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02.20.19

Links 20/2/2019: digiKam 6.0.0, Cockpit 188, Mesa 19.0 RC5

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Open Outlook: Middleware (part 1)

      Middleware, both as a term and as a concept, has been around for decades. As a term, like other terms in the Darwinian world of IT jargon, it has followed a typical fashion lifecycle and is perhaps somewhat past its apogee of vogue. As a concept, however, middleware is more relevant than ever, and while a memetic new label hasn’t quite displaced the traditional term, the capabilities themselves are still very much at the heart of enterprise application development.

      Middleware is about making both developers and operators more productive. Analogous to standardized, widely-used, proven subassemblies in the manufacture of physical goods such as cars, middleware relieves developers from “reinventing the wheel” so that they can compose and innovate at higher levels of abstraction. For the staff responsible for operating applications in production, at scale, with high reliability and performance, the more such applications use standardized middleware components and services, the more efficient and reliable the running of the application can be.

    • Implementing Dstat with Performance Co-Pilot

      Dstat is a beloved tool by many, and a staple when diagnosing system performance issues. However, the original dstat is no longer actively developed. This poses an immediate problem for distributions like Fedora moving to a Python 3 stack, as it lacks a Python 3 implementation (both the tool itself, and its many plugins). It is also problematic in that the plugin system was relatively simplistic and in need of a significant redesign and rewrite to add new desired features.

    • Re-Imagining Virtualization with Kubernetes and KubeVirt – Part II

      KubeVirt exposes a VirtualMachine entity in Kubernetes. This entity is persistent and defines the configuration of a virtual machine. This allows one to create, edit, start, stop, and start again a virtual machine (which one cannot do with a Kubernetes Pod). When the virtual machine is started, a VirtualMachineInstance is created, manifesting in Pod and Container in which the virtual machine runs.

      The VirtualMachine entity allows one to define virtual machines “the way you would expect it” from a virtualization expert’s perspective. You can name them, describe the virtual hardware devices, define multiple disks and networks.

      Expect to find your regular virtualization features here: CPU, memory, NUMA, CPU pinning, hugepages, CPU model selection, virtio-rng, memory overcommit, custom SMBIOS, cloud-init, boot order, serial console, graphical (VNC) console, custom PCI addresses for virtio devices, I/O threads, guest agent integration, and more being worked on.

    • Why agile integration is key for open banking

      Many banks are striving to be more agile in their operations, their business practices, and even in their ability to innovate to deliver new products and services. With greater agility, banks can better meet the demands of today’s digital-savvy customers and excel in an increasingly competitive market. Initiatives like open banking can help facilitate that agility.

      Open banking uses open application programming interfaces (APIs) for third party developers, gives users greater transparency, and provides a model for the use of open source to build out solutions. We think that agile integration – bringing together containers, distributed integration, and APIs – is the best path to deliver open banking.

    • OpenShift 4: A NoOps Platform

      In the previous post I described the goals that helped shape the OpenShift 4 vision. We want to make the day to day of software operations effortless – for operations teams and for developers. How do we make that goal – a NoOps platform for operations – a reality? What does “NoOps” mean in this context?

      At a ten thousand foot level, “Serverless” or “NoOps” for developers is characterized by tools and services that hide or minimize the operational burden from the developer.

      [...]

      That is why I am happy to announce the Developer Preview of OpenShift 4 is now available for public trial. This is a sneak peek of the next version of OpenShift, with an easy to use installer for starting a cluster on AWS on top of Red Hat CoreOS. The preview requires only credentials to an AWS account to provision infrastructure and a set of credentials to access the images for the preview.

    • The Linux Foundation Announces the 2019 Open Networking Summit North America Speaking Schedule

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, has announced the keynote speakers and session line-up for Open Networking Summit North America (ONS), taking place April 3-5 in San Jose, Calif.

      The full lineup of sessions can be viewed here, and features speakers from AT&T, China Mobile, Ericsson, Google, Huawei, Intel, KPMG, Nokia, Red Hat, Target, and more.

      “The Open Networking Summit is a chance to bring together the entire open networking community – from telco providers to cloud providers – to share best practices and discuss how we can work together to advance networking technology,” said Arpit Joshipura, General Manager, Networking, Edge & IoT, the Linux Foundation. “Gathering the industry’s foremost innovators and technologists, ONS is a must-attend event for collaboration and knowledge sharing.”

    • 6 Must-Attend Talks at Cloud Foundry Summit on Serverless, Knative, Microservices

      That’s a lot of technical content, so make sure to also get your ideal ratio of business impact content and check out the User Stories track.

    • Cockpit 188

      Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 188.

    • Good news: Business automation is not about SOA

      This is not an article about service-oriented architecture (SOA); neither is it a business process management (BPM) article. This article is about how business automation can change the way you create software.

      At a first, developers and architects tend to associate the use of BPM suites (or business-oriented architecture) with SOA. This behavior immediately leads to an incorrect bias about the subject.

      C-suite executives understand: Transform—or be suppressed by new, disruptive, technology-driven startups. In 2019, business automation is a key transformation that executives will seek in order to improve business performance and lower costs. However, some technology teams are not very open to it. Why?

    • Is Kubernetes Serverless?

      If you take a look at where the IT industry is going, you will start to see a trend: a layer of complexity added to the relationship between applications and infrastructure. No longer can you draw a straight line from the application to the machine it runs on. Developers have been trying to get away from having to manage infrastructure for years. It’s no fun having to provision, manage, and patch a multitude of disparate servers, new and old.

      As a result, that layer of abstraction between the application and the underlying infrastructure has led to the invention of a number of technologies, one of them being Kubernetes. Not only can we ensure our application is going to run on a consistent Docker container image, no matter what environment, but we don’t have to manage the containers and keep track of where and how many are running at all times.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.11

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.20.11 kernel.

      All users of the 4.20 kernel series must upgrade.

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

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

    • Linux 4.19.24
    • Linux 4.14.102
    • Linux 4.9.159
    • Linux 4.4.175
    • Linux 3.18.135
    • Intel Preparing The Linux Kernel For Cascade Lake AP Multi-Die Support

      Intel developers have begun posting their Linux kernel patches for enabling multi-die/package topology support to the Linux kernel as part of their Cascade Lake AP upbringing.

      Cascade Lake “Advanced Performance” is a multi-chip package of multiple Cascade Lake dies, expected to be up to 48 cores / 96 threads per package and twelve DDR4 memory channels. Cascade Lake SP and Cascade Lake X Linux support already has been in order — or at least appears to be based upon previous commit activity — while Cascade Lake AP is taking some additional work due to the new multi-die design. Cascade Lake dies are connected via Ultra Path Interconnect (UPI) links.

    • Linux Seeing Support For The HyperBus

      The Linux kernel is in the process of receiving support for the HyperBus, a high performance DDR bus interface used for connecting the processor/controller/ASIC to “HyperFlash” flash memory or “HyperRAM” DRAM.

      HyperBus is a specification by Cypress Semiconductor for high-speed, low-pin-count memory products primarily for industrial/IoT/automotive products for connecting controls to memory and other peripherals in as little as 12 pins. HyperBus is designed to have 70% less pins and up to 77% smaller footprint than competing solutions.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Future of Artificial Intelligence at Scale

        For this week’s episode of the The New Stack Analysts podcast, TNS editorial director Libby Clark and TNS London correspondent Jennifer Riggins sat down (via Zoom) with futurist Martin Ford, author of “Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it,” and Ofer Hermoni, chair of the technical advisory council for The Linux Foundation’s Deep Learning Foundation projects, to talk about the current state of AI, how it will scale, and its consequences.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Wayland 1.17 & Weston 6.0 Reach Alpha, Officially Releasing Next Month

        Out today are the first alpha releases for Wayland 1.17 and the Weston 6.0 reference compositor. This alpha release is about two weeks behind schedule but the developers have updated their plans to now ship the beta releases on 5 March, release candidates begin on 12 March, and potentially releasing the stable versions of Wayland 1.17.0 and Weston 6.0.0 on 19 March.

        The Wayland 1.17 Alpha release adds to the protocol support for expressing an internal server error message as well as an updated wl_seat protocol. There are also memory leak fixes for the Wayland scanner and various test updates. Details on the 1.17 alpha via wayland-devel.

        Also out today is the Weston 6.0 Alpha. On the Weston compositor front they have shifted to using the Meson build system while deprecating Autotools, XDG-Shell stable support, FreeRDP 2.0 updates, IVI shell improvements, and many other changes.

      • RadeonSI Gets NIR Improvements, Enabled By Default For Civilization VI

        The RadeonSI NIR back-end as an alternative to its longstanding TGSI usage continues to be improved upon as a prerequisite for supporting OpenGL 4.6 with SPIR-V ingestion. A fresh batch of RadeonSI NIR work was merged today, including to enable it by default for one Linux game.

        Several developers landed the latest NIR code into Mesa 19.1 Git on Monday, including Marek Olšák who added a radeonsi_enable_nir option to DriConf for allowing the NIR usage to be flipped on a per-game/per-executable basis. Up to now users had to manually set R600_DEBUG=nir (or now, AMD_DEBUG=nir as the other syntax now supported in recent days with Mesa 19.1). But now with this DriConf option, it can “whitelist” games as needed.

      • mesa 19.0.0-rc5

        Hi List,

        Hot off the press is mesa 19.0-rc5. Due to a number of still opened bugs in the
        release tracker this will not be the final release, and I predict at least one
        more release candidate before the final release happens.

        Just an FYI, I will not be working Thursday or Friday this week, so if I don’t
        respond to nominations after tommorrow don’t be surprised :)

        Anyway, in the rc5 release we have a little bit of everything, but not too much
        of any one thing:

        – nir
        – radv
        – v3d
        – intel
        – swr
        – anv
        – spirv
        – meson
        – radeonsi

        Dylan

      • Mesa 19.0-RC5 Released As The Cycle Drags Into Overtime

        Mesa 19.0-RC5 was issued a short time ago as the latest release candidate for Mesa 19.0. Due to blocker bugs remaining, at least one more release candidate is likely next week before seeing the official release.

        The 19.0 bug tracker still shows more than a half dozen bugs blocking the release. These blocker bugs range from 1~2% performance regressions in Unigine benchmarks with Skylake graphics to other random performance regressions and also some test case failures on the Intel side.

      • AMD Hiring Ten More People For Their Open-Source/Linux Driver Team

        If you are passionate about Linux/open-source and experienced with the 3D graphics programming and/or compute shaders, AMD is looking to expand their open-source/Linux driver team by about ten people.

        AMD is in the process of ramping up their AMD Linux open-source team to work on their Linux kernel contributions, Mesa (OpenGL) driver, Mesa multimedia stack, LLVM compiler back-end, and around Linux containers.

        This is quite exciting as it’s the single largest effort we’ve heard from AMD to expand their Linux graphics team; normally from time to time we see job postings looking for just a candidate or two at a time.

      • TuxClocker: Another GPU Overclocking GUI For Linux

        Adding to the list of third-party GPU overclocking utilities for Linux is TuxClocker, a Qt5-based user-interface currently with support for NVIDIA graphics cards and experimental support for AMD GPUs.

        TuxClocker is a Qt5 overclocking tool that supports adjusting not only the memory/core frequencies but also the power limit, fan speed, and other tunables based upon the GPU/driver in use. There is also graph monitors to show the power and temperature limit, where supported, among other features.

        TuxClocker offers similar functionality to other third-party, open-source Linux GPU overclocking software though where as most utilities focus just on NVIDIA or AMD hardware, TuxClocker is pursuing both. Currently their stable release supports just NVIDIA GPUs but the development code has AMD Radeon support in the works.

      • Intel Wires VK_EXT_depth_clip_enable Into Their Vulkan Driver, Helping DXVK

        Intel’s open-source ANV Vulkan driver now supports the VK_EXT_depth_clip_enable that was designed in part to help the DXVK project for mapping Direct3D atop of the Vulkan API.

    • Benchmarks

      • Extensive Benchmarks Looking At AMD Znver1 GCC 9 Performance, EPYC Compiler Tuning

        With the GCC 9 compiler due to be officially released as stable in the next month or two, we’ve been running benchmarks of this near-final state to the GNU Compiler Collection on a diverse range of processors. In recent weeks that has included extensive compiler benchmarks on a dozen x86_64 systems, POWER9 compiler testing on the Talos II, and also the AArch64 compiler performance on recent releases of GCC and LLVM Clang. In this latest installment of our GCC 9 compiler benchmarking is an extensive look at the AMD EPYC Znver1 performance on various releases of the GCC compiler as well as looking at various optimization levels under this new compiler on the Znver1 processor.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Color profile support for Xfce

      In order to enable people to set up color management I decided to start with the frontend. In theory you can already get a working setup in Xfce by relying on cupsd (for printers), saned (for scanners) and xiccd (for displays) and handling colord through the colormgr commandline tool.

      What we managed at FOSDEM was still pretty rough but I took a few days (read: nights) and polished the dialog so it became more and more user friendly and the final product can be seen in the screenshot above.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • digiKam 6.0.0 is released

        Dear digiKam fans and users, following the long stage of integrating a lots of work from students during the Summer of Code, and after 2 years of intensive developement, we hare proud to announce the new digiKam 6.0.0.

      • digiKam 6.0.0 released

        The digiKam team has announced the release of digiKam 6.0.0. New features include full support of video files management working as photos; an integration of all import/export web-service tools in LightTable, Image editor, and Showfoto; raw file decoding engine supporting new cameras; similarity data is now stored in a separate file; simplified web-service authentication using OAuth protocol; and more.

      • DigiKam 6.0 Released With Video File Management, New Export/Import Options

        DigiKam 6.0 is now available as the Qt/KDE aligned open-source image organizer and with this new release has full support for video file management too.

        The DigiKam 6.0 release delivers support for video file management in the same manner as photo management, integration of import/export web-service tools in LightTable and Showfoto, expanded RAW image handling for more digital cameras, new tools for exporting to Pinterest / OneDrive / Box, and the ability to re-organize the icon-view contents manually.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Desktop Gets First Point Release with over 35 Improvements

        The KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment was released last week on February 12th with numerous new features and improvements, including a much-improved Discover package manager, improved integration with third-party technologies and apps like Firefox, refinements to the configuration interfaces, new options for complex network configurations, as well as redesigned icons.

        The KDE Plasma 5.15.1 point release is a maintenance update addressing various issues in an attempt to offer users a more stable and reliable KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment. Highlights include restoring of legacy sessions, improvements to the Kickoff applications menu to return to the Favorites page after running a search, improved firmware update in Discover, and better comics support.

      • Plasma 5.15.1 arrives in Cosmic backports PPA

        We are pleased to announce that the 1st bugfix release of Plasma 5.15, 5.15.1, is now available in our backports PPA for Cosmic 18.10.

        The release announcement detailing the new features and improvements in Plasma 5.15 can be found here, while the full 5.15.1 bugfix changelog can be found here.

        Released along with this new version of Plasma is an update to KDE Frameworks 5.54. (5.55 is currently in testing in Disco 19.04 and may follow in the next few weeks.)

      • KDE is adding Matrix to its instant messaging infrastructure

        KDE has been looking for a better way of chatting and live-sharing information for several years now. IRC has been a good solution for a long time, but it has centralized servers KDE cannot control. It is also insecure and lacks features users have come to expect from more modern IM services. Other alternatives, such as Telegram, Slack and Discord, although feature-rich, are centralized and built around closed-source technologies and offer even less control than IRC. This flies in the face of KDE’s principles that require we use and support technologies based on Free software.

        However, our search for a better solution has finally come to an end: as of today we are officially using Matrix for collaboration within KDE! Matrix is an open protocol and network for decentralised communication, backed by an open standard and open source reference implementations for servers, clients, client SDKs, bridges, bots and more. It provides all the features you’d expect from a modern chat system: infinite scrollback, file transfer, typing notifications, read receipts, presence, search, push notifications, stickers, VoIP calling and conferencing, etc. It even provides end-to-end encryption (based on Signal’s double ratchet algorithm) for when you want some privacy.

      • KDE To Support Matrix Decentralized Instant Messaging

        The GNOME project has been working on integration with the Matrix federated real-time communication protocol for a while, which can bridge to other platforms like IRC, WhatsApp, XMPP, and Telegram. KDE is also now backing Matrix and will be supporting it by its instant messaging framework.

        KDE intends to support Matrix as an alternative to IRC for instant messaging. Besides supporting it by their software frameworks, they are now also running their own community-managed instance of Matrix.

      • KDE Adding Matrix to Its Instant Messaging Infrastructure, E3D Launches New 3D Printing Slicer, digiKam Announces Major 6.0.0 Release, Google to Acquire Alooma and KDE Plasma Bugfix Update 5.15.1 Is Out

        KDE announces it’s adding Matrix to its instant messaging infrastructure. Matrix “is an open protocol and network for decentralised communication, backed by an open standard and open source reference implementations for servers, clients, client SDKs, bridges, bots and more. It provides all the features you’d expect from a modern chat system: infinite scrollback, file transfer, typing notifications, read receipts, presence, search, push notifications, stickers, VoIP calling and conferencing, etc. It even provides end-to-end encryption (based on Signal’s double ratchet algorithm) for when you want some privacy.” For more information and how to get started, see the wiki page.

      • Essential System Tools: QDirStat – Excellent Qt-based directory statistics

        This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For this article, we’ll look at QDirStat, a graphical application to show what’s devouring your disk space and help you tidy up the disorder. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

        QDirStat is a continuation of the KDirStat utility. QDirStat is based on the latest Qt 5, and doesn’t need any KDE libraries or infrastructure.

        If you come from a Windows background you’ve probably tried WinDirStat, a Windows port of KDirStat, the predecessor of QDirStat.

      • DigiKam 6.0 Released with Support for Video Files Management

        DigiKam photo manager released new major version 6.0 recently with many great new feature including video files management support as photo.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Geary 0.13 Released, Here’s How to Install it on Ubuntu

        A major new release of Geary, the open-source desktop email client for Linux, is available to download.

        Geary 0.13 makes the nimble mail client faster and more stable in day-to-day use. It also improves the process of adding and managing email accounts.

  • Distributions

    • Do Linux distributions still matter with containers?

      Some people say Linux distributions no longer matter with containers. Alternative approaches, like distroless and scratch containers, seem to be all the rage. It appears we are considering and making technology decisions based more on fashion sense and immediate emotional gratification than thinking through the secondary effects of our choices. We should be asking questions like: How will these choices affect maintenance six months down the road? What are the engineering tradeoffs? How does this paradigm shift affect our build systems at scale?

      It’s frustrating to watch. If we forget that engineering is a zero-sum game with measurable tradeoffs—advantages and disadvantages, with costs and benefits of different approaches— we do ourselves a disservice, we do our employers a disservice, and we do our colleagues who will eventually maintain our code a disservice. Finally, we do all of the maintainers (hail the maintainers!) a disservice by not appreciating the work they do.

    • 5 of the Best Linux Distros for Developers and Programmers

      One of the reasons Linux is great is because of how flexible it is. For example, it can run on everything from servers to your old laptop to a Raspberry Pi. For this reason, it’s also a fantastic platform for developers.

      Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just using Linux to learn to program, you still have to choose a distribution. You could just choose Ubuntu and run with it, but there are plenty of “other options available to you.”

    • Reviews

      • Using Clear Linux As A Desktop Linux Distribution – It Works Well But With Some “Papercuts”

        While I am a big fan of Intel’s Clear Linux distribution for its raw performance on x86_64 hardware that for most workloads goes unsurpassed by any other Linux platform out-of-the-box, there has been a lot of Phoronix readers wondering how well it could function as a standard desktop Linux distribution. With upgrading my main production system earlier this month, I decided to try out Clear Linux and now with 200+ hours into using it as the OS on my main production system, I figured it’d be good to share my initial thoughts.

        While we’ve been benchmarking with Clear Linux for years, only over the past year or two have they really beefed up their bundles around the desktop and make it more appealing for desktop use along with support for Flatpaks, supporting the other DRM/Mesa drivers besides just Intel graphics, delivering a great GNOME Shell experience where as originally they defaulted to Xfce, and overall improving the experience for more use-cases. And, yes, it’s even possible to run Steam on Clear Linux.

    • New Releases

      • Kali Linux 2019.1 Security OS Released With An Updated Version Of Metasploit And Wider Support For ARM Devices

        Offensive Security yesterday announced its first release of 2019, Kali Linux 2019.1. This Kali release brings kernel up to version 4.19.13, fixes numerous bugs, and includes many updated packages.

        For those unaware, Kali Linux is one of the best Linux distros for hackers, pen-tester, and security researchers due to the fact that most of the hacking tools that are available online are built-in this Linux Distro.

      • Kali Linux 2019.1 with Metasploit 5.0 available for download

        The first release for 2019 of the Debian-based Linux distro Kali Linux is now available for download. Kali Linux 2019.1 sees the kernel moving up to version 4.19.13, and it also includes Metasploit 5.0.

        Offensive Security’s penetration testing distro is much-loved by the infosec community, and this latest release includes ARM improvements, a range of bug fixes and package updates.

