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02.07.19

Links 7/2/2019: Cockpit 187, Hatari 2.2.0, GNOME 3.31.90, LibreOffice 6.2

Posted in News Roundup at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Six Linux Distributions Benchmarked On The Dell XPS 9380 Laptop

      While Dell is offering the option of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as the Linux option with their new XPS 9380 laptop, what happens if the Bionic Beaver isn’t of interest to you? As part of our testing of the Dell XPS 9380 with Core i7 8565U laptop, I’ve just finished up testing six different Linux distributions on this 13-inch laptop.

    • System76 Darter Pro Linux laptop now available for $999 and up

      The new Darter Pro isn’t the smallest laptop from Linux computer company System76. But it is the thinnest and lightest model the company offers with a 15.6 inch display.

      Weighing 3.6 pounds and measuring about 0.8 inches thick, it’s bigger and heavier than the company’s 2.9 pound, 0.7 inch Galago notebooks. But it has a bigger screen, a bigger battery, and room for a numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard, among other things.

  • Server

    • Che tiara! Revolutionary cloud commune fitted for Red Hat developers

      Enterprise Linux biz Red Hat, plated for consumption by IBM later this year, said on Tuesday that its containerized cloud development environment, Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces, has ripened to the point of general availability.

      CodeReady Workspaces offer enterprise devs running Red Hat’s OpenShift container platform, either on-premises or cloud hosted, a way to spin up a shareable development space in a Kubernetes cluster based on the open source Eclipse Che integrated development environment (IDE).

    • Rancher Now Allows Containerized Apps to Run on Multiple Clusters

      The open source Kubernetes startup Rancher makes public its easy way to deploy containerized applications to multiple clusters.

    • Poseidon-Firmament Scheduler – Flow Network Graph Based Scheduler

      Cluster Management systems such as Mesos, Google Borg, Kubernetes etc. in a cloud scale datacenter environment (also termed as Datacenter-as-a-Computer or Warehouse-Scale Computing – WSC) typically manage application workloads by performing tasks such as tracking machine live-ness, starting, monitoring, terminating workloads and more importantly using a Cluster Scheduler to decide on workload placements.

      A Cluster Scheduler essentially performs the scheduling of workloads to compute resources – combining the global placement of work across the WSC environment makes the “warehouse-scale computer” more efficient, increases utilization, and saves energy. Cluster Scheduler examples are Google Borg, Kubernetes, Firmament, Mesos, Tarcil, Quasar, Quincy, Swarm, YARN, Nomad, Sparrow, Apollo etc.

    • Voting is now open for 2019 Women in Open Source Awards

      In its fifth year, the Women in Open Source Awards were created and are sponsored by Red Hat to honor women who make important contributions to open source projects and communities, or those making innovative use of open source methodology.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta: A new set of container tools

      So, you’ve been using Linux containers, and you want to check out what new features are available in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta? We’ll provide a quick runthrough of some of the tools you’ll have available to work with containers.

      This post will assume you can get a RHEL 8 Beta system installed – but, if you need a little guidance, check out the installation guide.

      If you’re a container veteran, you may have deve

    • Red Hat Single Sign-On: Give it a try for no cost!

      In a software world where each day is more hostile than the previous one, security matters and developers are coping with more and more non-functional requirements about security. The most common ones are the “OWASP Top 10”: the ten security risks that every developer should know. There are many more security risks you should care about, but those ten risks are the ones having the most impact on the security of your software. Among them are authentication and access control.

      The good news is that authentication and access control are now commodities in the open source world, thanks to Red Hat Single Sign-On Red Hat Single Sign-On is an access management tool that takes care of the details of most authentication protocols such as SAML, OAuth, and OpenID Connect; user consent with UMA; and even access control. It is easy to use, is very well-documented, and has a very active community: Keycloak.

      This article describes how to download and install Red Hat Single Sign-On for no cost.

  • Chromebooks

    • Chrome OS’s app ecosystem is a mess, but the ‘App Service’ could fix it

      If nothing else, a unified marketplace could make Chrome OS’s Linux app support a more beginner friendly experience, as there are presently no app discovery methods included. Currently, to install Linux applications, one needs to use the “apt” command or manually download and install .deb files.

    • The best Linux apps for your Chromebook

      Slowly but surely, Google is bringing support for Linux applications to Chrome OS. Even though the feature is primarily aimed at developers, like those who want to get Android Studio running on a Pixelbook, there are plenty of apps that can benefit normal users. We already have a guide about installing Linux apps on Chrome OS, but if you’re not sure what to try, this post may point you in the right direction.

      This isn’t a simple compilation of the best Linux apps, because plenty of those exist already. Instead, the goal here is to recommend solutions for tasks that cannot be adequately filled by web or Android apps. For example, serious photo editing isn’t really possible through the web, and options on the Play Store are limited, but Gimp is perfect for it.

    • Fact Check: ‘Rammus’ Is NOT The Next Google Chromebook

      Speculation is fun. Scouring the Chromium repositories and looking for juicy morsels is exciting to us and often times it takes some serious mental acrobatics to create educated hypothesis on upcoming devices that are more than simple conjecture.

      Despite our best attempts, occasionally we miss the mark but it isn’t for lack of trying. With that being said, often times some simple fact checking goes a long way. The articles that filled my news feed last week about Google’s “mysterious Rammus” device are a perfect example of flat out bad reporting and failure to do an ounce of research before vomiting an article that is click bait, plain and simple.

    • VPN TUN support coming soon to Linux on Chromebooks with Crostini

      One of the benefits to running Linux desktop apps on a Chromebook via Project Crostini is having access to more apps that work in a business environment. But one of the fairly standard requirements in many businesses is using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, for security reasons. Chrome OS network traffic can be securely routed through an Android VPN client but that security doesn’t extend to Linux apps in a Crostini container.

    • Chrome is getting a unified app management page, includes Android apps on Chromebooks

      According to the folks at Chrome Story, Chrome’s Canary channel just picked up a new app management page, triggered via a new flag. Although it’s present across desktop platforms, on Chrome OS this page contains not only Chrome apps (which Google is still trying to retire) but Android apps as well. That’s right, Chrome OS is finally picking up a unified way to manage apps — but Linux applications sadly aren’t included just yet.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.7
    • Linux 4.19.20
    • Linux 4.14.98
    • Linux 4.9.155
    • Linux 4.4.173
    • Linux 3.18.134
    • At Just Over One Year Old, LinuxBoot Continues Making Inroads At Facebook & Elsewhere

      Andrea Barberio and David Hendricks of Facebook presented at FOSDEM 2019 last week on the efforts around LinuxBoot as well as U-Root and Coreboot for freeing hardware down to the lowest levels. LinuxBoot continues to be developed by Facebook as well as Google and other organizations wanted an open and trusted hardware initialization process.

      Most of the LinuxBoot supported motherboards at this stage are various Open Compute nodes but there is also the Dell R630 and Intel S2600WF boards that can handle this Linux-on-firmware implementation. LinuxBoot continues to work with UEFI as well as a Coreboot payload.

    • Systemd as tragedy

      Tragedy, according to Wikipedia, is “a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences”. Benno Rice took his inspiration from that definition for his 2019 linux.conf.au talk on the story of systemd which, he said, involves no shortage of suffering. His attempt to cast that story for the pleasure of his audience resulted in a sympathetic and nuanced look at a turbulent chapter in the history of the Linux system.

      Rice was also influenced by Aurynn Shaw’s writing on “contempt culture”. According to Shaw, people use contempt (of developers using a different programming language, for example) as a social signifier, a way of showing that they belong to the correct group. This sort of contempt certainly plays into this story, where large groups identify themselves primarily by their disdain for systemd and those who work with it. A related concept is change, or the resistance thereto. The familiar is comfortable, but it isn’t necessarily good, especially if it has been around for a long time.

    • Snowpatch: continuous-integration testing for the kernel

      Many projects use continuous-integration (CI) testing to improve the quality of the software they produce. By running a set of tests after every commit, CI systems can identify problems quickly, before they find their way into a release and bite unsuspecting users. The Linux kernel project lags many others in its use of CI testing for a number of reasons, including a fundamental mismatch with how kernel developers tend to manage their workflows. At linux.conf.au 2019, Russell Currey described a CI system called Snowpatch that, he hopes, will bridge the gap and bring better testing to the kernel development process.

      There are a number of advantages to CI, Currey said. It provides immediate feedback to developers; with luck, they can fix their problems before other people have to spend any time reporting them. It can save a lot of time for reviewers. As a result, the whole code submission process speeds up, and the project is able to move more quickly as a whole.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Beyond Kubernetes: A report card on the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s open source efforts

        Like, for example, how amazing Google has been with Kubernetes. As I’ve noted before, Google has done just about everything right in its stewardship of the open source container orchestration engine. The easiest way to see this, however, is in Google’s declining share of Kubernetes commits.

        Kubernetes sees lots of community involvement, with 3,505 committers and 18,167 contributors making up the Kubernetes community over the past year. Google, the originator of Kubernetes, not surprisingly dominates its development. Importantly, it “dominates” less and less each year. Whether you measure “known commits authors” (34% last year, but 29.5% in the last three months) or other measures of corporate involvement, Google’s share of the Kubernetes commit pie is down from last year (and down even more from the year before), with Red Hat and others stepping up to contribute more.

    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Wires In EXT_buffer_device_address Support For Mesa 19.1

        The Radeon RADV and Intel ANV Vulkan drivers have support for the new VK_EXT_buffer_device_address extension with the in-development Mesa 19.1.

        VK_EXT_buffer_device_address was introduced last month with Vulkan 1.1.97 as a way to query a device address value for a buffer. That buffer address can then be used by GLSL’s PhysicalStorageBufferEXT or SPIR-V’s SPV_EXT_physical_storage_buffer to access the buffer memory.

      • AMD Radeon VII Linux Benchmarks – Powerful Open-Source Graphics For Compute & Gaming

        Today we can finally reveal the Linux performance details for the AMD Radeon VII graphics card… Especially if you are an open-source driver fan, it’s quite a treat thanks to having fully open-source and fairly mature driver support, but can this $699 USD graphics card dance with the likes of the GeForce RTX 2080? Here is our initial look at the Radeon VII performance on Linux using fifteen different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards for both OpenCL compute and Vulkan/OpenGL gaming on Ubuntu Linux.

      • Updated Radeon Software 18.50 Linux Driver Tacks On Radeon VII Support
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.31.90 released

        Hi developers and testers,

        GNOME 3.31.90 is now available. This is the first beta release for GNOME 3.32. To ensure the quality of the final release, we have entered feature freeze, UI freeze, and API freeze, so now is a good time for distributors planning to ship GNOME 3.32 to start testing the packages.

        If you want to compile GNOME 3.31.90, you can use the official BuildStream project snapshot. Thanks to BuildStream’s build sandbox, it should build reliably for you regardless of your host system:

        https://download.gnome.org/teams/releng/3.31.90/gnome-3.31.90.tar.xz

        The list of updated modules and changes is available here:

        https://download.gnome.org/core/3.31/3.31.90/NEWS

        The source packages are available here:

        https://download.gnome.org/core/3.31/3.31.90/sources/

        WARNING!
        ——–
        This release is a snapshot of development code. Although it is buildable and usable, it is primarily intended for testing and hacking purposes. GNOME uses odd minor version numbers to indicate development status.

        For more information about 3.31, the full schedule, the official module lists and the proposed module lists, please see our 3.31 wiki page:

        https://www.gnome.org/start/unstable

        Michael

      • GNOME 3.32 Beta Released With Performance Improvements, Last Minute Features

        GNOME 3.31.90 has been released as what is effectively the GNOME 3.32 beta and also marks the feature/UI/API freezes for this next half-year update to the GNOME desktop.

      • GNOME 3.32 Desktop Environment Enters Beta, Final Release Arrives March 13th

        The GNOME Project announced today the release of the first beta version of the upcoming GNOME 3.32 desktop environment for Linux-based operating systems.

        The GNOME 3.32 Beta release (GNOME 3.31.90) is right on the schedule and it’s now available for public testing. It’s a major milestone in the development cycle of the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment updating numerous components and apps. A detailed changelog is available here.

        “This is the first beta release for GNOME 3.32. To ensure the quality of the final release, we have entered feature freeze, UI freeze, and API freeze, so now is a good time for distributors planning to ship GNOME 3.32 to start testing the packages,” said Michael Catanzaro in an email announcement.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC 9.0 released: Linux distro built around Kodi media center

        Popular media center software Kodi is an open source, cross-platform application for music, movies, photos, online media, and other content. The software runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, but if you have a device that you pretty much only want to use for Kodi, there’s LibreELEC — a GNU/Linux-based operating system designed to put Kodi front and center.

        Last week Kodi 18 “Leia” was released, bringing support for games, improved Blu-ray support, DRM support, and other improvements.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Major Version Updates of Bash, libvirt, OpenConnect Arrive in Tumbleweed

        Another three snapshots were released this week for openSUSE Tumbleweed bringing updates for ImageMagick, Mesa, Apache, Ceph, Flatpak Builder, Python and more. Plus, new major versions of Bash, glusterfs, libvirt and openconnect were updated this week.

        The first snapshot of the week, 20190201, was a complete rebuild of the distribution and the snapshots released since have gradually improved in quality, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

        The most recent snapshot, 20190205, brought support HEIC EXIF & XMP profiles with the minor version release of the graphics editing tool ImageMagick 7.0.8.25. The 18.3.2 version of the Mesa library and Mesa-drivers were updated, which provided a number of fixes for the RADV Vulkan drivers. The apache2 package was updated to 2.4.38 and the update lists the mod_lua module as stable. Fixed conflicting items in rule dialogs were fixed with the autoyast2 4.1.0 update. Ceph’s updated package had a fix for SignatureMismatchError in s3 commands. The support library used in the Xfce desktop exo 0.12.4 fix highlight rendering with GTK 3. The scalable, distributed file system glusterfs had a major update jump from version 4.0.2 to 5.3. The new version added several new management and standalone features and the dot three minor version provided a fix for Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) client’s memory leak. The major release of openconnect 8.02 added Cisco-compatible DTLSv1.2 support. Another major version release was libvirt 5.0.0 that added support for Open vSwitch with the new feature for Xen. Other packages that were updated were the kernel firmware, gnutls, libstorage-ng 4.1.84, llvm 7.0.1, mercurial 4.9 and python-setuptools 40.7.2. The sysconfig package moved backward from version 0.85.0 to 0.84.3.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora Strategy FAQ Part 2: What does this mean for me?

        Packagers remain free to provide software at the versions and cadence they wish. However, that doesn’t mean they can block others providing the same software in different versions and cadence. For example, if you only want to work on the very latest version of a particular piece of software as it comes from upstream, that’s cool — but you have to leave room for someone else who wants to maintaining older releases of that same software.

        This isn’t necessarily new — we’ve seen this with, for example, co-maintainers where one person works on the main Fedora OS package and someone else maintains an EPEL branch. But this goes further with features and even bugs. Perhaps a Fedora solution like CoreOS or the Fedora KDE Plasma desktop needs a slightly different version than the “main” one to enable (or strip down) some particular feature. That’s okay! We have multiple stream branches to allow this.

        The same is true for changes and other ideas, including greater automation in packaging. Perhaps someone wants to provide a stream where updates are automatically triggered when upstream makes a release. Or maybe someone wants to try out a whole new way of generating specfiles from templates. We don’t block people out, instead we provide options. There is no obligation for packagers or others to provide all possible options, but we also don’t want to restrict those options from being provided by someone who is interested.

      • Máirín Duffy: Fedora logo redesign update
      • Fedora Strategy FAQ Part 2: What does this mean for me?

