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02.22.19

Links 22/2/2019: GNOME 3.32 Beta 2 Released and Fedora 30 Flicker-Free Boot

Posted in News Roundup at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Buildah: Build containers fast and easy without Docker

      Linux containers are gaining an ever stronger foothold in the IT of modern companies. For this reason, developers need a simple way of creating containerized applications. Buildah makes it easy to build containers without the need for the overhead required by Docker.
      Linux containers are an efficient means of developing and deploying new applications. Container technologies package and isolate apps together with the entire runtime environment. As a result, the containers are quickly ready for operation and even more portable than traditional applications since they contain the entire application environment.

      There are two aspects of the container environment that are very important: On the one hand, Linux containers are undergoing continued development; in particular, the Open Container Initiative (OCI) is a key driver for innovation. On the other hand, several misunderstandings regarding the Linux container architecture persist. The following needs to be made clear: Containers do not run on Docker. Containers are processes that run on the Linux kernel. Therefore, containers are Linux. Moreover, Docker daemon is only one of many user space tools and libraries that communicate with the Linux kernel in order to create containers.

      Buildah is an excellent example of these two aspects: when creating containers and for innovative ongoing refinement. Buildah makes it possible to create containers without using Docker, which means that users can implement Docker- and OCI-compliant container images with Buildah without the need for executing a container runtime daemon.

    • Awards roll call: Red Hat awards, November 2018 – February 2019

      With the new year comes new excitement, including Red Hat winning new industry award accolades. Since our last award round up, Red Hat has been honored with over twenty-five new award wins across our organization. Our latest roll call includes recognition in categories from our unique culture and why it is a special place to work, to the design and creative strategies behind Open Source Stories, and the depth of our product portfolio.

    • Musings on Hybrid Cloud

      I believe working with a Hybrid/Cross cloud tools like OpenShift gives customers the best tools to prevent lock-in to any of the big cloud vendors. OpenShift will allow users to move workloads between the big cloud vendors, their private data centers and the specialty clouds. The best of local retail along with the commodity retail. Run your application where it makes sense and protect it against vendor lock-in.

    • Arm Takes On Intel With Neoverse Platforms For Edge, Cloud And 5G
    • What are good command line HTTP clients?

      The whole is greater than the sum of its parts is a very famous quote from Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and scientist. This quote is particularly pertinent to Linux. In my view, one of Linux’s biggest strengths is its synergy. The usefulness of Linux doesn’t derive only from the huge raft of open source (command line) utilities. Instead, it’s the synergy generated by using them together, sometimes in conjunction with larger applications.

      The Unix philosophy spawned a “software tools” movement which focused on developing concise, basic, clear, modular and extensible code that can be used for other projects.

      This philosophy remains an important element for many Linux projects.

      Good open source developers writing utilities seek to make sure the utility does its job as well as possible, and work well with other utilities. The goal is that users have a handful of tools, each of which seeks to excel at one thing. Some utilities work well independently.

      This article looks at 4 open source command line HTTP clients. These clients let you download files over the internet from the command line. But they can also be used for many more interesting purposes such as testing, debugging and interacting with HTTP servers and web applications. Working with HTTP from the command-line is a worthwhile skill for HTTP architects and API designers. If you need to play around with an API, HTTPie and curl will be invaluable.

    • Microsoft publishes security alert on IIS bug that causes 100% CPU usage spikes

      The Microsoft Security Response Center published yesterday a security advisory about a denial of service (DOS) issue impacting IIS (Internet Information Services), Microsoft’s web server technology.

    • 5 things to master to be a DevOps engineer

      There’s an increasing global demand for DevOps professionals, IT pros who are skilled in software development and operations. In fact, the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Jobs Report ranked DevOps as the most in-demand skill, and DevOps career opportunities are thriving worldwide.

      The main focus of DevOps is bridging the gap between development and operations teams by reducing painful handoffs and increasing collaboration. This is not accomplished by making developers work on operations tasks nor by making system administrators work on development tasks. Instead, both of these roles are replaced by a single role, DevOps, that works on tasks within a cooperative team. As Dave Zwieback wrote in DevOps Hiring, “organizations that have embraced DevOps need people who would naturally resist organization silos.”

    • Kubernetes and the Cloud

      One of the questions I get asked quite often by people who are just starting or are simply not used to the “new” way things are done in IT is, “What is the cloud?” This, I think, is something you get many different answers to depending on who you ask. I like to think of it this way: The cloud is a grouping of resources (compute, storage, network) that are available to be used in a manner that makes them both highly available and scalable, either up or down, as needed. If I have an issue with a resource, I need to be able to replace that resource quickly — and this is where containers come in. They are lightweight, can be started quickly, and allow us to focus a container on a single job. Containers are also replaceable. If I have a DB container, for instance, there can’t be anything about it that makes it “special” so that when it is replaced, I do not lose operational capability.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Old Machine Revival | BSD Now 286

      Adding glue to a desktop environment, flashing the BIOS on a PC Engine, revive a Cisco IDS into a capable OpenBSD computer, An OpenBSD WindowMaker desktop, RealTime data compression, the love for pipes, and more.

    • Episode 55 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we check out some App News for the upcoming OBS Studio 23.0 and the recent release of Taskbook 0.3. We’ll cover some Distro News with Ubuntu 18.04.2, Debian 9.8 and MX Linux 18.1. Then we’ll look at some rather interesting news like a surprise release of Compiz 0.9, Windows Explorer gaining support to access Linux Files, and an electron app that lets you experience what it was like to use Windows 95. We also got some great news for Linux Gaming like Ethan Lee’s Crowdfunding Campaign for improving SDL, Steam Play may be getting support for Easy Anti-Cheat, and Rocket League is about to release a game changing new feature. Later we’ll also cover some rather unfortunate news for users of Docker and LinuxTracker. All that and much more!

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 796
  • Kernel Space

    • Concurrency management in BPF

      In the beginning, programs run on the in-kernel BPF virtual machine had no persistent internal state and no data that was shared with any other part of the system. The arrival of eBPF and, in particular, its maps functionality, has changed that situation, though, since a map can be shared between two or more BPF programs as well as with processes running in user space. That sharing naturally leads to concurrency problems, so the BPF developers have found themselves needing to add primitives to manage concurrency (the “exchange and add” or XADD instruction, for example). The next step is the addition of a spinlock mechanism to protect data structures, which has also led to some wider discussions on what the BPF memory model should look like.

      A BPF map can be thought of as a sort of array or hash-table data structure. The actual data stored in a map can be of an arbitrary type, including structures. If a complex structure is read from a map while it is being modified, the result may be internally inconsistent, with surprising (and probably unwelcome) results. In an attempt to prevent such problems, Alexei Starovoitov introduced BPF spinlocks in mid-January; after a number of quick review cycles, version 7 of the patch set was applied on February 1. If all goes well, this feature will be included in the 5.1 kernel.

    • Some Incredible Stories Around Tux: Our Lovable Linux Mascot!

      Chances are you might have already heard about its origins. But in this article exclusively dedicated to Tux, we are jotting down some interesting stories around the cute little fella with some info that might have gone unknown!

      The first discussion about a mascot goes back to the early days of the Linux release, when Linus Torvalds shared his thoughts about choosing one that would gracefully be the torch-bearer of our beloved OS. That’s when many people dived in to contribute with their suggestions for the same.

      The first email that cites the discussion of bringing in a Mascot goes back to 1996. It started with a hot debate about choosing creatures such as sharks or eagles which stopped the moment Linus mentioned that he was rather fond of penguins!

    • D-Bus Broker 18 Released While BUS1 In-Kernel IPC Remains Stalled

      Version 18 of D-Bus Broker has been released, the D-Bus message bus implementation designed for high performance and better reliability compared to the D-Bus reference implementation while sticking to compatibility with the original specification.

      D-Bus Broker 18 isn’t the most exciting release but just has two main changes for improving its compatibility launcher. As of D-Bus Broker 18, configuration parsing errors for this launcher are handled in the same manner as dbus-daemon. Also, the compatibility launcher is no longer isolated in its own network namespace to deal with SELinux API requirements.

    • Preliminary Support Allows Linux KVM To Boot Xen HVM Guests

      As one of the most interesting patch series sent over by an Oracle developer in quite a while at least on the virtualization front, a “request for comments” series was sent out on Wednesday that would enable the Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) to be able to boot Xen HVM guests.

      The 39 patches touching surprisingly just over three thousand lines of code allow for Linux’s KVM to run unmodified Xen HVM images as well as development/testing of Xen guests and Xen para-virtualized drivers. This approach is different from other efforts in the past of tighter Xen+KVM integration.

    • Linux Foundation

      • MEDIA ADVISORY: The Linux Foundation to Participate in Mobile World Congress 2019

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, will be onsite at Mobile World Congress 2019, February 25-28, in Barcelona, Spain.

      • Ericsson Joins Linux Foundation Deep Learning Group As Premier Member

        The LF Deep Learning Foundation (LF DL), a Linux Foundation that supports and sustains open source innovation in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and deep learning (DL), announces Ericsson has become the newest Premier Member. Ericsson, a global leader in delivering ICT solutions, has been at the forefront of communications technology for 140 years.

        Ericsson has already begun contributing to the LF Deep Learning Foundation through the Acumos project, working with partners like AT&T, Orange and the broader community to solve complex problems surrounding 5G and IoT through AI and ML.

        In addition to participating in LF DL, Ericsson is also a member of LF Networking, DPDK, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and LF Edge Foundation. Ericsson is strongly committed to these future-forward technologies, and to that end the company has built a Global AI Accelerator focused on tackling the complex business problems of today and tomorrow.

      • The Calico cloud

        Calico, which is now a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project, can be used on many clouds. It supports such common cloud APIs as Container Network Interface (CNI), OpenStack Neutron, and libnetwork. Besides Kubernetes, it can also be used with Docker, Mesos, and Rkt. You can natively deploy Calico on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Compute Engine, and the IBM Cloud. You can’t use Calico directly on Azure, but you can use Calico policies with the right network setup.

        You can get started with Calico today. If you need help and support to get Calico into production, Tigera, Calico’s corporate backer, offers service level agreements (SLAs).

      • Linux Foundation launches ELISA, an open source project for building safety-critical systems

        Machines have a trust problem — particularly autonomous machines deployed in safety-critical scenarios, like industrial robots and driverless cars. In a pair of surveys published by the American Automobile Association last January and by Gallup in May, 63 percent of people reported feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle and more than half said they’d never choose to ride in one. Moreover, in a report published by analysts at Pew in 2017, 70 percent of Americans said they were concerned about robots performing tasks currently handled by humans.

        In an effort to allay those fears, the Linux Foundation today launched Enabling Linux in Safety Applications (ELISA), an open source project comprising tools intended to help companies build and certify Linux-based systems whose failure could result in loss of human life, significant property damage, or environmental damage. In partnership with British chip designer Arm, BMW, autonomous platforms company Kuka, Linutronix, and Toyota, ELISA will work with certification and standardization bodies in “multiple industries” to establish ways Linux can form the foundation of safety-critical systems across industries.

        ELISA’s launch follows last year’s rollout of Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) 5.0, the newest version of a Linux Foundation project aimed at bringing open source technology to the automotive industry. Previous releases focused mainly on infotainment systems, but 5.0 introduced telematics and mapping solutions that allow OEMs to share mapping data generated by autonomous cars, in addition to offering improved security and a functional safety platform. Toyota and Amazon expressed early support; the former is using AGL in its 2018 Camry.

      • Linux Foundation Launches ELISA, an Open Source Project For Building Safety-Critical Systems
      • The Linux Foundation Launches ELISA Project Enabling Linux In Safety-Critical Systems

        The Linux Foundation today launched the Enabling Linux in Safety Applications (ELISA) open source project to create a shared set of tools and processes to help companies build and certify Linux-based safety-critical applications and systems whose failure could result in loss of human life, significant property damage or environmental damage. Building off the work being done by SIL2LinuxMP project and Real-Time Linux project, ELISA will make it easier for companies to build safety-critical systems such as robotic devices, medical devices, smart factories, transportation systems and autonomous driving using Linux. Founding members of ELISA include Arm, BMW Car IT GmbH, KUKA, Linutronix, and Toyota.

        To be trusted, safety-critical systems must meet functional safety objectives for the overall safety of the system, including how it responds to actions such as user errors, hardware failures, and environmental changes. Companies must demonstrate that their software meets strict demands for reliability, quality assurance, risk management, development process, and documentation. Because there is no clear method for certifying Linux, it can be difficult for a company to demonstrate that their Linux-based system meets these safety objectives.

        “All major industries, including energy, medical and automotive, want to use Linux for safety-critical applications because it can enable them to bring products to market faster and reduce the risk of critical design errors. The challenge has been the lack of the clear documentation and tools needed to demonstrate that a Linux-based system meets the necessary safety requirements for certification,” said Kate Stewart, Senior Director of Strategic Programs at The Linux Foundation. “Past attempts at solving this have lacked the critical mass needed to establish a widely discussed and accepted methodology, but with the formation of ELISA, we will be able to leverage the infrastructure and support of the broader Linux Foundation community that is needed to make this initiative successful.”

        ELISA will work with certification authorities and standardization bodies in multiple industries to establish how Linux can be used as a component in safety-critical systems. The project will also define and maintain a common set of elements, processes and tools that can be incorporated into Linux-based, safety-critical systems amenable to safety certification.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Ready To Add Their Experimental “Iris” Gallium3D Driver To Mesa

        For just over the past year Intel open-source driver developers have been developing a new Gallium3D-based OpenGL driver for Linux systems as the eventual replacement to their long-standing “i965 classic” Mesa driver. The Intel developers are now confident enough in the state of this new driver dubbed Iris that they are looking to merge the driver into mainline Mesa proper.

        The Iris Gallium3D driver has now matured enough that Kenneth Graunke, the Intel OTC developer who originally started Iris in late 2017, is looking to merge the driver into the mainline code-base of Mesa. The driver isn’t yet complete but it’s already in good enough shape that he’s looking for it to be merged albeit marked experimental.

      • AMDGPU Has Late Fixes For Linux 5.0: Golden Register Update For Vega 20, Display Fixes

        There are some last minute changes to the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver for the upcoming Linux 5.0 kernel release.

        Being past RC7, it’s quite late in the cycle but some work has materialized that AMD is seeking to get in ahead of the stable release for improving the Radeon open-source GPU support.

      • Mesa 19.1 Panfrost Driver Gets Pantrace & Pandecode Support To Help Reverse Engineering

        Since being added to Mesa 19.1 at the start of this month, the Panfrost driver has continued speeding along with bringing up this ARM Mali T600/T700/T860 open-source graphics driver support. The latest batch of code was merged overnight, including support for some reverse-engineering helpers.

      • Intel’s Shiny Vulkan Overlay Layer Lands In Mesa 19.1 – Provides A HUD With Driver Stats

        As some more exciting open-source Intel Linux graphics news this week besides their new merge request to mainline the Iris Gallium3D driver, over in the Vulkan space they have merged today their overlay layer that provides a heads-up display of sorts for their Linux “ANV” driver.

        Last month we reported on Intel developing a Vulkan “heads-up display” for their driver to display various statistics to help the driver developers themselves as well as application/game developers. This is akin to Gallium HUD but suited for Vulkan usage rather than OpenGL.

      • Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver Merged To Mainline Mesa 19.1

        Well that sure didn’t take long… Less than 24 hours after the merge request to mainline the Intel “Iris” Gallium3D driver was sent out, it’s now been merged into the mainline code-base! The Intel Gallium3D driver is now in Mesa Git for easy testing of their next-generation OpenGL Linux driver.

        Making the day even more exciting for Intel Linux users is this driver’s landing comes just minutes after the Vulkan overlay layer HUD was merged for Intel’s ANV open-source driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • Early Intel i965 vs. Iris Gallium3D OpenGL Benchmarks On UHD Graphics 620 With Mesa 19.1

        With yesterday’s somewhat of a surprise announcement that Intel is ready to mainline their experimental Iris Gallium3D driver as their “modern” Linux OpenGL driver with numerous design advantages over their long-standing “classic” i965 Mesa driver, here are some fresh benchmarks of that latest driver compared to the current state of their OpenGL driver in Mesa 19.1.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt Creator 4.9 Beta released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.9 Beta!

        There are many improvements and fixes included in Qt Creator 4.9. I’ll just mention some highlights in this blog post. Please refer to our change log for a more thorough overview.

      • Qt Creator 4.9 Beta Brings Expanded LSP Support, Perf Profiling, C++ Improvements

        The Qt Company has today issued their first public beta/test release of the upcoming Qt Creator 4.9 integrated development environment.

        Qt Creator 4.9 Beta builds upon the Language Server Protocol (LSP) support introduced in Qt Creator 4.8 to offer better generic programming language support. The Qt Creator 4.9 LSP support includes the ability to handle document outlines, find usages, and other features of this language-agnostic protocol for improving programming language integration in IDEs.

      • [Slackware] Python3 update in -current results in rebuilt Plasma5 packages in ktown

        Pat decided to update the Python 3 to version 3.7.2. This update from 3.6 to 3.7 broke binary compatibility and a lot of packages needed to be rebuilt in -current. But you all saw the ChangeLog.txt entry of course.

        In my ‘ktown’ repository with Plasma5 packages, the same needed to happen. I have uploaded a set of recompiled packages already, so you can safely upgrade to the latest -current as long as you also upgrade to the latest ‘ktown’. Kudos to Pat for giving me advance warning so I could already start recompiling my own stuff before he uploaded his packages.

      • Alternatives to rioting

        The KDE Community has just announced the wider integration of Matrix instant messaging into its communications infrastructure. There are instructions on the KDE Community Wiki as well.

        So what’s the state of modern chat with KDE-FreeBSD?

        The web client works pretty well in Falkon, the default browser in a KDE Plasma session on FreeBSD. I don’t like leaving browsers open for long periods of time, so I looked at the available desktop clients. Porting Quaternion to FreeBSD was dead simple. No compile warnings, nothing, just an hour of doing some boilerplate-ish things, figuring out which Qt components are needed, and doing a bunch of test builds. So that client is now available from official FreeBSD ports. The GTK-based client Fractal was already ported, so there’s choices available for native-desktop applications over the browser or Electron experience.

      • Ready to test [Kdenlive]?

        If you followed Kdenlive’s activity these last years, you know that we dedicated all our energy into a major code refactoring. During this period, which is not the most exciting since our first goal was to simply restore all the stable version’s features, we were extremely lucky to see new people joining the core team, and investing a lot of time in the project.
        We are now considering to release the updated version in April, with KDE Applications 19.04. There are still a few rough edges and missing features (with many new ones added as well), but we think it now reached the point where it is possible to start working with it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.32 Desktop Environment Gets a Second Beta Release, RC Lands March 6th

        The GNOME 3.32 beta 2 release is here two weeks after the first beta version to add even more improvements and squash as many bugs as possible before the final release hits the streets next month. The second beta release of the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment also marks the beginning of the String Freeze development stage.