      • Google Makes Revisions to Avoid Breaking Ad-Blocking Extensions in Chrome, Kali Linux 2019.1 Released, New Version of Cutelyst Is Out, Ubuntu Posts Security Notice for systemd Vulnerability and Applications Open for Outreachy Summer 2019 Internships

        Kali Linux 2019.1 was released yesterday. This is the first release of 2019, bringing the kernel to version 4.19.13. This release fixes many bugs and includes several updated packages. The release announcement notes that “the big marquee update of this release is the update of Metasploit to version 5.0, which is their first major release since version 4.0 came out in 2011.” You can download Kali Linux from here.

      • Kali Linux 2019.1 Released

        The favorite Linux distro of Mr. Robot gets the first update of 2019.

        Kali Linux is a distribution that shows up on Mr. Robot quite a bit. It’s one of the best penetration testing and hacking tools out there. Ahead of the next season of Mr. Robot, the Kali Linux project has announced the first release of 2019, to package more tools for both Elliot and his sister Darlene.

        Kali Linux 2019.1, updates the Linux kernel to version 4.19.13, fixes bugs, and includes many updated packages.

        According to the project, “the big marquee update of this release is the update of Metasploit to version 5.0, which is their first major release since version 4.0 came out in 2011.”

      • Download Kali Linux 2019.1 now! – This is the first major update for Kali Linux ever since version 4.0 was released in 2011.

        Metasploit 5.0 is a huge update introducing several new features and improvements in the penetration testing framework for instance: New search engine, New evasion modules, Integrated web services, Support for writing shellcode in C and a new JSON -RPC daemon.

        This is the first major update ever since version 4.0 was released in 2011. To view the full list of changes, updates, fixes, and additions, you can check out the Kali Changelog.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Community release: PCLinuxOS LXQt 2019.02 ISO

        First of all, it is the fourth release with LXQt 0.14. As experimental are some locales as default installed. To set the languages use pcc>system>Manage localization for your system.
        Log out/in to display your favorite language. It’s use the Kernel 4.20.10, and UEFI Support. Applications include falcon, qmplay2, phototonic, pavucontrol-qt, grub-customizer, qpdfview, featherpad, brasero, file-roller and much more inside…

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • A Linux Noob Reviews: The openSUSE Leap 15.0 Installer

        Welcome to a regular series here at Forbes that zeroes in on your very first experience with a desktop Linux operating system: the installer. This time around I’m escaping my comfort zone and leaving Ubuntu-based distributions behind with openSUSE Leap 15.0.

      • Leap 15.1 entering Beta phase

        Leap 15.1 entered the Beta phase with build 416.2 that reached the
        mirrors yesterday. Everyone is encouraged to download¹ the current
        builds and help testing. There are also live images to e.g. check
        hardware compatibility without installation.

        The Beta phase will last until mid April. Planned release is before
        the conference in May.

        Issues found need to be filed in Bugzilla². There is also a test
        plan³ to help coordinate the efforts. Feel free to fill in what you
        tested so we get an overview of what was covered already.

        Note that Leap 15.1 did not automatically sync with package versions
        in Factory. That is intentional as 15.1 is meant to be a minor
        update. Please submit any necessary bigger version updates the next
        two weeks to still have time for thorough testing. Please contact
        the release team⁴ in case of questions.

        Users of 42.3 please be aware that 42.3 reaches end of life a few
        weeks after the release of 15.1. In general an update to 15.1
        directly is possible. It’s recommended to participate in beta
        testing to make sure your specific workload or use case still works
        after an upgrade.

        cu
        Ludwig

      • OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Reaches Beta Milestone
    • Fedora

      • Flatpak’s Flathub Seeing Infrastructure Improvements, Finally Support For Beta Releases

        Flatpak’s Flathub finally supports the notion of application beta releases for application maintainers wanting to offer up early-access/testing versions of applications.

        Alexander Larsson and others at Red Hat have been working on a big update to the Flathub infrastructure for where Flatpak packages are available. They have introduced a new repo manager micro-service written in Rust, further improved the GitHub integration, a new publishing workflow, and support for issuing beta software releases on Flathub.

      • Jonathan Dieter: You can now download zchunk metadata in Rawhide

        It’s been a year since I first started working on zchunk, and I’m excited that we’ve finally managed to get it fully integrated into Fedora’s metadata. I’d like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation to Daniel Mach, Jaroslav Mracek and the rest of the DNF team for reviewing and merging my (quite invasive) patches, Michael Schroeder for extensive critiques and improvements on the zchunk format, Igor Gnatenko for help early on, and, finally, Neal Gompa for working behind the scenes to keep things moving.

      • Bodhi 3.13.2 released
      • It Soon May Be Easier Building Debian Packages On Fedora

        While Fedora is deeply rooted around RPMs, the necessary components for building Debian binary packages may soon end up in the Fedora repository — they’re currently undergoing the package review process. Developer Dridi Boukelmoune was fed up with the current situation and took to improving the Debian packaging options for Fedora to make it easier spinning Debian packages there without resorting to VMs or other avenues. This can be useful in cases of commercial/internal software and other practices where you may be needing to build both RPMs and Debs and desire to do so from a single stack.

      • Ditch RPM in favor of DPKG

        I know how important RPM is to the Fedora Project, but it breaks everything downstream and we’d be better off using DPKG as we should have from day one. I’m calling this initiative fedpkg: Fedora Embraces DPKG. A bit of background here: I build both RPMs and DEBs for $DAYJOB and until recently my workflow was quite painful because I needed extra steps between git checkout and git push that involves a VM, because what we ship as apt is in reality apt-rpm. It finally got enough on my nerves to locally build the things I needed and after a month I have already amortized my efforts with the time I save not having to deal with needless extra hoops. In order to successfully build debs on Fedora I needed 4 packages that I’m now submitting for review: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=gnu-config https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=strip-nondeterminism https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=sbuild https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=apt I need more than reviews here. Three of those packages are heavy on Perl code, and I’m not a Perl Monk. I tried to CC perl-sig as per the guidelines [1] (also tried with the mailing list address) but bugzilla replied kindly: CC: perl-sig did not match anything Apt is a mix of C, Perl and C++ code, so I would be reassured if I could have a C++ co-maintainer too. I’m only a C developer so if something goes wrong outside of the C realm that would be helpful. Two of those packages should be runtime dependencies of debhelper. The current apt package should be renamed to apt-rpm, I will look up the procedure for that to happen. I understand that when someone sees they should run “apt-get install foo” somewhere on the web it’s helpful for non-savvy users that this JustWorks(tm) [2], but apt-rpm is dead upstream and it shouldn’t be advertised as apt. I hope I CC’d everyone that should get this heads up, and hope to find help for the reviews and co-maintainership. The packaging does nothing fancy, there are quirks here and there but overall it was rather easy to put together. And of course I would be happy to help with reviews too in exchange. And thanks again to the mock developers, its design is so much better than either sbuild or pdebuild that I barely have pain points left when it comes to RPM packaging. Thanks, Dridi

      • Fedora will be at CLT 2019

        The Fedora Project will be at the Chemnitzer Linux Tage 2019. So far, Robert Scheck and I will make it happen. As we pretty much did it for the last 10 years.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04.2 refreshes this long-term support Linux distro

            Do you want the best compromise between the latest and greatest open-source software and the stability of an established Linux? If that’s you, and you’re an Ubuntu user, then you want Ubuntu 18.04.2.

            This latest version of Ubuntu 18.04, the Long-Term Support (LTS) edition, will be supported until April 2028. If you’re using Ubuntu in business, this is the one you want.

            Why? For starters, Ubuntu 18.04.2 has upgraded its Linux kernel from 4.15 to the 4.18 Linux kernel. This kernel comes with Spectre and Meltdown security patches and improved hardware drivers.

          • Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS supports Raspberry Pi 3

            Following on from the announcement and release of the latest Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS operating system for desktop, server, and cloud. Raspberry Pi enthusiasts may be interested to know that the latest release with long-term support and updates every six months will support the latest Raspberry Pi 3 mini PC.

            The Raspberry Pi 3 has a supported image target for Ubuntu Server and the existing Raspberry Pi 2 image support will also continue to be available. The latest LTS release of Ubuntu will also support the other flavours of Ubuntu, which include Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu.

          • Canonical Is Planning Some Awesome New Content For The Snap Store

            There I was, thoughtfully drafting an article titled “3 Things Canonical Can Do To Improve The Snap Ecosystem,” when I jumped on the phone with Evan Dandrea, an Engineering Manager who just so happens to be responsible for the Snapcraft ecosystem at Canonical. As it turns out, that headline will need a slight edit. One less number. That’s because I’ve just learned Canonical has some ambitious plans for the future of the Snap Store.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Vincent Sanders: A very productive weekend

    I just hosted a NetSurf Developer weekend which is an opportunity for us to meet up and make use of all the benefits of working together. We find the ability to plan work and discuss solutions without loosing the nuances of body language generally results in better outcomes for the project.

    [...]

    We rounded the Saturday off by going out for a very pleasant meal with some mutual friends. Sunday started by adding a bunch of additional topics to consider and we made good progress addressing these.

    We performed a bug triage and managed to close several issues and commit to fixing a few more. We even managed to create a statement of work of things we would like to get done before the next meetup.

    My main achievement on the Sunday was to add WEBP image support. This uses the Google libwebp library to do all the heavy lifting and adding a new image content handler to NetSurf is pretty straightforward.

  • Software Code’s “Wayback Machine” Gets a Boost

    Call it the Wayback Machine of code: a searchable open archive of software source code across iterations; from buggy beta versions, to sophisticated contemporary release.

    Software Heritage is a non-profit initiative developed and hosted by the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation.

    Officially created in 2015, the project has been growing over the years. It now spans 5.6 billion source files from more than 88 million projects.

    Software Heritage is itself built on open-source code. It gathers source files by trawling through repositories that developers uses to create and share code, such as Github, Gitlab, GoogleCode, Debian, GNU and the Python Package Index, with users able to trace detailed revision history of all the codebase versions that it stores.

  • CAST links arms with Software Heritage to tease out your open-source ancestry

    Paris-based code botherer CAST Software said today it would buddy up with Software Heritage to tackle the sometimes tricky task of identifying the provenance of open-source code in modern projects.

    The Register spoke to CAST Software CEO Vincent Delaroche, who told us the aim of the collaboration was to create a “Provenance Index” on code that has been collected in the Software Heritage archive. Essentially, users of its products can fling their source at CAST and be given a list of all components used in the code and, importantly, the original “ancestor” of that component.

    “At-risk” components are then automatically flagged and suggestions made on what to do, giving users an opportunity to head off potential legal, IP and compliance nasties before the code seeps out into the hands of users and lawyers.

    Behind the Provenance Index is a hookup between CAST Highlight, the company’s SaaS platform, which inspects code for iffy practices and vulnerabilities, and the curator of the Software Heritage, which is attempting to collect all publicly available source code along with its development history.

    Software Heritage’s archive has already “ingested” code from the likes of GitHub, GitLab and the old Google Code archive. Source code archaeologists currently have 5.7 billion source files over 88.3 million projects to cast their eyes over.

  • CAST partners with ‘world’s largest source code archive’ to give businesses better software insight

    Software Heritage is a non-profit organisation working to build a universal archive of all source code, similar to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine but for software rather than web pages.

    The archive, sponsored by tech giants such as Intel, Google and Microsoft, already contains more than 5.6 billion source files and continues to grow.

    As part of the partnership, unique indexing technology has been developed to allow users to search through these files more efficiently. Connected with CAST’s Highlight application, which provides software insights and analysis in areas such as cloud readiness, software health and data privacy, users will be able to identify the original use of a source file and see where else it has been used before.

    “We are thrilled to welcome CAST as a key partner, joining us in our endeavour to collect, structure and preserve the precious knowledge embedded in source code and make it broadly accessible,” Roberto Di Cosmo, Founder and CEO of Software Heritage, said.

  • Events

    • Networking in Berlin: Qt World Summit 2018

      At our little booth we showcased Plasma running on a variety of devices, ranging from a Nexus 5X running Plasma Mobile through two ARM laptops to the powerful KDE Slimbook. Plasma was praised for its performance and reliability and since the focus of the event was mostly on embedded systems, we could easily demonstrate with our selection of devices that Plasma and the KDE Frameworks are a viable option for an endeavor in this area, too.

      It was very interesting to see the diverse set of people presenting their products and roaming the stalls, to see where Qt is in use today without you even realizing. We were approached by several companies evaluating using KDE Frameworks in their products and also tried to lay a foundation for an eventual partnership. And then there was Daimler who just parked an A-Class in the hallway, whose MBUX infotainment system is also powered by Qt.

  • Web Browsers

    • WWW = Woeful, er, winternet wendering? CERN browser rebuilt after 30 years barely recognizes modern web

      In preparation for next month’s 30th anniversary of the proposal that gave us the world wide web, boffins at the behest of CERN have recreated the world’s first web browser, and made it accessible as a modern web page.

      Created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the ur-browser, first called WorldWideWeb, and later Nexus, was built from Objective-C in 1990 on a NeXT workstation to display its maker’s HyperText Markup Language.

      The browser’s resurrection – click here to try it out – follows five days of hacking by an international team of nine developers, reunited after a previous effort to revive the original Line Mode Browser in 2013.

    • Mozilla

      • This Week in Rust 274
      • How to speed up the Rust compiler in 2018

        18 months ago I wrote about some work I did to speed up the Rust compiler (rustc). I’ve recently taken this work up again. Also, in the meantime rustc’s build system has been replaced and its benchmark suite has been overhauled. So it’s a good time for an update.

      • TenFourFox FPR13b1 available (now with WebP and AppleScript)

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 13 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). I took a different tack on this release because I still don’t have good solutions for the missing JavaScript features currently affecting Citibank, Github and a few other sites, so I’ve chosen to push out some side projects I’ve been working on in order not to make this a wasted release. Those features are support for WebP images and support for AppleScript automation.

        WebP images are an up-and-coming format based on the WebM VP8 codec, another way Google will consume the Web from the inside out, but they do have image size advantages and Firefox now supports them in Firefox 65. Google has two demonstration WebP galleries you can use to view some samples, and there are colour-managed examples in the Skia test suite. TenFourFox’s WebP support currently can display lossy, lossless, transparent and colour-managed images, and will properly use any embedded colour profile. However, it is not currently AltiVec-accelerated (we do have some AltiVec VP8 code, so this should be possible at some point), and it does not yet support animated WebP images, which will appear blank. For this reason we don’t pass an Accept: header indicating we accept WebP images like mainline Firefox and certain other browsers, though we will naturally try to display it if we get one. If you encounter issues related to WebP, you can try setting image.webp.enabled to false, but I’m planning to ship this support in FPR13 final, so it defaults to true.

      • Mozilla Future Releases Blog: Keeping Add-Ons Safe for our Users

        We’ve seen many changes in the tech landscape since we launched addons.mozilla.org (AMO) in 2005. A few add-ons have millions of users, while there are many add-ons that have smaller audiences with specific needs. One add-on I really like is AddToAny, which lets me share on social networks. It is similar to a feature we used to have in Firefox that we removed due to lack of use, and I’m sure the 5,000 Firefox users of AddToAny are happy to have it. Unfortunately, the same system that allows privacy and security extensions to work can also make people vulnerable to data mining and malicious activity. While our users love how they can make Firefox theirs, they also look to us to maintain their safety and privacy on the web.

        Now more than ever, we need to deliver on the trust our users place in us and the expectations we place on our users to understand the choices they make with regards to the software they install. In many ways, we’ve mitigated risks by adopting WebExtensions as our means for extending Firefox, but as more and more functionality migrates to the cloud, policing this ecosystem through code review and policy is impractical.

      • ArcticFox has working DevTools again

        The past release of 27.9.15 ArcticFox has the Developer Tools working again, they were broken previously because of excessive work on Private browsing.

      • Web Design Survey Findings and Next Steps

        Now we need your help again! The main takeaway from the first survey was that developers and designers of every experience level want to better understand CSS issues like unexpected scrollbars and sizing. We’ve started researching and prototyping potential tool ideas for investigating specific types of CSS bugs, but we need your feedback to guide our work.

        Please take a moment with our quick single-page CSS Layout Debugging survey and help us rank the most time-consuming bugs. Your feedback will be immensely helpful in clarifying our plans in 2019 and beyond.

  • LibreOffice

    • FOSDEM 2019 video presentations are online

      LibreOffice developers and other community members were present at FOSDEM 2019, the biggest European meetup of free and open source software developers. Check out the talks that they gave! Click a link to find out more and watch the videos…

    • First LibreOffice Asia Conference to Take Place May 25-26, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan

      The Document Foundation published today more information on when and where the first ever LibreOffice Asia Conference event will take place this year.

      LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019 will be the project’s first conference event to take place in a country in the Asia region where the free and open source software movement is rapidly growing. The Document Foundation decided it’s time to put together a conference in Asia after the massive success of the LibreOffice Conference Indonesia 2018 event.

      “It’s a real leap of faith,” says Franklin Weng, an Asian member in the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation. “Asia is a rapidly growing area in adoptions of ODF and LibreOffice, but our ecosystem for LibreOffice and FOSS has not been good enough yet. In this conference, we’re not only trying to make the FOSS ecosystem in Asia more healthy but also to encourage Asian community members to show their potential.”

    • How donations helped LibreOffice and TDF in 2018

      Donations to The Document Foundation, the non-profity entity behind LibreOffice, help us to grow our community, share knowledge about the software (and its development), maintain our infrastructure, organise events and much more. The image below shows what was made possible in 2018, thanks to your generous donations – click for a larger version!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • The battle between real open source vs. faux open source heats up

      On February 19, Redis Labs, the home of Redis, the popular open-source in-memory data structure store, announced it has raised $60 million in new financing. Redis Labs CEO Ofer Bengal told Ars Technica that one reason for this was its new “open-source” Common Clause license. “The community now understands that the original concept of open source has to be fixed because it isn’t suitable anymore to the modern era where cloud companies use their monopoly power to adopt any successful open-source project without contributing anything to it,” Bengal said.

    • After new licensing sparked a huge open-source debate, database vendor Redis Labs raises $60M

      But in 2018, Redis was perhaps best known as one of the first companies to change the parameters of its open-source activity in response to the growing pressures on open-source projects brought on by the cloud computing era. A small but growing number of enterprise startups are very concerned about the ability of cloud providers to take open-source projects and offer them as revenue-generating cloud services without contributing anything — financial or otherwise — to the development and maintenance of that project.

      “As you know, the initial reaction was mixed,” Bengal said, in a bit of an understatement. “Over time, I think people realize that something needs to be done. And that was definitely strengthened by the fact that a few other companies (MongoDB and Confluent) followed us,” he said.

  • BSD

    • NomadBSD 1.2-RC2 released!

      The second release candidate of NomadBSD 1.2 is now available! We would like to thank all the RC1 testers who sent us feedback and bug reports. If you notice any problems, please let us know.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Mi 9 kernel source code available on launch day

      Xiaomi literally declared war against Samsung by setting the launch date of Mi 9 on the same day with Galaxy S10. The Chinese launch event by Xiaomi completed just now – Mi 9, Mi 9 Transparent Edition and Mi 9 SE are now official.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Bell Labs, Skunk Works, and the Crowd Sourcing of Innovation

      I’ve noticed that we hear a lot less from corporate research labs than we used to. They still exist, though. Sure, Bell Labs is owned by Nokia and there is still some hot research at IBM even though they quit publication of the fabled IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin in 1998. But today innovation is more likely to come from a small company attracting venture capital than from an established company investing in research. Why is that? And should it be that way?

  • Programming/Development

    • Creating a cryptocurrency user interface project with python
    • RenPyWeb – Ren’Py in your HTML5 web browser

      I like the Ren’Py project, a popular game engine aimed at Visual Novels – that can also be used as a portable Python environment.

      One limitation was that it required downloading games, while nowadays people are used to Flash- or HTML5- based games that play in-browser without having to (de)install.

      Can this fixed? While maintaining compatibility with Ren’Py’s several DSLs? And without rewriting everything in JavaScript?
      Can Emscripten help? While this is a Python/Cython project?
      After lots of experimenting, and full-stack patching/contributing, it turns out the answer is yes!

    • OpenCL 2.2-10 Released With Fixes

      While “OpenCL-Next” will hopefully be on track for releasing later this year as the next big update to OpenCL, OpenCL 2.2-10 was released today by The Khronos Group as the latest maintenance update to the nearly two year old OpenCL 2.2 specification.

      OpenCL-Next can’t come soon enough to hopefully bolster OpenCL GPU programming adoption and OpenCL 2.2 showing its age with the provisional specification for it approaching three years old. With today’s OpenCL 2.2-10 update there are various fixes to community reported problems. Also, the KHR OpenCL extensions have been folded into the extensions specification.

    • SPEED TEST: x86 vs. ARM for Web Crawling in Python

      Can you imagine if your job was to trawl competitor websites and jot prices down by hand, again and again and again? You’d burn your whole office down by lunchtime.

      So, little wonder web crawlers are huge these days. They can keep track of customer sentiment and trending topics, monitor job openings, real estate transactions, UFC results, all sorts of stuff.

      For those of a certain bent, this is fascinating stuff. Which is how I found myself playing around with Scrapy, an open source web crawling framework written in Python.