        Packagers remain free to provide software at the versions and cadence they wish. However, that doesn’t mean they can block others providing the same software in different versions and cadence. For example, if you only want to work on the very latest version of a particular piece of software as it comes from upstream, that’s cool — but you have to leave room for someone else who wants to maintaining older releases of that same software.

        This isn’t necessarily new — we’ve seen this with, for example, co-maintainers where one person works on the main Fedora OS package and someone else maintains an EPEL branch. But this goes further with features and even bugs. Perhaps a Fedora solution like CoreOS or the Fedora KDE Plasma desktop needs a slightly different version than the “main” one to enable (or strip down) some particular feature. That’s okay! We have multiple stream branches to allow this.

        The same is true for changes and other ideas, including greater automation in packaging. Perhaps someone wants to provide a stream where updates are automatically triggered when upstream makes a release. Or maybe someone wants to try out a whole new way of generating specfiles from templates. We don’t block people out, instead we provide options. There is no obligation for packagers or others to provide all possible options, but we also don’t want to restrict those options from being provided by someone who is interested.

      • Máirín Duffy: Fedora logo redesign update
    • Debian Family

      • Review of Debian System Administrator’s Handbook

        Debian System Administrator’s Handbook is a free-to-download book that covers all the essential part of Debian that a sysadmin might need.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Delayed for Valentine’s Day Due to Boot Error

            Canonical announced today that the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system would be delayed for a week, until February 14th, due to a boot error that cannot be fixed in time.

            In a mailing list announcement published earlier today, Canonical’s Adam Conrad announced that Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS would be released next week, on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, instead of the initial February 7th launch. The cause for the delay appears to be a critical boot error with the Linux 4.18 kernel.

          • What’s the OOPS ID?

            The other day gnumeric crashed on me and like a good Ubuntu user, I submitted the crash report to the Ubuntu Error Tracker. Naturally, I also wanted to see the crash report in the Error Tracker and find out if other people had experienced the crash. It used to be an ordeal to find the OOPS ID associated with a specific crash, you’d have to read multiple lines of the systemd journal using ‘journalctl -u whoopsie.service’ and find the right OOPS ID for the crash about which you are interested.

          • Canonical tells organizations to prepare for Ubuntu 14.04 ESM

            Canonical has penned a blog post stating that organizations that want to continue using Ubuntu 14.04 after it reaches end-of-life status on April 30, 2019, should prepare to buy Extended Security Maintenance (ESM). ESM allows organizations to continue receiving updates for Ubuntu 14.04 while they look to upgrade to a later version of the operating system. Ubuntu 14.04 ESM will provide three years of updates from April 2019.

            According to the firm’s FAQ page, businesses can buy ESM as a standalone product in quantities of 1,000 machines or above at $50 per node per year. It also comes included with Ubuntu Advantage which costs $150 per year with a minimum order of 50 desktop units.

            What may come as a pleasant surprise to organizations is that as of November 2018, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is supported for a whopping ten years, meaning updates will be delivered to everybody until April 2028. This should give tech departments all around the world ample time to upgrade their systems.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Maintaining Integrity and Availability of Data Through Open Source Software

    Integrity is one of three vital components of securing information held within an organisation. Integrity is about ensuring consistency of data by keeping it accurate and complete. One factor that can compromise this is unauthorised access as data is altered, corrupted or deleted. This can affect the performance, delivery and maintenance of data. Ultimately, it will affect the value of the asset to an organisation.

  • wolfSSL Announces Integration with cURL, Daniel Stenberg, founder and Chief Architect of cURL, to join wolfSSL
  • Significance of Open Source and DevOps for Software Development

    Enterprises need to start open sourcing their code in order to stay relevant in the market. DevOps technology is also a prerequisite, where the open source codes can be layered. The DevOps teams will have to enforce open source policies to ensure compliance against practices. The teams will also have to automatically update continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) servers with the latest open source language build. An automated, reproducible, and continuous Build Engineering process can help DevOps teams to ensure a truly agile framework with continuous builds for the DevOps process.

  • Nasdaq’s head of tech says there are 2 big reasons open source companies fail, and named 2 that are getting it right and could IPO soon
  • Interview: The power of open source

    Industry watchers are looking at IBM’s $34bn acquisition of Red Hat and scratching their heads. Why would Big Blue spend this much on a company known for its Linux operating system (OS) distribution? IBM sees Red Hat as key to its hybrid cloud strategy, underpinned by a cross-platform operating system.

    Until last July, Stefanie Chiras was a long-term IBMer, looking after chip design and, later, Power systems. She joined Red Hat just a couple of months prior to IBM’s bid to buy the Linux OS firm, taking the role of vice-president and general manager of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

  • Intel Releases Open Source Encoder for Next-Gen AV1 Codec

    Intel published its own open source CPU-based encoder for the next-generation and royalty-free AV1 codec (a codec is a program for encoding / decoding a digital data stream or signal). Intel is one of the main founding members of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), the non-profit group behind the development of the AV1 codec.

  • Telenor Pakistan Turns On VoLTE using OpenSource Platform Developed In-House

    Telenor Pakistan’s VoLTE solution is developed on an OpenSource platform and has been customized and developed in-house. The platform is deployed on the DevOps model and uses crowdsourcing way of work hiring top talent across the globe for state of the art development. This will enable Telenor Pakistan to offer tailored solutions to its customers as well as provide add-on services to them with efficiency and agility.
    Telenor Pakistan said it will soon be integrating VoLTE on all of its 4G Infinity handsets and will continue to work with other handset manufacturers in order to bring an improved calling experience over LTE for the first time to the people of Pakistan.

  • Ericsson joins O-RAN alliance after completing MediaKind divestment

    Right at the end of last week the company announced the divestment of 51% of its media solutions business, which is rebranded as MediaKind last summer for reasons best known to those concerned. It turns out you need more than a rebrand to turn a business around and this division remains a lowlight of Ericsson’s earnings, but at least it only needs to account for 49% of its rubbish numbers from now on and it reckons the next quarter will be half a billion Krona better off as a consequence.

  • Ericsson Jumps On the O-RAN Alliance Bandwagon

    Ericsson is the latest big-named vendor to join the O-RAN Alliance, which is looking to form an open standards-based consensus for virtualizing the radio access network (RAN). This virtualized RAN architecture is seen as key to 5G network deployments.

  • Increasing The Power Of Hybrid IT Through Open Source

    Broadcom (perhaps still better known as CA) used this year’s Arcati Mainframe Yearbook to highlight the power of Zowe and their work in its development. They suggested that hybrid IT is all about harnessing the power of the digital age to deliver, analyze, adapt, and innovate your enterprise’s critical functions – regardless of technology or platform. The mainframe is key to your hybrid IT strategy containing a rich repository of data and applications delivered through unmatched scalability and security. Mainframe organizations however, are challenged with making the mainframe more readily consumable across all platforms and by the next-generation workforce – limiting the ability to deliver value to the business.

  • A Venture Capitalist’s Read On Themes From Davos: Open Source And Observability

    For the second year in a row, I asked Jacob Jofe, a Vice President at Index Ventures where he focuses on the firm’s enterprise investments, to provide some thoughts on themes he found particularly poignant. He highlights two areas that have now become CEO-level topics of conversation: the rise of open source software, and the importance of observability.

  • Events

    • Devconf.cz 2019 trip report

      I’ve just got back from my Devconf.cz 2019 trip, after spending a few days after the conference in Red Hat’s Brno office with other Fedora QA team members, then a few days visiting family.

    • Adrien Plazas: FOSDEM and GTK Hackfest 2019

      This year was my second time at FOSDEM and it was both exhausting and a lot of fun!

      I went from Montpellier to Brussels in TGV, via the direct line connecting the two cities. I love high speed trains, they are comfy, you can bring lots of baggage, you are not probed, you can see the countryside, they typically connect the center of cities, and they even have Wi-Fi and power plugs! Thanks to that, I have been able to bring the booth box that was sitting at my house since Capitole du Libre 2018 for free!

    • FOSDEM 2019 and CHAOSS EU 2019 report

      FOSDEM is over and it is time to recap.

      Last year I decided to take a break and did not attend to the event. This year I was really looking forward to attend.

      I will start by thanking Codethink Ltd for sponsoring my trip. It is always a pleasure to work in a company that supports their employees in attending to Open Source community events. Codethink sponsored FOSDEM once again by the way.

      It has not been the easiest edition for me because I have been sick the past days and was not fully recovered. The cold weather didn’t help so I decided to stay away from late nights and Trappist beers. It was hard to go to bed at a decent time every night and miss some night gatherings like the KDE and GNOME ones or the FOSDEM party on Friday at Delirium Cafe.

      On February 1st I attended to the CHAOSScon EU conference. I liked it. It was well organised and I could have several interesting conversations about what to measure and why when it comes to Open Source communities. I attended to most of the talks and I participated in one of the workshops. I think I can add some value in the GMD working group. Let’s see if I have the time to contribute. It would be fun.

    • Changing the world with better documentation

      Rory Aronson started his 2019 linux.conf.au keynote with a statement that gardening just isn’t his passion; an early attempt degenerated into a weed-choked mess when he couldn’t be bothered to keep it up. But he turned out to be passionate indeed about building a machine that would do the gardening for him. That led to the FarmBot project, a successful exercise in the creation of open hardware, open software, and an open business. A big part of that success, it turns out, lies in the project’s documentation.

      A few years after his garden went to seed, Aronson was taking an organic agriculture class when he stumbled across a piece of advanced industrial agricultural equipment. It was a tractor attachment that contained an array of cameras, one for each of a dozen or so rows of plants. The device can distinguish lettuce plants from weeds; it uses that information to automatically till the weeds under the soil. It can also selectively spray materials as needed. This was, he thought, a piece of cool technology, but he found himself wondering why there was no version of it for his backyard.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox “Site Isolation” Will Protect Users From Spectre-style Attacks

        Mozilla’s Project Fission will finally bear some fruitful results after one year in the making. Mozilla has publicly announced an overhaul of Firefox with Project Fisson, which will protect the browser form Spectre-class attacks.

        Side-channel attacks have always been problematic for the browsers, which is why Google Chrome introduced a similar effort back in May 2018. Now, Firefox is following the same footsteps.

      • A New Year with New Goals for Mozilla Localization

        We had a really ambitious and busy year in 2018! Thanks to the help of the global localization community as well as a number of cross-functional Mozilla staff, we were able to focus our efforts on improving the foundations of our localization program.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Cloudera And Hortonworks: Combination Plans To Take On Amazon

      According to a Zion Market research report, the global Hadoop market was estimated to grow at a CAGR of 50% to $87.14 billion by the end of 2022. Billion-Dollar Unicorn Cloudera (NYSE:CLDR) is a leading player in the segment which recently strengthened its standing in the market by announcing its merger with rival Hortonworks (NASDAQ:HDP).

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Shipping Today With User Interface Improvements, Many New Features

      If Microsoft Office 2019 isn’t your thing, The Document Foundation is today debuting LibreOffice 6.2 as the latest major release for this cross-platform, open-source office suite.

      LibreOffice 6.2 ships today with the optional new “tabbed” UI, the new “grouped-bar compact UI” is also available, there is better KDE/Qt5/LXQt integration, PDF importing enhancements, better PPT/PPTX import/export, support for OOXML agile encryption, native copy/paste support for spreadsheet data into Writer tables, HiDPI enhancements, and a heck of a lot of other changes.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Officially Released with New NotebookBar UI, Many Improvements

      Six months in developmnt, the LibreOffice 6.2 office suite is now available for download and features a new user interface called NotebookBar, which is based on the MUFFIN concept and was previously an experimental feature. The NotebookBar UI is optional, not enabled by default, and comes in three different flavors, Tabbed, Grouped and Contextual.

      “The Tabbed variant aims to provide a familiar interface for users coming from proprietary office suites and is supposed to be used primarily without the sidebar, while the Grouped one allows to access “first-level” functions with one click and “second-level” functions with a maximum of two clicks,” said The Document Foundation.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Is Now Ready for Mainstream Users and Enterprise Deployments

      LibreOffice 6.1.5 is now available, coming one and a half months after the LibreOffice 6.1.4 point release, marking the open-source office suite as ready for mainstream users and enterprise deployments as The Document Foundation considers the LibreOffice 6.1 series mature enough and thoroughly tested for production use.

      Until LibreOffice 6.1.4, the LibreOffice 6.1 series was only recommended to bleeding-edge and power users, but now The Document Foundation considers the office suite ready for deployment in organizations across a large number of computers starting with LibreOffice 6.1.5, which includes more than 70 bug fixes

    • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2 with NotebookBar, the office suite which offers the most flexible user experience

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2 with NotebookBar, a significant major release of the free office suite which features a radical new approach to the user interface – based on the MUFFIN concept [1] – and provides user experience options capable of satisfying all users’ preferences, while leveraging all screen sizes in the best way.

      The NotebookBar is available in Tabbed, Grouped and Contextual flavors, each one with a different approach to the menu layout, and complements the traditional Toolbars and Sidebar. The Tabbed variant aims to provide a familiar interface for users coming from proprietary office suites and is supposed to be used primarily without the sidebar, while the Grouped one allows to access “first-level” functions with one click and “second-level” functions with a maximum of two clicks.

      The design community has also made substantial changes and improvements to icon themes, in particular Elementary and Karasa Jaga.

    • LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice – wait for it, wait for it – doesn’t [Ed: Minor issue. Pertaining to Microsoft-style macros.]

      Before attempting to guess which app has yet to be patched, consider that Apache OpenOffice for years has struggled attract more contributors. And though the number of people adding code to the project has grown since last we checked, the project missed its recent January report to the Apache Foundation. The upshot is: security holes aren’t being patched, it seems.

    • LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice vulnerable to same bug; only one is fixed

      Austrian researcher Alex Inführ publicly reported the vulnerability on Friday, shortly after it was fixed in LibreOffice. His disclosure included a proof-of-concept exploit that successfully executed commands on computers running what was then a fully patched version of LibreOffice. The only interaction that was required was that the target user hover over an invisible link with a mouse. On Wednesday, researcher John Lambert provided additional PoC samples.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • QA on non-Intel at Guix Days

      During the second day of Guix Days (a FOSDEM fringe event) we split up into smaller working groups based on our areas of interest. I led a group which aimed to address some of the package issues which exist on non-Intel architectures. Of course not everyone has access to an ARM board, but with the qemu-binfmt-service service it is possible to use QEMU and the binfmt_misc functionality of the Linux kernel to emulate these systems. Many have reported that this system emulation is comparable in speed to many of the available ARM boards on the market. Yet another possibility would be to do the hacking on an x86_64 system and, when we had a working prototype, to test it with QEMU or on actual ARM hardware.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Umpires of open source licenses

      Open source, like most areas of human endeavor, has institutions and rules that enable it to function. Recently, the open source community has been challenged regarding its licensing. Here’s a scenario to illustrate the problem.

      Imagine yourself at a baseball game and the pitcher decides he doesn’t feel like throwing the ball that day, so he sets up a machine to do it instead. Fans on both sides would be thinking, “Is this a joke? This isn’t baseball, what’s going on here?” The umpire (referee) would stop the game and have the machine removed and probably the pitcher too. This is why leagues hire umpires to enforce the rules. They make sure the rules are obeyed to uphold the integrity of the game.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • An open-source artificial pancreas

      Dana Lewis said that her keynote at linux.conf.au 2019 would be about her journey of learning about open source and how it could be applied in the healthcare world. She hoped it might lead some attendees to use their talents on solutions for healthcare. Her efforts and those of others in the community have led to a much better quality of life for a number of those who suffer from a chronic, time-consuming disease.

