release candidates until the code-base is deemed stable enough to officially ship.

        Sway is the i3-inspired Wayland compositor that has become very feature-rich and on-par with the likes of the GNOME Shell and KDE Wayland sessions. Sway 1.0 adds support for a variety of additional Wayland extensions, removed NVIDIA EGLStreams support, multi-seat improvements, multi-GPU support, relative pointer handling, video capture support, Wayland tablet support, and a plethora of other improvements. With Sway 1.0 it continues building upon its WLROOTS project as a shared Wayland support library.

      • mesa 19.0.0-rc2

        Hi list,

        This is the announcement for mesa 19.0.0-rc2.

        It’s been a pretty slow first week for 19.0, most of the fixes here are for the
        tarball itself. There’s also a few fixes for vc4, anv, intel shared code, radv,
        radeonsi, core mesa, v3d, st/mesa, and the dri3 loader.

        As always, please test and report any issues encountered,
        Dylan

      • Mesa 19.0-RC2 Released With Intel Transform Feedback Fix, Freedreno & VC4/V3D Fixes

        Following last week’s code branching / feature freeze for Mesa 19.0, the second release candidate is now available for testing of this latest quarterly feature release.

      • AMDGPU Fixes For Linux 5.0 Include FreeSync/VRR Properties For eDP Displays

        The latest batch of AMDGPU graphics driver fixes were sent out on Tuesday for the Linux 5.0 kernel, including a fix for the FreeSync/VRR support that was merged at the start of this cycle.

        The AMDGPU fixes for Linux 5.0 are mostly small and mundane fixes, as they should be at this stage of the kernel cycle with Linux 5.0-rc6 coming out on Sunday. But one change catching our attention is a fix for missing FreeSync properties on eDP.

      • Radeon ROCm 2.1 Bringing RocTracer Preview, Improved DGEMM Performance

        It looks like AMD is about to release ROCm 2.1 for the Radeon Open Compute stack.

        Just prior to closing out 2018 they released the big ROCm 2.0 update while now ROCm 2.1 is being prepared for release based upon public Git activity by AMD developers.

      • Zink Is Moving Ahead In 2019 As Mesa-Based OpenGL-Over-Vulkan

        Remember Zink, that project started a few months back for implementing OpenGL over Vulkan using Mesa/Gallium3D? While there may have not been too much to report on it recently, that side project by Collabora developer Erik Faye-Lund does continue to progress and currently allows for OpenGL 3.0 to be implemented and run over the Intel and Radeon Vulkan drivers.

        Zink started off with basic OpenGL 2.1 and since then has advanced to OpenGL 3.0 while a lot more implementation work is ahead before it could reach the OpenGL 4.x extensions. The performance has also continued to improve but more can be done on the optimization front as well.

    • Benchmarks

      • 62 Benchmarks, 12 Systems, 4 Compilers: Our Most Extensive Benchmarks Yet Of GCC vs. Clang Performance

        After nearly two weeks of benchmarking, here is a look at our most extensive Linux x86_64 compiler comparison yet between the latest stable and development releases of the GCC and LLVM Clang C/C++ compilers. Tested with GCC 8, GCC 9.0.1 development, LLVM Clang 7.0.1, and LLVM Clang 8.0 SVN were tests on 12 distinct 64-bit systems and a total of 62 benchmarks run on each system with each of the four compilers… Here’s a look at this massive data set for seeing the current GCC vs. Clang performance.

        With the GCC 9 and Clang 8 releases coming up soon, I’ve spent the past two weeks running this plethora of compiler benchmarks on a range of new and old, low and high-end systems within the labs. The 12 chosen systems aren’t meant for trying to compare the performance between processors but rather a diverse look at how Clang and GCC perform on varying Intel/AMD microarchitectures. For those curious about AArch64 and POWER9 compiler performance, that will come in a separate article with this testing just looking at the Linux x86_64 compiler performance.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Chakra: Frameworks 5.53.0, Plasma 5.14.4, and Applications 18.12.0 by KDE are now available

        Most of our mirrors take 12-24 hours to synchronize with the central repositories on the origin server. Use the mirror status web page to see when your mirror of choice last synchronized.

        Run sudo pacman -Syu to update and upgrade your system. It should be safe to answer y (for yes) to any question about replacing installed packages with new ones. If you have any issues updating or upgrading, reply to this topic with the complete input and output in English, i.e. run LC_ALL=C sudo pacman -Syu.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Black is Back: GNOME Shell Ditches Translucent Top Panel

        Prepare to bid bye-bye to the fancy translucent top panel in the GNOME Shell desktop environment.

        GNOME developers have removed the eye-candy see-through panel effect from the default Shell theme’s code, citing outstanding (and unaddressed) issues with text legibility.

        “Nobody stepped up to address those issues in two years, so revert back to the fully opaque top bar”, GNOME dev Florian Müllner explains in a commit.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC 9.0 released with v18 Kodi media center

        A new version of the Linux distro built around Kodi media center has been released this week in the form of LibreELEC (Leia) 9.0.0 which is now available to download and install. The GNU/Linux-based operating system has been specifically designed to put Kodi front and center and is perfect for those projects where you would only like to run Kodi.

        The release follows on from the roll-out of Kodi 18 “Leia” last week which brought with it some major improvements to Blu-ray support, Kodi Retroplayer and DRM support that (equipped with an appropriate add-on) allows Kodi to unofficially stream content from services like Netflix and Amazon.

        “Kodi v18 brings initial support for retro gaming and the ability to play hundreds of retro games directly from within Kodi. We provide a large number of emulator cores from our add-on repo, but no games (bring your own) although there are a couple of open source test game add-ons (2048 etc.) in our repo. In this first iteration of Kodi retro gaming support the user interface can be a little confusing and we still need to write-up some HOWTO guides for the wiki. Kodi developers are working on a game database (for Kodi v19) which will make the process of managing and using game ROMs easier in the future.”

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 127 released

        The first update of the year and it is packed with loads of new features, many many performance improvements as well as some security fixes. This is quite a long change log, but please read through it. It is worth it!

      • IPFire Hardened Linux Firewall Updated with Squid 4.5, Performance Improvements

        IPFire 2.21 Core Update 127 is now available as IPFire’s first update in 2019, bringing numerous updated components and various improvements. The biggest change is the addition of the Squid 4.5 web proxy software, which brings interface changes with it to make its configuration easier, as well as other improvements.

        “One of the major changes is that we have removed a control that allowed to configure the number of child processes for each redirector (e.g. URL filter, Update Accelerator, etc.). This is now statically configured to the number of processors,” explains Michael Tremer in the release notes.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux’s February 2019 Snapshot Is Now Available with Linux Kernel 4.20.6

        The Arch Linux 2019.02.01 ISO snapshot is now available for download, powered by the Linux 4.20.6 kernel and packed with all the updates released through the official archives of the GNU/Linux distribution since January 1st, 2019, when the Arch Linux 2019.01.01 snapshot was launched.

        This is the second Arch Linux snapshot to use a kernel from the latest Linux 4.20 series. Linux kernel 4.20.6 is included by default in the Arch Linux 2019.02.01 image, which means that you’ll get better support for the latest hardware, as well as a more secured operating system after installation.

      • SystemRescueCd Rescue & Recovery Linux Distribution Is Now Based on Arch Linux

        SystemRescueCd is the perfect tool for administrating or repairing your Linux or Windows computers. It comes with numerous handy utilities like Partimage, parted, FSArchiver, and many others to help you backup or restore your system after a crash, create and edit disk partitions, as well as to repair boot partitions.

        The latest version, SystemRescueCd 6.0, is out now and it’s a major release that rebased the bootable Linux system rescue disk on the widely used Arch Linux operating system instead of Gentoo, which was used since the beginning of the project. Therefore, SystemRescueCd is now built using archiso and its dependencies.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Containerized desktop applications with podman

        Everybody is talking about containers these days, however most of the discussion revolves around use cases in the context of server applications. Today I’d like to discuss a maybe slightly unusual, but nonetheless interesting use case for containers: running Linux desktop applications within a container with otherwise unchanged look & feel. To add some spice to the mix, I will explain this at the example of podman (I could equally well have chosen docker, but I like true open source software).

      • The SUSECON 2019 Session Catalog is Now Live!

        With over 150 sessions and 12 certification exams to choose from, create your own experience, learn about the topics most important to you, and get the certifications you need. Spots are limited per session, so be sure to grab your seat now.

      • It’s time you think about upgrading, from SUSE Enterprise Storage 4 to 5.5

        SUSE Enterprise Storage 5.5 has been available since October 2, 2018. Many of our customers have migrated to the new release and many are evaluating it. If you’re currently running SUSE Enterprise Storage 4 you really need to start thinking about upgrading. There were many new features added and improvements made in release 5.5. Upgrading will also prepare you for future releases.

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 1 Beta 3 is ready for testing!

        Here comes Beta 3 of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 1…

      • SUSE Enterprise Storage 6 Public Beta is available!

        SUSE Enterprise Storage 6 will be a major version, so this is an opportunity for changes in our products. Here are the list of changes to the core components in SUSE Enterprise Storage 6 Beta…

      • Nordicmind is THE new SUSE Distribution Partner in Finland and Norway

        We just signed the contract and as of now our new partner, value added distributor Nordicmind is the new distribution partner for SUSE in Finland and Norway. Nordicmind offers the whole SUSE portfolio that helps enterprises through the demands of digital transformation with open source innovation and expertise in software-defined infrastructure, application delivery and cloud technologies. Nordicmind will also provide a full range of support and expert services to SUSE products for resellers.

        Esko Wessman, CEO at Nordicmind says: “Innovative open source solutions from SUSE offer an ideal addition to our primary focus on datacenter infrastructure, availability and security solutions, as well as in DevOps, cloud technologies and centralized management and enterprise open source. Open Source is the main driver for innovation such as AI, ML or IoT and we concentrate only on the best vendors, products and solutions that meet the requirements of modern IT. We have seen big demand for SUSE solutions and we are now happy to help customers from multiple different segments on this – and building successful channel for SUSE!”

    • Fedora

      • Fedora’s FESCo Approves Of A “Sane” Approach For Counting Fedora Users Via DNF

        Monday’s weekly Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee approved of a means for the DNF package manager to integrate some user counting capabilities as long as it’s a “sane” approach and not the UUID-driven proposal originally laid out.

        Originally the plan was to come up with a new UUID identifier system just for counting Fedora users so those in the Fedora project and at Red Hat can have a better idea for the number of Fedora users and other insights. But the concept of having a unique identifier for Fedora users wasn’t well received, even if it was trying to not track users or reveal other personal information.

      • 4 cool new projects to try in COPR for February 2019

        COPR is a collection of personal repositories for software that isn’t carried in Fedora. Some software doesn’t conform to standards that allow easy packaging. Or it may not meet other Fedora standards, despite being free and open source. COPR can offer these projects outside the Fedora set of packages. Software in COPR isn’t supported by Fedora infrastructure or signed by the project. However, it can be a neat way to try new or experimental software.

        Here’s a set of new and interesting projects in COPR.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian build helpers: dh dominates

        It’s been a while since someone did this. Back in 2009, Joey Hess made a talk at Debconf 9 about debhelper and mentioned in his slides (PDF) that it was used in most Debian packages.

      • Molly de Blanc: Free software activities (January, 2019)

        January was another quiet month for free software. This isn’t to say I wasn’t busy, but merely that there were fewer things going on, with those things being more demanding of my attention. I’m including some more banal activities both to pad out the list, but to also draw some attention to the labor that goes into free software participation.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Snapcraft 3.1

            snapcraft 3.1 is now available on the stable channel of the Snap Store. This is a new minor release building on top of the foundations laid out from the snapcraft 3.0 release.

            If you are already on the stable channel for snapcraft then all you need to do is wait for the snap to be refreshed.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What blockchain and open source communities have in common

    One of the characteristics of blockchains that gets a lot of attention is how they enable distributed trust. The topic of trust is a surprisingly complicated one. In fact, there’s now an entire book devoted to the topic by Kevin Werbach.

    But here’s what it means in a nutshell. Organizations that wish to work together, but do not fully trust one another, can establish a permissioned blockchain and invite business partners to record their transactions on a shared distributed ledger. Permissioned blockchains can trace assets when transactions are added to the blockchain. A permissioned blockchain implies a degree of trust (again, trust is complicated) among members of a consortium, but no single entity controls the storage and validation of transactions.