      • GNOME 3.32 Beta 2 Released

        Released earlier this month was the GNOME 3.32 beta which also marked the feature/UI/API freeze. Out today is the second beta for the upcoming GNOME 3.32 and now the string freeze is also in effect.

      • GNOME 3.31.91 released

        Hi developers and testers,

        GNOME 3.31.91 is now available. This is our second beta for the GNOME
        3.32 release cycle. It also marks the beginning of the string freeze.
        From now on, we are concentrating on fixing bugs and updating
        translations to ensure a great 3.32 stable release.

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

        https://download.gnome.org/teams/releng/3.31.91/gnome-3.31.91.tar.xz

        The list of updated modules and changes is available here:

        https://download.gnome.org/core/3.31/3.31.91/NEWS

        The source packages are available here:

        https://download.gnome.org/core/3.31/3.31.91/sources/

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

        For more information about 3.31, including the full schedule, please
        see our 3.31 wiki page:

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

      • GNOME 3.31.91 Beta Released, Cisco’s Duo Security Launching a Beta of Its CRXcavator Tool to Find Risky Chrome Extensions, Fedora 30 Now Has Flicker Free Boot, Qt Creator 4.9 Beta Now Available and Four New openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshots

        GNOME 3.31.91 beta was released this morning. This is the second beta of the 3.32 release cycle and also the start of the string freeze. See the list of all the changes and updates here. The BuildStream project snapshot is here, or you can get the source packages from here.

      • Adam Williamson: Wifi display (Miracast) support on Linux

        I was really pleased to see this blog post today, because I was looking for exactly this a few weeks ago and was sad to find it didn’t exist. Now it does!

        Displaying on an external screen via wifi is a really handy thing that is increasingly commonly available. Lately I’m finding most TVs I run across – including hotel room TVs! – have the feature available. For whatever reason I don’t really see many people using or talking about it, but it’s great – you can watch videos from your phone or laptop without having to carry an HDMI cable around everywhere and hope the inputs aren’t blocked or full on the TV.

  • Distributions

    • Best Linux Distros for Beginners

      Best Linux Distros for Beginners. Some of you may disagree, others may have other distros they feel are better suited for newcomers and Linux beginners. That said, these four distros are my top picks based on factors such as ease of use, it’s reliable and hardware detection is solid.

      Do you have other distros that you feel are better suited for new Linux users? Hit the comments below (YouTube or Patreon), tell me what you’re thinking makes a better choice and why.

      Support the Patreon, now with new Just Ask Matt support options.

    • Clear Linux Has A Goal To Get 3x More Upstream Components In Their Distro

      For those concerned that running Clear Linux means less available packages/bundles than the likes of Debian, Arch Linux, and Fedora with their immense collection of packaged software, Clear has a goal this year of increasing their upstream components available on the distribution by three times.

      Intel Fellow Arjan van de Ven provided an update on their bundling state/changes for the distribution. In this update he shared that the Clear Linux team at Intel established a goal this year to have “three times more upstream components in the distro. That’s a steep growth, and we want to do that with some basic direction and without reducing quality/etc. We have some folks figuring out what things are the most desired that we lack, so we can add those with most priority… but this is where again we more than welcome feedback.”

    • The results from our past three Linux distro polls

      You might think this annual poll would be fairly similar from year to year, from what distros we list to how people answer, but the results are wildly different from year to year.
      (At the time of the creation of each poll, we pull the top 15 distributions according to DistroWatch over the past 12 months.)

      Last year, the total votes tallied in at 15,574! And the winner was PCLinuxOS with Ubuntu a close second. Another interesting point is that in 2018, there were 950 votes for “other” and 122 comments compared to this year with only 367 votes for “other” and 69 comments.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Blacklisting insecure filesystems in openSUSE

        The Linux kernel supports a wide variety of filesystem types, many of which have not seen significant use — or maintenance — in many years. Developers in the openSUSE project have concluded that many of these filesystem types are, at this point, more useful to attackers than to openSUSE users and are proposing to blacklist many of them by default. Such changes can be controversial, but it’s probably still fair to say that few people expected the massive discussion that resulted, covering everything from the number of OS/2 users to how openSUSE fits into the distribution marketplace.
        On January 30, Martin Wilck started the discussion with a proposal to add a blacklist preventing the automatic loading of a set of kernel modules implementing (mostly) old filesystems. These include filesystems like JFS, Minix, cramfs, AFFS, and F2FS. For most of these, the logic is that the filesystems are essentially unused and the modules implementing them have seen little maintenance in recent decades. But those modules can still be automatically loaded if a user inserts a removable drive containing one of those filesystem types. There are a number of fuzz-testing efforts underway in the kernel community, but it seems relatively unlikely that any of them are targeting, say, FreeVxFS filesystem images. So it is not unreasonable to suspect that there just might be exploitable bugs in those modules. Preventing modules for ancient, unmaintained filesystems from automatically loading may thus protect some users against flash-drive attacks.

        If there were to be a fight over a proposal like this, one would ordinarily expect it to be concerned with the specific list of unwelcome modules. But there was relatively little of that. One possible exception is F2FS, the presence of which raised some eyebrows since it is under active development, having received 44 changes in the 5.0 development cycle, for example. Interestingly, it turns out that openSUSE stopped shipping F2FS in September. While the filesystem is being actively developed, it seems that, with rare exceptions, nobody is actively backporting fixes, and the filesystem also lacks a mechanism to prevent an old F2FS implementation from being confused by a filesystem created by a newer version. Rather than deal with these issues, openSUSE decided to just drop the filesystem altogether. As it happens, the blacklist proposal looks likely to allow F2FS to return to the distribution since it can be blacklisted by default.

      • Tumbleweed Snapshots Are Steadily Rolling

        The latest snapshot of the week, 20190219, had more than a dozen packages updated. A new Kerberos database module using the Lightning Memory-Mapped Database library (LMDB) has was added with the krb5 1.17 package, which brought some major changes for the administration experience for the network authentication protocol Kerberos. The permissions package update 20190212 removed several old entries and the kernel-space and user-space code package tgt 1.0.74 fixed builds with the newer glibc. A couple xf86 packages were updated. The 1.4.0 version of xf86-video-chips was a bug fix release for X.Org Server. There was an X Server crash bug with the version 1.3 affecting devices older than the HiQVideo generation. The change log said the code may not compile against X Server 1.20 since it no longer supports 24-bit color. A few other YaST packages were updated in the snapshot like yast2-installation 4.1.36, which had an update that saves the used repositories at the end of installation so as not to offer the driver packages again.

        The 20190217 snapshot had just three packages updated. The keyboard management library libgnomekbd 3.26.1 fixed a build with new GLib and updated translations. VMcore extraction tool makedumpfile 1.6.5 added some patches, bug fixes and improved support for arm64 systems with Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization (KASLR). The jump in the release of yast2-storage-ng from 4.1.53 to 4.1.59 provided quite a few changes like allowing the partitioner to create block cache (bcache) devices without a caching set and the newest version limits bcache support to x86_64.

      • A Mile High In Denver

        The OpenStack Foundation have just released the session agenda for the inaugural Open Infrastructure Summit, which will be taking place in May in Denver, Colorado. As you’ll no doubt already know, the OpenStack Summits are no more, so we’ll instead be getting together to talk about all the different open infrastructure components that businesses are using to build their infrastructures.

        Whether you’re a die-hard OpenStack fan, if Kubernetes is more your bag, maybe Kata Containers floats your boat or if Ceph is more your bag, then there’s something for you in the Mile High City this May.

      • iSCSI made easy with SUSE Enterprise Storage

        As your data needs continue to expand, it’s important to have a storage solution that’s both scalable and easy to manage. That’s particularly true when you’re managing common gateway resources like iSCSI that provide interfaces to storage pools built in Ceph. In this white paper, you’ll see how to use the SUSE Enterprise Storage openATTIC management console to create RADOS block devices (RBDs), pools and iSCSI interfaces for use with Linux, Windows and VMware systems.

      • Useful Resources for deploying SAP Workloads on SUSE in Azure [Ed: SUSE never truly quit being a slave of Microsoft. It's paid to remain a slave.]

        SAP applications are a crucial part of your customer’s digital transformation, but with SAP’s move to SAP S/4HANA, this can also present a challenge.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Flicker Free boot is now fully testable

        Fedora 30 now contains all changes changes for a fully Flicker Free Boot. Last week a new version of plymouth landed which implements the new theme for this and also includes a much improved offline-updates experience, following this design.

      • Fedora 30′s Slick Boot Process Is Ready To Go
      • Fedora Strategy FAQ Part 3: What does this mean for Fedora releases?

        Fedora operating system releases are (largely) time-based activity where a new base operating system (kernel, libraries, compilers) is built and tested against our Editions for functionality. This provides a new source for solutions to be built on. The base operating systems may continue to be maintained on the current 13 month life cycle — or services that extend that period may be provided in the future. A solution is never obligated to build against all currently maintained bases.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • gitgeist: a git-based social network proof of concept

    Are you tired of not owning the data or the platform you use for social postings? I know I am.

    It’s hard to say when I “first” used a social network. I’ve been on email for about 30 years and one of the early ad-hoc forms of social networks were chain emails. Over the years I was asked to join all sorts of “social” things such as IRC, ICQ, Skype, MSN Messenger, etc. and eventually things like Orkut, MySpace, Facebook, etc. I’ll readily admit that I’m not the type of person that happily jumps onto every new social bandwagon that appears on the Internet. I often prefer preserving the quietness of my own thoughts. That, though, hasn’t stopped me from finding some meaningfulness participating in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more recently Google+. Twitter was in fact the first social network that I truly embraced. And it would’ve remained my primary social network had they not killed their own community by culling the swell of independently-developed Twitter clients that existed. That and their increased control of their API effectively made me look for something else. Right around that time Google+ was being introduced and many in the open source community started participating in that, in some ways to find a fresh place where techies can aggregate away from the noise and sometimes over-the-top nature of Facebook. Eventually I took to that too and started using G+ as my primary social network. That is, until Google recently decided to pull the plug on G+.

    While Google+ might not have represented a success for Google, it had become a good place for sharing information among the technically-inclined. As such, I found it quite useful for learning and hearing about new things in my field. Soon-to-be-former users of G+ have gone in all sorts of directions. Some have adopted a “c’mon guys, get over it, Facebook is the spot” attitude, others have adopted things like Mastodon, others have fallen back to their existing IDs on Twitter, and yet others, like me, are still looking.

  • France enters the Matrix

    Matrix is an open platform for secure, decentralized, realtime communication. Matthew Hodgson, the Matrix project leader, came to FOSDEM to describe Matrix and report on its progress. Attendees learned that it was within days of having a 1.0 release and found out how it got there. He also shed some light on what happened when the French reached out to them to see if Matrix could meet the internal messaging requirements of an entire national government.

    From a client’s viewpoint, Matrix is a thin set of HTTP APIs for publish-subscribe (pub/sub) data synchronization; from a server’s viewpoint, it’s a rich set of HTTP APIs for data replication and identity services. On top of these APIs, application servers can provide any service that benefits from running on Matrix. Principally, that has meant interoperable chat, but Hodgson noted that any kind of JSON data could be passed, including voice over IP (VoIP), virtual or augmented reality communications, and IoT messaging. That said, Matrix is independent of the transport used; although current Matrix-hosted services are built around HTTP and JSON, more exotic transports and data formats can be used and, at least in the laboratory, have been.

    Because Matrix is inherently decentralized, no single server “owns” the conversations; all traffic is replicated across all of the involved servers. If you are using your server to talk to someone on, say, a gouv.fr server, and your server goes down, then because their server also has the whole conversation history, when your server comes back up, it will resync so that the conversation can continue. This is because the “first-class citizen” in Matrix is not the message, but the conversation history of the room. That history is stored in a big data structure that is replicated across a number of participants; in that respect, said Hodgson, Matrix is more like Git than XMPP, SIP, IRC, or many other traditional communication protocols.

  • Launchpad news, July 2018 – January 2019
  • BMW Volleys Open-Source “RAMSES” Distributed 3D Rendering System

    For those interested in distributed 3D rendering, the developers at BMW recently received clearance to open-source RAMSES, a 3D rendering system optimized for bandwidth and resource efficiency.

    RAMSES is a distributed rendering engine that’s designed for embedded use-cases and thus a heavy emphasis on efficiency, after all it comes out of BMW. RAMSES allows for different processes on different devices connected via a network to provide/consume 3D content and form a unison of cohesive displays.

  • 8 Best Kodi Builds For 2019 That Every Kodi User Must Install

    or Kodi users, it’s always a task to find and install new addons to enjoy live tv, movies, documentaries, and tv shows. To get the Kodi media center up and running, you need to install different Kodi addons which is a time-consuming task. If you want to cut short the amount of time and effort required to install various addons and best Kodi repositories, you must use a Kodi Build.

  • Events

    • Hallo Nürnberg!

      Collabora is headed to Nuremberg, Germany next week to take part in the 2019 edition of Embedded World, “the leading international fair for embedded systems”. Following a successful first attendance in 2018, we are very much looking forward to our second visit! If you are planning on attending, please come say hello in Hall 4, booth 4-280!

      This year, we will be showcasing a state-of-the-art infrastructure for end-to-end, embedded software production. From the birth of a software platform, to reproducible continuous builds, to automated testing on hardware, get a firsthand look at our platform building expertise and see how we use continuous integration to increase productivity and quality control in embedded Linux.

    • LibrePlanet 2019: Coming to Cambridge, MA

      On March 23rd and 24th, 2019, the free software community will come together at the Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to learn, exchange ideas, catch up with friends, and plan the future of the movement at the LibrePlanet 2019 conference.
      Registration is open, and we hope you’ll join us!

      Hundreds of people from across the globe will join us at LibrePlanet 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to explore this year’s theme, “Trailblazing Free Software.” With a new and growing generation of free software enthusiasts, we can take this conference as an opportunity to discuss both the present and the future of the free software movement. Using the Four Freedoms as a litmus test for ethical computing, we ask, “How will free software continue to bring to life trailblazing, principled new technologies and new approaches to the world?”

  • Web Browsers

    • Surf Internet Like It’s 1990: CERN Redesigns World’s 1st Web Browser

      CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has redesigned the world’s first web browser WorldWideWeb to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original browser.

      Sir Tim Berners-Lee brought the first proposal for a global hypertext system in 1989, which later came to be known as the World Wide Web that he designed on a NeXT machine in 1990. Internet wasn’t as easy to use as it is today. The primitive version of the internet required users to double click on hyperlinks to open them.

    • CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild

      In February 2019, in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the development of WorldWideWeb, a group of developers and designers convened at CERN to rebuild the original browser within a contemporary browser, allowing users around the world to experience the rather humble origins of this transformative technology.

    • CERN has made the original 1990s web browser available to play with

      CERN has rebuilt the original 1990 browser – called, appropriately enough WorldWideWeb – as a browser-within-a-browser, like a sort of Inception situation, but with fewer cat gifs.

      What’s really striking here is the simplicity – no pictures, no stupid fonts (even Comic Sans isn’t represented) and the home page hasn’t even been spellchecked properly, giving a rustic charm, married with an OCD nightmare.

    • Mozilla

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 53
      • Mozilla Future Releases Blog: Enhanced Tracking Protection Testing: Protecting users’ privacy by default

        Over the past couple of months since we announced that we would broaden our approach to anti-tracking we’ve been experimenting and testing Enhanced Tracking Protection, a feature that blocks cookies and storage access from third-party trackers. Recently, we published a set of policies that define which tracking practices will be blocked in Firefox, and a new set of redesigned controls for the Content Blocking section where users can choose their desired level of privacy protection. As the next step in our path to enable Enhanced Tracking Protection by default, this week we launched a study to observe how enabling this functionality for a group of Firefox users in our Release Channel would impact the online experience.

      • Secure File Sharing Tool OnionShare 2 Adds Anonymous Dropboxes

        OnionShare 2 has been released after nearly a year of work, adding support for anonymous dropboxes, next generation V3 onion services, and more.

        OnionShare is an open source GUI tool to securely and anonymously send and receive files of any size using the Tor onion services. It’s available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

        The application starts a web server on your computer, for which it assigns an unguessable Tor web address which can be used by others to download files from your computer, or upload files to your computer (with OnionShare 2), using end-to-end encryption. This is done without signing up for an account or using a third-party file-sharing service (the files are hosted on your computer).

        Downloading files shared with OnionShare, or sending files to someone running OnionShare in receiver mode requires Tor Browser.

      • They fixed it

        Henri Sivonen solved on January 12, a 15 years old bug! When parsing an HTML document (string), the browser creates a DOM tree with nodes nested into each others. As you can imagine, all browsers have a limit on the depth of the tree to avoid bad memory overflows and crashes. On webcompat.com, we got some reports that some sites were missing content compared to Chrome for example. These sites were reaching the nesting limits of Firefox. The limit has been increased.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Building an In-Game Editor

        Jingle Smash is a WebVR game where you shoot ornaments at blocks to knock them over. It has multiple levels, each which is custom designed with blocks to form the puzzle. Since you play in a first person perspective 3D, the levels must carefully designed for this unique view point. To make the design proess easier I created a simple in-game 3D editor.

        While Jingle Smash is similar in concept to Angry Birds there is a big difference. The player sees the level head on from a 3D perspective instead of a side view. This means the player can’t see the whole level at once, requiring completely custom designed levels. Rovio is facing this challenge as well with their upcoming VR version of Angry Birds. The difficult part of editing a 3D game on a desktop is that you don’t really experience the levels the same way they will actually be played.

        At first I went back and forth from 2D view to my VR headset every time I made a change to a level, even just sliding a few blocks around. As you can imagine this grew very tedious. The ideal tool would let me move objects around in the same mode where I play with them. I needed an in-game editor. So that’s what I built, and I created a minimal UI toolkit in the process.

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n report: February edition

        We’ve added a new page ahead of the Firefox 66 release. Check in Pontoon and look for firefox/whatsnew_66.lang. To be part of the release, make sure to complete it by March 6. The demo URL is not ready at the moment. We will update you as soon as it becomes available.

        A small but an important update is in the privacy/index.lang file. The change is urgent so please localize the string as soon as possible.

        Have you taken a look of the newly designed navigation bar? It was recently rolled out with quite a bit of content to localize. Make it a high priority if it is not localized yet.

  • Databases

    • Firebird 4.0 Beta 1 release is available for testing

      Firebird Project announces the first Beta release of Firebird 4.0, the next major version of the Firebird relational database, which is now available for testing.

      This Beta release arrives with features and improvements already implemented by the Firebird development team, as well as with countless bugfixes. Our users are appreciated giving it a try and providing feedback to the development mailing list. Apparent bugs can be reported directly to the bugtracker.

