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02.23.19

Bristows is Still Hoping to ‘Overthrow’ the Courts and Throw Out Ingve Stjerna’s Complaint (About the Likes of Bristows)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An attack on judges and courts persists and it’s being waged by litigation fanatics

Bristows LLP and EPO

Summary: In spite of the Unified Patent Court Agreement being a lost cause (thankfully so), Bristows LLP carries on with its 'holy war' against the FCC and against courts that aren’t patent maximalists like the European Patent Office

THE European Patent Office (EPO) may carry on granting European software patents and António Campinos can publicly promote these all he wants (calling them “AI” and other misnomers). European patent courts, however, don’t give a damn. They know their national laws, they can interpret the EPC, and unlike the EPO they don’t regard/consider the EPC to be toilet paper. D Young & Co LLP’s Stephanie Wroe recently published “Added matter: disagreement between Patents Court & EPO” (highlighting the EPO’s departure from the law or caselaw). Here’s a portion, regarding a case we mentioned earlier this month:

Added Matter: disagreement between Patents Court and EPO, plus an injunction covering more than the claimed medical use indication. Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited v Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (UK) Limited [2019] EWHC 92 (Pat).

Because of a different stance on added matter, Novartis were able to obtain a preliminary injunction from the Patents Court of England and Wales preventing Dr Reddy’s Laboratories from launching a generic version of the drug everolimus (which is sold under the name Afinitor). The injunction prevents sales of the generic drug for the claimed medical use and for other medical uses.

This legal war on generics is what UPC boosters are eager to inflame. People die as a result, but few people and their lawyers profit insanely. They write about it all the time. They want embargoes, injunctions, and raids. The sorts of things that make patent trolls all giddy, too… rendering extortion by the likes of MPEG-LA much easier (presumption of guilt with immediate sanctions). Florian Müller said a few days ago that they had done this in Germany earlier this month.

“This legal war on generics is what UPC boosters are eager to inflame”No British firm does more SPC/FRAND/SEP propaganda than Bristows; we covered many examples in the past. So it’s hardly surprising to see virtually all the latest UPC coverage centered around Bristows, including the usual slant.

WIPR has just been quoting Bristows as a primary source on this subject, starting with the following introduction: “On Wednesday, February 20, the BVerfG published the list of cases which it intends to decide this year. The complaint, which was filed by Düsseldorf-based attorney Ingve Stjern [sic], is placed fifth in a list of eight cases allocated to Justice Huber in the Second Senate. In June 2017, the court announced it was delaying Germany’s ratification of the UPC Agreement because of the complaint.”

So then they speak to and/or cite liars from Bristows who repeatedly lied about what happened at 1 AM (lots of posts covering up the abuse, as we noted at the time).

“Funny how they never mention Stephan Harbarth’s controversial background in politics. A lot of this process has been inherently political and politics seem to have been interjected into the FCC, too.”Here is what Team UPC wrote about the above, in effect quoting Team UPC: “He added: “If nothing else, the new listing shows that the German Federal Constitutional Court is not influenced by politics, and in particular Brexit.” Agree.”

“Even within the circles of European patent professionals we’ve seen Bristows occasionally mocked for distortions and exaggerations that do a disservice to the reputation of patent lawyers as a whole.”Funny how they never mention Stephan Harbarth’s controversial background in politics [1, 2]. A lot of this process has been inherently political and politics seem to have been interjected into the FCC, too. Time will tell…

In “German complaint against UPCA ratification on 2019 decision list Constitutional Court,” another new post on this subject, Team UPC gets excited over nothing and this is likely Bristows in "Kluwer Patent blogger" clothing. It’s like Bristows is infecting not only blogs but also news sites with its talking points, which are as usual misleading. Even within the circles of European patent professionals we’ve seen Bristows occasionally mocked for distortions and exaggerations that do a disservice to the reputation of patent lawyers as a whole.

Video: Alexandre Benalla Speaks About His Relationship With Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Battistelli as EPO President gave Benalla a lot of money, legitimised him, and gave him the go-ahead to illegally bring weapons to EPO premises; Benalla speaks as if Battistelli made him what he has become (until his arrest)


Hallmark of Corruption: Benalla and Fellow Thugs Paid Roughly the Same Salary as Battistelli (Each!) and There’s a New Chinese Contract Worth €7.2 Million

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli and Bergot got themselves a whole private army of ‘Benallas’ at an astronomical cost/budget


New tweet: “Here another villain who should join the duo rather today than tomorrow. The name tags on the jail cells are mounted, the trio is now welcome to check in at lobby of the state prison.” #Benalla #Battistelli #Bergot

Summary: Another new scandal is unearthed in France and the costs associated with the ‘Benallagate’ at the EPO are as flabbergasting as in the Macron ‘Benallagate’

We often wonder what the EPO‘s President, António Campinos, makes of the fact that his office was filled with illegal weapons, brought there by Team Battistelli rather than a falsely-accused judge. These weapons weren’t carried by responsible people either but by a bunch of unauthorised goons with connections to Russia, Blackwater and China. What the heck is going on there in Munich? Will Campinos bother launching an investigation?

Battistelli’s special relationship with China notwithstanding (we wrote a lot about it), today’s translation of this article follows reports of Benalla’s arrest (see part 1). Here it is in English:

Exclusive – New scandal: Benalla has signed a Chinese contract worth €7.2 million

We change contracts, continents and hop, here is again Alexandre Benalla! In any case, it is increasingly clear that Macron has something to do with the contracts signed by his handyman. He could not ignore the considerable sums of money brought up by the simple security guard at the presidential seat.
He expresses himself well, he stands well in front of the media, he looks harmless, almost like an angel, but behind this beautiful face hides a real danger for the Nation, a serial signatory.

After Mediapart’s revelations about the Russian and Uzbek contracts for €2.2 million Alexander Benalla got hold of, Valeurs Actuelles is able to reveal that the former deputy head of the Elysée’s cabinet signed a two-year security contract worth €7.2 million with a Chinese company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The Chinese group – reputed to be close to the state apparatus – offers solutions for security services, logistics and insurance services for customers in border areas. Until then, it had mainly used American, French and Russian labour to ensure the security of its infrastructure and personnel in Africa. Its leaders want to train their own resources. And according to our information, they turned to Alexandre Benalla, who engaged to carry out “support, training and security” missions. Under this contract, he will be working with former Blackwater people, which was the world’s largest private security company with no less than 22,000 men in 2017, whose missions have long been to act for the CIA, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. More specifically, the Chinese group wants to set up a “major” training centre for its teams in the Guangzhou region of southern China.

Control Risks is what we dubbed ‘British Blackwater’, so this is rather interesting (the last paragraph above). Some of our past articles about Control Risks:

Märpel has just said that “It pays to be Mr Benala.” [sic] Citing the relevant document, he or she extracted numbers that we noted here before (see above), writing: “Märpel found a reference to a security contract with 6 individuals in document CA/ 6/16, last page. For 6 months and 6 individuals, the office paid €550 000, so about 15278€ per month (if all 6 people were paid the same amount and Mr Benela [sic] did not benefit from a preferential treatment as is usual within “System Battistelli).”

That means they got paid almost €200,000/annum, i.e. roughly the same salary Battistelli claims to have received before receiving a massive bonus (roughly the same as the above total).

They’re signing off these ridiculous numbers like military contractors in the Middle East.

Here are some links to past articles about the Battistelli/Benalla affair:

We have a lot more on the way. Might Battistelli, who now hides in CEIPI, finally be held accountable for something? Like his buddy/”padrone” Nicolas Sarkozy about a decade late?

EPO Insider Video: Nouvel an Architectural Hazard, Not Just a Fire Hazard

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ‘Fire Hazard’ [1, 2, 3, 4], a.k.a. Nouvel

Russian_Roulette_EPO_New_Building

Summary: Video from the European Patent Office (EPO) shows the bad shape of things after spendings of hundreds of millions of euros (and years late to deliver, causing major losses)

THE FOLLOWING was submitted to us by a reader.

EPO New Main: the very same “top” quality as that of [European] patents currently

EPO staff in the Netherlands “enjoys” a pompous glass building (an ecological heresy, not to mention a nightmare to maintain over time. Patent applicants and incidentally hard-working EPO’ers are those who actually pay for this useless caprice by Battistelli).

The video is scaring as it shows that the design choice of the “star architect” may soon prove a rather catastrophic one (when not even a deadly one: this shaking piece is right above the main entry of the building where thousands of staff march in and out every day).

“There seem to be many more security incidents and concerns, but they are likely to come to light only after a serious accident happened.”Since the canopy threatened to break off, the main entrance had to be closed for a few days! It seems to have been temporarily fixed. There seem to be many more security incidents and concerns, but they are likely to come to light only after a serious accident happened.

No one seems to have told Jean Nouvel that in the NL, wind is blowing sometimes, not even his good friend Benoit Battistelli.

EPO, don’t play Russian Roulette with the safety of your staff!

Good luck fellas!