  • NetLogo for scientific research: Modeling

    NetLogo is an open source, cross-platform tool that enables users to model a wide variety of natural and social phenomena (including biology, chemistry, computer science, economics, physics, psychology, art, and much more). It’s a great way to learn how to develop small, agent-based model simulations and explore how large and small changes can affect an environment.

    NetLogo runs on a Java virtual machine and uses a modified version of the Logo programming language, so a lot of people will be familiar with its terminologies, such as turtles and lists. There are two versions available: NetLogo Desktop, a downloadable version that runs on Linux, MacOS, and Windows, and NetLogo Web.

  • Odoo v13 Roadmap

    Firstly, you will be able to purchase more services directly from your Odoo database that’s what Odoo call in-app purchase and it will help you in saving much time because you will be able to integrate it with third-party vendors and directly share the information with them. You will also save time because the payment is directly made from Odoo.

    The In-App purchase is already there from Odoo v11, so we can expect a lot more services in the coming version like Odoo Bank, where the user can lend some money from Odoo.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Stop texting yourself links. With Send Tabs there’s a better way.

        It’s 2019 friends. We don’t have to keep emailing and texting ourselves links. It’s fussy to copy and paste on a mobile device. It’s annoying to have to switch between apps to get information where you need it. The solution? Send Tabs which lets you instantly send tabs between devices without having to leave the browser.

      • Firefox Front-End Performance Update #12

        Well, here I am again – apologizing about a late update. Lots of stuff has been going on performance-wise in the Firefox code-base, and I’ll just be covering a small section of it here.

        You might also notice that I changed the title of the blog series from “Firefox Performance Update” to “Firefox Front-end Performance Update”, to reflect that the things the Firefox Front-end Performance team is doing to keep Firefox speedy (though I’ll still add a grab-bag of other performance related work at the end).

        So what are we waiting for? What’s been going on?

      • The Mozilla Blog: Does Your Sex Toy Use Encryption?

        To be more specific: use encryption and strong passwords.

        As the Internet of Things expands, the most intimate devices are coming online. Sex toys and beds now connect to the internet. These devices collect, store, and often share our personal data.

        Connected devices in the bedroom can amp up romance. But they also have the possibility to expose the most intimate parts of our lives. Consumers have the right know if their latest device has privacy and security features that meet their standards.

  • Databases

    • Max Transaction ID in Firebird

      Firebird 3.0.x introduced 48-bit internal transaction IDs that are publicly (via API and MON$ tables) represented as 64-bit numbers. This makes the new limit roughly equal to 2.8*10^14 transactions, later it could be extended up to the 2^63 limit.

  • LibreOffice

    • OpenOffice Vulnerable to Remote Code Execution, LibreOffice Patched [Ed: How did a macro issue (malicious payload) become "Remote Code Execution" in FUD sites like these?]

      OpenOffice is exposed to a remote code execution vulnerability that can be triggered using automated macro execution when users move the mouse over a maliciously crafted ODT document.

      The security issue affects all versions of OpenOffice, as well as all LibreOffice releases up to and including 6.0.6/6.1.2.1. The bug was patched by The Document Foundation in LibreOffice 6.0.7/6.1.3, after receiving a report from security researcher Alex Inführ.

    • RCE Flaw Found in LibreOffice for Windows and Linux, Users Must Update ASAP [Ed: Microsoft propagandist and liar Bogdan Popa now spreading lies, again, in the "Linux" section of the site. They exaggerate a pretty minor 'threat' (macro). Popa did even worse. Softpedia is being ruined by longtime Microsoft shills.]
    • LibreOffice 6.3 and Sifr

      Tomorrow LibreOffice 6.2 will be released. Time to give you some information what will come in LibreOffice 6.3.

    • LibreOffice QA Report: January 2018

      688 bugs have been reported by 351 people.

  • Programming/Development

    • Jussi Pakkanen: On possible futures of Meson

      At FOSDEM I talked to a bunch of people about an issue that has been brought up a couple of times recently, specifically that of integrating Rust in existing code bases. Some projects are looking into converting parts (or presumably eventually everything) of their code to Rust. A requirement of this is that for some time there need to be both Rust and C or whatever language within one project at the same time. (The rest of this blog post will use Rust as an example, but the same issues are present in all modern programming languages that have the same build system/dependency setup. In practice this means almost all of them.)

      This would not be such a problem except that Rust by itself has pretty much nothing in the standard library and you need to get many crates via Cargo for even fairly simple programs. Several people do not seem particularly thrilled about this for obvious reasons, but have given up on this battle because “in practice it’s impossible to develop in Rust without using Cargo” or words to that effect. As the maintainer of Meson, they obviously come to me with the integration problem. Meson does support compiling Rust directly, but it does not go through Cargo.

      This is where I’m told to “just call Cargo” instead. There are two major problems with this. The first one is technical and has to do with the fact that having two different build systems and dependency managers in one build directory does not really work. We’re not going to talk about this issue in this blog post, interested people can find writings about this issue using their favorite bingoogle. The second issue is non-technical, and the more serious one.

    • RustPython Is Implementing Python 3 Within Rust

      RustPython is a new Python 3.x implementation written within the Rust programming language.

      Developers Windel Bouwman and Shing Lyu are leading the charge to re-implement the Python programming language within Rust. This Python interpreter is entirely Rust-based and for implementing Python standard library modules are looking at leveraging existing Rust crates.

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #354 (Feb. 5, 2019)
    • Red Hat introduces first Kubernetes-native IDE

      CodeReady is based on the open-source Eclipse Che IDE. It also includes formerly proprietary features from Red Hat’s Codenvy acquisition.

      This new IDE is optimized for Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat’s Docker/Kubernetes platform and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Red Hat claims CodeReady Workspaces is the first IDE, which runs inside a Kubernetes cluster. There’s been other IDEs, which can work with Kubernetes — notably JetBrain’s IntelliJ IDEA with a plugin — but CodeReady appears to be the first native Kubernetes IDE.

      With CodeReady Workspaces, you can manage your code, its dependencies and artifacts inside OpenShift Kubernetes pods, and containers. By contrast, with older IDEs, you can only take advantage of Kubernetes during the final phase of testing and deployment. CodeReady Workspaces lets you develop in OpenShift from the start. Thus, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of moving applications from your development platforms to production systems.

    • Functional Programming in Python

      Functional Programming is a popular programming paradigm closely linked to computer science’s mathematical foundations. While there is no strict definition of what constitutes a functional language, we consider them to be languages that use functions to transform data.

      Python is not a functional programming language but it does incorporate some of its concepts alongside other programming paradigms. With Python, it’s easy to write code in a functional style, which may provide the best solution for the task at hand.

    • Getting Started with JupyterLab
    • Python NumPy array tutorial
    • Python RegEx
    • Webinar: “Demystifying Python’s async and await Keywords” with Michael Kennedy
    • Python Developers Survey 2018 Results: Learn about the community
    • The Ultimate List of Data Science Podcasts
    • Snek-Duino: Snek with Arduino I/O

      At the suggestion of a fellow LCA attendee, I’ve renamed my mini Python-like language from ‘Newt’ to ‘Snek’. Same language, new name. I’ve made a bunch of progress in the implementation and it’s getting pretty usable.

    • Further modifying the enemy class

      In the previous article, we have successfully created the animation effect for the enemy object, in this article, we will add in the switch direction method which will switch the direction of the enemy image from facing left to facing right after a certain time period and then continue to switch back and forth. In order to achieve the previous mentioned effect we only need to further edit the enemy class. We will move all the enemy object surface creation processes to the enemy class and only leave a small amount of image rendering codes on the enemy sprite class.

    • This Week in Rust 272
    • Relative vs Absolute Imports in Python
    • PYTHON – FLASK MYSQL CONNECTION
    • January 2019 report: LTS, Mailman 3, Vero 4k, Kubernetes, Undertime, Monkeysign, oh my
    • Building SaaS in January

      We spent some weeks in December building a 3rd party integration into College Conductor (the SaaS project that the stream focuses on).

      This episode was the bow on top to finish off the integration.

    • Move the enemy object with pygame

      Hi, here is another quick post on the latest pygame project which I have developed lately. In the previous article, we have created an animated enemy object which can switch direction using the timer control. The timer control is only for demonstration purpose only, during the game the enemy will only switch direction if it hits any obstacle in its path.

    • Python Brasil – People > Technology
    • Coding in Python 01 – Introduction and Getting Started
    • Coding in Python 02 – The Python Shell
    • Coding in Python 03 – More about Strings
    • Create your first Python web crawler using Scrapy

Leftovers

  • Today’s your last chance to save old Flickr photos from an untimely death

    February 5th, 2019 — is the day that Flickr will stop offering 1TB of free storage. Instead, the company will only let users store 1,000 photos for free. And if you’ve got more than 1,000 photos, the company will start deleting them.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Stripping Social Programs Leads to Lower Life Expectancy

      What does it mean for a state to provide every plausible protection it can to the population it governs? Many argue it means basic human rights such as food and water, while others advocate for more, including universal health care or a universal living wage. Reasonably then, we can expect that the primary job of the state is to ensure the safety of all citizens.

      When then does a governing body become responsible for an alarming number of overdose and suicide deaths of the citizens it is meant to protect? This is the moral, political and legal gray area the United States is currently traversing. There is little discussion of the lasting effects the state continues to have on the overall health and livelihood of millions of individuals dealing with addiction and mental health issues.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently demonstrated that the overall life expectancy nationally has declined for the second time in three years. The reason for this decline? Suicides increased 3.7 percent in 2017 and drug overdose deaths increased 9.6 percent. Overdose deaths attributed specifically to synthetic opioids other than methadone increased 45 percent. Moreover, drug overdose deaths in 2017 surpassed, even at their peaks, deaths due to traffic accidents, HIV and gun violence. Increases in suicide and drug overdose deaths are inextricably linked and should be discussed in terms of the unwillingness of the state to protect millions of citizens. One in five Americans experience mental health issues and one in five youth (age 13 to 18) are diagnosed with a severe mental disorder in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

    • As Energy for Medicare for All Soars, Pelosi Aide Reportedly Assured Insurance Industry That Democratic Leaders Remain ‘Allies’

      According to The Intercept, Wendell Primus—the top healthcare adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—reassured Blue Cross Blue Shield executives during a private meeting shortly after the November midterm elections that the Democratic leadership “had strong reservations about single-payer healthcare and was more focused on lowering drug prices.”

      “Primus detailed five objections to Medicare for All and said that Democrats would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer healthcare,” reported The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, citing anonymous sources familiar with the meeting. “Primus pitched the insurers on supporting Democrats on efforts to shrink drug prices, specifically by backing a number of measures that the pharmaceutical lobby is opposing.”

    • TRIPS Debated As WHO Board Reaches Agreement On Universal Health Coverage

      The resolution, cosponsored by a large number of countries and adopted by the WHO Executive Board on 1 February, underlines the slow progress in achieving universal health coverage in many countries, and calls for WHO members to promote access to affordable, safe, effective, and quality medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies.

      The resolution also asks member states to support research and development on medicines and vaccines for communicable and non-communicable diseases, including neglected tropical diseases, “particularly those that primarily affect developing countries.” It further calls for “needs driven, evidence-based, guided by the core principles of affordability, effectiveness, efficiency and equity, and considered a shared responsibility.”

      According to the WHO, universal health coverage means “ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.”

      The resolution, still a Conference paper [pdf], was adopted by the Executive Board, which met from 24 January to 1 February. It has to be adopted by the World Health Assembly, taking place from 20-28 May.

    • The Right-Wing Attack on Medicare-for-All

      One thing you can say about Karl Rove: the guy pretty much telegraphs his intention to lie, distort and just make sh*t up in an ends-trump-means effort to win at all costs.

      For keeping Republicans in the game even as their racist white, male, uber-Christian, know-nothing political base keeps shrinking, that is an essential tactic — one Rove perfected in the seemingly impossible task of making George W. Bush into a viable candidate for Texas governor and later president of the US.

      Rove applied his dissembling skills in a Jan. 31 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, a section of that Murdoch/News Corp.-owned rag noted for its fact-challenged political screeds.

      “Medicare for All” will terrify voters,” Rove predicted, in a swipe at the first campaign outing of Democratic presidential candidate wannabe (and pretend progressive) Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) during which she enthusiastically endorsed progressive Democrats’ most winning issue — expanding Medicare to cover everyone. Harris “made her party’s left-wing base happy this week,” Rove wrote, “but in doing so, she might have made Democrats less attractive to general-election voters.”

      Rove then proceeded to trot out one lie after another — from the thoroughly discredited “research study” of Koch-brothers-funded former Social Security public trustee Charles Blahous which claimed Medicare for All would cost $32.6 trillion over the next 10 years, to a poll by the private health insurer-linked Kaiser Family Foundation purporting to show that popular support for Medicare for all, while high now, would collapse “when people hear more about its possible effects.”