      She began with a well-known joke in hacker circles (“there are 10 kinds of people in the world …”), but she added a twist. Beyond those who know binary and those who don’t, there are also another 10 kinds of people: those who can produce their own insulin and those who can’t. Lewis has type 1 diabetes, so she “just” needs to add insulin to her system because her pancreas does not produce it, but it is not quite that simple. Getting diagnosed with a chronic disease is “like getting struck by lightning”, she said; there is no time to prepare and you know that everything will be different from that point forward.

    • Open up to open-source

      Tesla founder-CEO Elon Musk reiterated the company’s commitment to the open source philosophy and climate change action by tweeting a link to a 2014 blog post where he writes that there will be no patent barrier to any of Tesla-developed technologies for bona fide users; Musk claims to have done this in the interest of faster propagation of electronic vehicles that will bring down greenhouse gas emissions. Musk exhorting innovators and entrepreneurs around the world to make use of Tesla’s intellectual property is, undoubtedly, good news on the climate front. Some Musk-critics believe there is more to it than just climate-action championing, but whatever the motive, business captains could perhaps take a cue on meeting the changing expectations of leadership from Musk.

    • “Ours is an open source model”: Ogilvy’s Sumanto Chattopadhyay on 82.5 Communications

      WPP’s newly launched 82.5 Communications, an Ogilvy group agency, is based on a similar model; the team calls it an ‘open source model’, wherein they partner with many different firms depending on the needs of a given client, put all the solutions through a “brand filter” and serve a composite end result to the advertiser.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Bitcoin for the biological literature

        When Sarah Bajan finished a study on the argonaute-2 protein last year, she found herself in a position all too common in scientific research: she had an interesting finding, but not enough for a full publication. “I had data from a project that was mostly observational, with no more resources to continue,” says Bajan, a geneticist at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. But she was happy with the results, which revealed a previously unidentified form of the protein, and it would have been a shame to stuff them in a drawer.

        Fortunately, she didn’t have to. A colleague told Bajan about ScienceMatters, an open-access publishing platform that posts peer-reviewed short papers and single-observation studies — research that most journals would dismiss. Bajan submitted her work last October and it was accepted two weeks later.

  • Programming/Development

    • A Detailed Look At The Speed Advantages To LLVM’s LLD Linker

      The LLVM Linker “LLD” has slowly been gaining more ground as developers try it out as a drop-in replacement to the GNU system linkers. What turns on many developers to LLD is the often “lightning fast” performance compared to the GNU linkers, even the Gold linker.

      Linaro’s Peter Smith recently took an extensive look at LLD relative to the other linkers on Linux systems to get a better understanding for the performance advantages and figuring out why that’s the case.

      Smith found LLD was faster than the Gold linker by two to three times while faster than the standard ld.bfd linker by five to ten times.

    • New public course on Successfully Delivering Data Science Projects for March 1st

      The next iteration of Successfully Delivering Data Science Projects is online for March 1st, the course has half sold-out already. If you’d like to improve your confidence around the successful delivery of Python data science projects – you’ll want to get a ticket soon. The material I teach is based on years of helping clients from start-ups to corporates to successfully deliver data science projects.

    • What Frameworks and Languages Are Developers Using in 2019?

      Developers have a highly prized skill set, writing the code and applications that power the modern economy. The development skills that are most in demand are not static and change over time.

      In an effort to gauge the current state of developer trends, HackerRank surveyed 71,281 developers to understand what’s working and what’s not. The end result is the 28-page 2019 Developer Skills Report, which provides insight into the current state of the developer landscape.

      “Hiring and retaining skilled developers is critical for businesses everywhere,” Vivek Ravisankar, co-founder and CEO of HackerRank, wrote in a media advisory. “Recruiters and hiring managers need a deep understanding of who developers are, what they care about and what they want from their employers.”

    • One Repository To Rule The Source – And Object – Code

      The concept of a single repository for source is not necessarily a new one. When I interviewed with ARCAD back in 2011, I did so at the at the Rational conference called Innovate in Orlando. The research and development team and our chief technology officer were already in dialogue with IBM to resell ARCAD technology alongside its Rational development suite, adding power to Rational Team Concert that development organizations could effectively have a similar repository for IBM i and open source applications.

      At the time, RTC supported the open source world very well, just like Git does now. But back then, Rational was a competitor of ours, and the other commercial offering was Team Foundation Server from Microsoft, what is now called Azure DevOps.

    • Remove the string after the # mark in a website url
    • PyCharm 2019.1 EAP 3
    • Episode #116: So you want Python in a 3D graphics engine?
    • Getting started as a GitLab contributor

      During that first call, James walked us through how licenses worked in the version we’d be modifying, then we discussed the vision for the feature we’d be implementing. This was to ensure we were all on the same page and everyone understood what was happening. This was really helpful for Aaron and me so we could look back as we went through coding the new feature.

      They also brought in a designer, Sarah Vesselov, to ensure the UX would be right. They were migrating to a new look where we’d be working, so our timing would be an issue. Sarah also made some great mockups for the result and posted them on the GitLab issue.

      During the call, Douwe navigated Aaron and me through the Ruby on Rails code and made some of the initial changes. He served as an experienced guide to make us more familiar with the code, show us the parts we would likely need to change, and help us avoid some pitfalls. Thanks to his thorough explanation, we were able to complete a lot in just an hour.

      After looking through the code, I felt a little nervous. Just a few years ago, I was writing Ruby all day every day, and these weren’t simple scripts. I was contributing to complex systems with race conditions and functionality, like creating a directed acyclic graph of tasks and executing them. However, none of that was in Ruby on Rails, and Ruby on Rails looked barely like the Ruby I remember.

    • Top 15 Best Embedded Systems Programming Languages

      As millennials continue to delve more towards a technologically uptight and innovative society, we’re starting to realize the real potential of IoT(Internet of Things) in our day to day life. The IoT devices are renovating our lifestyle in a more subtle way than you may realize. From your latest Kindle to your SmartWatch, each modern-day device is a part of this IoT. These devices also need to be programmed just like a computer or mobile, their more traditional counterparts. Programming such devices are known as embedded systems programming. Programming embedded systems, however, is a bit more tedious task than most developers think. They require low-level system access and need to utilize as fewer resources possible. So, only a select set of languages are suitable for embedded systems programming.

    • Python programming language’s top uses, tools: Developers reveal their choices

      Python has grown to become one of the top programming languages in the world, with more developers than ever now using it for data analysis, machine learning, DevOps, and web development.

    • Remi Collet: PHP version 7.2.15 and 7.3.2
    • Python JSON

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • IP Still At Heart Of Access To Medicines Discussions At WHO

      Intellectual property is often pointed at as hindering access to medicines by resulting in their long-lasting unaffordability, a view which is strongly opposed by IP proponents. The discussions on access to medicines last week during the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting yielded a record number of interventions by member states and nongovernmental organisations, reflecting the importance of the issue.

    • Using Antitrust to Fix Broken Markets

      The prescription drug market is a real mess, in my view. At the very least, it is complicated, and prices for drugs seem to be higher in the U.S. than elsewhere (though teasing that out is hard, since very few pay sticker price and insurance companies negotiate deals). But I don’t know what the solution is, and I’m not convinced anyone else does, either. The recent article that triggers my thoughts on this is: A Non-Coercive Approach to Product Hopping, 33 Antitrust 102 (2018), by Michael Carrier (Rutgers) and Steve Shadowen (Hilliard & Shadowen LLP). T

    • Russian doctors and families are fighting to access the medicine sick children need to survive

      A little girl from Russia’s Penza Oblast received a rare diagnosis: a genetic disorder that causes increasingly severe epilepsy, limiting the girl’s life expectancy to her teenage years. An effective treatment for her condition exists, but only outside Russia: within the country, the medication she needs is not officially registered. The girl’s parents used established laws to request government funding for the drug and even took government officials to court in the process, all to no avail. They are not alone: many Russians need lifesaving medications that have not been registered in Russia and cannot be sold in pharmacies there as a result. Accessing unregistered drugs requires incredible and sometimes even illegal efforts. Meduza correspondent Darya Sarkisyan reports on the lives of Russians who need unregistered drugs and explains what Russian residents do if they need immediate access to medications that cost several hundred thousand dollars a year.

    • When Your President Calls You a Murderer

      It’s a hell of a thing to hear your president call you a murderer.

      That’s not quite the whole picture, though, of what President Donald Trump did to later abortion patients during the State of the Union speech Tuesday night. After he invoked the Madonna, a “beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child,” women abruptly vanished for the rest of the time he took to throw enough red meat to the anti-choice base to keep money from the evangelical coffers flowing. Instead, we disappeared into the “womb” from which “beautiful” babies are “ripped moments before birth;” we are nothing more than the “womb” in which “children … can feel pain.”

      And then, mission accomplished, the president turned from describing children as the “holy image of God” to pronouncing—in the same oddly emotional tone of voice—that the “final part of my agenda is to protect America’s national security.”

    • Progressive Democrats of America Support Rep. Jayapal’s Medicare For All Act of 2019

      As the Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), I am writing on behalf of our activists to urge all Americans to ask their member of Congress to cosponsor of Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All Act of 2019.

      PDA was founded in 2004 to organize in favor of policies for all the people—not just the powerful—including expanded and improved Medicare for All.

      Our Healthcare is a Human Right issue team has reviewed this legislation, and found it to be the best and most inclusive healthcare legislation in U.S. History. As part of the huge and growing national coalition working for health justice, we have learned that the Medicare for All Act of 2019 would guarantee the highest quality healthcare for all U.S. residents including all medically needed care with no premiums, co-pays, caps, or deductibles.

    • An Open Letter to Rep. Pramila Jayapal Regarding Medicare for All

      We applaud your efforts to improve the legislation from previous versions by including guaranteed access to vital services such as reproductive health and long-term care. However, we have identified two key policy provisions that must be addressed in the final bill: 1) the explicit prohibition and buyout of investor-owned, for-profit health facilities, and 2) the explicit inclusion of coverage for every resident of the U.S., regardless of immigration or citizenship status.

  • Security

    • SpaceBelt whitepaper

      Isolation from the Internet is vulnerable to the usual gateway problem, unintentional or malicious. If only application-level access is provided, a gateway only accesses its own account. However, if state security services were able to insert malware into Iran’s nuclear facilities, I think that the isolation may not be as impregnable as purported.

      Consider also that system control has to be provided somehow, so they must have a control facility. In terms of vulnerabilities to governments and physical attacks, it is an equivalent of a datacenter hosting the intercontinental cluster’s control plane, located at the point where master ground station is. In case of SpaceBelt, it is identified as “Network Management Center”.

    • Linux Kernel Continues To Offer Mitigation for Spectre Mitigation

      Usually, you want to mitigate all possible vulnerabilities unless we are talking about Meltdown and Spectre which are a class or family of dozens of vulnerabilities. But what sysadmins hate more than these vulnerabilities are mitigations offered to these vulnerabilities. Some of these mitigations have a massive impact on performance, while not offering any significant protection.

    • Microsoft re-releases several updates to address RSRE, SSB and L1 Terminal Fault
    • SpeakUp Trojan Targets Linux Servers [Ed: Check Point are liars. It is not "backdoor" but a Trojan that targets unpatched, neglected machines]

      Researchers at Check Point have found a new Trojan called SpeakUp that’s infecting Linux servers. SpeakUp exploits known vulnerabilities in Linux and is targeting servers in China.

      According to Check Point, “SpeakUp acts to propagate internally within the infected subnet, and beyond to new IP ranges, exploiting remote code execution vulnerabilities. In addition, SpeakUp presented the ability to infect Mac devices with the undetected backdoor.”

    • For security hygiene, scan your containers in build time

      Developers are increasingly turning to containers to make building, testing, and running applications across a variety of environments faster and more efficient. As containers have grown in popularity, so too has the understanding that we need to find solutions to keeping the code within them secure from vulnerabilities.

    • Google Set to Advance Confidential Computing With Asylo Project [Ed: Google redefines the word "confidential". A "surveillance capitalism" company in NSA PRISM and with back doors in everything (and with NSA access to your passwords) hunours confidentiality?]
    • Over Half of Companies Are Upping Spending on IT Security: eSecurity Planet Survey
    • Design for security

      Serena Chen began her talk in the Security, Identity & Privacy miniconf at linux.conf.au 2019 with a plan to dispel a pervasive myth that “usability and security are mutually exclusive”. She hoped that by the end of her talk, she could convince the audience that the opposite is true: good user experience design and good security cannot exist without each other. It makes sense, she said, because a secure system must be reliable and controllable, which means it must be usable, while a usable system must be less confusing, thus it is more secure.

      Chen is a product designer who is interested in the “intersection between security and humans”. She thought that most in the room would agree that “everyone deserves to be secure without having to be experts”. But our current ways of designing systems are not focused on that. We need to stop expecting our users to be or become security experts.

    • Malware takes control of vulnerable Linux servers to mine crypto-cash [Ed: The first accurate headline I've found about this, by John Leyden]
    • Linux Servers Endangered by A New Crypto-Mining Malware [Ed: These servers are actually endangered by neglectful sysadmins that never patch them. With loads of holes piling up, anything can happen and it is not a "Linux" problem.]
    • New Instance of Monero Malware Sees Cryptojackers Target Linux Users [Ed: No, it targets neglected servers with loads of flaws piled up (sometimes stuff installed on GNU/Linux, nothing to do with “Linux” itself)
    • RIP, RDP… nearly: Security house Check Point punches holes in remote desktop tools [Ed: On remote access the Microsoft way. The company that colluded with the NSA for 20 years to enable backdoor remote access,]

      Security biz Check Point has found some 25 security vulnerabilities in three of the most popular remote desktop protocol (RDP) tools for Windows and Linux.

      The infosec outfit tasked its bug-hunters with a manual code audit on Microsoft mstsc as well as the FreeRDP and rdesktop remote desktop utilities, and what they turned up was a glut of potentially serious flaws and security weaknesses.

    • Teen discovers password-pilfering flaw in Apple’s macOS Mojave

      Henze discovered he could create an app that could read the data in macOS’ keychain, which stores private password and keys, without the need for explicit privileges or admin access.

    • Fraudsters use stolen mobile numbers to ‘drain thousands’ from bank accounts, says TIO

      Australian consumers are reporting having their bank accounts drained by fraudsters and their email inboxes accessed in the latest scam involving theft of mobile numbers, according to the newly published report on fraud from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

    • MPs warned of ‘malicious hack’ that attempts to access private contacts

      Deputy chief whip Christopher Pincher warned MPs to ignore texts and emails that ask them to “provide overseas contact details” or to “download a secure message app”.

    • A “Malicious Hack” Accessing MPs’ Phone And Email Contacts Is Being Investigated By Parliament

      Parliamentary authorities are investigating after MPs were targeted by an attempt to [break] into their email and phone contact lists on Monday, BuzzFeed News has learned.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Danish government ‘streamlined’ information over Iraq war participation: report

      Prior to its decision to join the US-led military campaign in Iraq in 2003, the Danish government ‘streamlined’ information in reports that were already reliant on assumptions and estimates, an investigation has found.

    • Iraqi Novelist Killed after Criticizing Islamic Republic in Iran

      A well-known Iraqi novelist was gunned down outside his home in the southern province of Karbala on Sunday.

    • Leaked Wikileaks Doc Reveals US Military Use of IMF, World Bank as “Unconventional” Weapons

      In a leaked military manual on “unconventional warfare” recently highlighted by WikiLeaks, the U.S. Army states that major global financial institutions — such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — are used as unconventional, financial “weapons in times of conflict up to and including large-scale general war,” as well as in leveraging “the policies and cooperation of state governments.”

      The document, officially titled “Field Manual (FM) 3-05.130, Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare” and originally written in September 2008, was recently highlighted by WikiLeaks on Twitter in light of recent events in Venezuela as well as the years-long, U.S.-led economic siege of that country through sanctions and other means of economic warfare. Though the document has generated new interest in recent days, it had originally been released by WikiLeaks in December 2008 and has been described as the military’s “regime change handbook.”