Links 23/2/2019: GNU/Linux Server Domination and GCC 8.3 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 2:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Swim Open Sources Its Machine Learning Platform for Edge Computing [Ed: "Taking the "open core" route" means proprietary software or 'free' bait, so this headline is a tad misleading to say the least]

    Taking the “open core” route, the startup wants the open source community to take its platform in more directions than it’s been able to so far.

  • Redis Labs Looks to Grow Database Technology for Next Generation Applications

    Despite some open source licensing issues, Redis is moving forward.

    Database technology provides a foundational role in modern applications, and one of the emerging database technologies of the last few years has been Redis.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Open Innovation Team: Sustainable tech development needs local solutions: Voice tech ideation in Kigali

        Developers, researchers and startups around the globe working on voice-recognition technology face one problem alike: A lack of freely available voice data in their respective language to train AI-powered Speech-to-Text engines.

        Although machine-learning algorithms like Mozilla’s Deep Speech are in the public domain, training data is limited. Most of the voice data used by large corporations is not available to the majority of people, expensive to obtain or simply non-existent for languages not globally spread. The innovative potential of this technology is widely untapped. In providing open datasets, we aim to take away the onerous tasks of collecting and annotating data, which eventually reduces one of the main barriers to voice-based technologies and makes front-runner innovations accessible to more entrepreneurs. This is one of the major drivers behind our project Common Voice.

        Common Voice is our crowdsourcing initiative and platform to collect and verify voice data and to make it publicly available. But to get more people involved from around the world and to speed up the process of getting to data sets large enough for training purposes, we rely on partners — like-minded commercial and non-commercial organizations with an interest to make technology available and useful to all.

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
  • CMS

    • WriteFreely: Start a blog, build a community

      As more of our lives move online, we become dependent on large services with millions (or billions) of users to communicate with each other. Although we tend to notice problems only when these platforms change a policy, erect a paywall, or suffer a data breach, we can often feel how these mass-broadcast platforms don’t always have our best interests in mind and often don’t “connect” us in the ways they purport to.

      However, over the past few years, we’ve also seen a renaissance of small, close-knit online communities. New protocols for building federated social networks, like ActivityPub, are seeing more use, popularized by open source platforms like Mastodon. People still gather on forums to discuss their interests with like-minded people. And even on the large, centralized services, many people use “group” features to have more intimate conversations than they would by sending their latest status update to a wide swath of unrelated people.

      In the blogging world, we’ve also seen platforms like Medium and Tumblr become more popular, partially because of the networks they offer. With these large platforms, each blog is no longer an “island,” but part of a huge community. Yet, like any other closed-source, centralized service, if they make a change that doesn’t benefit their users, we’re forced to find another platform. That’s why I built WriteFreely.

    • WordPress 5.1 Improves Security With Site Health Mechanism

      WordPress 5.1 became generally available on Feb. 21, providing users of the popular open-source blogging and content management system (CMS) with updates to improve site operations and site health.

      WordPress is one of the most widely deployed CMS technologies, powering over 30 percent of all websites on the internet. The new WordPress release follows the open-source project’s tradition of naming releases after famous Jazz musicians by code-naming the 5.1 release Betty, after jazz vocalist Betty Carter. Among the key new features in the release is a check to warn users if they are running older, unsupported versions of the PHP programming language that is needed to operate WordPress.

      “Following WordPress 5.0 — a major release which introduced the new block editor — 5.1 focuses on polish, in particular by improving the overall performance of the editor,” WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg wrote in a blog post. “In addition, this release paves the way for a better, faster, and more secure WordPress with some essential tools for site administrators and developers.”

  • BSD

    • NetBSD Virtual Machine Monitor

      NVMM provides hardware-accelerated virtualization support for NetBSD. It is made of an ~MI frontend, to which MD backends can be plugged. A virtualization API is shipped via libnvmm, that allows to easily create and manage virtual machines via NVMM. Two additional components are shipped as demonstrators, toyvirt and smallkern: the former is a toy virtualizer, that executes in a VM the 64bit ELF binary given as argument, the latter is an example of such binary.

    • NetBSD Gains Hardware Accelerated Virtualization

      NetBSD, the highly portable Unix-like Open Source operating system known for its platform diversity, has gained hardware-accelerated virtualization support via an improved NetBSD Virtual Machine Monitor (NVMM).

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Redis Labs drops Commons Clause for a new license

      Redis Labs is dropping its Commons Clause license in favor of its new “available-source” license: Redis Source Available License (RSAL). This is not an open-source license.

      Redis Labs had used Commons Clause on top of the open-source Apache License to protect its rights to modules added to its 3-Clause-BSD-licensed Redis, the popular open-source in-memory data structure store. But, as Manish Gupta, Redis Labs’ CMO, explained, “It didn’t work. Confusion reigned over whether or not the modules were open source. They’re not open-source.”

      So, although it hadn’t wanted to create a new license, that’s what Redis Labs ended up doing.

      RSAL covers some Redis Modules, which run on top of open-source Redis. The current modules covered by RSAL are: RedisSearch, RedisGraph, RedisJSON, RedisML, and RedisBloom. Redis remains under the BSD license.

    • Redis Labs changes its open-source license — again

      Redis Labs, fresh off its latest funding round, today announced a change to how it licenses its Redis Modules. This may not sound like a big deal, but in the world of open-source projects, licensing is currently a big issue. That’s because organizations like Redis, MongoDB, Confluent and others have recently introduced new licenses that make it harder for their competitors to take their products and sell them as rebranded services without contributing back to the community (and most of these companies point directly at AWS as the main offender here).

      “Some cloud providers have repeatedly taken advantage of successful opensource projects, without significant contributions to their communities,” the Redis Labs team writes today. “They repackage software that was not developed by them into competitive, proprietary service offerings and use their business leverage to reap substantial revenues from these open source projects.”

    • Redis Labs Changing Its Licensing for Redis Modules Again, Raspberry Pi Rolling Out the Linux 4.19 Kernel, Windows Subsystem for Linux Updates Coming, Facebook Removing Its Spyware Onavo VPN from the Google Store and openSUSE Leap 15.1 Beta Pizza Party

      Redis Labs has changed its licensing for Redis Modules again. According to TechCrunch, the new license is called the Redis Source Available license, and as with the previous Commons Clause license, applies only to certain Redis Modules created by Redis Labs. With this license, “Users can still get the code, modify it and integrate it into their applications—but that application can’t be a database product, caching engine, stream processing engine, search engine, indexing engine or ML/DL/AI serving engine.” The TechCrunch post notes that by definition, an open-source license can’t enforce limitations, so this new license technically isn’t open source. It is, however, similar to other “permissive open-source licenses”, which “shouldn’t really affect most developers who use the company’s modules”.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 8.3 Released

      The GNU Compiler Collection version 8.3 has been released.

      GCC 8.3 is a bug-fix release from the GCC 8 branch
      containing important fixes for regressions and serious bugs in
      GCC 8.2 with more than 153 bugs fixed since the previous release.
      This release is available from the FTP servers listed at:

      http://www.gnu.org/order/ftp.html

      Please do not contact me directly regarding questions or comments
      about this release. Instead, use the resources available from

      http://gcc.gnu.org.

      As always, a vast number of people contributed to this GCC release
      – far too many to thank them individually!

    • GCC 8.3 Released With 153 Bug Fixes

      While the GCC 9 stable compiler release is a few weeks away in the form of GCC 9.1, the GNU Compiler Collection is up to version 8.3.0 today as their newest point release to last year’s GCC 8 series.

    • GCC 9 Compiler Picks Up Official Support For The Arm Neoverse N1 + E1

      Earlier this week Arm announced their next-generation Neoverse N1 and E1 platforms with big performance potential and power efficiency improvements over current generation Cortex-A72 processor cores. The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) ahead of the upcoming GCC9 release has picked up support for the Neoverse N1/E1.

      This newly-added Neoverse N1 and E1 CPU support for GCC9 isn’t all that surprising even with the very short time since announcement and GCC9 being nearly out the door… Arm developers had already been working on (and landed) the Arm “Ares” CPU support, which is the codename for what is now the Neoverse platform.

    • Developer happiness: What you need to know

      A person needs the right tools for the job. There’s nothing as frustrating as getting halfway through a car repair, for instance, only to discover you don’t have the specialized tool you need to complete the job. The same concept applies to developers: you need the tools to do what you are best at, without disrupting your workflow with compliance and security needs, so you can produce code faster.

      Over half—51%, to be specific—of developers spend only one to four hours each day programming, according to ActiveState’s recent Developer Survey 2018: Open Source Runtime Pains. In other words, the majority of developers spend less than half of their time coding. According to the survey, 50% of developers say security is one of their biggest concerns, but 67% of developers choose not to add a new language when coding because of the difficulties related to corporate policies.

    • Rblpapi 0.3.8: Keeping CRAN happy

      A minimal maintenance release of Rblpapi, now at version 0.3.9, arrived on CRAN earlier today. Rblpapi provides a direct interface between R and the Bloomberg Terminal via the C++ API provided by Bloomberg (but note that a valid Bloomberg license and installation is required).