      Beta releases are not encouraged for production usage or any other goals that require a stable system. They are, however, recommended for those users who want to help in identifying issues and bottlenecks thus allowing to progress faster through the Beta/RC stages towards the final release.

  • LibreOffice

    • Hack Week – Browsersync integration for Online

      Recently my LibreOffice work is mostly focused on the Online. It’s nice to see how it is growing with new features and has better UI. But when I was working on improving toolbars (eg. folding menubar or reorganization of items) I noticed one annoying thing from the developer perspective. After every small change, I had to restart the server to provide updated content for the browser. It takes few seconds for switching windows, killing old server then running new one which requires some tests to be passed.

      Last week during the Hack Week funded by Collabora Productivity I was able to work on my own projects. It was a good opportunity for me to try to improve the process mentioned above.

      I’ve heard previously about browsersync so I decided to try it out. It is a tool which can automatically reload used .css and .js files in all browser sessions after change detection. To make it work browsersync can start proxy server watching files on the original server and sending events to the browser clients if needed.

    • My hack week at Collabora: btLr text direction in Writer

      If you work with tables in Word, it’s very easy to create this writing direction: the context menu in a table cell has a menu item to set the direction of the text, where you can rotate the text by 90 degrees counter-clockwise or clockwise. The counter-clockwise btLr direction is the problematic one. Support for tbRl was fine already, since that is needed typically for Chinese/Japanese scripts as well.

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD: A Solid Linux-Like Open Source Alternative

      Overall, aside from the system tools and the installation process, I did not see much not to like in running this BSD operating system. I experienced some annoyance when things failed to work just right, but I felt no frustrations that led me to give up on trying to use GhostBSD or find solutions to mishaps. I could provide a litany of Linux distros that did not measure up that well.

      Some lingering problems for which I am still seeking workarounds are why my USB storage drives intermittently are not recognized and fail to mount. Another issue is why some of the preinstalled applications do not fully load. They either do not respond to launching at all, or crash before fully displaying anything beyond a white application window.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Avoiding the coming IoT dystopia

      Bradley Kuhn works for the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) and part of what that organization does is to think about the problems that software freedom may encounter in the future. SFC worries about what will happen with the four freedoms as things change in the world. One of those changes is already upon us: the Internet of Things (IoT) has become quite popular, but it has many dangers, he said. Copyleft can help; his talk is meant to show how.

      It is still an open question in his mind whether the IoT is beneficial or not. But the “deep trouble” that we are in from IoT can be mitigated to some extent by copyleft licenses that are “regularly and fairly enforced”. Copyleft is not the solution to all of the problems, all of the time—no idea, no matter how great, can be—but it can help with the dangers of IoT. That is what he hoped to convince attendees with his talk.

      A joke that he had seen at least three times at the conference (and certainly before that as well) is that the “S” in IoT stands for security. As everyone knows by now, the IoT is not about security. He pointed to some recent incidents, including IoT baby monitors that were compromised by attackers in order to verbally threaten the parents. This is “scary stuff”, he said.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • How open data and tools can save lives during a disaster

        If you’ve lived through a major, natural disaster, you know that during the first few days you’ll probably have to rely on a mental map, instead of using a smartphone as an extension of your brain. Where’s the closest hospital with disaster care? What about shelters? Gas stations? And how many soft story buildings—with their propensity to collapse—will you have to zig-zag around to get there?

        Trying to answer these questions after moving back to earthquake-prone San Francisco is why I started the Resiliency Maps project. The idea is to store information about assets, resources, and hazards in a given geographical area in a map that you can download and print out. The project contributes to and is powered by OpenStreetMap (OSM), and the project’s entire toolkit is open source, ensuring that the maps will be available to anyone who wants to use them.

  • Programming/Development

    • QMacTouchBar has landed

      This is a welcome addition since Apple is not making interfacing with its system components from C++ particularly easy. This requires code written in Objective-C, one of Apple’s favorite programming languages, to interface with the built-in Cocoa libraries, as well as the necessary glue code written in C++ to make the touchbar appear as a perfectly ordinary Qt widget to Qt applications.

    • Create the enemy-player overlapping detection mechanism

      In the previous article we have finished creating the player boundary detection mechanism and in this article, we will create a simple enemy player overlapping detection mechanism which we will then further modify it in the next article. Before we start, below are the game plans.

    • PyCharm 2019.1 EAP 5
    • PyBites: Code Challenge 61 – Build a URL Shortener
    • Find the Bitcoin exchange rate for a few more currencies
    • Python Tensorflow Tutorial
    • PHP version 7.2.16RC1 and 7.3.3RC1
    • A brief comparison of Java IDE’s: NetBeans Vs Eclipse

      Thinking about entering the world of programming? What better way to enter than through Java and joining a community of over 10 million developers worldwide? Java is one of the most popular programming languages right now. It is an interpreted, object-oriented programming language which is directly supported by major operating systems like Apple, Linux, Windows, Sun etc. Java is a portable programming language meaning a program can be written on one platform and can run on all platforms. Java supports networking (you can use TCP and UDP sockets) and access remote data using a variety of protocols. It also provides the feature of multithreading, which can utilize multiple processors and one of the prime features of Java is garbage collection. In many languages, the programmer is responsible for deallocating memory and it can become a hassle resulting in errors and segmentation faults. Java, on the other hand, has a garbage collector which manages the memory and frees up the memory by destroying objects not in use.
      To start coding in Java you need to have Java installed, the latest version of Java is 11 but Java 8 is still supported so having any one of these installed will be enough to get you started. Writing a program and compiling it would take some effort as you will have to write the code in a text file and then save it in .java and then have to compile it using terminal, or you can use an IDE and save yourself the time and effort used in this process and get a slew of interesting features.

      An Integrated Development Environment or IDE for short, is a software application which helps the user to write and compile code easily by providing features like text editing, debugging plugins etc. while providing compilation by the click of one button. Java has many IDEs but two of the most popular ones are NetBeans and Eclipse.

    • Pyro Probabilistic Programming Language Becomes Newest LF Deep Learning Project

      The LF Deep Learning Foundation (LF DL), a Linux Foundation project that supports and sustains open source innovation in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and deep learning (DL), announces the Pyro project, started by Uber, as its newest incubation project. Built on top of the PyTorch framework, Pyro is a deep probabilistic programming framework that facilitates large-scale exploration of AI models, making deep learning model development and testing quicker and more seamless. This is the second project LF DL has voted in from Uber, following last December’s Horovod announcement.
      Pyro is used by large companies like Siemens, IBM, and Uber, and startups like Noodle.AI, in addition to Harvard University, MIT, Stanford University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and The Broad Institute. At Uber, Pyro solves a range of problems including sensor fusion, time series forecasting, ad campaign optimization and data augmentation for deep image understanding.

    • Converting Python Scripts to Executable Files

      In this tutorial, we will explore the conversion of Python scripts to Windows executable files in four simple steps. Although there are many ways to do it, we’ll be covering, according to popular opinion, the simplest one so far.

      This tutorial has been designed after reviewing many common errors that people face while performing this task, and hence contains detailed information to install and set up all the dependencies as well. Feel free to skip any step, if you already have those dependencies installed. Without any further ado, let’s start.

    • Python Performance Optimization

      Resources are never sufficient to meet growing needs in most industries, and now especially in technology as it carves its way deeper into our lives. Technology makes life easier and more convenient and it is able to evolve and become better over time.

      This increased reliance on technology has come at the expense of the computing resources available. As a result, more powerful computers are being developed and the optimization of code has never been more crucial.

      Application performance requirements are rising more than our hardware can keep up with. To combat this, people have come up with many strategies to utilize resources more efficiently – Containerizing, Reactive (Asynchronous) Applications, etc.

    • Webinar Recording: “Demystifying Python’s async and await Keywords” with Michael Kennedy

      Yesterday we hosted a webinar with Michael Kennedy from Talk Python To Me podcasts and training presenting Demystifying Python’s async and await Keywords. Turned out to be the highest-rated webinar in 7 years of JetBrains’ webinars. Thanks Michael! The webinar recording is now available, as well as a repository with the Python code he showed and the slides he used.

    • Skipping tests depending on the Python version

      Sometimes we want to run certain tests only on a specific version of Python.

      Suppose you are migrating a large project from Python 2 to Python 3 and you know in advance that certain tests won’t run under Python 3.

      Chances are that during the migration you are already using the six library. The six libraries have two boolean properties which are initialised to True depending on the Python version which is being used: PY2 when running under Python 2 and PY3 when running under Python 3.

Leftovers

  • We must fight to preserve digital information

    But knowledge looks different today than it did several millennia ago. And an open society needs access to its store of records. Archival practice has its origins in the administration of governments, keeping tabs on such mundane but vital information as property records, tax and import-export details. Even in the ancient world it was recognised that access to these records was important for a healthy state administration. Today information is the lifeblood of government, business and personal life.

    The growth of digital records has made preservation ever more important. For the state, it is essential to ensure democratic accountability and good governance. Yet it has become highly precarious as well.

  • Wild photos show Zion Williamson’s shoe after it exploded and he injured his knee

    Williamson tried to cut with the basketball and when he planted his left foot, the shoe exploded.
    The Duke freshman sensation immediately grabbed his left knee as he fell to the floor and left the game with an undisclosed injury.

  • Size Matters: the Demise of the Airbus A380

    The aircraft business has always been a dear affair. More than other forms of transport, it remains susceptible to oscillating costs (materials, fuel), ever at the mercy of the uncontrollable. The Airbus A380 was meant to be a giant’s contribution to aviation. In time, its makers came to the conclusion that the bird had already flown.

    In the solemn words of outgoing Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, “We have no sustainable A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years.”

    As much as it was a “technical wonder” (an “outstanding engineering and industrial achievement” boasted Enders), the A380 simply did not have the momentum financially to carry the company. To a large extent, this may have been embedded in the mission itself: to outperform, at quite literally all cost, the Boeing 747, the super mega jet dream born in 1988 when Airbus engineers went to work on designing an ultra-high-capacity-airliner (UHCA). This would entail the guzzling addition of four jet engines, and an ongoing headache to the accountants.

    The consequences of this vain if admired project have been more than head-ache inducing. Carriers who have gone for purchases of the divine beast have underperformed on the revenue side of things. Such large entities, to make matters viable, need orders covering up to four-fifths of the seats. This leads to incentives to discount prices and seek promotions. In the penny-pinching world of air travel, this is a tall order.

    And big it is. The A380 was advertised for its breezy size and proportions – 73 metres in length, 80 metres wide, able to ferry 550 to 800 passengers, depending on type, on two complete decks. Floor space was increased dramatically (some 49 percent), with additional seating being a mere 35 percent from the previous largest aircraft. The comfort factor was enhanced: more passenger room, and less noise. In a machine sense, it made many in the aeronautical side of things salivate: modern computerised systems; powerful Rolls-Royce reactors. A truly big toy.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Singapore HIV data leak shakes a vulnerable community

      As required by law, Joyce’s HIV status was added to a national database. The HIV registry was set up in 1985 by the Ministry of Health to keep track of the infection situation and trace potential cases.

      It was this database – with the names and addresses of 14,200 people – that authorities say was leaked earlier this year.

      The government has pinned the blame on Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, a US citizen who moved to Singapore in 2008. They say he obtained the data from his partner, Singaporean doctor Ler Teck Siang, whose job granted him rare access to the confidential registry.

    • With Monsanto and Glyphosate on the Run AAAS Revokes Award to Scientists Whose Studies Led to Ban on Weedkiller in Sri Lanka and Other Countries

      The popular weedkiller glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is on the run.
      Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) last week called for a ban.

      “We need to ban all products containing glyphosate, including Roundup,” Gabbard tweeted on February 16. “It’s poisoning our people, butterflies and other insects, the land and the water.”

      And then again today, Gabbard tweeted: “Monsanto proves they’ll do anything to pad their pockets, including manufacturing ‘scientific studies’ to influence the EPA while destroying small farmers. They unleashed the scourge of Roundup on us and should be held accountable for the consequences.”

      Also last week the Guardian reported on a broad new scientific analysis showing that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”

      Last August, a jury in San Francisco awarded $289 million to a former school groundskeeper who said Monsanto’s Roundup left him dying of cancer.

      But now comes the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

    • “Heavy Drinking” and the NYT’s Offensive Obit on Herbert Fingarette

      Toward the end of 2018, the New York Times published a lengthy obituary with the headline: “Herbert Fingarette, Contrarian Philosopher on Alcoholism, Dies at 97.” By labeling Fingarette as a mere contrarian philosopher and by otherwise subtly demeaning him, the NYT cozied up to the $35 billion per year addiction-treatment industry. The reality is that Fingarette exposed unscientific notions about alcoholism and standard disease-model treatment, and his conclusions have been repeatedly confirmed in the scientific literature.

      In a deeper sense, Fingarette pointed out the damage done by authoritarian one-size-fits-all standardized treatment. There is a long list of famous rehab failures, and there are many more non-famous substance abusers who have not been helped by the standard disease-model treatment and 12-Step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Fingarette’s Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease (1988) provided a refreshing alternative.

      Many problem drinkers are already self-loathing because of the effects of their alcohol abuse on themselves and others, but after discovering Heavy Drinking, they did not compound this misery with “treatment failure” self-condemnations. Examining standard disease-model/AA treatment effectiveness, Fingarette pointed out: “The very label treatment. . . seems a deceptive misnomer. . . . Indeed, it has not been clearly demonstrated that such programs add anything at all to the improvement that could be expected in the natural course of affairs without a drinker’s having received any professional help whatsoever.” Yet, as Forbes reported in 2015, “The vast majority of addiction treatment is based either partially or entirely on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).”

    • New Jersey Said 10 Years Ago It Would Rank Its Most Contaminated Sites. It Never Did.

      For decades, New Jersey’s chemical plants, textile mills and metal factories helped power America.

      That came at a price.

      Byproducts like dioxin from the manufacture of the herbicide Agent Orange fouled the Passaic River, making fish and crab toxic. Dye and paint companies dumped waste in illegal landfills in Toms River, polluting the groundwater for decades. Carcinogenic vapors migrated to homes from Pompton Lakes factories making war ammunition and nonstick pans.

      New Jersey eventually passed some of the strongest environmental laws in the country, including the precursor to the federal Superfund law, and the state has made strides in cleaning up contamination.

      But don’t ask what the state’s priorities are.

    • Behind the Pennsylvania Prison Lockdown: Public Health Crisis or Powerplay?

      Patricia Marshall Vickers still remembers the week in late August 2018 when she stopped hearing from her son. Incarcerated in Pennsylvania since he was 17 years old, Vickers’s son faithfully called his mother from prison at least every other day—until suddenly, he didn’t. Vickers learned that other family members were also experiencing a communication blackout from their incarcerated loved ones. Still, she said, “It was scary because nobody knew what was going on.”

      In a rare move, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) had decided to place all 46,768 people held in its 25 state prisons on lockdown. As Vickers later learned, they were effectively subjected to 12 days of solitary confinement, locked in their cells for up to 24 hours a day, without access to work, programming, exercise, group meals, family visits, or even mail delivery.

      And the barriers to communication did not end when the lockdown was lifted. In September, the PA DOC quickly instituted a set of new security policies and procedures that will cost the state a total of $15 million. All mail sent to people incarcerated in Pennsylvania is now being re-routed through the private company Smart Communications in Florida, which scans everything—including letters, cards, children’s drawings and family photographs—and transmits the scans to prisons, where they are printed out and delivered. The department is also installing airport-style body scanners for visitors.

    • Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows

      In May 1997, the year after Purdue Pharma launched OxyContin, its head of sales and marketing sought input on a key decision from Dr. Richard Sackler, a member of the billionaire family that founded and controls the company. Michael Friedman told Sackler that he didn’t want to correct the false impression among doctors that OxyContin was weaker than morphine, because the myth was boosting prescriptions — and sales.

      “It would be extremely dangerous at this early stage in the life of the product,” Friedman wrote to Sackler, “to make physicians think the drug is stronger or equal to morphine….We are well aware of the view held by many physicians that oxycodone [the active ingredient in OxyContin] is weaker than morphine. I do not plan to do anything about that.”

      “I agree with you,” Sackler responded. “Is there a general agreement, or are there some holdouts?”

      Ten years later, Purdue pleaded guilty in federal court to understating the risk of addiction to OxyContin, including failing to alert doctors that it was a stronger painkiller than morphine, and agreed to pay $600 million in fines and penalties. But Sackler’s support of the decision to conceal OxyContin’s strength from doctors — in email exchanges both with Friedman and another company executive — was not made public.

    • What You Should Know About Richard Sackler’s Long-Sought Deposition

      The son of a Purdue co-founder, Sackler began working at the company in 1971 and has been at various times its president and co-chairman of the board. The Sackler family controls Purdue and has received billions of dollars from OxyContin sales.

      [...]

      As part of the settlement, the Kentucky attorney general agreed to destroy its copies of 17 million pages of documents produced during the eight-year legal battle with Purdue. But some of the same documents remained in a sealed file in a rural eastern Kentucky courthouse. STAT filed a motion in 2016 asking the judge in that case to make the documents public, and he ordered the unsealing of those documents, including the Sackler deposition.

      “The court sees no higher value than the public (via the media) having access to these discovery materials so that the public can see the facts for themselves,” Pike Circuit Court Judge Steven Combs ruled in May 2016.

      Purdue appealed the ruling to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which upheld it in December 2018. The company then asked the state Supreme Court to review that decision.

  • Security

    • KASAN Spots Another Kernel Vulnerability From Early Linux 2.6 Through 4.20

      The Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN) that detects dynamic memory errors within the Linux kernel code has just picked up another win with uncovering a use-after-free vulnerability that’s been around since the early Linux 2.6 kernels.

      KASAN (along with the other sanitizers) have already proven quite valuable in spotting various coding mistakes hopefully before they are exploited in the real-world. The Kernel Address Sanitizer picked up another feather in its hat with being responsible for the CVE-2019-8912 discovery.

    • io_uring, SCM_RIGHTS, and reference-count cycles

      The io_uring mechanism that was described here in January has been through a number of revisions since then; those changes have generally been fixing implementation issues rather than changing the user-space API. In particular, this patch set seems to have received more than the usual amount of security-related review, which can only be a good thing. Security concerns became a bit of an obstacle for io_uring, though, when virtual filesystem (VFS) maintainer Al Viro threatened to veto the merging of the whole thing. It turns out that there were some reference-counting issues that required his unique experience to straighten out.
      The VFS layer is a complicated beast; it must manage the complexities of the filesystem namespace in a way that provides the highest possible performance while maintaining security and correctness. Achieving that requires making use of almost all of the locking and concurrency-management mechanisms that the kernel offers, plus a couple more implemented internally. It is fair to say that the number of kernel developers who thoroughly understand how it works is extremely small; indeed, sometimes it seems like Viro is the only one with the full picture.