    • “From the Man Who Ripped Thousands of Children Away From Their Parents:” Trump’s “Loathsome” Abortion Lie Sparks Outrage

      Noting the cruel irony of a president who condemned the pro-choice movement for advocating for abortion rights months after he tore thousands of children away from their parents at the southern U.S. border, women’s rights groups on Tuesday denounced President Donald Trump’s demand that Congress move to ban abortions that take place late in pregnancy.

      In his State of the Union address, Trump first congratulated himself for including a paid family leave plan in his budget, casting himself as a defender of families—and then ominously suggested that the pro-choice movement had attacked families and children in recent weeks by defending reproductive rights.

      “There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days,” the president said, alluding to New York’s newly passed Reproductive Health Act and a proposal in Virginia to expand abortion rights for women in their third trimester of pregnancy.

  • Security

    • New Backdoor Targets Linux Servers [Ed: It is not "back door"; it's malware]

      Dubbed ‘SpeakUp’, the new Trojan targets known vulnerabilities in six different Linux distributions and attempts to propagate internally and beyond via remote code execution vulnerabilities. The malware also has the ability to infect Mac devices.

      [...]

      For initial infection, the attacks target a recently disclosed vulnerability in ThinkPHP (CVE-2018-20062), a Chinese-made PHP framework highly popular among developers in the country.

    • Attack Campaign Targets Linux Servers to Install New SpeakUp Trojan [Ed: The serial liars/fabricators from ZDNet/CBS called it "back doors"; this one labels it correctly: a Trojan]
    • Linux servers targeted by SpeakUp backdoor that installs miners [Ed: No, it is not a back door. It's malicious software installed on already-compromised systems.]
    • Outlaw Shellbot infects Linux servers to mine for Monero [Ed: Here goes CBS site ZDNet again, pretending that already-compromised GNU/Linux boxes (probably not patched or badly administered) are going to eat your family]

      Linux machines are being abused in Outlaw cryptojacking attacks.

    • Password Reuse Remains a Barrier to Safer Internet Use
    • Have a safer internet

      The digital medium is the place where we live our today. It has become our world. However, as compare to the physical world to this world and its rules are unfamiliar to us. Also, adding to that with the advent of social media we are putting our lives, every detail of it in and at the domain of social media. We are then letting governments, industrial lords, political parties, snoops, and the society to judge, to see and monitor us. We, the fragile, vulnerable us, do not have any other option but to watch our freedom, privacy vanishing. However, do we not have anything to save ourselves? Some basic ideas are the following which you can try to use in everyday computer/phone life:

    • RDP Servers Can Hack Client Devices: Researchers

      More than two dozen vulnerabilities have been discovered by security experts in popular implementations of the remote desktop protocol (RDP), including flaws that allow a malicious RDP server to hack a device running the client RDP software.

      RDP allows users to remotely connect to other devices on the network. The protocol was originally developed by Microsoft for Windows, but there are also several open source implementations that can be used on Linux and Unix systems.

      The FBI warned recently that attacks involving RDP have been on the rise in the past couple of years, fueled by RDP access sold on the dark web.

    • Enterprises Move (Slowly) Toward Stronger Cybersecurity, Research Shows [Ed: It's not research, it is self-promotional marketing from companies, some of which actively advocate back doors]
    • Chinese bank’s software chief jailed after finding way to withdraw US$1m in ‘free’ cash from ATMs

      Qin discovered the flaw in the system in 2016 and in November that year he inserted a few scripts in the banking system which he said would allow him to test the loophole without triggering an alert.

      For more than a year he made cash withdrawals of between 5,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan (US$740-US$2,965) from a dummy account the bank used to test its systems.

    • Programmer Steals $1 Million Cash By Exploiting ATM Loophole
    • Security updates for Wednesday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • 12-year-olds suspected of carrying knives could be jailed and banned from social media

      The UK Home Office announced Thursday that people suspected of carrying a blade could face orders to keep them off the streets, geographical limits and social media sanctions in a bid to prevent disputes among rival gangs.

    • ‘Take John Bolton to The Hague!’: Peace Activists Protest Outside National Security Advisor’s Home

      Peace activists with the group CODEPINK arrived at the home of National Security Advisor John Bolton early Tuesday morning to deliver a symbolic indictment for his participation in war crimes against the people of Venezuela, Palestine, Iran, and Iraq.

      A notorious neoconservative, Bolton held various positions under former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush—including ambassador to the United Nations—before being tapped by President Donald Trump.

      As one of Trump’s top advisers on foreign policy issues, he has played a key role in the current administration’s decisions, from ditching the Iran nuclear deal last summer to pushing for regime change in Venezuela, an effort which is ongoing.

      With police on the scene, the group chanted, “Take John Bolton to The Hague!” and “John Bolton is a war criminal.”

    • Death and Valor on an American Warship Doomed by its Own Navy: It’s the dead of night, and the USS Fitzgerald is on a secret mission to the South China Sea.

      A little after 1:30 a.m. on June 17, 2017, Alexander Vaughan tumbled from his bunk onto the floor of his sleeping quarters on board the Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald. The shock of cold, salty water snapped him awake. He struggled to his feet and felt a torrent rushing past his thighs.
      Around him, sailors were screaming. “Water on deck. Water on deck!” Vaughan fumbled for his black plastic glasses and strained to see through the darkness of the windowless compartment.
      Underneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, 12 miles off the coast of Japan, the tidy world of Berthing 2 had come undone. Cramped bunk beds that sailors called coffin racks tilted at crazy angles. Beige metal footlockers bobbed through the water. Shoes, clothes, mattresses, even an exercise bicycle careered in the murk, blocking the narrow passageways of the sleeping compartment.
      In the dim light of emergency lanterns, Vaughan glimpsed men leaping from their beds. Others fought through the flotsam to reach the exit ladder next to Vaughan’s bunk on the port side of the ship. Tens of thousands of gallons of seawater were flooding into the compartment from a gash that had ripped through the Fitzgerald’s steel hull like it was wrapping paper.
      As a petty officer first class, these were his sailors, and in those first foggy seconds Vaughan realized they were in danger of drowning.

      [...]

      At impact, the Crystal’s prow punched into another sleeping compartment, this one occupied by a single man: Cmdr. Bryce Benson, the 40-year-old captain of the Fitzgerald.

      Benson’s cabin lay high above the surface of the ocean, four decks above his sailors in Berthing 2. The Crystal had pierced the Fitzgerald’s hull right at the foot of Benson’s bed. It crushed together the bedroom and office of his stateroom like a wad of tinfoil.

      The collision jolted Benson awake. Metal ductwork had fallen on him. He was bleeding from the head. He tried to get up from his bed but could not. He was trapped, buried amid a tangle of steel and wires. He clutched the quilt his wife had sewn him, its blue and white squares forming the image of a warship.

      The cabin was cold and dark. He felt air rush past him. With a shock, Benson realized he was staring at the Pacific. The tear in his cabin’s wall had left Benson with a 140-degree view of dark water and dark sky. He could make out lights from the distant shore of Japan.

      He suspected the ship had been hit. He could hear the shouts and groans of his sailors.

      The captains of Navy warships are uniquely accountable in the modern American military. They have “absolute responsibility” for their vessels and face absolute blame when something goes wrong — whether they are asleep or even on board. In the case of a collision, no matter how minor, the consequences are usually severe: The captain is relieved of command.

      The outcome is common enough that captains joke with the young officers steering their ships. “In case anything goes wrong, call me so that I can see the end of my career.”

      Benson was determined not to be that captain. Just 20 hours earlier, he had set sail from the Fitzgerald’s home port in Yokosuka, Japan, after receiving last-minute orders to head for the South China Sea. Benson had ordered all sailors to report to the Fitzgerald at 6 a.m. to get an early start so he could squeeze in some training.

      The Fitzgerald didn’t wrap up the long day of drills until 11 p.m. The ship was moving through a strait between Japan’s Izu Peninsula and Oshima Island. It was roughly 20 miles wide and filled with scores of cargo vessels and fishing boats streaming into and out of Tokyo.

    • Corporate Titans Target Venezuela

      Ruling elites have united behind the Trump administration in its illegal, unjust and brutal attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Democrats and Republicans alike have fallen in line, revealing the degree to which the two parties march in lock step when the geopolitical prerogatives of the one percent are at stake. The governments of some 20 countries, including Canada, Britain, Spain, Germany, France, Australia, Brazil, Israel and Argentina, have all pledged fealty to the U.S. and its hand-picked puppet in Venezuela. The New York Times, champion of the “liberal” wing of the ruling rich, editorialized in support of the Trump administration’s transparent coup plotting on January 24 insisting, “the Trump administration is right to support Mr. Guaidó.” Pretend socialist and Democrat Bernie Sanders shed crocodile tears, decrying violence and economic disaster in Venezuela while failing to note his own government’s hand in creating those conditions. Sanders provides left cover for U.S. military intervention asserting, “The United States should support the rule of law” in Venezuela. To date, self-described “Democratic Socialist” Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has been silent on U.S. aggression in Venezuela.

      On the heels of a multi-year, evidence-free propaganda offensive denouncing Russia’s supposed interference in the 2016 U.S election, it is beyond ironic to see politicians, pundits and corporate media moguls cheer for the proven, documented and admitted interference by the U.S. in Venezuela. As reported by Al Jazeera, “On Venezuela, Democratic Party leaders are often hard to distinguish from their Republican counterparts…most, like Nancy Pelosi, have staked out openly pro-coup positions. And after two years stoking anti-Russia panic, MSNBC’s standard script offers little guidance to confused liberals seeking to triangulate a political position – Trump is for the coup but Russia is against it – what to do?”

    • Venezuela: The U.S.’s 68th Regime Change Disaster

      In his masterpiece, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II, William Blum, who died in December 2018, wrote chapter-length accounts of 55 U.S. regime change operations against countries around the world, from China (1945-1960s) to Haiti (1986-1994). Noam Chomsky’s blurb on the back of the latest edition says simply, “Far and away the best book on the topic.” We agree. If you have not read it, please do. It will give you a clearer context for what is happening in Venezuela today, and a better understanding of the world you are living in.

      Since Killing Hope was published in 1995, the U.S. has conducted at least 13 more regime change operations, several of which are still active: Yugoslavia; Afghanistan; Iraq; the 3rd U.S. invasion of Haiti since WWII; Somalia; Honduras; Libya; Syria; Ukraine; Yemen; Iran; Nicaragua; and now Venezuela.

      William Blum noted that the U.S. generally prefers what its planners call “low intensity conflict” over full-scale wars. Only in periods of supreme overconfidence has it launched its most devastating and disastrous wars, from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. After its war of mass destruction in Iraq, the U.S. reverted to “low intensity conflict” under Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war.

      Obama conducted even heavier bombing than Bush II, and deployed U.S. special operations forces to 150 countries all over the world, but he made sure that nearly all the bleeding and dying was done by Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis, Somalis, Libyans, Ukrainians, Yemenis and others, not by Americans. What U.S. planners mean by “low intensity conflict” is that it is less intense for Americans.

    • Bloody Canada: Cheerleading the Lima Group’s Plot to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela

      Canada has become the cheerleader of the Lima Group, an ad-hoc, self-appointed busybody group formed specifically to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela.

      Unable to get the OAS votes needed to agree to their nefarious plot, this is a group of governments with no official international standing, few democratic principles, most led by known discredited leaders spouting market ideology. Canada has allied itself throwing all of its diplomatic and economic support for a man who self-proclaimed himself president of Venezuela in a public plaza, violating the country’s constitution and all electoral rules. So much for the “respect for the rule of law” that the Canadian Foreign Minister, C. Freeland so frequently spouts.

    • The Mother of All Bombs: U.S. Foreign Policy

      Following the horrific destruction left in the wake of World War II, the United Nations in its seminal and founding document, the Charter of the United Nations, set out to prevent future wars among member nations. The Charter’s admonition against war was also voiced in the lessons learned from the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals in its condemnation of war: “starting or waging a war against a territorial integrity, political independence or sovereignty of a state, or violation of international treaties or agreements.” are crimes against peace and “makes all war crimes possible.”