      This is the ninth release since the package first appeared on CRAN in 2016. It accomodates a request by CRAN / R Core to cope with staged installs which will be a new feature of R 3.6.0. No other changes were made (besides updating a now-stale URL at Bloomberg in a few spots and other miniscule maintenance). However, a few other changes have been piling up at the GitHub repo so feel free to try that version too.

    • Episode #200: Escaping Excel Hell with Python and Pandas
    • Testing native ES modules using Mocha and esm.
    • GStreamer 1.15.1 unstable development release

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce the first development release in the unstable 1.15 release series.

      The unstable 1.15 release series adds new features on top of the current stable 1.16 series and is part of the API and ABI-stable 1.x release series of the GStreamer multimedia framework.

      The unstable 1.15 release series is for testing and development purposes in the lead-up to the stable 1.16 series which is scheduled for release in a few weeks time. Any newly-added API can still change until that point, although it is rare for that to happen.

      Full release notes will be provided in the near future, highlighting all the new features, bugfixes, performance optimizations and other important changes.

    • GStreamer: GStreamer Rust bindings 0.13.0 release

      A new version of the GStreamer Rust bindings, 0.13.0, was released.

      This new release is the first to include direct support for implementing GStreamer elements and other types in Rust. Previously this was provided via a different crate.
      In addition to this, the new release features many API improvements, cleanups, newly added bindings and bugfixes.

    • Niko Matsakis: Rust lang team working groups

      Now that the Rust 2018 edition has shipped, the language design team has been thinking a lot about what to do in 2019 and over the next few years. I think we’ve got a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon, and I wanted to write about it.

    • RVowpalWabbit 0.0.13: Keeping CRAN happy

      Another small RVowpalWabbit package update brings us version 0.0.13. And just like Rblpapi yesterday, we have a new RVowpalWabbit update to cope with staged installs which will be a new feature of R 3.6.0. No other changes were made No new code or features were added.

    • Test automation framework thoughts and examples with Python, pytest and Jenkins

      In this article I’ll share some personal thoughts about Test Automation Frameworks; you can take inspiration from them if you are going to evaluate different test automation platforms or assess your current test automation solution (or solutions).

      Despite it is a generic article about test automation, you’ll find many examples explaining how to address some common needs using the Python based test framework named pytest and the Jenkins automation server: use the information contained here just as a comparison and feel free to comment sharing alternative methods or ideas coming from different worlds.

      It contains references to some well (or less) known pytest plugins or testing libraries too.

    • Basics of Object-Oriented Programming

      In programming, an object is simply a ‘thing’. I know, I know…how can you define something as a ‘thing’. Well, let’s think about it – What do ‘things’ have? Attributes, right? Let’s take a Song for example. A song has attributes! It has a Title, an Artist, a Genre, etc. How about a Dog – A dog has four legs, a color, a name, an owner, and a breed. Though there are millions Dogs with countless names, owners, etc, the one thing that ties them all together are the very fact that every single one can be described as a Dog.

      Although this may seem like a not-very informative explanation, these types of examples are what ultimately made me understand Object-oriented programing. The set of activities that an object can perform is an Object’s behavior. A dog can bark, wag it’s tail, sit, and even shake if it’s owner trains them. In the same way, a programmer can create an object and teach it tricks in order to achieve certain goals. In Ruby(my first programming language), EVERYTHING is an object. This means that every piece of code you encounter can perform certain tricks at your command, some are built into Ruby while others can be created at your disposal.

      Let’s look at a common element in programming, a simple string. As you can see, after the string is defined, I’m able to call different ‘methods’ or functions on the string I created. Ruby has several built in methods on common objects(ie strings, integers, arrays, and hashes.

    • Hello pytest-play!

      pytest-play is a rec&play (rec not yet available) pytest plugin that let you execute a set of actions and assertions using commands serialized in JSON format. It tries to make test automation more affordable for non programmers or non Python programmers for browser, functional, API, integration or system testing thanks to its pluggable architecture and third party plugins that let you interact with the most common databases and systems.

    • Nikola v8.0.2 is out!

      Nikola is a static site and blog generator, written in Python. It can use Mako and Jinja2 templates, and input in many popular markup formats, such as reStructuredText and Markdown — and can even turn Jupyter Notebooks into blog posts! It also supports image galleries, and is multilingual. Nikola is flexible, and page builds are extremely fast, courtesy of doit (which is rebuilding only what has been changed).

    • Mu!

      In the past several days, I innaugurated a private Fediverse instance, “Mu”, running Pleroma for now. Although Mastodon is the dominant implementation, Pleroma is far easier to install, and uses less memory on small, private instances. By doing this, I’m bucking the trend of people hating to run their own infrastructure. Well, I do run my own e-mail service, so, what the heck, might as well join the Fediverse.

      So far, it was pretty fun, but Pleroma has problem spots. For example, Pleroma has a concept of “local accounts” and “remote accounts”: local ones are normal, into which users log in at the instance, and remote ones mirror accounts on other instances. This way, if users Alice@Mu and Bob@Mu follow user zaitcev@SLC, Mu creates a “remote” account UnIqUeStRiNg@Mu, which tracks zaitcev@SLC, so Alice and Bob subscribe to it locally. This permits to send zaitcev’s updates over the network only once. Makes sense, right? Well… I have a “stuck” remote account now at Mu, let’s call it Xprime@Mu and posit that it follows X@SPC. Updates posted by X@SPC are reflected in Xprime@Mu, but if Alice@Mu tries to follow X@SPC, she does not see updates that Xprime@Mu receives (the updates are not reflected in Alice’s friends/main timeline) [1]. I asked at #pleroma about it, but all they could suggest was to try and resubscribe. I think I need to unsubscribe and purge Xprime@Mu somehow. Then, when Alice resubscribes, Pleroma will re-create a remote, say Xbis@Mu, and things hopefully ought to work. Well, maybe. I need to examine the source to be sure.

    • Django ORM optimization story on selecting the least possible

      This an optimization story that should not surprise anyone using the Django ORM. But I thought I’d share because I have numbers now! The origin of this came from a real requirement. For a given parent model, I’d like to extract the value of the name column of all its child models, and the turn all these name strings into 1 MD5 checksum string.

    • Reasons Mitogen sucks

      I have a particular dislike for nonspecific negativity, where nothing can be done to address its source because the reasons underlying it are never explicitly described. In the context of Mitogen, there has been a consistent stream of this sort originating from an important camp in public spaces, and despite efforts to bring specifics out into the open, still it continues to persist.

      For that reason I’d like to try a new strategy: justify the negativity and give it a face by providing all the fuel it needs to burn. Therefore in this post, in the interests of encouraging honesty, I will critique my own work.

    • The North Star of PyCascades, core Python developer Mariatta Wijaya, receives the 2018 Q3 Community Service Award

      At Montreal PyCon 2015, Guido Van Rossum delivered the closing keynote during which Guido issued a public ask, “I want at least two female Python core developers in the next year … and I will try to train them myself if that’s what it takes. So come talk to me.” Consequently, Mariatta did just that, she reached out to Guido after PyCon 2016 to learn more about starting in Python core development. Mariatta recalls, “I hadn’t contributed to open source [yet] and I wanted to know how to start”. Guido recommended some ways for Mariatta to start including reviewing the dev guide, looking at open issues and joining and introducing herself on the Python dev mailing list .

    • Episode #118: Better Python executable management with pipx
    • What if everything you know is wrong?

      In interesting intellectual design challenge is to take a working thing (library, architecture, etc) and then see what would happen if you would reimplement it with the exact opposite way. Not because you’d use the end result anywhere, but just to see if you can learn something new.

    • Qt Roadmap for 2019

      It’s around this time of the year I sit down to write a blog post about our plans and roadmap for the coming year. Typically, some of the items have already been cooking for a while, but some are still plans in the making. If you want to look into the previous roadmap blog posts, here are the ones I wrote for 2016, 2017 and 2018. There is always more to tell than what would reasonably fit in a blog post, but I’ll try to talk about the most interesting items.

      Before diving any further into the new items planned for 2019, I would like to thank each and every Qt developer for their contribution. We have a great ecosystem with many contributors who have provided multiple extremely valuable contributions throughout the years and continue to shape Qt in the future, too. In addition to those contributing code, we also have many active people in the Qt Project forums, on mailing lists, as well as reviewing code and testing the Qt development releases.

    • Qt Publishes A 2019 Public Roadmap: More Work On WebAssembly, Tooling

      The Qt Company has published a 2019 roadmap of sorts for areas they plan on focusing their resources this 2019 calendar year.

      Their 2019 roadmap doesn’t come as a big surprise if considering the areas where they have been focusing a lot of attention recently. For instance, they’ll work on maturing the Qt WebAssembly support that was recently introduced for offering Qt access within web browsers via this high-performance, sandbox-secured technology.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Koch Network Pushes Deceitful Textbook on Cash-Strapped Schools

      I was one of a number of community residents who reviewed the textbook, Ethics, Economy and Entrepreneurship (EE&E), proposed for use in Tucson Unified School District high schools.