    • The hard part in becoming a command line wizard
    • How to Parse Hidden HTML With Selenium Headless Mode and Deploy it to Heroku
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #356 (Feb. 19, 2019)
    • PyCon 2019 Tutorial Schedule! [Ed: OK, but it is already compromised. It took a bribe from Microsoft (the top sponsor) and posted Azure ads in its site in exchange. Appalling trend.]
    • OpenJDK

      OpenJDK is a free, open-source version of the Java Development Kit for the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE). OpenJDK, which stands for Open Java Development Kit, originated from an effort initiated by Sun Microsystems in 2006 and is now sponsored and led by Oracle. The project is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) version 2 with a linking exception. Without the linking exception, components that linked to the Java class library would be subject to the terms of the GPL license.

      Since the release of Java SE version 7, OpenJDK has been the official reference implementation. A few notable components that fall under the OpenJDK project include the Java class library, the Java compiler, the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and the Java virtual machine (JVM). Unlike other JDK release projects, which focused on releasing one feature at a time before terminating, OpenJDK is a long-term, ongoing project. OpenJDK follows a strict, time-based model that is split into development branches and will release new features every six months.

    • Pandas Tutorial in Python

      According to the Pandas homepage: pandas is an open source, BSD-licensed library providing high-performance, easy-to-use data structures and data analysis tools for the Python programming language.

      One of the coolest things about Pandas is that it makes reading data from common data formats like CSV, SQL etc. very easy which makes it equally usable in production grade applications or just some demo applications.

    • New Course: Learn Data Cleaning with Python and Pandas
    • Adjust the boy sprite animation

      Hello, and welcome back, we are almost done coding the player animation mechanism after we have finished the player boundary detection mechanism in the last article but before we can go to the next stage we need to tidy up the player animation mechanism first by introducing the standstill image of the boy when the boy is not moving and that image will either face left or right or up or down based on the direction of the boy at the time he stops moving. In order to achieve this we only need to edit two files.

      The first file we need to edit is the main file where we will include the keyup event so we can set the x different or y different to zero when the boy who is moving in either x or y-direction suddenly stop moving.

    • Retrieving the cryptocurrency market’s data
    • PyCharm 2018.3.5 RC
    • Coding in Python 07 – Additional String Methods
    • Coding in Python 08 – The Help Function
    • Coding in Python 09 – Writing Scripts
    • Packaging PyQt5 apps with fbs

      fbs is a cross-platform PyQt5 packaging system which supports building desktop applications for Windows, Mac and Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora and Arch). Built on top of PyInstaller it wraps some of the rough edges and defines a standard project structure which allows the build process to be entirely automated. The included resource API is particularly useful, simplifying the handling of external data files, images or third-party libraries — a common pain point when bundling apps.

    • Infrastructure monitoring: Defense against surprise downtime

      There are a number of tools available that can build a viable and strong monitoring system. The only decision to make is which to use; your answer lies in what you want to achieve with monitoring as well as various financial and business factors you must consider.

      While some monitoring tools are proprietary, many open source tools, either unmanaged or community-managed software, will do the job even better than the closed source options.

      In this article, I will focus on open source tools and how to use them to create a strong monitoring architecture.

    • GSlice considerations and possible improvements

      The paper Mesh: Compacting Memory Management for C/C++ Applications is about moving memory allocations for compaction, even though the memory pointers are exposed. The idea is to merge allocation blocks from different pages that are not overlapping at page offsets, and then letting multiple virtual page pointers point to the same physical page. Some have asked about the applicability to the GSlice allocator.

    • plprofiler – Getting a Handy Tool for Profiling Your PL/pgSQL Code
    • Reading and Writing Files in Python (Guide)
    • Today is a Good Day to Learn Python

Leftovers

  • System failure borks rail ticket machines across the UK

    “Due to a nationwide system failure, advanced tickets cannot be collected at this time, a notice on one of the borked machines reads. “Staff are being advised to permit you to travel by showing your collection e-mail/text message.”

  • Rail firms say pre-paid ticket issue ‘now resolved’

    A spokesman from the Rail Delivery Group said one of the suppliers of the ticket machines had been experiencing problems receiving information from computer servers.

  • How a rural preschool teacher became the star of Ukrainian rap

    In October of 2018, the rapper Alyona Alyona posted a nine-minute video on YouTube. The satirical clip, entitled “Ribki 2” (“Fishies 2”), begins as a parody of a rural children’s television show but quickly merges into a burst of impressively energetic, lightning-fast Ukrainian rap. The video went viral, and Alyona Alyona has published four equally popular music videos since. Each has received no less than a million views along with dozens of Russian-language comments declaring that the emerging Ukrainian artist already has the entire Russian hip hop world beat. However, what makes this story truly special is that 27-year-old Alyona Savranenko worked until very recently as a preschool teacher in the town of Baryshevka near Kyiv, and her day-to-day life there plays a prominent role in her videos. Meduza asked Savranenko about stardom, childhood, and body positivity.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trojan Horse Legislation Could Derail Single-Payer in Massachusetts

      A devious piece of legislation quietly introduced in Massachusetts on January 18 appears on its surface to usher forward the fight for single-payer health care in the state, but in reality, undermines the struggle by placing health industry lobbyists in charge of a study of single-payer’s implementation.

      Here’s a scenario that is now possible: A constituent in the Third Middlesex State House district in Massachusetts calls his or her elected representative in the State Legislature and demands action on single-payer. On the phone, Rep. Kate Hogan (a Democrat) can truthfully tell the caller that she has done so. In fact, she can boast that she introduced a single-payer bill that would create a commission to study the policy. Likewise, her cosponsors can do the same if pressed on the issue by constituents or journalists. The constituent hangs up the phone, happy to know her representative is on top of the issue.

      Here is the problem. The constituent may not be aware that the study Hogan introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature (HD. 3448), which establishes “a special commission to study the implementation of single-payer health care in the Commonwealth,” is quietly designed to derail the policy rather than study it impartially. It is Trojan horse legislation that gives tremendous power to the lobbies representing the very industries that profit off the multipayer system, enabling them to help craft the study.

      The bill calls for a commission with “a representative of the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, a representative of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, a representative of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, a representative of Health Care for All; and two persons who shall be appointed by the governor.”

    • To end the HIV epidemic, addressing poverty and inequities one of most important treatments

      In his State of the Union speech, President Trump called for ending the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials stated that the government plans to focus on highly impacted areas and getting drugs to people at risk.

      I am a social scientist with over 10 years of expertise in the area of health disparities. My research interests include understanding and addressing disparities in HIV and cancer outcomes, particularly among immigrant and minority populations, using a social determinants of health framework.

      While remarkable progress has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, ending the epidemic will likely take longer than 10 years and will take more than drugs. That’s because the main driver of the disease has more to do with social inequity than with the virus alone.

      The overall annual number of new HIV diagnoses has remained stable in recent years in the U.S., but this has not been the case for all groups. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that major racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and even geographical inequities still exist. These inequities exist at every step in the HIV care continuum, from testing to mortality.

      This means that there are gaps along the continuum and these individuals are being lost at each step, including HIV testing and diagnosis, linkage to appropriate HIV care, support while in care, access to antiretroviral treatment, and support while on treatment. These gaps exist due to barriers such as poor access to services, poverty, food insecurity and homelessness, and stigma and discrimination.

    • How Has the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling” Affected Illinois? The State Hasn’t Bothered to Check.

      Orville Dash sits in a recliner with a clipboard. Tall and broad-shouldered, with wispy white hair where a pompadour once rose, the former statistical engineer for Caterpillar removes a sheet of paper, clicks on the flashlight he uses for reading and goes over his numbers.

      One spin every six seconds. Ten spins a minute. Six hundred spins an hour.

      The 81-year-old widower estimates that, at his worst, in 2015 and 2016, he spent about $2,400 a week on video slot machines, which he played at a hotel and a handful of restaurants and bars around his hometown of Maroa, a farming community of close to 1,700 people north of Decatur in central Illinois.

      Looking over his handwritten calculations, Dash figures he lost more than $25,000 in that time.

      “It hurts to lose that money,” he said. “I’m addicted to these machines, and I’ve been working hard to understand why for a long time.”

      In the 6 ½ years since video gambling went live in September 2012, some 30,000 video slot and poker machines have been installed at 6,800 locations around Illinois, more than in any other state. Gamblers here have lost over $5 billion playing the algorithm-driven machines, which have been described as “electronic morphine” and “the crack cocaine of gambling.”

    • An “Exciting But Dangerous Moment” for Medicare for All

      Dr. Adam Gaffney is the brand new president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), the national, Medicare for All advocacy group of medical professionals and others committed to single-payer—universal healthcare “provided equitably as a public service rather than bought and sold as a commodity.”

      In the announcement of his election, Dr. Gaffney said, “We’ve been so successful in popularizing the idea of ‘Medicare for all’ that everybody wants in on the slogan—even if they have something completely different in mind, like a public option. But tweaks won’t solve the fundamental problems of American health care: persistently high uninsurance, rising underinsurance, unaffordable drugs, narrow provider networks, and the growing corporate domination of health care that prioritizes profits over patients.”

      Adam Gaffney is a pulmonary specialist at Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts who earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees from New York University and a master’s in public health from Harvard. He’s been active in the single-payer movement for several years, writing numerous articles and research papers and co-chairing a working group that developed PNHP’s “Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform.”

      We spoke recently while he was in New York for a meeting of the commission on public policy and health in the Trump era, a group brought together by the medical journal The Lancet. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

    • Finding Reparations in an Unlikely Industry

      A decade ago, Adrian Wayman was waiting for a bus in a Decatur, Georgia, park when he was approached by police.

      “I’m not sure what prompted the search,” he said. “A bunch of Black teenagers hanging out at the park?”

      They found a small amount of marijuana in his backpack and hauled him down to the jail where they booked him, fingerprinted him, and charged him with a misdemeanor.

      How times have changed. Seven years after moving to Portland, Oregon, Wayman was awarded a $30,000 grant from the city to help bolster his marijuana delivery business, Green Box. It is part of a new program to help small cannabis businesses run by entrepreneurs from communities negatively affected by the war on drugs.

      In a country where some form of marijuana is legal in 33 states, the grants make Portland the first jurisdiction to dole out cannabis tax money to this targeted community. It’s intended as a sort of reparation, an effort to level the playing field as the industry emerges. Oregonians voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2014, and the city sees this grant program as a possible model for the rest of the country.

    • Warren Proposal Would Use Tax on Ultra-Rich to Help Fund Universal Childcare Plan

      Doubling down on her assertion that the richest Americans can and must contribute to the larger economy and the greater good with just a tiny fraction of their massive wealth, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday unveiled a plan to use her proposed Ultra-Millionaires Tax to fund a universal childcare program.

      Offering what she calls a “big structural change” to provide families with a “fundamental right,” the 2020 presidential candidate’s proposal would make high-quality childcare free or inexpensive for every American family. The government would partner with local providers “to create a network of child care options that will be available to every family,” Warren said.

      “We can provide affordable and high-quality child care and early learning options for every American just by asking people with more than $50 million to pay their fair share,” Warren said in an emailed statement sent to her supporters. “We can do this—and we must. We’re the richest country on the planet. We shouldn’t be denying our kids the high-quality early education they need. And we shouldn’t be letting millions of families drown under rising child care costs.”

    • Beyond Beltway’s ‘Medicare-For-All’ Talk, Democrats In States Push New Health Laws

      Sandra Yamileth Lopez works at one of San Francisco’s most celebrated bakeries, Tartine. She fled horrific violence in Honduras and applied for asylum in California. She can work legally but, as for many new immigrants, it will be years before she becomes eligible for Medicaid or federal health insurance subsidies.
      In the meantime, she enrolled in Healthy San Francisco, a pioneering program that guarantees health care to any uninsured city resident. Lopez can live her life again, she said.

      “I had a lot of recurring dreams about what had been happening,” said Lopez. “I was also not able to relax. So, doctors gave me medication to help me sleep and to help me relax with my anxiety.”

      Healthy San Francisco launched in 2007, under then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, years before the Affordable Care Act and at a time when universal coverage was an audacious — and radically liberal — goal.

  • Security

    • RHEL AUDITD
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Millions of Swedish Health Hotline Calls Exposed Online in a Massive Case of Data Breach [Ed: When the state puts back doors in everything, as a matter of law]

      Data breach is becoming quite a nightmare for a lot of people with new breaches coming every now and then. In a recent data breach, millions of calls that were made by the Swedish residents have been exposed online. The Swedes were seeking medical advice through a national health telephone service in order to know more about symptoms and medications.

      According to reports, about 2.7 million conversations amounting to more than 170,000 hours are available online. The data in the conversation is extremely private with people talking about their diseases, symptoms, illness, and giving out their social security numbers. This breach has left the Swedish authorities bewildered as they investigate the whole thing.

      Data of the calls dates back to 2013 and is available for anyone to download and listen. Security expert Mikko Hypponen says that the audio calls were saved as Wav files. These files were left open on an unsecured server. This allowed any person to listen or download the 2.7 million conversations of the Swedish people. No encryption or authentication was required to crack the data making it easily available on the internet.

    • How Easy Is It To Spy On Armies Using Social Media? Uh, Very

      Recently, a NATO research group published a study on just how easy it is to target soldiers online and squeeze them for military intelligence. Posing as the enemy, the group was tasked with finding out as much as they could about an upcoming military exercise using nothing more than social media. Posting targeted Facebook ads as bait, they managed to lure dozens of soldiers into fake Facebook groups.

      While impostor accounts squeezed them for info, other researchers simply used Facebook’s “Suggest Friends” feature to get information on their entire units. Having their names and details, the group could track them over other social platforms and mine for dirt — like how one soldier was happily married on Facebook, but single and ready to mingle on several dating apps.

    • The Internet of Dongs remains a security dumpster-fire — UPDATED

      Update: Internet of Dongs has produced its own supplementary assessments that delve into more nuance on these devices, they make a good case that Mozilla’s criteria are too coarse to assess smart sex toys.

    • Don’t Get Your Valentine an Internet-Connected Sex Toy

      “At the end of the day, this can be serious,” Caltrider says. “These [devices] exist in the world, they’re likely to be gifts, and so we wanted to get people to sit back and think, What are the privacy implications?”

    • Aadhaar data leak: Gas company Indane leaves data of 6.7mn customers exposed on its website

      The exposed data was brought to notice by a security expert who wants to remain anonymous. French security researcher Robert Baptiste who goes by the Twitter handle Elliot Alderson used a custom-built Python script to scrape this database and was able to customer data for 11,000 dealers. This data included the name and addresses of customers as well as their Aadhaar numbers. According to Baptiste, he was able to get details of 5.7 mn Indane customers before his script was blocked.

    • Wi-Fi ‘Hiding’ Inside USB Cable: A New Security Threat On The Rise?

      Today, the world has become heavily reliant on computers owing to the various advantages they offer. It has thus become imperative that we, as users, remain updated about the various threats that can compromise the security of our data and privacy.

      A recent report published by Hackaday details a new threat that might just compromise the integrity of devices. At first glance, the O.MG cable (Offensive MG Kit) looks like any other USB cable available in the market. It is what lurks within that is a cause for concern.

    • WiFi Hides Inside a USB Cable [Ed: There are far worse things, like USB devices that send a high-voltage payload to burn your whole motherboard. Do not use/insert untrusted devices from dodgy people.]
    • The Insights into Linux Security You May Be Surprised About

      Linux has a strong reputation for being the most secure operating system on the market. It’s been like that for many years, and it doesn’t seem like Windows or macOS are going to overtake it anytime soon. And while the operating system’s reputation is well-deserved, it can also be harmless experienced users.

      The problem is that some seem to put too much trust in the capabilities of Linux by default. As a result, they often don’t pay enough attention to the manual aspect of their security. Linux can help you automate your workflow to a large extent, but it still requires a manual touch to keep things going well. This is even truer when it comes to security.

    • One Identity Bolsters Unix Security with New Release of Authentication Services

      Unix systems (including Linux and Mac OS), by their very nature, have distinct challenges when it comes to security and administration. Because native Unix-based systems are not linked to one another, each server or OS instance requires its own source of authentication and authorization.

    • Book Review – Linux Basics for Hackers

      With countless job openings and growth with no end in sight, InfoSec is the place to be. Many pose the question, “Where do I start?” Over his years of training hackers and eventual security experts across a wide array of industries and occupations, the author ascertains that one of the biggest hurdles that many up-and-coming professional hackers face is the lack of a foundational knowledge or experience with Linux. In an effort to help new practitioners grow, he made the decision to pen a basic ‘How To’ manual, of sorts, to introduce foundational concepts, commands and tricks in order to provide instruction to ease their transition into the world of Linux. Out of this effort, “Linux Basics for Hackers” was born.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • It’s Not Enough to Declare “No First Use”

      On January 30, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith introduced a bill declaring that, “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.”

      This is a good thing, but standing alone is likely to have little impact on the actual dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Unless the nature of U.S. strategic forces and the plans for modernizing them change, a declaratory “no first use” policy is unlikely to stave off an accelerating arms race among the nuclear-armed states.

      Those who make decisions about military policy in nuclear-armed states evaluate the intentions of their adversaries more according to their capabilities than their words. If the kinds of weapons a country deploys appear particularly suited for offensive purposes, their adversaries are likely to assume that those weapons may be used first. For example, highly accurate long-range missiles with powerful nuclear warheads will be seen as providing a strong option of first use of nuclear weapons in a war crisis. These weapons could be used in a preemptive attack to destroy an adversary’s hardened command posts and nuclear missile silos before their attack could be launched.

      The U.S. nuclear weapons establishment has long sought to justify the development and deployment of such weapons as necessary for defensive “damage limitation,” arguing that they could be used to disrupt an attack and to destroy an adversary’s nuclear forces before they could be used. From an adversary’s perspective, however, paper arguments and declaratory policies do little to reduce the perceived threat. Further, the ability of the United States military to threaten other nuclear-armed countries with a preemptive strike has grown as it has developed an array of more accurate, powerful long-range conventional arms, missile defenses and modes of electronic warfare.

    • Mapping the American War on Terror

      In September 2001, the Bush administration launched the “Global War on Terror.” Though “global” has long since been dropped from the name, as it turns out, they weren’t kidding.

      When I first set out to map all the places in the world where the United States is still fighting terrorism so many years later, I didn’t think it would be that hard to do. This was before the 2017 incident in Niger in which four American soldiers were killed on a counterterror mission and Americans were given an inkling of how far-reaching the war on terrorism might really be. I imagined a map that would highlight Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria — the places many Americans automatically think of in association with the war on terror — as well as perhaps a dozen less-noticed countries like the Philippines and Somalia. I had no idea that I was embarking on a research odyssey that would, in its second annual update, map U.S. counterterror missions in 80 countries in 2017 and 2018, or 40% of the nations on this planet (a map first featured in Smithsonian magazine).

      As co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, I’m all too aware of the costs that accompany such a sprawling overseas presence. Our project’s research shows that, since 2001, the U.S. war on terror has resulted in the loss — conservatively estimated — of almost half a million lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone. By the end of 2019, we also estimate that Washington’s global war will cost American taxpayers no less than $5.9 trillion already spent and in commitments to caring for veterans of the war throughout their lifetimes.

      In general, the American public has largely ignored these post-9/11 wars and their costs. But the vastness of Washington’s counterterror activities suggests, now more than ever, that it’s time to pay attention. Recently, the Trump administration has been talking of withdrawing from Syria and negotiating peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yet, unbeknownst to many Americans, the war on terror reaches far beyond such lands and under Trump is actually ramping up in a number of places. That our counterterror missions are so extensive and their costs so staggeringly high should prompt Americans to demand answers to a few obvious and urgent questions: Is this global war truly making Americans safer? Is it reducing violence against civilians in the U.S. and other places? If, as I believe, the answer to both those questions is no, then isn’t there a more effective way to accomplish such goals?

    • Venezuela in Crisis: As U.S. Pushes Regime Change, Fear Grows of Civil War & Famine

      President Trump called for regime change in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua on Monday, in a major speech urging the Venezuelan military to abandon its support for President Nicolás Maduro and to support self-proclaimed Venezuelan president Juan Guaidó. During the speech, Trump said the U.S. seeks a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela, but that all options remain on the table. This comes as a new book out by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reveals Trump privately discussed going to war with Venezuela in 2017. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro responded to Trump’s speech in Miami by accusing him of engaging in Nazi-like discourse. We speak with Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez, who headed the Venezuelan National Assembly’s Economic and Financial Advisory Office under Hugo Chávez. We also speak with Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and chief editor of LeftWord Books. He is the author of several books, including “The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South.”

    • Accusing Richard Branson of Playing Into Regime Change Plot, Roger Waters Warns Against ‘Live Aid-ish’ Concert Near Venezuela Border

      Calling on the global community to allow the people of Venezuela “to exercise their legal right to self determination,” activist and Pink Floyd founding member Roger Waters slammed billionaire Richard Branson for his planned “Live Aid-ish” concert in neighboring Colombia scheduled for later this week.

      Billed by Branson as a relief concert for struggling Venezuelans, Waters argues that the concert “has nothing to nothing to do with humanitarian aid at all,” but instead only furthers the narrative—promoted by the Trump administration—that President Nicolas Maduro should be overthrown.

