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02.10.19

Links 10/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC6, Project Trident 18.12 Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 10:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Stable version Chrome OS 72 arrives: Here’s what you need to know

      First up is USB support for Crostini, the containerized instance of a full Linux distro; Debian is the default. This opens up the ability to mount a USB or SD card drive in Chrome OS and share it with Linux. To share it, find the external storage in the Chrome OS Files app, right-click it, and choose “Share with Linux”. The external storage device will then appear as a file mount available at /mnt/chromeos/removable/[name of storage] with the name of the card or USB drive inserted where I have brackets (don’t include the brackets when accessing your mount in Crostini).

      Also, there’s no longer a need to move downloaded .deb package files for Linux apps from the Chrome OS filesystem over to the Linux files. That step is gone because the Chrome OS package installation process has been updated to work securely and directly from your Chromebook files, right in the native Files app.

  • Server

    • When I was sleepy

      One day I came back from the lunch (a good one), and was feeling a bit sleepy. I had taken down the tomcat server, pushed the changes to the application, and then wanted to start the server up again.

      [...]

      From that day on, before doing any kind of destructive operation, I double check the command prompt for any typo. I make sure, that I don’t remove anything randomly and also make sure that I have my backups is place.

    • Video: OpenHPC Update

      In this talk I want to give an introduction about the OpenHPC project. Why do we need something like OpenHPC? What are the goals of OpenHPC? Who is involved in OpenHPC and how is the project organized? What is the actual result of the OpenHPC project? It also has been some time (it was FOSDEM 2016) since OpenHPC was part of the HPC, Big Data and Data Science devroom, so that it seems a good opportunity for an OpenHPC status update and what has happened in the last three years. In addition to previous mentioned topics I would also like to give an outlook about upcoming releases and plans for the future.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 133 – Smart locks and the government hacking devices

      Josh and Kurt talk about the fiasco hacks4pancakes described on Twitter and what the future of smart locks will look like. We then discuss what it means if the Japanese government starts hacking consumer IoT gear, is it ethical? Will it make anything better?

    • SMLR Episode 300 “Linux is Obsolete” ?
    • Episode 54 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, the new Radeon VII beast from AMD is out and we’ll check out some benchmarks from our friends at Phoronix. A new version of KDE Plasma is coming out soon, in just a couple of days, so we will have a look at what is coming in KDE Plasma 5.15. We got some new app releases from LibreOffice and Flowblade and there was a bunch of Distro News this week from Fedora, SystemRescueCd, Redcore Linux, and some new distros or at least new to me with Linux Kodachi & Refracta. Later in the show, we’ll cover some Gaming Sales from Humble Bundle and Steam. All that and much more!

    • GNU World Order 13×7
  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Sees Driver Finally For Lighting Up The LEDs With Whiskey Cove PMIC

      One bit of Intel consumer hardware support not currently handled by the Linux kernel was for their Cherry Trail Whiskey Cove PMIC LEDs — that’s for the LEDs connected to their power-management IC on various laptops.

      The Linux kernel has already supported the Whiskey Cove PMIC on Intel Cherry Trail (and the since cancelled Broxton) for GPIO, thermal, charger, and other power management features handled by this IC. But for any attached LEDs to this chip there hasn’t been any support.

      Of course with Intel having shifted course as well as cancelling the Broxton successor to Cherry Trail, this PMIC LED support hasn’t been a priority but now an independent Linux developer has decided to tackle it. The Cherry Trail PMIC is used by various notebooks / low-power-devices with Atom x5/x7 from prior years.

    • Linux Might Finally See Mainline Support For The Current Apple MacBook Keyboard/Touchpad

      The Apple MacBook / MacBook Pro laptops of the past few years have been notoriously bad on Linux at least as far as the mainline / out-of-the-box support is concerned. The current MacBook’s keyboard and touchpad don’t even work out-of-the-box on Linux. There has been an out-of-tree driver available for changing that while coming soon it might finally be merged to the mainline kernel.

      The MacBook / MacBook Pro keyboard and trackpad of the past two~three years has relied upon an SPI controller rather than being the traditionally USB-based input devices. Apple hasn’t publicly documented the protocol even for properly supporting the keyboard/trackpad on non-macOS/Windows platforms. But thankfully the open-source Linux developer community has been able to largely reverse-engineer this support.

    • Linux 5.0-rc6

      It’s Sunday afternoon, which means it’s time for the usual release candidate.

      Things are fairly normal, although rc6 is a bit bigger than I would
      have liked to see. There’s no single reason for that, it’s just
      various changes all over.

      Networking (both drivers and core) is perhaps the most noticeable
      part, at roughly a quarter of the changes, but there’s a little bit of
      everything in there outside of that: other drivers (gpu, dma, iio,
      sound, usb, misc..), the usual architecture updates (arm, mips, x86,
      powerpc), along with a few filesystem and core kernel updates. And
      another batch of selftest updates.

    • Linux 5.0-rc6 Released – Still On Track For A Normal Release
    • Linux Foundation

      • Sony Pictures Has Open-Sourced Software Used to Make ‘Into the Spider-Verse’

        Sony Pictures Imageworks has contributed a software tool used to create movies like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Hotel Transylvania 3,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” to the open source community.

        OpenColorIO, a tool used for color management during the production process, has become the second software project of the Academy Software Foundation , an industry-wide open source association spearheaded by the Linux Foundation.

        [...]

        The Academy Software Foundation was founded in August of 2018 as an industry-wide effort to advance the development and use of open source software in Hollywood. Founding members include Autodesk, Cisco, DreamWorks, Epic Games, Foundry, Google Cloud, Intel, Walt Disney Studios and others. Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Imageworks, Warner Bros., the Blender Foundation and the Visual Effects Society (VES) joined the group last fall.

      • The CNCF 2018 annual report
      • Decipher Technology Studios Announces Silver Membership with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)

        Decipher Technology Studios, the leader in cognitive service mesh operations for the enterprise, announced it is now a silver member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), a sub-foundation of the Linux Foundation.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Running The RadeonSI NIR Back-End With Mesa 19.1 Git

        It’s been a number of months since last trying the RadeonSI NIR back-end, which is being developed as part of the OpenGL 4.6 SPIR-V bits for this AMD OpenGL driver, but eventually RadeonSI may end up switching from TGSI to NIR by default. Given the time since we last tried it out and the increasing popularity of NIR, this weekend I did some fresh tests of the NIR back-end with a Radeon Vega graphics card.

        The RadeonSI NIR support isn’t enabled by default but requires setting the R600_DEBUG=nir environment variable for activating. They have been pursuing this support to re-use existing code as part of the long-awaited OpenGL 4.6 SPIR-V ingestion support, which is still ongoing.

      • GreenWithEnvy 0.11 Released For More Overclocking Potential Of NVIDIA GPUs On Linux

        GreenWithEnvy v0.11 has been released, the latest version of this third-party, open-source utility for altering the power limits of NVIDIA graphics cards on Linux as well as more overclocking information/controls than what is exposed through the NVIDIA Settings panel with the NVIDIA proprietary driver.

        GreenWithEnvy depends upon the proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver as well as the CoolBits extension for doing the actual overclocking, but allows overclockers to make more informed choices thanks to historical charts of the thermal/power/clock data and other information not otherwise readily exposed from Linux GUI utilities for NVIDIA graphics processors. GreenWithEnvy also allows manipulating the fan curve and more.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 57

        Get ready for a humongous monster week 57 for KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative and there’s a metric tonne of stuff!!! So go make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and settle in for a long list of improvements.

        But first I want to mention that we’re working on fixes for Discover users in Plasma 5.14.5 who are stuck unable to update. We’ve pushed a fix into the 5.14 branch that should cause the stuck backend to time out after one minute, allowing everything else to work. We’ll be releasing a Plasma 5.14.5.1 bugfix release, inclusing this fix. Fear not, we won’t leave you out in the icy cold blackness of night… alone, hungry, and unable to upgrade your software using a GUI application?

        Also it’s already fixed in Plasma 5.15.

      • KDE Applications 19.04 To Support eBook Thumbnails, Allow Ripping CDs To Opus

        With the feature freeze for KDE Applications 19.04 happening next month in order to meet the planned 18 April release date, KDE developers are busy getting their new features ready and reviewed for this next round of application updates.

        The newest feature that has made its way into KDE Applications 19.04 is finally allowing the ability to rip audio CDs to the Opus audio format with that support working its way into the KIO code as a new plugin. That Opus codec support honors a feature request that had been open since January 2013. This applications bundle also will now support thumbnails on eBook epub/fb2 files. Also on the thumbnail front is supporting some Windows XPS / Office files with thumbnail support.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • NuTyX 10.94 Available

        I have the great pleasure to offer you the new ISO Mate 64 bit systemd.