      To me, the first clue that this textbook lacked academic integrity was when the authors, three philosophy and marketing professors, began their section on trade 40,000 years ago with the claim that the Neanderthals became extinct because they “weren’t entrepreneurs.” Further nonsense included the idea that Jamestown failed because the settlers didn’t have private property rights, that American bison almost became extinct because Native Americans drove them off cliffs, and that towns were founded before agriculture.

      Once they get to economics, the authors avoid any major event that challenges their belief that unregulated, “free-market” capitalism is the best of all possible economic systems. Shockingly, they completely ignore two of the most significant economic events: the market crashes of 1929 and 2008.

      Lastly, while 90 percent of working people will work for employers rather than for themselves, the authors champion entrepreneurship over employment to high school students without indicating the success rate for entrepreneurs under the age of 40 is limited.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • D G Shah founder of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance dies at age 77

      In the last two decades since Shah took charge of the IPA, the Indian generic drug industry has grown to become a $5 billion industry, as some of the local companies have gone on to establish their names in the global pharma scene, predominantly the United States. In the last two years, Shah and IPA were involved in run ins with the Indian pricing drug regulator,NPPA over regulating prices of medicines in India. The IPA has also been working with the US drug regulators on addressing the quality issues of Indian drug makers that has halted the industry’s growth in the last three years.

    • D G Shah, Founder Of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, Dies At Age 77: Economic Times

      Shah and the IPA became the body that resisted the Intellectual Property Rights that lower income countries like India were forced to sign under the World Trade Organisation’s TRIPS agreement. The IPA positioned itself as the voice of generic drug companies that claimed to represent the interests of Indian drug companies who were bullied under these TRIPS agreement. Shah few pharma industry veterans recall was at times even more powerful than the Indian CEO’s whose interests he represented ….

    • Faced with unreasonable medicines prices, the Netherlands introduces pharmacy exemption in patent law.

      In a letter to parliament, the minister describes the conditions under which pharmacy preparation may take place: the medicine has to be for individual patients and on prescription by a physician and not for production on a structural scale. Other European countries have similar patent exemptions for pharmacy preparation in their patent laws. The introduction of the pharmacist exemption was recommended to the government by the Council for Public Health and Society in its report Development of new medicines; Better, faster, cheaper of November 2017.

      The pharmacists who are preparing low-cost medicines are popular in the Netherlands.

      For example, the pharmacy of the Amsterdam University Medical Centre received €5 million from the Vrienden Lotterij (Friends Lottery). The Amsterdam Medical Centre will use the donation for the preparation of medicines, with extra attention to orphan drugs to ensure their availability and affordability. The AUMC pharmacy became known for the preparation of chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) for the treatment of cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX), a rare metabolic disease. Leadiant, the company that sells the product commercially, had increased the price of the product 500 fold to €153,300 per patient per year. Leadiant has a monopoly position in the market since it obtained an orphan drug status for the product in the EU. The Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation has requested the Dutch competition authority to take action against Leadiant. In the mean time, the pharmacy preparation can offer relief for CTX patients that depend on the medicine. See here for more information about the CDCA story.

    • Take It From Me, Addiction Doesn’t Start at the Border

      As the sister of a brother lost to an opioid overdose, Trump’s claim that we need a border wall in order to keep drugs out is offensive to me on multiple levels. Fact checkers also report that his claims are not true — a border wall would not keep drugs out of our country.

      After the death of my brother a decade ago, I went looking for answers about drugs and addiction. Gabor Mate, a medical doctor who treated addicts in Vancouver, found that his patients had all suffered severe trauma before succumbing to addiction. He wrote a book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, explaining how trauma makes the brain more susceptible to addiction.

      [...]

      The higher your ACE score, the more likely you are to suffer alcoholism, drug addiction, or a host of other health problems.

    • ‘Horrific Attack on Women’s Health’: Trump-Pence Regime Blasted for New Domestic Gag Rule

      Reproductive rights advocates sounded the alarm Friday after the Trump administration released a final draft of a rule critics have called an attack on women’s rights and dubbed a “domestic gag rule.”

      The implications of the restrictive changes to Title X—on which over 4 million people rely—”are staggering,” said Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, adding that the move amounted to “an attack on poor women and people of color.”

      The release (pdf) came from the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Population Affairs. It “would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers” and “bar taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions,” as the Associated Press reports. The changes would affect not only (pdf) Planned Parenthood clinics, but numerous other health centers across the nation.

      Given the president’s previous implementation and expansion of the so-called Mexico City Policy (aka the “global gag rule”), the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) said the administration was bringing the “deadly global policy home.”

    • A Russian teenager stole 200 pounds of potatoes. Police found an imprint of his license plate in the snow.

      An 18-year-old in Syktyvkar, the capital city of Russia’s Komi Republic, has been charged with trespassing and theft after stealing 92 kilograms (202 pounds) of potatoes. The young man was identified after an imprint from his car’s license plate was found in a snowbank. As the thief attempted to escape the scene of the crime in his Volga GAZ-31029, he crashed into the snow and failed to notice that the car’s license plate number remained clearly legible when he drove away.

    • Don’t Raid Military Funds for a Wall. Raid Them for Health Care.

      When Donald Trump declared a national emergency, he opened a constitutional can of worms about what powers the president has to overrule Congress about budget matters. What is constitutionally clear is that since Congress alone can tax and spend, the president can only move already authorized money around to fund his wall. With the White House claiming the availability of $8 billion in border funds, something else has to give.

      The White House has identified $3.6 billion in military construction funds, followed by $2.5 billion in Department of Defense counterdrug funding, and $600 million in Treasury funds, on top of the $1.375 billion allocated by Congress as part of the funding deal to avoid another government shutdown.

      Except for the $1.375 billion allocated by Congress, all of that money would have otherwise been spent on something besides a wall.

      Most of the funds the president might raid are for things that are either directly or indirectly related to our country’s militaristic approaches to everything from drug policy to immigration. On first glance, this might not seem like such a bad thing.

  • Security

    • Melbourne Heart Group hit by Windows ransomware

      The Melbourne Heart Group, a medical unit located at Cabrini Hospital in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern, has been hit by a Windows ransomware attack that has resulted in about 15,000 patients being locked.

    • Crime syndicate hacks 15,000 medical files at Cabrini Hospital, demands ransom

      Melbourne Heart Group, which is based at the private hospital in Malvern, has been unable to access some patient files for more than three weeks, after the malware attack crippled its server and corrupted data.

    • Venezuela’s Government Appears To Be Trying to Hack Activists With Phishing Pages

      The IP address of the fake site was hosting several domains designed to phish usernames and passwords for Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Microsoft Live, Linkedin, and Apple’s iCloud, among other sites, according to public data collected by PassiveTotal and other internet monitoring services reviewed by Motherboard.

    • Major 9.8 vulnerability affects multiple Linux kernels— CVE-2019-8912 (af_alg_release())

      Our assessment is that the cause is this commit, the introduction of a “sockfs_setattr()” function. This function neglects to null-out values in a structure, making their values usable after exiting from the function (a so-called ‘use-after-free’ error).

    • Linux use-after-free vulnerability found in Linux 2.6 through 4.20.11

      Last week, a Huawei engineer reported a vulnerability present in the early Linux 2.6 kernels through version 4.20.11. The Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASAN) that detects dynamic memory errors within the Linux kernel code was used to uncover the use-after-free vulnerability which was present since early Linux versions.

      The use-after-free issue was found in the networking subsystem’s sockfs code and could lead to arbitrary code execution as a result.

    • Taking Care of Your Personal Online Security (For Paranoids)

      So, use Linux, and preferably coreboot or Libreboot (open source BIOS). You can buy hardware based on the recommendations of well-known and respected (still a bit paranoid) cypherpunk Richard Stallman.

    • Why do PAM projects fail? Tales from the trenches

      Privileged accounts hold the keys to highly sensitive company information and once these credentials are targeted, they can easily lead to a breach of a company’s most valuable assets; from databases to social media and unstructured data. Most enterprises have implemented some form of Privileged Access Management (PAM), but many find these initiatives fail to live up to expectations. Below are some common reasons why a PAM project might fail to meet the initial expectations; coupled with practical insights on how to prevent it from becoming a dud.

    • Sailfish OS: Security and Data Privacy

      Mobile World Congress is back again! Like every single year during the Jolla journey, we are excited to take part in this event. We have had great experiences in the past MWC’s, our main drivers for attending are the current and relevant topics discussed during the congress. One of this year’s core themes is Digital Trust; “Digital trust analyses the growing responsibilities required to create the right balance with consumers, governments and regulators.” It makes us happy that these topics are being discussed, especially since several scandals have recently affected trust in digital solutions.
      At Jolla we work constantly towards providing a secure and transparent solution. Our value towards our customer’s privacy is reflected in our values and actions. Back in May of 2018 our CEO Sami Pienimäki wrote a blog post on the GDPR laws passed within the European Union and stated the cornerstones on how Jolla views data privacy. This stand on privacy is not rocket science – the core idea is to respect our customers’ privacy and allow them to be in control of their data.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Which is More Secure: Windows, Linux, or macOS? [Ed: security is not an OS feature but a separate product, insists company that sells "security" as a proprietar ysoftware product]
    • What Is the Most Secure VPN Protocol?
    • Security researcher finds Bitmain S15 miner exploit

      A developer has discovered vulnerability in Bitmain’s Antminer S15, which has subsequently been turned into an exploit by an anonymous security researcher, according to reports.