      Allowing political posturing like Branson’s upcoming concert to go forward, Waters warns in a two-minute video posted to Twitter, could lead Venezuela “down a garden path that ends in regime change.”

      “Do we really want Venezuela to turn into another Iraq or Syria or Libya?” he asks. “I don’t, and neither do the Venezuelan people.”

    • U.S. Brinksmanship in Venezuela is Dangerous

      In 1995 William Blum wrote a masterful book in which he chronicled U.S. involvement in fifty-five regime change operations around the world, from China (1945-1960s) to Haiti (1986-1994).

      Since 1995, the U.S. has been involved in twelve more regime change operations—Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Iran, Nicaragua. Venezuela makes it thirteen. Judging from the miserable U.S. record at coercing change in other countries’ governments, U.S. interference in Venezuela threatens to turn a crisis into a catastrophe.

      The U.S. government has been opposed to Venezuela’s socialist revolution since Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998, and it supported the unsuccessful 2002 coup. Chavez was well loved by poor and working class Venezuelans for his extraordinary array of social programs that lifted millions out of poverty. Between 1996 and 2010, the level of extreme poverty plummeted from 40 percent to 7 percent. The government also substantially improved healthcare and education, cutting infant mortality by half, reducing the malnutrition rate from 21% to 5%, and eliminating illiteracy.

    • After enormous fight in Moscow café, Chechen and Azerbaijani officials suspect foul play

      Adam Delimkhanov, a deputy in Russia’s federal State Duma from the Republic of Chechnya, met with Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Russia Polad Bülbüloğlu after a massive armed attack on the southeast Moscow café Neolit, Vestnik Kavkaza reported. During the Valentine’s Day attack, dozens of men entered the café and began shooting, sparking a physical conflict. No one in the facility was seriously injured. The establishment’s owner suspected that a grudge between Chechens and Azerbaijanis in Russia’s capital might have been behind the attack.

    • Everyone Has Fallen for the Lies About Venezuela

      This is why it was so very shocking last week when members of the Trump administration admitted they were backing a coup attempt in order to essentially steal the natural resources (oil) of another country.

      That country is Venezuela. I’ll get back to this in a moment.

      Let’s take a second to go over the big three. There are three things that seem to provoke the ornery United States into overthrowing or bringing down a foreign government, no matter how many innocent civilians may die in the process. (If enough die, the perpetrators often get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.) If your country has one of these things, the U.S. might screw with you. If your country has two of these things, the U.S. will definitely screw with you.

    • How the U.S. Is Strangling Haiti as It Attempts Regime Change in Venezuela

      Last year, in October, Haitians followed two Twitter hashtags that went viral—#PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea. If you are not Haitian and do not follow Haitian politics carefully, you can be forgiven for not noticing this development. The complaint on Twitter—and soon on the streets—was simple: what has happened to the billions of U.S. dollars that was in the Venezuelan-financed Petrocaribe program?

      In 2005, when oil prices began to creep upwards and when the Bolivarian socialists led by Hugo Chávez were at their peak, 14 countries from the Caribbean met in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, to launch the Petrocaribe scheme. The idea was elegant. Venezuela, with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, would sell oil to the struggling Caribbean islands through a very lucrative deal. Part of the oil price was paid up front, and the rest was to be paid back over the years at a ridiculously low interest rate (1 percent).

      Island nations of the Caribbean, who had struggled with debt and high import prices for energy, now found relief. Haiti and Nicaragua, which were not part of the 14 original members, joined Petrocaribe in 2007. “The Caribbean shouldn’t have problem this century and beyond,” said a buoyant Chávez.

    • Kenn Burrows, Neal Gorenflo, and Michael Morey

      Kenn Burrows of San Francisco State University returns to the program to talk about SFSU’s annual Gandhi-King Season of Nonviolence. Then Neal Gorenflo of Shareable.net explains how his website aims to facilitate cooperative problem-solving around the world. Finally, historian Michael Morey introduces his new biography of David Fagen, the buffalo soldier who in 1898 switched sides and joined the Philippine war for independence.

    • Trump Pleads With Venezuela’s Military to Back Guaido

      President Donald Trump on Monday pleaded with Venezuela’s military to support opposition leader Juan Guaido and issued a dire warning if they continue to stand with President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

      “You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything,” Trump said in a speech at Florida International University in Miami before large American and Venezuelan flags.

      Trump added: “We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open.”

      The Venezuelan military could play a decisive role in the stalemate but has largely remained loyal to Maduro.

    • UK urged to remove carbon from gas

      To remove carbon from gas, which is used in vast quantities across Europe for heating and cooking, is one of the great technical difficulties that must be overcome to save the planet from dangerous overheating.

      Gas distributed across thousands of miles of pipes has been put forward by oil companies as a necessary interim fuel while governments move away from coal as a power source, replacing it with renewables. But a new report says gas use must also be curtailed, and quickly.

      Now come claims that work must start immediately to cut carbon emissions from the gas network if targets are to be met to keep carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to acceptable levels.

    • Revealed: How the Tobacco and Fossil Fuel Industries Fund Disinformation Campaigns Around the World

      Fossil fuel companies have a long history of adopting public relations strategies straight from the tobacco industry’s playbook. But a new analysis shows the two industries’ relationship goes much deeper — right down to funding the same organisations to do their dirty work.

      MIT Associate Professor David Hsu analyzed organisations in DeSmog’s disinformation database and the Guardian’s tobacco database and found 35 thinktanks based in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand that promote both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries’ interests.

      Of these organisations, DeSmog can reveal that 32 have taken direct donations from the tobacco industry, 29 have taken donations from the fossil fuel industry, and 28 have received money from both. Two key networks, based around the Koch brothers and Atlas Network, are involved in coordinating or funding many of the thinktanks.

    • Putin says Russia’s new hypersonic rocketry is as historic as the launch of Sputnik

      In his annual address to the Federal Assembly (a speech similar to the U.S. president’s State of the Union Address), Russian President Vladimir Putin compared contemporary Russian breakthroughs in military rocketry to the 1957 launch of Sputnik, the planet’s first artificial satellite. Putin says both Sputnik and Russia’s new Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle raise the country’s defensive capabilities and national security, and strengthen Russian science’s potential, “forming unique technological capacities.”

    • War With China? It’s Already Under Way

      In his highly acclaimed 2017 book, Destined for War, Harvard professor Graham Allison assessed the likelihood that the United States and China would one day find themselves at war. Comparing the U.S.-Chinese relationship to great-power rivalries all the way back to the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BC, he concluded that the future risk of a conflagration was substantial. Like much current analysis of U.S.-Chinese relations, however, he missed a crucial point: for all intents and purposes, the United States and China are already at war with one another. Even if their present slow-burn conflict may not produce the immediate devastation of a conventional hot war, its long-term consequences could prove no less dire.

      To suggest this means reassessing our understanding of what constitutes war. From Allison’s perspective (and that of so many others in Washington and elsewhere), “peace” and “war” stand as polar opposites. One day, our soldiers are in their garrisons being trained and cleaning their weapons; the next, they are called into action and sent onto a battlefield. War, in this model, begins when the first shots are fired.

      Well, think again in this new era of growing great-power struggle and competition. Today, war means so much more than military combat and can take place even as the leaders of the warring powers meet to negotiate and share dry-aged steak and whipped potatoes (as Donald Trump and Xi Jinping did at Mar-a-Lago in 2017). That is exactly where we are when it comes to Sino-American relations. Consider it war by another name, or perhaps, to bring back a long-retired term, a burning new version of a cold war.

      Even before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the U.S. military and other branches of government were already gearing up for a long-term quasi-war, involving both growing economic and diplomatic pressure on China and a buildup of military forces along that country’s periphery. Since his arrival, such initiatives have escalated into Cold War-style combat by another name, with his administration committed to defeating China in a struggle for global economic, technological, and military supremacy.

    • The Arms Trade Is Intensifying Under Trump

      The revolving door between public officials and defense contractors has long distorted U.S. foreign policy to serve war profiteers at the expense of the public interest and basic humanitarian norms. From U.S. weaponry ending up in the hands of ISIS, to supplying arms fueling civil conflict and therefore contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, the lack of oversight on arms deals has enabled human rights atrocities.

      The global arms trade is experiencing its greatest boom since the Cold War, fueled by horrific wars in the Middle East and revitalized power rivalries among China, Russia and the United States. In their most recent report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute revealed a 44 percent increase in arms sales from 2002 to 2017. The United States is the world’s biggest arms exporter by far, holding 34 percent of total market share — a 58 percent lead on Russia, its closest competitor. From 2017 to 2018, U.S. arms sales to foreign governments increased 33 percent, in part due to the Trump administration’s diminished legal restraints on supplying foreign militias.

      “[T]he people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies,” President Trump said during an interview with “Fox News Sunday” in December 2016. “You, know, they make a deal like that and then a year later, or two years later, or three years later you see them working for these big companies that made the deal.”

    • Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse

      President Donald Trump’s announced withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. combat troops from Syria is being met with strong criticism from the U.S. military establishment. [1] The attacks on withdrawal are reiterated in U.S. mass media outlets as well. Nowhere is this clearer than in the editorials of the paper of national record – the New York Times. The paper devoted serious attention to the Syrian civil war in 2018, echoing the sustained attention U.S. leaders have devoted toward the conflict. To better understand how this conflict has played out in elite American media discourse, I undertook a systematic analysis of all the New York Times’ editorials that emphasized the Syria question in 2018. [2]

      Few political communication scholars are interested in the issue of media propaganda and how it is disseminated in “free” and “democratic” western societies – those that do not rely on official government censorship of the press. [3] The notion that journalists are complicit in reinforcing official narratives and agendas is too radical for most scholars; most prefer limited definitions of propaganda as something that othernations, presses, and leaders do. But my review of the Times’ coverage of Syria suggests that a different type of propaganda is at work compared to the clumsier versions embraced by dictatorial governments and handed down to consumers via state-run media. With U.S. media propaganda, official motives are assumed to be pure and altruistic, but their embrace flows from journalists who legally operate independently from government censorship and control. Furthermore, substantive criticisms of U.S. policy do appear, but are so infrequent that they may as well be omitted from commentary altogether. Incorporating a sliver of dissent allows for more effective propaganda, since journalists can claim that alternative views are aired, even if they are essentially invisible, practically speaking.

      The essence of U.S. media propaganda is evident not only in the frameworks that dominate the Times’ editorials, but in the unstated assumptions that are left out of popular discourse. By tailoring media debates to a narrow range of views expressed by the major political parties, journalists implicitly reinforce those views, setting the parameters for what perspectives are acceptable and ignored in foreign policy debates. As media critic Noam Chomsky notes, “presupposition” of a debate between limited alternatives is the essence of a media propaganda system that operates outside the formal bounds of government control. [4]

    • Putin Sternly Warns U.S. Against Putting Missiles in Europe

      Russian President Vladimir Putin sternly warned the United States against deploying new missiles in Europe, saying Wednesday that Russia will retaliate by fielding new weapons that will take just as little time to reach their targets.

      While the Russian leader didn’t say what specific new weapons Moscow could deploy, his statement further raised the ante in tense relations with Washington.

      Speaking in his state-of-the-nation address, Putin charged that the U.S. has abandoned a key arms control pact to free up its hands to build new missiles and tried to shift the blame for the move to Russia.

      “Our American partners should have honestly said it instead of making unfounded accusations against Russia to justify their withdrawal from the treaty,” Putin said.

      The U.S. has accused Russia of breaching the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty by deploying a cruise missile that violates its limits — the accusations Moscow has rejected.

    • Missing Pieces: The Human Impact of Drone Strikes

      Afghanistan’s Khaama Press recently reported on coalition drone strikes against alleged ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) fighters, a branch of ISIS (also known as Daesh) operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The fighters were reportedly killed in two districts of Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S.- and British-trained Afghan military claimed that eight ISIS-K members were killed in the operation, with no civilian casualties. With no other reporters on the ground, the apparent lack of civilian deaths cannot be verified. The report serves as a reminder that drone strikes are continuing across the Middle East and Central Asia and are continuing to take lives.

      The corporate media have covered the lack of congressional oversight concerning President Trump’s expansion of both the military and civilian drone program. For example, in 2017, NBC reported that Trump was relaxing the rules on drone strikes, which would mean “tolerating more civilian casualties.” A year later, The Atlantic reported on Trump’s progress in this respect. But both articles, as is typical of mainstream reporting, omitted what explosive devices fired from drones actually do to human beings. This makes empathizing with victims more difficult.

      A report by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom notes that many drone strikes occur in remote regions. It says that “media reports from these locations are extremely rare. This creates in the minds of many the idea that drone strikes are clean, safe and victimless.” The report also notes that, for many, life under the drones is one of constant stress and the fear of being annihilated at any second.

      As I document in my new book, Manufacturing Terrorism (2018, Clairview Books), it is typical of mainstream media to simply omit the graphic and heartrending details of what happens to innocent civilians — so-called collateral damage — when a missile fired from a drone hits them. There is a danger of sensationalizing the horror of drone attacks and turning gore into exploitation. But not reporting the facts also dissociates U.S. and European readers from the reality of what their governments are doing to civilians abroad. If people knew the details of what happens to bodies when they are hit by missiles, more people might protest war and advocate for peace.

    • Missing Pieces: The Human Impact of Drone Strikes

      Afghanistan’s Khaama Press recently reported on coalition drone strikes against alleged ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) fighters, a branch of ISIS (also known as Daesh) operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The fighters were reportedly killed in two districts of Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S.- and British-trained Afghan military claimed that eight ISIS-K members were killed in the operation, with no civilian casualties. With no other reporters on the ground, the apparent lack of civilian deaths cannot be verified. The report serves as a reminder that drone strikes are continuing across the Middle East and Central Asia and are continuing to take lives.

      The corporate media have covered the lack of congressional oversight concerning President Trump’s expansion of both the military and civilian drone program. For example, in 2017, NBC reported that Trump was relaxing the rules on drone strikes, which would mean “tolerating more civilian casualties.” A year later, The Atlantic reported on Trump’s progress in this respect. But both articles, as is typical of mainstream reporting, omitted what explosive devices fired from drones actually do to human beings. This makes empathizing with victims more difficult.

      A report by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom notes that many drone strikes occur in remote regions. It says that “media reports from these locations are extremely rare. This creates in the minds of many the idea that drone strikes are clean, safe and victimless.” The report also notes that, for many, life under the drones is one of constant stress and the fear of being annihilated at any second.

      As I document in my new book, Manufacturing Terrorism (2018, Clairview Books), it is typical of mainstream media to simply omit the graphic and heartrending details of what happens to innocent civilians — so-called collateral damage — when a missile fired from a drone hits them. There is a danger of sensationalizing the horror of drone attacks and turning gore into exploitation. But not reporting the facts also dissociates U.S. and European readers from the reality of what their governments are doing to civilians abroad. If people knew the details of what happens to bodies when they are hit by missiles, more people might protest war and advocate for peace.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bill McKibben: Climate Change Is Scary—Not the Green New Deal

      Myron Ebell of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, the man who led the drive to pull America out of the Paris climate accords, said the other day that the Green New Deal was a “back-to-the-dark-ages manifesto.” That’s language worth thinking about, coming from perhaps the Right’s most influential spokesman on climate change.

      Ebell’s complaint (and that of the rest of the Right) is that the set of proposals to address climate change and economic inequality put forth last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey would do too much, and cost too much. Indeed, he describes the Green New Deal this way: “It calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, ‘upgrading all existing buildings’, and replacing our vehicle fleet with electric cars and more mass transit. And turning our energy economy upside down must be accomplished while ending historic income inequities and oppression of disadvantaged groups.” All of which sounds good not just to me, but to most people: Polling for the Green New Deal is through the roof, especially among young people so ably organized by the Sunrise Movement.

      But even if ending historic oppression doesn’t catch your fancy, it’s not a return to the Dark Ages.

      A return to the Dark Ages is what happened in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit: Survivors dying in the convention center of a modern American city, locals organizing a makeshift “navy” to try to pluck people from rooftops after levees collapsed.

      A return to the Dark Ages is what happened in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, when most of the island was literally dark for months as workers struggled to rebuild power lines.

    • When a Climate Scientist Resisted the Trump Administration’s Censorship

      Caffrey’s contract expires on Friday. Park service officials told her last year that they would hire her for a new project. But they notified her today that no funding is available for the work.

      Caffrey said she asked her supervisor at the park service, “Is this because of the climate change stuff?” She said he told her, “I don’t want to answer that.” Park service officials did not respond to questions from Reveal about why Caffrey wasn’t rehired. But spokesman Jeremy Barnum said it was not because she spoke out against the editing of the climate report.

    • The People’s Publisher Who Changed My Life Forever

      It’s 1970. In my VW bug, I pull up in front of the Durant Hotel on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus and sit. I’m waiting for Betty Ballantine, and all I know is that she’s a big-time New York publisher. So, of course, I imagine her appearing in sleek suit, high heels, and full-on makeup. But soon, approaching my car with a smile is a slightly graying gal in sneakers and flowered cotton pants. Her warmth immediately puts me at ease.

      Little did I know that this person, who passed away February 12th, would set the course of my life. Her obituary appeared today in the New York Times.

      Betty had asked if she could meet with me on her way to Stanford to talk with Paul Ehrlich about his recent book The Population Bomb. Wow, I’d thought. He was already famous, and me? I’d had never published even so much as a letter to the editor, and, truth be told, I’d gotten a D on my first college English paper.

      [...]

      Betty was pure heart, no hard sell. After meeting Betty, the warnings of the other publishing house seemed highly implausible, even ridiculous. So, my choice had been easy, and soon I was under contract with Ballantine for a 1971 release. It was Betty’s brilliant idea to add recipes illustrative of my lessons about the personal and planet-advantages of a plant-centered diet. And soon I was at work with gram scales in my kitchen weighing ingredients for the best balance of protein sources and then enlisting friends to test my results.

      Jump forward to a few years ago, and I’m on way from Boston to visit Betty at her long-time residence in Bearsville, New York. I’d not seen her in decades, but we’d stayed in touch as the book continued to sell, ultimately millions in multiple languages and three editions. I’d decided it was high time for a formal expression of gratitude, so I brought along a bouquet and carefully pondered my words of thanks.

    • U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Hawai`i Clean Water Act Case
    • Labor Unrest Is Erupting on Honduran Plantations—And Rattling the Global Supply Chain

      Long before Hondurans were demonized by Trump for “bringing chaos” to the southern border, U.S. consumers welcomed truckloads of Honduran-grown fruit, which have for years streamed through regional trade networks dominated by multinational agribusiness. At the same time, agribusiness has helped drive the poverty and social turmoil in farmworker communities, worsening the misery that so many are fleeing en masse.

      But in the past few months, a surge of political action has erupted in Honduran plantations, as workers battle for union rights and rattle the global agricultural supply chain.

      Melon farmworkers had been pushing for a union contract with the Irish agribusiness Fyffes for more than two years, after the establishment of STAS (El Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares), a branch of the labor federation FESTAGRO. In partnership with the global labor advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), the union demanded full compliance with both domestic and international labor laws, accusing the company of systematic minimum-wage violations and denial of social insurance benefits. The campaign was met with fierce resistance from bosses, including blacklisting and retaliatory firing of union organizers.

      Then last month, Fyffes appeared to relent, agreeing, at least on paper, to begin collective-bargaining negotiations with STAS. Labor activists had hoped that the talks would pave the way for a broad collective bargaining agreement to cover several thousand farmworkers and other staff and contractors at all of Fyffes’s subsidiaries. However, as the February deadline for the start of talks approached, ILRF accused Fyffes of stalling and lagging on a promise to reinstate unfairly dismissed workers. On February 12, ILRF reported that the company had “completely reneged on the agreement” and failed to respond to the workers’ grievances.

    • Entergy Poised to Get Green Light for Gas Plant Despite Role in Paying Actors in Astroturf Campaign

      Sparks flew at a New Orleans City Council’s utility committee meeting on Valentine’s Day, compelling the committee to delay voting on a resolution that would scrap plans to rescind the permit for Entergy’s proposed $210 million natural gas power plant in exchange for a $5 million fine.

      The contentious permit was awarded to Entergy, which provides power to the city, on March 18, 2018, but the city council’s third-party investigation of Entergy found the allegations that the company took part in an astroturf campaign to influence the vote for its proposed New Orleans East gas plant to be true. The investigation concluded that the company was responsible for hiring paid actors, who were wearing t-shirts supporting the plant, to fill council chambers and speak in support of the project.

    • Trump Admin’s Secretive Talks to Sell Saudi Arabia Nuclear Technology Spark New Fear of Arms Race

      House Democrats are accusing the Trump administration of moving toward transferring highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of U.S. law. Critics say the deal could endanger national security while enriching close allies of President Trump. Saudi Arabia is considering building as many as 16 nuclear power plants by 2030, but many critics fear the kingdom could use the technology to develop nuclear weapons and trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. We speak with Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna of California and Isaac Arnsdorf, a reporter with ProPublica. Arnsdorf first wrote about the intense and secretive lobbying effort to give nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in 2017. His reporting was cited in the House report.