    • Venezuela seizes ‘US weapons shipment’ as Trump vows to support ‘noble quest for freedom’

      Donald Trump has expressed full support for the Venezuelan opposition to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power, just as the country’s authorities announced they’d seized a cache of weapons, allegedly delivered from the US.

      The US-made weapons were discovered at the storage yard of Arturo Michelena International Airport in the Venezuelan city of Valencia, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday. The stash included at least 19 rifles and 118 magazines, high-caliber ammunition, as well as 90 radios and six mobile phones – and was likely sent from Miami, Florida on Sunday, authorities believe. An investigation to determine the intended recipient of the shipment has been launched.

    • ‘Disgusting’: GOP Congressman Tries to Get Parkland Victim’s Father Ejected From Gun Control Hearing

      Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was angrily interrupted by Manuel Oliver, the father of Majory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence Wednesday after the lawmaker said that “a wall” on the southern border would be a more effective way to curb gun violence than mandatory background checks.

      The interruption led to Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) to interject, asking: “Is there any committee rule that prevents a member of congress for making false statements in a committee hearing?” His question drew loud applause from the audience.

      Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was also murdered during the Parkland shooting—and seated next to Oliver at the hearing—appeared visibly agitated by Gaetz’s comments. While chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) attempted to restore order, Gaetz suggested both Oliver and Guttenberg be ejected from the hearing.

    • As Gun Violence Finally Gets Hearing, Teen Parkland Survivor Implores Lawmakers: ‘Give My Generation a Chance’

      Imploring lawmakers to “give her generation a chance,” 17-year-old Aalayah Eastmond inspired a standing ovation following her testimony Wednesday at the first congressional hearing on gun violence in eight years.

      Eastmond told the House Judiciary Committee about her experience surviving last February’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and was one of several witnesses who called on Congress to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), which would require a background check for all gun sales and transfers—a proposal supported by at least 90 percent of Americans.

      “Gun violence is such an epidemic that anyone, anywhere, at any time can be affected,” the high school senior said. “Rich or poor, white or black, young or old. All Americans are at risk, and this is a side of America that none of us can or should take pride in.”

      “I implore you to pass legislation that will make us all safer,” she added, naming H.R. 8 and a reinstated assault weapons ban as some of the reforms that could drastically reduce gun violence in American communities as well as mass shootings.

    • As Resolution to End US Complicity in Yemen Carnage Advances, Anti-War Voices Say, ‘Now Is the Time to Call Your Lawmakers!’

      The U.S. has helped fuel the disaster with weapons, logistical assistance, and refueling of aircraft so the Saudi-led coalition can wage its bombing campaign. Ostensibly targeting Yemen’s Shiite rebels, the military campaign has committed “accidents”?schools and hospitals have repeatedly been hit and thousands of civilians?including many children?killed.

      Addressing those potential war crimes, committee chair Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said, “We cannot look the other way when it comes to the recklessness with which the Saudi-led coalition has conducted its operations. In Yemen I’m not just talking about one tragic screw-up, though that would be bad enough. The coalition’s operations have been characterized by strike after strike after strike that has resulted in unnecessary civilian casualties. A school bus full of children, a wedding, a funeral.”

    • US using IMF, World Bank as weapons: WikiLeaks

      The US military views major global financial institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as unconventional “weapons” that it can use to serve its own interests, according to a secret document released by WikiLeaks.

      The 2008 document, titled “Field Manual (FM) 3-05.130, Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare,” jumped into spotlight in the wake of the recent unrest in Venezuela, where US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido has been challenging President Nicolas Maduro, according to a report by MintPress News.

      WikiLeaks mentioned the document on Twitter to underline Washington’s years-long campaign of economic pressure against the South American country.

    • War, Rape, Repeat

      He stood motionless in his grey box, a sentinel of sorts in a breeze block buffet dispensing cigarettes, gum and glossy magazines. Only his eyes moved, sliding slowly from side to side, as I paced the rain-pelted platform. The train was delayed, but it felt deliberate, as though someone with a grudge at London Underground had put me in the crosshairs, and in my jittery state it seemed the creepy vendor could be part of that conspiracy. Several times I tried to write in my notebook in an effort to get a conversation of sorts going, but I could only produce scars in the damp, ink-resistant pages. An hour passed pacing this blank wordless rut, and when the train did at last trundle into the station, it was instantly clear from the steamy windows and unfriendly faces pressed against them that there was no room on board.

      A long day, and home a long way off. On a cold metal bench, sheltered at the far end of the platform, I closed my eyes and was rescued by a Buckie Drifter trailed by seagulls laughing madly as it crossed the choppy waters to somewhere else, somewhere better – a place far beyond this dead empty night.

      An angry voice brought me back to the world with a splash. From a train carriage on the platform opposite, a man yelled at a teenager blocking the automatic doors; he was holding them open for a bedraggled woman struggling along the platform, a woman of indeterminate age battling, bent-backed and bundled with laundry bags, towards the train – someone you might expect to see living under a bridge or in a shop doorway. Hunched up in my duffle coat, I stared into the cold grey platform concrete and tried to imagine the possible otherness Marx had in mind for people like you and me and her, but just as in a world without social class there would remain a tribal ‘them’ and ‘us’, it appeared inevitable that even in a world without want there would be those without pity. Perhaps it was the dour setting, the dismal drips and desolation – hardly the place to conjure images of utopia – and so I delved into the archives and played back an old favourite: a porridge joint in Ballinluig, gateway to the highlands, hundreds of miles from platform hell, where I slid into a seat at a window table and, in calm contemplation, quietly considered the realm of the little birds forming fern-like footprints and hieroglyphic patterns in the snow.

      In the time spent rumbling and rattling through tunnels, I sat opposite an elderly man who was buried in thought. His wide open coat revealed a belly-distended T-shirt emblazoned with ghostly lettering: something, something, ‘the nightmare dead’. The words dripped over an illustration of a zombie gorging on human brains, and I began to realise how very far I was from Ballinluig. In spite of the zombie, or perhaps because of it, the opening to Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte was resurrected: ‘The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living’. The words were a rejoinder to Hegel, but they had their source in Adam Ferguson – a man born close to where the Ballinluig porridge joint now stood.

      [...]

      The contribution made by Ferguson to the political philosophy of Marx snowballed in the following century, and at the end of the Great War a large section of the world’s population proclaimed itself Marxist. By the close of the Second World War, following a huge human sacrifice to defeat the Nazis, Russia’s Red Army marched into Germany heralding an era of peace and socialism founded on Marxist principles. As celebrations erupted throughout the world to mark the end of the European part of the war, flags and banners bearing swastikas were dragged down from public buildings and converted into ones bearing the hammer and sickle. Women were then dragged out from basement shelters, dragged out from the ruins, the makeshift hospitals and maternity wards; they were dragged out onto the streets, stripped and gang-raped under the red flags planted high on what remained of city buildings. Women were mutilated with broken bottles by drunken soldiers, and others were beaten to a pulp. Suicides soared to levels unprecedented in human history. Many escaped the terror by self-poisoning, assisted by chemists, or by throwing themselves off buildings and bridges. Elderly males trying to save their granddaughters or wives, or boys trying to save their sisters, were shot out of hand. Red Army, but also Allied soldiers, raped more than two million German women, many of them young girls aged twelve or under, and at least a quarter of a million died from injuries that were sustained during the rapes, or from suicide, or murder.

    • Russia Sends 400 Mercenaries To Venezuela, Tells America To Back Off Or Else

      Reuters said that the private military contractors who do secret missions for Russia flew into Venezuela in the past few days to beef up security for President Nicolas Maduro in the face of U.S.-backed opposition protests, according to two people close to them.

      A third source close to the Russian contractors also told Reuters there was a contingent of them in Venezuela, but could not say when they arrived or what their role was.

    • A Forecast of Trump’s Coming Fiasco in Venezuela

      In late November, President Donald Trump announced that Washington had withdrawn its recognition of Nicolas Maduro as the President of Venezuela, and has now given it to the Head of the National Assembly in contempt, José Guaido.

      In this way, the United States will openly support the regime change in Caracas This has been the dream of the Neo-cons for a long time and can become a nightmare for Trump.

      “Why does the American President act like this?” Ronald “Ron” Paul wonders on his blog. Paul, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, member of the Republican Party and former representative to the House in the U.S. Congress, who holds the largest record of conservative votes for a representative in Congress since 1937.

      He has been called the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party. He has achieved notoriety for his libertarian positions on many political issues, often clashing with the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties. Paul has run for the Presidency three times: in 1988 as candidate of the Libertarian Party, and in 2008 and 2012 as a Republican.

    • Instead of His Wall, Let’s Show Trump the Door

      President Trump has manufactured a “national emergency” to justify creating a wall across the Mexican border. A caravan of some 7,000 desperate, vulnerable Central American mothers and fathers and children, fleeing violence and poverty and seeking asylum in the United States, were portrayed as a threatening “invasion force,” with “many gang members and some very bad people” – including “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” [terrorists]. Thus the few thousand impoverished caravan members were met at the border with American military, tear gas, the separation and incarceration of children and their parents, and, for good measure, the blocking of their lawful access to official ports of entry to apply for asylum. Trump tweeted about them: “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” No! Trump lied and migrant children died!

      President Trump’s lied. Without proof, he tweeted, “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13.” He went on: “They can’t win on their terrible policies. So they view them as potential voters!”

    • Knife Crime in London

      A bleak London assailed by daily news about Brexit negotiation, prospects of food shortages and higher prices in the event of a no-deal with the European Union, provides the perfect apocalyptic backdrop for headlines. The city is ailing; the residents are panicked; and the authorities are gloomy.

      Such environments are ideal for talk about emergencies. One doing much filling on London airtime is that of knife crime. Not that knife crime in of itself is unusual: for years, stabbing implements have made their way into broader law and order issues in the city’s policing scene, a good number featuring errant youth. These have encouraged a wide array of myths masquerading as solid fact: London, the city of the “no-go” area; Londonistan, city of perpetual, spiralling crime.

      In 2008, Britain’s public institutions – political and public – became darkly enraptured with knife crime afflicting inner city areas, with a heavy focus on London. Stabbings were reported in lurid fashion; threats to urban safety were emphasised. As Peter Squires noted in a fairly withering examination of the phenomenon in British Politics, “The knife crime ‘epidemic’, as it came to be called, coincided with a series of youth justice policy measures being rolled out by the government, and significantly influenced them.”

    • The Man Who “Committed Truth”: Remembering Ernie Fitzgerald

      Being around people like Ernie Fitzgerald was one of the main reasons I loved working in the Pentagon. Most people working in the Department of Defense go along to get along; and while a majority (certainly not all) are patriotic, intelligent, and hard working … they are also boring. But there is something about military institutions that attracts a very few fun-loving, brilliant mavericks who love to throw rocks at the institutional boat, particularly when it is in the interest of committing truth and doing what they believe to be right in the face of incompetence or corruption or both — and all institutions that spend other people’s money, like the DoD, are prone to both incompetence and corruption. These mavericks have the same virtues as the majority — but they are definitely not boring, and they possess something else: an inner drive that is very rare. Their numbers are few, because military institutions hate them, view them as being certifiably crazy, and go overboard to expel them. On the other hand, these institutions need their “crazies” to stay healthy and vibrant. The late Ernie Fitzgerald was one of the most precious of the “crazies” — and he beat the expulsion game in a truly amazing way.

      I first heard about Fitzgerald at the very beginning of my career in November 1968, when he testified — or in his words, “Committed truth” — to Senator Proxmire’s Joint Economics Committee on the huge cost overrun on the C-5A transport. At that time I was a 2nd Lt buried in the Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, and congressional hearings were distant abstract affairs. But the newspaper reports of his testimony were electrifying. Moreover, they struck home; I had been hearing horror stories about the C-5, particularly its landing gear, for almost a year from one of my closest friends, also a 2nd Lt, who worked in the C-5 program office, which was just down the street from my office. My reaction was — Thank God, at least someone in DC has their head screwed on is finally telling the truth about this piece of crap! Ernie immediately became a hero to both my friend and me.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘A Red Screaming Alarm Bell’ to Banish Fossil Fuels: NASA Confirms Last Five Years Hottest on Record

      NASA scientists confirmed in a report Wednesday that 2018 was one of the hottest years on record, continuing what the New York Times called “an unmistakable warming trend.”

      Last year was the fourth-warmest on record since scientists began recording such data 140 years ago, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). This finding makes the last five years the five hottest years ever, scientists said, slapping down any question that the planet is growing warmer.

      “2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said GISS director Gavin Schmidt in a statement.

    • I’m a Future Physician—My Patients’ Health Depends on Addressing Climate Change

      As a fourth-year medical student, I’ve learned plenty about caring for patients with common illnesses and injuries. But as a native of fire-ravaged Northern California, and a student in Pennsylvania — where I hear regularly about communities torn apart by the natural gas industry — I can’t help but worry about my ability to care for my patients in an age of climate change.
      Climate change isn’t just an environmental crisis, after all. It’s a looming health crisis. More hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires means more disease, dehydration, famine, injury, and death.
      Our health system is already overburdened, and extreme climate change could put it over the edge. And it will unfortunately be our most vulnerable communities — low income communities, communities of color, and places where health care is already hard to come by — who will suffer the worst consequences.
      While my medical school’s curriculum encourages deep thinking about how to expand health care for underserved communities, it’s included little if any acknowledgement of the coming climate catastrophe.

    • At First House Climate Hearing in Nearly a Decade, 16-Year-Old Activist Tells Congress Time of Inaction Is Over

      In testimony during the House Natural Resource Committee’s first climate hearing in eight years, 16-year-old Nadia Nazar—co-founder of the Zero Hour Movement and co-organizer of the Youth Climate March—declared that “policymakers have for far too long put the interests of fossil fuel corporations and other carbon-emitting industries over the health and prosperity of the people, the wildlife, and this planet.”

      “The lives of my generation have been disregarded for far too long,” Nazar continued. “You should put the interests of your future generations first—not just because it is the right thing to do, but because many of us have the right to vote in just a couple of years. We care about clean air and clean water, and we’ll be voting for those who want to address climate change head on.”

    • Greens respond to energy price cap rise

      The Green Party has responded to news the energy price cap is set to rise.

    • Growing nuclear waste legacy defies disposal

      The nuclear industry, and governments across the world, have yet to find a solution to the nuclear waste legacy, the highly dangerous radioactive remains that are piling up in unsafe stores in many countries.

      A report commissioned by Greenpeace France says there is now a serious threat of a major accident or terrorist attack in several of the countries most heavily reliant on nuclear power, including the US, France and the UK.

      The report fears for what may be to come: “When the stability of nations is measured in years and perhaps decades into the future, what will be the viability of states over the thousands-of-year timeframes required to manage nuclear waste?”

      Hundreds of ageing nuclear power stations now have dry stores or deep ponds full of old used fuel, known as spent fuel, from decades of refuelling reactors.

  • Finance

    • A commission of inquiry reaches a damning verdict on Australia’s banks

      The commissioner has asked regulators to investigate 24 possible breaches of civil or criminal law. The report names institutions rather than individuals, but some people may now come under scrutiny. Mr Hayne expressed particular disgust at those who gouged fees without providing services. Almost A$1bn has already been paid in compensation to their victims.

    • Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn

      A huge tax break was supposed to create a manufacturing paradise, but interviews with 49 people familiar with the project depict a chaotic operation unlikely to ever employ 13,000 workers.

    • Death of crypto exchange founder leaves $190m in limbo

      Gerald Cotten, the founder of a Canadian exchange QuadrigaCX, died in December aged just 30. His widow has signed an affidavit to confirm that the cryptocurrency is owed to customers, but that neither she nor anyone else has the necessary codes to access the cold-stored cash.