    • Anonymous Security Researcher Uncovers Exploit in Bitmain’s Bitcoin Miner S15
    • Will This Vulnerability Finally Compel Bitmain to Open Source Its Firmware?

      As if Bitmain’s year hasn’t been rough enough, having posted big losses and laying off entire departments, its flagship product now has a firmware vulnerability.

    • Linux Kernel To Better Fend Off Exploits That Disable SMAP / SMEP / UMIP Protections

      A change made courtesy of Google engineers to the Linux kernel will make it so exploits on Linux have a tougher time trying to disable SMAP and SMEP protections as part of their exploit path.

      Supervisor Mode Execution Protection (SMEP) and Supervisor Mode Access Prevention (SMAP) are security features of recent generations of Intel CPUs to prevent the kernel from accessing unintended user-space memory and in turn helping fend off various exploits. But some exploits have been calling the Linux kernel’s native_write_cr4 function to disable SMEP/SMAP, since the status of these security options are controlled through bits in the CR4 control register.

    • Unexpected Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS Coming Due To APT Security Issue

      No further point releases to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS had been planned, but in light of the recent APT vulnerability, Canonical has decided to issue an Ubuntu 16.04.6 update that will be hitting the mirrors soon.

      Last month an APT package manage vulnerability was exposed that could make Debian-based distributions open to man-in-the-middle attacks and end up installing rogue packages. Debian and Ubuntu have been quick to address this issue and now Ubuntu 16.04.6 is on the way to help tighten up those running the Xenial Xerus.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Minister of Defence lashes out at experts commenting on intelligence bills

      Niinistö made no attempt to conceal his exasperation with the two experts: Juha Lavapuro, a professor of public law at the University of Turku, and Martin Scheinin, a professor of international law and human rights at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

      [...]

      The roles of Lavapuro and Scheinin have also stirred up debate in connection with the preparatory work on another long-discussed legislative project: the social, health care and regional government reform. The Finnish Union of University Professors, however, has reminded that commenting on topical social issues falls within the remit of professors.

    • There’s a new snag for Amazon in the winner-take-all $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract, and it could be good news for Microsoft

      The Department of Defense has agreed to investigate some of the central complaints raised by Oracle in a lawsuit. The suit has been Oracle’s method to wrestle a $10 billion cloud computing contract out of the waiting hands of Amazon, who has long been considered the front-runner for the winner-take-all deal.

    • A Call to Halt an Illegal Invasion of Venezuela

      It seems like every time I pick up a newspaper or go online, our country is starting another war. As a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I am consumed by the situation in Venezuela, which is becoming more and more concerning.

      I’m not a war correspondent, and I don’t have a Ph.D. in political science. But I have seen these conflicts firsthand, and I have felt the effects. Like many in this country, I have lost family members and friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t want anyone else to have to experience that. Unfortunately, the inertia over regime change in Venezuela bears a striking resemblance to what happened in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

      As one of the soldiers who illegally invaded Iraq, this scares me. I know an illegal coup/invasion when I see one. I knew it before being deployed to Iraq, but it became even more clear as we wandered around Baghdad looking for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist.

    • As Trump Pushes for Overthrow in Venezuela, Sanders Warns Against Repeating History’s Mistake
    • This Is Not Humanitarian Aid: A Maduro Critic in Venezuela Slams U.S. Plan to Push Regime Change

      We go to Caracas, Venezuela, for an update on the escalating standoff between President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó. Guaidó claims he is preparing to deliver humanitarian aid from the Colombian border Saturday. Maduro has rejected the plan, saying the effort is part of a broader attempt to overthrow his regime. This comes as Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela and right-wing hawk, Elliott Abrams, is leading a U.S. delegation traveling by military aircraft to the Colombian border, supposedly to help deliver the aid. The United Nations, the Red Cross and other relief organizations have refused to work with the U.S. on delivering that aid to Venezuela, which they say is politically motivated. We speak with Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander, a member of the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution. “This certainly is not humanitarian aid, and it’s not oriented with any humanitarian aims,” Lander says. “This is clearly a coup carried out by the United States government with its allies, with the Lima Group and the extreme right wing in Venezuela.”

    • Venezuela Coverage Takes Us Back to Golden Age of Lying About Latin America

      I was sitting in my apartment in Caracas, Venezuela, reading the online edition of Time magazine (5/19/16), which carried a report that there was not even something as basic as aspirin to be found anywhere in Venezuela: “Basic medicines like aspirin are nowhere to be found.”

      I walked out of the apartment to the nearest pharmacy, four blocks away, where I found plenty of aspirin, as well as acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) and ibuprofen (generic Advil), in a well-stocked pharmacy with a knowledgeable professional staff that would be the envy of any US drugstore.

      A few days after the Time story, CNBC (6/22/16) carried a claim that there was no acetaminophen to be found anywhere, either: “Basic things like Tylenol aren’t even available.” That must have taken the Pfizer Corporation by surprise, since it was their Venezuelan subsidiary, Pfizer Venezuela SA, which produced the acetaminophen I purchased. (Neither Time writer Ian Bremer nor CNBC commentator Richard Washington was in Venezuela, and there was no evidence offered that either of them had ever been there.)

    • Why is the Venezuelan Government Rejecting U.S. Food Supplies?

      There’s no denying that a serious economic and humanitarian crisis faces Venezuela. Millions of citizens have left the country, and those who have remained have lost considerable weight and have inadequate access to food and medicine. Hyperinflation continues unabated, and, with the Trump administration recently leveling sanctions against the Venezuelan state oil company (PDVSA), the crisis is only intensifying.

      Yet, although the U.S. – through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – has flown food and medicinal provisions such as high-energy biscuits to the Colombian border with Venezuela, the Venezuelan government is refusing to allow these supplies into the country. Amid the crisis, this might appear to onlookers as gravely inconsiderate and deliberately cruel, at best.

      As a result, the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó has proclaimed that it will somehow retrieve these supplies and bring them into the country on Saturday, February 23. It is not yet clear how the opposition intends to do this. However, one thing is certain: these efforts are going to result in a high-level confrontation between opposition activists and Venezuelan military members, who the Maduro government has ordered to prohibit these supplies from entering the country. In the lead-up to this confrontation, the Trump administration has warned Maduro and his military not to harm protestors and activists. This call, of course, exists alongside Trump’s warning that all options, including a military invasion, are on the table.

    • Will Venezuela Crisis Split Democrats?

      Those assembled in the House of Representatives broke out in spirited applause, with Republicans shouting, “Hard Coup, Hard Coup,” and many Democrats responding with calls for “Soft Coup, Soft Coup.” Others sat on their hands silently mouthing “No Coup, No Coup.”

      While actual calls for a coup – hard, soft or none at all — did not actually accompany Trump’s remarks, all those in Congress that night knew that the Trump administration was orchestrating a coup in Venezuela and, pathetically, most of those in attendance — Republicans and Democrats — were in support of such an illegal action.

      And Trump, never missing an opportunity to attack a political enemy real or imagined, went after Americans’ growing recognition that “socialism” represents a valid alternative to the tyranny of 1 percent capitalism:

      Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

    • The War on Venezuela is Built on Lies

      Traveling with Hugo Chavez, I soon understood the threat of Venezuela. At a farming co-operative in Lara state, people waited patiently and with good humour in the heat. Jugs of water and melon juice were passed around. A guitar was played; a woman, Katarina, stood and sang with a husky contralto.

      “What did her words say?” I asked.

      “That we are proud,” was the reply.

      The applause for her merged with the arrival of Chavez. Under one arm he carried a satchel bursting with books. He wore his big red shirt and greeted people by name, stopping to listen. What struck me was his capacity to listen.

      But now he read. For almost two hours he read into the microphone from the stack of books beside him: Orwell, Dickens, Tolstoy, Zola, Hemingway, Chomsky, Neruda: a page here, a line or two there. People clapped and whistled as he moved from author to author.

      Then farmers took the microphone and told him what they knew, and what they needed; one ancient face, carved it seemed from a nearby banyan, made a long, critical speech on the subject of irrigation; Chavez took notes.

      Wine is grown here, a dark Syrah type grape. “John, John, come up here,” said El Presidente, having watched me fall asleep in the heat and the depths of Oliver Twist.

      “He likes red wine,” Chavez told the cheering, whistling audience, and presented me with a bottle of “vino de la gente”. My few words in bad Spanish brought whistles and laughter.