      The few and the wealthy of many nations are no longer constrained by rules that categorize civilized and enlightened behavior toward other nations such as Venezuela and Iran. They’ve had many nations in their crosshairs and have met with much “success.” Their attacks against Venezuela’s sovereignty are the final nail in the coffin of the endless wars, and the preparation for war, that are now all the rage among the sycophants of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Venezuela is absolutely no threat to the U.S., and therefore, the U.N. Charter prohibits the kinds of dangerous and lethal idiocy that the Trump administration is now orchestrating against Venezuela. Readers need to consider that presidents are viewed in a positive light when they are seen as acting in a presidential manner, i.e., threaten or incite war against other nations. Recall the popularity of the newly elected Trump when he ordered the use of the mother of all bombs against Afghanistan. The bipartisan talking heads in the U.S. loved that theatre (“Trump Drops The Mother Of All Bombs On Afghanistan,” New Yorker, April 14, 2017).

    • The Latest Coup Attempt

      A lot has happened and we have learned more since last week when we wrote, Venezuela: What Activists Need To Know About The US-Led Coup. This article updates activists so we remain well-informed and can educate others in the face of a bi-partisan and corporate media narrative supporting the coup.

      This weekend, there were competing protests in Venezuela. At a protest celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Bolivarian Process, the day Hugo Chavez was sworn into office, tens of thousands watched as President Maduro called for National Assembly elections. The current Assembly has been in contempt of court since July 2016 and their decisions were nullified because they have refused to remove illegally-elected members. The defunct legislature’s president, Juan Guaido, appointed himself president of the country in violation of Venezuelan law and is under investigation.

      Some scenes at Guaido’s rallies were surreal. At the Caracas rally where Guaido spoke, the stage featured massive US and Israeli flags and in the crowd, there were pro-Trump puppets, one with Trump as the Statute of Liberty with a Christian cross around his neck. At another rally, opposition protesters removed the Venezuelan flag replacing it with the US flag.

    • The U.S. Helped Push Venezuela Into Chaos — and Trump’s Regime Change Policy Will Make Sure It Stays That Way

      Washington has been trying to topple Venezuela’s government for at least 17 years, but the Trump administration has taken a more openly aggressive tack than its predecessors. Last week, administration officials kicked their efforts into high gear by anointing their chosen successor to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros in advance of any coup d’etat. The 35-year-old Venezuelan member of Congress Juan Guaidó announced that he was now president, and the Trump administration, along with allied governments, immediately recognized him—in accordance with a previously arranged plan.

      It is clear that President Donald Trump’s goal is regime change; his administration is not even trying to hide it. And his allies, like Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have long made it obvious what they are after.

      It would be a terrible mistake to keep going down this road. Trump’s policies have only worsened the suffering of Venezuelans and made it almost impossible for the country to pull out of its prolonged economic depression and hyperinflation.

    • Ernie Fitzgerald: the Man Who Waged Bureaucratic Warfare on the Pentagon

      Ernie Fitzgerald, who died on January 31, always tried to be optimistic. “That’s where the Joint Chiefs will make their last stand when the taxpayers finally storm the building,” he would say, pointing to the hot dog stand at the center of the Pentagon’s inner greensward. The Chiefs would have richer territory to defend today – hot dogs have given way to an Au Bon Pain eatery, and defense spending has soared to heights even beyond the levels decried, and whenever possible sabotaged, by Ernie as he waged bureaucratic warfare from his guerrilla headquarters on the fifth floor.

      That was long after he had been sacked from his position as a senior air force cost management official on the direct orders of Richard Nixon (“get rid of that son of a bitch”) for testifying to congress that the air force was facing, accepting, and concealing a $2 billion cost overrun on the C-5A transport plane being built by Lockheed. Ernie sued Nixon and the cronies involved in the illegal firing, fought the case all the way to the supreme court, won his job back, sued again when the air force nevertheless refused him proper exercise of his responsibilities, and won again.

    • US Media Ignore—and Applaud—Economic War on Venezuela

      While internal errors also contributed to the nation’s problems, Russian said it’s likely that few countries in the world have ever suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under.

      While the New York Times and the Washington Post have lately professed profound (and definitely 100 percent sincere) concern for the welfare of Venezuelans, neither publication has ever referred to Fundalatin.

      Alfred de Zayas, the first UN special rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years, told the Independent (1/26/19) that US, Canadian and European Union “economic warfare” has killed Venezuelans, noting that the sanctions fall most heavily on the poorest people and demonstrably cause death through food and medicine shortages, lead to violations of human rights and are aimed at coercing economic change in a “sister democracy.”

      De Zayas’ UN report noted that sanctions “hind[er] the imports necessary to produce generic medicines and seeds to increase agricultural production.” De Zayas also cited Venezuelan economist Pasqualina Curcio, who reports that “the most effective strategy to disrupt the Venezuelan economy” has been the manipulation of the exchange rate. The rapporteur went on to suggest that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as possible crimes against humanity.

      Given that de Zayas is the first UN special rapporteur to report on Venezuela in more than two decades, one might expect the media to regard his findings as an important part of the Venezuela narrative, but his name does not appear in a single article ever published in the Post; the Times has mentioned him once, but not in relation to Venezuela.

    • Scott Cato on Venezuela: We support efforts by the EU to achieve peaceful resolution

      “As Greens we utterly deplore the economic mismanagement, violation of human rights and undermining of the rule of law witnessed under the Maduro regime. This has left the country to the brink and resulted in the exodus of three million citizens. However in responding we must not abandon key principles of international relations. We must uphold the right to self-determination and the right of the Venezuelan people to choose their own leader.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Multiple Parties (Including The Author Of The Law Governing PACER) Ask Court To Stop PACER’s Screwing Of Taxpayers

      The US government is either going to end up giving the public free access to court documents via PACER or find a group of legislators willing to extend a middle finger to the public by codifying the ridiculous fees charged to digitally access supposedly public documents.
      The government has been sued over PACER fees on multiple occasions. One lawsuit alleged that PACER is miscalculating page lengths on dockets, resulting in thousands, if not millions, of dollars of overcharges. Another lawsuit — currently awaiting review by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals — argues PACER fees are excessive and violate the law that governs PACER’s existence.
      The E-Government Act says PACER fee intake should not exceed the cost of running the system. But as Matt Ford points out for The New Republic, PACER has an incredible profit margin.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Caroline Lucas calls for Green New Deal as agriculture and waste emissions rise

      “It’s shocking that emissions from agriculture and waste actually increased in 2017 and transport’s contribution has inched down by just 2 per cent since 1990.

    • Harley-Davidson’s electric scooter concept is more exciting than its electric motorcycle
    • Living Like It Matters: Silver Linings in the Very Dark Cloud of Climate Catastrophe

      We actually do not have all the time in the world, so I am going to be bold. What you do after you finish reading this is your business and ultimately, that is exactly as it should be. We may all be facets of a larger Oneness, tiny sparks of the Divine dwelling in human form, but for the moment—allowing the potential truth of a larger connection–we are very clearly individuals, each with our own experience and outlook. We have our own ways of coping and to some extent, each of us charts a unique course through this life. We are often granted some choice about how we live and how we die, though most of us vastly prefer to focus on the former.

      Even there, we tend to let life happen, getting pulled from one urgency to another amusement without full consciousness of how we spend the time. “Where did the time go?” is a plaintive query, often-expressed. “Time flies!” When you are having fun, when you are busy, when you aren’t fully present. Life happens to us more often than most of us would like to admit. But still, we can always meet it–our life—where we find it today and choose differently how we experience the flow of time, how we interact with the circumstances we have been given and crafted for ourselves. Such is the beauty of being alive.

      As for dying—it is arguably the biggest taboo in first world cultures. Whereas nearly every shamanic tradition teaches students the imperative of carrying death close by at all times, we’re not so comfortable dealing with it in the West, and thus we lose out on a lot of life. Without death whispering in our ear, reminding us that our time is finite, it is easy to just let life happen. And then, time flies and we don’t know where it went.

    • Belgian Environment Minister Forced to Resign After Falsely Claiming Student-Led Climate Strikes Part of Ghostly Plot

      The Belgian Environment Minister from the nation’s Flanders region resigned from her post on Tuesday after sparking outrage by accusing students holding weekly climate strikes in Brussels and other cities of being puppets in an orchestrated plot.

      In addition to denigrating the motivations behind the protests, Joke Schauvliege claimed she was given intelligence from security officials that the demonstrations over the last five weeks—and attended by tens of thousands of students and others—were not “spontaneous actions” but something more nefarious.

    • Senator John Barrasso Parrots Koch Talking Points to Kill Electric Car Tax Credit

      This morning, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso published an op-ed in Fox News arguing for an end to the federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit and a new “annual highway user fee for alternative-fuel vehicles.”

      Barrasso, who cashed more money from Koch Industries in the 2018 election cycle than all but two other senators, and has taken in $45,400 from Koch Industries from 2013 to 2018, introduced a bill last October that would immediately amend the tax code to terminate the EV tax credit and calculate a new annual user fee for drivers of cars that aren’t powered by gasoline or diesel. A similar bill was introduced at the same time in the House by Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, a key Koch ally.

    • Louisiana and Isle de Jean Charles Tribe Seek to Resolve Differing Visions for Resettling ‘Climate Refugees’

      On January 24, Pat Forbes, executive director of the OCD, met with IDJC Chief Albert Naquin and local officials. “The door is back open to find common ground,” Chief Naquin told me after the meeting.

      At stake is the success of the first federally funded resettlement project meant as a template for coastal communities facing rising sea levels from climate change.

      Isle de Jean Charles, home of the IDJC Tribe, is a narrow island in the wetlands of south Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, about 80 miles southwest of New Orleans. Since 1955, the island has lost 98 percent of its land due to a combination of levee construction, coastal erosion, sinking land, rising seas, and damage from hurricanes, worsened by climate change. Only a 320-acre strip remains today, and the population has fallen from 400 to a few dozen families.

    • Whales’ appetite for plastics yawns wide

      There seem to be few limits to whales’ appetite for plastics. Scientists who checked the stomachs and intestines of 50 whales, dolphins and seals found stranded and dead on British coasts have identified plastic particles ingested by every one of them.

      So far the researchers make no link between what now seems ubiquitous plastic pollution of the seas and the health of the animals – the numbers in each were tiny – but the find is yet another indicator of the steady degradation of the planet’s biggest natural habitat by just one terrestrial species with a lately-acquired addiction to fossil fuels.

      A small fraction of the world’s oil, coal and natural gas output is turned into plastics or organic polymers with versatile and enduring properties, and four-fifths of the particles were identified as synthetic fibres from clothes, fishing nets and toothbrushes: the remainder may have come from food packaging and plastic containers.

      “It’s shocking – but not surprising – that every animal had ingested microplastics,” said Sarah Nelms of the University of Exeter and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, who led the study.

    • Green New Dealers Call for Turning ‘Rage Into Action’ After Trump Refuses to Even Say Word ‘Climate’ in SOTU

      “How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention—not one word about—climate change when the leading scientists of the world tell us that climate change is real, that climate change is caused by human activity, and that climate change is already causing devastating harm in the United States and in much of the world?”

    • Green Party responds to Stansted 15 sentencing

      “It is welcome the Stansted 15 won’t face jail, but they should never have been in the dock in the first place. These activists are human rights defenders – the real criminals are the Home Office. The treatment of the Stansted 15 has been unprecedented and wrong from the start.

      “The actions of the Stansted 15 exposed the brutality of secretive charter flights, and a number of people set to be removed from the UK on that plane have been able to remain in the UK safely as a result of their principled actions.

      “We need root and branch reform of our immigration system with an end to the use of charter flights for deportations immediately.”

    • Meet Australia’s Newest Species: An Endangered Tick

      Ticks have been making headlines recently. Whether it’s due to tick-borne disease, range expansion, or the emergence of invasive tick species — as far as most folks are concerned, ticks are bad news. And to an extent this is true, although only a small number of tick species actually threaten the health of people and their pets. The vast majority of tick species leave humans well alone and actually serve important roles in their ecosystems.

      Unfortunately a few of these harmless ticks are teetering on the brink of extinction, including one that’s just been discovered.

      Each year a team of conservationists from Zoos Victoria head out to survey wild populations of the mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus). These cute little marsupials live in alpine boulder fields on some of Australia’s highest peaks and are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. While undertaking health checks last year, the team stumbled upon some small ticks riding along on the possums, and a few samples were taken and forwarded to my lab. I examined them, and their distinctness was immediately obvious. In conjunction with the team at Zoos Victoria, we have described them as a new species: Heath’s ticks (Ixodes heathi), which we named after the eminent tick biologist Allen C.G. Heath.