      • MX-18.1 Continuum Official Release (iso refresh)

        MX-18.1 is a refresh of our MX-18 release, consisting of bugfixes and application updates since our original release of MX-18.
        Note: Existing users do not need to reinstall. All bugfixes and additions will come through the regular update channel.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Only a Few Days Left to Cast Your Ballot in the Board Elections

        With only a few days left to go in the Board Elections, openSUSE enthusiast Ahmad Romadhon would like to urge all openSUSE Members who have not yet voted to cast their ballots before voting closes Friday, February 15, 2019 at 12h00 UTC.

        The Gajah Mada University Indonesian Literature student from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, has contributed a new Poster for the openSUSE Elections with this goal in mind, as a healthy Community depends entirely on the active participation of its Members.

        The ballots were sent out last week for the voting process to choose three Board Members in the 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections from a total of seven top quality Candidates in the running.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Apologizes for Boot Failure in Ubuntu 18.10 & 18.04, Fix Available Now

            Canonical released a new kernel update for Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) and Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Bionic Beaver) systems to address a regression introduces by the last kernel security patch.
            After patching a nasty Linux kernel regression in the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system series, Canonical now addressed another regression affecting the Linux 4.18 kernel packages of Ubuntu 18.10 and Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS systems, which was introduced by an important kernel security update released earlier this week.

            The kernel security update that Canonical published on February 4th was available for Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 16.0.4 LTS, and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS systems, but only Ubuntu 18.10 machines were affected by a regression that could prevent them from booting when certain graphics chipsets are used.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google: We’ve open-sourced ClusterFuzz tool that found 16,000 bugs in Chrome

    The so-called fuzzing tool, or rather infrastructure, is adept at finding memory-corruption bugs that often end up requiring a security patch.

    Until now, only Google engineers and select open-source projects have been able to use ClusterFuzz. But now any software developer can use the automated bug hunter, Google has announced.

  • The next big challenge for Google’s A.I. is a card game you’ve never heard of
  • NVIDIA Open-Sources Hyper-Realistic Face Generator StyleGAN

    The Flickr-Faces-HQ (FFHQ) dataset used for training in the StyleGAN paper contains 70,000 high-quality PNG images of human faces at 1024×1024 resolution (aligned and cropped).

  • NVIDIA Opens Up The Code To StyleGAN – Create Your Own AI Family Portraits

    This week NVIDIA’s research engineers open-sourced StyleGAN, the project they’ve been working in for months as a Style-based generator architecture for Generative Adversarial Networks.

    The machine learning technology is for generating new images that mimic the appearance of real images. With StyleGAN, unlike (most?) other generators, different aspects can be customized for changing the outcome of the generated images. StyleGAN is able to yield incredibly life-like human portraits, but the generator can also be used for applying the same machine learning to other animals, automobiles, and even rooms.

  • Abe Chen, Byton VP Of Security, On The Importance Of Security In Early Design Stages — #CleanTechnica Interview

    I asked why not more automotive companies embrace open source. Abe feels the biggest problem is their lack of understanding of the licensing process. Open source is about taking and giving back. That can be daunting for many focused on bottom line return on investment (ROI). Mostly, certain carmakers feel more comfortable with an off-the-shelf product with a straightforward support system. Unfortunately, that is an expensive solution for the consumer. To do a good job, a mobility company needs to dedicate an entire team to open source.

    How Open Source Can Make Mobility More Efficient & Lower Costs

    Asked about Byton’s security philosophy, Abe feels most in the automotive industry rely on IT scripting and applies it to the auto industry. From his personal experience, it can’t always work well. It has to be part of a core, in-house automotive security foundation that is developed from a mobility standpoint. He used the analogy of how it’s one thing to hack into a phone or computer and lose data. It’s another thing when it comes to a car and human lives are at stake. Automotive security has to be part of the original design and not an afterthought. There is no such thing as 100% security, but you can put into place compensating technologies as well as redundant systems to come as close as possible to that.

  • Yosemite X announces first open-source public blockchain without native cryptocurrency

    Businesses can reap the benefits of blockchain, without the risks commonly associated with cryptocurrencies

    Yosemite X, a blockchain technology company, today announced the release of its open-source public blockchain that operates without a native cryptocurrency, giving developers and businesses the ability to build solutions and reduce costs, without the price volatility of crypto.

    This approach enables companies to reap the benefits of blockchain – greater transparency, enhanced security, increased efficiency, speed of transactions at scale – and pay for their network usage with more stable fiat currencies.

    While the idea of using the blockchain technology to cut down the cost of operation has intrigued many businesses, few have proved to be practical due to the technology’s reliance on volatile native cryptocurrency. Even those that have been implemented in enterprises are often based on permissioned blockchains, which are really a glorified centralized server system with shared access to the control room amongst agreed/pre-determined partners. With Yosemite Public Blockchain, which is designed to operate and transact with fiat-backed stablecoin, businesses can – for the first time on a public blockchain – accurately project their operating costs, which are expected to be significantly lower than other financial transaction systems.

  • Engineer Spotlight: Open Source Signal Integrity Engineering with Davi Correia and David Banas

    Signal Integrity Engineers David Banas and Davi Correia share their thoughts on the future of electrical engineering, the freedom of giving code away for free, and the importance of professional curiosity.

    The electrical engineering community is a tightknit group full of cooperation and support, and two great examples of that are David Banas and Davi Corriea. They’ve achieved a high level of success in their careers, but they also give back to their fellow engineers. Banas, of Haskware and eASIC, is the developer of PyBERT, an open-source serial communication link bit error rate tester, and Correia, of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, developed many tools to automate parts of the product design process, increasing efficiency for his company and the EE community at large.

  • Should your company be open to open sourcing its software?

    Developing software can be a long, expensive process for a company, yet there are many advantages to open sourcing, which may seem counterintuitive at first.

    For Salesforce, sharing means a lot more than caring. In fact, last year, Salesforce announced that it was open sourcing the machine learning technology behind its Einstein AI platform.

    “Three years ago when we set out to build machine learning capabilities into the Salesforce platform, we learned that building enterprise-scale machine learning systems is even harder,” stated Shubha Nabar, senior director of data science on the Salesforce Einstein team, in a detailed Medium post.

    Nabar went on to explain why Salesforce decided to bring this project to the open source (OS) community stating, “Machine learning has the potential to transform how businesses operate, and we believe that barriers to adoption can only be lowered through an open exchange of ideas and code. By working in the open we can bring together diverse perspectives to continue to push the technology forward and make it accessible to everyone.”

  • The ‘Big Bang’ of Data Science and ML Tools

    The tools used for data science are rapidly changing at the moment, according to Gartner, which said we’re in the midst of a “big bang” in its latest report on data science and machine learning platforms.

  • ICTFax Version 4.0 Released, Open Source Fax Over IP server software
  • Google open sources ClusterFuzz, a scalable fuzzing tool

    Google made its scalable fuzzing tool, called ClusterFuzz available as open source, yesterday. ClusterFuzz is used by Google for fuzzing the Chrome Browser, a technique that helps detect bugs in software by feeding unexpected inputs to a target program. For fuzzing to be effective, it should be continuous, done at scale, and integrated into the development process of a software project.

    ClusterFuzz can run on clusters with over 25,000 machines and can effectively highlight security and stability issues in software. It serves as the fuzzing backend for OSS-Fuzz, a service that Google released back in 2016. ClusterFuzz was earlier offered as free service to open source projects through OSS-Fuzz but is now available for anyone to use.

  • Automated Radiosonde Tracking Via Open Source

    Meteorological organisations across the world launch weather balloons on a regular basis as a part of their work in predicting whether or not it will rain on the weekend. Their payloads are called radiosondes, and these balloons deliver both telemetry and location data throughout their flightpath. Hobbyists around the globe have devoted time and effort to tracking and decoding these signals, and now it’s possible to do it all automatically, thanks to Radiosonde Auto RX.

    The basis of the project is the RTL-SDR, everyone’s favourite low-cost software defined radio receiver. In this case, software is used to first hunt for potential radiosonde signals, before then decoding them and uploading the results to a variety of online services. Some of these are designed for simple tracking, while others are designed for live chase and recovery operations. Currently, the software only covers 3 varieties of radiosonde, but the team are eager to expand the project and have requested donations of other radiosondes for research purposes.

  • Events

    • FOSS-North Is Coming Up In Two Months As A Leading Scandinavian Linux/Open-Source Event

      If you missed out on last weekend’s FOSDEM event for your fix of Linux technical talks or are just looking for a Linux/open-source event taking place in the beautiful Scandinavia, FOSS-North is coming up now in less than two months.