      In keeping with time-honored kernel tradition, little of this complexity is documented, so when Viro gets a moment to write down how some of it works, it’s worth paying attention. In a long “brain dump”, Viro described how file reference counts are managed, how reference-count cycles can come about, and what the kernel does to break them. For those with the time to beat their brains against it for a while, Viro’s explanation (along with a few corrections) is well worth reading. For the rest of us, a lighter version follows.

    • Your Password Manager Has A Severe Flaw — But You Should Still Use One [Ed: Yet worse: 1) people putting password managers on platforms with back doors from Apple and Microsoft. 2) people putting all their password "in the cloud".]

      If you are an avid user of password managers, you might just be in for a surprise. A recent study by researchers at the Independent Security Evaluators found that a number of popular password managers were storing master passwords as plain text within the main memory of devices.

      To an expert hacker, this vulnerability is equivalent to getting the keys to multiple accounts as a text document on your computer. The master key of any password manager can be used to gain access to all usernames and passwords being managed by it.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Fun Little Tidbits in a Howling Storm (Re: Intel Security Holes)

      Some kernel developers recently have been trying to work around the massive, horrifying, long-term security holes that have recently been discovered in Intel hardware. In the course of doing so, there were some interesting comments about coding practices.

      Christoph Hellwig and Jesper Dangaard Brouer were working on mitigating some of the giant speed sacrifices needed to avoid Intel’s gaping security holes. And, Christoph said that one such patch would increase the networking throughput from 7.5 million packets per second to 9.5 million—a 25% speedup.

      To do this, the patch would check the kernel’s “fast path” for any instances of dma_direct_ops and replace them with a simple direct call.

      Linus Torvalds liked the code, but he noticed that Jesper and Christoph’s code sometimes would perform certain tests before testing the fast path. But if the kernel actually were taking the fast path, those tests would not be needed. Linus said, “you made the fast case unnecessarily slow.”

    • 5 Antivirus for Android Devices That You Should Have in 2019
    • Duo Security Digs Into Chrome Extension Security With CRXcavator
    • How I could have hacked lakhs of IRCTC accounts and get access to all your private info including easily cancelling booked tickets
    • Major Flaw Allows Attackers To Cancel Tickets On IRCTC Website

      The website of the Indian Railways has been a subject of ridicule owing to the various security flaws that have been discovered in its website over the years. When it comes to protecting user data, the website has been lacking in many ways.

      The website was previously hacked in 2016 when the details of over 1 crore users were leaked. Last year, Kanishk Sanjani, an ethical hacker had ordered food from the IRCTC website for Rs 7. This vulnerability remained unpatched for well over 7 months even after informing concerned authorities.

    • Web Application Security [Ed: a bit spammy]

      Common targets for web application attacks are content management systems (e.g., WordPress), database administration tools (e.g., phpMyAdmin) and SaaS applications.

    • This 19-Year-Old WinRAR Flaw Lets Hackers Load Malware To PCs

      he popular windows file archival tool WinRAR has been in use for over two decades now. The software is used to view, create, pack and unpack archives in both ZIP and RAR formats. A recent report by The Register has revealed that the tool has a bug that has remained undetected since 2005.

    • WinRAR Has Serious Flaw That Can Load Malware to PCs

      The popular file archiving tool WinRAR has had a bug for at least 14 years that can be exploited to take over your PC.

      The bug can pave the way for archive files that can trigger WinRAR to actually install whatever malware is secretly inside, according to the security firm Check Point, which discovered the software flaw.

      “The exploit works by just extracting an archive, and puts over 500 million users at risk,” the company said in a detailed report published on Wednesday.

    • Millions of websites threatened by highly critical code-execution bug in Drupal

      Drupal is the third most-widely used CMS behind WordPress and Joomla. With an estimated 3 percent to 4 percent of the world’s billion-plus websites, that means Drupal runs tens of millions of sites. Critical flaws in any CMS are popular with hackers, because the vulnerabilities can be unleashed against large numbers of sites with a single, often-easy-to-write script.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Kyiv’s Maidan, five years later: A photo essay

      On February 21, 2014, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich left Kyiv for Kharkiv and fled from there to Russia. At the time, Ukraine was in the throes of the largest social crisis in the country’s modern history. Anti-government protests had been ongoing in Kyiv since the previous November, and at the Maidan, or Independence Square, more than one hundred people were killed during clashes with the police. The consequences of that crisis included a burst of Russian interference, the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the ongoing war in the Donbass region, and a major rupture in Russian-Ukrainian relations. In this photo essay, Meduza recalls the events that rocked Kyiv in the winter of 2013 – 2014.

    • Journalist claims killers of three Russian reporters in Africa came from separatist Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine

      Pyotr Verzilov, the publisher of the investigative news site Mediazona and a member of the activist group Pussy Riot, made an announcement today regarding his investigation of the murders of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic. Verzilov said those who killed Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev, and Kirill Radchenko on July 30 while the three were collecting footage on Russian mercenaries may have traveled to the Central African Republic from the Donbass region of Ukraine.

      A separatist war has been ongoing in the Donbass since the spring of 2014. Pro-Russian groups there have declared soveriegnty as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and extensive reports have testified to covert Russian military intervention in the region.

    • ‘Willing Pawns in Trump-Orchestrated Coup’: CODEPINK Disrupts Venezuela’s Illegitimate ‘US Ambassador’

      Anti-war activists disrupted an event in Washington, DC featuring Carlos Vecchio, the illegitimate “US ambassador” appointed by Venezuela’s right-wing coup regime and its Trump-selected leader Juan Guaidó.

      CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin walked on stage at the February 21 event and grabbed the mic: “These people are a fraud. They don’t represent the Venezuelan people. They are representing the US-orchestrated coup,” she said.

      “These people here want to take Venezuela to a path of civil war and US intervention,” Benjamin continued.

    • The U.S.-Venezuela Aid Convoy Story Is Clearly Bogus, but No One Wants to Say It

      No one actually thinks the same Donald Trump who kicked off his run for the White House by calling Mexicans rapists, and subsequently, as president, left Puerto Rico for dead after Hurricane Maria, cares at all about the Venezuelan poor. No one actually thinks the murderers row of Cold Warriors—led by two of the most extreme right-wingers in American politics, Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams and national security adviser John Bolton—cares at all about the starving people in Venezuela or their plight. No one reading this, whether they be right, left, center, libertarian or communist, actually buys the prevailing narrative that the U.S. is sending “aid” to Venezuela as a humanitarian gesture.

      So why is everyone pretending otherwise?

      There are a number of reasons why these superficial narratives take hold, but I’d like to speculate on two of them.

      First, the crisis in Venezuela is very real and very daunting. Without litigating who’s responsible for what, whether U.S.-led sanctions and economic sabotage are more to blame or the economic policies of Nicolás Maduro, one simple fact is true: The status quo is untenable. Perhaps, then, the instinct to “do something” is understandable. But as with previous crises, both organic and contrived, what that “something” is remains unclear. Liberals—as they did in the build-up to the invasions of Iraq and Libya—are easily pressured into this “do something” posture.

    • Tracing the Threads in Venezuela: Humanitarian Aid

      Last week, humanitarian aid was at the center of discussion of the Venezuela crisis in the US, and evidently at the center of Juan Guaidó’s plans to challenge the Maduro government’s hold on power in the country.

    • Trump Is Making a Mockery of ‘Humanitarian Aid’ in Venezuela

      As U.S. planes carrying unspecified “aid” for Venezuela land in Colombia, it is timely to examine the Trump administration’s approach to economic sanctions and humanitarian aid in general, two of the principal tools it employs to achieve the United States’ foreign policy goals.

      The Trump approach is quite consistent with previous administrations, starting with a clear separation of words and deeds. Trump told Saudi Arabia in 2017 that the United States would not “seek to impose our way of life on others,” despite largely continuing the interventionist policies of his predecessors. Trump’s cozy relationship with strongman Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are examples that indicate a willingness to ignore human rights violations in order to cultivate closer bilateral relations with U.S. allies.

      This discrepancy—turning a blind eye to human rights violations by allies while criticizing the alleged human rights crimes of their political foes—is also consistent with previous U.S. presidents, from Reagan to Obama.

    • US Media Erase Years of Chavismo’s Gains

      Under Chávez, poverty in Venezuela was cut by more than a third, and extreme poverty by 57 percent (CEPR, 3/7/13). (These declines were even steeper if measured from the depths of the opposition-led oil strike, designed to force Chávez out by wrecking the economy.)

      In June 2013, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) included Venezuela in a group of 18 nations that that had cut their number of hungry people by half in the preceding 20 years, 14 of which were governed by Chavismo: The FAO said that Venezuela reduced the number of people suffering from malnutrition from 13.5 percent of the population in 1990–92 to less than 5 percent of the population in 2010–12; the FAO credited government-run supermarket networks and nutrition programs created by Chávez.

      Three months later, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said that it “welcomes the social development measures, programs and plans that include indigenous peoples and people of African descent, which have helped to combat structural racial discrimination” in the country.

    • Should the U.S. Government Abide by the International Law It Has Created and Claims to Uphold?

      The Trump administration’s campaign to topple the government of Venezuela raises the issue of whether the U.S. government is willing to adhere to the same rules of behavior it expects other nations to follow.

      During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, U.S. foreign policy was characterized by repeated acts of U.S. military intervention in Latin American nations. But it began to shift in the late 1920s, as what became known as the Good Neighbor Policy was formulated. Starting in 1933, the U.S. government, responding to Latin American nations’ complaints about U.S. meddling in their internal affairs, used the occasion of Pan-American conferences to proclaim a nonintervention policy. This policy was reiterated by the Organization of American States (OAS), founded in 1948 and headquartered in Washington, DC.

      Article 19 of the OAS Charter states clearly: “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” To be sure, the Charter, in Article 2(b), declares that one of the essential purposes of the OAS is “to promote and consolidate representative democracy.” But this section continues, in the same sentence, to note that such activity should be conducted “with due respect for the principle of nonintervention.” The U.S. government, of course, is an active member of the OAS and voted to approve the Charter. It is also legally bound by the Charter, which is part of international law.

    • US ‘Hypocrisy’ Decried as Report Shows Same Trump Team Attacking Iran Deal Pushed to Give Saudis Nuclear Secrets

      Iran’s foreign minister denounced on Wednesday what he framed as “U.S. hypocrisy” following a report from House Democrats accusing the Trump administration of pushing to build—while skirting federal law, ethics concerns, and Congressional review—dozens of nuclear reactors across Saudi Arabia.

      Javad Zarif, a key figure in achieving the historic nuclear deal, wrote in a tweet that the alleged push to sell the kingdom nuclear technology, as well as the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, made it increasingly clear that “neither human rights nor a nuclear program have been the real concern of the U.S.”

    • Warning of US Military Intervention in Venezuela, Cuban Foreign Minister Denounces ‘Failed Imperialist Coup’

      Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez on Tuesday reiterated his government’s previous warnings that the Trump administration’s push to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela is just a cover to advance ongoing U.S.-backed efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

      Cuba has been a key ally of the Venezuelan government for the past two decades and has stood by Maduro in recent weeks as President Donald Trump and others have thrown their support behind Juan Guaidó—the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly who claims Maduro’s latest election was a sham and has declared himself “interim president.”

      At a press conference in Havana, Rodríguez denounced Venezuela’s current political crisis as “a failed imperialist coup… fabricated in Washington,” according to Reuters. He also denied claims by the Trump administration that his country has troops on the ground in Venezuela or is controlling its military, “adding all of the some 20,000 Cubans in Venezuela were civilians, most health professionals.”

    • With Trump Beating War Drums, Coalition Calls on Congress to Oppose Sanctions, Back Diplomacy With Iran

      Amid rampant warnings that “the drums of war are beating” since President Donald Trump ditched the Iran nuclear deal last year, more than 50 pro-democracy groups representing millions of Americans are calling on members of Congress to rein in the Trump administration’s hawkish policy toward Iran—which has included crippling economic sanctions—and instead push for diplomacy.

      “The Iran deal blocked Iran’s paths to a nuclear bomb. It’s good for U.S. security and for our allies,” charged CREDO Action, one of the groups backing the call. Iran maintains that it does not plan to pursue a nuclear weapons program and, according to the U.N. watchdog, has remained complaint with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the official name of the agreement negotiated and signed by the Obama administration—while working with European leaders to salvage the deal.

    • The ‘Viscerally Terrifying’ Lockdown a Mom Experienced in a Classroom of 4-Year-Olds: ‘I’d Never Witnessed the Real Thing. And, Oh God, This Was the Real Thing.’

      Just minutes before a lockdown had been announced at the elementary school where I’d been working with a teacher. The two of us had flown to the classroom after hearing the announcement, herding the preschoolers into the bathroom.

      Students from the neighboring classroom had filed wide-eyed into the next bathroom over. They seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation more than the 4-year-olds I was with, but then, they were older and more familiar with this; they were 6 years old, after all, and had more experience with these things.

      Years before I’d done lockdown drills with my own students, but I’d never witnessed the real thing. And, oh God, this was the real thing.

      The teacher began softly reading a picture book to try to keep the kids occupied. I tried to text my husband and family, feeling overdramatic at first and then reasoning I would rather come off as overdramatic than, well, it was just better to text them.

      And there we all were, the preschoolers, their teachers and me, listening to the story and listening for gunshots. I certainly was, and I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. What was happening out there? What was taking so long? Surely this was a false alarm.

      But I knew the statistics. And I knew why these kids knew exactly what to do the second the word “lockdown” was spoken — because in so many other places on so many other days it was completely real. And it could be real here, too, now, on the other side of these few inches of wood I was leaning against, the only thing separating us from whatever was going on outside.

    • IHCHR: 11,800 Civilians Killed In US-Led Air Strikes in Syria, Iraq

      IHCHR spokesman Dr. Ali A. Al-Bayati said on Saturday that “about 11,800 civilians, including 2,300 children and 1,130 women, were killed in addition to 8,000 wounded by the bombing of the coalition in Iraq and Syria.”

      There have been more than 30,000 U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria since former president Barack Obama launched Operation Inherent Resolve, the anti-Islamic State (IS) campaign, in June 2014. The vast majority of these bombings have been carried out by US warplanes. Britain, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Turkey have also conducted thousands of air strikes. So has Russia, which is fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

      While Al-Bayati said IHCHR “appreciates the efforts” of the U.S.-led coalition “in helping Iraq in its fight against terrorism,” he lamented that the 11,800 deaths he reported “are much more than the official numbers published by the international coalition.” The US military estimated in December that “at least 1,139 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Australian youth defend WikiLeaks and support demonstrations to free Julian Assange

      Australian students and youth have voiced support for rallies next month demanding that the government take immediate action to secure the return of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to Australia, with a guarantee against extradition to the US.
      Students at university orientation week events have expressed their appreciation for WikiLeaks’s role in educating them about the criminality of US-led wars in the Middle East, and alerting them to mass intelligence agency surveillance and daily diplomatic intrigues. Many have noted WikiLeaks’ contribution to the politicisation of their generation.

    • California Sheriff’s Dept. Tells Journalists It Will Cost $350,000 To Process 48 Use Of Force Cases

      It doesn’t seem likely the state’s courts are going to side with law enforcement agencies and their desire to whitewash their pasts. The legal battles will continue until every avenue of appeal has been exhausted, but until there’s a definitive, unified ruling on the issue, agencies will continue to play keepaway with public records.

      With their dirty pasts in jeopardy of being exposed, law enforcement agencies are turning to another favorite dirty trick: pricing records requesters out of the market.

      Sara Libby of the Voice of San Diego says the San Diego Sheriff’s Department wants $246,759.32 to process past use of force records. Comparatively, it’s a bargain. There’s a $100,000 markup on the request filed by KPBS, which is seeking the same records from the agency.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Kicking Ass for Her Generation’: Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges $1 Trillion to Curb Climate Threat

      Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.

      In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.

      “Every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards action to mitigate climate change,” Juncker said. The plan will amount to about €1 trillion (or $1.13 trillion) spent over seven years, according to Reuters.

      Juncker’s comments came at the Civil Society for rEUnaissance event in Brussels, where Thunberg doubled down on her consistent message that politicians must take serious strides to stop the climate crisis and protect the Earth for future generations—and that the EU must double its target of cutting greenhouse gases by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

    • Trump Admin Hands Win to Kochs, Stops Clean Car Negotiations With California

      The Trump administration just took a big step closer to handing the Koch network one of it biggest wins yet under this presidency. Bloomberg has reported that there will be no deal between the Trump administration and California on fuel efficiency and emissions standards for cars and light vehicles.

      This move sets the stage for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to attempt to revoke California’s special waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its owns standards that are more stringent than federal standards.

    • Who Is Refusing to Back the Green New Deal? Follow the Fossil Fuel Money

      With advocates in the midst of a nationwide blitz to pressure lawmakers to commit fully to the vision of a Green New Deal, a new analysis shows that if you want to see where members of the U.S. Senate stand on the issue the best place to start might just be their campaign finance records.

    • It’s Possible to Face Climate Horrors and Still Find Hope

      For decades, the climate movement has suffered from a debilitating self-inflicted wound: the assumption that “we can’t tell the public the truth” about the urgency of the crisis, or the scale and speed of the necessary solution. Many climate scientists joined forces with professional “climate communicators” and corporate philanthropies to decree: Fear doesn’t work as a motivator! Only hope “works,” so let’s keep things positive and promote gradualist policies like carbon pricing! This counterproductive mentality is finally changing — and author David Wallace-Wells is a major part of the reason why.

      In July 2017, David Wallace-Wells broke through the iron curtain of euphemism, optimism and gradualism, pulled no punches and told the truth with the publication of his article “The Uninhabitable Earth” in New York Magazine. Wallace-Wells explored some of the worst-case scenarios of climate change in detail, making the potential nightmare of civilizational collapse and total destruction of our life-support system vivid and real for readers. No false optimism, only rigorous journalistic inquiry and true horror. Its publication caused an uproar amongst “climate communicators” — “You aren’t supposed to tell the whole truth,” they exclaimed — “it turns people off!” And yet people were not turned off. “The Uninhabitable Earth” became the most-read New York Magazine article in history, and was a key inflection point for the climate movement.

      In his brand new book released this week, The Uninhabitable Earth; Life After Warming, Wallace-Wells has a chance to again transform, and critically, expand this conversation.

      In his book, unlike his article, Wallace-Wells looks at the most likely outcomes. For example, Wallace-Wells describes how even the best-case scenarios for climate change will involve millions of deaths, and tens or hundreds of millions of refugees. We are looking at a “best-case outcome … death and suffering at the scale of twenty-five Holocausts.” The book is grim but gripping; an encyclopedic but also narratively compelling exploration of the many ways that climate change will displace, flood, kill, starve, dehydrate and impoverish billions, while enabling the rise of “Climate Leviathan” authoritarian governments.