    • The U.S. and Venezuela: a Long History of Hostility

      The very foundations of the U.S. gave the rights of governing to wealthy, white, male landowners. Some changes have been made since the U.S. Constitution was written, but the U.S. hasn’t achieved anything close to Venezuela’s democratic practices. And so Venezuela, which hasinstituted something close to true democracy, must not be tolerated. The U.S. government has tried repeatedly to overthrow the government.

      One attempt was a U.S.-backed referendum to oust Chavez in 2004. “The referendum to be held on 15 August (2004) in Venezuela on whether to oust Hugo Chavez from his Presidential office is the latest attempt by the U.S. Administration and the corporate interests they represent to overthrow a truly popular democratic government.”[4] The U.S. was unsuccessful in thwarting the will of the Venezuelan people at that time.

      Upon the death of Chavez in 2012, Nicolas Maduro, then the vice-president, became president. In an election held shortly thereafter, Maduro was victorious, albeit by a small margin. He was re-elected in 2017.

      While Venezuela certainly faces challenges, Maduro is the democratically-elected leader of that nation. The U.S., however, in January of 2019, recognized Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly, as the president of Venezuela, claiming that he is the legitimate leader.

      With that, the U.S. then issued heavy sanctions against Venezuela, crippling the economy. The United Nations has agreed to send in ‘humanitarian aid,’ which the Maduro government has, as of this writing, resisted. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza described the situation as follows: “’Let’s not be so hypocritical in this conversation,’ Arreaza told a news conference at UN headquarters. ‘There isn’t a humanitarian crisis. There is an economy that is subject to a blockade.’”[5] In explaining this further, Arreaza said this: “A government that is threatening you with use of force, with invasion, with a blockade, that gives orders to other countries for them to block you, do they really want to provide you with humanitarian aid? This is a hostile government that is killing you and then they want to help you out.”[6]

    • Cold Warrior Elliott Abrams returns to battle in Venezuela

      Shortly after right-wing figure Juan Guaido auto-proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela in January – to the immediate applause of US President Donald Trump – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the appointment of a special envoy to “help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country”, that is to get rid of legitimate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro once and for all.

      The envoy is neo-con extraordinaire Elliott Abrams, praised by Pompeo as a “seasoned, principled, and tough-minded foreign policy veteran”, whose “passion for the rights and liberties of all peoples makes him a perfect fit and a valuable and timely addition” to the State Department team.

      “Veteran”, at least, is an accurate description. Abrams indeed boasts a long career of shady political exploits in Latin America undertaken on behalf of the American government.

    • Canada and the Venezuela Coup Attempt

      US presidents have bombed or invaded places like Grenada, Panama, Iraq and Sudan to distract from domestic scandals or to gain a quick boost in popularity. But, do Canadian politicians also pursue regime change abroad to be cheered on by the dominant media as decisive leaders?

      In a discussion on regime change in Venezuela after last Monday’s “Lima Group” meeting in Ottawa, Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole praised Canadian policy but added that the Liberals used the meeting of countries opposed to Nicolas Maduro’s government to drown out criticism of their foreign policy. O’Toole claimed the “Lima Group” meeting was “put together quite quickly and I think there are some politics behind that with some of the foreign affairs challenges the Trudeau government has been having in recent months.” In other words, O’Toole believes the Liberals organized a gathering that concluded with a call for the military to oust Venezuela’s elected president to appear like effective international players.

      Understood within the broader corporate and geopolitical context, O’Toole’s assessment appears reasonable. After being criticized for its China policy, the Liberals have been widely praised for their regime change efforts in Venezuela. In a sign of media cheerleading, CTV News host Don Martin began his post “Lima Group” interview with foreign minister Chrystia Freeland by stating “the Lima summit has wrapped and the object of regime change is staying put for the time being” and then he asked her “is [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro any step closer to being kicked out of office as a result of this meeting today?” Later in the interview Martin applauded the “Lima Group’s” bid “to put the economic pincers around it [Venezuela’s economy] and choking it off from international transactions.”

      In recent days Ben Rowswell, a former Canadian ambassador in Caracas, has been widely quoted praising the Liberals’ leadership on Venezuela. “It’s clear that the international community is paying attention to what Canada has to say about human rights and democracy,” Rowswell was quoted as saying in an article titled “Trudeau’s Venezuela diplomacy is a bright spot amid China furor”.

    • US Racism and Imperialism Fuel Turbulence in Haiti

      Beginning on February 7, Haitians have been in the streets protesting against corruption, high prices, shortages, inflation, and power outages. Demonstrators are demanding that President Jovenel Moïse, in power since January 2017, resign. Moïseblames the disturbances on “armed groupsand drug traffickers” and is calling for negotiation.

      Facing police brutality, masses of Haitians have blocked roads, stoned officials, burned vehicles, and ransacked stores; nine are dead and over 100 wounded. Food and drinkable water are scarce. The United States withdrew non-emergency diplomatic representatives and issued travel warnings. The Trump administration indicated humanitarian aid may be on the way.

      Haitians protested massively in October, 2018 after the highly indebted government raised gasoline prices. It was complying with instructions from the International Monetary Fund in order to obtain low-interest loans. The protests forced a reversal of the price hike and continued.

      Currently the Haitian people’s main complaint is corruption arising out of a 2006 oil deal with Venezuela. Haiti, led by President René Préval,was one of 17 countries joining Venezuela’s Petrocaribeproject. The agreement called for Haiti to pay for 60 percent of the oil within 90 days and the remainder after 25 years at 1% interest. Haiti presently owes Venezuela $2 billion.

    • How Trump’s Attacks on Venezuela Sparked a Revolution in Haiti

      Chaos reigned in Haiti for a seventh straight day on February 13, as people continue to rise up against President Jovenel Moïse over his corruption, arrogance, false promises and straight-faced lies.

      But the crisis will not be solved by Moïse’s departure, which appears imminent.

      Today’s revolution shows all the signs of being as profound and unstoppable as the one that took place 33 years ago against dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and triggered five years of popular tumult.

      Despite fierce repression, massacres, a bogus election and three coups d’état, the uprising culminated in the remarkable December 1990 landslide election of anti-imperialist liberation theologian Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

      At a time when Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinistas and the Soviet Union had just been vanquished, the Haitian people defeated Washington’s election engineering for the first time in Latin America since Salvador Allende’s victory in Chile two decades earlier.

      Haiti’s example inspired a young Venezuelan army officer, Hugo Chávez, to adopt the same playbook. Chávez’s election in 1998 helped kick off the “pink tide” of left and centre-left governments across South America.

      Just as Washington fomented a coup against Aristide on September 30, 1991, it carried out a similar one against Chávez on April 11, 2002. But the latter was thwarted after two days by the Venezuelan people and the army’s rank-and-file.

    • ‘The Afghan Government Is as Corrupt as Governments Come’ – CounterSpin interview with Phyllis Bennis on Ending the Afghan War

      Some jokes write themselves. When we learned negotiations on Afghanistan suggested the possibility of an end to the grueling 17-year war, the longest in US history, the New York Times ran a piece headlined, “Fearing What Could Follow a Quick Exit.”

      The US invasion and occupation have devastated the country and killed more than 100,000 people. But consider, cautions the Washington Post: “An end to the Afghan war is desirable, but not at the expense of everything the United States has helped to build there since 2001.”

      What and who is missing from such conversations around the current talks about Afghanistan, and from the talks themselves? Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies, and is author of numerous books, including Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer, co-authored with David Wildman. She joins us now in studio. W

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Ex-Rep. Joe Crowley Joins Lobbying Firm That Reps Fossil Fuel Industry, Private Prisons & Anti-Estate Tax Group

      Barely two months out of office, Joe Crowley, the former ten-term U.S. congressman who suffered a stunning defeat to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th district last November, is now joining Squire Patton Boggs, one of the most powerful corporate lobbying firms the U.S.

      Squire Patton Boggs is a large firm with many clients, including major corporate powerhouses from the defense, private prison, and fossil fuel industry, as well as ultra-conservative advocacy groups. (We profile some of these clients below).

      Crowley was one of the most powerful and well-connected members of Congress. He served as chair of the House Democratic Caucus and was widely seen as a possible successor to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi. In moving through the revolving door to join Squire Patton Boggs so soon, Crowley seems to be confirming a major critique that was hurled against him during his failed defense of his Congressional seat: that his loyalties lie with the U.S. corporate establishment, and that the power and influence he developed in Congress, which he now looks to profit off of as a lobbyist, were based on his ties to that establishment.

      At Squire Patton Boggs, Crowley is joining other powerful revolving door lobbyists who formerly served in Congress. These include former House Speaker John Boehner, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott,
      and Jack Kingston, who was a high-ranking GOP U.S. congressman from 1993 to 2015 from Georgia’s first district. Squire Patton Boggs also announced that, along with Crowley, it is hiring former GOP Rep. Bill Shuster, a nine-term congressman who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

    • The Green New Deal Outlines the Change Society Needs

      The Green New Deal (GND) on its face, is a plan to decarbonize and transform the energy sector but in the big picture, it outlines a remedy to the inherent economic and social problems of capitalism. While the ultimate solution to those problems would be a different economic system, perhaps a social democracy, we must consider the GND as a part of a solution that we can no longer ignore. Can capitalism and socialism co-exist? Well, while the top 1% love both capitalism and the social largesse showered upon them at the expense of the rest of us, as AOC noted of the GND, “it’s all about how our economy should work”.