      FOSS-North 2019 is running from 7 to 10 April in Gothenburg, Sweden. While I haven’t attended this event personally, many Phoronix readers have and encouraged mentioning this year’s event.

  • LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2 with NotebookBar

      The NotebookBar is available in Tabbed, Grouped and Contextual flavors, each one with a different approach to the menu layout.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Released – Here’s What’s New

      LibreOffice, the best free and open source office suite released the latest version 6.2 with some radical changes. The major improvements is the “Notebookbar” which is a ribbon style menu with tabbed, grouped bar for better and easy user experience.

      Being the only free office suite for professional and production use, LibreOffice’s notebookbar helps users who is more proficient with popular office suites such as Microsoft Office.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Why Apple is Patenting Swift Features, Even Though It’s Open Source

      Many think of ‘open source’ the same way they do free software: totally free and open for everyone to use. And Swift is indeed open and free. Released under the Apache license, Swift is also gaining LSP support, which will give it the ability to compile in just about any IDE you’d want to use (and even some you don’t).

      Apple still drives Swift’s progress. Swift.org, the site dedicated to Swift’s open-source roadmap and release history, is owned and managed by Apple. Those who contribute most to the language’s success are typically Apple staffers, or were (Swift creator Chris Lattner, who is now at Google, is still heavily involved with the language).

  • Funding

    • HashiCorp attracts huge venture capital investment by helping companies link different cloud technologies [Ed: HashiCorp is somewhat of a Microsoft proxy]
    • Databricks’ Recent $250 Mn Funding Shows How The Spark Creators Are Ahead In The AI Game

      If there is one key takeaway from Databricks’ recent and much talked about $250 million funding — that there is a dramatic increase in venture financing of big data, cloud and AI technologies. In fact, analysts have pointed out that these three sectors — artificial intelligence, big data and cloud — have significantly exceeded valuation since the technology holds tremendous potential to transform a wide range of industries.

      Ali Ghodsi and Matei Zaharia, inventors of Spark and the founders of Databricks, capitalised on the shifting nature of big data by providing a unified analytics platform. In fact, last week the San Francisco-based company saw another blockbuster funding round of $250 million, which put Databricks’ valuation at $2.75 billion. Interestingly, the company that has been dubbed more “evolutionary rather than revolutionary” in terms of putting Spark in the cloud and also providing tools tailored for AI pipelines and multi-cloud environments has managed to stay current by keeping a pulse on where the market is heading and what customers required.

  • BSD

    • Review: First impressions of Project Trident 18.12

      I have a lot of mixed feelings and impressions when it comes to Trident. On the one hand, the operating system has some great technology under the hook. It has cutting edge packages from the FreeBSD ecosystem, we have easy access to ZFS, boot environments, and lots of open source packages. Hardware support, at least on my physical workstation, was solid and the Lumina desktop is flexible.

      However, there were a lot of problems I ran into during this trial. Some of them are matters of taste or style. The installer looks unusually crude, for example, and the mixed icon styles weren’t appealing. Similarly, switching themes made some icons in toolbars disappear. These are not functional issues, just presentation ones. There were some functional problems too though. For example, needing to close and re-open AppCafe to see available packages, or the desktop not resizing when running Trident in a virtual machine, which required that I change the display settings at each login.

      Lumina has come a long way and is highly flexible and I like the available alternative widgets for desktop elements. This is useful because Lumina’s weakest link on Trident seems to be its defaults as I had some trouble with the “Start” application menu and I think some work to polish the initial impression would be helpful.

      The biggest issues though were with security. Trident ships with some extra security features in place, but most of them can be easily bypassed by any user by simply opening the Control Panel to view or kill processes or even add or remove packages. Some systems intentionally give the user full access by running everything as root, but in those cases at least the administrator knows they have complete access. This situation seems worse since Trident gives the illusion of security and limited access, but any curious user can run administrator tools. I think the project needs time to mature before I would recommend using it.

  • Programming/Development

    • The Rust Vulkan Gfx-rs Portability Initiative Reaches New Milestone

      Gfx-rs Portability is the library being developed within the Rust programming language that implements the Vulkan Portability Initiative as an effort akin to MoltenVK for easily getting Vulkan applications running on macOS and other platforms where Vulkan API support may not be natively available.

      Saturday marked a new release of gfx-rs/portability that implements version 0.2 of the VK_EXT_portability_subset extension. This release also offers improvements to the back-end for Apple’s Metal graphics/compute API.

    • A Tiny IDE For Your ATtiny

      When writing code for the ATtiny family of microcontrollers such as a the ATtiny85 or ATtiny10, people usually use one of two methods…

    • Why is cross-language cooperation so hard?

      My previous blog post on the future of Meson was a smashing hit (with up to five(!) replies on Twitter), so I figured I’d write a bit more in depth article about the issue. I’d like to emphasize that like previously, this article only mentions Rust by name, but the issues raised are identical for all new programming languages such as D, Go, Nim, and all the others whose names I don’t even know.

    • Riccardo Padovani: Glasnost: yet another Gitlab’s client.

      Among the others features, I’d like to highlight support for multiple Gitlab hosts (so you can work both on your company’s Gitlab and on Gitlab.com at the same time), two different themes (a light one and a dark one), a lite version for when your data connection is stuck on edge, and support for fingerprint authentication.

      The application is still in an early phase of development, but it already has enough features to be used daily. I am sure Giovanni would love some feedback and suggestions, so please go on the Glasnost’s issues tracker or leave a feedback on the PlayStore.

      If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can contribute to the application itself: it is written in React+Redux with Expo: the code is hosted on Gitlab (of course).

    • Python, For The love of It – part 1

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Hardware

    • Apple is squirreling away money to pay for lawsuits related to its iPhone ‘batterygate’ throttling scandal

      Users had said for years that Apple slowed down their older iPhones through software updates. When one maker of benchmark software produced data and an analysis that showed a few notable software updates seemed to slow down the iPhone’s processor, criticism exploded.

      Apple said the processor slowdown was related to aging batteries, and that the processor-throttling software was introduced to prevent older iPhones from shutting down unexpectedly. But there was a lot of consumer anger, leading to class-action lawsuits and even investigations from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Navy Sonar Is Literally Scaring Whales to Death

      While scientists have already linked naval sonar with mass strandings of some whales, like beaked whales, they haven’t understood exactly what the cause was – until now. Turns out, it’s literally scaring them to death.

      Beaked whales are among the deepest diving marine mammals on earth, with Cuvier’s beaked whales hitting some of the deepest depths – going nearly 10,000 feet below the surface. Their bodies have adapted to allow them to go so deep to forage; Their heartrate slows, blood flow is restricted and oxygen is conserved.

      Oddly enough, scientists have found that stranded whales have nitrogen bubbles in their tissues, which is a telltale sign of compression sickness, otherwise known as “the bends.” It’s a painful condition often associated with scuba divers who rise to the surface too quickly, so it’s strange that whales would be suffering from it.

      However, in a new study just published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists have found that naval sonar In certain frequencies is scaring them so badly, or inducing a “flight or fight response” that their fear alters their diving behavior and quickens their heartrate, which in turn gives them the bends.

      “In the presence of sonar they are stressed and swim vigorously away from the sound source, changing their diving pattern,” lead author Yara Bernaldo de Quiros, a researcher at the Institute of Animal Health at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, told AFP.

    • Stronger Drug Patents in New NAFTA To Cost U.S. Manufacturing Workers Jobs

      These provisions include a requirement of a period of ten years of marketing exclusivity for biotech drugs before a biosimilar is allowed to enter the market. The deal also requires Canada to grant a period of exclusivity for existing drugs when new uses are developed. In addition, it requires that the period of patent monopoly be extended beyond 20 years when there have been “unreasonable” delays in the granting of the patent.

    • Why some people are worried about drug patent protections in the new NAFTA

      The new NAFTA — or as it’s officially known, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — is already raising some complaints from north of the border. Canadians are worried their drug prices will go up.

      That’s because one piece of the deal gives years of extended patent protection to high-end, expensive drugs known as biologics. That means the trade deal could delay the time it takes for cheaper generics to get to market.

    • ‘People Shouldn’t Be Going Bankrupt and Dying’: Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All

      From Texas to Kansas to California—around 150 total locations across the country—Medicare for All supporters gathered to discuss the necessity of a single-payer system that leaves no one behind, at a time when over 30 million Americans are uninsured and two-thirds of personal bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.