    • House Panel Probes Trump Advisers’ Push for Saudi Nuclear Deal

      The Trump administration has continued pursuing a proposed nuclear power deal with Saudi Arabia despite warnings from ethics lawyers and security experts, according to a congressional oversight committee.

      The proposal gained traction in the early days of the administration because of then-national security adviser Michael Flynn and presidential confidant Tom Barrack, who had potential financial stakes in the plan, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said in initial findings released on Tuesday.

      “Further investigation is needed to determine whether the actions being pursued by the Trump Administration are in the national security interest of the United States or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a result of this potential change in U.S. foreign policy,” the oversight committee said in its report on Tuesday.

      The committee’s report confirms details in a ProPublica article from November 2017 and cites another article from earlier this month.

    • White House Officials Pushed to Share Nuclear Tech With Saudis

      Senior White House officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia despite the objections of ethics and national security officials, according to a new congressional report citing whistleblowers within the Trump administration.

      Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns that Saudi Arabia could develop nuclear weapons if the U.S. technology were transferred without proper safeguards.

      The Democratic-led House oversight committee opened an investigation Tuesday into the claims by several unnamed whistleblowers who said they witnessed “abnormal acts” in the White House regarding the proposal to build dozens of nuclear reactors across the Middle Eastern kingdom.

      The report raises concerns about whether some in a White House marked by “chaos, dysfunction and backbiting” sought to circumvent national security procedures to push a Saudi deal that could financially benefit close supporters of the president.

    • When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb

      On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed that, based on the testimony of “multiple” whistleblowers, the Trump Administration has been attempting to rush through a transfer of “highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology” to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia without Congressional approval in violation of federal law.

      Before the Committee’s revelation on Tuesday, we knew that since 2017, the Trump Administration has been in negotiations with the kingdom over a “123 agreement” which would allow American corporations such as Westinghouse to transfer technology to the Saudis for the construction of two nuclear power plants.[1] These agreements are permitted under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, subject to Congressional approval.

    • Green MEPs arrested for protesting nuclear weapons

      Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, is one of three MEPs arrested after breaking into a Belgian military airbase to protest against its stockpiling of American B61 nuclear bombs.

      The MEPs scaled the perimeter fence and blocked the runway holding a large banner which read: “Europe free of nuclear weapons.”

      [...]

      “Our action is intended to challenge EU countries to remove US nuclear weapons from European soil. Each B61 bomb is 23 times more powerful than the bomb that devastated Hiroshima. These apocalyptic weapons should find no home in Europe.

      “We demand that Europe’s nuclear nations immediately sign up to the landmark global Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and begin the process of decommissioning their nuclear arsenals.

      “Nuclear weapons are obsolete in an era of asymmetric warfare and cyber warfare and have no place in a European defence policy for the 21st century. Britain and France have ignored their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons for far too long.”

  • Finance

    • Tax the Rich? Most Americans Think It’s a Great Idea

      A poll this month by the New York Times and Survey Monkey showed that most Americans from across the political spectrum support “tax the rich” proposals like the ones put forward by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), with nearly two-thirds of Americans saying that the current economic system—in which the richest 0.00025 percent of the population now owns more wealth than the bottom 60 percent—is immoral.

    • 16 States File Suit Over ‘Fake Emergency Declaration’ to Block Trump ‘From Unilaterally Robbing Taxpayer Funds’

      As people took to the streets in hundreds of communities across the United States on Monday to protest President Donald Trump’s “constitutionally illegitimate” national emergency declaration, 16 state attorneys general filed suit to challenge Trump’s latest move to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      “Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power. We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat who is leading the coalition, declared in a statement late Monday.

      “President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt. He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court. He is willing to manipulate the Office of the Presidency to engage in unconstitutional theatre performed to convince his audience that he is committed to his ‘beautiful’ border wall,” Becerra added. “For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theatre.”

    • Amazon’s Defeat in NYC Galvanizes Movement to End Billion-Dollar Corporate Welfare

      New York City is still reeling since Amazon announced last week that it was scrapping plans to build a major office facility in Queens. The decision came under mounting pressure from grassroots activists and local politicians who opposed the deal. Amazon had announced the project in November after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offered Amazon nearly $3 billion in tax subsidies to come to the city. But local politicians and community organizers rallied against the tech giant and won. The lawmakers who took down Amazon say their victory is just the beginning of a major fight against tax subsidies for huge companies—which they call “corporate welfare.” We speak with New York State Assemblymember Ron Kim, who helped fight Amazon and introduced the End of Corporate Welfare Act to the state Legislature earlier this month.

    • Five business associations ask Russia’s top investigator to move American investment manager to house arrest

      Five business associations have appealed directly to Russian Federal Investigative Committee Director Alexander Bastrykin, asking him to transfer American investment manager Michael Calvey from pretrial detention to house arrest, according to the magazine RBC.

      Calvey, the founder of the Baring Vostok investment firm, was detained last week and formally arrested over the weekend. The letter to Bastrykin bears the signatures of the leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, the German-Russian Chamber of Foreign Trade, the Association of European Businesses, the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

    • Illinois Workers Celebrate as ‘Life-Changing’ $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Signed Into Law

      “Fifteen dollars an hour will be life-changing for me. I can barely afford the basic needs for my two sons on my minimum-wage salary. Simple things like whether to buy school supplies for my older boy or formula and diapers for my little one become agonizing choices,” said Fight for $15 member Ieshia Townsend, who works a McDonald’s in Chicago.

      Reflecting on the past six years of grassroots organizing to raise wages across the state, Townsend shared that “as a single mom and a Black woman on the south side of Chicago, I felt invisible before I joined the Fight for $15 and a union. But by coming togethe and speaking out, our voices have been heard.” While welcoming the victory on Tuesday, she vowed to continue the fight for a union.

    • My Mother Has Been Homeless for 45 Years. Why Isn’t Housing a Right?

      Not long ago, I received a letter from my mother. It said, “I am homeless, again. I may be dead before you are released from prison. Love mom.”

      It felt like some cruel force punched through my chest and tore out my heart, then stomped on it. My mother did not write that letter to simply provide me with an update on how her life continues to unravel. My mother wrote that letter because it is nearly impossible to survive deep poverty on one’s own.

      Even though I am incarcerated, my mother views my release as her best chance to acquire stable housing. Most of our family members are too poor, troubled or addicted to lend help, or simply do not know how. For the life of me, I do not understand: Why isn’t housing a basic right for all Americans?

      My mother has been either homeless or near homeless off and on for the past 45 years. I do not know all the details of how this began — only that while she was growing up, her father, my grandfather, used to get drunk every day after work and physically take out his frustrations on my mother and her four siblings. When my mother was 12, she could no longer endure the daily regimen of abuse, so she ran away from home. She fell in with a small group of runaways surviving on the streets of Detroit. To say she was living hand-to-mouth would be a gross understatement. The abuse she had attempted to escape continued in new ways on the streets. And in less than a year, she was pregnant with me.

      After my mother gave birth to me at age 14, two women from the Department of Social Services were there to take me into state custody. My mother would tell me years later that me being pried from her arms hurt more than any blow she suffered during her father’s drunken attacks. A couple of days later, the same two Social Services employees were back at the hospital to take my mother into state custody as well. She tells of how they conveyed her to a state facility for “neglected and unwanted girls.” That night, only three or four nights after giving birth to me, my mother was initiated into the facility with blows inflicted by bars of soap. The bars were wrapped tightly in towels so that when the other girls hit her with them they would not leave bruises visible to the eye. The next morning, my mother escaped from the facility and was back on the street with only her body to fend with.

    • Organizers Oust Amazon HQ2 From New York

      Amazon offered New Yorkers the best possible Valentine’s Day gift — a breakup. The union-busting, deportation-aiding company announced it wouldn’t go forward with plans to build a new headquarters in Queens, financed in part by tax breaks and capital grants, thanks to the sustained organizing efforts from New York grassroots groups.

      The announcement was welcome news to the coalition of organizers who demanded the city invest in its communities instead of trying to woo the richest man in the world. The coalition was made up of local community organizations, including groups like New York Communities for Change and Queens Neighborhoods United, tenants unions, immigrant groups like Desis Rising Up and Moving and Make the Road NY, and more.

      They sprang into action soon after Amazon announced it would build two new home bases in New York and Virginia. “We won by standing firm with our stance on no concessions and united with other organizations and groups across the city with this message,” Shrima Pandey, an organizer with Queens Neighborhoods United, told Inequality.org in an email. “We made sure that our electeds knew we were not looking to make deals because we know you can’t make a deal with the devil.”

      “We also won by rallying our people, by making sure everyone was informed of the disastrous impacts that HQ2 could have had in our borough and our city,” Pandey said. “We won by being committed to this campaign – we took early morning calls, and day-long meetings, and hit the streets in the bitter cold even though QNU is an all-volunteer group and our members bear many other responsibilities.”

      The reaction to the Amazon deal was immediate as questions popped up over the incentives package proposed by New York officials. Why offer hefty tax subsidies when the city is failing to address record-high homelessness? Why offer to “assist in securing access to a helipad” (a real thing promised by the city to Amazon) while the public transit system was melting down? And why offer all these perks and incentives under a shroud of secrecy, without community input?

    • Flooding State Capitol, West Virginia Teachers Save Public Education From Privatization Scheme

      A year after sparking a nationwide movement of educator uprisings, teachers from across West Virginia flooded the state capitol building in Charleston on Tuesday to fight a bill they warn would drain money away from public schools and seriously harm students.

      Despite the inclusion of the very pay increases they fought last year to win, the teachers are calling on state lawmakers to reject an education reform bill (S.B. 451) because it also includes funding for charter schools and voucher programs which the state teachers union says would pull much-needed funding from public schools.

      “By striking, we’re basically saying, ‘We refuse to take your pay raise under these conditions because we realize how bad privatization will be for our students and our schools,’” Jay O’Neal, a teacher in Charleston, told Jacobin.

    • Trump Wants California to Pay Back Billions for Bullet Train

      The Trump administration said Tuesday that it plans to cancel $929 million awarded to California’s high-speed rail project and wants the state to return an additional $2.5 billion that it has already spent.

      The U.S. Department of Transportation announcement follows through on President Donald Trump’s threats to claw back $3.5 billion that the federal government gave to California to build a bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

      Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed a fight to keep the money and said the move was in response to California again suing the administration , this time over Trump’s emergency declaration to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    • New Documentary Chronicles the Challenges of New York’s Supported Housing Program for People With Mental Illness

      Thousands of New Yorkers with severe mental illnesses won the chance to live independently in supported housing, following a 2014 federal court order. Frontline and ProPublica investigate what’s happened to people moved from adult homes into apartments and find more than two dozen cases in which the system failed, sometimes with deadly consequences.

    • Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich

      I don’t consider myself an MMTer, but there is a basic Keynesian concept which has been associated with MMT, which is both true and important. For the federal government, taxes are not about raising revenue, taxes are about reducing consumption to prevent inflation.

      The point is that the federal government does not need taxes for revenue, since it can just print money. It instead taxes to create the room in the economy for government spending. This view is sometimes wrongly taken as a “get of jail free” card, where the government can spend whatever it wants without worrying about raising revenue.

      That could be true in a deep downturn. However, if the economy is near its full employment level of output, where additional demand will lead to rising inflation, we are pretty much back in the world where we need taxes to offset spending. Any major increase in government spending will lead to higher inflation, unless we have higher taxes or have some other mechanism to reduce demand in the economy.

      We can of course argue about how close the economy is to its full employment level of output. This is not easy to determine and the mainstream of the economics profession has badly erred on the high side in arguing that we were near full employment, when in fact the unemployment rate could (and did) go much lower.

      But leaving the argument about where we hit full employment aside, we still have the basic truth that when we are near full employment, we do need higher taxes to offset additional spending. A small qualifier is worth adding here. We have a $20 trillion economy. We don’t have to worry about inflation because we spend another $2 billion or $5 billion a year on some program we think is important. (That would be 0.01 percent to 0.0025 percent of GDP.) We do have to worry about inflation if we want to spend another $200 billion a year on a big education or health care program.

    • Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose

      “Set sail for Bermuda,” says insurance giant Cigna, offering top-selling brokers five days at one of the island’s luxury resorts.

      Health Net of California’s pitch is not subtle: A smiling woman in a business suit rides a giant $100 bill like it’s a surfboard. “Sell more, enroll more, get paid more!” In some cases, its ad says, a broker can “power up” the bonus to $150,000 per employer group.

      Not to be outdone, New York’s EmblemHealth promises top-selling brokers “the chance of a lifetime”: going to bat against the retired legendary New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera. In another offer, the company, which bills itself as the state’s largest nonprofit plan, focuses on cash: “The more subscribers you enroll … the bigger the payout.” Bonuses, it says, top out at $100,000 per group, and “there’s no limit to the number of bonuses you can earn.

      Such incentives sound like typical business tactics, until you understand who ends up paying for them: the employers who sign up with the insurers — and, of course, their employees.

      Human resource directors often rely on independent health insurance brokers to guide them through the thicket of costly and confusing benefit options offered by insurance companies. But what many don’t fully realize is how the health insurance industry steers the process through lucrative financial incentives and commissions. Those enticements, critics say, don’t reward brokers for finding their clients the most cost-effective options.

      Here’s how it typically works: Insurers pay brokers a commission for the employers they sign up. That fee is usually a healthy 3 to 6 percent of the total premium. That could be about $50,000 a year on the premiums of a company with 100 people, payable for as long as the plan is in place. That’s $50,000 a year for a single client. And as the client pays more in premiums, the broker’s commission increases.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • When India Tries to Regulate Amazon, US Media Qualms About Monopoly Disappear

      The “breakthrough idea” heralded by the New York Times (9/7/18)–that antitrust should be about power, not just prices–was nowhere to be seen when US media reported on India’s attempt to regulate Amazon.

      Last September, the New York Times (9/7/18) ran a remarkable profile on a law student who had, as the Times characterized it, “rocked the antitrust establishment” with a “runaway bestseller” essay in the Yale Law Journal (1/17). In her manuscript, Lina Khan called into question the prevailing approach to regulating retail monopolies, focusing on a potential offender that stands heads above the rest: Amazon.com, Inc.

      Khan’s work and criticism of Amazon have been covered by corporate acolytes like CNBC (4/3/18), Bloomberg (7/9/18) and Forbes (1/28/19). Now an academic fellow at Columbia Law School, she argues that the current paradigm of gauging anticompetitive practices in the retail sector according to consumer welfare is “unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy.”

      “Because online platforms serve as critical intermediaries,” she writes, “integrating across business lines positions these platforms to control the essential infrastructure on which their rivals depend.”

    • Putin’s 2019 State of the Nation address, in a nutshell

      Russia’s birth rate is falling, thanks to losses in the Second World War and in the 1990s. The country needs to be growing its population again by 2023. Russia must establish the principle of “more children, lower taxes.” The state knows where to find the money for these goals.

    • ‘Hardcore Russophobia’ New first-person shooter gives players a ‘Decommunization’ award for destroying a monument to Lenin

      On February 15, the first-person shooter for PC, PS4, and Xbox One Metro Exodus went on the market. The game was developed by the Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver, a subsidiary of the German-Austrian company Koch Media. The game depicts fictional events that take place in Russia following a nuclear war, and its plot is based on the Metro fantasy series by the Russian writer Dmitry Glukhovsky. Glukhovsky worked with 4A Games developers to write the screenplay for Exodus.

      Several days after the game’s release, players noticed an achievement titled “Decommunization.” Gamers can receive the achievement after destroying a monument to Vladimir Lenin by knocking off the statue’s arms, legs, or head. Dozens of videos soon appeared on social media that depicted players beating the monument or shooting at it.

    • Touché. ‘Crazy Bernie’ Calls Trump ‘A Racist, a Sexist, a Xenophobe and a Fraud’

      A day after Bernie Sanders officially announced his 2020 presidential bid, he offered President Donald Trump a taste of how he might handle the insulter-in-chief on Wednesday morning after the president referred to the senator as “Crazy Bernie”—not the first time he’s used the pejorative nickname.

      “Crazy Bernie has just entered the race,” Trump tweeted. “I wish him well!”

      In response, the Sanders campaign responded by saying the only thing “crazy” in this historical moment is “that we have a president who is a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and a fraud. We are going to bring people together and not only defeat Trump but transform the economic and political life of this country.”

    • ‘Operation Divide the Left’: Analysis Shows 2020 Online Disinformation Campaign Already Well Underway

      “It looks like the 2020 presidential primary is going to be the next battleground to divide and confuse Americans,” warned Guardians.ai co-founder Brett Horvath. “As it relates to information warfare in the 2020 cycle, we’re not on the verge of it—we’re already in the third inning.”

      The firm’s research revealed that over a recent month-long period, a small group of suspicious Twitter accounts generated much of the conversation about those four candidates on the platform—commentary that was amplified by a larger collection of accounts.

      From the analysis, Horvath told Politico, “we can conclusively state that a large group of suspicious accounts that were active in one of the largest influence operations of the 2018 cycle is now engaged in sustained and ongoing activity for the 2020 cycle.”

    • Green Party announces Sian Berry as London Mayor candidate

      The Green Party has announced Sian Berry [1] as its candidate for London Mayor and pledged to give Londoners control over the land in their city.

      In a speech today (Thursday 14 February) [2] Berry, who will run for Mayor in the 2020 London elections, unveiled plans to create a People’s Land Bank to empower communities to find empty buildings and land and choose how to bring it back into use.

      Berry, who is a Camden councillor and came third in the 2016 London Mayor race when she was elected to the London Assembly, said that planning the homes London needs should be put in the hands of Londoners.

      Pointing to the Green Party’s track record of getting results for London, Berry said the Greens are the “only party Londoners can trust to deliver on their promises” to tackle the housing crisis.

      Last year Berry fulfilled a manifesto pledge to win ballots for residents on estates facing demolitions. [3] Since election in 2016 she has also exposed that 4,000 of London’s social homes have been demolished and not replaced in recent years, with more than 7,000 set to be lost in plans approved by the Mayor.

    • 2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage

      The presidential election season is upon us.

      Although it has often been said in the past, this time around, the argument could truly be made that this a pivotal election.

      Yet in order to make that claim more real, the democratic opposition must have the courage that well argued reason and clear vision can provide.

      If the democrats settle for corporate business as usual they will most surely fail.

      The power of “retrotopia” is arguably too great to be defeated precisely because it does offer a powerful vision of going forward by going backward.

      In order to effectively counter the nostalgia politics of Trump, much more than electoral platitudes and fresh faces will be needed by the democrats.

      For once, the opposition should have the courage to make the arguments that count: climate change, income inequality, and high tech manufacturing and infrastructure can be beautifully interlinked in a powerful Green vision of change.

    • ‘Unprecedented’: Bernie Sanders Campaign Says It Raised $6 Million From 225,000 Donors in First 24 Hours

      According to a statement by the campaign, exactly 223,047 individuals contributed $5,925,771—putting the total raised over the $6 million mark with an average donation of just under $27. Since putting it online early Tuesday morning, the campaign said the senator’s launch video has been viewed more than 8.3 million times across social media platforms, including 5.3 million views on Twitter alone.

    • How a federal free meal program affected school poverty stats

      This new “community eligibility” option was a policy change by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the school lunch program, and was intended to reduce paperwork and make it easier for schools to feed hungry kids. But counting kids who qualify for free or reduced price lunches had also been the way we tracked student poverty. There was some concern that school districts could mistakenly be reclassified as 100 percent low income overnight. New York City, for example, began offering its 1 million public school students free breakfast and lunch in 2017. More than 60 percent of the city’s students met the public assistance criteria but the children of relatively wealthy parents also attend public schools. Some school buildings don’t have many poor kids in them.

    • So much for the deep-state coup: Andrew McCabe told Congress he was investigating Trump

      I wrote about former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s new book “Threat” last week after CBS News first teased its big interview with McCabe that aired last Sunday. At the time it seemed as if the big news coming from the book was a rehash of last fall’s story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggesting that he wear a wire into the Oval Office and about the supposed talk within the Department of Justice about invoking the 25th Amendment to declare President Trump unable to fulfill his duties.

      When asked about it by CBS News’ Scott Pelley in the interview, McCabe confirmed that it happened, which made Trump have a nuclear Twitter meltdown and caused the right-wing media to start screeching about “Deep State coups” and suggesting that McCabe should immediately be arrested and that he and former FBI director James Comey should be waterboarded to spill everything they know. Presumably by CIA director Gina Haspel and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Because that’s their specialty.

      As it turns out, that wasn’t in McCabe’s book at all. He answered the question when asked but told Anderson Cooper on CNN Tuesday night that he didn’t put it in the book because that episode hadn’t been revealed when he wrote it and he thought it would be a huge distraction if he did. He was right. An anecdote that wasn’t in his book has received far more attention than it should.

    • Build a Border Wall? Here’s an Idea That’s Better for Communities and the Climate

      President Trump has declared a national emergency to fund a wall along our nation’s southern border. The border wall issue has bitterly divided people across the United States, becoming a vivid symbol of political deadlock.