    • Why GM is laying off more workers amid healthy profits

      GM is laying off another 4,000 workers, the company acknowledged on Monday. The cuts are on top of thousands of job cuts the company announced last November.

      Those earlier cuts were concentrated on the factory floor, with GM shuttering five manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada. The new cuts, by contrast, are to salaried white-collar jobs. Individual workers will be notified over the next two weeks, the company said.

      GM has reported billions of dollars of profits over the last three quarters. But CEO Mary Barra argues that GM still needs to cut its costs to prepare for the dramatic changes facing the automotive industry in the coming years.

    • Haven Cyber Near a Deal for Swedish Cloud Security Firm

      Haven Cyber Technologies is nearing an agreement to acquire Onevinn, the Swedish provider of Microsoft cloud security services, as part of a strategy to expand in European cyber security, according to people familiar with the matter.

    • Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the company isn’t backing down from the challenge that ‘Fortnite’ poses to the Android app store business

      Pichai’s comments came in response to a question from a Wall Street analyst on how Google is approaching a landscape where developers are finding ways to circumvent the traditional app stores, and that revenue split – especially on Android.

      While the analyst didn’t mention it by name, one of the main companies shaking things up is Epic Games, which skipped the Google Play store when it released “Fortnite” on Android last year. Instead, the company brought the game directly to users, such that it doesn’t have to pay that 30% cut to Google.

    • Google poured billions into its cloud business in 2018, outspending both Amazon and Microsoft

      In comparison, Amazon spent $11.3 billion cash on capex in 2018, split between fulfillment operations (like warehouses) and AWS, it said. And Microsoft said it spent $16 billion.

    • How the Age of Billionaires Ends

      Every month or so there’s a stunning new headline statistic about just how stark our economic divide has become.
      Understanding that this divide exists is a good start. Appreciating that a deeply unfair and unequal economy is problematic is even better. Actually doing something about it — that’s the best.
      As 2020 presidential hopefuls start trying to prove their progressive bona fides, serious policies to take on economic inequality are at the forefront. These ideas don’t stand much of a shot of becoming law in the Trump era, of course. But if the balance of power shifts, so too does the potential for these paradigm-shifting new programs.
      Let’s take a closer look at the problems they’ll have to address.
      A new billionaire is minted every two days, according to a recent Oxfam study. As a result, the top 0.1 percent owns a greater share of the nation’s wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
      The richest dynastic families in the United States have seen their wealth expand at a dizzying pace. The three wealthiest families — the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars — increased their wealth by nearly 6,000 percent since 1983.
      In other words, the rich in the United States have accumulated a metric crap ton of money. And what are they doing with this immense wealth and power?

    • Siding With ‘Loan Sharks’ Over Consumers, Trump CFPB Moves to Gut Payday Lender Regulations

      Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, denounced the CFPB’s plan as “a slap in the face to consumers—especially people of color—who have been victims of predatory business practices and abusive lenders.”

      “This decision will put already struggling families in a cycle of debt and leave them in an even worse financial position,” Gupta added. “This administration has moved the CFPB away from protecting consumers to protecting the very companies abusing them.”

    • EU Chief Ponders ‘Special Place in Hell’ for Some Brexiteers

      European Council President Donald Tusk took a swipe Wednesday at some Brexit-backers in Britain, wondering aloud what “special place in hell” might be reserved for those who had no idea how to deliver the country’s exit from the European Union.

      With less than two months to go until Britain is due to leave the EU and concern mounting about a potentially chaotic departure, Tusk, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, also appeared to dash any British hopes that the bloc would reopen discussions over the Brexit deal that was overwhelmingly rejected by U.K. lawmakers last month.

    • The Export–Import Bank: The Government Subsidy “Free Traders” Love

      I have long had fun with the folks who call themselves “free traders.” Essentially, these are people who argue it is a high moral principle to eliminate any barrier to trade that might support the income of working class people, but suddenly get really stupid and defensive when we talk about barriers that support the income of professionals and the wealthy.

      This means that a 10 percent tariff on imported steel is an outrage against all that is good and decent in the world. But when it comes to protectionist restrictions that prevent highly qualified foreign doctors from practicing in the United States and bringing the pay of our doctors more in line with other rich countries, they suddenly have no idea what you’re talking about. (FWIW, we spend far more money on doctors than steel.)

      The same story applies to patent and copyright protection. (Yes, that is “protection” as in protectionism.) These government-granted monopolies are treated as part of the world’s natural order. Instead of recognizing them as forms of protectionism, countries that don’t have patent and copyright rules as strong as in the U.S. are treated as being violators of free-trade.

      In other words, “free trade” is a make it up as you go along rationale for ways to redistribute income upward. This is why I got a big kick out of seeing Charles Lane’s column today on the Export–Import Bank.

    • Democrats Launch New Probe of Trump’s Finances, Russia Ties

      The House intelligence committee will launch a broad new investigation looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s foreign financial interests, Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday, moving ahead with the aggressive oversight that Democrats have promised now that they are in the majority.

      Schiff said the investigation will include “the scope and scale” of Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election, the “extent of any links and/or coordination” between Russians and Trump’s associates, whether foreign actors have sought to hold leverage over Trump or his family and associates, and whether anyone has sought to obstruct any of the relevant investigations.

    • Can Black Millennials Access the American Dream?

      Millennials, a 2013 issue of Time magazine proclaimed, “are lazy, entitled narcissists, who still live with their parents.” Almost six years later, the media changed its tune: Millennials are not entitled, but exhausted, struggling under the weight of staggering student debt and what Michael Hobbes called in HuffPost the “scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression.”

      Missing from both the accusations of entitlement and the backlash is an analysis of how race affects economic and social outcomes for millennials. As journalist and Eisner Fellow at The Nation, Reniqua Allen, writes in her new book, “It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America,” while “43 percent of all American millennials are non-White … discussion about millennials and their ideas of ‘success’ are often deeply rooted in the experiences of privileged White men and women.”

      In other words, America may have had its first black president, but Barack Obama’s election didn’t eliminate student debt, the shrinking economy, limited opportunities for upward mobility or the added burden of racism.

    • ‘Outrageous!’: Despite $21 Billion Giveaway From GOP Tax Scam, Big Banks Cut Jobs and Slashed Lending

      Although big banks in the United States paid $21 billion less in taxes last year thanks to the Republican Party’s push in late 2017 to lower rates for corporations and wealthy Americans, the nation’s top financial institutions used those savings to benefit shareholders rather than workers and customers—just as critics of the #GOPTaxScam had warned they would.

      [...]

      As they explained, “large stockholders tend to be wealthier,” and “when corporations direct resources to buy back shares on this scale, they restrain their capacity to reinvest profits more meaningfully in the company in terms of R&D, equipment, higher wages, paid medical leave, retirement benefits and worker retraining.”

      Noting that “this practice of corporate self-indulgence is not new, but it’s grown enormously” since the Trump tax cuts, they vowed to introduce “bold legislation” to “prohibit a corporation from buying back its own stock unless it invests in workers and communities first, including things like paying all workers at least $15 an hour, providing seven days of paid sick leave, and offering decent pensions and more reliable health benefits.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The West is losing today’s infowars and must hit back hard

      There is more to war than warfare, and more to warfare than killing. Understanding this is the key to de-escalation, but many do not get it. Battlefield victory is obsolete now, yet America still invests trillions of dollars in aircraft carriers, fighter jets and killer robots—and ponders why no one is deterred or defeated. The West suffers from strategic atrophy. We yearn to fight conventional wars like it’s 1945, our glory days, and then wonder why we have stopped winning. War has moved on, and our enemies have moved on with it. Today, war is decided in the information space, before the first shot is fired. Diplomacy and traditional statecraft are not enough. We need information dominance and strategic subversion to prevent problems from becoming crises and crises from becoming conflicts.

    • Mark Zuckerberg still thinks Facebook has made the world better

      Zuckerberg employed one of his favorite rhetorical tricks for defending Facebook: conflating Facebook with the Internet as a whole. It’s true, as Zuckerberg writes, that the Internet has made the world more connected and that this has had a lot of positive consequences (as well as some negative ones).

      But Facebook doesn’t deserve much credit for this. People already had plenty of ways to send each other messages, share photos, and update friends on their lives before Facebook came along. Facebook just made the process marginally easier. At the same time, Facebook has had a lot of negative effects on the world.

    • The Social Network Was More Right Than Anyone Realized

      The Social Network is something of a decoder ring for popular opinion about Facebook at any given time. Watch it in 2010 and it might feel much darker than anything associated with the company needed to be. Watch it today, it almost seems like the company got off light. In an essay for The Verge just two years ago, Kaitlyn Tiffany pointed to Zuckerberg’s political ambitions and platitudes about connection (and lack of culpability for the ramifications of it) and concluded that “watching The Social Network in 2017 is also weird, disorienting, gag-inducing, and full of unintentional laughs … it feels like a relic, a naïve movie with quaint, softball critiques of Mark Zuckerberg and his creation.”

    • ‘Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe,’ by Roger McNamee [BOOKS]

      use Commerce Committee is “reassuming its traditional role of oversight to ensure the agency is acting in the best interest of the public and consistent with its legislative authority,” Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) said in an announcement yesterday.

      Here’s a ‘Zucked’ excerpt I highlighted in my copy that seems so relevant to this week’s Bad Facebook News…

    • Bought and Paid For: We Are Well and Truly Done With Susan Collins

      Well lookee here. Turns out Susan Collins’ betrayal of women and decency – aka her vote for drunken liar, frat boy and sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh after ignoring months of heartfelt pleas, calls, protests, e-mails and sit-ins by us, her alleged constituents – netted her a cool $1.8 million for the last quarter of the year, or the most blood-money she’s ever raised in her endless, ignoble career. To put her new riches in perspective, the quarter before her Kavanaugh vote, Collins raised just $140,000. Oddly, according to analysis from American Bridge 21st Century, just $19,000 of that $1.8 million came in contributions of $200 or less from Mainers, the people she’s supposed to represent, but doesn’t, and hasn’t for years.

      The vast majority of it came from Kavanaugh supporters – keg-loving, oft-puking high school friends like Tobin and Squi, women who worked with him in the Bush White House etc. Most donated the day or the day after Collins said she’d vote yes in a sickening, 43-minute speech in which she called the despicable candidate “an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father” with, despite the vengeful hysteria he displayed to the world during his confirmation hearing, the “judicial temperament” to serve on the Supreme Court. She also said Kavanaugh promised her he’d respect Roe v. Wade as settled precedent, and, really, if you can’t trust a drunken liar, frat boy and sexual assaulter, who can you trust? With her appalling vote, Collins’ approval rating from conservatives jumped 46%.

    • In McCarthyist Display, MSNBC Hosts Grill Tulsi Gabbard Over Her US Foreign Policy Views

      MSNBC hosts heavily relied upon unfair allegations and grilled Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who appeared on “Morning Joe” to discuss her 2020 presidential campaign.

      Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, and Kasie Hunt put on a self-righteous and shameful display because Gabbard refused to be baited into using buzzwords that elites typically rely upon when talking about United States foreign policy.

      The cable news network’s hosts also pressed Gabbard to address why Russian state media and social media trolls would like to boost her campaign, citing an NBC News report that depended upon shoddy sources intent to suppress candidates like Gabbard who criticize U.S. military actions and question American foreign policy objectives.

      Washington Post columnist David Ignatius asked Gabbard about Ilham Ahmed, the guest she brought to the “State Of The Union” on February 5. She is a Syrian Kurdish leader and the co-president of the Syrian Democratic Council. She supports a political solution to the Syrian conflict. Ignatius wondered what Gabbard told her about what she can expect as U.S. troops withdraw and if they should worry about being slaughtered.

      Gabbard highlighted the threat from Turkey, and her concern that the way President Donald Trump is going about the withdrawal of U.S. troops will potentially leave Kurds vulnerable to attacks. But she noted that Ahmed never expected U.S. troops to remain in Syria forever and what she wants is the U.S. to give them support needed to secure the country before completing a drawdown of troops.

    • On China, the US Public Stands Apart

      Why isn’t the American public as agitated about China as are the Trump administration, the mainstream media, and even many China specialists? In a recent article, Daniel Drezner, a political scientist at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, raises this question, noting that the public seems strangely at odds with everyone else when it comes to the so-called China threat.

      Polls show that China ranks well below Russia, North Korea, and Iran when people are asked about their international concerns. Terrorism and protecting American jobs rank highest in priority. Yet Trump’s national security team identifies China, along with Russia, as the chief threats to the United States. The media seem to agree that the “China challenge” to US global leadership, militarily and not just economically, is a great and growing concern. A number of China watchers who normally urge cautious engagement with Beijing now see an aggressiveness that needs to be forcefully countered.

      So why isn’t the US public convinced? I’d say it comes down to contact in various forms. First, and most obviously, Americans are far more likely to meet or observe people of Chinese descent—regardless of their status or country of origin, including Chinese-Americans—than Russians, Iranians, and North Koreans.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The silencing of academics

      There’s one thing that the critics of the latest guidance do get right: students and academics, rather than official commissions and associations, should be the arbiters of who gets to speak on campus. Hard-won rights to academic freedom should be the only legislation needed to ensure all topics are up for debate in a university.

    • Facebook apologizes after museum complains nude statues were censored

      Museum spokesperson Sylvie Treglia-Detraz told The Associated Press that when they first tried to post the pictures there was a Facebook response saying, “We don’t allow ads that depict nudity, even if it isn’t sexual in nature. This includes the use of nudity for artistic or educational purposes.”

    • Google agrees on cooperation with Russian censors: reports

      The business news source Vedemosti is reporting that Google has struck a deal with Russian censors to continue operating in the country by deleting websites that are banned in Russia from its results. The government censorship agency Roskomnadzor maintains a registry of sites that may not be distributed on Russian territory, but Google is one of a few search engines that does not subscribe to that registry. However, the company regularly deletes links from its search results that Roskomnadzor has banned, sources within both Roskomnadzor and Google told Vedomosti.

    • Texas Supreme Court Subtly Provides Stronger Protections for Anonymous Speakers

      The Texas Supreme Court upheld protections for anonymous online speakers in a January ruling, albeit in a way that sidestepped thorny legal questions but will likely have the effect of vindicating First Amendment rights going forward.

      The case, Glassdoor, Inc. v. Andra Group, concerned an effort by clothing company Andra to unmask anonymous speakers who posted on the employee review website Glassdoor.

      Andra believed that some of its current or former employees posted content on Glassdoor that was defamatory and damaged its business. Rather than file a lawsuit against the anonymous speakers and then seek to unmask them, Andra sought to use a Texas court rule (Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 202) against Glassdoor to engage in pre-litigation discovery without filing an actual legal case.

      The rule allows parties, without filing an underlying civil complaint, to collect evidence that would support claims in a subsequent lawsuit. In this case Andra relied on a Rule 202 to try to uncover the identities of anonymous reviewers whom the company claimed had defamed it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • RIP “Do Not Track,” the Privacy Standard Everyone Ignored

      “Do Not Track” had a lofty goal: A simple checkbox in every web browser that would tell websites not to track you. It achieved that goal, but here’s the problem: Websites didn’t care.

      As we pointed out back in 2012, the “Do Not Track” option doesn’t stop you from being tracked. It just sends a special piece of information whenever you connect to a website, asking that website not to track you. The vast, vast majority of websites ignored this. That never really changed. There was no penalty for ignoring the request and little reason to actually honor it.

      Still, “Do Not Track” has been shuffling along for years. This option is part of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer. You can go check the box and that might make you feel a bit better if you’re upset about being tracked online. But it doesn’t really do anything. It’s misleading.