      The President tweets, “I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called ‘Carbon Footprint’ to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military – even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!” and shows his total inability to understand or to care about the real national emergency as it unfolds daily under his watch.

      While centrist Democrats would move even closer to Trump and the Republicans, new members of Congress eagerly took up the possibilities of the GND. One can only hope that neoliberalism, neocolonialism and the Third Way are in their death throes, as those political mindsets would immediately put the GND “off the table”, just as they did single payer health care, despite strong public support.

      The GND contains a plan that industry and the centrists reject as impossible to achieve, read: not enough profit for private industry. They object to a system which would benefit society in general, a system that would close the wealth gap and hopefully prevent climate disaster. Looking at the big picture,long term societal good, will never be valued as highly as a good quarterly corporate profit statement. As long as it’s profitable, omnicide is OK.

      The GND is important because we are beyond the point where we can save the planet simply by making better personal choices or lifestyle changes such as driving less, flying less, recycling, converting to renewable energy. Those of us who can, of course should make those choices. The global elite, the captains of industry, the wolves of Wall Street could care less– as long as there are people and a planet to exploit in order to maintain the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. The poor, in the global south, cause far less climate impact than we in the industrialized north, but they, like the poor everywhere, bear the brunt of the impact from globalization and environmental racism. For good reason they must be more concerned about their day-to-day survival than about using paper or plastic.

    • The Inevitable Death of Natural Gas as a ‘Bridge Fuel’

      Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced the city is scrapping plans for a multi-billion-dollar update to three natural gas power plants, instead choosing to invest in renewable energy and storage.

      “This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The climate crisis demands that we move more quickly to end dependence on fossil fuel, and that’s what today is all about.”

      Last year America’s carbon emissions rose over 3 percent, despite coal plants closing and being replaced in part by natural gas, the much-touted “bridge fuel” and “cleaner” fossil fuel alternative.

      As a new series from the sustainability think tank the Sightline Institute points out, the idea of natural gas as a bridge fuel is “alarmingly deceptive.”

    • ‘Everyone. Needs. To. Watch…’ Democrat Dianne Feinstein Explain to Children Why She Won’t Back Green New Deal

      Posted to Twitter by the Sunrise Movement, which had organized the office visit as part of its campaign to garner support for the resolution, the video shows Feinstein responding with “smugness and disrespect” when the group explains that while their futures are the ones that will be impacted the most the scientific community has said there is just 12 years for radical transformation to take place.

      [...]

      “Everyone needs to watch this video of @SenFeinstein disparaging literal children from @SunriseMvmt calling on her to support @AOC and @SenMarkey’s Green New Deal,” said Waleed Shahid of the Justice Democrats.

    • Climate and Money: a Tale of Two Accounts

      In 1908, Charles Abbot and F.E. Fowle gave a presentation titled “Income and Outgo of Heat from the Earth, and the Dependence of Its Temperature Thereon.” A lot’s been learned since then, but the importance of income and outgo on Earth’s temperature has been proven again and again.

      The basics are as straightforward as the income and outgo of a checking account. In one case, it’s all about income and outgo of money. In the other, it’s all about income and outgo of radiant energy in the form of incoming light and outgoing heat.

      Incoming solar radiation in the form of sunlight is a deposit in Earth’s radiation account. In the September 1970 issue of Scientific American, scientist Abraham Oort reminded readers that when this radiation reaches the surface of Earth in the form of sunlight, it is “stored,” or deposited, as heat.

      As he said then, the outgo begins as the deposited heat rises away from the heated surface, now heating the atmosphere “from the bottom up.”

    • ‘Shame on Trudeau’: Anger Stirred as Canada’s Energy Board Approves Trans Mountain Pipeline

      Indigenous tribes and green campaigners were angered but not surprised Friday when Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) recommended that the government move ahead with its planned expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline—despite acknowledging that the project will negatively affect the environment.

      The decision paved the way for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration to increase fossil fuel emissions, endanger wildlife, and threaten the lives and livelihoods of the eight million people who live in the pipeline’s path.

      The NEB argued that the pipeline is in the public interest and provided the government with a list of 16 conditions that it must meet as it prepares to expand the 1,150 kilometer (714 mile) pipeline, tripling the amount of oil the tar sands pipeline will carry from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia—but critics including Burnaby mayor Mike Hurley argued that the NEB has no intention of protecting the environment or wildlife by enforcing strict regulations on the construction.

    • Answering 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.”

    • Is the Tide Turning on President Trump’s War on Science?

      Douglas Costle, who helped create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and then ran it during Jimmy Carter’s administration, died recently at the age of 79. If the Trump administration has its way, the agency as we know it will die along with him.

      “Clean air is not an aesthetic luxury,” Costle said when he took the job as EPA administrator. “It is a public health necessity.”

      President Trump said pretty much the same thing in an interview just after winning the election. “Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important,” he told The New York Times. He stuck to that mantra during a CNN interview last November. “I want clean air,” he said. “I want clean water. Very important.”

      The difference is, Costle didn’t just talk the talk. At his very first news conference as EPA administrator, he announced the recall of 135,000 Cadillacs because the cars’ emissions violated the Clean Air Act. Under his watch, the agency banned aerosol spray fluorocarbons to protect the Earth’s ozone layer. In the first two months of his tenure, he hired 600 new scientists and analysts to bolster the agency’s staff.

      Trump is Costle’s antithesis. His administration plans to roll back car emissions standards. It killed power plant carbon emission rules. It has also shrunk the EPA workforce to levels not seen in 35 years. That’s just three of too many examples. According to a recent report by my organization, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the number of Trump administration attacks on science-based public health and environmental safeguards in its first two years in office is unprecedented.

    • Global Warming’s Monster Awakens

      The planet’s biggest nightmare is coming to life. It may be a bigger threat much sooner than ever before realized simply because it’s accelerating!

      East Antarctica, the world’s largest body of water trapped in ice, is knocking the socks off expectations. Along the way, it’s the world’s most horrifying surprise, yet nobody really knows how it will play out because the science is still in early stages.

      Nevertheless, a formidable issue is at hand: Vincennes Bay in East Antarctica is home to humongous glaciers, like Totten Glacier (2,400 square miles), which is the largest glacier in the bay and equivalent to at least 11 feet of sea level rise alone, but it is only one of several glaciers in Vincennes Bay.

      Recent NASA research indicates that four glaciers west of Totten Glacier in Vincennes Bay have receded by 9 feet since 2008. Heretofore, there was no measured change in these glaciers… period!

      Surprisingly, within one decade there’s measurable loss of 9 feet after years and decades and centuries upon centuries of East Antarctica stability. This is disturbing and begs the question of what if the melting accelerates more, and more, and keeps on accelerating more than previous rates of acceleration. Then what?

      According to NASA: “East Antarctica has the potential to reshape coastlines around the world through sea level rise, but scientists have long considered it more stable than its neighbor, West Antarctica. Now, new detailed NASA maps of ice velocity and elevation show that a group of glaciers spanning one-eighth of East Antarctica’s coast have begun to lose ice over the past decade, hinting at widespread changes in the ocean.” (Source: More Glaciers in East Antarctica Are Waking Up, NASA, Dec. 10, 2018).

    • Imagined Communities and Omitting Carbon Emissions: Shifting the Discussion On Climate Change

      I think we need to omit talking about carbon emissions when discussing climate change. This is what I see the mainstream media limit the discussion to. It’s why the Democratic Green New Deal is all the rage these days.

      This new deal focuses on two items: carbon emissions and jobs which is what mainstream climate change discussions have always been about. It’s the implicit understanding in mainstream liberal circles about hammering on carbon emissions while keeping up global production. The ultimate oxymoron that no matter what the temperature of the earth is this model will continue to devour all life on the planet.

      When a species food source is taken away they starve to death hence why 41% of global insect populations have declined over the past decade. That’s what happens when you devour a living planet for profit all while spraying it with chemicals regardless of how many parts per million of carbon are in the atmosphere.

      I understand the Green New Deal would change “American society” but herein lies the problem. Our addiction to Nationalism. Our addiction to the mass capitalist electronic screen press that lets us imagine and feel like we are part of this big kumbaya American community.

      This “imagined community” as Benedict Anderson has called it lets the top 1% of income earners in America garner in 22% of all national income. We must not be identifying and imagining ourselves as Americans especially since this imagined community has no problem expelling millions of its members that we don’t personally know and will never meet which is why the community of America is something we imagine or envision in our minds.

    • Biomass is Not “Green”: an Interview With Josh Schlossberg

      Josh Schlossberg is an investigative journalist, horror author and former environmental organizer who lives in Denver, Colorado. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Biomass Monitor, a subscription-supported publication that bills itself as “the nation’s leading publication investigating the whole story on bioenergy, biomass, and biofuels.” In early September 2018, I was visiting Colorado and met up with Josh. We talked biomass, “renewable” energy, wildfires, politics and activism. What follows is a partial transcript, edited for clarity.