      “I know of people with diabetes literally dying because they cannot afford their insulin. It’s very scary and very real,” said 30-year-old Medicare for All organizer Briana Moss, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12.

      Robyn Gottlieb, who hosted a barnstorm Saturday night in Portland, Oregon, described the U.S. healthcare system as “terrible.”

      “We are so far behind,” she added. “I feel so passionate about this movement and winning Medicare for All. People shouldn’t be going bankrupt and dying. We’re the generation that’s going to get this done.”

    • ‘Shame on Sackler’: Massive Protest Breaks Out Over Guggenheim Museum’s Ties to Big Pharma

      Demonstrators inside New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum staged a “die in” and dropped thousands of paper slips designed to look like of OxyContin prescriptions Saturday night to protest the facility’s ties to the billionaire Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma and has been accused of deliberately fueling the opioid epidemic for profit.

      “Education facilities at the Guggenheim, including a theater and an exhibition gallery, are housed inside the 8,200-square-foot Sackler Center for Arts Education, identified by the museum as ‘a gift of the Mortimer D. Sackler Family,’” the New York Times reported.

      “The cloud of white slips, created by a group founded by the photographer Nan Goldin, was a response to a recently disclosed statement by Richard Sackler, the son of a Purdue founder, who said years ago that OxyContin’s launch would be ‘followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition,’” the Times continued.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Saudi Arabia’s Threadbare Cover-Up of Khashoggi’s Killing Unravels Further

      More than four months have passed since Mr. Khashoggi was savagely throttled and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and then discarded, but the bald lies told by the Saudi government to protect the prince — including the attempt to pin the murder on 11 anonymous Saudis, of whom five are said to face execution — and the cynical argument by President Trump that Saudi largesse is more important than justice, have only intensified demands for a full reckoning.

    • New pressure over Khashoggi death, Trump silent at deadline

      Under an existing human rights accountability law, the letter gives the president 120 days to designate and punish those responsible.

    • Year Before Killing, Saudi Prince Told Aide He Would Use ‘a Bullet’ on Jamal Khashoggi

      The conversation, intercepted by American intelligence agencies, is the most detailed evidence to date that the crown prince considered killing Mr. Khashoggi long before a team of Saudi operatives strangled him inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and dismembered his body using a bone saw. Mr. Khashoggi’s murder prompted weeks of outrage around the world and among both parties in Washington, where senior lawmakers called for an investigation into who was responsible.

    • Blackwater’s Erik Prince, China and a new controversy over Xinjiang

      Erik Prince, the former Navy Seal who founded Blackwater, hardly seems like the type who dwells on corporate niceties. He was, after all, America’s foremost mercenary executive.
      But there he was in Beijing, bearing an unlikely gift for a man who might open China to a freelancer known for his band of private contractors. It was a copy of his Blackwater memoir, Civilian Warriors.
      With that 2013 introduction to Chang Zhenming, chairman of China’s powerful Citic investment conglomerate, Prince gained entry to a lucrative new market – and, now, new controversy.
      Prince, brother of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has made no secret about his ambitions in China. But since he became chairman of Frontier Services Group in Hong Kong five years ago, Citic, his mainland benefactor, has slowly cemented its grip on the firm. Prince stepped down as FSG chairman in December to make way for a new boss from the conglomerate, which has amassed a bigger stake than Prince’s 9 per cent.

      [...]

      Prince’s push into China began in 2013, the same year Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a key plank of China’s foreign policy: the “Belt and Road Initiative”. China is moving to project its money and influence by linking economies in Asia, Europe and Africa with power grids, highways and other strategic infrastructure.
      Prince, 49, had travelled to Hong Kong that year to raise private-equity money to invest in Africa. He pitched the idea to Johnson Ko, an investor whose boutique investment bank had caught the eye of Alibaba’s Jack Ma. Ko suggested another tack: a publicly traded company to capitalise on China’s coming push across Asia and Africa. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
      Enter FSG, which was created to provide logistical, aviation and security services. By 2014, Prince and Ko had secured a Hong Kong listing with the backing of Citic, which has US$972 billion in assets.
      Since then, FSG has engaged in variety of ventures, from providing security in a Somalian free zone to running air ambulances out of Kenya. For its shareholders, it is hardly been a standout investment. FSG has yet to report a profit, and its stock gained 14 per cent over the past five years, half of the increase for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Emergency: Australian Judge Strikes down Coal Mine in Part because of its Carbon Emissions

      In what is likely to be the first of many such rulings, an Australian court has ruled against a coal mine in part on grounds of the environmental damage that burning coal does by contributing to the climate emergency. Burning coal releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a powerful greenhouse gas that keeps the sun’s heat from escaping into space once it has struck the earth.

      Gloucester Resources, Ltd., had proposed an open-cut coal mine near the town of Gloucester, a 3-hour drive north of Sydney along Australia’s east coast. The New South Wales ministry for planning had denied the request on more conventional grounds. Open-cut mines are environmental nightmares and eyesores, and thousands of residents had written in to complain about all that and also the possibility that the proposed mine would negatively affect other land use in the vicinity.

      But then Gloucester Resources, Ltd., made the mistake of appealing the turn-down, and the case went to chief judge Brian Preston of the NSW Land and Environment Court. (Australia has courts for Land and Environment?)

    • Michael Bloomberg Versus the Green New Deal

      The Green New Deal proposed by the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement has dominated national discussion of climate policy over the past month. It’s an ambitious idea that pushes back against decades of neoliberal policy prescriptions – a massive federal jobs program to rapidly decarbonize the U.S. and promote economic and racial equity.

      This makes the Green New Deal directly threatening to some. The fossil fuel industry and conservative politicians are of course opposed to it. And it’s been roundly condemned from the airwaves of Fox News to the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

      But there’s another, more subtle source of opposition to the Green New Deal: that of political centrists and professed climate advocates who oppose its radicalism and want to dilute its content so it’s less threatening to the political and economic status quo.

      Enter Michael Bloomberg.

      The billionaire business mogul, who is pondering a 2020 presidential run, made headlines last week when he criticized the Green New Deal as unrealistic. “I’m a little bit tired of listening to things that are pie in the sky, that we never are going to pass, are never going to afford,” Bloomberg said. “I think it’s just disingenuous to promote those things. You’ve got to do something that’s practical.” That same day, he announced that he planned to outline his own Green New Deal.

    • Sen. Chris Murphy to Doubters: Green New Deal ‘Absolutely Realistic’ and the Kind of Plan Needed to Avert Climate Disaster

      Addressing head-on those claiming that the Green New Deal plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is impractical, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) declared on Sunday that the proposal is “absolutely realistic” and represents the kind of ambitious thinking that will be necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.

      After CNN’s Jake Tapper invoked objections raised by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine.) and former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz—both of whom have suggested the goals outlined in the Green New Deal resolution are unrealistic—Murphy strongly disagreed with their assessment.

      “I frankly think we need to set our sights high,” said the Connecticut senator, who co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and dozens of congressional Democrats. “I think there were a lot of people who said it wasn’t realistic for the United States to get a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, when President Kennedy initially outlined that goal. But we did it.”

      “I have a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old,” he continued. “Global warming is an existential threat to the planet, so if we don’t command this country to think big about saving our nation and our world from destruction, then I don’t think we’re gonna get close to meeting the mark.”

  • Finance

    • How Amazon’s Booming NYC Neighborhood Got Tax Perks Meant for the Poor

      Because the tax benefits are tied to capital gains incurred when assets rise in value, critics worry that these gentrifying neighborhoods will receive the lion’s share of new investment and that the tax perks will go to projects that would have been developed anyway. Because states could only pick a fixed number of tracts, selecting a gentrifying zone meant a poorer area would be left out.

    • Meet the Militant Flight Attendant Leader Who Threatened a Strike—And Helped Stop Trump’s Shutdown

      The government shutdown introduced America to an audacious new voice in the labor movement: Sara Nelson. While receiving the MLK Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award from the AFL-CIO on January 20, Nelson, the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, called for a general strike to support the 800,000 federal employees who were locked out or forced to work without pay. “Dr. King said, ‘their destiny is tied up with our destiny,’” Nelson told a cheering crowd of labor leaders. “We cannot walk alone.”

      Absences among air traffic controllers on the 35th and final day of the shutdown, causing ground stops at LaGuardia Airport in New York and elsewhere, contributed to the eventual resolution of the standoff. Before the shutdown ended, flight attendants were mobilizing to walk out as well—as Nelson said, “if air traffic controllers can’t do their jobs, we can’t do ours.” Simply floating the idea of labor unrest raised the stakes. Nelson, who took over leadership of the AFA in 2014, broke an unwritten rule by expressing the logical endpoint of the power workers hold in their hands.