    • Ex-NSA Personnel Spied On Americans And Journalists For The United Arab Emirates

      This is what counterterrorism looks like in UAE. This is what it can look like anywhere, once mission creep sets in and the government decides criticism is suspicious behavior. But this was done by US intelligence personnel who took better-paying offers to spy for a nation we somehow consider an ally, despite its stances on pretty much everything being antithetical to ours.

      The quote opening this post was from the aftermath of an indiscriminate deployment of a virus that infected every visitor of a targeted Islamist forum. It swept up plenty of communications from Americans, but even with safeguards in place to remove inadvertent collections, it was clear UAE did not consider Americans’ communications off-limits.

      It should have. The UAE claims to be a partner in the War on Terror, citing its positive relationship with the United States as an intelligence partner. Even though Project Raven was run by the UAE using former US intel personnel, the NSA still was supposed to be notified before operation deployments or prior to presentations that might discuss classified techniques. What’s published here shows either the NSA was cut out of the loop by UAE or that the NSA appears to have made no effort to keep tabs on operations run by its surveillance partner.

      The UAE government took the project in-house, using a local tech contractor to create a company called DarkMatter that severed any ties the project might have with the US Intelligence Community. To their credit, at least eight former US intelligence analysts left when it became apparent targeting dissidents, journalists, and American citizens was going to be a large part of their work.

    • Many popular iPhone apps secretly record your screen without asking

      Apps like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com and Singapore Airlines also use Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm, one of a handful of companies that allows developers to embed “session replay” technology into their apps. These session replays let app developers record the screen and play them back to see how its users interacted with the app to figure out if something didn’t work or if there was an error. Every tap, button push and keyboard entry is recorded — effectively screenshotted — and sent back to the app developers.

    • Popular iPhone Apps Are Secretly Recording Your Phone Screen

      A detailed report from TechCrunch has revealed some shocking findings regarding major travels apps for iPhones. The companies found involved in the misuse of their iOS apps are Hollister, Expedia, Air Canada, and more.

      In the name of analytics and user behavior study, these apps tend to record swipes, taps, and other interactions you make with them without your explicit permission. Moreover, some of these apps also sell your data to the advertisers without letting you know.

    • The San Francisco District Attorney’s 10 Most Surveilled Neighborhoods

      With the spread of advanced spying technology, such as social media monitoring and cell-phone tracking, it’s easy to forget about the most ubiquitous form of surveillance—regular old security cameras.

      But the San Francisco County District Attorney’s Office sure hasn’t forgotten. Prosecutors maintain a map and dataset of thousands of privately and publicly owned security cameras. When law enforcement is investigating a crime, officers can refer to this information to identify which cameras may have caught relevant footage. And through a public records request under the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance, EFF recently obtained most of this data—the locations of 2,753 cameras—and we are now making it available to the public.

      The most obvious takeaway: the listed surveillance cameras are not evenly distributed across our community. Instead, the D.A. has collected the locations of cameras in distinct clusters. Generally, these fall into two categories: a) commercial/tourist areas; and b) lower income neighborhoods.

      While the majority of these cameras are privately operated and not streaming to the government, that’s becoming more and more common in other cities. Across the country, police are also exploring ways to attach face recognition and other real-time video analytics to the camera networks. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is now considering an ordinance [PDF] that would ensure that police do not have the ability to enact a project like that without going through a public process and seeking approval from the board. The measure would also include a ban of face recognition.

    • How to Shine a Light on U.S. Government Surveillance of Americans

      Before Congress votes to reauthorize key spying laws, it must demand answers.
      This year, Congress must vote on reauthorizing provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire — including Section 215, which the government abused for years to illegally collect Americans’ phone records in bulk. As this debate gets underway, both Congress and the public need some answers.

      In 2015, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act to reform parts of the Patriot Act and make other much-needed changes to the government’s surveillance activities. Perhaps most notably, the law prohibited the bulk collection of Americans’ call records, internet metadata, and other private information under several statutes. It also sought to enhance transparency, so that illegal surveillance programs under these authorities would never again flourish in secrecy.

      Four years later, however, serious questions remain about whether these reforms have successfully halted bulk collection and other forms of overbroad surveillance. It’s also unclear whether additional measures are needed to safeguard communities of color and Americans engaged in First Amendment-protected activities.

      The ACLU has filed a new Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in an effort to shed light on these significant gaps in the public’s understanding. Similarly, in order to inform the coming debate, Congress and the public must demand answers to the following questions.

    • KARMA POLICE: UK mass surveillance challenge will go to Europe’s highest human rights court

      In September 2018 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the UK’s mass interception programmes breached the European Convention on Human Rights. The landmark judgment in September marked the Court’s first ruling on UK mass surveillance programmes revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Campaign groups Big Brother Watch, English PEN, Open Rights Group and the computer science expert Dr Constanze Kurz began the legal challenge in 2013 following Mr Snowden’s revelations of GCHQ mass spying.

      However, the campaign groups claim that the judgment did not go far enough in clarifying the unlawful nature of state mass surveillance of electronic communications, which is now practised under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The referral to the Grand Chamber is expected to deliver a definitive judgment on the compatibility of mass communications surveillance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

      Documents provided by Mr Snowden revealed that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ was conducting “population-scale” interception, capturing the communications of millions of innocent people. The mass spying programmes included TEMPORA, a bulk data store of all internet traffic; KARMA POLICE, a catalogue including “a web browsing profile for every visible user on the internet”; and Black Hole, a repository of over 1 trillion events including internet histories, email and instant messenger records, search engine queries and social media activity.

    • ‘Breathtaking and Terrifying’: UN Food Relief Agency Partners With CIA-Funded Software Firm Palantir

      The partnership, according to a joint statement released Tuesday, builds on a pilot project that allowed the United Nations agency to analyze aid decisions using a Palantir application that pulls together data on nutritional values, sourcing locations, delivery times, and food costs.

      While WFP executive director David Beasley claimed that “our work with Palantir will save time and money so we can more effectively and efficiently feed 90 million people on any given day across the globe,” critics raised alarm about the company’s record and warned the deal threatens the rights of people already living in precarious conditions.

    • The 3rd Party Doctrine: Or Why Lawyers May Not Ethically Be Able To Use Whatsapp

      In December I went to install the Flywheel app on my new phone. Flywheel, for those unfamiliar, is a service that applies the app-dispatching and backend payment services typical of Uber and Lyft to the local medallion-based taxi business. I’d used it before on my old phone, but as I was installing it on my new one it asked for two specific permissions I didn’t remember seeing before. The first was fine and unmemorable, but the second was a show-stopper: “Allow Flywheel access to your contacts?” Saying no made the app exit with passive-aggressive flourish (“You have forcefully denied some of the required permissions.”) but I could not for the life of me figure out why I should say yes. Why on Earth would a taxi summoning app require access to my contacts? Tweets to the company were not answered, so it was impossible to know if Flywheel wanted that permission for some minor, reasonable purpose that in no way actually disclosed my contact data to this company, or if it was trying to slurp information about who I know for some other purpose. Its privacy policy, which on the surface seems both reasonable and readable, was last updated in 2013 and makes no reference to why it would now want access to my contacts.

      So I didn’t finish installing it, although to Flywheel’s credit, a January update to the app seems to have re-architected it so that it no longer demands that permission. (On the other hand, the privacy policy appears to still be from 2013.) But the same cannot be said for other apps that insist on reading all my contacts, including, conspicuously, Whatsapp.

    • FamilyTreeDNA Admits to Sharing Genetic Data With F.B.I.

      The president of FamilyTreeDNA, one of the country’s largest at-home genetic testing companies, has apologized to its users for failing to disclose that it was sharing DNA data with federal investigators working to solve violent crimes.

      In the booming business of consumer DNA testing and genealogy, FamilyTreeDNA had marketed itself as a leader of consumer privacy and a fierce protector of user data, refusing, unlike some of its competitors, to sell information to third parties.

    • The Crypto-Surveillance Capitalism Connection

      Don’t look now, but there’s an elephant in the room. Scratch that. It’s an entire herd of elephants.

      While Crypto Twitter bickers and fights, leaving competing coin projects and blockchain startups to defend each others’ counter-allegations of centralizing misdeeds, the real centralizing power-mongers of our digital economy have been pillaging our data and reshaping humanity into an instrument of their domination.

      That’s the alarming, bold conclusion of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power,” the recently released mega-tome by Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff.

    • Toronto cops can frequently get your public transit history without a warrant

      Law enforcement requests to Metrolinx have mounted steadily, growing by 47% last year, and in 22% of cases, the agency handed travel history over to police without a warrant.

    • Metrolinx continues to share Presto users’ data without requiring warrants

      More than three million people in Ontario use Presto, which is installed on 11 different transit agencies across the GTA and Ottawa. In order to make use of some features of the card, customers must register it by supplying Metrolinx with information including their name, address and credit card number.

    • Carriers selling your location to bounty hunters: It was worse than we thought
    • Big Telecom Sold Highly Sensitive Customer GPS Data Typically Used for 911 Calls

      A Motherboard investigation has found that around 250 bounty hunters and related businesses had access to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint customer location data.

    • Dreyfus expects govt to keep word on encryption law amendments

      The Australian Labor Party says it expects the matter of amendments to the encryption law passed last year will be taken up during the first sitting of Parliament this year, as agreed to by the government.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Court upholds conviction of girl who urged suicide with texts and calls

      The supreme court of Massachusetts has upheld the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a girl who, at the age of 17, goaded her boyfriend to commit suicide in a series of text messages and phone calls. The state’s highest court rejected her lawyer’s arguments that she couldn’t be held responsible for his death because she wasn’t physically present and that prosecuting her violated her First Amendment rights.

      Defendant Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2017, but the sentence was put on hold pending appeal.

    • Sydney dad claims Apple store staff member ‘questioned my intelligence’, refused to let him pay

      But Mr Scott said he wasn’t prepared for what he said was an Apple Pay hard sell. He just wanted to buy his iPad cover and leave the shop.

      “Even though I told the guy that I wasn’t interested, he kept going on. I asked him at least three times if he was going to take my money or my credit card, and he just kept deflecting back to Apple Pay.

    • Fresh off ‘MAGA Field Trip,’ Steve Bannon, Erik Prince Among Right-Wing Crew Plotting Out Privatized Border Wall

      What brings together the likes of the president’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon; voter disenfranchiser Kris Kobach; notorious Blackwater founder Erik Prince; controversial former sheriff David Clarke; immigration hardliner and former Congressman Tom Tancredo; and offensive meme spewer and former baseball great Curt Schilling?

      A move to supplement President Donald Trump’s proposed “wall” on the southern border with a privatized wall.

      According to new reporting by Politico, the right-wing crew got together—though Prince just phoned in—for the first time last week at the border town of McAllen, Texas for “a kind of #MAGA field trip.”

      The New York Times reported on the privatized wall effort late last month, but Politico is the first to report on Bannon’s involvement.

    • Let Us Fight Together for Economic, Social, Racial and Environmental Justice, Not Unbridled Greed

      Let me thank all of you for joining me tonight for a brief response to President Trump’s State of the Union address. And let me thank Stacey Abrams for her extremely effective response. Now, we all know why she would have been a wonderful Governor of Georgia.

      I know that this will probably not shock you, but not everything President Trump said tonight was true or accurate.

      Tonight and on numerous occasions since taking office, Donald Trump has told the American people that the U.S. economy is “the hottest economy anywhere in the world.”

      Well, that may be true for the members of his Mar-a-Lago country club where the price of admission has doubled to $200,000. For those folks and for the wealthiest people in our nation, Trump is right. The economy is really booming. In fact, for many of Mr. Trump’s billionaire friends, they have never, ever had it so good.

    • The State of the Resistance

      The Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), a jail run by the Trump administration in Brooklyn, New York, reportedly lost power about a week ago, leaving prisoners — many of whom have yet to be convicted of a crime — without heat and light in their cells as temperatures plummeted amid a polar vortex.

      As soon as word got out about conditions inside the jail, family members and activists quickly organized and gathered to protest outside the facility on Friday, demanding that jail officials provide the people inside with heat, hot meals and means for contacting their families and attorneys. Since then, they have maintained a presence outside the jail day and night, making noise and holding banners showing their support for prisoners watching from the windows of their cells.

      When protesters attempted to enter the jail over the weekend, guards used pepper spray to beat them back. Prisoners reported retaliation inside the jail as well.

      Samantha Johnson, an organizer with No New Jails NYC, told Truthout that jail officers were “irate” when activists began “making noise they didn’t want to hear” and releasing footage on social media of family members who had not heard from their loved ones inside for a week. Officers were still carrying rifles and pepper spray as a small group of activists gathered in a tent outside the jail Wednesday morning.

      “This is not a one-off thing, this has been going [on] for centuries with oppressing people and making it look like they are creating safety,” Johnson said in an interview, adding that activists are also organizing therapeutic spaces for family members of the incarcerated.

    • Russian city councilman faces felony charges for celebrating scene from police drama

      A man shows his friend a YouTube clip from a Russian police drama where the hero guns down a corrupt cop. Take that, buster! Long live the USSR! A few months later, the man — a troublesome local city council member — is charged with the felony of “justifying terrorism.” He says he’s being set up, however. In a special report for Mediazona, correspondent Maxim Litavrin traveled to the Pskov region to learn more about an investigation that could be its own television drama. Meduza summarizes thе report below.

    • Detective in Elkhart, Indiana, Wrongful Conviction Case Dies in Apparent Suicide

      The former Elkhart police detective who was central in an investigation that led to the wrongful convictions of Keith Cooper and another man died this week in an apparent suicide, authorities said.

      Steve Rezutko, 78, was found Tuesday afternoon at his home on Sturdy Oak Drive, just north of Elkhart, county coroner James Elliott said.

      Rezutko was an Elkhart police officer for more than 30 years, starting in 1969. He served in the Army for three years before joining the Police Department. On the police force, he rose to the rank of sergeant and then was named a detective. After resigning from the Police Department, Rezutko worked as a corrections officer at the St. Joseph County Jail. He retired last year.

      Rezutko was the lead detective in a 1996 shooting that resulted in the convictions of Cooper and Christopher Parish. After the evidence in the case unraveled, Parish had his conviction overturned in court and got a $4.9 million settlement, and Cooper received a gubernatorial pardon based on innocence.

    • New Study Says The Removal Of Craigslist Erotic Services Pages May Be Linked To An Increase In Murdered Females

      Under the guise of targeting sex traffickers, FOSTA has both done damage to Section 230 protections and sex workers’ literal lives. The law has yet to result in any credible, sustained damage to human trafficking, but that hasn’t stopped the bill’s supporters from trotting out debunked numbers anytime they need a soundbite.

      There will likely be no studies performed by the government to determine FOSTA’s actual impact on sex trafficking, but plenty of academics are offering evidence that pushing sex work further underground is endangering the lives of sex workers. This is just the icing on the stupid, life-threatening cake as multiple law enforcement agencies — including the DOJ itself — pointed out passing FOSTA would make it more difficult to hunt down traffickers.

      A study released in 2017 showed the introduction of erotic services section on Craiglist tracked with a 17% drop in female homicides across many major cities. Craigslist spent a few years being publicly vilified by public officials — mainly states attorneys general — before dumping its erotic services section (ERS). This didn’t stop sex work or trafficking, but it did shift the focus away from Craiglist as everyone affected found other services to use.

      A newly-released study [PDF] (via Sophie Cull) shows there’s been a corresponding increase in female homicides since the point Craigslist dumped ERS. Online services — enabled by Section 230 — helped sex workers stay safe by reducing or eliminating a few of the more dangerous variables.

    • NYT Reports on ‘Perception’ of Subway Danger—but Can’t Perceive Racism

      In recent months, most of the media coverage of New York’s subway system has been focused on the staggering cost to keep it in good working order and whether there’s a better way to run city transit. But Monday’s New York Times (2/4/19) introduced a new theme to the transit discussion: “New York Tackled Subway Crime. But Is It Starting to Come Back?”