    • Why We Should Care About Parasites — and Their Extinction

      Parasite. To most people, the very word is cause for fear or disgust — which is a shame, because most parasites don’t actually harm their hosts. In fact their very existence is a sign of a healthy ecosystem, as I discussed on a recent segment of the Green Divas podcast. We also talked about the values some parasites provide, what we can learn from them, and what we lose when they go extinct.

    • Top Scientists Confirm 2018 Fourth Hottest Year on Record, Last Five Years Rank Hottest
  • Finance

    • Why the Seattle General Strike of 1919 should inspire a new generation of labor activists

      It shut down a major U.S. city, inspired a rock opera, led to decades of labor unrest and provoked fears Russian Bolsheviks were trying to overthrow American capitalism. It was the Seattle General Strike of 1919, which began on Feb. 6 and lasted just five days.

      By many measures, the strike was a failure. It didn’t achieve the higher wages that the 35,000 shipyard workers who first walked off their jobs sought – even after 25,000 other union members joined the strike in solidarity. Altogether, striking workers represented about half of the workforce and almost a fifth of Seattle’s 315,000 residents.

      Usually, as a historian of the American labor movement, I have the unfortunate job of telling difficult stories about the decline of unions. However, in my view, the story of this particular strike is surprisingly hopeful for the future of labor.

    • Alphabet Earnings Rally Could Catapult It Into the Market Value Lead
    • Disaster Capitalism in Brazil: Mining Greed Produces a Horrific Death Toll

      On January 25, 2019, a dam burst in the town of Brumadinho, north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The dam was built by the iron-ore company Vale to store residue after the iron ore had been extracted. Once the dam began to crumble, it did not take long for its 13 million cubic meters of iron waste to sweep down onto the workers and into their town.

      Approximately 300 people have been killed in this disaster. Many more have been injured. Within four hours of the breach, the sludge had swept down into the Paraopeba River, threatening to pollute the entire region’s water.

    • Bernie Sanders’ “Raise the Wage Act” Would Make Life Better for 40 Million Americans: Analysis

      By increasing the federal minimum wage over the next five years, the Raise the Wage Act of 2019 would boost the incomes and improve the lives of an estimated 40 million Americans, according to an analysis out Tuesday from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

      Introduced last month by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the bill would raise the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25—which Sanders calls “a starvation wage”—to a living wage of $15 by 2024. It would also require employees to pay the new minimum to tipped workers, who currently can make as little as $2.31 an hour.

    • Whatever You Paid to Watch Netflix Last Month Was More Than It Paid in Income Taxes All Last Year: $0

      Citing the specific impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which the Republicans in Congress passed and Trump signed into law in December of 2017, Gardner explains that because companies are finally releasing their complete 2018 earnings reports—which Netflix did last month—the public is finally getting a look at just how well some of the nation’s most profitable corporations are making out.

      While GOP leaders like former House Speaker Paul Ryan sold the bill to the voting public by promising lower corporate rates would be offset by the closure of loopholes, Gardner says Netflix is a test case for how bogus those promises were. “Many corporations are still able to exploit loopholes and avoid paying the statutory tax rate,” he explains, “only now, that rate is substantially lower.”

    • Soak The Rich?

      It’s started. At least it’s started in our 15 minute attention span society: soak the rich. Without any question wealth inequality has never been greater at any time in industrial or post-industrial history. This is not good and has always led to serious trouble. The problem has been building and bubbling for quite some time. The reaction has been negligible to non-existent. Now relatively suddenly, an anguished outcry has raised its head, initiated not by the downtrodden undesirables but by a doctrinaire wing of the Democratic political party. The football loving and twitter addled public continues its deep sleep.

      [...]

      Let’s be frank. The point is that Bill Gates doesn’t need 95 billion dollars and Jeff Bezos doesn’t need 160 billion dollars. Whatever contribution they made to the development of their enterprises, it wasn’t that special, and certainly not worth 100,000 times the net worth of the workers who made it all possible anyway. Taxing Bezos and Gates puts the money into the wrong hands. The solution is to develop a mechanism or at least a philosophical consensus, that frowns upon and disables undeserving and undesirable accumulation on the way up. There is something drastically wrong with the current state of capitalism. Taxation will not fix it.

    • Sanders Highlights American Struggles in Fierce SOTU Response

      Beginning his speech by congratulating Stacey Abrams for delivering a strong response to President Trump’s State of the Union address on behalf of the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders quickly delved into all the things Trump got wrong about the economy, infrastructure, health care, immigration and more in his own response delivered online.

      The nearly 30-minute speech was watched by tens of thousands on YouTube alone, where commenters filled the page with comments such as “Bernie 2020,” “Feel the Bern” and expressed their support for progressive policies supported by the Vermont senator such as Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal.

    • A Bill Even a Divided Congress Can Pass

      Expectations that a House controlled by the Democrats and a Senate controlled by the Republicans can pass legislation that will improve the lives of US workers are low. Economist and columnist Paul Krugman caught the zeitgeist when he wrote, “Democrats can’t pass legislation yet, but they can get ready for 2021.” With the 116th Congress just one month old, it may be too soon to write it off completely.

      The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) celebrates its 26th anniversary on February 5. A serious limitation of the FMLA is that the leaves are unpaid; workers who need time off to provide urgently needed care for their families often face economic challenges caused by the loss of wages or forego the leave altogether. The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which will be reintroduced in both houses of Congress soon after the FMLA anniversary, creates an insurance fund that provides benefits that replace part of a worker’s lost wages. It may be one legislative initiative that can garner sufficient support from both Democrats and Republicans to pass.

    • Brexit in the Context of British History

      How should Brexit be seen against the broad backdrop of British history? Analogies multiply, with the crudest coming from prominent Brexiteer MP Mark Francois who denounced the head of Airbus for writing a letter stressing the negative economic impact for Britain of leaving the EU.

      Francois claimed that this was yet one more example of teutonic arrogance, adding pugnaciously, “My father, Reginald Francois, was a D-Day veteran. He never submitted to bullying by any German. Neither will his son.” With this, he tore up the letter in front of the television cameras.

      The puerile bombast that accompanied this performance attracted great publicity, as no doubt Francois intended, and derisive commentary was abundant. But Francois has scarcely been alone in making ludicrously exaggerated analogies between Britain leaving the EU and other great crises in British history.

      Jacob Rees-Mogg made a classier but equally absurd comparison between Theresa May’s Brexit deal and the Treaty of Le Goulet agreed between King John and Philip II of France in 1200 at time when John was vainly trying to hold on to his lands across the Channel.

      Such xenophobic or far-fetched analogies tend to bring into disrepute anybody else trying to see Brexit in the context of British history. Yet there are comparisons to be made with our recent and distant past which illuminate the political terrain in which the battle over relations between Britain and the EU is being fought.

      The trouble is, knowledge of events only recently past is depressingly scanty. People may very reasonably say that they have never heard of the Treaty of Le Goulet and are dubious about its relevance. Much more dangerous is the fact that so many Conservative MPs, going by what they say, have little idea what was in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 or why it ended a savage guerrilla war in which some 3,000 people were killed.

    • The wife of Putin’s spokesman reportedly has an illegal Swiss bank account

      The wife of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov — former ice dancer Tatiana Navka — might have an account at the Swiss Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, according to new research by Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s investigative project Dossier, as reported by the television network Dozhd.

    • Beyond the 2020 Electoral Circus, a Workers Rebellion Is Brewing

      Let’s be brutally honest and unsentimental: There are few, if any, serious prospects for attaining the transformative change we need through the current United States elections and party system.

      Yes, Donald Trump’s approval rating has dipped back down into the 30s (thanks to his shutdown madness), the Democrats have control of the House, and a handful of Democratic presidential candidates seem to be embracing progressive ideas like “Medicare for all.”

      But, at risk of sounding rude, so what? Even before they took up their new House majority, the dismal, dollar-drenched establishment Democrats killed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s urgent call for the lower chamber of Congress to commit to the “Green New Deal.” Never mind that fossil fuel-driven global warming is the biggest issue of our or any time, turning the planet into a giant greenhouse-gas chamber. Or that the Green New Deal is a great big, juicy twofer: a major good-job-creation program that would enlist millions of working people in saving livable ecology and thereby help avert the extinction of the human species.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Says Trump Attack on Socialism Shows President ‘Scared’ of Popular Progressive Policies

      Speaking to reporters after Trump proclaimed that “America will never be a socialist country,” Ocasio-Cortez said the president felt the need to lash out at socialism because bold progressives have gotten “under his skin.”

      “I think he’s scared,” said Ocasio-Cortez, a self-identified democratic socialist. “He sees that everything is closing in on him. And he knows he’s losing the battle of public opinion when it comes to the actual substantive proposals that we’re advancing.”

    • New report finds five-billion-ruble downtown apartment owned by Russian tech czar

      Research conducted by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) found that Sergey Chemezov, who leads Russia’s state-owned technology conglomerate Rostech, owns an apartment worth five billion rubles (just under $76 million). Alexey Navalny, the leading opposition politician who founded the FBK, revealed the results of the organization’s report on February 6. The most expensive apartment owned by a Russian state official had previously been thought to belong to Igor Sechin, who leads the energy conglomerate Rosneft and owns a property worth approximately two billion rubles ($30.4 million).

      Navalny said the head of Rostech, which includes approximately 700 enterprises in the defense and high-tech industries, owns the apartment along with his wife, Yekaterina Ignatova. Chemezov and Ignatova’s apartment is reportedly located in the residential section of a building that also houses Moscow’s Four Seasons hotel as well as offices and commercial spaces. The building is located on Okhotny Ryad, less than a five-minute walk from the Kremlin.

      According to Navalny, Chemezov and Ignatova’s property occupies 1434 square meters (15,435 square feet) on the 12th and 13th floors of the building. Publicly available information indicates that another apartment in the same building recently sold for 3.5 million rubles (more than $53,000) per square meter, putting the FBK’s reported value of Chemezov and Ignatova’s property at more than 5 billion rubles.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Confidential Memo: Company of Trump Inaugural Chair Sought to Profit From Connections to Administration, Foreigners

      The investment firm founded by the chairman of Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, Tom Barrack, developed a plan to profit off its connections to the incoming administration and foreign dignitaries, according to a confidential memo obtained by WNYC and ProPublica.

      “The key is to strategically cultivate domestic and international relations while avoiding any appearance of lobbying,” the memo says. Colony, which primarily invests in real estate, sought to capitalize on its access to the White House to get an early lead on infrastructure investments and to attract assets from potential investors.

      Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Monday subpoenaed documents from the nonprofit 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, including anything related to foreign donations. Such donations to presidential inaugural committees are barred by law. Investigators are probing whether foreigners gave money in exchange for influence with the incoming Trump administration, NBC News reported.

      The memo, from Barrack’s investment firm, then called Colony NorthStar, is dated February 2017, just a month after the inaugural festivities organized by Barrack, who is a longtime Trump friend.

    • The State of the Union: Trump, Abrams, and Sanders Address the Nation

      President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night. It was, according to progressives, very bad.

    • Trump Calls for End of Resistance Politics in State of the Union [Ed: Let’s rephrase: crime is peace, holding criminals accountable is war.]

      “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” he declared. Lawmakers in the cavernous House chamber sat largely silent.

    • Twitter Summoned By Indian Parliament To Discuss Citizens’ Social Media Rights

      With the upcoming elections, Indian officials want to ensure that social media platforms do not meddle with the results. As a precautionary step, Twitter India has been summoned by a parliamentary committee to discuss the topic of “Safeguarding citizens” rights.

      The social media platform has been called upon by an Information Technology committee. Anurag Thakur, the head of the committee and a BJP member, tweeted the notice yesterday.

    • Obscenities, Congress, and the White House

      Conservative commentator Daniel Pipes is piping mad. However, the true source of his outrage is not the use of a ubiquitous American obscenity but the Palestinian roots of its utterer, Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim American woman elected to Congress, and the threat he believes her seat poses to Israelis who, according to Pipes, have had to endure the uppity insistence of Palestinians that they are fellow human beings (although the anti-BDS movement is trying to insure that their voice does not reach Americans) and who now provide a teachable moment for Americans tired of having to endure their own noisy minorities.

      In a subsequent tweet posted after mounting online criticism of his tweet following publication of Michelle Goldberg’s New York Times January 7 column in which she called Pipes out for explicitly linking Tlaib’s Palestinian heritage to her use of the term, Pipes portrays himself as a naïve victim whose words he did not apparently expect to matter, writing, “In my innocence, I thought condemning @RashidaTlaib‘s vulgarity about #Trump & pointing to her radical #Palestinian identity was self-evidently true. Well, no. Thousands of attacks on @Twitter culminated with this @MichelleInBklyn in @NYTimes article.” In Pipes’ cataractic mind’s eye, obscenities matter more – at least when uttered by a Palestinian American woman – than ethnic character assassination.