    • Physicist William Happer, the ‘Unmoored’ Climate Science Denier Heading a White House Climate Probe

      In 2016, retired Princeton physicist Professor Will Happer accepted an invitation from conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin to give a keynote at his conference to talk about the “positive effects of CO2.”

      Griffin thinks the science behind global warming is a scam. He also thinks there is “no such thing” as the HIV virus and that some plane contrails are part of a political plot to spray the population with poisons.

      In an interview at the conference, Happer repeated his well-oiled mantra that “CO2 will be good for the Earth” and how it was “pretty clear we are not going to see dangerous climate change.”

      Under normal circumstances, you might think that Happer’s association with a notorious anti-science conspiracy theorist might not look good on your résumè for a government science committee. However, these are not normal times.

    • As Cleanup Dispute Looms, Peabody-Linked Group Pushes Navajo Nation to Buy West’s Largest Coal Plant

      In September 2018, two prospective buyers announced they were dropping out of negotiations to purchase the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), the American West’s largest coal-fired power plant.

      Avenue Capital Group and Middle River Power had sought to keep the aging coal plant in business, but “said they could not get anyone to commit to buying power from the plant, delaying the start of an environmental review,” the Associated Press reported. The plant, located in northern Arizona near the Utah border, is currently scheduled to shut down in December, after its current owners concluded in 2017 that its power was too costly to be competitive.

      The two firms had progressed further in talks with the coal power plant’s owners than any of the 15 others identified as potential buyers by a consulting firm hired by Peabody Energy, which for decades has mined the coal burned at the plant.

      A think tank that’s been backed by Peabody Energy is pushing the sale of the ailing plant and coal mine – and is now finding an audience in the Navajo Nation with the help of a Heritage Institute policy advisor.

    • Climate Change Claims Its First Mammal Extinction

      It’s official: Climate change has claimed its first mammal extinction.

      This week the Australian government declared the extinction of a tiny rodent called Bramble Cay melomys (also known as the Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat, Melomys rubicola). The quiet announcement was buried in a press release about enacting stronger protections for other endangered species. It comes three years after a more detailed declaration by the state government of Queensland, which itself followed an exhaustive search of the cay seeking any evidence of the species’ existence.

      The Bramble Cay melomys lived in just a single habitat, a small reef island at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, near Papua New Guinea. The sandy cay — which only measures about 1,100 feet by 500 feet and rises just three feet above sea level — has in recent years been buffeted by storm surges from extreme weather events. The heavy waters have reportedly wiped out about 97 percent of the land mass’s vegetation — the melomys’s only source of food.

    • Southward shift faces US climate by 2100

      If the world continues to burn ever-increasing levels of fossil fuels, then life will change predictably for millions of American city dwellers as the US climate heats up. They will find conditions that will make it seem as if they have shifted south by as much as 850 kilometres.

      New Yorkers will find themselves experiencing temperature and rainfall conditions appropriate to a small town in Arkansas. People from Los Angeles will discover what it is like to live, right now, on the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula, Mexico. People in Abilene, Texas will find that it is as if they had crossed their own frontier, deep into Salinas, Mexico.

      The lawmakers in Washington will have consigned themselves to conditions appropriate to Greenwood, Mississippi. Columbus, Ohio, will enjoy the climate of Jonesboro, Arkansas. Folk of Anchorage, Alaska, will find out what it feels like to live on Vancouver Sound. People of Vancouver, meanwhile, will feel as if they had crossed the border into Seattle, Washington.

      This exercise in precision forecasting, published in the journal Nature Communications, has been tested in computer simulations for approximately 250 million US and Canadian citizens in 540 cities.

    • Answering the Attacks on the Green New Deal

      It’s become a common trope of the Trump era for columnists and commentators to attack the lunacy of the far right at the same time as castigating the “loony left.”

      These pundits, who usually place themselves in a comfortable “moderate” position, adopt a tone of consummate reasonableness. The president is certainly an idiot, they say, but it would be a mistake to respond with comparable insanity from the other side of the political spectrum.

      Much of this pox-on-both-houses commentary focuses its criticism on individuals: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (for being naïve), Rep. Ilhan Omar (for being anti-Semitic), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (for being fast and loose with the facts of her own background), Sen. Bernie Sanders (for being, well, Bernie).

      These ad hominem attacks are irritating, but the false even-handedness has been especially disturbing at the level of policy. For instance, the so-called moderates let loose a volley against Trump’s power move to declare a national emergency in order to build his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Then they turn around and blast the progressive vision of a Green New Deal (GND). On the very same opinions page of The Washington Post last week, Max Boot called the GND the “left-wing version of Trump’s farcical promise that he would build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it,” while George Will opined that “President Trump has his wall, the left has its GND.”

      Really? Really?!

    • Resisting Trump Is Not Enough: 20,000 Activists Ask Democratic Candidates Where They Stand on Bold Agenda

      The Green New Deal has been swept onto the national debate by the dynamic grass-roots Sunrise Movement and by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and colleagues in Congress. With new urgency, sponsors call for massive public investment to retool our economy to stop global warming and create the next generation of good jobs.

      Perhaps because of the huge public support for these big ideas, Donald Trump has tried to tar them with the old Cold War scare word: Socialism. This is likely to backfire – just as the Southern racists’ attacks on civil rights workers as “Communist agitators” just helped spread the movement. SNCC organizers were greeted at Mississippi doorsteps with “We are so glad you Communists have come to help us vote.”

      Some cautious Democrats have greeted these big ideas with a warning about the dangers of going too far. “Stick to attacking Trump and his policies,” they lecture, “that’s what helped us win in the Congressional campaigns 2018.”

      But over 90 well-known veterans of the successful 2018 campaign have signed a bold new Pledge to Fight for Good Jobs, Sustainable Prosperity and Economic Justice. And these initiators (including myself) have now been joined by 20,000 (and growing) grass-roots activists. Our message is “Yes, fight Trump – but Americans also want to hear big solutions to the large economic problem our country faces.”

    • This Historical Moment Demands Transformation of Our Institutions. The Green New Deal Won’t Do That

      The Green New Deal now taking shape in Washington will aim to address climate change through economic policies. While many of the potential policies being discussed, including a more steeply progressive income tax, would in themselves be positive developments, none of them would reduce greenhouse emissions as deeply as is required. To understand why, we should first look back at the economic foundations of the Depression-era New Deal, which is serving as inspiration for the Green New Deal (GND).

      The original New Deal attempted to solve what were the particular manifestations of capitalism’s contradictions that surfaced in the 1930s. In simplistic terms, overproduction, a common problem of industrial capitalism, resulted in massive unemployment and a multiplying effect that eventually created 25% unemployment by 1933. The New Deal firmly established the role of government in stabilizing an otherwise unstable system. It also institutionalized a much needed social welfare foundation to underpin a system which could not be relied on to consistently provide people with income.

      The New Deal was given theoretical support by the Keynesian revolution, which provided a different perspective on the role of government in managing the problems of an advanced capitalist economy. Despite the rise of neoliberalism, the institutional fabric that we function with today is still of that New Deal/Keynesian ilk.

    • Is Drilling and Fracking Waste on Your Sidewalk or in Your Pool?

      They’ve spread it on roads. They’ve irrigated almond farms and fruit groves with it. The oil and gas industry’s liquid waste has been used for a variety of commercial and industrial purposes over the years. But never has the “beneficial use” of this waste stream been so grossly applied, or so close to home, as it is today.

      Meet Eureka Resources and Nature’s Own Source. Both of these companies have attracted attention by processing liquid waste from oil and gas operations and creating commercial products for use in pools and on roads, sidewalks, patios, stairs or anywhere else a consumer may put it.

    • Climate Denier to Head New Trump Panel Despite Once Comparing Climate Scientists to Nazis

      The White House is reportedly organizing a new committee to examine whether climate change poses a threat to national security, to be led by notorious climate change denier, Princeton University professor emeritus William Happer. Observers say his involvement in the “Presidential Committee on Climate Security” indicates the Trump administration wants to undermine findings within the national security community that climate change poses a severe threat to human safety. William Happer is a National Security Council senior director who has long claimed increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will actually benefit humans. He has compared the fight against climate change to the Holocaust, saying, “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” We speak with journalist David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor and climate columnist for New York magazine. His new book is titled “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.”

    • E-Scooters Are Giving Cities Headaches—and Worse

      Electric scooters, while a delight to some, are disrupting cities in tech-centric California, as a battle rages over where they belong.

      The rollout of the e-scooters—and the problems they have generated—caught city officials by surprise. Those who consider them intrusive complain that riders aren’t being mindful of the problems they cause by stepping into arenas where there are no existing regulations under the umbrella of “innovation” and by thumbing their noses at attempts to rein them in.

      The rent-by-the-minute scooters, emblazoned with user-friendly brand names like Bird and Scoot, can reach speeds up to 15 mph. A prospective rider simply takes any free-standing scooter and uses an app to unlock it. Unlike rental bikes or car services, scooters don’t require a docking or designated parking station.

  • Finance

    • Russian anti-corruption leader says a murderous family is plundering Karachay-Cherkessia

      A handful of powerful families control virtually all the resources allocated to Russia’s Karachay-Cherkess Republic, according to a report from Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). The organization’s new research focuses on the Kaitov family, who Navalny says wield the same level of influence as the Arashukovs. (In late January, Senator Rauf Arashukov was arrested for his alleged role in two homicides. His father and nephew — top executives at Gazprom Mezhregiongaz — were later charged with large-scale fraud.)

    • So How’s Your Tax Refund? Thanks to GOP Tax Scam, Big Banks Made Extra $28 Billion Last Year

      As was said by critics of the new tax law at the time, the rich and corporations were given an “early Christmas gift” when the bill was signed, but according to new figures from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) it is a gift that continues to give to the nation’s banking industry.

      Citing the FDIC’s latest quarterly profile of the 5,406 banks it insures, The Hill reports that yearly profits for those institutions—which made nearly $237 in profit overall—”increased increased $72. 4 billion from 2017, and the rise includes $28.8 billion more than banks would have kept under the previous tax regime. Bank profits in the fourth quarter of 2018 rose to $59 billion, an $8.1 billion increase from the same period in 2017.”

      As one Twitter user, Bobby Reyes, put it: “So, let me get this straight… We can’t give ppl healthcare, affordable housing, rent stabilization but we can afford to give banks this?”

      Banks reaping the rewards of the Republican tax plan while working class Americans continue to face the uncertainty of their 2018 tax liabilities and struggle to make ends meet, struck Warren Gunnels, staff director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as a stark contrast.

    • Meet Tatyana Bakalchuk, half of Russia’s woman-billionaire population

      Tatyana and Vyacheslav Bakalchuk got into online trading to earn money for their infant son. Within three years, they were industry leaders.

      In the spring of 2004, school teacher Tatyana Bakalchuk and her husband Vyacheslav, a radiophysicist, realized they weren’t earning enough money to provide for their infant son. So they decided to launch an online clothing store. In the beginning, they ordered and resold Otto and Quelle catalog products from the German retailer Otto Group. A few years prior, the German company had tried and failed to enter the Russian market, finding that the country simply lacked an online purchasing culture. Russia’s postal service also lagged far behind Western systems.

      Fond of brightly colored clothes, Tatyana Bakalchuk named her business “Wildberries.” She was the company’s first customer, and she used public transit to bring the shipment home to her apartment, which simultaneously became her warehouse. Later in the year, the couple started getting help from Sergey Anufriev, a friend from Vyacheslav’s gym. The three continue to manage Wildberries to this day, but 100 percent of the company belongs to Tatyana Bakalchuk.

    • The VA Is Paying for a Top Official’s Cross-Country Commute

      The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official’s biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica.

      The official, Darin Selnick, is a senior adviser to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and has played a key role in developing the administration’s controversial new rules on referring veterans to private doctors. The proposal, announced last month, has drawn opposition from some lawmakers and veterans groups.

      Selnick lived in Washington during a previous stint in the Trump administration, from January 2017 until March or April 2018, earning a $165,000 salary. He rejoined the VA in late October 2018 and started flying to Washington from California for two weeks out of every month, at taxpayer expense.

    • The Fed Is Finally Seeing the Light on Quantitative Easing

      “Quantitative easing” was supposed to be an emergency measure, but the Federal Reserve is now taking a surprising new approach toward the policy. The Fed “eased” shrinkage in the money supply due to the 2008-09 credit crisis by pumping out trillions of dollars in new bank reserves. After the crisis, the presumption was the Fed would “normalize” conditions by sopping up the excess reserves through “quantitative tightening” (QT)—raising interest rates and selling the securities it had bought with new reserves back into the market.

      The Fed relentlessly pushed on with quantitative tightening through 2018, despite a severe market correction in the fall. In December, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said QT would be on “autopilot,” meaning the Fed would continue to raise interest rates and sell $50 billion monthly in securities until it hit its target. But the market protested loudly to this move, with the Nasdaq composite index dropping 22 percent from its late-summer high.

      Worse, defaults on consumer loans were rising. December 2018 was the first time in two years that all loan types and all major metropolitan statistical areas showed a higher default rate month over month. Consumer debt—including auto, student and credit card debt—is typically bundled and sold as asset-backed securities similar to the risky mortgage-backed securities that brought down the market in 2008 after the Fed had progressively raised interest rates.

    • Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency—Unchecked Capitalism Is

      Midland, Michigan, where my husband and I are raising our two young children, is a small town surrounded by rural communities. Many of us living here have seen, generation-by-generation, that we’re falling behind.
      Our anxiety is real, but we wholeheartedly reject attempts by those in power to blame immigrant families who have their own struggles, or to suggest that a made up “national emergency” is any kind of solution. We know better.
      One of my friends and her husband both work full time and each have separate health insurance through their jobs — but their three children aren’t insured. Their income is too high for the kids to qualify for the MIChild insurance the state offers children of working families. But their income isn’t high enough to allow them buy coverage independently.
      Their third child was born just a few months ago. She doesn’t have paid maternity leave, so even though she should’ve recovered at least six weeks after a necessary C-section, she went back to work after three weeks.
      “We shouldn’t have to just get by each month,” she said to me. “We should be able to get ahead like our parents did. But we can’t, and now we are just kinda living here — where one unplanned $20 expense means you can’t buy groceries, and you’ve lost hope of ever paying your bills.”
      Her family is falling through the cracks. Like so many Michigan small town and rural families, they’re working hard, doing all the right things, and just barely getting by. Forty percent of our households in Michigan struggle to afford the basic necessities, like housing, food, and health care.

    • The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Fair Taxation Scaremongering Tour

      Billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, appearing recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, said a number of things that made Colbert’s liberal audience squeal with delight.

      When told that the very existence of billionaires was a signal that capitalism doesn’t work for the many, and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had mused that America could do without billionaires, the Gates laughed politely and talked vaguely and approvingly of raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy. To those who are given much, much is expected, Melinda Gates said.

      Then, after those platitudes were exhausted and the TV audience had slipped into a warm coma of semi-consciousness, the Gates’ let show their true colors and uttered a good old-fashioned Trumpism.

      Melinda Gates started by criticizing European countries that have higher tax rates than the U.S., and claimed such rates stifle innovation. “In fact there have been many times when you’re in France and they’ll say, ‘Gosh, we wish we could have a Bill Gates, we wish we could have such a vibrant tech sector,’” Gates said. “But the taxes have been done there in such a way that it doesn’t actually stimulate good growth. So we believe in a good tax system that should tax the wealthy more than low-income people for sure.”

    • American investment manager Michael Calvey is being jailed in Moscow on fraud charges. One of his cellmates is charged with attempted murder.

      Human rights officials have identified procedural violations in the pretrial detention of Michael Calvey, the American investment manager arrested last week on controversial fraud charges. According to Ivan Melnikov, the executive secretary of Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission, Calvey is being held in an eight-bunk cell that also includes a man who allegedly tried to murder a judge, despite the fact that Russian penitentiary regulations require the separate housing of potentially violent offenders and economic crimes suspects. Philippe Delpal, another Baring Vostok partner and foreign citizen arrested in the same case, is being held in a four-bunk jail cell.

    • New York, New York: a Resounding Victory for New York Over Amazon

      When Amazon announced in September 2017 that it was accepting bids from cities across North America for a place to build another headquarters after Seattle, a bidding war ensued. Many major cities in the U.S. and Canada jumped in with offers. Two hundred proposals were whittled down to 20 finalists.

      And for good reason. “We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”

      When the winning bid was announced in November, New York was chosen, obviously. Where else could Amazon go? “King of the hill, Top of the heap…top of the list…A number one…” And what a deal. Amazon promised to build a $2.5 billion campus in Long Island City, Queens, employ at least 25,000 people and generate $27 billion in tax money for the City and State over the next 25 years.New York offered considerable incentives to the tune of up to $1.7 billion in grants and tax breaks provided by the State and $1.3 billion by the City.

      A perfect marriage between the world’s most valued listed company (estimated at $1 trillion), the world’s richest man (estimated worth $136 billion) and the Big Apple (“We’re number one, baby”).

      But just as Bezos is in divorce proceedings with his wife, Amazon and New York are splitting up. Last week, Amazon pulled out of the deal. “New York is in a unique position to stand up and draw a line, because Amazon is not bigger than New York,” said Michael Gianaris, the Democrat state senator from Long Island City and a leader of the opposition. “We have the ability to set the tone for the nation.”

    • Oakland Teachers Strike, Joining #RedforEd Movement on Picket Lines

      Today, teachers in Oakland, California, are joining their #RedforEd counterparts in Los Angeles and across the nation in striking for better working conditions and fully funded schools. The city’s schools remain open as substitutes teach more than 36,000 students across 87 Oakland Unified School District schools.

      The strike comes on the heels of West Virginia teachers’ second strike since they walked out of their classrooms a year ago this month. Teachers there demanded that lawmakers immediately kill an education bill the West Virginia Education Association and other unions oppose. Despite the Republican-led House moving to table the bill Tuesday, teachers remained on the picket lines Wednesday, holding out against any chance there could be further developments with the legislation.

      In Oakland, the city’s teachers’ union has been unable to reach an agreement with Oakland Unified after more than two years of negotiations. The Oakland Education Association’s 3,000 members have been without a contract since July 2017, and overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization vote earlier this month.

      Today’s strike is Oakland teachers’ first since 2010, and comes after hundreds of the city’s teachers called out sick in January in a wildcat “sickout” action to rally and march for school funding.

      LA teachers’ successful six-day strike has reverberated loudly in the Bay Area, where educators face many of the same issues, including ballooning class sizes and meager support staff. The union is asking the district for more support staff, smaller classes and a 12 percent raise over three years for educators living in one of the most expensive areas in the country.