      The Times story began with several tales of recent assaults on the city’s subway system, including a man who was fatally shot in a fight on a platform on Sunday. Alongside vintage images of graffiti-bedecked trains, New Yorkers testified to their rising fears about being a victim on their daily commutes: Ana Smith, 62, of Brooklyn, said she does not let her 10-year-old grandson ride the subway alone. “I have to protect him,” Smith said. “It’s too dangerous. We have too much crime in this train station.”

    • Trump’s Long, Weird, Divisive State of the Union

      You knew Donald Trump wasn’t going to pull off the message of “unity” he claimed would be the theme of his State of the Union address.

      Having lost the government shutdown staredown with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and then coming humbly into the House of Representatives a week late, after the Democratic Speaker refused to let him deliver the address on schedule while 800,000 federal employees were locked out, Trump was facing his worst enemy: his own fragile ego.

      The unity stuff lasted for barely three minutes of a nearly hour-and-a-half-long address.

      The rambling, combative, defensive speech, which began with a call to Americans to “choose greatness,” veered into a McCarthyite attack on the scourge of domestic socialism (cut to long camera shots of grumpy Senator Bernie Sanders and radiant Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez); a ghoulish section on babies being “ripped from the womb” and “executed” at birth, (cue standing ovation from anti-abortion fanatic Vice President Mike Pence); a surprise announcement that Trump is withdrawing us from the medium-range missile treaty with Russia (cut to Joint Chiefs sitting, stony-faced, under a single thought bubble, “What??”); and, of course, the line that made Pelosi, seated decorously on the dias behind Trump, openly laugh: “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

    • Koch Kumbaya: The Billionaire Industrialists Appropriate Frederick Douglass, Pledge to “Do Right”

      The billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, and their network of donors gathered last week at a swank Palm Springs resort for their annual confab of millionaires and billionaires who have committed to funnel at least $100,000 annually to the Koch political operation, which rivals the Republican Party in expenditures and expertise.

      Charles Koch, who has spent millions on paid advertising to burnish the image Koch Industries, one of the nation’s top toxic polluters, is peddling a new brand.

      Instead of rapacious capitalism, Charles said he wants to “unite with people across the whole spectrum of viewpoints, of different ideas, including those who have been adversaries.”

      “This attitude of holding against others who have different beliefs is tearing our country apart. What we’re planning to do, and what we’re doing, is bringing people together,” he said as attendees enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres.

    • The State of the Union in Six Words: Donald Trump Is Full of It

      Watching Donald Trump’s State of the Union Tuesday night I kept flashing back on the routine I saw a talk show host perform years ago at the Kennedy Center in Washington– God help me, I think it was David Frost – in which he imitated a politician giving a speech that was one endless, meaningless string of empty, non-sequitur rhetoric.

      “Where would the country be without this great land of ours?” the phony candidate intoned, a line I now discover was later appropriated by Robin Williams as part of his Ronald Reagan impersonation.

    • Putin’s spokesman explains why Russia is imprisoning Jehovah’s Witnesses

      Verdict by Oryol’s Zheleznodorozhny District Court: The court finds that Dennis Christensen, knowingly aware that the type of activity by the local religious organization the Oryol Jehovah’s Witnesses and that, in relation to this organization, a court order to liquidate this group for extremist activity had entered force, resided in the city of Oryol and deliberately committed actions from January 18, 2017, to May 25, 2017, of an organized nature intended to continue the group’s illegal activities.

      The court finds Dennis Christensen guilty of violating Section One of Federal Criminal Code 282.2 and sentences him to six years imprisonment in a general penal colony.

    • Northam Needs to Resign

      Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has admitted that he blackened his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume for a dance party. He also initially admitted that he was one of the participants in a racist photo — of one person dressed in full Klan regalia and another in blackface —that appeared on his 1984 yearbook page.

      The next day, however, he reversed himself, saying it could not have been him, bizarrely arguing that given how difficult it was to get shoe polish off his face after the dance contest, he surely would not have done it again.

      The governor apologized, noting: “In the place and time where I grew up, many actions we rightfully recognize as abhorrent today were commonplace.” Yes, 1984 was a long time ago, but it was two decades after the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights laws, and three decades after Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation unconstitutional.

      In 1984, I made my first run for the presidency. In 1985, Douglas Wilder became the first African-American elected statewide as lieutenant governor in Virginia, on his way to being elected governor four years later. Northam’s actions were offensive and wrong even at the time he committed them.

      America’s long, sordid tradition of blackface minstrelsy — white people in blackface — was designed to burlesque black people, to portray them as dumb, grotesque and lascivious and was not incidentally part of propaganda for slavery.

    • The Countless Ways the Legacy of Slavery Lives On

      Four hundred years ago, in August 1619, the slave ship White Lion moored at Point Comfort on the James River in Virginia and deposited its human cargo, the first enslaved Africans brought to what would become the United States. Four centuries later, on the first day of Black History Month, the white governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, was answering questions about whether or not he wore blackface while in medical school. Northam’s personal page in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook included a photo with two people — one man in blackface standing next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam first said he may have been one of the two in the photo. The next day, in a news conference, he denied being in the photo, and defied growing calls for him to resign as governor.

      “I am not either of the people in that photo,” he said with his wife by his side. Later in his statement, he admitted: “That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume. I look back now and regret that.”

      Northam is not the only politician recently confronted with blackface in his past. Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned on Jan. 28, after just two weeks in office, when photos surfaced of him from a 2005 Halloween party. Ertel was in blackface, dressed as a woman, with a shirt that read “Katrina Victim,” just over two months after the Category 5 hurricane devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, killing thousands of people, disproportionately the poor and people of color.

    • The Cook County Sheriff’s Office Says Its Gang Database Is on Lockdown, but Questions Remain

      In January, aides to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart began telling other county officials that their office was no longer using its gang database.

      Many welcomed the news. After all, the gang-affiliation data had been collected through an often subjective and error-prone process, with potentially devastating consequences, as I reported in July. More than 350 other government agencies had access to the database and could use it in investigations, despite its flaws. And people listed in the database had no way to object or to change the information.

      But weeks after Dart began touting his decision, the sheriff’s office has resisted calls to destroy the database immediately or publicly explain other details of its plans. Commissioners are still negotiating with Dart and his aides to hold public hearings and create a permanent ban on the gang database.

      “We want something on the record,” said county Commissioner Alma Anaya, who has pressed for restrictions on the gang database and other data collected by the county. “It’s about transparency.”

    • Are we Moderns or Terrestrials?

      We, in the United States,are accustomed to discriminatory segregation, accustomed to those excluded, and to those left behind. Brian Stevenson notes, in a New York Times interview, 01.20.19, “Slavery didn’t end in 1865; it just evolved.” It evolved through the sabotaging of Reconstruction, through lynching, through institutionalized segregation, and through mass incarceration (as is made explicit in the Equal Justice Initiative’s permanent museum exhibit, ‘From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration’in Montgomery, Alabama). It has also evolved through a deliberate program of mass immiseration conducted by the government’s withholding of adequate education, social services and living-wage work – with the notable exception of impressment into military service on behalf of the nation’s imperial juggernaut. And it has evolved, in this broadened notion of slavery, which might reasonably include all servitude to the economic benefit of rich and powerful, mostly white-male elites, to encompass peoples of color and the white underclass, the white working class and the white middle class. A similar process of division, of segregation, between the exploiters and the exploited, has, since the advent of colonization, separated the Global North from the Global South.

      In Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, 2018, Bruno Latour, the French philosopher and sociologist, writes, “To the migrants from outside who have to cross borders and leave their countries at the price of immense tragedies, we must, from now on, add the migrants from inside who, while remaining in place, are experiencing the drama of seeing themselves left behind by their own countries”.

      What kind of vast conspiracy is responsible for these circumstances? And, what has the weather got to do with it? Latour demonstrates that globalization, the populist reaction to it, an ever-widening chasm of wealth disparity, and climate change are inextricably linked. He suggests that the conjoined global elites from the worlds of politics, commerce and celebrity (whose quintessence metamorphizes into a kind of turtle head emerging from its shell of planetary capitalism every year at the World Economic Forum at Davos) are, by now, fully aware of the limits to the earth’s resources, and have concluded that there is no longer room for both them and everybody else to fully satiate their material desires.

      Given this awareness that we cannot all gravitate to, “…a common horizon, towards a world in which all humans could prosper equally” these global elites, Latour suggests, have been actively trying to separate themselves from the world – and have been conducting triage: sorting the population into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, most dramatically, since the onset of deregulation in the 1980’s.

    • Executive Time (Video)

      Now that President Trump finished the State of the Union, how about a little Executive Time? When a White House source leaked Trump’s daily private schedules to Axios, you could see that around 60% of his schedule was devoted to “executive time.” This is time when the president is in the White House residence, watching TV, making phone calls and generally hanging out.

      Rather than discouraging this aimless and slacker behavior in Trump, we should be encouraging it. In fact, let’s give him as much Executive Time as he can handle. Why impeach him or invoke the 25th Amendment when we can just keep the famously-distractible president otherwise occupied? Think of all the awful things he won’t be hard at work doing.

    • “No-Knock Raid” is Just Another Term for “Violent Home Invasion”

      On January 28, home invaders murdered 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle of Houston, Texas. Nicholas and Tuttle wounded five of the (numerous) armed burglars before being slain.

      That’s not how the news accounts put it, of course. Typical headline (from the Houston Chronicle): “4 HPD officers shot in southeast Houston narcotics operation, a fifth injured.”

      A number of claims relating to the fateful “no-knock raid” remain in dispute, not least whether or not Nicholas and Tuttle were, as the search warrant leading to the raid alleged, selling heroin from their home (their neighbors characterized them as quiet people who didn’t have lots of company, and scoffed at the notion that they might be drug dealers).

      Setting aside those disputes, let’s give the benefit of doubt to Houston police chief Art Acevedo on two things.

      Acevedo says that his officers “announced themselves as Houston police officers while simultaneously breaching the front door.”

      And Acevedo admits that immediately upon breaching the front door, one of the officers shot and killed the residents’ dog.

      Ask yourself this: If armed men break down your front door and shoot your dog, are you going to notice (if you can even hear) the invaders saying “police, police?” Are you going to just automatically believe the claim even if you do hear and notice it? Or are you going to act to defend yourself?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 5G can’t fix America’s broadband problems

      But experts say there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the hype surrounding 5G, especially given these same companies’ long history of unfulfilled broadband promises. While 5G will most definitely provide faster, lower-latency networks, it shouldn’t be seen as a magical cure-all for the numerous problems that plague the US broadband sector, they argue.

      Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have argued in government filings that 5G hype overshadows these same companies’ long-standing failures to deploy real fiber broadband to rural and less affluent urban markets (despite billions in tax breaks, subsidies, and regulatory favors), and 5G shouldn’t be seen as synonymous with the fast, reliable fiber connections these same companies should have deployed years ago.

    • House Democrats tell Ajit Pai: Stop screwing over the public
    • Former FCC Official Attempts To Create An Aereo That The Supreme Court Won’t Kill

      If you’ve been following copyright issues for more than a few years, you surely remember Aereo, a company that attempted to set up a bunch of micro-TV antennas which it could then use to stream broadcast TV to paying subscribers. What was fascinating about Aereo was how it was set up in a manner that was positively insane to any technologist — but was considered “necessary” to comply with the law, following a bunch of nonsensical copyright rulings from other companies trying to offer streaming TV. And, incredibly, its careful following of the rules was declared to be proof that it was trying to “get around” the rules.

      And then, even more bizarre, the Supreme Court ruled against Aereo using no actually defined standard, but basically just saying that it looked too much like a cable service, so they’ll call it a cable service (something I’ve referred to as the Supreme Court’s “looks like a duck” doctrine). As we pointed out at the time, part of the problem with such a weird test is that it provided zero guidance to tech innovators who wanted to build a system within the law. Basically, the Supreme Court (or lower courts) can now decide that something “looks” too much like another system, and decide it’s magically illegal… just because.

    • The Revolving Door Spins Hard: FCC’s Clyburn Now Lobbying For T-Mobile

      If you hadn’t noticed by now, U.S. lobbying restrictions are the legislative and police equivalent of damp, musty cardboard. While there are some basic guidelines in place, they’re so filled with loopholes as to be largely useless. One of the bigger problems is the far-too-generous definition of lobbyist we currently employ, which lets lobbyists tap dance around disclosure rules if they just… pretend they’re doing something else.

      One case in point is Comcast’s top lobbyist David Cohen, who routinely lobbies the government, but tap dances around the rules by calling himself the company’s Chief Diversity Officer. Lobbying rules updated in 2007 require that if an employee spends more than 20% of their time lobbying in DC, they have to register with the government as a lobbyist. As such, folks like Cohen just call what they’re doing something else, usually obfuscating their lobbying under what superficially appear to be more altruistic endeavors that often involve lobbying state and more local officials outside of DC.

      Since US rules prevent regulators and Senators from immediately jumping into direct lobbying for the first year or two post-government, they’ll often just call themselves “consultants” or “advisors” as they help their new clients lobby the government. Case in point: recently departed FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn this week announced that she’d be “advising” T-Mobile as the company tries to gain regulatory approval for its job and competition-eroding megamerger with Sprint…

    • Countries With Zero Rating Have More Expensive Wireless Broadband Than Countries Without It

      When an ISP decides to exempt certain applications or services from cutting into a user’s data cap, that’s zero rating. And the evidence is in that it conclusively makes broadband more expensive.

      A comprehensive multi-year study by the non-profit Epicenter.works, comparing the 30 member countries of the European Union (EU) on net neutrality enforcement, has found that zero rating business practices by wireless carriers have increased the cost of wireless data compared to countries without zero rating. This directly contradicts all of the assertions by major wireless carriers that their zero rating practices are “free data” for consumers.

      Based on the evidence, zero rating not only serves as a means to enhance ISPs’ power over the Internet, but it’s also how they charge consumers more money for wireless service. Zero rating was originally going to be banned by the FCC under the General Conduct Rule, but when the FCC changed leadership the agency promptly green lighted and encouraged the industry to engage in zero rating practices before it began its repeal of net neutrality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Rumor: Apple modifying iPhone 7 and 8 to work around Qualcomm’s German patent injunction

      Based on yesterday’s summary judgment decision by Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and a previous decision by the ITC to the same effect, there is every indication that the Germany-wide patent injunction Qualcomm obtained against Apple’s iPhone 7 and 8 in December is a miscarriage of justice. And there is a possibility of the appeals court staying enforcement of the injunction Qualcomm would most likely never have won if it had not been uncooperative with respect to the chipset schematics of the accused envelope tracker made by Qorvo.

      But if today’s rumor of a workaround is true, it appears that Qualcomm’s “leverage” from the ill-gotten injunction is soon going to be zero at any rate. In that event, activist shareholders might demand that Qualcomm immediately withdraw its $1.5 billion deposit since there must be better ways to use shareholders’ money.

      German website WinFuture is in frequent contact with German retailers as it operates a price comparison service. While this has not yet been confirmed by any official source, WinFuture has learned that Apple will purportedly start shipping in about a month from now some new variants of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 in Germany. Those new models won’t contain Qorvo’s accused (though most likely non-infringing) envelope tracker chip, but some other chipset replacing it.

      What makes this story particularly credible besides the reputation WinFuture generally enjoys in Germany is that WinFuture has already identified the new iPhone model numbers. For instance, the new variant of the black 128 GB iPhone 7 is MN482ZD/A.

    • ITC must hold retrial in Qualcomm v. Apple, says constitutional law scholar: judge not properly reappointed?