      “I was very aware when writing that speech that it was going to be a moment and it was going to make a lot of things possible,” she told In These Times during an interview last week in Los Angeles. “There has been this hopelessness, this feeling that the problems are out of our reach. So setting a bold course and being bold about the action that we need to take was something that I knew people would respond to.”

    • The Left Cannot Afford to Ignore the Global Workers’ Struggle

      In his new book, The Left Case Against the EU, University of London School of Oriental and African Studies economics professor Costas Lapavitsas analyzes the current status quo within the European Union (EU) and attempts to map out an opposition strategy for the European left. The Left Case Against the EU examines how the EU got where it is today and, in this framework, looks at how German hegemony was developed and established, outlining the EU’s response mechanisms to crises. Finally, Lapavitsas introduces a proposal for how the left can move forward, pointing out that specific circumstances of each European country need to be considered in such a process. This discussion is especially relevant given the ongoing Brexit crisis in the UK. As Theresa May’s Brexit deal faced a historic defeat that led to a vote of no-confidence, the real challenge for the left is bringing forth concrete counterproposals.

    • Cities Across US Are Stripping Homeless People of Their Autonomy

      One of the world’s richest cities is waging war on disabled and homeless people.

      In February 2018, an unsigned flyer was posted in San Francisco’s Mission District, warning the homeless: “If you are still here after dark tonight, the hunters will become the hunted. We will pound you, burn you, beat you, and fuck you up if you are within a 100 yards of this park starting after sun down tonight.”

      The flyer was eventually tied to Jason Perkins, a local club owner. In its everyday practice, the government of San Francisco sides with Perkins as it routinely dumpsters homeless peoples’ tents (famously reprimanding a city worker who refused to throw them away); builds “hostile” architecture to discourage poor people from spending time in public spaces; and uses water hoses on those who don’t move along quickly enough.

      The city’s latest weapon against the homeless is a law that recalls the era of insane asylums. In San Francisco and other major metro areas across the country, governments are pressing pause on disabled and homeless peoples’ ability to make the most basic of decisions, through a scheme called “conservatorship.”

      Conservatorship, also known as “guardianship,” puts decision-making for “conserved” people in the hands of strangers who are assigned to them by the courts, or sometimes in the hands of relatives with whom they may or may not have good relationships. The process takes away their self-determination and often leaves them locked up in jail-like facilities, allegedly for their own protection.

      Susan Mizner is a San Francisco-based lawyer who helped create the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program in 2012 and previously headed up the San Francisco government’s Office on Disability. At an October meeting of a coalition of California civil and disability rights groups called Voluntary Services First, Mizner called “conservatorship the biggest deprivation of civil rights aside from the death penalty.”

    • Study Shows Richest 0.00025% Owns More Wealth Than Bottom 150 Million Americans

      As survey data continues to show that raising taxes on the wealthy is extremely popular among the U.S. public, new research by inequality expert and University of California, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman found that the richest 0.00025 percent of the American population now owns more wealth than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent.

      Zucman, who helped Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) develop her “Ultra-Millionaire Tax” proposal, observed in a working paper (pdf) that “U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties.”

      According to Zucman’s research, the richest 0.00025 percent—just 400 Americans—have seen their share of America’s national wealth triple since the 1980s, while the wealth of much of the U.S. population has stagnated or declined.

    • Denver Teachers to Strike as Educators Continue to Lead Labor Movement

      Teachers in Denver are preparing to strike Monday over wages and working conditions after failing to reach agreement after 14 months of negotiations with the school district.

      The planned strike could help cement teachers’ leading role in the labor movement, following a recent victory for Los Angeles educators, who reached a deal on a variety of issues after a weeklong strike in January. Teachers in the California cities of Oakland and Sacramento may be preparing to walk off the job next.

      Last year, the number of workers who went on strike was the highest in 32 years. The vast majority—more than 90 percent—were members of education, health care and social assistance groups. The 20 biggest work stoppages in 2018 involved 485,000 workers, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

      Denver teachers union lead negotiator Rob Gould expressed frustration Saturday over the solutions offered by Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova: “I think we’re at this point where you keep asking teachers to compromise over and over. What else do you want from us, Susana? We give you our lives. What are you willing to give us?”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America

      In other words, the United States has legitimized a political economy of shadows, and it has done so right in step with a global boom in people hoping to escape into the shadows.

      American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world. All of the stolen money, all of those evaded tax dollars sunk into Central Park penthouses and Nevada shell companies, might otherwise fund health care and infrastructure. (A report from the anti-poverty group One has argued that 3.6 million deaths each year can be attributed to this sort of resource siphoning.) Thievery tramples the possibilities of workable markets and credible democracy. It fuels suspicions that the whole idea of liberal capitalism is a hypocritical sham: While the world is plundered, self-righteous Americans get rich off their complicity with the crooks.

    • Western Media Fall in Lockstep for Cheap Trump/Rubio Venezuela Aid PR Stunt

      All of the above articles—and scores more like it—repeated the same script: Maduro was blocking aid from the US “out of refusal to relinquish power,” preferring to starve “his own people” rather than feed them. It’s a simple case of good and evil—of a tyrannical, paranoid dictator not letting in aid to feed a starving population.

      Except three pieces of key context are missing. Context that, when presented to a neutral observer, would severely undermine the cartoonish narrative being advanced by US media.

      [...]

      It’s true the Venezuelan government appears to have placed an oil tanker and cargo containers on the bridge to prevent incursion from the Colombian side, but the other barriers, as writer and software developer Jason Emery noted, have been in place since at least 2016. According to La Opinion (2/5/16), after its initial construction in 2015, the bridge has never been open to traffic. How can Maduro, as the BBC suggested, “reopen” a bridge that was never open?

      The reality is BBC and other Western media were just going along with the narrative pushed by Sen. Marco Rubio and Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, not bothering to check if their primary visual narrative was based on a bad faith, context-free PR stunt.

      This point is a relatively superficial one, but in a long term PR battle to win over Western liberals for further military escalation, the superficial matters a lot. Rubio and the Trump administration cooked up a gimmicky visual metaphor, and almost every outlet uncritically passed it along, often making factually inaccurate assumptions along the way—assumptions the Trump State Department and CIA coordinating the effort knew very well they would make.

      (3) The Venezuelan government has an entirely rational reason to suspect the US would use humanitarian aid as a cover to smuggle in weapons to foment armed conflict: The person running quarterback for Trump on the current Venezuela operation, Elliot Abrams, literally did just that 30 years ago.

      [...]

      It’s literally the same person. It’s not that Maduro is vaguely paranoid the US, in general, would dust off its 1980s’ Contra-backing Cold War playbook, or some unspecified assumption about a higher-up or two at State. It’s literally the exact same person in charge of the operation who we know—with 100 percent certainty, because he admitted to it—has a history of using aid convoys as a cover to smuggle in arms to right-wing militias.

      It’s all playing out right now, in real time. The same actors, the same tricks, the same patently disingenuous concern for the starving poor. And the US media is stripping it of all this essential context, presenting these radical regime-change operators as bleeding heart humanitarians.

      The same US media outlets that have expressly fundraised and run ad campaigns on their image as anti-Trump truth-tellers have mysteriously taken at face value everything the Trump White House and its neoconservative allies have said in their campaign to overthrow the government of Venezuela. The self-aggrandizing “factchecking” brigade that emerged to confront the Trump administration is suddenly nonexistent as it rolls out a transparent, cynical PR strategy to delegitimize a Latin American government it’s trying to overthrow.

    • ‘He’s Making Fun of Genocide’: Trump Appears to Joke About Trail of Tears in Tweet Mocking Elizabeth Warren

      In a tweet on Saturday mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with the racist nickname “Pocahontas,” President Donald Trump appeared to make a joke about the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Native Americans in the 1800s that led to thousands of deaths.

      “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for president. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!” Trump wrote.

      [...]

      Trump’s tweet, with its all-caps emphasis on “trail,” was immediately interpreted as an intentional joke about the Trail of Tears.

      “He’s making fun of genocide. Putting particular emphasis on the word ‘TRAIL’ when mocking Natives is a sure nod to the Trail of Tears where thousands of Native people died,” wrote journalist Ruth Hopkins.

      While some pointed out that there are plenty of reasons to question Trump’s knowledge of history, Politico reporter Cristiano Lima and others highlighted the president’s recent joke about the Wounded Knee massacre and his idolization of President Andrew Jackson as evidence that the “trail” reference was deliberate.

    • Threat to Bezos Not Extortion, National Enquirer Lawyer Says

      The National Enquirer committed neither extortion nor blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an attorney for the head of the tabloid’s parent company said Sunday.