      Pipes takes the debatable point of whether it is acceptable for a sitting member of congress to describe a president with an obscenity (a disingenuous objection giventhat the president in question has boastfully referred to himself an inveterate pussygrabber) and drags in the completely irrelevant non-issue of Tlaib’s ancestry in order to erect a strawman as flimsy as Trump’s proposed concrete/steel/whatever Wall. Pipes is an old hand at this game, having in 2008 falsely accused Obama of being a practicing Muslim, which even if it were true, is unobjectionable and certainly less dangerous to the republic than a president who is an offensive, unrepentant liar, cad, and all-round unpleasant person, qualities that fittingly describe the type of person to toward whom the obscenity typically hurled.

    • Can “Roma” Teach Trump’s America the Value of Compassion?

      Staying in Santiago, Chile, at the moment, I see echoes and reflections of Cleo – the servant at the heart of Alfonso Cuarón’s wondrous film Roma – everywhere. Cuarón’s consummate recreation of his Mexico City childhood in the early 1970s has garnered 10 Oscar nominations and is a favourite for the top prizes later this month – including best picture, best actress, for Yalitza Aparicio who plays Cleo, and best director for Cuarón.

      I see Cleo in the maids who trudge to work at seven in the morning after two hours of gruelling travel from the outskirts of the city. They hurry along so they can make a hot breakfast for their employers. I see Cleo in the caretaker who spends night after night sitting with an octogenarian friend who is dying of cancer. I see Cleo in the women who sweep the floors of a nearby hospital and those who serve the food at a cafeteria in the civil registry office. I see her in the female workers who water the municipal gardens in the morning and pick up the trash in the afternoons.

      The film reminds us of all the Cleos who dream of coming to the US, fleeing from violence and exploitation

      Primarily, though, I see Cleo, as Cuarón does, in the nanas. This is the euphemistic term here for domestic servants, the word that serves as a way of pretending they are part of the family rather than paid servants who can be fired at the drop of a hat. Each Chilean Cleo is a bulwark of the home, scrubbing and cooking and shopping and, above all, attending to the children: showering them with affection, comforting them when they are sad, celebrating their successes. In Cuarón’s masterpiece (full disclosure: we have been friends for many years), Cleo’s selfless devotion culminates in a poignant, shattering scene, where she saves two of the children under her care by plunging into the sea to rescue them, despite not knowing how to swim. Like audiences around the world, I was intensely moved by that finale. Digging deep into my response, I realised that the image of an indigenous woman entering forbidden waters resonated with me in a particular way.

    • Trump Can’t escape having called Nazis “Very Fine People” by SOTU Spectacle

      So this is the story of how Donald Trump tried to use misdirection at his State of the Union address to take the spotlight off his Neonazi tendencies, which underlie his hatred of African-Americans (against whom he was found to discriminate as a landlord), of Mexicans, of Muslims, and other peoples not coded as “white” in his warped little brain. Trump tried to appropriate the fight against the supremacist who killed Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, but the effort came across as calculating and staged.

      Trump cares so little for minority rights that he actually said “Islam hates us” and urged a ban on all Muslim immigration to the US.

    • “Liar-in-Chief”: Rep. Ilhan Omar Slams Trump’s SOTU Remarks on Border, Venezuela, Israel & More

      In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Trump called for bipartisan unity while he attacked Democrats and the Robert Mueller investigation, denounced efforts to expand abortion rights in Virginia and New York, attacked immigrants and reiterated his demand for a border wall—with no mention of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which delayed his address by a week. Women in Congress wore all white to the speech in a nod to the movement for women’s suffrage. After the address, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams made history, becoming the first African-American woman to give the Democratic response. We’re joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the first Somali American elected to the House of Representatives and one of the first Muslim women in Congress. Her guest at last night’s presidential address was a Liberian woman who fled to Minnesota in 2000 due to civil war and is now facing the threat of deportation from the United States.

    • Ana María Archila: Brett Kavanaugh’s Presence at SOTU Represented Failure of U.S. Democracy

      As we continue to discuss President Trump’s State of the Union, we are joined by Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. She attended the address as a guest of New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In September, Archila made headlines when she, along with another woman, Maria Gallagher, confronted Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona in an elevator after he announced his support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Shortly after the confrontation, Sen. Flake called for a delay of the Senate vote pending a limited FBI investigation.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Russian court says opposition leader must retract investigative report about corruption in National Guard

      A Moscow arbitration court has ordered opposition leader Alexey Navalny to take down an August report that pointed to insider negotiations between Russia’s National Guard and a Crimean meat processing company. Interfax reported that “Druzhba Narodov” (“Friendship of Nations”) sued Navalny after his Anti-Corruption Foundation accused the company of selling food to the National Guard at inflated prices after becoming its only food provider.

      [...]

      Zolotov also sued Navalny himself for one million rubles (more than $15,000), but his lawsuit was rejected on technical grounds.

    • Gavin McInnes Files Laughably Silly Defamation Lawsuit Against Southern Poverty Law Center

      Let’s just get this out of the way up top and say that I’m fully expecting this article to be overrun by the same type of folks who showed up after I criticized supposed “free speech warrior” Jordan Peterson when he filed a bullshit defamation case against a university after some of that university’s employees suggested Peterson was similar to Hitler and compared him to a white supremacist. As we pointed out then, even if this was misleading, having someone have a negative opinion of you, and even suggesting you hold views you might not hold, is far from defamatory. And, suing someone for their opinion of you is very much the opposite of supporting free speech, and is an especially stupid look for people going around pretending to be free speech warriors.

      And, now we have yet another similar case, this time involving Proud Boy founder Gavin McInnes suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation concerning SPLC’s practice of naming certain individuals and groups as “extremist” on its “Hatewatch” or “Extremist Files” lists. And, let’s be clear: if you already love SPLC and hate McInnes, you’re already going to think this is a dumb lawsuit. But this post is directed towards other folks as well: those who think SLPC has a bit of an itchy trigger finger in declaring someone part of a hate group (or declaring groups as hate organizations) and who actually believe (per McInnes’ own claims) that he’s not a racist, not a Nazi, and he’s just a “humorist” promoting “western values.”

      If you believe that, then you have to throw out the “western value” of free speech under the 1st Amendment, because that’s exactly what McInnes is attacking here, with the help of lawyer Ron Coleman. This is particularly disappointing, given that we’ve covered Coleman’s legal work in the past, including his big trademark win for The Slants at the Supreme Court, noting that the US Patent and Trademark’s office refusal to hand out trademarks based on its determination that a trademark could be “offensive” violated the First Amendment as a content-based regulation. Coleman has also been on the right side of crazy anti-free speech lawsuits in the past, including fighting back against Brett Kimerlin’s famously vexatious lawsuits against critics. Of course, the fact that Coleman was part of the team who sued Google on behalf of Gab.ai for being kicked out of the Android Play Store was, perhaps, a warning that Coleman’s view of free speech is a bit different than most 1st Amendment champions.

    • The EU’s Proposal to Curb the “Dissemination of Terrorist Content” Will Have a Chilling Effect on Speech

      Governments around the world are grappling with the threat of terrorism, but their efforts aimed at curbing the dissemination of terrorist content online all too often result in censorship. Over the past five years, we’ve seen a number of governments—from the US Congress to that of France and now the European Commission (EC)—seek to implement measures that place an undue burden on technology companies to remove “terrorist” speech or face financial liability.

      We share the concerns of dozens of allies that requiring the use of proactive measures such as use of the terrorism hash database will restrict expression and have a disproportionate impact on marginalized groups.

      This is why EFF has joined forces with dozens of organizations to call on members of the European Parliament to oppose the EC’s proposed regulation, which would require companies to take down “terrorist content” within one hour. We’ve added our voice to two letters—one from Witness and another organized by the Center for Democracy and Technology—asking that MEPs consider the serious consequences that the passing of this regulation could have on human rights defenders and on freedom of expression.

    • Who Edits the Wikipedia Editors?

      At face value, the website Wikipedia advertises itself as the online, de facto encyclopedia. But comedian Stephen Colbert had a different definition for the site on a 2007 episode of “The Colbert Report,” calling it, “The encyclopedia where you can be an authority even if you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

      Colbert, in his criticisms of Wikipedia, coined the term “wikiality” to signify a shift, that “when Wikipedia becomes our most trusted reference source, reality is just what the majority agrees upon.”

      To prove what he identified as Wikipedia’s flimsiness on the truth, he asked viewers in 2006 to edit the site’s article on elephants and write that the elephant population had tripled over the last six months. Viewers took to the task and updated the article with the erroneous statement. The edits prompted an editor to lock the article, preventing any edits to take place, and even blocked a user they believed was Colbert from editing any other Wikipedia articles.

    • Duty of care: an empty concept

      There is every reason to believe that the government and opposition are moving to a consensus on introducing a duty of care for social media companies to reduce harm and risk to their users. This may be backed by an Internet regulator, who might decide what kind of mitigating actions are appropriate to address the risks to users on different platforms.

      This idea originated from a series of papers by Will Perrin and Lorna Woods and has been mentioned most recently in a recent Science and Technology committee report and by NGOs including children’s charity 5Rights.

      A duty of care has some obvious merits: it could be based on objective risks, based on evidence, and ensure that mitigations are proportionate to those risks. It could take some of the politicisation out of the current debate.

      However, it also has obvious problems. For a start, it focuses on risk rather than process. It moves attention away from the fact that interventions are regulating social media users just as much as platforms. It does not by itself tell us that free expression impacts will be considered, tracked or mitigated.

    • Senate Accused of Endorsing ‘McCarthy-Era Tactics’ as 25 Democrats Join GOP to Pass Anti-Boycott Bill

      After 25 Democratic senators joined the GOP on Tuesday to pass legislation that would empower states to punish companies and individuals who boycott Israel to protest its occupation of Palestinian territories, rights groups and civil libertarians condemned the Senate for voting to “trample on the First Amendment” and urged the House to block the bill.

      “The Senate just passed a bill that would encourage states to adopt unconstitutional laws aimed at suppressing boycotts of Israel. It’s a sad day when the Senate chooses politics over the Constitution,” the ACLU declared following the 77-23 vote. “Senators who voted for the bill: we encourage you to read the Constitution, which protects against the McCarthy-era tactics this bill endorses.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • What Is “Surveillance Capitalism?” And How Did It Hijack the Internet?

      Shoshana Zuboff’s new book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism goes into gory details of how companies collect, use, buy and sell your data for profit, often without consent or even the consumer knowing it was happening, until disasters reveal some of the dark underbelly—like the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But, I’m a marketer, so I will focus on the subset of “surveillance marketing”—also known as “digital marketing”—where companies profit off of you, because they are set up to do so. Digital ad-tech companies were built to extract as much value as possible from the trust transaction that used to be the user going to a publisher’s site that carries an advertiser’s ad.

    • Changes to HIPAA Could Seriously Threaten Patient Privacy

      Imagine this: You’re the mentally ill adult child of an abusive parent and you’re finally getting safe, confidential treatment to get your life back on track. But then, your parent is allowed access to your medical record — something you weren’t expecting and didn’t think was possible. They use the information they learn about you to harass you, causing you to lose trust in your doctor and relapse.

      If the Trump administration has its way, this won’t just be a nightmare scenario.

      Right now, the Department of Health and Human Services is soliciting information as it considers making changes to the rules around HIPAA, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. There’s a lot in this law, but many of us know it primarily as “the patient privacy thing” — the law that, since 1996, has protected our medical information and allowed us to control who can access it and how.

      The DHHS claims that HIPAA creates “regulatory burdens,” which should be a red flag to anyone reading along — because in conservative administrations, that’s usually code for believing that rules or regulations shouldn’t be in place at all.

      The agency says it wants to “facilitate parental involvement in care,” specifically meaning in the context of adult patients, and encourage “information-sharing.” That may feel benign; after all, it would be nice if your doctors could more easily communicate, right?

    • Reject New Funding for Border Surveillance: No Tech Wall

      Increased mass surveillance, including at the border, threatens everyone’s civil liberties. Yet some Congressional Democrats, looking for alternatives to President Trump’s demand for a border wall, recently offered a border “security” proposal that suggests expanding surveillance at the border. That could lead to new funding for technologies that invade the privacy of immigrants, travelers, and American citizens living near the border.

      It’s time to tell Congress: Don’t put money in the budget for expanded surveillance at the border.