      Oakland educators are the lowest paid in the Bay Area, where rents have risen 40 to 50 percent since 2012. The skyrocketing costs of housing has caused more than 18 percent of teachers to leave the district each year, according to a fact-finding report released Friday.

      Also, as in LA, the district has faced years of billionaire-backed schemes seeking to eliminate traditional public schools and replace them with charters, which often operate with public funds but are privately run as either for-profits or nonprofits, and are subject to fewer rules, regulations and statutes than traditional public schools.

    • Oakland Teachers to Start Strike Thursday

      Teachers in Oakland, California, plan to raise picket signs Thursday in the country’s latest strike by educators over classroom conditions and pay.

      The city’s 3,000 teachers are demanding a 12 percent retroactive raise covering 2017 to 2020 to compensate for what they say are among the lowest salaries for public school teachers in the exorbitantly expensive San Francisco Bay Area.

    • Why Oakland Teachers Are Going to Strike

      Oakland teachers make their way into Taylor Memorial Methodist Church in Oakland on Monday to discuss the possibility of a strike Thursday, Feb. 21. The vote was to strike. (

    • Latest to Join Nationwide Uprising, Oakland Teachers Strike to Defend Public Education

      Nearly 3,000 teachers and other school staffers in Oakland, California are joining the nationwide wave of #RedForEd strikes on Thursday, demanding greater investment in the district’s public schools, students, and teachers—instead of a continuation of the recent unregulated growth of charter schools in the area.

      As Oakland Education Association (OEA) president Keith Brown explained in the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, the union is demanding an end to school closures in favor of pouring money into charter schools, enough school nurses and counselors to adequately serve the district’s 86 schools, raises for teachers, and smaller class sizes.

      “Oakland can’t afford any more years of neglected, underfunded schools. If we stand idly by while the leadership of the Oakland Unified School District closes 24 out of 86 public schools, then students and families will pay the price for generations,” Brown wrote.

      On picket lines in front of schools throughout the district, teachers carried signs reading, “Fund Our Future” and chanting, “On strike, shut it down, Oakland is a union town!”

    • Arts Organizing Lifts Oakland Teachers Strike

      Surrounded by a hundred teachers and supporters painting banners, screen printing fabric picket flags, and learning strike songs, Oakland teachers union president Keith Brown held a press conference announced that Oakland teachers would hold a strike vote. Every square inch of the union hall offices and parking garage was filled with people making art and singing strike songs. This is one key part of how Oakland teachers built momentum and got ready to strike. The victorious Los Angeles teachers strike last month held a similar pre-strike arts mobilization. Teacher and union arts organizer Joe Brusky says, “the art created for L.A. played a major role in winning a victory.”

      For the last two months a massive #strike-ready art-making collaboration between the Oakland Education Association, local artists and a team of arts organizers has been building momentum, participation and created thousands of pieces of hand made art that has been used in public actions leading up to the strike and will be seen on the picket lines.

      San Francisco Bay Area socially engaged artists Favianna Rodriguez, Micah Bazant, Miriam Stahl, Eric Norbert, Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Baraza, Kim Cosier, Emory Douglas, Claudio Martinez, Jeanette Arellano and Paul Kjelland all contributed designs to support the teachers, and teachers and students also contributed designs.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Hits Back After Right-Wingers Drop Big Cash on ‘Wack’ Times Square Billboard Blaming Her for Amazon Taking Its Ball and Going Home

      After a right-wing lobby group unveiled a billboard in New York City’s Time Square on Wednesday blaming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alone for the decision by retail and technology giant Amazon to “take its ball and go home” by pulling the plug on its planned HQ2 project in nearby Long Island City, it was pretty clear what was going to happen next.

      As political pundits who oppose the common good like Laura Ingraham began championing the billboard, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t demure.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Conversation With EU Parliament Member Marietje Schaake About Digital Platforms And Regulation, Part II
    • Howard’s End

      America is the only place in the world where any citizen over the age of 35 can run for president. No experience in government necessary. No support from a political party necessary. You don’t even have to have any ideas or policy proposals.

      Take Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks whose most notable achievement to date has been the Mocha Frappucinno.

      Last Tuesday, CNN made Schultz a Serious Presidential Candidate by giving him an hour-long “town hall” in which he fielded questions from an audience.

      Why did CNN do this? Because Schultz is worth over $3.6 billion.

      In today’s America, someone with this much money can buy so much advertising and self-promotion that he automatically becomes a SPC just by virtue of wanting the job and having the capacity to self-finance a campaign.

    • What Happened to the Struggle for Socialism in Latin America?

      Throughout the 1990s, a newly confident neoliberalism imposed its domination across Latin America. The anodyne phrase “structural adjustment” concealed a devastating process of globalization that had begun as the Berlin Wall fell. Under the rules now imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the global market, all forms of state intervention in the economy were forbidden. This meant state subsidies — to farmers or transport, for example — welfare spending of any kind, and so on. These all fell under the definition “restraint of trade” that described anything that interfered with the pursuit of profit. The first sign of things to come was the “Caracazo” uprising of the poor districts across Venezuela in February 1989, which began with a hike in the price of public transport. The Zapatista uprising in Mexico in January 1994, which coincided with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was a reaction to the removal of subsidies to maize farmers to allow the giant U.S.-based monopolies free rein. For the farmers, it meant ruin.

      The weakened states at best stood by and did nothing as the living standards of the masses collapsed. At worst, they sent in their repressive forces to deal with the rising protests. In Venezuela, the Caracazo was put down, leaving a toll of 3,000 dead. The local states collaborated with global capital, acting as its agent; there were rich rewards, of course, for the loyalty of the minority who profited from these arrangements.

      The election of [Hugo] Chávez was an expression of the gathering discontent — though still in the formal framework of elections. In Cochabamba, Bolivia, however, the new militancy from below produced a direct confrontation over the privatization of the local water company. In Ecuador, the Indigenous movement that had created a national organization (CONAIE) in 1990 also mobilized against the new economic regime – in Ecuador’s case expressed in the “dollarization” of the economy. And in Argentina, the collapse of the economy produced in December 2001 an extraordinary movement under the slogan, “Que se vayan todos” – Let’s get rid of them all (“them” being the political class). Here, too, the movement embraced labor unions, militant movements of the unemployed, community organizations, occupied factories, students and others.

    • Israel, Venezuela and Nationalism In The Neoliberal Era

      What is a nation in the era of neoliberalism? Is community, under any umbrella, possible? Margaret Thatcher was perhaps more influential l in shaping the modern times than anyone outside of Ronald Reagan. Thatcher famously asserted that there was no such thing as society—there were only individuals. This logic is still being carried out, as evidenced by the United States’ response to situations in Israel and Venezuela.

      Ilhan Omar pointed out a simple and undeniable truth. The politicians in the United States supports Israel’s apartheid state because they are getting payed to do so by lobbying interests, such as AIPAC. This was soon seen as anti-Semitic because of stereotypes of Jewish people being rich and running the world in a secret way.

      Omar though actually created a possibility for a shift away from anti-Semitism. What she said actually created a way out for the Jewish people of Israel. To less educated people, particularly less educated Muslims, one could look at the state of Israel—which massacres people simply for being brown and Muslim—as a state that operates on the logic of Jewish supremacy. Omar paints a more complicated picture: Western money, with the interests of imperialism, capitalist exploitation and white Christian supremacy, also play a role.

      The United States establishment demonstrated its unwillingness to take anti-Semitism seriously when it sidestepped Omar’s critique of their own corrupt politicians. It instead, once again, chose to blame Israel’s apartheid state on Jewish people. Anyone with any knowledge of Israel’s human rights abuses will blame it on something. Either you choose to blame it on capitalism or on Jewish people. Unable to confront capitalism, the Jewish people become the scapegoat.

      Jewish people play the function of white women in our Christian white supremacist patriarchal society. Donald Trump justifies his turn to a whites-only state based on the assumption that he is protecting white women by splitting up brown families. His announcement speech for President came with the warning that immigrants are raping “our” women—with the implication that there is no such thing as white rape simply because white men own everything.

      Likewise, the elites in Israel are given the green light to slaughter brown Muslims as long as they claim it is in the interest of Judaism. Judaism can only be seen by our Christian nation as our wife. To a conservative Christian, Jewish people can be tolerated because they are also generally white Europeans. Just as women must to some degree be tolerated in these conservative societies because they grew up in the same neighborhood and know the same rules as the men. However, with Jewish people there is always a lacking, and they will never be accepted as full Christians. What they lack is the belief in Christ. Similarly, women will never be accepted by MAGA American men, even if they are given a roof over their heads. What they lack is not Christ, but a penis. The phallic image of the cross is significant in this parallel, but for the sake of all of us, let’s look no closer.

    • Despite Trump’s Tough Talk About Migrant Smugglers, He’s Undercut Efforts to Stop Them

      In his quest to build a border wall, President Donald Trump has warned of jobs stolen from American workers, suburbs terrorized by criminal aliens, and desperate migrant caravans headed north. Lately, though, he has found a favorite new target in the “ruthless coyotes” and “vicious cartels” that smuggle migrants into the United States. “Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is actually very cruel,” Trump said in his State of the Union speech. “Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.”

    • To Counter GOP’s Attack on Democracy, Indivisible Unveils 50-State Plan to Thwart Trump Agenda

      As the 2020 presidential election grabs headlines with Democrats lining up to challenge President Donald Trump, the grassroots organization Indivisible on Thursday unveiled its new plan to fight the Republican’s anti-democratic agenda in all 50 states over the next year and a half.

      The Indivisible Initiative will be aimed at thwarting Trump’s and the GOP’s efforts to roll back voting rights and other key elements of democracy in state houses across the country, as well as building on the successes of progressives in the 2018 midterm elections.

      “We’re rolling out new strategies and support to remake our democracy and circumvent Trump’s agenda, state by state—all 50 of them,” said the Indivisible Team, headed by former congressional staffers Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg, in a letter to supporters and in a video posted to Twitter.

    • Clinton Democrats Struggle To Move On From 2016 As Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Campaign

      Senator Bernie Sanders announced he was running for president in 2020, and on February 19, a switch was flipped. In 24 hours, nearly $6 million was raised through a grassroots machine which he largely built during the 2016 presidential election when he challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

      But for those who backed Clinton and believe Sanders bears some responsibility for her loss to President Donald Trump, they were quick to display their resentment. Some of them even dusted off opposition research they had lying around and deployed it.

      Philippe Reines, a political consultant and former Clinton adviser, appeared on MSNBC. He claimed Sanders had not reached out to any of the 17 million, who did not vote for him in 2016. This is false. Sanders visited several states in the south in April 2018, including South Carolina, to make inroads with black voters.

      He fueled the notion that Sanders has not done enough to convince his supporters that Clinton beat him fair and square, even though there is a lot of evidence that the Democratic Party rigged the primary to make it easier for Clinton to win.

      Reines said Sanders has “diminished the role of Russia’s interference,” which also is not true. He has said Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump. But what Reines means is that he has not generated panic over Russia like most Democrats, so that should count against him.

      “It seems like there’s an arrogance among Sanders supporters,” Reines added.

    • New Election Ordered in Disputed North Carolina House Race

      North Carolina’s elections board Thursday ordered a new election in the nation’s last undecided congressional race after the Republican candidate conceded his lead was tainted by evidence of ballot-tampering by political operatives working for him.

      The State Board of Elections voted 5-0 in favor of a do-over in the mostly rural 9th Congressional District but did not immediately set a date.

      In moving to order a new election, board chairman Bob Cordle cited “the corruption, the absolute mess with the absentee ballots.”

      The board action came after GOP candidate Mark Harris, in a surprising turn, dropped his bid to be declared the winner and instead called for a new election. He reversed course on the fourth day of a board hearing at which investigators and witnesses detailed evidence of ballot fraud by operatives on his payroll.

    • How Will the Courts Handle the Trump Emoluments Cases?

      Americans should know whether they’re voting for someone who is putting their own wallet ahead of the national interest.

    • It’s Hard to Sue a President. Can Trump Be Defeated in Court?

      Early in 2018, Democrats offered Donald Trump $25 billion for “border security” measures which included “the construction of physical barriers” in the text of the legislation. Trump turned it down flat after the Freedom Caucus and vivid fascist Stephen Miller got in his ear, and the government was shut down.

      After the 2018 midterm elections changed the math, Democrats offered $1.6 billion and no wall, a substantially poorer offer for Trump. He rejected that one as well and shut down the government again, this time for 35 days. When the threat of airplanes falling out of the sky became manifest, Trump finally accepted a deal for $1.3 billion — $300 million less than he would have gotten before the most recent shutdown and some $23.7 billion less than he would have gotten in January 2018 – before announcing his preposterous emergency declaration in a Rose Garden performance that is now the worldwide gold standard for publicly spewed nonsense.

      That, right there, is political weakness personified. The negotiation skills of this self-anointed master dealmaker would get laughed out of a high school Model U.N. conference. Between this profoundly unpopular emergency declaration fiasco and the gallons of blood in the water from the ongoing Mueller investigation, the president’s political standing is shrinking like a snowman in the Sahara.

    • Following the Foreign-Policy Money Trail in Washington

      The 2016 elections awakened Americans to a startling reality: the country’s political system is ripe for foreign interference. The Russians took full advantage of social media with bot armies and through unregistered foreign agents. While their influence garnered considerable attention and has led to increased enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), one area has remained largely off the congressional and media radar screens. Yet it remains a vital part of the way other governments try to influence policy in this country: the foreign funding of think tanks.

      Most Americans undoubtedly have little idea what a think tank actually does. Having worked at two of them myself, it’s fair to say that even those of us who have labored inside these basic building blocks for policymaking in Washington are often still trying to figure out just what many of them do. Still, whether you know it or not, you’ve certainly seen think-tank employees on cable news, heard them on the radio, or read their op-ed pieces.

      After all, think tanks are homes for so many of the “experts” who are the go-to sources for media coverage of foreign and domestic policy topics on just about any day — and are often key go-to sources for those making policy in Washington, too). You know, the former Department of Defense official you caught on NBC News discussing Iran or the Middle Eastern expert you saw quoted in Newsweek critiquing the Trump administration’s policies there. Outside the public eye, members of Congress and executive branch officials rely heavily on think tanks for expertise on a wide range of issues, for key congressional testimony, and even for quite literally helping craft public policy.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • A Supreme Court Milestone for Students’ Free Speech Rights

      In 1969, a group of public school students protesting the Vietnam War made First Amendment history that stands strong to this day.
      This month marks 50 years since the landmark Supreme Court ruling that cemented students’ rights to free speech in public schools, Tinker v. Des Moines. We’re inspired to see that students still take advantage of their First Amendment rights and speak out on political issues today.

      We grew up in Iowa, where our father was a Methodist minister. Believing that faith should be put into action, our parents involved all of us kids in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and later with the Quakers. We never could have imagined that this family tradition of civic engagement would make us central players in one of the most consequential Supreme Court cases about students and free speech ever brought by the ACLU.

      When we were teenagers in 1965, we started to see horrific news about the escalating war in Vietnam, thanks to the brave journalists reporting there. And we knew that young people in Des Moines were being to be sent to war, and some were coming home in coffins.

      A small group of students wanted to do something about it. We decided to wear black armbands to school to send a message of mourning for the dead in Vietnam on both sides and support for a Christmas truce. The school suspended five of us for wearing the armbands.

    • Catholic School Teen’s Lawyers File $250M Defamation Suit Against The Washington Post; Fail To List Any Actual Defamation

      Lawsuits were threatened after students from a Kentucky Catholic school were portrayed as engaging in racist behavior during an anti-abortion march at the nation’s capital. An edited video swiftly circulated the internet, showing student Nick Sandmann facing off with a Native American protester while wearing a seemingly-smug file on his face and a Make America Great Again hat on his head.

      More footage of the incident appeared later providing a bit more context, making the obvious racism seem less obvious. But the Twitter ship had sailed and there was little hope of turning it around. Lessons could have been learned from rushing to judgment, but Nick Sandmann and his family’s lawyers have decided this lessons should be taught via libel lawsuits. They’ve got an uphill battle as nearly everything said about Sandmann and the incident was protected opinion, but a lack of credible arguments has never prevented lawsuits from being filed.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Ups Surveillance Of Users To Keep Tabs On People Who Don’t Like Facebook

      Tech companies are becoming far more than useful repositories of third party records. They’re becoming far more active in terms of surveillance, pivoting from platform providers to private sector Big Brothers, weaponizing their data collection capabilities to keep tabs on customers and users.

      Facebook has decided to start scanning its platform for threats. Not threats against the many nations it serves or threats targeting other users, but rather threats against Facebook itself.

    • Google Fesses Up To Hidden Microphone In Nest Home Security Platform

      On its face, this is certainly a welcome upgrade. Especially given the fact that we live in an era where the opposite often occurs, and companies have a habit of removing basic product functionality post sale, leaving you with less of a product, or in a few select instances no product at all. As such, that the Nest keypad for a home alarm system actually was upgraded to do more than users original thought is a good thing, at least superficially.
      The problem: more privacy-conscious Nest owners weren’t aware that the Nest home security base stations had a microphone in the first place, raising questions about whether Google was using the microphone for data collection and monetization in some capacity. Given the fact that we can’t go more than twenty minutes before another major privacy scandal breaks, and the general regulatory and government response to most of these scandals has been a collective ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, the concerns are understandable.

    • China Uses DNA to Track Its People, With the Help of American Expertise

      The authorities called it a free health check. Tahir Imin had his doubts.

      They drew blood from the 38-year-old Muslim, scanned his face, recorded his voice and took his fingerprints. They didn’t bother to check his heart or kidneys, and they rebuffed his request to see the results.

      “They said, ‘You don’t have the right to ask about this,’” Mr. Imin said. “‘If you want to ask more,’ they said, ‘you can go to the police.’”

      Mr. Imin was one of millions of people caught up in a vast Chinese campaign of surveillance and oppression. To give it teeth, the Chinese authorities are collecting DNA — and they got unlikely corporate and academic help from the United States to do it.

      China wants to make the country’s Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, more subservient to the Communist Party. It has detained up to a million people in what China calls “re-education” camps, drawing condemnation from human rights groups and a threat of sanctions from the Trump administration.

    • Aadhaar Operator’s Biometrics Stolen & Misused, UIDAI Documents Prove

      If you go by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)’s record of each time Vikram Sheokhand pressed his thumb down on a biometric reader for an Aadhaar-enabled transaction, on November 12 2018 he was at a Ratnakar Bank branch, a Yes Bank branch, a State Bank of India branch in Haryana where he lives, and also at the Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation, headquartered in Arera Hills in Bhopal — each transaction separated by a few hours.

      Yet on that day Sheokhand insists, and eyewitnesses concur, he spent the day at Uchana village, in Jind district, where he worked seven hour shifts as an Aadhaar enrollment operator at the local State Bank of India office.

      But if Sheokhand was in Uchana, how were his fingerprints used in Aadhaar transactions in places separated by hundreds of kilometres?