      Elkan Abromowitz, an attorney for American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, said on Sunday a “reliable source” well-known to Bezos and his mistress provided the story about the billionaire’s extramarital affair.

      Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish the explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges with his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, and publicly declare that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

    • Unprecedented spending by outside groups already fueling Trump’s 2020 bid

      Outside groups supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election bid kicked off 2019 with a barrage of spending, an early opening salvo with the 2020 general election still nearly 21 months away.

      Independent expenditures for multiple hybrid-PACs advocating for Trump’s candidacy totaled over $1.27 million since the start of this year. As outside spending for former President Barack Obama at this time in 2011 only totaled a few hundred thousand dollars, the ongoing push for Trump is an unprecedented blitz in outside spending for an incumbent president.

      And the three outside spending groups dominating this effort are all linked to the same man.

      Dan Backer, principal attorney for the law firm political.law, signed off on spending for two of the groups which are clients of his firm: The Committee to Defend the President and the Great America PAC, according to FEC records.

      The Great America PAC spent $821,280 since the start of this year, with the Committee to Defend the President spending $441,038.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facial recognition is about to end your privacy. How do you feel about that?

      Entering Alibaba’s new FlyZoo Hotel in Huangzhou brings one thought: where are all the staff? The decor is a mixture of art gallery and moon base. Check-in is by facial scan for the 290 rooms at a waist-high podium with a glowing base that reflects on the glossy floor. Calling a lift to get to your room is a matter of peering into a camera which recognises your face and takes you to the right floor. Another face scan opens your room. You can sink onto your bed without speaking to a single person.

      Elsewhere in the world, our features are already being used for a multitude of purposes. In Los Angeles, pop star Taylor Swift deployed facial recognition secretly at a concert to detect stalkers. And in New Delhi, almost 3000 missing children were found, living in children’s homes, in a four-day period last year – hopefully now reunited with their families. Increasingly, our features are how we will access services, pay for things and secure our most precious possessions.

      More widely, object recognition and analytics can count the number of people in areas for safety or logistical reasons, detect criminal behaviour, trespassers and vandals, and spot accidents, speeding, jaywalkers, flytipping, loitering, the homeless, and more. Its use in multibillion-dollar “smart cities” projects enable stretched budgets to stretch that much further by, essentially, creating obedient, ever-alert electric people who’ll watch out for something to happen, and raise the alarm when it does.

    • Should you be scared of your laptop’s webcam?

      Last week, WSJ’s Joanna Stern posted a piece in the Personal Tech column that pondered an interesting question related to the cameras that are now embedded into modern laptops – “How secure are these tiny eyes into our private lives?”

    • Facebook is still trying to figure out what teens are interested in

      Facebook even made headlines last week for paying some users, including teenagers, as much as $20 per month to use an app that collected data on how they used their smartphone. Facebook called it “market research.”

      That data collection actually violated an agreement Facebook had with Apple and led to a chaotic day at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters after Apple blocked the special Facebook apps that are used by internal employees. The apps were restored less than 48 hours later.

    • The big DNS Privacy Debate at FOSDEM

      We’ve previously established that users do not have strong or informed opinions on the source of their DNS, so whatever happens will be decided by browser vendors, on behalf of internet users.

      Given what we now know about the relative risks and benefits of DoC, it seems utterly unwarranted to decide that users should give their DNS to Google or Cloudflare because there is no credible claim it will actually improve their
      lives.

    • Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else

      The National Enquirer has engaged in behavior so lowly and unscrupulous that it created a seemingly impossible storyline: the world’s richest billionaire and a notorious labor abuser, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a sympathetic victim.

      On Thursday, Bezos published emails in which the Enquirer’s parent company explicitly threatened to publish intimate photographs of Bezos and his mistress, which were apparently exchanged between the two through their iPhones, unless Bezos agreed to a series of demands involving silence about the company’s conduct.

      In a perfect world, none of the sexually salacious material the Enquirer was threatening to release would be incriminating or embarrassing to Bezos: it involves consensual sex between adults that is the business of nobody other than those involved and their spouses. But that’s not the world in which we live: few news events generate moralizing interest like sex scandals, especially among the media.

      The prospect of naked selfies of Bezos would obviously generate intense media coverage and all sorts of adolescent giggling and sanctimonious judgments. The Enquirer’s reports of Bezos’ adulterous affair seemed to have already played at least a significant role, if not the primary one, in the recent announcement of Bezos’ divorce from his wife of 25 years.

      Beyond the prurient interest in sex scandals, this case entails genuinely newsworthy questions because of its political context. The National Enquirer was so actively devoted to Donald Trump’s election that the chairman of its parent company admitted to helping make hush payments to kill stories of Trump’s affairs, and received immunity for his cooperation in the criminal case of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, while Bezos, as the owner of the steadfastly anti-Trump Washington Post, is viewed by Trump as a political enemy.

    • I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell

      A couple of months ago, I set out to answer the question of whether it’s possible to avoid the tech giants. Over the course of five weeks, I blocked Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple one at a time, to find out how to live in the modern age without each one.

      To end my experiment, I’m going to see if I can survive blocking all five at once.

    • Amazon’s Home Security Company Is Turning Everyone Into Cops

      Beyond creating a “new neighborhood watch,” Amazon and Ring are normalizing the use of video surveillance and pitting neighbors against each other. Chris Gilliard, a professor of English at Macomb Community College who studies institutional tech policy, told Motherboard in a phone call that such a “crime and safety” focused platforms can actively reinforces racism.

    • Hindu Temple Vandalised In Pakistan, Holy Books, Idols Burnt; PM Imran Khan Orders Probe

      Khan Tuesday night took to Twitter to call upon the provincial authorities to take swift action against the culprits.

    • WhatsApp Says It May Cease To Exist In India If New Govt Regulations Kick In

      Facing flak from the government over dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year which were linked to rumours spread on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service introduced several new measures including limiting the number of messages that a user can forward to five and appointing for the first time a country head for the organisation.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Journalist’s Arrest: In Manipur, Judic­iary Is Being Progressively Dwarfed By Executive

      Kishorechandra was booked twice for the same Facebook post. The first was on November 20 on sedition charges but was set free on November 25 after a chief judicial magistrate’s court ruled that the post was just an “expression of private opinion in street language”. Then, in what was seen as vengeful overkill, the government re-arrested him on November 27, overruling the court’s verdict, this time under the NSA. How a man’s criticism of the government and his foul language are a threat to national security has not been explained.

      This is, however, not the first time this journalist invited the ire of the government. In August, he had been detained by the police, again for a Facebook post in which he translated BJP as the “‘Buddhu Joker Party’ high on animal urine”. On that occasion, the editor of the cable TV network he worked for apologised to the chief minister and negotiated his release. How a chief minister, and not the court, can have people arrested or released is again a mystery.

    • All Schools Should Teach Students That Black Lives Matter

      With testimonies like these shared across social media platforms, last week, educators, parents, administrators, students and teacher unions celebrated a week of dynamic social justice learning. Powerful and empowering poetry readings, art shows, performances and discussions have centered the experiences of African Americans and the quest for recognition of our full humanity. For other students of color and white students, too, this learning has awakened a commitment to equity and inclusion. This action-oriented approach to learning about social justice took place all around the US as part of a week-long initiative called Black Lives Matter at School.

      First launched in the 2017-2018 school year after a group of educators formed a national committee to engage and organize for racial justice, Black Lives Matter at School has garnered support from unions, school districts, Teaching Tolerance, Teaching for Change and the NEA. This year, the campaign animated young people across racial and ethnic lines, encouraging them to actively think about and participate in the pursuit of their own freedom.

      In the Old Town area of Alexandria, Virginia, the Jefferson-Houston School is distinguished as the community’s first Pre-K to 8th grade International Baccalaureate (IB) school, and is attended by a diverse array of students. Jefferson-Houston is approximately 60 percent African American, 20 percent Latinx, 13 percent white and 7 percent Asian and Mixed-Race according to staff. Jefferson-Houston educators say that Black Lives Matter at School awakened excitement and joy in their students. For three Muslim first graders in particular, this joy was especially affirming.

    • Blackface, Other Insensitivities Ran Rampant in ’80s Culture

      At the time Virginia’s future political leaders put on blackface in college for fun, Dan Aykroyd wore it too — in the hit 1983 comedy “Trading Places.”

      Sports announcers of that time often described Boston Celtics player Larry Bird, who is white, as “smart” while describing his black NBA opponents as athletically gifted.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Texas bill would ban internet throttling in disaster areas

      This Texas bill, HB 1426, doesn’t go any further to codify net neutrality rules, only prohibiting carriers from restricting internet access in disaster areas. It does not ban behaviors like throttling in any other scenarios.