      The ITC investigation of Qualcomm’s first complaint against Apple had already reached the stage of a Commission review of the initial determination (ID) on the merits. Contrary to what various inaccurate media reports and commentaries suggested, that decision to review the ID is entirely unrelated to the fact that the Commission must make a determination on whether or not to order an import ban (unless there is a final finding of no violation). While the Commission can simply make an Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) ID the final decision on the merits of a case by not reviewing it, the ALJ’s recommendation on remedy cannot be elevated to an actual order: regardless of whether the Commission tends to agree or disagree with the ALJ’s recommendation, it has to request public-interest statements from stakeholders (as long as there is at least a procedural possibility of a finding of a violation) and then has to make its own determination (which may or may not be consistent with the recommendation, possibly up to the point where it’s basically just a copy-and-paste job, but formally an active determination has to be made).

      On the technical merits, the Commission granted Apple’s petition (to review the finding of a violation with respect to one patent) and denied Qualcomm’s petition (to review negative findings regarding two other patents). This, too, was missed by the other reports I saw.

      With respect to the technical merits, the Commission raised nine questions. Any one of those nine questions could be answered in a way that would make Apple win the case (apart from the possibility of an appeal by Qualcomm to the Federal Circuit). Even if we assumed, for instance, that Qualcomm had a 90% chance of prevailing on any given question, the fact that it would have to overcome a 10% risk nine times would result in a bottom-line chance only slightly better than 1 in 3 that it can surmount all nine hurdles. And at least some of the questions suggest a far greater risk than 10% to Qualcomm.

    • Diagnosis: Ineligible

      Within step-one of the Mayo/Alice analysis the court basically answered step-two as well — does the claim include “something more.” Here, the court appears to have added the notion that step-one should focus only on the claim as a whole while step-two includes an element-by-element analysis. Regardless, the court found that the application steps were all simply recitations of steps known in the art.

    • News from Abroad — More Pain for Warner-Lambert and Their Pregabalin Patent

      This test seems to go beyond that applied by the EPO in requiring there to be an explicit disclosure of a mechanism of action of a claimed therapeutic effect that is predictive across the claim scope. The EPO would likely view that if it was known that the mouse models in the specification could be used to test for efficacy of the drug in peripheral neuropathic pain, then the therapeutic effect is derivable from the specification and sufficiently disclosed. The patentee should, however, be careful about any claim amendment to a disease category for which there is little mention in the specification.

      It is also worth noting that Lord Hodge and Lord Mance also of the Supreme Court disagreed with the approach taken by Lord Sumption, viewing it as imposing too high a threshold and imposing a burden on the patentee which the EPO Board of Appeal case law does not justify. Therefore, despite the negative decision, the test for sufficiency in the UK appears far from settled since it is difficult to reconcile the differing views of the Judges in the Supreme Court.

    • Size matters — patenting at the nanoscale
    • Copyrights

      • Italy Tells Rest Of EU To Drop Articles 11 And 13 From The Copyright Directive

        Italy, which under its previous government had been supporters of Articles 11 and 13 in the EU Copyright Directive, has now made a pretty clear statement that if the country is going to support the latest directive, it needs to protect the users of the web, and the only way to do that is to remove Articles 11 and 13…

      • YouTube’s ContentID System Is Being Repurposed By Blackmailers Due To Its Failings

        By now, we should all be aware that YouTube’s ContentID system is not great. What was supposed to be an efficient way for content owners to report when their content is being used without permission instead represents essentially the worst from all worlds. It’s bad from a operating technology perspective, since the system manages to flag non-infringing content as infringing content on the regular. And it’s bad from a operating human standpoint, since YouTube puts so little emphasis on staffing around copyright claims that the appeals and review processes are a joke. The result of all this is a system that is wide open for both mistaken collateral damage and outright abuse. That abuse typically takes the form of people who either don’t understand how copyright works, or who are interested in merely trolling others.

      • France and Germany just cut a deal to save the EU’s #CopyrightDirective — and made it much, much worse (PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!)

        The EU’s on-again/off-again Copyright Directive keeps sinking under its own weight: on the one side, you have German politicians who felt that it was politically impossible to force every online platform to spend hundreds of millions of euros to buy copyright filters to prevent a user from infringing copyright, even for an instant, and so proposed tiny, largely cosmetic changes to keep German small businesses happy; on the other side, you have French politicians who understand that the CEOs of multinational entertainment companies won’t stand for any compromise, or even the appearance of compromise, and so the process fell apart.

        That is until Chancellor Merkel and President Macron sat down to broker a deal, in which Merkel caved on every single measure that even looked like it might protect small businesses, co-operatives, nonprofits, and individuals, ending up with a deal that guarantees that every existing small platform will be destroyed and no new ones can be started, leaving Europe in the hands of US Big Tech — forever.

        [...]

        All is not lost: the next step will be a rubber-stamp where national negotiators for EU member states approve the deal, and then it will go for a vote in the European Parliament, who will have the final say, right before they stand for re-election in European elections this May.

      • Article 13 Moves Forward With French-German Deal

        After a short hiatus, discussions on the new EU copyright law proposals are moving forward again. France and Germany have reached a deal on which services should be bound to Article 13. Opponents fear that the plan will lead to broad upload filters, but the EU’s copyright rapporteur notes that it’s necessary to defend copyright holders from large US platforms.

        [...]

        Interestingly, the EU’s copyright rapporteur goes on to stress that, even though European companies are directly affected by Article 13, US-based services are the real target here.

      • Article 13 is back on – and it got worse, not better

        Contrary to some reports, though, Article 13 was not shelved because a majority of EU governments already understand that upload filters are costly, error-prone and threaten fundamental rights.

        Without doubt, the unprecedented public opposition contributed to 11 member state governments voting against proceeding, up from just 6 last year. Still, there remained a majority in favour of Article 13 in general – just disagreement about details. This has now been resolved – read on below.

      • BREIN Explains Why It’s Not going After ‘Casual’ Pirates

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is continuing to gather information on BitTorrent pirates. This information will be used to go after frequent seeders of pirated material. According to BREIN director Tim Kuik, individual downloaders will stay out of range for now because not all rightsholders support this approach. Kuik himself also believes that going after the suppliers is the better strategy.

      • Kenyan Govt. Protests as National Anthem Hit With YouTube Copyright Complaint

        The Kenyan Department of Justice has aired its displeasure after a video on YouTube featuring the country’s national anthem was hit by a copyright complaint. UK-based De Wolfe Music is claiming to be the owner of the track, which is actually in the public domain.

      • GTA V Cheat Maker Has to Pay $150,000 in Copyright Damages

        Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive has won a default judgment against the developer of the GTA V cheat “Elusive”. The Florida-based man is ordered to pay the game company $150,000, which is the maximum amount of copyright infringement damages. According to the court, the cheat caused irreparable harm.

UPC Part of the Litigation ‘Industry’ Lobby and the Efforts to Change (Significantly Lower) Patent Quality Bar/Scope

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPC boat sinks

Summary: Team UPC carries on as if the proceedings of the German Constitutional Court are just a joke; appeals are meanwhile being assessed by afraid judges whose lack of independence should be sufficient grounds for suspending UPC/A (Unified Patent Court Agreement) indefinitely

THE European Patent Office (EPO) has been turning more litigation-friendly (presumption of guilt) in recent years — the same kind of thing that today’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is quickly turning into, as we’ve just explained. Many if not most or even all of Team UPC are “litigation” people; they profit from legal battles, from wars…

“One judge whose last document dealt with a software patent (which he rejected) had his office raided and he was forcibly removed during office hours, causing a possible mental breakdown.”What stands in the way of Team UPC is patent quality or courts that insist on quality. They therefore want the likes of Battistelli in charge; they want a high prosecution rate. They will never give up. It seems as though they’re eager to undermine constitutional courts like they already did the German parliament among other parliaments.

Here’s an image of how they immaturely push for a decision:

UPC decision

Team UPC is actually retweeting this repetitive crap (names associated are shown). A lot. These people are constantly shaming and pressuring the court to get out of their way as if justice and law/constitutions are merely a nuisance (standing in the way of litigation profits).

If that’s not enough, see Edward Nodder’s latest ‘masterpiece’ (after that ridiculous clothing post of his, which he has just edited a couple more times almost a month later). We’re asked to believe that UPC is just about to start. It’s a lie. They hope that this lie will influence the outcome.

What do these people want? They want to replace national courts and appeal boards. They want to impose decisions of some court somewhere like Germany on British companies, Slovenian companies, Greek companies and so on. And what sort of decisions? Whose laws? Whose rules?

The patent maximalists from J A Kemp have just written about the EPO’s approach to software patents. Notice how Team Battistelli (or António Campinos) — aided by the patent maximalists in the litigation ‘industry’ — push agenda of abstract patents:

2018 has been a year of increased productivity for at least those Boards of Appeal that cover software inventions (Boards 3.5.01 and 3.5.03 to 3.5.06). In particular Board 3.5.01 has returned to a similar level of productivity as the other Boards now that it has a Chairman. The main controversies continue to be the proper treatment of mixed inventions (those involving non-technical aims or features as well as technical ones) and how to determine what is and is not technical.

[...]

Inventions in the field of computer science can in some cases derive technical character from the technical nature of the data being processed, and in other cases, from a technical improvement in processing data independently of the nature of the data itself. However, inventions where the data is too abstract, or is non-technical in nature, can fall between these two categories.

Thus, it is instructive to contrast T 2707/16 (Dynamically generating multiple hierarchies/MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY with T 0841/16 (Business rule interface/AB INITIO). The latter case concerned a graph-based system for editing and compiling business rules where neither the nature of the data nor the alleged advantage of improved editing were considered technical. In the former case it was held that “the use of caching for dynamically generated data (i.e. the data polyarchy) with an authoritative store is a technical concept that serves as a compromise between higher scalability and fast response times for query processing on the one hand and freshness of the data on the other hand and that this goes beyond the notoriously known use of caching in general. Consequently, the Board considers that the claimed implementation achieves the technical effect of higher scalability of query processing on a server by means of a particular application of caching which reflects further technical considerations.” The claims at issue, which were remitted for further prosecution, did not specify the nature of the data being searched.

Independence of the nature of the program being executed also contributed to technical character in T 2052/15 (Asychronous antivirus processing/KASPERSKY) where an increase in the responsiveness of a computer by using computing resources in an asynchronous manner was considered a technical solution to a problem.

A rare case of the implementation of a non-technical method being considered technical is T 2330/13 (Checking selection conditions/SAP). This concerned a method for checking whether selected options for a “configurable product” (e.g. a car) are consistent before manufacture. The Board considered that the term “configurable product” did not confer technical character because it did not exclude non-technical products, such as insurance policies. However they did consider that “the specific claimed bit (sub-)matrices, bit strings and steps of the method, especially those of splitting the bit matrix, forming bit strings representing the selection and restriction conditions and determining inconsistent pairs of selection conditions when performed by parallel processing, do contribute to the technical character of the invention and should be taken into account when assessing inventive step.” The case was therefore remitted for further prosecution.

One judge whose last document dealt with a software patent (which he rejected) had his office raided and he was forcibly removed during office hours, causing a possible mental breakdown. How can these judges be trusted to do their work independently? They can’t. They even say so themselves as they periodically complain about loss of independence.

Writing about T1085/13, Joshua Price has just highlighted the latest reminder that these judges are beholden to or besieged by patent maximalists:

This recent decision from an EPO Board of Appeal is a rather satisfying development in how patentability (especially novelty) of purity claims is assessed at the EPO. This case may be seen as patentee-friendly, particularly for the pharmaceutical sector, as it likely extends protection for APIs. It will become especially important to review this case law when facing a novelty-only (Art. 54(3)) prior art document cited against a purity claim.

This decision is also likely to have implications for patenting enantiomers and proteins, as well as applications where purity of components is key: high-conductivity applications, high reflectivity surfaces, fuel cells, solar energy applications, catalysts, coatings…the list goes on!

First, a flying summary of the previous case law (T 990/96) is that a single disclosure of a compound together with a way of manufacturing it was considered a novelty-destroying disclosure for that compound in all purities. Even if the claimed level of purity was not disclosed, the EPO would draw upon the skilled person’s general knowledge of purification procedure to arrive at any other purity. To argue against this novelty objection, the applicant would face the burden of showing that the claimed purity could not be achieved – not only with the purification technique disclosed in the prior art document, but by all conventional purification techniques.

We certainly hope that the constitutional judges are aware of the above issues (among others) and are able to recognise the conflict of interest Stephan Harbarth is in. There would be a massive scandal if Harbarth used this court (his new position in it) to advance the agenda of his former employer. The world is watching; EPO insiders too are watching. They don’t like what they see.

Donald Trump’s ‘Swamp’ Inside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is Not Obeying Courts, It’s Even Disregarding the Law

Posted in America, EFF, Law, Patents at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Swamp’ of vast proportions and Trump’s own making

Vikingland

Summary: In spite of the fact that US courts continue to reject software patents (even more so this year, at least so far) people like Iancu and fellow appointees (with connections to patent trolls and Trump) pretend that 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a problem which needs to be overcome

THE EPO scandals should have become familiar to longtime readers. The Office basically operates outside the rule of law, it attacks judges, and it routinely violates the rights of its own staff. It’s run by autocrats and dictators who are well connected (the current President, for instance, is an old friend of his predecessor).

“Having reviewed this week’s tweets and articles, it seems clear that patent maximalists lack any “good” news from CAFC, PTAB and district courts, so they obsess over rare and exceptional patent application anomalies (situations where PTAB and examiners do not agree).”We have been seeing similar patterns in the Office across the Atlantic lately. Many top-level appointments are patent maximalists with history working for patent trolls. The Director's firm had worked for Donald Trump before Trump gave him the job. The main person of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has since then been removed (or compelled to leave), the Federal Circuit‘s (CAFC) judgments are being ignored (or cherry-picked at best), and 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) is being worked around in spite of Alice (SCOTUS). This means that examiners end up granting many patents in error.

Having reviewed this week’s tweets and articles, it seems clear that patent maximalists lack any “good” news from CAFC, PTAB and district courts, so they obsess over rare and exceptional patent application anomalies (situations where PTAB and examiners do not agree). Watchtroll (the patent trolls’ and software patents advocacy site) has just published “Bioinformatics Innovations Thrive Despite 101 Chaos”; but Section 101 is order, not chaos. Unless you’re a parasitic lawyer whose business is litigation and blackmail. Patently-O has just moaned about another Alice/Mayo case (Section 101). They just don’t get their way, do they?

EFF and other groups [1, 2] have been promoting this new post of Daniel Nazer from the EFF on why software patents are problematic, along with a call for action on Section 101 (at the Office):

The Supreme Court took a major step in cutting back on abstract software patents when it issued its landmark ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. Since then, courts have thrown out hundreds of patents that never should have issued. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s ruling is under threat. The Patent Office has proposed new guidance that, in our view, is inconsistent with Alice and would lead to a renewed flood of bogus patents. Please join us in submitting comments asking the Patent Office to abandon this plan.

EFF critics like to frame it in the context of Google (not entirely wrong any longer), but the issue is very much real and the concern is very broad. Using a dozen of so software patents in Eastern Texas, for instance, one parasite targets Google right about now and Patently-O reports that Google is hoping to shift venue (anything but Texas). Patently-O has also just amplified Trump SOTU lies on so-called ‘IP’ (as did IP Watch).

“…where were groups like the EFF back then? Nowhere. They obstructed legitimate opposition to this whole “swamp” situation.”The bottom line is, the Office and Trump are the main issue, not the courts. At the moment it’s only the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) who gleefully defies caselaw [1, 2]. It’s a shame that groups like EFF or CCIA are too polite to call for his resignation; before he got the job we had repeatedly opposed his appointment (the nomination came from Trump and his notorious, corrupt cabinet); where were groups like the EFF back then? Nowhere. They obstructed legitimate opposition to this whole “swamp” situation.

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