      “I am not a ghost who can travel from Jind to Madhya Pradesh in less than a second and simultaneously work in SBI’s branch in Uchana,” Sheokhand told HuffPost India in an interview last week.

      Tech-support emails accessed by HuffPost India show the UIDAI has confirmed that Sheokhand’s credentials were used in multiple places in a single day, on at least one other day, November 8 2018. For this reason, on Nov 13 2018, the UIDAI barred Sheokhand from working as an enrolment operator for five years. Yet strangers continue to try to use his digital fingerprints in different banks across the country.

    • Another Aadhaar Breach: Aadhaar Operator’s Credentials Stolen And Misused

      It seems like India’s unique identity number Aadhaar has become habitual of occasional security lapses as another security breach case is raising more questions regarding the security of users’ data.

      According to a report by HuffPost India, an Aadhaar operator named Vikram Sheokhand has fallen prey to unauthorized access of his biometrics which has been misused several times. Vikram is an Aadhaar operator at State Bank of India (SBI) in Haryana.

    • Microsoft Edge lets Facebook run Flash code behind users’ backs

      Microsoft’s Edge browser contains a secret whitelist that lets Facebook run Adobe Flash code behind users’ backs.

      The whitelist allows Facebook Flash content to bypass Edge security features such as the click-to-play policy that normally prevents websites from running Flash code without user approval beforehand.

      Prior to February 2019, the secret Flash whitelist contained 58 entries, including domains and subdomains for Microsoft’s main site, the MSN portal, music streaming service Deezer, Yahoo, and Chinese social network QQ, just to name the biggest names on the list.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Thinks Facebook Is An “Innovator In Privacy”

      He did admit that Facebook’s status as an “innovator in privacy” is “certainly not the mainstream view” — which is quite frankly an understatement considering its history of scandals and data leak.

      “Thinking about Facebook as an innovator in privacy is certainly not the mainstream view,” said Zuckerberg in the taped conversation, which was released publicly on Wednesday.

      [...]

      On other occasions, the company chose to conduct data harvesting activities through its Onavo app which posed as a VPN. It even went to the extent of paying teenagers to install Onavo-like app to harvest their data.

      One of the biggest Facebook controversies to date, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, happened just because the social media giant allowed app makers to harvest millions of users’ data without their knowledge or consent.

    • What’s the Emergency? Keeping International Requests for Law Enforcement Access Secure and Safe for Internet Users

      Law enforcement access to data is in the middle of a profound shake-up across the globe. States are pushing to get quicker, deeper, and more invasive access to personal data stored on the global Internet, and are looking to water down the international safeguards around privacy and due process in the name of “speed” and “modernization.”

      One part of that push is concentrated on the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention (also known as the “Budapest Convention”) — an international instrument, ratified by the United States and over 60 countries around the world, that spells out the procedures, checks and balances when law enforcement from another nation needs to comply with when requesting digital data held in another jurisdiction.

      The Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY) is currently drafting an update in the form of a second additional protocol to the Convention. There’s lots that could go right, and plenty that could go wrong in the drafting of this new protocol. The slow and sometimes confusing mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT) process could be reformed to better match the speed of the Internet while still protecting civil liberties and due process. But it could be an opportunity for over-eager States to create new, unprotected methods for law enforcement to pull data from big tech companies, without oversight, notification or ways for affected users to challenge the process.

      The latest part of that process is a consultation on the rules governing fast-track emergency access to data in the context of mutual legal assistance. EFF, EDRI, and a number of global civil society organizations have responded. In our submission, we welcome the fact that the definition of emergency include both the words significant and imminent in order to limit the use of emergency powers to relevant situations and when the emergency is close in time. Safety means a threat that would result in serious bodily harm or injury of a natural person.

      We believe that Emergency MLAs provides a mechanism for countries to access the results of the request in foreign countries necessary to prevent a situation in which there is a significant and imminent risk to the life or safety of any natural person, but also provide an opportunity to create strong legal safeguards for this process.

    • I am up to no good.

      am a user of “the darknet”. I use Tor to secure my communications from curious eyes. At the latest since Edward Snowden’s leaks we know, that this might be a good idea. There are many other valid, legal use-cases for using Tor. Circumventing censorship is one of them.

      But German state secretary Günter Krings (49, CDU) believes something else. Certainly he “understand[s], that the darknet may have a use in autocratic systems, but in my opinion there is no legitimate use for it in a free, open democracy. Whoever uses the darknet is usually up to no good.”

      [...]

      Instead of trying to ban our democratic people from using tor, we should celebrate the fact that we are a democracy that can afford having citizens who can avoid surveillance and that have access to uncensored information.

    • Purism’s CEO Todd Weaver Testifies at California Congressional Privacy Commission

      My name is Todd Weaver, and I think you’ll find I’m an unusual witness here today, while I may be sitting side-by-side with impressive privacy protection groups, I am here as the CEO of a rapidly growing technology company based in California.

      I am here calling for much stronger consumer privacy protections – starting with giving consumers the power to opt IN rather than opt OUT of sharing their personal data.

      I am here to tell you it’s time for California’s extraordinary tech industry to stop harvesting and “sharing” our most personal private data without our meaningful consent and knowledge.

      I am not here to tell you AB 375 (or stronger) protections are tough to implement, history is filled with wrongdoers complaining that doing right will put them out of business only to comply and thrive later. Incidentally, this same tech industry complained about Europe’s GDPR that certainly did not put them out of business.

      I am here to tell you the new law (or stronger) is easy to technically comply with – if we companies simply begin to honor our customer’s privacy rights and design our services to be privacy-protecting rather than privacy-exploiting.

    • When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online

      Like most other modern kids, Cara grew up immersed in social media. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were all founded before she was born; Instagram has been around since she was a toddler. While many kids may not yet have accounts themselves, their parents, schools, sports teams, and organizations have been curating an online presence for them since birth. The shock of realizing that details about your life—or, in some cases, an entire narrative of it—have been shared online without your consent or knowledge has become a pivotal experience in the lives of many young teens and tweens.

    • Privacy vs “I have nothing to hide”

      Private text messages aside, who really cares about data privacy, right? If your photos, contacts, calendar, email, browsing history, search history, musical tastes, files, thousands of status updates, likes, shares and physical movements are all in the cloud, who really cares?

      Please read that last paragraph again and let it sink in – that is probably more data than your nearest and dearest have about you. Yet generally speaking, people don’t seem to be concerned that such volumes of data are out there and being used without our consent.

    • NATO study experimented with using social media to influence soldiers

      Researchers said they attempted to influence soldiers by creating fake accounts, befriending the troops on social platforms and creating fake pages and groups where they could advertise to them. They could not disclose their exact methods “due to operation security.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Time for Acosta to Resign’: Judge Rules Labor Secretary’s Plea Deal for Billionaire Sex Offender Broke Federal Law

      A U.S. District judge ruled Thursday that U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta committed a crime in 2007 when, as a U.S. prosecutor at the time, secretly gave a lenient plea deal to a politically-connected billionaire accused of sex trafficking underage girls.

      In a case brought by victims of billionaire and Trump associate Jeffrey Epstein, Judge Kenneth Marra found that Acosta and other federal prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by brokering a plea deal with Epstein, allowing him to serve only 13 months in a county jail for his crimes, and then sealing the agreement.

      The ruling came nearly three months after the Miami Herald’s explosive report on the plea deal, which prompted the Justice Department to begin investigation into the prosecutors’ conduct.

      Marra’s decision led to renewed calls for Acosta—who was appointed by President Donald Trump and who as head of the Labor Department is responsible for combating sex trafficking—to resign.

    • Cook County Takes Steps to Erase Its Regional Gang Database

      The sheriff’s office would be prohibited from using or sharing its Regional Gang Intelligence Database — and required to ultimately destroy it — under a new ordinance set to be enacted by the county board Thursday.

      The new law will also ban the sheriff’s office from feeding information into any other gang database maintained by outside agencies. And within 90 days, county officials will be required to hold a public hearing on how the regional gang database has been used.

    • Iranian morality police fire warning shots after crowd prevents arrest of women without hijab
    • Muslim Group Seeks Congressional Probe on Terror Watchlist

      A Muslim civil rights group called for a congressional investigation Wednesday after its lawsuit revealed that the U.S. government has shared its terrorist watchlist with more than 1,400 private entities, including hospitals and universities.

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Congress should look into why the FBI has given such wide access to the list, which CAIR believes is riddled with errors. Broad dissemination of the names makes life more difficult for those who are wrongly included, CAIR says. Many on the list are believed to be Muslim.

      “This is a wholesale profiling of a religious minority community,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “To share private information of citizens and non-citizens with corporations is illegal and outrageous.”

    • Their Worst Instincts: Alabama Newspaper Calls For the KKK To Ride Again

      Because so much winning, another good ole bigot – alarmingly, a newspaper editor with an actual bully pulpit – has crawled out of his cave to call for the Ku Klux Klan “to night ride again” to hang Democrats and their ilk with, intriguingly, “hemp ropes” to “clean out D.C.” The editorial was written by one Goodloe Sutton, 80, longtime publisher of the Democrat-Reporter in Linden, AL, a small poor town that’s about evenly split between black and white residents. Angered by mysterious forces in power “plotting to raise taxes in Alabama,” Goodsoe wrote the KKK “would be welcome to raid the gated communities in D.C.” When the Montgomery Advertiser, an evidently less crazed Alabama paper, contacted him to question his call, Goodloe doubled down on the batshit gibberish, suggesting, “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.” He added that, besides, newly freed slaves used to borrow their former masters’ Klan robes to frighten or kill bad people “but so what,” and he’s not “calling for the lynchings of Americans – these are socialist-communists we’re talking about.” Finally, asked if he viewed the KKK as racist and violent, he likened it to the NAACP and offered the defense, “Well, they didn’t kill but a few people.”

    • A Russian bill would ban election observers from traveling to regions outside their own. It’s a very bad idea.

      Russian Duma deputy Mikhail Romanov has announced that the legislative body plans to introduce new limits on election observers under which observers would only be permitted to monitor elections within their own regions. Central Election Commission Deputy Chair Nikolai Bulaev agreed that limiting the observation of regional elections to people who are eligible to vote in a given region would be a good idea. Meduza asked Grigory Melkonyants, the co-chair of the “Golos” (“Voice”) movement, to explain why observers travel to elections in regions outside their own and what dangers the new Duma bill might bring about.

    • ‘Illegal Boondoggle’: US Government Rebuked for Giving 1,400 Private Companies Access to Dubious Terrorism Watchlist

      Denouncing the database as “an illegal boondoggle,” a civil rights organization on Wednesday is calling for a congressional probe after the FBI admitted it lied for years when it insisted federal authorities do not share the so-called terrorist watchlist with private entities.

      In fact, as the Associated Press first reported, the federal government has shared the controversial Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) with 1,441 private entities including universities, detention facilities, and hospitals.

      The list, created in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, may contain as many as a million names and, according to civil rights groups, the names are placed there on dubious grounds.

    • 2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg Wins Applause for Making ‘Pack the Courts’ Argument

      At a book event promoting his new memoir in Philadelphia, Buttigieg was asked by an audience member whether he would be open to adding four seats to the nation’s highest court and expanding the size of lower courts to combat the Republican Party’s recent success in assembly a right-wing judiciary branch.

      “Many progressives, myself included, feel like the Supreme Court has been stolen—from the Gorsuch seat that should have been ours to the controversial Kavanaugh confirmation,” the audience member said.

      Buttigieg raised his eyebrows at the question, but said it was unwise to dismiss the proposal, which he called “no more a shattering of norms than what’s already been done to get the judiciary to where it is today.”

    • Remembering Harris Wofford, Who Dreamed of a ‘United States of the World’

      “Count no man happy until he dies,” declared Sophocles 24 long centuries ago, in the immortal final line of Oedipus Rex. The sages of ancient Greece understood that the purpose, the meaning, the verdict on a life couldn’t be rendered until after it had run its course — and perhaps not until decades or centuries later.

      The obituaries in The New York Times and The Washington Post for Harris Wofford Jr., who died on January 21 at 92, focused mostly on his work as an aide to candidate and President John F. Kennedy, and then later as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. But it may turn out, in the very long run, that his greatest legacy was what Harris told me was “his first love in the world of ideas,” and the first great cause of his life.

      Because in 1942, during the darkest days of the Second World War, teenage Harris Wofford founded a nationwide youth movement which proclaimed that after the end of that war the human race could abolish war, by creating a “United States of the World.”

    • Listen to Tucker Carlson Flip Out After Being Exposed by Dutch Historian

      If you’re still unfamiliar with Rutger Bregman, you likely won’t be for long. Last month, the Dutch historian went instantly viral after imploring the world’s financial elite to pay their fair share in taxes during a panel discussion at Davos. “We can’t talk for a very long time about all these stupid philanthropy schemes,” he said at the time. “But come on, we’ve got to be talking about taxes. That’s it, taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is bullshit in my opinion.”

      The screed earned him an invitation to “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” but his segment with the eponymous Fox News host and darling of the alt-right never aired. Now we know why. In new audio released by Now This, Carlson can be heard telling his guest that he has a “tiny brain” and that he should go “fuck himself”—this for pointing out that the television personality is, in Bregman’s words, “a millionaire funded by billionaires.”

      “I hope this gets picked up because you’re a moron,” Carlson bleats. “I tried to give you a hearing, but you were too fucking annoying. …”

      The interview begins innocently enough. Carlson tips his proverbial cap to Bregman for challenging the audience at Davos, chuckling at the hypocrisy of those who feign concern about climate change and economic inequality while flying private jets and hiding their money in offshore accounts. But the mood quickly changes when Bregman prods the television host about his network’s willingness to scapegoat immigrants and people of color.

      “I’m glad you’re finally raising the issue,” he says, “but that’s what’s been happening for the last couple of years.”

    • Interview Tucker Carlson Doesn’t Want You To See Shows ‘How Angry Elites Get’ When Their Corruption Is Challenged

      Weeks after footage of him slamming the rich at the World Economic Summit at Davos became one of the most watched online videos of the past year, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman joined Tucker Carlson for a discussion on the subject, only to have the right-wing Fox News host lose his cool in epic fashion when called out for being a “millionaire who works for billionaires,” yelled obscenities at his guest, and pulled the plug on the interview.

      Carlson evidently expected a friendly discussion of Bregman’s viral Davos appearance—where the historian had told attendees, “Come on, we’ve got to be talking about taxes…All the rest is bullshit in my opinion.”—but it did not go as planned.

      Instead, Carlson became incensed when the historian repeated his “tax the rich” message and began yelling at Bregman. While Carlson and Fox killed the interview, Bregman explained that he decided to share the footage “because I think we should keep talking about the corrupting influence of money in politics. It also shows how angry elites can get if you do that.”

    • Taking the “User” out of Design

      As a designer, I’ve never been totally comfortable with referring to people as “users”. I find the term unethical as it minimizes the idea that people have any individuality or sense of agency, and I believe the term is obsolete as it is rooted in a past when the connection between a person using a computer and the computer itself was clear, which is no longer the case in the modern age.

      Labelling people as “users” is inherently dehumanizing and reductive, it denies that people have complexity and instead reduces them to a group of quasi-automatons whose only purpose is to “use” the product in front of them, as if the utilization the product is the ultimate goal. It makes us lazy as designers and we fall into the habit of seeing people as only consumers of a product—as endpoints of interaction—and we must force ourselves into seeing the context and circumstances of people’s lives as well.

    • New details emerge on reported torture of Jehovah’s Witnesses

      Following mass searches and arrests near the Siberian city of Surgut earlier this month, several Jehovah’s Witnesses being held in the city said they had been tortured by law enforcement officers. On February 20, seven adherents of the religious group, which is banned in Russia, reported that officers caused them prolonged pain in an effort to discover where the group met and who attended meetings as well as the identities of local elders.

    • Mitchel Cohen Takes on Global and Local Goliaths: Profile of a Lifelong Multi-Movement Organizer

      If there are leaders who stand out in a disciplined crowd or an unruly mob, there also those who are led, sometimes in a sheep-like way, until they bolt for The Dark Side, whether it’s outright Fascist or Trump Republican. Sad to say, the American Left is littered with radicals who became anti-communists, Cold Warriors, armchair liberals and cynical Yuppies, though strikers, sit-in protesters and street fighting men and women also remain true to youthful ideals.

      There are also individuals – “citizens” French revolutionaries would say—who fall somewhere between charismatic leaders and those who follow them. They aren’t flamboyant figures like Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda, but they’re not anonymous, either. No movement can do without their labor, energy, doggedness and loyalty.

      Mitchel Cohen’s real life experiences lend themselves to a film about a “rank-and-file” fighter for social and economic justice, though Cohen himself would not encourage a documentary that would depict his active participation in five decades of protesting.

      He’s currently the coordinator for the “No Spray Coalition” in New York City that aims to keep corporate manufactured poison away from people and people away from poison. Not long ago, he sued the authorities in New York to stop the “indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides.”

    • The Government Cannot Force E-mail Companies to Copy and Save Your Account ‘Just in Case’

      Police are issuing warrantless preservation demands to force email providers to seize users’ private communications.
      Paper letters have a final resting stop — whomever they are addressed to. From a practical standpoint, and a legal one, that feature of regular mail made understanding and applying privacy protections relatively straightforward. But as our communication technologies have changed, courts have struggled to grant a similar degree of privacy protection to communications in the modern era.

      Digital communications present new problems. For example, your email does not live in your letterbox but in an online repository operated by a private company. And as digital communications like email and social media become more ubiquitous in society, investigators increasingly rely on them as important sources of evidence.

      Making sure that email gets proper Fourth Amendment protection is one of the ACLU’s priorities. So on Tuesday, we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that calls attention to a little-known statute that appears to be giving law enforcement an unconstitutional loophole to exploit in its pursuit of digital evidence. The case involves the warrantless use of law enforcement preservation demands to force email providers to copy and keep an individual’s private communications for up to half a year — without ever asking a judge or meeting a standard of suspicion.

    • Another California Court Rules Against Law Enforcement Secrecy, Says Agencies Must Release Old Misconduct Files

      If an appeals court doesn’t step in within the next few days, California law enforcement agencies will have to start handing out police misconduct records to records requesters.

      Since the new transparency law went into effect at the beginning of this year, California police unions have been rushing to stop it from having any meaningful effect. The unions are hoping courts will side with their take on the law — a take that allows law enforcement agencies to memory-hole misconduct and use of force files predating the law’s effective date.

      The author of the law, Senator Nancy Skinner, made it clear the new law applies retroactively. The state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, chose to ignore the clarification sent directly to his office by the Senator, and claimed the issue of retroactivity was still open.

      The issue isn’t as open as Becerra and a few dozen police unions think it is. One court has already said the law should apply retroactively, lifting its temporary injunction pending an appeal. Now another court has sided with the public and greater accountability, stating that the new law can reach old misconduct files.