    • Texas Bill Aims To Stop Companies From ‘Throttling’ Internet Service During Disasters

      When the Federal Communications Commission ended net neutrality, it essentially allowed internet providers to throttle, or block access, to certain internet services or websites. HB 1426 joins more than 100 other bills introduced in state legislatures around the country aimed at protecting internet access.

      [...]

      HB 1426 was filed by Edinburg Democratic State Rep. Bobby Guerra. He was not available for comment.

    • Study shows that countries that permit Facebook’s beloved “zero rating” programs end up with more expensive wireless data

      Now, a careful, comprehensive study of 30 European countries by Epicenter.works finds that zero-rating encourages carriers to collude with Facebook to raise prices on non-zero-rated services, making it much harder to escape Facebook’s orbit (and other big incumbents).

    • Cable lobby asks for net neutrality law allowing paid prioritization

      “Net neutrality rules have moved into the courts now four different times, each taking years of exhausting and expensive litigation to complete,” Powell said.

      But that “infinite loop” didn’t just come from nowhere—the cable industry helped create it. Comcast challenged the FCC’s authority to prevent throttling a decade ago, ultimately leading to the imposition of net neutrality rules. NCTA and other industry groups sued the FCC to overturn the rules but lost in 2016.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • District court’s pretrial ruling on damages and ITC scheduling order: no good news for Qualcomm in Apple dispute

      A few months after Apple sued Qualcomm two years ago, the chipmaker started a patent enforcement campaign in three jurisdictions (U.S., Germany, and China). Almost two years have passed, but Qualcomm has yet to prove two thirds of its enterprise value (that’s what the company’s patent licensing business accounts for as was stated repeatedly during last month’s FTC antitrust trial) in litigation. If one focused on only a few mainstream media headlines, one might be (mis)led to believe that Qualcomm gained serious leverage in China and Germany, and had a decent chance of achieving the same in the U.S., but headlines can answer only some of the world’s most important questions. Patent enforcement isn’t one of them.

      It’s one thing to obtain a favorable ruling. It’s another to obtain a favorable and impactful ruling on a lasting basis. As fast-paced as this industry undoubtedly is, ephemeral results don’t get major disputes settled.

      There’s no indication (otherwise the stock market would know) of Qualcomm’s Chinese injunctions having had an impact on Apple’s ability to sell or make products there. At least for the time being it appears that software updates have indeed solved the problem, which is plausible since that’s what usually happens when non-standard-essential software patents are enforced. I’ve been interested in this subject since my NoSoftwarePatents campaign, which I started in 2004, and I’ve never seen a case where a software patent killed an entire product. The response has always been a software update. There’s no reason to assume it shouldn’t work in China.

    • Software Bypasses Drug Patents

      Pharmaceutical companies rely on holding patents to the latest blockbuster drugs that they invent, but these patents are a little different. To patent a drug you have to patent the steps needed to create it and perhaps aspects of its molecular structure. If another company finds a way to make the drug using different steps then the patent is usually still valid because they are making the same compound.

    • Qulacomm asks German court for ‘significant fines’ on Apple for non-compliance with iPhone ban

      Qualcomm has asked a Munich court to impose “significant fines” on Apple for insufficient compliance with a ban on the sale of iPhones in Germany obtained before Christmas, Bloomberg reports.

      Qualcomm says Apple failed to properly recall the devices from sellers and some phones were still available in Apple stores in early January. Qualcomm’s lawyers wrote in the filings that Apple “intentionally defy the court order”, therefore “significant fines must be imposed to put a check on that”, according to the report.

    • Printing Industry Leader Heidelberg Joins the OIN Community in Support of its Digital Future

      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Heidelberger Drucksmachinen (Heidelberg) has joined as a community member. As a global leader in prepress, printing and finishing, service and consumables, and software solutions, with a strong focus on a digital future, Heidelberg is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across the printing industry.

      ?Heidelberg?s decision to join OIN is indicative of the global trend towards increased value creation through software, not only in the printing industry but across all industrials. Forward looking industrial companies realize that open source software is the most efficient way to transform their business through software,? said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. ?We?ve clearly seen this in the automotive industry with Automotive Grade Linux, and there is promise in energy via LF Energy. We are pleased that an industry thought leader such as Heidelberg, which is driving the digital transformation of the printing industry, is joining OIN.?

    • Heidelberg Joins the Open Invention Network in Support of its Digital Future

      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced that Heidelberger Drucksmachinen (Heidelberg) has joined as a community member. As a global leader in prepress, printing and finishing, service and consumables, and software solutions, with a strong focus on a digital future, Heidelberg is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across the printing industry.

    • Trademarks

      • Drinking wine from a Pringles can: parody or trade mark infringement?

        Now, I know that the first question that occurred to all of you (or “y´all” as they would say in Texas), is not: “What is a drunk woman doing at 6.30 a.m. in the Walmart park lot riding an electric cart?”, but, rather: “Why have I never thought of drinking wine out of a Pringles can?”. This actually seems to properly function as a wine ‘dispenser’, as it is water resistant, provided of a plastic lid that prevents any spillage, and shaped to hold it comfortably (here you can find further details on the testimony of drinking wine from a Pringles can). I must admit I tried myself to drink from it, but the smell of the sour sauce and onion chips put me off. Maybe, next time.

        Unsurprisingly this event happened to become one of the most popular pieces of news in the US over the past few weeks. As a result, an artist called Celeste Powers created and marketed the “20oz Skinny tumbler” Pringles cans, selling them at approx $30 each on platform Etsy.com.

    • Copyrights

      • Music Industry Asks EU to Scrap Article 13

        A powerful group of organizations in the music, broadcasting, and sports industries have called on the EU to cancel the proposed Article 13. Headed by IFPI, the worldwide voice of the music industry and formerly the most vocal supporter of the legislation, the groups say that “no directive at all” is better than a bad one.

      • Dutch ISP Does Not Have to Expose Alleged Pirates, Court Rules

        Internet provider Ziggo doesn’t have to hand over the personal details of 377 alleged pirates, a Dutch court has ruled. The information was requested by movie distributor Dutch Filmworks. The court pointed out various uncertainties, including the fact that account holders are not necessarily the ones who pirate.

      • Indian Government Approves Prison Sentences For ‘Cam’ Pirates

        As envisioned earlier this year, proposals to India’s Cinematograph Act to deter piracy have now been approved by the Union Cabinet. Anyone recording or transmitting movies without permission now faces a three-year prison sentence and/or a US$14,000 fine. Whether this will have any effect on the mighty TamilRockers torrent site will remain to be seen.

      • UK ISPs Sent a Million Piracy Alert Emails

        For the first time, data about the UK Government-backed “Get it Right” campaign has been shared in public. Over the past two years, UK ISPs sent roughly a million email notifications to subscribers whose connections were allegedly used to pirate content. These “alerts” educate copyright infringers about legal alternatives and according to the early data, they may indeed help to decrease piracy.

      • Spotify will now suspend or terminate accounts it finds are using ad blockers

        During its fourth-quarter earnings report yesterday, Spotify reported positive operating profit, net income and free cash flow for the first time since it was founded in 2006. The company, which went public in May 2018, fell below analysts’ expectations for revenue, but is continuing to grow quickly despite intense competition from other streaming services, with subscribers increasing 36 percent to 96 million. Revenue from paid subscriptions now account for nearly all of Spotify’s turnover, or 88 percent. Ad-supported revenue makes up a much smaller slice, but as a public company, Spotify is under more scrutiny to prevent ad blocking, piracy or anything else that might cut into its earnings or subscriber growth.

      • Tech Giants Warn US Govt. Against Onerous Copyright Laws

        The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Cloudflare, Google, and Facebook, is warning the U.S. Government against “onerous” copyright laws other countries are implementing. These laws lead to increased liability for US companies and create an increasingly hostile environment for them to operate in.

Corrupt Battistelli Paid a Fortune (EPO Budget) for Outlaw/Rogue ‘Bodyguards’ From Firm Linked to Russian Oligarch Iskander Makhmudov

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli’s man showing his ‘skills’

Benalla selfie
Source: En pleine présidentielle, Benalla dégaine son arme pour un selfie

Summary: Mediapart continues to shed more light on the shady firm behind Alexandre Benalla, whom Battistelli hired to break the law and secretly bring firearms to the EPO

THE EPO scandals of the past refuse to go away. They keep coming back. It’s a big deal because Battistelli hired six bodyguards, paying them millions of euros that Battistelli also passed to his other employer (at a later date, weeks before he left the Office). At a rate of €8,000-€10,000 per month per person it certainly feels like graft (Battistelli comes from politics where it is commonplace and he’s closely connected to Nicolas Sarkozy).