    • ‘Face Surveillance Is a Uniquely Dangerous Technology’ – CounterSpin interview with Shankar Narayan on facial recognition

      From the War Resisters League to the Government Accountability Project, Data for Black Lives and 18 Million Rising, from Families Belong Together to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, more than 85 groups signed letters to corporate giants Microsoft, Amazon and Google, demanding that the companies commit not to sell face surveillance technology to the government.

      The coalition cites, not the mere potential for such technology to be used to target vulnerable communities, particularly communities of color, but the history of technology being turned to that purpose.

      Media coverage of technological developments often conveys an air of inevitability: Tools, once created, must be used, and businesses exist to make money from them.

      How do we center the public good in decision-making around technology that some call a “perpetual lineup”?

    • Life as an EFF Activist

      I just woke up, and I’m drafting a memo for a Congressional staffer, explaining the ways that a new censorship bill will be dangerous for free speech and innovation. One of my colleagues is in Washington, D.C., and is scheduled to meet with that staffer in a few hours, so I have to get an early start.

      While I get ready to head to the office, I listen live to a hearing where a tech CEO is struggling to explain to Congress what measures the company is taking to protect users’ privacy. A few of my coworkers are already in the office live-tweeting the hearing. After a particularly clueless remark I jump on Signal to ask them, “lol did you hear that?? we should tweet it.”

      Why am I telling you this? Because EFF is looking for a new addition to our activism team. This job is a big one: you’ll be joining EFF’s efforts to end warrantless spying by the NSA and other federal government agencies, as well as to fight for restrictions on the use of surveillance technologies by local law enforcement agencies. And it’s the perfect time for you to start: Section 215—the law that the NSA relied on for decades to collect Americans’ phone call records—is set to expire at the end of 2019. Between now and then, we expect a major legislative fight over its reauthorization. We need someone activating the public to demand that lawmakers respect their right to private communications.

    • I Cut Apple Out of My Life. It Was Devastating

      Week 5: Apple. When I first conceived of this experiment—cutting the tech giants out of my life one-by-one—I hadn’t thought to include Microsoft…

    • Bye, Bye, Google

      I spent this past weekend de-Google-ifying my life and, despite my expectations, it wasn’t too hard to do. I started by moving all of my websites off of Google App Engine and onto a dedicated box that I had already owned. That was straightforward enough. Next, I removed any Google Analytics snippets from each of them and replaced those with my own analytics server that I had built a while back (it doesn’t store any PII, only aggregate information (and very little of that, too)). Afterwards, I replaced any Google Fonts that I had been using with system fonts and, finally, I moved the screencasts for Dramatiq and molten from YouTube to peertube.

    • Bell Urged Canadian Government To Ban Some VPN Services in NAFTA Submission

      I’ve written before about how Bell is a global outlier among telecom companies with its aggressive lobbying for increased obligations for telecom companies with respect to copyright enforcement. Its secret attempt to target VPNs leaves little doubt that the now-defeated site blocking proposal would have invariably expanded far beyond a narrow group of websites and should be considered as part of the renewed emphasis on site blocking as part of the copyright review and the broadcast and telecom review.

    • GCHQ wants to be added to your chat groups, but won’t even have the decency to contribute GIFs

      Short-termist politicians argue that if they can’t see everyone’s private messages, then how will law enforcement be able to track terrorists and child abusers from the comfort of their own desks? Civil liberties campaigners point out that everyone is entitled to privacy, and this would be the thin end of the wedge. Those with the technical knowledge point out that even disregarding that, there’s a severe problem: there’s no such thing as a back door that only the good guys can use. If you break encryption for the government, you break it for everyone.

      So that’s where we are. [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • In Elkhart, Indiana, Another Conviction Gets Tossed. The Star Witness Was Hypnotized, a Fact the Prosecutor Concealed.

      A federal appeals court has overturned an attempted murder conviction in Elkhart, Indiana, saying a prosecutor concealed “explosive” evidence that the state’s sole eyewitness had been placed under hypnosis prior to trial, throwing into doubt the witness’s reliability.

      The court’s opinion, issued 25 years after the defendant, Mack Sims, was convicted, is the latest rebuke of Elkhart’s criminal justice system, which has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica.

      The prosecutor who failed to disclose the hypnosis, Charles C. Wicks, is now an Elkhart Superior Court judge, presiding over felony and misdemeanor cases.

    • As Trump Spreads ‘Division’ and ‘Denial’ in SOTU Address, Sunrise Movement Will Present Plan to Achieve Green New Deal

      “As Trump gets ready to spread his message of fear, division, and denial,” Sunrise declared, “we’ll be laying out our plans for how to bring the Green New Deal to every corner of this country and elevate the crisis that our president and his fossil fuel billionaire friends want us to ignore.”

      Pointing to reports that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are set to unveil Green New Deal legislation in the coming days, Sunrise said, “Bills like these live or die in the first few weeks based on how much support they receive.”

      “It’s on us to move this legislation forward by turning up the heat on our members of Congress throughout February,” the group added.

    • Trump Organization “Purges” Undocumented Workers, Report Reveals

      President Trump has accused undocumented immigrants of spreading crime and taking jobs from Americans. He even invented a rape epidemic and blamed it on them. But while Trump was railing against undocumented immigrants, his companies were employing them. Now, at least 18 have been fired from golf courses in New York and New Jersey, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

      It’s part of what reporters Joshua Partlow and David Fahrenthold call a “purge,” begun, they say, “after a series of reports about the clubs’ employment of workers without legal status.” The New York Times first reported on undocumented workers at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., in December, which set off an internal audit of employees’ immigration status, the Post says.

      The employees “worked in food service, maintenance, housekeeping and other jobs at the golf courses. Many said they had held these jobs for years and that the Trump Organization previously had paid little attention to their immigration status,” Partlow and Fahrenthold write.

    • Warning More Surveillance Would Violate Civil Liberties at Border and Beyond, Rights Groups Say So-Called “Smart Wall” Is Dumb

      Warning of serious rights violations at the southern U.S. border that could make way for similar infringements all over the country, more than two dozen civil liberties and immigrant rights advocates on Tuesday urged members of Congress to withhold all additional funding for expanded technological surveillance at the Mexico border.

      Fight for the Future and the Electronic Frontier Foundation gathered signatures from groups including the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and RAICES for an open letter to the U.S. House, urging no new funding for the so-called “smart wall” or “technological wall” the Democratic Party has proposed.

      “We call on Congress to conduct robust oversight of government surveillance technologies already deployed at the border,” wrote the groups. “While that oversight is ongoing, we should not expand these technologies with new funding.”

    • Author Of California’s Public Records Law: The Law Covers Old Police Misconduct Files, Not Just The New Ones

      For the first time in years, California police misconduct records are accessible by the public. There’s a huge asterisk on that sentence because, so far, law enforcement agencies have been unwilling to hand them over.

      One police department decided to purge all of its old records before the law went into effect, mooting the question with a questionable memory-holing. Other agencies have told requesters the law isn’t retroactive, pretending the law says something it doesn’t. A sheriff’s union tried to force the question by petitioning the state’s supreme court, but the court declined the opportunity to clarify the law’s ability to open up records of past misconduct.

      At this point it’s clear PDs aren’t interested in complying with the new law. They’ll sit on records until they’re forced out of their hands by lawsuits. This isn’t how transparency is supposed to work. The law wasn’t a History Eraser button for old files and it certainly isn’t there to assist PDs in withholding documents they’re definitely obligated to turn over to the public.

      Most law enforcement agencies appear to believe the law hit the reset on misconduct records, ordering them only to release records created past the point the law went into effect (January 1st, 2019). Again, the law says nothing about it only affecting records going forward, but since it doesn’t say anything specifically about past misconduct records, law enforcement agencies will continue to pretend it doesn’t affect those until courts tell them otherwise.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Take It’ By Black Roots

      In this vintage reggae tune from Black Roots, the group comments on capitalism’s exploitation of poor and working class people.

      The song, “Take It,” says we’re “living in an unjust world, when the rich have put the poor in chains.” It empathizes with workers who labor from early in the morning to the evening, their muscles aching from the start of their shift.

      “Some take it with the white, some take it with the green. They all play for a different team,” the group sings in the chorus.

      The wealthy elites and corporate executives are not on the side of the poor. Black Roots calls on the poor people to unite. Build strength “whether you’re black or white.” “Together one voice can break down the chain of brutality.”

      It speaks to both the racism of capitalism as well as the profit motive that leads to destruction and pollution of communities.

      Black Roots formed in Britain in 1979. They have been making reggae music that confronts social issues for decades, and “Take It” is one of several protest songs on their 2018 album also titled, “Take It.”

    • Stacey Abrams Praises Immigrants, Slams Trump’s Shutdown ‘Stunt’ in SOTU Response

      Shortly after President Donald Trump concluded his lengthy and wide-ranging State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, in which he touched on no fewer than two dozen key issues, Stacey Abrams was ready with her comeback. Abrams was also ready for her comeback, as her televised follow-up to the president’s speech marked the most prominent appearance the Georgia Democrat had made on the national stage since her bid to unseat Governor Brian Kemp in her home state became one of the most vigorously contested races of the 2018 election cycle.

      Given her role, not to mention visibility, in Tuesday’s proceedings, it was clear that Abrams’ standing hadn’t suffered since her still-challenged defeat. To the contrary, that night Abrams became the first black woman, as well as the first person who was not concurrently an elected office-holder, to deliver a State of the Union response speech. (The former state representative is now putting her training as a lawyer, along with her hard-won experience from last fall, to work in running a voting rights organization called Fair Fight Georgia.)

    • More Words

      If you stayed understandably hunkered in your cave last night, the not-so-big news is the idiot monster read some words at us again. Immigrants: bad. Jobs: good. Socialism: maybe even more bad than immigrants. Accountability: meh. What climate change? Lie lie lie lie. Let’s all get along by letting me do every toxic thing I want. Children: good, except the ones we ripped from their families and put in cages. Walls: they work, especially this dog one. Etc. The fact-checkers will be out in force, but for now Van Jones best summarized the bullshit: “A psychotically incoherent speech with cookies and dog poop.”

    • Russian court sentences Jehovah’s Witnesses elder to six years in prison for ‘extremism’

      A court in Oryol has sentenced a local Jehovah’s Witnesses elder to six years in prison for alleged extremist activity. Before hearing his verdict, Dennis Christensen, a Danish citizen, told reporters that he hoped Russia would observe his right to religious freedom. Prosecutors say he “used his authority as a religious leader” and “kept the [Oryol Jehovah's Witnesses] organization operating, despite being aware of its prohibition.”

    • Ignorance is Not Bliss

      The most famous words from Thomas Gray’s 1742 poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” are: “ignorance is bliss.” But of course ignorance is not bliss. Being well-informed means making better decisions when the pros and cons are carefully weighed. This is even more important for those running state or federal government — which makes it even more troubling that both President Trump and the Montana Senate seem to think remaining ignorant of the facts is useful in the difficult job of governance.

      In Donald Trump’s case, it was Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher A. Wray, Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week with their very informed assessment of certain conditions in various areas of concern that sent the president into another ill-informed Twitter frenzy.

      The heads of those intelligence agencies, which were appointed by Trump by the way, told the Senate that North Korea isn’t dismantling its nuclear weapons, that Iran is not building nuclear weapons, and that the Islamic State in Syria isn’t defeated in Syria and Iraq, as Trump and his cabinet officials have claimed.

      Our nation spends about $80 billion a year to analyze intelligence gathered from satellites, ships, planes and agents. These are highly skilled people, many of whom risk their lives to learn the facts.

      Unfortunately, because the facts contradicted Trump’s bellicose blatherings about his fictional successes in the nation and world, he decided to insult them in a tweet, writing that the heads of the intelligence agencies were “extremely passive and naïve… they are wrong!” and “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

    • Two former United Russia lawmakers in Astrakhan face multiple felony charges for sexually abusing, raping, and filming children

      In Astrakhan, court proceedings are underway against Vitaly Kurskov and Igor Poplevko, two former regional lawmakers from United Russia. The men are charged with heinous crimes against minors and the trial is closed to the public. Federal investigators cite 78 separate incidents where the suspects raped or sexually abused children. Kurskov and Poplevko filmed and photographed their crimes, as well. A 20-year-old woman who acted as an accomplice by bringing children to Kurskov’s apartment — including her own nephews — has already been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

      On the evening of March 10, 2018, a woman in Astrakhan called the police to report that some man was bringing underage girls into the neighboring apartment. Officers came to the address, but the man locked himself inside and refused to open the door. He then tried to escape, jumping from the second-floor balcony, before police apprehended him. Detectives later learned that this individual rented an apartment in Astrakhan’s Lenin district in March 2017, where he brought girls between the ages of 13 and 15, and sexually abused them. Investigators charged the suspect with the felony offense of violent “lecherous actions” by an adult against multiple minors. This would not be the only charge in the case.