      But for many of us who actually live along the U.S.-Mexico border, the wall is simply beside the point. We know that a wall can’t fix the problems that straddle the boundary between our nations; nor will it build on our shared strengths. So a group of us — ranchers, farmers, conservationists, chefs, carpenters, small business owners and public-health professionals from both sides of the border — have come up with a better idea. We call it the Mesquite Manifesto.

      Our plan would tackle the root causes of problems that affect border communities on both sides. While the media have fixated on the difficult conditions in Mexico (and other Central American nations) that propel immigrants northward, there are real problems on the U.S. side too. The poverty rate in this region is twice as high as for the nation as a whole, and joblessness drives many into the lucrative drug trade. Poor diets and inadequate healthcare contribute to high rates of disease: Nearly one-third of those who live along the border suffer from diabetes. And a rapidly growing population, along with rising demand from industry and agriculture, is stressing the region’s limited water supply — a problem made worse by the changing climate.

      To address these problems and build a sustainable future for the region as a whole, we look to mesquite, the iconic native tree that grows in every county and municipio along the border. Its gnarly branches have provided food, fuel, medicine, shade and shelter to indigenous communities in the borderlands for more than eight millennia.

    • Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told

      The patently cynical declaration of a national state of emergency by *45 offers a teachable moment on history, politics and empire. The lies and fear-mongering of those in power, the propaganda to legitimize violating the sovereignty of other nations, the use of fake manufactured crises and old war criminals to promote new atrocities – these are all time-tested tactics of the politics of the USA. The naked psychological shortcomings of the current head of state leading to undisciplined statements which reveal truth is new, offering a unique opportunity for people to ask the right questions and learn the right lessons.

    • Trump’s fake national emergency moves America closer to an autocracy

      President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency in order to fund his border wall triggers a crisis for our Constitution and our democracy.

      This is no longer about the shameless lies, exaggerations and slanders that the president has trotted out to justify his silly campaign promise to build a wall (that he promised Mexico would pay for). It’s no longer about wasting billions of dollars, of shutting down much of the government for weeks or squandering the time and attention of the Congress and the American people for an inane campaign promise.

    • When is a British Person Not British?

      The attitude to immigrants which is betrayed by the stripping of citizenship from Shamima Begum is truly appalling. A British citizen, born in the UK, is deemed to be a citizen of another country they have never seen, because their immigrant parents came from there. To refuse to accept first generation Britons are Britons, as in Windrush, was bad enough. To claim that second generation Britons are not British, but rather citizens of where their ancestors “came from”, is racism pure and simple.

      Begum is not a sympathetic figure. Savid Javid could not have found an easier target for his macho display of vindictiveness, guaranteed to win plaudits from the bigots whose votes Javid needs for his looming Tory leadership bid. Javid knows full well his decision will eventually be overturned by the courts, but he has already achieved his political objective of personal self-aggrandisement.

      I do not know everything Begum has personally been doing in Syria and to what extent she has been culpable in any of the crimes of the Saudi backed jihadist group Daesh, originally launched by the CIA as a counterweight to Shia influence in Iraq. Begum, as with other members of the ISIS community in Syria, ought initially to be subject to any legal proceedings by the Syrian authorities on behalf of the Syrian people against whom such dreadful crimes were committed. If of no interest to the Syrian justice system or once any sentence has been completed, she should be returned to the UK and then subject to investigation as to whether any UK crimes were committed. All these processes need to take into account that she arrived in Syria as a minor, has been subject to indoctrination, and may well have severe mental health issues.

    • The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity

      Anglo-Saxon countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia have historically been open to receiving refugees. My grandparents entered the United States with no passports via New York’s Ellis Island at the end of the 19thcentury. Brexit and Trump supporters’ chants of “Build That Wall” show how that openness has changed.

    • “Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)

      If electability were dependent on how moderate a candidate is, or is perceived to be, Jimmy Carter would likely have won a second term. We also likely would have had Presidents Mondale, Kerry, McCain, Romney and President Hillary Clinton. Maybe also President Gore.

      Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi is disgusted with the way “electability” was used to shout down Sanders in 2016 and has already been deployed against Elizabeth Warren. Taibbi wants to deem the whole enterprise “alchemy and a crock.”

      But this is the wrong take. Far more effective are the four simple words that drive PUMA people over the edge: Bernie would have won. Not only is it true that Bernie Sanders would have won, as even the most grudging pro-Clinton data people had to eventually admit, but it is also true that a proper look at the data showed that Sanders would likely win, where Clinton would struggle against Trump, way back in the spring of 2016, well before the conventions.

      For those who have not previously followed my work, I have been writing on polling, elections data, and politics for the last three years here at CounterPunch, using my #10at10 model to analyze and forecast elections. I made the case that Sanders was more electable in May 2016 in an article entitled “Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump.” Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan as well as Minnesota and several other states were vulnerable to a Clinton loss to Trump at that time while Sanders was comfortably ahead by 10% or more in the average of polling in those four states, as well as in Arizona. He was ahead by 5% or more in enough states to go well over 300 electoral votes. Princeton’s Sam Wang, extending Christopher Wlezien and Robert Erikson’s work, ran the math showing that polling is fairly predictive in the spring of an election year, becomes more wobbly in the summer, and returns to form after Labour Day. (Wang had to issue a correction after wrongly calculating what that truth meant for Clinton’s electability at the time.)

    • A Conversation With EU Parliament Member Marietje Schaake About Digital Platforms And Regulation, Part I

      Marietje Schaake is a leading and influential voice in Europe on digital platforms and the digital economy. She is the founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Digital Agenda for Europe and has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009 representing the Dutch party D66 that is part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) political group. Schaake is spokesperson for the center/right group in the European Parliament on transatlantic trade and digital trade, and she is Vice-President of the European Parliament’s US Delegation. She has for some time advocated more regulation and accountability of the digital platforms.

    • The Only Hope for Bernie 2020 Is a Progressive Grassroots Uprising

      Presidential candidate Kamala Harris began this week in the nation’s first primary state by proclaiming what she isn’t. “The people of New Hampshire will tell me what’s required to compete in New Hampshire,” she said, “but I will tell you I am not a democratic socialist.”

      Harris continued: “I believe that what voters do want is they want to know that whoever is going to lead, understands that in America today, not everyone has an equal opportunity and access to a path to success, and that has been building up over decades and we’ve got to correct course.”

      Last summer, another senator now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren, went out of her way to proclaim what she is. Speaking to the New England Council on July 16, she commented: “I am a capitalist to my bones.”

      A week later, Warren elaborated in a CNBC interview: “I am a capitalist. Come on. I believe in markets. What I don’t believe in is theft, what I don’t believe in is cheating. That’s where the difference is. I love what markets can do, I love what functioning economies can do. They are what make us rich, they are what create opportunity. But only fair markets, markets with rules. Markets without rules is about the rich take it all, it’s about the powerful get all of it. And that’s what’s gone wrong in America.”

    • Bernie Sanders Announces Run for President in 2020

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday that he is running for president in 2020.

      “Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump,” the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist said in an email to supporters. “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

    • The Progressive Hope for a Sanders’ Presidency

      Bernie Sanders has announced he is running again for President – though this time with considerably more fanfare. Unlike the last time he is no longer an afterthought or a spoiler. He is now a frontrunner who must be taken seriously as a legitimate threat to win both the nomination and the general election. For this reason, he has raised new hopes for fundamental progressive change to US politics both at home and abroad.

      Regardless of what ultimately happens, Sanders to a certain extent has already won. His last run for the nation’s highest office dramatically changed the country’s political landscape. It revealed a thirst for a leftwing alternative that could effectively take on the power of oligarchs and return it to the people. At the very least, he helped break through the once thought impenetrable walls of the free market “Washington consensus” that have infested both parties.

    • United States Gifted With 33rd National Emergency By President Who Says It’s Not Really An Emergency

      This is a thing presidents can do. And they’ve been doing it since 1979 when President Carter responded to a hostage situation in Iran by declaring a national emergency. We’ve spent four decades in perpetual emergency mode. With Trump’s announcement, this makes American subject to 33 concurrent national emergencies, all of which grant the president a bunch of extra (and surprising!) powers, and encourage the government to start clawing back rights and privileges from the American people.

      The declaration on the White House website is at least mostly coherent. It says there’s a national security/humanitarian crisis at the southern border because, um, immigrants are still trying to migrate to the United States.

    • National Emergency? Constitutional Experts Have Concerns

      “So we’re going to be signing today, and registering, national emergency and it’s a great thing to do, because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and it’s unacceptable,” Trump said in a Rose Garden address.

      In a statement, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Flagstaff, said this action would divert resources from the Department of Defense and law enforcement programs to fund a border wall.The statement also said that $3.5 billion from the Pentagon’s military construction fund, $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s drug interdiction initiative and $600 million from the Department of the Treasury’s drug forfeiture program will be shuffled to fund the construction of the border wall.

      Although the National Emergencies Act of 1976 grants the president broad authority to declare a state of national emergency, there is debate as to whether any federal laws grant the president the authority to redirect funds to the border wall construction and to instruct the military to build the wall.

      The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, a law and public policy center that specializes in constitutional issues, compiled a list of federal laws and the powers they grant to presidents that can be used in a time of war and during national emergencies.

      The exact statutory powers that President Trump plans to use aren’t yet known because the emergency text has not yet been made public.

    • Bernie is Back

      It’s easy to forget the condescension and amusement that greeted him when he announced his first campaign for president, on May 26, 2015.

      How, it was asked, could a rumpled, 73-year-old, self-described Democratic Socialist – a junior senator from tiny Vermont, who was born in Brooklyn, Jewish, hadn’t even been a Democrat for most of his political career, and eschewed money from super PACs – possibly triumph against Hillary Clinton?

      In the end, he didn’t. But he triumphed in other ways.

      [...]

      The conventional view is Bernie helped move the Democratic Party to the “left.”

      Wrong. Even before his primary campaign, American politics was moving away from the old right-left spectrum that had distinguished “small-government” conservatives from “big-government” liberals.

      Bernie helped reveal a new and deeper political divide in America – between oligarchy and democracy.

      Rather than the size of government, he raised the more central question of who government is for.

      Donald Trump rode a similar wave of populist anger at a political elite too cozy with big business and too concerned about its own survival to pay attention to average working people. But, as has become clear, Trump was a Trojan horse for the same oligarchy he condemned.

    • ‘Not Surprising’ But ‘So Shameful’: Ousted by Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Crowley Heads to K Street Lobbying Firm

      After losing a primary race against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in what’s been called last year’s biggest political upset, former Congressman Joe Crowley is headed to one of K Street’s largest law and lobbying firms—surprising no one, but garnering a fresh wave of criticism nonetheless.

      Responding to the news on Twitter, Former New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout declared: “No, it is not surprising. But it is so shameful. Joe Crowley is selling twenty years of the goodwill of his constituents to the wealthy clients of Squire Patton Boggs.”

    • Elizabeth Warren Unveils Plan to Fund Universal Child Care

      As Bloomberg reported last year, Americans spend almost as much on child care as they do on rent. Now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has become the first 2020 presidential contender to unveil a plan to address those rising costs.

      HuffPost reporter Jonathan Cohn observes that “child care has rarely gotten serious attention in American politics.” The World War II-era Latham Act, which provided child care for women working in wartime factories, was phased out when the war ended. In the 1960s, anti-poverty legislation resulted in Head Start centers that provided early child care and education for low income families, but, as Cohn points out, the prospects for more and better child care legislation are dim now “given Republican control of the Senate and the White House and the GOP’s skepticism of large-scale government spending programs.”

      Warren’s plan would provide free child care to families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is approximately $51,000 annually for a family of four. All other families would pay only up to 7 percent of their income, no matter their number of children.

      The 7 percent figure, Cohn explains, doesn’t come “out of thin air.” It’s the amount the Department of Health and Human Services currently defines as affordable child care. “But these days,” he writes, “care costs a lot more than that for large numbers of families across the country”—an average of 11 percent for married couples and a whopping 37 percent for single parents, according to data from Child Care Aware of America, a research and advocacy organization.

    • Democracy and the Corrupt Seven

      It is apparently unthinkable and deeply wrong that Corbyn’s standard German style social democracy – which is routinely labeled “hard left” and “communist” – should be proffered to voters for them to support, or not.

      [...]

      Corbyn has compromised already to a huge extent, even accepting that a Labour government will retain massive WMDs, in deference both to the imperialist pretensions of the Blairites and the personal greed of the demented Strangeloves who comprise the membership of the GMB Union. Labour’s pro-Trident stance will persist, until such time as enough Blairites join this forced march, or rather chauffeur driven drive, across their personal caviar and champagne strewn desert to their promised land of media contracts, massively remunerated charity executive jobs, and non-executive directorships.

      Democracy is a strange thing. This episode has revealed that it is apparently a democratic necessity that we have another referendum on Brexit, while being a democratic necessity not to have another referendum on Scottish Independence, while the notion that the MPs, who now have abandoned the party and manifesto on which they stood, might face their electorates again, is so disregarded that none of the fawning MSM journalists are asking about it. In rejecting this option, the Corrupt Seven are managing the incredible feat of being less honorable than Tory MPs defecting to UKIP, who did have the basic decency to resign and fight again on their new prospectus.

    • German Politician Thinks Gmail Constituent Messages Are All Faked By Google

      Christopher Clay alerts us to the latest Google Derangement Syndrome from an EU Bureaucrat. Last year, we noted that various EU politicians kept insisting that all of the complaints about their awful plan were due to Google lobbying and astroturfing — when the reality showed that nearly all of the lobbying came from legacy copyright players.

      However, German MEP Sven Schulze must have thought he was really on to something in claiming he had real proof of Google astroturfing. In a tweet (in German) he claimed that because all of the complaints he’s getting seem to come from people with Gmail addresses, it’s proof of fakery.

    • Bernie Sanders Raises Over $3.3 Million From 120,000 Small Donors in Just 10 Hours

      After an out-of-the-gate fundraising spree following the initial announcement early Tuesday morning (see below), sources from within the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign report that in just 10 hours—as of 5:00 PM ET—it was able to raise $3.3 million from approximately 120,000 donors.

      The resulting donation average might sound familiar to those who remember the number Sanders turned into a catchphrase during his 2016 campaign: $27.

    • Rahm Emanuel Wants You to Forget He’s a Corrupt Failure

      As his tenure as Chicago’s mayor comes to a close, Rahm Emanuel is attempting a public relations metamorphosis. Last year, Emanuel announced that he would not seek a third term just days before the trial of former police officer Jason Van Dyke, who murdered 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2015, was set to begin. Full of bravado in his early days as mayor, Emanuel has spent recent months legacy shopping and attempting to shore up his next act. The timing of Emanuel’s decision not to seek a third term, coupled with the legal consequences of McDonald’s death playing out in the final days of his administration, makes for a pretty damning narrative. But in politics, narratives are often composed of reshuffled parts, assembled by pundits in order to tell a more appealing or strategic story — and it appears that Emanuel just might escape the checkered legacy of his administration by crafting himself a new role in the world of punditry.

      From the second-degree murder conviction of Van Dyke, to Emanuel’s sacrificial dismissal of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy after the cover-up of McDonald’s murder was exposed, Emanuel’s administration has been marked by high profile acts of state violence. In 2015, Emanuel defended police practices at Chicago’s now-infamous Homan Square facility, despite The Guardian’s findings that “no contemporaneous public record of someone’s presence at Homan Square is known to exist,” meaning that a person jailed at Homan Square is effectively “disappeared” into the system — a practice that significantly increased under the Emanuel administration.

      In 2014, after hearing from a delegation of Black Chicago youth and studying a shadow report presented by Chicago youth, which activists described as revealing “the disturbing and intolerable truth that [Chicago] police officers regularly engage in torture,” the United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed “deep concern at the frequent and recurrent [Chicago] police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals,” stating that, “In this regard, the committee notes the alleged difficulties to hold police officers and their employers accountable for abuses.”

    • Why Nation Owes Bernie Sanders Our Enduring Gratitude

      Bernie won a surprising 46 percent of the pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. His primary campaign whipped up a storm of enthusiasm among young people and grass-roots activists. He garnered over a million individual donations, including $20 million in January 2016 alone ($5 million more than Clinton), with an average individual donation of $27.

      Most importantly, he showed Democrats they could run successfully on policies like Medicare for all, free public higher education, and higher taxes on the wealthy – instead of the cautious “New Democrat” centrism of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama.

      Bernie Sanders put “progressive” back into the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

      Now, ironically, his success four years ago may impede his second candidacy. Not only is he four years older, Bernie is no longer the only progressive in town.

      Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sharrod Brown are pushing many of the same themes and drawing enthusiasm from many of the same quarters.

    • WHO WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT? The presidential primaries will…

      The presidential primaries will soon be heating up, and the betting has already begun over which Democrat has the “money advantage,” who’s sufficiently “moderate,” and who can “beat Trump” (assuming he’ll be running again).

      Pardon me, but if you want to know who will be the next president, these are exactly the wrong criteria.

      First: raising money from big donors is far less important than it used to be. In recent campaigns, Democratic challengers have drawn in millions from small donors — just look at Bernie Sanders in 2016 and Beto O’Rourke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018.

      Grassroots activism has also become critical to getting out the vote.

      The next president will be the candidate best able to inspire such activism. After years of Trump, voters will be especially inspired by someone with the character and temperament to lead the nation – a person of modesty, honesty and integrity, who puts the country’s interests above his or her own, and above the interests of Wall Street and big corporations. Someone who will honor and protect our democracy, who will restore America’s moral authority in the world.

    • Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?

      While I commend efforts to turn Presidents’ Day into a display of outrage over the non-emergency declaration rather than a celebration of non-existent presidential grandeur, I would much rather impeach Trump than protest him.

      I was on the fence on the merits of pushing impeachment before the long-awaited arrival of the Mueller report, but the cogent essay published in The Atlantic thoroughly convinced me that beginning the impeachment process immediately is the way to go. I don’t see the utility in waiting if there is no guarantee the public will ever see Mueller’s findings—thus averting further outrage that could force the hand of Senate Republicans. Moreover, the argument that the Democrats shouldn’t try to impeach because they would lose is not only contrary to the goal of attempting to enforce the rule of law but is also cowardly. One could easily reduce this argument to if you can’t win, then don’t play. This lose-first mentality has been a fixture of the Democratic strategy for far too long. The Democratic party must move beyond compromise with an uncompromising opponent if it wants to win in 2019, 2020, and beyond.

    • The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall

      Prelude. The terms I have used to discuss the overall phenomenon of Trump’s campaign and presidency and attendant phenomenon are “experiment,” “disruption,” and “clarification.” As I write at the end of January 2019, it appears that the “full court press” against Trump, aimed at removing Trump from the White House, is taking shape. It may be the case that, even now, the Trump experiment and disruption is essentially over—curtailed to the point of non-existence. This is a very bad thing, in my view, and I hope that the disruption, at least, has a few more rounds to go. Not least terrible regarding the establishment restoration to come is the fact that we now have a “resistance” and a “left” that is all for this restoration. What I hope will remain is the Clarification.

      The Clarification has to do with what is fully inside of the neoliberal globalist finance-capital order, what is not inside this order, and what might be a point, or set of points, on the edge of the order, something that is close enough to the limit of what the system can encompass that it creates a disruption and an opening.

      Just to clarify the Clarification in advance of proposing a hypothesis on the workings of this disruptive edge: In my view, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is to be found in the Democratic Party (from the Clintons to the DSA and the supposed “fresh faces” of November 2018) and in the Left as currently constituted (including its supposedly-more militant wings, such as Antifa or Marxist parties employing the terminologies of fascism and socialism), that contributes anything positive or worthwhile to this situation. Everything there, wittingly or unwittingly, only contributes to the system’s extraordinary and brilliantly-evil assimilative powers. (However, having used the words “absolutely” and “everything,” I do offer one small, but significant, concession on this point in section 4.)

    • Trump Inauguration Chief Tom Barrack’s “Rules for Success” — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Last year, our “Trump, Inc.” podcast with WNYC explored the mystery of how Donald Trump’s inaugural managed to raise and spend $107 million. A lot has happened since then.

      We now know the inaugural committee is the subject of a wide-ranging criminal investigation. And we at “Trump, Inc.” broke the news that some of the inaugural money went to Trump’s own business — and that Ivanka Trump played a role in the negotiations. That could violate tax law. (A spokesman for Ivanka said she simply wanted a “fair market rate.”)

    • Unconstitutional Power Grabs

      It’s President’s Day and boy could we use a new president. In his off-the-rails declaration of a national emergency so he can use funds Congress appropriated for other purposes to build some version of his phony border wall, Donald Trump has crossed the line on separation of powers and the constitutional authority of the president. The question now for the American people is who exactly do our elected members of Congress represent — their constituents and their oath to uphold the Constitution, or the wannabe dictator in the White House?

      Make no mistake, the Constitution is very clear about who has the power and duty to appropriate funds for the operation of government — and it is not the president. Montana’s Sen. Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte, both Republicans and Trump puppets, took the same oath of office as all elected federal officials to uphold the Constitution. Yet both are violating that oath by supporting Trump’s unconstitutional power grab to shift billions of taxpayer dollars to his wall rather than the purposes for which Congress appropriated those funds.