“The ‘bodyguard’ of Battistelli along with Battistelli himself — if not Vice-Presidents too (Lutz must have known it was in breach of German law) — should be prosecuted and perhaps arrested.”The EPO is a corrupt place; we called it a criminal enterprise this morning in relation to António Campinos and this whole story continues to unfold, looking back at EPO affairs from around 2016 when Battistelli did all this in secret. The ‘bodyguard’ of Battistelli along with Battistelli himself — if not Vice-Presidents too (Lutz must have known it was in breach of German law) — should be prosecuted and perhaps arrested. They no longer enjoy diplomatic immunity. That said, we live in a world where the rich and powerful (and/or well-connected) rarely face the music and end up behind bars. They might, at worst, decide to publicly resign and enjoy the rest of their lives with no real punishment.

This story/saga was previously covered in:

  1. Alexandre Benalla, Macron’s Violent Bodyguard, Was Also Battistelli’s Bodyguard
  2. Benoît Battistelli Refuses to Talk to the Media About Bringing Firearms to the EPO
  3. Guest Post on Ronan Le Gleut and Benalla at the French Senate (in Light of Battistelli’s Epic Abuses)
  4. The Man Whose Actions Could Potentially Land Team Battistelli in Jail

A reader has just informed us of this new article (latest update):

France’s national fraud prosecution unit has opened an investigation for “corruption” over a French firm’s security contract signed with Russian oligarch Iskander Makhmudov, and negotiated by Alexandre Benalla while the latter was a security aide at the Élysée. Mediapart first revealed details of this contract, which involves a company run by Benalla’s friend Vincent Crase, back in December. In a separate development the French prime minister’s head of security has resigned after claims that her flat was used to host a bail-breaching meeting between Benalla and Crase that was secretly recorded in July 2018. She denies any wrong doing. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.

France’s financial crimes prosecution unit the Parquet National financier (PNF) has opened an investigation for “corruption” over a security contract signed between a French company and Russian oligarch Iskander Makhmudov and negotiated from start to finish by Alexandre Benalla when he was still a security aide to President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée. The investigation is being carried out by detectives from Paris.

The above publication, Mediapart, is unearthing some truly shocking things. Less than a week ago Wikileaks wrote: “Top French investigative outlet @Mediapart raided today by French police over publications on #Macron’s former chief of security, #AlexandreBenalla, who dressed as a policeman to beat protestors. Mediapart has been a @WikiLeaks co-publisher since 2011.”

The cited article is in French. It might help if someone decides to translate it for us.

Which Microsoft?

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Public or private?

Public or private?Summary: The inconsistencies between public statements of Microsoft and private discussions/actions

“My own point of view is that it’s a fantastic start in treating privacy as a human right,” Satya Nadella, last month when asked about GDPR (which Microsoft violates).

“I do think terrorism with biological or nuclear weapons is something we want to minimize the chance of,” Nadella’s boss (Microsoft Board) Bill Gates when asked about privacy (the company has long worked with the NSA and was the first in PRISM). So if people have privacy there will be nuclear war? That’s it? That’s what the argument boils down to?

“Microsoft loves Linux,” Nadella a few years ago.

“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements,” Microsoft confidential document.

There are many more examples like that; the key point though is that Microsoft basically appointed a very, very good liar as CEO. Believing him on just about anything is unwise and for those who believe he symbolises “diversity” remember he’s not too keen on women workers (article by a publication that Bill Gates is repeatedly bribing).

António Campinos Will Never Hold Battistelli Accountable for His Crimes Because He Too Profits From These

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The corruption carries on and everybody at the top profits from it

EPO on a plane

Summary: The EPO isn’t just Europe’s second-largest institution but also quite possibly Europe’s largest criminal enterprise, whose ringleaders have enjoyed and exploited diplomatic immunity to escape prosecution

YESTERDAY we wrote about lowering of the European patent bar and promotion of software patents in Europe by the European Patent Office (EPO) under António Campinos.

Campinos is a lot worse than useless (doing nothing). His inaction is a form of complicity. His predecessor was bringing weapons to the Office and stealing money from the Office (sending millions of euros to his other employer). Campinos now received a high salary with a 5-year contract (over a million euros, plus bonuses), so his old mate’s crimes helped him get where he is today. Why would he hold him accountable? The Chairman of the Administrative Council has in fact just been put under his direct control. Welcome to an amazing institution where crime pays and those who participate in it (or cover it up) are paid even more, along with paid cheerleaders like IAM, who receive money through PR agencies and patent agents. IAM is still whitewashing Battistelli and belittling his crimes.

25,000 Blog Posts and Record Traffic

Posted in Site News at 1:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techrights design

TechRightsSummary: At a pace of nearly 2,000 posts per year (since 2006) we continue to grow and can use readers’ help

TO longtime readers it may not seem like it, based for example on the number of comments (a decade ago the culture of commenting was different and people did not need to sign in to comment), but over the past month or so we saw unprecedented traffic levels in this site. In a matter of weeks (a week or two) we will have published our 25,000th blog post and in a matter of months our IRC channels turn 11. Techrights itself is turning 13 later this year.

“Our transition to the new server environment wasn’t easy, but it’s pretty much complete now.”At the start of the year we stopped covering U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) affairs as much as we had done before, seeing that software patents were going away in the US and becoming more of a problem at the European Patent Office (EPO). We decided it would be better use of time to resume covering Free software and GNU/Linux affairs (as we did a decade or more ago). Our transition to the new server environment wasn’t easy, but it’s pretty much complete now. As usual, those willing to help us bear the hosting costs can donate. We don’t want to beg, but the option is always there. Other ways to support the site include linking to it or recommending it to others.

Jim Zemlin’s PAC Keeps Raising Money From Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OSDL, OSI at 12:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Today’s Linux Foundation, de facto successor of OSDL, is fronting for proprietary software companies — a very profitable business prospect

Jim Zemlin's PAC
Quite a few of the above are former Microsoft employees (document from IRS)

Summary: The Open Source Definition’s author as well as various Free/Open Source software (FOSS) luminaries warn of an attack on FOSS (“efforts to undermine the integrity of open source”); it’s not too hard to see who participates in it or enables such attacks

SOME days ago the media was ‘aflood’ or awash with reports (literally dozens like this one) about Microsoft stepping deeper into the Linux Foundation, spurring backlash and motivating some readers to write to us about it. As one reader once framed it, the Linux Foundation monetises the handover of Linux and pertinent related pieces, composed by volunteers, to the corporations that ‘buy’ these. It is a fantastic “business model” if it can be called that (imagine passing it off as a “charity”, too). Jim Zemlin and his fellow PR people (and accountant) receive outrageously large salaries, based on public filings (see above). We’re talking about something like $600,000 per year, possibly tax-exempt because they pose as a non-profit. The above is from 2015, so these salaries have likely increased since. As Bryan Lunduke pointed out at some point, these people earn even more money than Linus Torvalds himself (the people or person whose trademarks they convert into cash). Is he in it for software freedom or just for the money? Zemlin is not a technical person.

“…recently there have been efforts to undermine the integrity of open source…”
      –OSI
I’ve long attempted to refrain from being too harsh on the Linux Foundation because I recognise we have vastly greater threats out there (threats to software freedom). The question remains, however, how much Microsoft money is too much and when does the Linux Foundation represent the interests of proprietary software companies more than it represents Free software (or “Open Source”) ideals?

OSI, which also received Microsoft money not too long ago, now warns about an effort to “undermine the integrity of open source”. To quote Business Insider’s new artice, “one of Silicon Valley’s most important industry groups warns that the definition of the term “open source” must be guarded just as zealously as that of the kilogram — and that “recently there have been efforts to undermine the integrity of open source” by stretching the definition to suit their own self-interest.”

“It’s no wonder that the OSI’s Bruce Perens warned a couple of years ago that the the Linux Foundation had become an infringers’ club (he was alluding to GPL infringements).”You just know something is very wrong when pro-GPL groups are being made up just to be dominated by serial GPL infringers like Microsoft and VMware. Who’s facilitating it (and profiting from it)? The Linux Foundation. It’s no wonder that the OSI’s Bruce Perens warned a couple of years ago that the the Linux Foundation had become an infringers’ club (he was alluding to GPL infringements). His views on OIN weren’t any more flattering. This isn’t some random person but the person who came up with the Open Source Definition and is generally supportive (and close to) the FSF/Free Software movement.

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

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