    • The Empathy of the Irish for Palestinians is in No Way Anti-Semitic

      Israel’s response to the passing of the Occupied Territories Bill in the Dáil last week entailed, on the one hand, threatening to impose severe economic-political measures against Ireland, including taxing Irish imports and suspending bilateral economic and commercial agreements with Dublin. On the other hand, Israel accused Ireland of anti-Semitism, often weaponised against any criticism of the Israeli colonisation of Palestine and its ongoing infringements of international law.

      There is no need for me to discuss the merits and effectiveness of the Bill here. It’s worth noting, however, that the settlements, from which products would be banned if the Bill becomes law, are considered illegal under international law. According to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies”, making Israel’s building and transferring of its population to the occupied Palestinian territory illegal.

      According to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, more than 200 Israeli settlements have been established in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) since 1967; their current population is almost 620,000. Settlements, built on Palestinian (often privately owned) lands, impinge on Palestinian human rights as checkpoints that limit Palestinian movement are erected based on where there are settlements. Palestinians are denied access to farmland near settlements, and settlers regularly attack Palestinian schoolchildren and farmers in full view of the Israeli military.

    • These Secret Files Show How The Trump Moscow Talks Unfolded While Trump Heaped Praise On Putin

      As a candidate, Donald Trump had a lot of praise for Vladimir Putin — and no business, he kept insisting, in Russia. These documents tell a different story.

      When Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and longtime fixer, testifies before Congress this week, one topic that is likely to be front and center is his work on Trump Moscow, the over-the-top luxury real estate venture he helped spearhead leading up to the election.

      The development, which was never built, has already become a focus for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Trump and Russia during the 2016 campaign. And when Cohen was convicted last November of lying to Congress, it was over his false testimony that the deal had fizzled in January 2016, well before Trump emerged as the Republican nominee.

      BuzzFeed News is today publishing a cache of internal Trump Organization documents that lay bare the secret negotiations that continued long after Cohen claimed the deal had been abandoned. The documents, many of which have been exclusively obtained by BuzzFeed News, reveal that — despite Trump’s claim that the development was never more than a passing notion — the effort to get the tower built was long-running, detail-oriented, and directly entwined with the ups and downs of his campaign.

    • Torture Still Scars Iranians 40 Years After Revolution

      The halls of the former prison in the heart of Iran’s capital now are hushed, befitting the sounds of the museum that it has become. Wax mannequins silently portray the horrific acts of torture that once were carried out within its walls.

      But the surviving inmates still remember the screams.

      Exhibits in the former Anti-Sabotage Joint Committee Prison that was run under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi include a frightened man trapped in a small metal cage as a cigarette-smoking interrogator shouts above him.

    • Trump Invokes Compassion to Justify Violence

      During President Trump’s State of the Union address, I was enraged by his racism, his rampant lies, his narrow self-interest and his twisted and cruel vision for our country. None of that is new in Trump’s America. In fact, his speech was all too familiar.

      Not only was his speech littered with tired cliches, it tapped into an age old and blood-soaked tactic over and over again: pitting an “innocent” victim against an imagined, and dehumanized, other. This is the story behind some of our countries lowest moments. It is a story that haunts our history.

      Time and again, horrific violence is justified – even created – by pitting the dehumanized “aggressor” against an “innocent” victim. As a white woman, I can’t forget how often my image has been invoked to excuse the murder of black and brown people. From Birth of a Nation to Emmett Till to the Central Park Five that Trump tried to have executed, the fabricated threat of violence to white women has been used to excuse unspeakable violence against black and brown bodies.

      Donald Trump’s speechwriters sought to present him as a uniter, but he embraced this long and bloody legacy with gusto in his speech. He wrapped himself in sympathetic stories while purposely twisting the truth to justify his violence and his lies.

      We simply have to look at whose suffering matters, and whose suffering is erased, to see that President Trump is not interested in helping American families, he’s interested in justifying his agenda of fear mongering and corporate power grabs.

    • Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies

      If you happened to fall to Earth from space last night and found a working television, like as not you saw the president of the United States doing a passable imitation of a man giving a speech. A first-molecule surface impression, thoroughly devoid of context, would leave you thinking this person did relatively fine. Not a fireball on the stump, to be sure, but not a calamity, either. He did not fall down, throw things or curse anyone’s mother. No fake emergencies were declared.

      The best thing one can say about Donald Trump’s State of the Union performance last night — and it was a performance, nothing more — was that he did not treat the assembled members of Congress, the high court, the joint chiefs, special guests and television audience like they were one of his howling rally crowds outside some abandoned airplane hangar in Alabama or western Pennsylvania. No, Mr. Trump stuck to the script on the teleprompter, and that’s when the trouble began.

      As promised during the pro forma pre-speech leaks to the press, the first third of the address was suffused with fluffy bipartisan pabulum no one in the building believed for a second, least of all the speech-giver himself. Pretending at it was a hard hustle from the jump. Before he spoke a word, Trump barreled his way through House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ceremonial introduction of the president, oafishly denying her even a sliver of the spotlight he so desperately craves. So much for bipartisanship.

      Trump cribbed 19-year-old lines from Bill Clinton about greeting the 21st century, bragged about the US being the world leader in oil exports and fracking, and strutted out a few right-wing legislative victories like cutting the estate tax and wrecking the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Of course, he got the whole room to stand and cheer for the hyper-expensive might of the military more than once. When he leaned into the microphone and intoned, “The state of our union is strong,” there was Speaker Pelosi, perched over his left shoulder like Poe’s raven, shaking her head and mouthing, “Nope.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ajit Pai loses in court—judges overturn gutting of tribal broadband program

      A three-judge panel said the FCC failed to consider that facilities-based providers have been leaving the Lifeline program and provided no evidence that banning resellers would spur new broadband deployment. The FCC also failed to properly consider how eliminating the subsidy in urban areas would affect consumers, judges determined.

    • T-Mobile Tries To Save Its Unpopular Merger With A Few Concessions, But Nobody’s Buying

      You might recall that the companies’ previous merger attempt was blocked in 2014 after regulators noted that removing one of just four major carriers would result in a proportionally-lower incentive to actually compete on price. That’s really not debatable if you’ve paid attention to telecom and broadband industry history (it’s a major reason why we all loathe Comcast). That’s especially true in Canada, where consolidation to just three players has resulted in the highest mobile data prices in the developed world. AT&T’s attempt to acquire T-Mobile in 2011 was blocked for the same reason, a move that many forget (some intentionally) resulted in T-mobile being more competitive than ever.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Unified files IPR against US 8,767,824 owned by Velos Media, LLC

      On February 1, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Wilmer Hale serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,767,824, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos) as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone.

      The ’824 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is one of the larger families known to be owned by Velos. Velos claims to have and seeks to license patents allegedly essential to the HEVC / H.265 standard. The ’824 patent, originally assigned to Sharp Laboratories of America, was transferred to Velos Media in 2017.

    • Qualcomm’s German motion for contempt sanctions against Apple faces high legal hurdle while iPhone 7 and 8 remain widely available

      On Thursday, January 31, the Munich 1 Regional Court had bad news for Qualcomm’s eight patent suits (over four different patents from the same patent family) against Apple’s Spotlight search. A few hours later, and a day after its most recent quarterly earnings call (a type of event around which Qualcomm likes to announce court filings), Qualcomm shared with a couple of news agencies a motion for contempt sanctions it brought against Apple in Munich. That contempt motion relates to a pair of injunctions granted to Qualcomm in December without an actual finding of infringement (announcement; impact assessment; defendant’s dilemma). Qualcomm is angry because the iPhone 7 and 8 remain widely available in Germany (which, based on my online research, is still the case today).

    • U.S. court ruling shows Qualcomm is abusing the German legal system with an illegitimate patent injunction: worse than the worst troll

      What a coincidence: Just while I was blogging about Qualcomm’s efforts to enforce its Munich patent injunction against Apple, Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California entered an order after which Qualcomm and Quinn Emanuel should be ashamed for the procedural shenanigans with which they obtained an injunction in Germany that appears to be absolutely baseless. Both the United States International Trade Commission (USITC, or just ITC) and a district court in Qualcomm’s home town of San Diego have now found that the chipset accused in the Munich case against Apple clearly doesn’t infringe.

      Qualcomm and Quinn Emanuel simply appear to be abusing the German legal system. I really regret to say so because I never doubted Qualcomm’s innovative capacity and usually I only have good things to say about Quinn Emanuel, but in this context they are giving patent enforcement a bad name.

      On the subject of bad names, how about Trollcom?

      Enforcing a patent injunction against a non-infringer (on the basis of a $1.5 billion deposit, by the way) is the most reprehensible conduct by a patent holder that I’ve ever seen. At the recent FTC v. Qualcomm trial, they were referring to their 130,000 patents. If they have so many patents and believe those patents are so strong, why do they have to stoop to this? Can’t they see that their reputation is at stake? And don’t they realize that abusive, illegimate enforcement activities like this only complicate Qualcomm’s efforts to defend its business model and patent licensing strategies with “legitimate business justifications” such as the ones they just tried to sell to Judge Koh last month?

    • US IP Enforcement Coordinator Under Trump Asks, “What Can We Do Differently?”

      The Trump administration is taking the US intellectual property enforcement coordinator’s role in new directions, building on past administrations but trying to address ways it has not been effective in the past, according to the annual report of the coordinator, released yesterday.

    • Am I my Server Rack?: Do Edge Nodes Satisfy the Venue Rules?

      Google filed for dismissal under TC Heartland — arguing that it did not reside in E.D. Texas, and had no “regular and established place of business” within the district as required for proper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b).

      However, the district court found venue to be proper. The crux of the conclusion wsa based upon the fact that Google owns and uses computer servers within the district — “edge nodes” — that Google operate to quickly deliver content to its users within the district. Note here that, although Google owns the servers, it rends the rack space within various ISP server hubs.

    • Patent case: Koninklijke Douwe Egberts B.V. v. Belmoca BVBA, Netherlands

      In preliminary proceedings, the risk that a company will potentially suffer greatly as a result of the decision is a factor that has to be taken into account by the court.

    • Trademarks

      • Initial Fallout From McDonald’s Losing Its EU ‘Big Mac’ Trademark Is Mockery From Burger King

        While trolling online is something we generally have to suffer through rather than enjoy, I, for one, am absolutely here for the brand on brand trolling that occasionally sparks so much fun. Especially when done cleverly, this business on business violence is absolutely delicious. I was therefore very much delighted to learn that the initial fallout after McDonald’s losing its trademark rights to the “Big Mac” in the EU is that some European branches of Burger King are delighting in rubbing McDonald’s nose in it.

    • Copyrights

      • EU Copyright Directive Has Been Made Even More Stupid, And Some Are Still Trying To Make It Even Worse

        So yesterday, we noted that Article 13 was back on thanks to an apparent “compromise” between the French and the Germans as to whether or not small internet platforms would be exempted from Article 13. France was pushing for no exemption and that the same rules apply to everyone, while Germany demanded some protections for smaller companies (those making less than €20 million per year). We knew, according to the reports coming out of Brussels, that France had won, but now the details have come out and it’s worse than we thought.

      • The value gap proposal in the latest Franco-German deal: what are the key points?

        As readers who have been following the discourse around the draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market [Katposts here] will know, a few days ago the closed-door trilogue negotiations encountered a major obstacle, due to disagreement over one of the most debated provisions in this proposed piece of legislation: Article 13, also known as the ‘value gap’ or ‘transfer of value’ proposal [Katposts here].

        While France has supported the idea that the obligations within Article 13 should be generally applicable, Germany has advanced the view that an exemption should be instead available to undertakings with annual turnovers below a certain threshold (EUR 20 million).

      • U.S. Govt Seeks Public Comments on Pirate Site Blocking and ISP Liability

        The U.S. Government’s Copyright Office is continuing its review on the future of the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions. It’s specifically asking the public for input on recent domestic and international developments that relate to ISP liability, including Article 13 and pirate site blocking.

      • Ukraine Cyberpolice Shut Down Dozens of Pirate Sites

        Police in Ukraine have just announced the closure of more than 56 pirate [sic] sites, allegedly owned by the same man. At least six more were shuttered in January, in what appears to be increased enforcement in the country. Ukraine is currently placed on the USTR’s Priority Watch list, a situation it hopes to change.

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