    • Coast Guard Lieutenant Compiled Hit List of Lawmakers, Feds Say

      A Coast Guard lieutenant who was arrested last week is a “domestic terrorist” who drafted an email discussing biological attacks and had what appeared to be a hit list that included prominent Democrats and media figures, prosecutors said in court papers.

    • The Triumphant Homecoming of Angela Davis

      “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his Letter From Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963. King was arrested there for his role in organizing nonviolent protests against segregation, which were being led by the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. “Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States,” King also wrote in that famous letter. Civil-rights campaigners were so frequently targeted with bombs by the Ku Klux Klan that the city was often called “Bombingham.” Five months after King’s letter, one of those bombs went off at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four little girls. Today, across the street from that church sits the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), which for more than a quarter century has educated and inspired millions of visitors.

      Last October, the BCRI announced it would bestow its 2018 Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award on Angela Y. Davis, the legendary civil-rights activist, prison abolition advocate and scholar. Angela Davis is a Birmingham native, and grew up amidst segregation. Her neighborhood suffered so many Klan bombings that it was nicknamed “Dynamite Hill.” The daughter of civil-rights activists, she went on to become a prominent member of the Communist Party USA and a leader in the Black Panther Party. As a result, like so many activists in that era (MLK included), she was targeted by the FBI. She was charged as a conspirator in the shooting death of a judge. She faced three death sentences in a trial that became an international cause celebre. She was ultimately acquitted of all the charges.

      The BCRI’s decision to honor Angela Davis made perfect sense. She has gained renown for her tireless work on behalf of prisoners and to abolish the U.S. prison-industrial complex. Integral to her life’s work, she has long expressed unflinching support for the rights of Palestinian people. In a recently published collection of essays and speeches titled “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement,” she writes, reflecting on the life of Nelson Mandela and the successful campaign to eliminate South African apartheid, “We are now confronted with the task of assisting our sisters and brothers in Palestine as they battle against Israeli apartheid.”

    • After massive Moscow fight, FSB detains Muslim blogger for terrorism under strange circumstances

      Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has accused the blogger Alibek Mirzekhanov of participating in terrorism after Mirzekhanov was arrested following an enormous fight in the Moscow café Neolit. The FSB claims Mirzekhanov recruited fighters for the ongoing war in Syria. He was charged under two different statutes: one that regulates participation in terrorist organizations and can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years along with a statute that penalizes the recruitment of terrorists and carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

      Mirzekhanov is from Dagestan, a Russian republic in the Northern Caucasus. His Instagram account has approximately 120,000 followers. There, he posts videos that focus primarily on Muslim traditions, verses from the Koran, and instructions for Muslim believers. Mirzekhanov also provides paid lessons to subscribers in which he gives lectures on topics such as “how to defend your children from the evil eye and djins” or “how to spot a wizard.”

    • Report: In 2018, Hate Groups Are More Popular Than Ever

      In 2018, 11 people were killed at a synagogue. Two in a Kroger supermarket. Others at a yoga studio. And that was just one week in a year where extremist violence was at its highest in decades.

      This year, the number of active hate groups rose for the fourth year in a row, to 1,020 according to a new report from The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks extremism in the United States. Hate crime murders, at least 40 in 2018, according to the SPLC, have more than doubled since 2017.

      As Liam Stack writes in The New York Times’ coverage of the SPLC report, “That broadly echoes other worrying developments, including a 30 percent increase in the number of hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. from 2015 through 2017.”

    • As Hate Crimes Soar Under Trump, White Nationalist Allegedly Had Plan to Kill ‘Innocent Civilians on Scale Rarely Seen’ in US

      Just as a new report was released showing the continued rise of hate groups in the United States, federal authorities say they have thwarted a plan by a white nationalist “domestic terrorist” to begin widespread, violent attacks on President Donald Trump’s perceived political opponents with the aim of establishing “a white homeland.”

      U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested late last week, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, after investigators accused him of stockpiling weapons to carry out his plans. Hasson had compiled a long list of targets including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as well as other politicians and journalists.

      In court documents, the U.S. government wrote, “The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”

    • Are You Black, White or Human?

      And so I introduce you to Lowell Thompson, artist — indeed, psycho-realist, as he calls himself — recovering ad man and “colored person.” He’s also, you might say, the king of irreverence and political incorrectness, but this is only because he’s also a dragon slayer. The dragon is racism. There’s no way to engage with race politely, but there’s a way to yank the seriousness out of it.

      What race are you? What color are you? Race is the American divide, a border wall deeper and more profound than the one Donald Trump wants to build. Cultures merge and evolve, but race — “color” — remains impenetrable, a line more fundamental, it would appear, than humanity itself.

    • Ending the Punishment of Poverty: Supreme Court Rules Against High Fines & Civil Asset Forfeiture

      In a major victory for civil liberties advocates, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled to limit the practice of civil asset forfeiture—a controversial practice where police seize property that belongs to people suspected of crimes, even if they are never convicted. On Wednesday, the court ruled the Eighth Amendment protects people from state and local authorities imposing onerous fines, fees and forfeitures to generate money. The case centered on an Indiana man named Tyson Timbs, whose Land Rover was seized when he was arrested for selling drugs. The vehicle was worth $42,000—more than four times the $10,000 maximum fine Timbs could receive for his drug conviction under state law. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Timbs’s favor. Writing on behalf of the justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “The historical and logical case for concluding that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming.” We speak with Lisa Foster, co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center. Her organization filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case. Foster is a retired California judge. She served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration and led the department’s efforts to address excessive fines and fees.

    • Progressives Should Support Open Borders—With No Apology

      When President Donald Trump claimed in his State of the Union Address that “wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders, while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards,” it was his latest of countless efforts to accuse Democrats and liberals of being “soft” on migration.

      Like the entirety of Trump’s speech, this claim was misleading and outright false on many levels.

      The notion, for example, that “liberal elites” support open borders while a billionaire president defends the working class from the migrant “threat” is outrageous. Among the many problems with the argument is that it ignores — or rather, intentionally obscures — the fact that the U.S. working class itself is composed in significant part by millions of migrants.

      Far from immigrants being outsiders who endanger the working class of this country, they are part of its fabric — far more so than Donald Trump, who was born wealthy, ever was.

      But Trump’s main argument, that there are those on the liberal end of Washington’s political class who advocate for free migration across borders, is simply a lie.

    • New penalties for crime bosses receive unanimous approval in first Duma vote

      A new bill introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the country’s State Duma has passed its first reading and been accepted for consideration with a vote of 406 – 0. The bill would officially criminalize holding a high rank in the hierarchy of a criminal organization, an act that currently merits no special punishment in Russian criminal law.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Putin explains why Russia ‘needs’ Internet-isolation legislation

      Vladimir Putin said on February 20 that Russia must defend itself against the threat of foreign powers trying to disable the country’s access to the global Internet. In effect, the president endorsed legislation now working its way through parliament that would authorize the state to control the exchange points connecting Russia’s Internet resources to the outside world’s. On February 12, the State Duma adopted the first reading of this “Internet-isolation” bill.

    • The Public Deserves a Return to the 2015 Open Internet Order

      Congress is actively debating how to fix the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules. But the first bills offered (H.R. 1101 (Walden), H.R. 1006 (Latta), and H.R. 1096 (McMorris Rodgers) focus narrowly on the “bright line” rules of no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. A major problem with this approach is that the public supported the 2015 Open Internet Order and a huge array of parties (with the exception of basically just AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon) supported Title II reclassification because of what else was protected. Privacy, competition, and public safety are all worse off when all you do is ban three basic tactics.

      Restoring the entirety of the 2015 Open Internet Order means protecting the vital components to keeping the Internet a free and open platform. If Congress decides to act, it should not shortchange the American public. Unfortunately, that appears to be where the House of Representatives is heading right now.

    • Industry Claims That Cord Cutting Would Be A Fad Aren’t Looking So Hot

      Remember when the cable industry used to pretend that cord cutting wasn’t real? Or perhaps you remember that once the industry was actually willing to admit it was a real trend, they’d claim it was only something being done by losers living in their parents’ basement? Or perhaps you’ll remember the cable and broadcast industry claims that cord cutting was just a temporary phenomenon that would go away once the housing markets stabilized and Millennials started procreating? Or how companies like ESPN routinely claimed that warnings about the trend were an unimportant fiction that should be ignored?

      Good times.

      While there are still a few sector analysts and executives here and there who’ll bizarrely try to downplay one of the biggest trends in TV industry history, the numbers keep making it harder and harder to keep ones’ head buried a foot below ground. Last year, for example, once again saw one of the highest defection rates of traditional TV subscribers in recent memory.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • PTAB cancels 16 of 17 claims for widely asserted Smart Authentication (Dominion Harbor) patent

      On February 20, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Smart Authentication IP, LLC, IPR2017-02047 invalidating claims 1-10 and 12-17 of U.S. Patent 8,082,213 owned and asserted by Smart Authentication IP, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and a well-known NPE. The ’213 patent, directed to a user authentication system, has been asserted in multiple litigations against such companies as MongoDB, Slack Technologies, Evernote, Etsy, Discover and USAA.

    • Patently absurd: did you know Qualcomm charges a 5% wireless patent royalty on iPhone repairs?

      Qualcomm wants a 5% patent royalty (with a $400 cap for the royalty base) on smartphones. 3.25% of that relates to standard-essential patents, though I haven’t seen Qualcomm successfully enforce even one of those SEPs in all those years. The related dollar amount will be illusory the moment its wireless SEPs must be licensed at the chipset level. Another 1.75% relates to non-standard-essential patents, and after almost two years of non-SEP infringement litigaton against Apple, Qualcomm has no real leverage. News cycles aren’t leverage.

      So there’s a problem with what they charge, but until I read this pretrial brief, I was unaware of there being another problem with the wide net they cast when actually collecting their royalties.

      Apple and its contract manufacturers complain that when Qualcomm performs audits, it insists on getting its 5% on whatever Apple pays to a company like Foxconn: not only the device, but also any services, including repairs. I’ll use Foxconn as the example here because I’ve been able to find articles on its iPhone repair capacity. Quite often, devices are repaired right at an Apple Store (such as an iPhone 7 Plus I took there a few months ago to get a new screen and battery). In that case, Qualcomm probably can’t charge patent royalties because it doesn’t have a direct agreement with Apple. But some devices are sent to China to be repaired there at a lower cost. And in that case, Qualcomm collects 5% of whatever a company like Foxconn charges Apple (click on the image to enlarge; this post continues below the image with the related text passage and further commentary)

    • Britannia Rules on SEPs – But is it FRAND?

      As the debate continues as to whether the UK courts have taken command of global FRAND determinations or whether it is all storm in a teacup, Michael Burdon (Simmons & Simmons) has some critical analysis to share as to the role of the English courts in FRAND determinations in the absence of a dispute resolution mechanisms in SSOs and what that means moving forward. Over to Michael:

      The English High Court has established itself as one of, if not, the leading forum for resolving international FRAND licensing disputes. All a standard essential patent (SEP) owner needs is a UK SEP and an implementer which operates in the UK and they can force the implementer into taking a global portfolio licence with FRAND terms set by the UK court. The Court probably doesn’t see it this way, jurisprudentially, but that it is how it is working out in practice. In two recent decisions (“Unwired Planet” and “Conversant”) (Unwired Planet v Huawei [2018] EWCA Civ 2344, IPKat post here; Huawei v Conversant [2019] EWCA Civ 38, IPKat post here), the English Court of Appeal has endorsed this practice.

    • High Court Scrutinizing Gov’t Use Of AIA Reviews

      On Feb. 19, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Return Mail Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service. The question before the court was whether the government is a “person”…

    • Trademarks

      • The Latest In Trademark Abuse Is Registering Marks To Obtain Ownership Of Instagram Accounts

        When one thinks about an Instagram account being taken over by a malicious actor, one usually imagines some kind of hack or social engineering resulting in the theft of an account password. The refrain “It wasn’t me, I was hacked!” that you hear from some whose social media profiles are the subject of social scrutiny relies on this impression.

        But there are many different ways to hack a cat. The latest in Instagram account takeovers appears to be done through the avenue of trademark law, interestingly enough. Motherboard has a fascinating write-up detailing an entire ecosystem of malicious actors who are abusing trademarks to convince Instagram to hand over access to accounts.

      • Justices focus on quality control in SCOTUS case on TM licensing

        The US Supreme Court heard arguments in a trademark case on Wednesday with the justices focusing on the statutory issue of Congressional intent and the practical issue of quality control in licensing

        On February 20, the court heard arguments in Mission Product Holdings v Tempnology. The transcript is available here.

      • Cancelling a TM License via Bankruptcy

        This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Mission Product Holdings v. Tempnology. The setup for the case involves a trademark licensor who filed for bankruptcy. The basic question is whether that license is an executory contract that can be rejected by the bankruptcy trustee. And, if it is rejected, does the licensee retain any rights to use the mark — is the rejection equivalent to termination of the license?

        11 U.S.C. § 365, indicates plainly that “the [bankruptcy] trustee, subject to the court’s approval, may assume or reject any executory contract or unexpired lease of the debtor.” In the 1985 Lubrizol decision, the 4th Circuit held that a “technology license” fit within § 365 and thus could be rejected by the Trustee — leaving a former licensee with no right to continued use of the technology. Congress then legislatively overruled Lubrizol — effectively allowing “intellectual property” licensees to retain license rights even after a rejection by the trustee. The problem for trademark holders is that the statute specifically defines “intellectual property” to include patents, copyrights, and trade secrets — but not trademarks. 11 U.S.C. § 101. Without the express protection of § 365(n), the trademark licensee has to fall-back on more basic licensing principles and the meaning of “rejection” under the Bankruptcy Code.

    • Copyrights

      • Facebook found liable for hosting links to unlicensed content

        For the first time under Italian law a platform (Facebook) has been found liable for hosting third-party links to unlicensed content.

        The decision was issued by the Rome Court of First Instance a few days ago: it is Tribunale di Roma, sentenza 3512/2019.

        The judgment is both interesting and important, also considering the YouTube referral (C-682/18) currently pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) [Katpost here].

        Let’s see more in detail what happened and how the Rome court reasoned.

      • One Person’s Unsettling Experience With A $20k Higbee Copyright Troll Demand Letter

        One of my favorite fandoms of all time is The X-Files. As a kid, I wanted to grow up to be as dreamy and mysterious as Fox Mulder himself. Of course I now have a lifelong affection for conspiracy theories, cerebral redheads, and aliens. I just finished writing a science fiction novel that features all three elements.

        Back when dial-up modems were a thing, I loved The X-Files so much I used to list my physical address on social media as Fox Mulder’s fictional apartment in The X-Files: 2360 Hegal Place Apt #42 in Alexandria, VA 23242. To this day, my physical address on Facebook is listed as Mulder’s address—something I do intentionally to confuse Facebook’s greedy algorithm. (This will all become relevant later.)

        I never expected that the show which brought me so much happiness in my youth would become responsible for grief and terror at age thirty-four.

        In 2016, Fox released The X-Files season 10 and broke my heart with its retconning of the series’ central mystery. I wrote a fraught review about it on my personal blog, as I am wont to do whenever a fandom lets me down. Writing stuffy, literary critiques of pop culture on my blog, usually about science fiction movies or TV shows (e.g., “A Feminist Reading of Grindhouse” or “Mr. Robot is Cyberpunk for the Masses”), is about the only hobby I have time for outside of freelancing.

        In both my web design work and scifi review-writing hobby, I’m rather meticulous about my IP research. I always source photography that accompanies my articles via Creative Commons-licensed or license-free photography on Flickr. I even check the “commercial use allowed” option just to be safe. That’s thanks to interesting coursework on intellectual property I took during my Masters in Writing & Publishing from Emerson College. There I learned about the copyleft movement. Larry Lessig is someone I admire. In fact, all of my website’s original content, including my blog posts, are licensed Creative Commons because I believe in its mission. As a web developer I work frequently with open source software. My very own WordPress boilerplate—for which my livelihood depends on as a web developer—is licensed open source.

      • Teen Musician Turns Down $3 Million Record Deal: No Need For A Label Thanks To The Internet

        Just last week we were talking about how many independent artists are embracing the internet to avoid the legacy gatekeepers.

        Meanwhile, bureaucrats and recording industry lobbyists keep insisting that the EU needs Article 13 because the internet is unfair to artists? They’re saying that there’s a “value gap” because of YouTube? Maybe, just maybe, Article 13 has a lot more to do with the fact that the labels are losing relevance. When an artist like Choppa can retain his rights, build a massive audience, and make a ton of money thanks to internet platforms and does not need a label or all the downsides of a label deal, it certainly suggests that the “problem” Article 13 is claiming to solve might not be an actual problem. Indeed, the real “problem” that Article 13 seems to solve is the fact that the labels aren’t needed as much any more. And that’s not actually a problem for anyone who isn’t, you know, a record label.

      • Announcing Plays Well With Others, a new podcast about the Art and Science of Collaboration

        I’m thrilled to share the first episode of our podcast, Plays Well with Others, with our community. It’s about the art, science, and mechanics of collaboration.

        Ask yourself: How often have you walked into a room where you were about to work with colleagues, friends, or even strangers, and thought, “I’m going to focus on being a great collaborator today”? We spend so much time on leadership, and hardly any time on helping each other do great work together.

        We hope to change that, in our own small way, with Plays Well with Others.

        I couldn’t be more excited about this project — I’ve always wanted to produce radio journalism. I love interviewing people and helping them tell the best version of their stories. And it’s been a joy to work with my colleague and collaborator Eric Steuer on the podcast’s design and development. I’ve loved the opportunity to do creative work, and to work directly on something like this that is close to my heart, and that I feel is really good. We’re incredibly proud of how it’s turned out, and we hope you’ll enjoy it and learn something along the way.

      • One Of The People Suing Fortnite Over ‘Stolen’ Dance Steps Gets His Dance Rejected By The US Copyright Office

        A handful of semi-famous people rang in the New Year by bringing copyright infringement lawsuits against online gaming juggernaut, Fortnite. The plaintiffs all accused Fortnite’s developers of swiping their dances to use as sellable “emotes” for players’ avatars.

        There were several problems with these lawsuits, not the least of which were the claims Fortnite infringed on uncopyrightable dance steps. While the copyright office is willing to extend protection to choreographed dances with sufficiently complex steps, the dances at the center of these lawsuits hardly met the bar for protected creativity.

        That leads to one of the other problems: while statutory damages were threatened in the lawsuits, none of the plaintiffs appeared to have secured copyright protection for their dance steps before filing their lawsuits. The one filed by Alfonso Ribeiro — targeting Fortnite’s use of the “Carlton Dance” — mentioned he had filed a registration for his dance but hadn’t actually been granted any protection yet.

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