      It’s not much of a surprise that their continuing blind loyalty to the Republican president has clouded the judgment of Daines and Gianforte. But Trump did not vote for or elect Daines or Gianforte — Montanans did, and they expect our congressional members to represent Montanans and their very real and pressing needs, of which there are many.

    • The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers

      US president Donald Trump recently declared a “national emergency” under which he intends to divert money from the US Department of Defense’s budget and use it to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

      No biggie, Trump said as he announced the “emergency.” Happens all the time (59 other times since 1976, to be exact). Purely routine.

      But it’s not routine at all. It is, in fact, a declaration of presidential dictatorship that shreds the US Constitution’s separation of powers requirements.

      Most presidential emergency declarations have been either on matters supposedly requiring immediate action which Congress could be expected to subsequently approve (for example, George W. Bush’s 2001 declaration of emergency in the wake of 9/11), or pursuant to policies already approved by Congress (for example, specific sanctions on countries already condemned by Congress to general treatment of that type).

      Trump’s declaration is different — but there is applicable precedent to consider. We’ve been down this road before, just not quite so far.

      In 2013, Republicans in Congress flirted with refusal to raise the “debt ceiling” — a limit on how much money the federal government allows itself to borrow.

      As a deadline approached after which the US government would be in default to its creditors, House Democrats urged president Barack Obama to ignore Congress and raise the debt ceiling by emergency decree.

      How are the two situations alike?

    • Thanks Bernie

      Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist of Vermont, just announced that he is running for President in 2020. Give Bernie credit. He may not make it to the promised land, but he led a new generation of progressives with his amazing, nearly victorious primary campaign in 2016, changing the face of the Democratic Party and the future course of American politics.

      Socialism—which, thanks to Bernie’s primary bid, was the most-Googled word of 2015—is quickly becoming a defining theme of the next presidential election. Donald Trump can’t stop talking about it, repeatedly declaring that the United States will “never be a socialist country.”

      Trump is reacting to progressive rock star and Green New Deal sponsor Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, who picked up where Bernie left off, becoming a hero to a generation of young voters who couldn’t care less about creaky, Cold War-era warnings that progressive taxation and regulation on polluting industry will impinge on American freedom. These voters are more concerned about runaway corporate profits and yawning income inequality, deregulation that is accelerating a climate crisis, politicians who refuse to address spiraling college debt, and a lack of access to health care that is a scandal in the richest nation on Earth.

      Sanders helped shine a light on all of these issues, creating a progressive platform and moving it from the margins to the mainstream.

      Thanks to him, Elizabeth Warren was plowing fertile ground in her announcement when she declared, “America’s middle-class is under attack. How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”

    • The End of the American Republic

      Last week, after much back-and-forth about a second government shutdown, America’s mostly useless Congress managed to pass a funding bill, which the president reluctantly signed. Still at issue was the question of funds for his long-promised (and largely imaginary) wall along the Mexican border. The bill included some face-saving funds for border barriers, and you can easily intuit congressional negotiators’ futile hope: Democrats could go home and claim the money would buy nothing more than a bit of insubstantial fencing, and Republicans could claim the president got what he wanted. Trump himself could have claimed as much, but he is a man constitutionally incapable of leaving well enough alone.

      Instead, he did what he’d been threatening to do during the kayfabe of budget negotiations: He declared a state of national emergency and said he was going to take a few billion out of the bottomless billions already allocated to the American military to build at least a few miles of defensive fortifications against the barbarian invasions he and his party conjure up when they talk about the Southern border. He then gave a rambling press conference during which he casually but explicitly stated that his emergency was not an emergency.

      In part because our Romanophile founders deliberately copied the institutional architecture of the Roman Republic, and in part because the United States is the preeminent global power of its day, ruling not just a continental empire, but a global archipelago of military outposts and client states, we often imagine our history in explicitly Roman terms—our social and economic crises as analogs for the fall of Rome. Donald Trump himself conjures the comparison when he prattles on about immigration, inevitably raising the specter of great tides of warlike foreign tribes raping and pillaging their way to the besieged but still-gleaming capital.

      The actual fall of Rome was not, of course, a singular moment of catastrophe, but a series of retreats and retrenchments; of both border wars and peaceful migrations; of centrifugal forces slowly pulling away the periphery over decades and generations, often imperceptibly to much of the population. And the allure of the analogy is also a product, at least in part, of our narcissism: There are few fantasies as self-centered as imagining oneself to be part of the last enlightened generation before a dark age.

      A better and more accurate metaphor for our current moment of unrest may be the more decisive transition of Rome from republic to empire—the anarchic period between the final defeat of Carthage and the Augustan settlements that would transform Rome into an autocratic imperium that stretched from the Scottish border to the Persian Gulf.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Formal Internet Censorship: BBFC pornography blocking

      The Open Rights Group is particularly concerned that the BBFC, as the age verification regulator, has been given a general administrative power to blockpornographic websites where those sites do not employ an approved age verification mechanism. We doubt that it is in a good position to judge the proportionality of blocking; it is simply not set up to make such assessments. Its expertise is in content classification, rather than free expression and fundamental rights assessments. [1]

      In any case, state powers’ censorship should always be restrained by the need to seek an independent decision. This provides accountability and oversight of particular decisions, and allows the law to develop a picture of necessity and proportionality.

      The BBFC’s blocking powers are not aimed at content but the lack of age verification (AV) in some circumstances. Thus they are a sanction, rather than a protective measure. The BBFC does not seek to prevent the availability of pornography to people under 18, but rather to reduce the revenues to site operators in order to persuade them to comply with UK legislative requirements.

    • Formal Internet Censorship: Copyright blocking injunctions

      Copyright-blocking injunctions have one major advantage over every other system except for defamation. They require a legal process to take place before they are imposed. This affords some accountability and that necessity and proportionality are considered before restrictions are put in place.

      However, as currently configured, copyright injunctions leave room for problems. We are confident that court processes will be able to resolve many of these. Further advantages of a process led by legal experts are that they are likely to want to ensure that rights of all parties are respected, and appeals processes in higher courts and the application of human rights instruments can ensure that problems are dealt with over time.

      A process led by legal experts offers further advantages, including that it will be likely to ensure that rights of all parties are respected and that appeals processes in higher courts and the application of human rights instruments will ensure that problems are dealt with over time.

    • FOSTA Co-Sponsor Richard Blumenthal Tells Court FOSTA Didn’t Change CDA 230 & That It Was Written To Violate 1st Amendment

      Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard the Armslist case that we’ve written about a few times. This is the case where victims of a shooting are trying to sue the website Armslist that had hosted the ad for the gun that the shooter bought to use in the crime (likely legally). Most cases that have interpreted CDA 230 over the past twenty-odd years have agreed that the language of that law is clear that websites cannot be held liable for the actions of their users, but last year a Wisconsin appeals court decided otherwise. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to revisit this decision, and last month we filed another amicus brief to explain the important issues at stake for the internet and free speech.

      A number of other amicus briefs were filed as well — including a stunning one on behalf of Senator Richard Blumenthal and some retired members of Congress, which first wrongly insisted that CDA 230 did not apply to the web platform being sued for actions of its users, and then went on to make some truly astonishing claims about FOSTA, a bill that Blumenthal was a key co-sponsor for.

      It should be noted that Blumenthal and CDA 230 have a long history — one that goes back to a time long before he was in the Senate. Back when he was merely a grandstanding Attorney General in Connecticut, Blumenthal regularly would threaten internet companies for the actions of their users, ignoring the fact that CDA 230 prevented Blumenthal from taking this action against them. He went after MySpace because some sexual predators used the site. He went after Facebook for the same thing. Oh, and how could we forget his years-long crusade against Craigslist. Basically, as Attorney General, every few months, Blumenthal would generate splashy headlines by grandstanding to the press about some evil thing that people had done on the internet — and incorrectly blaming the tools and services that those had people used to do it.

    • Pro-Kremlin protesters interrupt discussion of World War II comedy at leading human rights organization

      On February 20, the Moscow office of the major human rights research and advocacy organization Memorial International held a discussion of the recent comedy film Holiday, which offers a controversial take on the Siege of Leningrad that caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties during World War II. According to social media posts by Memorial representatives, a group of people interrupted the discussion shortly after it began. Many of them were wearing the Ribbon of Saint George, a symbol that memorializes Soviet participation in World War II but has also been adopted by Russian nationalists and Kremlin loyalists.

    • Justice Thomas Is Apparently Serious About Completely Upturning Over 50 Years Of 1st Amendment Law

      It appears that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has decided to drop quite a First Amendment bombshell this morning — suggesting that over half of a century of “settled” First Amendment law might not be so settled.

      But, first, back during the 2016 campaign, then candidate Donald Trump uttered his famous “big idea” to “open up” libel laws in response to his displeasure that some of the media was criticizing much of his usual nonsense. This was, quite clearly, an attack on the 1st Amendment — and it was those strong 1st amendment protections for free speech that have actually helped protect Trump himself from multiple lawsuits.

      However, when discussing Trump’s original promise to “open up” libel laws, many people pointed out that there really wasn’t very much he could do. The 1st Amendment is the 1st Amendment — not something that Trump can easily change. And specific defamation laws are from each state, not the federal government (and must be bounded by what the 1st Amendment allows). We did note that there were some ways that Trump could create free speech problems, but it was generally agreed upon that it was unlikely to happen in the courts. In 2016, Ken “Popehat” White had a detailed post on how it was exceedingly unlikely that the courts would change the key aspects of 1st Amendment law, with a particular focus on New York Times v. Sullivan, which is the seminal 1964 Supreme Court ruling credited with creating a “re-birth of the 1st Amendment.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Deputies Sued After False ALPR Hit Leads To Guns-Out Traffic Stop Of California Privacy Activist

      Law enforcement agencies love their automatic license plate readers. ALPRs do what cops physically can’t: scan millions of plates a year and run them against a number of shared databases. The systems are black boxes. The public is often given little information about how many plate images databases store or for how long. Law enforcement agencies rarely audit the data, providing zero insight on the number of false positives ALPRs return. Non-hit photos are sometimes held indefinitely, creating databases of people’s movements.

      All of these negatives are supposed to be outweighed by the fact that cops sometimes catch criminals with ALPRs. How often this happens is anyone’s guess. Officials will tout the tech’s ability to track down criminals, but these anecdotes are usually only provided when government officials start asking questions about the tech — questions they should have asked during the approval process.

      Getting tagged as a hit by an ALPR is a frightening experience for innocent drivers. The tech tells cops they have a potentially dangerous criminal on their hands and they react accordingly. Drivers are somehow supposed to prove a negative at gunpoint and their inability to do only ratchets up the tension.

    • Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was ‘never supposed to be a secret’
    • India’s state gas company leaks millions of Aadhaar numbers

      Another security lapse has exposed millions of Aadhaar numbers.

      This time, India’s state-owned gas company Indane left exposed a part of its website for dealers and distributors, even though it’s only supposed to be accessible with a valid username and password. But the part of the site was indexed in Google, allowing anyone to bypass the login page altogether and gain unfettered access to the dealer database.

      The data was found by a security researcher who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the Indian authorities. Aadhaar’s regulator, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), is known to quickly dismiss reports of data breaches or exposures, calling critical news articles “fake news,” and threatening legal action and filing police complaints against journalists.

    • Indian Gas Company Leaked Over 6 Million Aadhaar Numbers

      The part of the website which Indane left exposed could only be accessed by logging in with a username and password. However, as the page was indexed by Google, anyone could bypass the login page and gain unrestricted access to their user information.

    • 2.7 million private medical calls were stored on a server with no password protection

      And nothing is exactly what the Swedish Healthcare Guide service used to protect 2.7 million recordings of phone calls to its 1177 phone number, according to an explosive report from ComputerSweden’s Lars Dobos. The recordings go all the way back to 2013, and amount to a massive 170,000 hours of audio with no protection – and 57,000 of them with phone numbers right there in the file name.

      As if leaking recordings of callers private medical problems being candidly discussed wasn’t enough, many of the calls also include social security numbers – so you can add the possibility of identity theft into the mix, too. Yikes.

    • How did the police know you were near a crime scene? Google told them

      Knowing the Silicon Valley giant held a trove of consumer mobile phone location data, investigators got a Hennepin County judge to sign a “reverse location” search warrant ordering Google to identify the locations of cellphones that had been near the crime scene in Eden Prairie, and near two food markets the victims owned in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

      The scope of the warrant was so expansive in time and geography that it had the potential to gather data on tens of thousands of Minnesotans.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Alabama newspaper editor calls on KKK to lynch Democrats

      The editor and publisher of a local paper in Alabama is under fire for penning an editorial calling for mass lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

      The opinion piece ran in his print-only newspaper, the Democrat-Reporter, last Thursday, Goodloe Sutton confirmed on Tuesday.

    • Lauri Love loses legal battle to retrieve seized computers

      On Tuesday, Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled against Love, who had argued that the Act highlights “the right to privacy and respect for private property” and that the NCA had “failed to respect” his rights by seizing his equipment.

      The Court said it found “no legitimate purpose” for his seized equipment to be returned, noting that “it would clearly not be in the public interest for him to have any of it.”

    • They Took My House, They Took My Life, They Took Everything.

      Israeli police forcibly expelled a Palestinian family from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday and promptly turned it over to right-wing Jewish settlers, who raised the Israeli flag over it as family members wept. The culmination of a long legal fight, the eviction came with no warning after an Israeli Supreme Court ruling based on a deeply racist, convoluted law that declares Jewish residents of any pre-1948 property its “rightful owners” – a privilege pointedly not extended to Palestinians. The Abu Asab family, which had already been displaced during the Nakba, has lived in the house for 67 years. “They destroyed my life. They took everything,” cried matriarch Rania Abu Asab. “They’re in my house, and I’m in the street.”

      After police threw out the seven adults and three children of the Abu Asab family – and refused to allow any of them to collect their belongings – for good measure they also arrested patriarch Hatem Abu Asab and his son, and assaulted other relatives. The eviction is one of a growing number of such actions in Jerusalem’s Old City, where Israel and settlement organizations are intent on tightening their control under the guise of a tourist-oriented “Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter.” In truth, they are determinedly “imposing a nationalistic Israeli character” on a once-multi-cultural city, another step in the Occupation’s decades-old ethnic cleansing project aimed at erasing Palestinians.

    • From Stalin’s camps to Putin’s laws How ‘the Russian mafia’ came to be

      On February 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a bill into the State Duma that aims to combat the country’s unofficial criminal hierarchy. Among other measures, the proposal includes new penalties for those who are known in Russia as vory v zakone (VOR-ee v za-KON-ye), a term for powerful organized criminals that translates literally as “thieves in the law.” Putin’s bill describes them as “individuals who hold a high rank in the criminal hierarchy.” The proposal would also penalize participation in “gatherings of organizers, leaders, or other representatives of criminal organizations,” more commonly known as skhodki in the criminal community. Under the new bill, “criminal authorities” deemed to be the direct leaders of a group of organized lawbreakers could face a life sentence.
      Most Russians have likely heard a variety of legends about the criminal hierarchy in that country, but even they may have difficulty telling fact from fiction in those tales. Meduza asked journalist Tatiana Zverintseva, who worked on the organized crime beat for many years, to answer a few basic questions.

    • A Wisconsin School District Shrugged After High School Coaches Body-Shamed Cheerleaders

      Parents say staff are subjecting students to pervasive gender discrimination in the Kenosha Unified School District.
      The cheerleaders at Tremper High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, looked forward to the annual spring banquet as a time to celebrate their hard work in the company of over 100 friends and family members. What they never expected was for the banquet to become a humiliating exercise in body shaming.

      In the banquet hall of a Kenosha restaurant in March 2018, the cheer coaches presented some squad members with “most improved” and “hardest worker” awards as the crowd applauded and snapped photos. Yet not all of the awards celebrated the cheerleaders’ hard work and athleticism.

      The coaches also presented a “Big Booty Judy” award to the cheerleader with the largest buttocks, “Big Boobie Strube” award to the cheerleader with the largest breasts, and “String Bean” award to the thinnest cheerleader. In video footage obtained by the ACLU, the coaches proclaimed, “We love her butt. Everybody loves her butt” as the recipient of the Big Booty Judy award made her way to the front of the crowded room.

    • Probe Sought on Force-Feeding of Immigrants by ICE

      Nearly 50 Democratic lawmakers called for a watchdog investigation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday after the agency confirmed it had been force-feeding immigrant detainees on a hunger strike.

      Reporting by The Associated Press revealed late last month that nine Indian men who were refusing food at a Texas detention facility were being force-fed through nasal tubes against their will.

      On Thursday, all force-feeding at the detention center near the El Paso airport abruptly stopped after a U.S. district judge said the government had to stop involuntarily feeding two of the detained immigrants.

      The 49 lawmakers are calling for the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General to investigate on-site conditions of ICE facilities and the policies surrounding the involuntary force-feeding of immigrant detainees. Earlier this month, the Geneva-based United National human rights office said that the United States could be violating the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

    • Fatal Houston PD Drug Raid Apparently Predicated On Drugs A Cop Had Stashed In His Car

      The ugly Houston PD drug raid that resulted in four injured officers and two dead “suspects” just keeps getting uglier.

      Officers swore a confidential informant purchased heroin from 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle in the house he shared with his wife of 21 years, Rhogena Nicholas. They swore the CI told them the house was filled with heroin packaged for purchase.

      On the strength of this confidential informant’s claims, officers obtained a no-knock warrant and raided Tuttle’s house. The officers claimed Tuttle opened fire on them and that his wife tried to grab a shotgun from a downed officer. This was the supposed reason for SWAT team’s killing of Tuttle and Nicholas.

      This was the narrative everyone was given. Not a single officer was wearing a body cam, despite the department possessing dozens of them. The only footage that survived — captured by a neighbor’s security camera — was confiscated by the Houston PD.

      Even in this vacuum of information, the PD’s narrative quickly fell apart. No large amounts of heroin were found during the raid — just personal use quantities of heroin and marijuana. The inventory also included a few guns, which the PD has treated as inherent evidence of criminality despite the fact both Tuttle and his wife could legally own the weapons found in the house. The only criminal history either of them had was an old misdemeanor charge for a bad check.

      Now that the PD’s investigation into this raid is underway, it’s becoming clear the official narrative — a daring no-knock raid that took out dangerous heroin dealers — isn’t going to survive. The new narrative already includes multiple lies by police officers and a lot of supporting evidence.

      [...]

      This is absolutely terrifying. Investigators can’t seem to locate the informant both officers claimed was a reliable source of intel, which suggests this person — relied on in other Houston PD investigations — doesn’t even exist. None of the CIs interviewed by Houston investigators said they’d made the purchase detailed in the warrant affidavit.

      How do citizens protect themselves against police officers willing to fabricate every aspect of an investigation in order to perform armed raids of their houses? Legally owning weapons means nothing when cops (and many courts) consider homeowners defending themselves from armed intruders a crime in and of itself.

    • HPD Chief Acevedo says narcotics cop committed likely crime by lying in affidavit for deadly raid

      An internal Houston police investigation has uncovered alarming deficiencies in the department’s narcotics division that led to an allegedly falsified search warrant used to justify a southeast Houston drug raid last month that killed two Pecan Park residents and injured five officers, according to documents obtained Friday by the Houston Chronicle.

      In a hastily called press conference, Police Chief Art Acevedo said Gerald Goines, the veteran narcotics case agent at the center of the controversy, will likely face criminal charges. The internal investigation revealed he allegedly lied about using a confidential informant to conduct an undercover buy at the residence on Harding Street. The buy led to a raid and a fatal gunfight at the house the next day, killing Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and injuring five Houston Police Department officers.

    • We’ve Sleepwalked Into a Constitutional Crisis

      From Trump’s very inauguration day speech, written for him by the fascist gadfly Steve Bannon and man still without a prom date Stephen Miller, it was apparent that the 45th president was a constitutional crisis waiting to happen.

      And now, without our realizing it for the most part, the constitutional crisis is here.

      The Constitution gives Congress the right to spend money and to designate how it may be spent. Republicans used that authority to stop the Obama administration from closing the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, denying the president the funds necessary to shut it down.

      Having the power of the purse lie with the legislature goes back to British parliamentary practice of the late medieval and early modern period. Making the king go to parliament for permission to institute a new tax for some new royal enterprise is a feature of the Magna Carta, the ‘Great Charter’ imposed on the king by the barons in 1215.

    • Two Worlds

      There are only two worlds now: the Included and the Excluded; and there are only two kinds of people: those who care about it, and those who don’t.

      The Included World hastens to fortify its walls, gunmen, and accountants enclosing its select archipelago of oases defining its territory of secure consuming obliviousness, against the straining pressure of the rising flood from bursting Exclusion, compressed against its own outflow by Inclusion’s higher thicker dams holding back that impoundment of anguish swelling with frigid impoverishment and churning into boiling panicked stampedes toward the fabled cervixes of Inclusion, like turbulent torrents of delirious sperm racing up narrow clogged fallopian tubes, hurling themselves toward feverish beatific visions of higher bountiful fruition, while all around everywhere those exhausted in body, mind and spirit by the blind rush for survival fall out unseen to stagnate in the worlds’ gutters littered with the failures of luck and the refuse of compassionless inattention, to wither in the open, waste away in the dark, and be picked off by soulless scavengers.

      Beyond the age of three, unless they thereafter ferociously resist the dissolution of their personal integrity by the ambient mass psychosis, the potentially Included increasing devolve into zombies absorbed into generic personal fogs of indoctrinated illusions roboticizing them to mesh into enslaving gear trains of unconscious commercialized self-absorption as redundant units in the anthill pyramids of petty-minded potentates contending for greater leadership in Inclusion’s assault on the future. The waste heat of Included thoughtless excess rains down a desiccating coldness of heart onto the Excluded whose wellsprings of vitality are parasitically sucked out by remote greed, inundating the castaways with a desolation of uncaring, and garrotting them by the concentration of their bombarded fecundity.

      Day after day the buoyant Included step with practiced ignorance over the unnoticed corpses of expired Excluded, fallen in their parallel isolation from within the descending crowd, across the pathways of Inclusion’s unrelenting drives of politicked ascendancy toward higher rungs of privilege and prestige, toward ampler harvests of enriching sales, toward wider presences of blaring advertisement in the electronic fields of automated rent-seeking, and toward grander delusions of self-worth measured by volumes of automated vapid exaltation, and looted cash.

    • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia

      Two pipelines– the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)—earmarked for construction in Virginia have been the source of massive controversy.

      In a previous CounterPunch article I discussed the MVP, saving the equally controversial ACP for this article.

      The ACP is a 42-inch fracked-natural gas pipeline that would run about 600 miles/970 km from West Virginia through Virginia before terminating in eastern North Carolina.

      The ACP is a joint-venture between Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, and Southern Company Gas.

    • Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool

      More than 30 West Virginians gathered in the Senate office of Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) this past week demanding a meeting and demanding that Manchin stop dragging his feet and take a stand on the Rockwool industrial facility planned for Jefferson County.

      Manchin staff said he was in meetings. Citizens said they would wait. Citizens spoke. Citizens sang. For more than two hours. Still no Senator Manchin.

      Citizens refused to leave until Senator Manchin showed up. After months of meeting with citizens and getting information briefings, the citizens wanted an answer — yes or no on Rockwool?

      They refused to leave until they got an answer. Manchin never showed. And eleven citizens were arrested. (See video of protest here.)

      Why did it come to this?

      Any West Virginian who has interacted with Manchin can tell you how it works. He’s friendly. He’s kind. He’ll take a photo with you. He’ll make you seem like you are important and have important things to say. He might even sound as if he agrees with you.

    • Saudi Scholar: My Father Faces the Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia for Supporting Human Rights

      While the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October sparked international outrage, far less attention has been paid to the ongoing Saudi repression at home. We speak with Abdullah Alaoudh, whose father has been locked up in solitary confinement in Saudi Arabia for his political activism since September 2017. Prior to his arrest, prominent Islamic scholar Salman Alodah had been a vocal critic of the Saudi monarchy who had called for elections with 14 million Twitter followers. But for the past 17 months, Salman Alodah has been silenced. He was one of dozens of religious figures, writers, journalists, academics and civic activists arrested as part of a crackdown on dissent in 2017 overseen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We speak with Alodah’s son Abdullah Alaoudh. He is a senior fellow at Georgetown University in the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

    • Moscow students petition rector to defend classmate repeatedly arrested as part of crackdown on anarchists

      The student council of the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics at Moscow State University has publicly petitioned the university’s rector, Viktor Sadovnichy, to step into the case surrounding graduate student Azat Miftakhov. Miftakhov, who is allegedly involved in the anarchist movement “The People’s Self-Defense,” has been arrested repeatedly since the beginning of this month. He was first accused of preparing an explosive device that was later found to be fake and then detained in a case surrounding the vandalism of an office belonging to United Russia, Russia’s ruling political party. Student activists have repeatedly demanded his release.

      In today’s petition, students in Miftakhov’s department requested that Sadovnichy contact Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General, and Ministry of Internal Affairs to demand a “fair and objective investigation.” They also asked the rector to request that the identities of the officers who tortured Miftakhov after his arrest be revealed.

    • Trump’s ‘Emergency’ Declaration Is Illegal

      The Constitution assigns Congress the power of the purse. Members of Congress fight to secure funding for national priorities and their constituents’ needs during the yearly budget battles that dominate Washington for months.

      The system is far from perfect, but it’s the way it works in our democracy. If Congress doesn’t give him what he wants, the president can’t do an end run by diverting public money for a campaign promise for which he has failed to secure funding.

      Congress has granted the president limited power to spend federal funds without a congressional authorization if the president declares a national emergency. But it only allows the president to spend taxpayer money on military construction projects, like overseas air bases in wartime, “that are necessary to support such (emergency) use of the armed forces.”

      That’s clearly not what’s happening here. Besides the fact that there isn’t actually an emergency, Trump’s declaration doesn’t say how a diversion of military construction funds is necessary to support the armed forces. No president has ever tried to use emergency powers to fund a massive and permanent domestic project like this.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Sprint, T-Mobile Execs Continue To Hallucinate Competitors In Their Post-Merger Dreamscape

      Except if you spend a few minutes looking at the factual reality under the hood, you’ll find that’s not actually true.

      For example, longtime Wall Street telecom analyst Jeff Kagan circulated a research note with investors last week (hat tip, Stop The Cap) indirectly acknowledging that neither company is likely to become a serious competitor in the wireless space. The real goal is just to nudge their existing “triple play” (fixed line broadband, TV, and digital phone) customers into an additional “sticky bundle” that includes a wireless offering. These companies don’t even market these services to users unless they’re already paying for cable TV, broadband, and phone.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Huaweiphobia is over the top, but San Francisco jury must and will hear Samsung’s allegations of FRAND breach by Chinese device maker

      There was a time when the high-end smartphone market was considered a “two-horse race” between Apple and Samsung. A duopoly is better than a monopoly, but I’m glad there’s now a lot more competition in that segment. One company that has made and continues to make a particularly important competitive impact is China’s Huawei. For my app development company, I’ve bought comparable numbers of phones and tablets from each of the three aforementioned device makers.

      It’s an undeniable fact that the Chinese government’s influence over local companies is huge, though there have also been stories of U.S. intelligence agencies requiring backdoors, and of countries like China being comfortable with U.S. software products such as Microsoft Windows only after they are at least given the opportunity to inspect source code.

      Recently there’s been a whole lot of newscycles involving Huawei and whether the West can trust them in the slightest. The most absurd story will probably be told again and again in the months or even years ahead: that Huawei was the FTC’s “star witness” in the recent Qualcomm trial and that the FTC’s antitrust enforcement activities, which actually benefit American companies and especially American consumers, would compromise national security by stregthening Huawei at Qualcomm’s expense, with implications for 5G. At least the Qualcomm-aligned Internet trolls who said so chose to make me part of their other conspiracy theory, which is that the FTC is in Apple’s pocket, and not to Huawei, in which case they’d have labeled me as a walking-talking security threat to the United States…

    • Patent case: Entdeckung biologischer Zusammenhänge, Germany

      If a patent only provides the skilled person with a general scientific explanation as to why the procedure disclosed therein is suitable for the purpose in question and does not disclose a new technical teaching in relation to this purpose, but merely a discovery of biological correlations, then this is insufficient to acknowledge novelty (continuation of BGH, judgment of 9 June 2011 – X ZR 68/08, GRUR 2011, 999 marginal 44 – Memantine).

    • Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Return Mail v. U.S. Postal Service

      Earlier today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Return Mail, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, which presented the simple question whether the federal government is a “person” entitled to petition for post-grant review under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”). While the issue may rarely arise, it poses a significant threat to the careful balance of the CBM, PGR, and IPR proceedings created by the AIA.

    • Return Mail: We start from the baseline that the government is not a person

      Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the business method review case of Return Mail Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service. The basic question in the case is whether the United States government (here the USPS) counts as “a person who is not the owner of a patent.” If the US is a person, then it has standing to file a petition for inter partes review, post grant review, covered business method review. See 35 U.S. Code § 321

    • All challenged claims cancelled, Motion to Amend denied for Location Based Services patent

      On February 15, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Location Based Services, LLC, IPR2017-01965 invalidating claims 1-4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13 and 14 of U.S. Patent 7,860,648 owned and asserted by Location Based Services, LLC, a Leigh Rothschild entity and NPE. The ’648 patent, directed to a mapping display system and method, was originally obtained by Intellectual Ventures (Invention Science Fund I LLC) and then transferred to Rothschild. It belongs to a broader patent family that has been asserted against several carriers including Verizon, as well as Rand McNally, Garmin, Niantic, and Trimble.

    • Enforcement of German injunctions forces Huawei to take MPEG LA’s AVC Patent Portfolio License

      Qualcomm’s enforcement of a likely invalid and most likely not infringed patent against Apple in Germany is a Pyrrhic victory that generates limited incremental chip sales but exacerbates its antitrust problems (instead of forcing Apple into a global settlement). But in another case, two German patent injunctions have brought about the desired result: MPEG LA, a patent pool company, “announced today that Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Device Co., Ltd and Huawei Device (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd (‘Huawei’) have become Licensees to MPEG LA’s AVC Patent Portfolio License (‘AVC License’). As a result of this agreement, all legal disputes related to patent enforcement actions brought by patent holders in MPEG LA’s AVC License against Huawei have been resolved.”

      In November, MPEG LA announced that the Dusseldorf Regional Court (“Landgericht Düsseldorf” in Geman) ruled that Huawei and ZTE infringed patents of two contributors to its pool. In late December, MPEG LA announced that the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court (“Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf”) denied Huawei’s and ZTE’s motions to stay the enforcement of injunctions over EP1773067 in Huawei’s case and EP1750451 in ZTE’s case. Both patents were filed for by Panasonic. But MPEG LA may have litigated over other patents as well (which would explain why they claimed that patents belonging to two pool contributors were enforced).

    • Using Insurance to Deter Lawsuits

      The conventional wisdom (my anecdotal experience, anyway) is that the availability of insurance fuels lawsuits. People that otherwise might not sue would use litigation to access insurance funds. I’m sure there’s a literature on this. But most insurance covers both defense and indemnity – that is, litigation costs and settlements. But what if the insurance covered the defense and not any settlement costs? Would that serve as a disincentive to bring suit? It surely would change the litigation dynamic.

      In The Effect of Patent Litigation Insurance: Theory and Evidence from NPEs, Bernhard Ganglmair (University of Mannheim – Economics), Christian Helmers (Santa Clara – Economics), Brian J. Love (Santa Clara – Law) explore this question with respect to NPE patent litigation insurance.

    • Blackbird Grounded—For Now

      Almost two years ago, I wrote about a new non-practicing entity (NPE)—Blackbird Technologies. It claimed to be helping innovators, but the main innovation it helped promote was its own—having the lawyers own the patents on which Blackbird was suing.

      When I first wrote about Blackbird, it had just sued Cloudflare over the ‘335 patent, which Blackbird had effectively interpreted as covering any system which modified electronic communications in transit. Now, two years later, after a district court decision, an appeal, and plenty of legal fees, the courts have made clear that Blackbird’s patent never should have issued in the first place. In particular, the district court held that Blackbird’s patent was directed to the abstract idea of monitoring a data stream and modifying it when a specific condition is identified and was thus invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

    • Trademarks

      • USPTO rule change on foreign TM applicants is logical: lawyers

        The USPTO issued its notice of proposed rulemaking on February 15, saying that only US attorneys should have the right to act for trademark applicants and registrants based outside the country.

      • David Assman Invalidates Canadian Government’s Reason For Refusing Him His Name-Based Vanity License Plate

        It’s been a source of confusion for me over the past few years how there can possibly be so much conflict in the realm of vanity license plates. While I can understand the need for something in the way of rules when it comes to government-mandated plates, it’s still the case that such plates are a form of expression and, given the government mandate, one would think the government would tread lightly when it comes to overly restrictive rules for them. And, yet, stories about agencies disallowing Star Trek references because ignorant people think they’re racist, about police being unable to have a plate that reads “O1NK”, and about governments somehow thinking IT-related terms are sexual abound.

        At first glance, one man’s request for a vanity plate that reads “ASSMAN” might appear to be outside of these types of cases. After all, even the vulgar among us might understand a government worker disapproving of such a request out of concern for the purity of all the other drivers out there. On the other hand, when the denial for an “ASSMAN” vanity plate leaves the Canadian government offices in an envelope addressed to David Assman, it seems we’re right back in the territory of the prudishly absurd.

      • SCOTUS hears case on interplay between bankruptcy and TM law

        The US Supreme Court is today hearing arguments in a case about what happens to a trademark licensee’s rights when the licensor is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings and rejects the parties’ contract

        It concerns whether, under Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code, a debtor-licensor’s rejection of a licence agreement—which constitutes a breach of contract—terminates the licensee’s rights that would survive the licensor’s breach under non-bankruptcy law. The case is Mission Product Holdings v Tempnology….

    • Copyrights

      • 79 more votes are needed in the European Parliament to defend user-generated content against upload filters: EU Copyright Directive

        verything one can read on Twitter points to the EU Council being hell-bent to approve the proposed EU Copyright Directive (see Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda’s tweet). There was a glimmer of hope that Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, could prevent the German government from supporting the proposal in today’s meeting of Member States’ diplomats. But the resistance they staged (after the delivery of 4.7 million online signatures) was too little, too late. Merkel imposed her will, and she owes some media companies big-time (in a recently uncovered scandal, a journalist who wrote articles for leading newsweekly Der Spiegel and won multiple awards had fabricated key parts of his stories, with a representative example being that he wrote Merkel appeared in “refugee” children’s dreams). In order to prevent Article 13 from being adopted, the social demoracts would have had to be prepared to leave the coalition, and they would have had a legitimate basis as the coalition agreement speaks out against upload filters. While the bill doesn’t say “upload filter,” there’s no way to implement its worst element, Article 13, without such filters, and everyone with a modicum of technical knowledge realizes that no filtering technology available today can make a fair-use determination…

        So what does this mean in practice? It’s not realistic to assume that the formal Council vote (which must be held at least at the level of the ministers–or, theoretically, by the heads of state or government–and will likely take place within about a week) would go differently. Again, if Germany’s SPD threatened to leave the government coalition, then anything would be possible. There are signs of them looking for an exit from Merkel’s unpopular coalition government, but their plans appear to center on a mid-term view scheduled for later this year.

        The European Parliament will hold its second-reading vote in late March. Recognizing that many people take an interest in EU procedures for the first time because of the controversial and partly crazy EU Copyright Directive, here’s an explanation of how high the hurdle is:

        At the first-reading stage, where the Parliament’s vote is irrelevant unless the Council (= Member States) agrees anyway, a simple majority is sufficient to reject a bill (not a final rejection at that stage, just a political statement) or to pass an amendment that modifies or deletes a passage.

      • As EU Politicians Insist That It’s All Just ‘Bots’ And ‘Astroturf’ Tons Of People Showing Up In Real Life To Protest

        One of the more obnoxious elements of the EU politicians brushing off the concerns of the public concerning the EU Copyright Directive, is their repeated, insulting and incorrect, claim that there really isn’t a public upswell against Articles 11 and 13 and that it’s all just manufactured by Google and “bots” and “astroturfing.” We’ve already pointed out that nearly 5 million people have signed the Change.org petition protesting Article 13 — making it the largest petition on that site ever. And those are real people signing on.

      • Hollywood tries to cripple several alleged pirate TV services in one lawsuit

        The studios last week filed a copyright infringement suit against Omniverse One World Television Inc., which provides streaming video to several online TV services. Omniverse claims to have legal rights to the content, but the studios say it doesn’t.

      • Hollywood Uses ‘False Whois’ Domain Suspensions as Anti-Piracy Tool

        Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association has a voluntary agreement with the Indian domain registry NIXI to suspend pirate sites that use false Whois data. This is seen as an effective anti-piracy tool on top of site blocking. In addition, rightsholders also praise India’s Cyber Digital Crime Unit, which helped to suspend more than 200 pirate domains.

      • 93 Students At One University Suspended From Web for Pirate Downloads

        Downloading and sharing copyrighted content is illegal in the UK but is rarely associated with serious consequences. However, it’s now been revealed that 93 students at a single university had their Internet access suspended following allegations of piracy.

      • 10 Best Cloud Torrent Service Providers

        The cloud is getting a lot of traffic these days and you will be surprised to know that virtually anything you can do locally can be done in the cloud too; a good example is torrenting.

        We took a look at streaming awesomeness in our Popcorn Time and WebTorrent Desktop articles, and I’m sure you’re familiar with apps like Vuze, Transmission, BitTorrent, etc. But what if you don’t want to download torrents to your local machine?

        Cloud torrenting enables users to download torrent files directly from host websites to their preferred cloud service like Google Drive, Mega, Dropbox, etc. without the need for a torrent client.

        While there are many websites that offer this service these days, not all platforms are created equal and as usual, you can trust FossMint to bring you a list of the best options you have.

      • Court Awards $15,000 for Linguine Car Wash Massacre

        Two years later – December 2017, Boffoli discovered the use of his images and then sued for copyright infringement in 2018. I’ll note that naming-the-wrong-artist itself is not copyright infringement, but may have triggered Boffoli enough to sue.

      • Digitized images of works in the public domain: what rights vest in them? Analysis of the recent BGH Reiss-Engelhorn judgment – Part 1

        The German Federal Court of Justice recently published the full version of its highly-anticipated decision on the publication of photographs of paintings held by a group of German museums on Wikimedia Commons. The case had raised several unresolved questions of German copyright law with regard to works in the public domain.

        The courts of first and second instance had given favourable decisions to the claimant group of museums. The Federal Court’s judgment confirms these decisions and seems to strengthen the legal position of the owners of paintings in the public domain. But as it refuses to address the most controversial aspect of the decision in appeal, the decision seems to leave the door wide open for future reconsideration of the latter.

      • Digitized images of works in the public domain: what rights vest in them? Analysis of the recent BGH Reiss-Engelhorn judgment – Part 2

        From the perspective of the Wikimedia Movement, the most disappointing aspects of the judgment are its treatment of § 72 UrhG, putting additional means of control over public domain works in the hands of those cultural heritage institutions, that regard control as an integral part of their public mission. As mentioned by Tobias here, it is highly questionable whether publicly funded museums should even consider using injunctions to go after digital copies of public domain works they hold in their collections.

        If private owners of artworks are involved, there might be an argument for control on behalf of such private interests, in order to get the respective works into museums and before the public’s eye in the first place. But to limit the visibility of publicly owned works of art in any way, to leverage related rights in photographic depictions even with public domain works, can hardly be anything but a gross misunderstanding of the role and mission public cultural heritage institutions have. Such institutions must do anything within their power to hold as much of our cultural heritage in the public’s awareness, including on the internet, and therefore must not hide or withdraw public domain works from the public’s conscious perception.

        But the present judgment does more. It drives an illogical interpretation of the German Copyright Code further into an argumentative dead end, and puts an interpretative burden back onto courts that the law in question was actually meant to relieve them of. It does so by badly handling a procedural glitch that nobody had seen coming, one that will haunt all future proceedings dealing with photography.

      • German government may oppose Article 13 of EU Copyright Directive in tomorrow’s COREPER vote, according to tweet by MEP from coalition party

        Only if there is no blocking minority in place, a bill is adopted, so there are two bites at the apple: either get 13 countries or get fewer countries as long as they account for more than 35% of the total EU population. In the context of the EU Copyright Directive, a blocking minority based on the second criterion would be in place if the countries that previously opposed the bill hadn’t changed their position (and there’s no reason why they should) and Germany joined them: in that case the opposing countries would represent more than 35% of the total EU population. In fact, the total population size of Poland, Italy, Luxemburg, Malta, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Germany would be approximately 43%. They could threaten to vote against unless Article 13 is thrown out. That’s how it often works in the Council.

        [...]

        But this suggests that they, too, have an inside track. In my experience, information often leaks from those diplomatic circles. COREPER, the committee of permanent representatives (= the Members States’ ambassadors to the EU), doesn’t meet in public, but there’s always a number of people in Brussels who know where the other Member States stand. That’s the idea of having permanent representatives in Brussels: they constantly communicate regarding these processes.

        Tomorrow (Wednesday), there’ll be a COREPER vote unless the latest developments result in a postponement, which would be more than just a crack in the shell for the directive.

        COREPER votes aren’t final: the decisive votes have to be cast by the heads of state and government at a European Council meeting, or by ministers (or the state secretaries representing them) at an EU Council of Ministers meeting. But COREPER votes are meant to prepare the formal votes, and as long as a bill doesn’t have a qualified COREPER majority, there’s normally no point in putting it to a vote in a formal Council meeting (absent some new backroom agreement between countries that would change everything, but even then they’d normally hold another COREPER vote first).

        Should the bill fail to get a qualified majority (= a majority so solid that there’s no blocking minority of any kind) in the Council, the European Parliament’s JURI committee will probably have to postpone its own vote (scheduled for next Tuesday, and meant to prepare a plenary vote in late March). If the Council does adopt the bill, but without Article 13, JURI could speak out in favor of the Council’s new version. It would be irrational for JURI not to do so: no other article in the bill depends on Article 13.

        Theoretically, the EU could later try to amend the directive to the effect of reintroducing Article 13. However, the next European Parliament will be structurally different from the current one, with more anti-establishment MEPs than ever.

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