    • Appeals Court Rejects Big Oil’s Lawsuit Against L.A. Youth Groups, City of Los Angeles

      In a victory for environmental justice, a California appeals court on February 15 dismissed the California Independent Petroleum Associations’s lawsuit against youth organizations from South Los Angeles and Wilmington, the Center for Biological Diversity and the city of Los Angeles.

      Judge Terry A. Green of the California 2nd District Court of Appeals reversed a previous order by the L.A. Superior Court denying the special motions by the nonprofit organizations and the city to strike the oil industry lawsuit.

      The oil industry is the most powerful corporate lobby in California, so this big win by the Center and youth groups is very significant.

      The California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) filed the suit after the groups won protections against neighborhood oil drilling from the city, according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition and Youth for Environmental Justice.

    • Alberta’s Oil Production Cut Shows the Keystone XL Protest Worked

      Even among those sympathetic to it, the climate movement’s success in persuading President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015 was widely regarded as a symbolic victory.

      Stopping one pipeline was hardly going to stop climate change, after all. And even the more limited goal that activists had set — stopping the exploitation of Alberta’s highly polluting tar sands — was dismissed as unrealistic. The oil would simply find another way to the market, the argument went, leading New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, for example, to declare “The Keystone Fight is a Huge Environmentalist Mistake.” Well, perhaps not.

    • Crocking the Genetic Code

      Only about 1,000 of these relatively small, heavily poached crocodiles remain in the wild, where their populations are scattered between several Southeast Asian countries. Cambodia, the country with the most Siamese crocodiles, only has about 250 adults, all of which live in small, isolated populations of 50 or fewer individuals. Recent research has shown that very few of these groups are actively reproducing.

      Even as the wild population disappears, hundreds of thousands of Siamese crocodiles — perhaps more than a million — can be found on farms in Southeast Asia, where their soft skin is harvested as a valuable commodity. Tapping into this plentiful supply of captive animals could, in theory, help to save the wild crocodiles from completely disappearing.

    • Climate change stokes mayhem in several ways

      tand by for long hot summers marked by riot and racial tension. As climate change stokes mayhem, global warming is likely to see a direct rise in human irritability.

      Climate change accompanied by natural disaster such as flood or drought could lead to harvest failure and food and water shortages for which people must compete.

      And the same natural disasters could lead to a generation of babies, children and adolescents more likely, because of disadvantage and deprivation, to become more prone to violence in adulthood.

      Researchers in the US have been thinking carefully about the links between climate change and conflict. This, they write in Current Climate Change Reports, has a long history, and a huge range of studies have addressed the hazard.

    • 13-Year-Old US Activist Hailed as Glorious ‘Threat’ to Those Driving Planetary Disaster With Climate Denialism

      That’s climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor, who explained in an interview Friday morning, “My generation is going to have to live in a climate-changed world, and the fact that nothing was done in order to make sure that we don’t live in planetary catastrophe—it’s very disappointing and it’s upsetting.”

      A recent New York City transplant, Villaseñor—taking inspiration from Swedish teen Greta Thunberg—has been standing in front of the United Nations every Friday for 11 weeks. She’s also co-leading the U.S. Youth Climate Strike movement, which is organizing to get thousands of students to take part in a global day of climate action on March 15.

      In a tweet sent following her interview with CBS News, the teenager appeared shocked that she had actually gone on national television and “told all the adults in America that they are threatened by us!”

      In fact, “yes, you are a threat,” responded author and climate activist Naomi Klein, “because believing climate science means embracing deep change to a way of life that has long been equated with freedom and power (but is, in fact, a straight shot to utter powerlessness and loss of freedom).”

    • ‘Terrifying’: Rapid Loss of Biodiversity Placing Global Food Supplies at Risk of ‘Irreversible Collapse’

      A groundbreaking report by the United Nations highlighting the rapid, widespread loss of many of the world’s plant and animal species should be on the front page of every newspaper in the world, argued climate action and food access advocates on Friday.

      The global grassroots organization Slow Food was among the groups that called for far greater attention by world leaders to the “debilitating” loss of biodiversity and the disastrous effects the decline is having on food system, which was outlined in a first-of-its kind report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

      “This should be at the top of every news bulletin and every government’s agenda around the world,” said Slow Food in a statement. “Time is running out, we must turn things around within the next 10 years or risk a total and irreversible collapse.”

    • School strikes take off as legacy from ‘grandfather of climate science’

      More than 40 years after Wallace Smith Broecker published his landmark 1975 paper ‘Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?’ the world is still to set into action a global plan to prevent climate chaos.

      While close to 200 countries reached the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and adopted a set of rules governing climate action at the UN climate talks in Katowice (COP24) last December, they have so far failed to commit to accelerated climate action.

      This ongoing political inaction is what drives the burgeoning school climate strikes inspired by Swedish girl Greta Thunberg, who boldly warned leaders at COP24 that “people will not wait for change, we will tell them change is coming”.

  • Finance

    • Crowley joins coalition to pass Trump’s new NAFTA

      The coalition has 12 members so far, including the Household and Commercial Products Association, the International Association of Drilling Contractors, PhRMA, the Washington Council on International Trade, the Canadian American Business Council and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.

      There are other coalitions working to get the deal passed, and Dearborn said what makes Pass USMCA unique is “we have no conditions,” calling their sole focus “the quick and clean passage of USMCA.”

    • Life and Crime in Blue Collar Rhode Island

      The return of The Sopranos to cable television has memorably recalled what serious screenwriting, directing and acting can do to open up a world not often realistically viewed (despite many efforts), at least beyond literary fiction, since the original Godfather film series.

      The problem, from another and less entertaining point of view, is that the blue collar life in which crime—organized and unorganized—has been and remains enmeshed, is generally seen poorly, indeed. Abundant detective novels have often done better, are doing better than politicians and scholars. Kris Nelscott’s recent series on a black detective in Memphis, New Haven and mainly Chicago at the end of the 1960s, for example, offers an especially good description of crime, race and the role of the authorities in accepting and perpetuating atrocities.

      Memories being me back to thirty-five years in Rhode Island, the micro- state with a crime syndicate frequently at the center of public attention. A new told-to memoir of a reputed enforcer and killer interestingly sharing the last name of eminently dignified predecessors, makes a real contribution. In Little Rhody, the colonial past never seems far away and even a progressive union leader of recent decades was actually named “Roger Williams.” The real eighteenth and early nineteenth century giants were more likely to have been slave traders and then owners of “family” mills where children toiled long hours. So perhaps the shift is not so great after all.

    • Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency, Naked 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.”

    • “Out Here Because I Love Teaching”: The Oakland Teachers Strike, In Photos

      In January, teachers in Los Angeles, California, won a historic strike, securing smaller class sizes, a nurse in every school, a reduction in standardized testing, a 6 percent pay raise for teachers and a plan for the School Board to vote to call on the state to cap charter school growth.

      The teachers union in Denver, Colorado, won its first strike in 25 years last week, while educators in West Virginia walked out earlier this week, halting proposed legislation that would have allowed tax dollars to pay for private-school tuition.

      Today, the 3,000-member Oakland Education Association (OEA) is on strike after 95 percent of its members voted on February 4 to authorize the work stoppage. The union says it has picket lines up at all 86 educational campuses in Oakland.

      The Oakland teachers strike is as much about defending public education as it is about teacher pay.

      United under the slogan, “Fighting for the schools our students deserve,” the union is calling for smaller class sizes, more support services for students (nurses, counselors and librarians), and an end to neighborhood school closures.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Chris Christie Spins a Story, Once Again

      Former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie is at it again, making the rounds promoting his new book, Let Me Finish. Unsurprisingly, Christie paints himself as a misunderstood do-gooder, claiming that if he hadn’t been ousted from Trump’s transition team due to prosecuting Jared Kushner’s father, the White House would not be the chaotic revolving door it now is.

      I have no plans to buy or read his book. If fact, I’m thrilled Christie finally faced a serious consequence for wrongful prosecutions during his stint as U.S. attorney in New Jersey – and these ones have nothing to do with Jared Kushner’s father.

      Long before he endorsed the candidate who openly claimed, “Islam hates us,” and called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, Christie was busy prosecuting manufactured terrorism cases against unsuspecting Muslims in New Jersey to position himself as tough on terrorism, anticipating running for higher office later.

    • A Response to Edward Curtin

      Recently it came to our attention that one of our writers, Edward Curtin, accused us of suspiciously removing one his article from our site.

      This is patently false.

      The article in question, The CIA, Then and Now, is still published on our site. It has never been removed, edited or kept behind some fictitious gate. It was simply bumped from our main page’s sidebar after a day or two, as only a certain number of articles can fit into our jam-packed Weekend Edition lineup.

      Curtin’s piece had already appeared on multiple websites, and we tend to give top billing to originals, so his piece was moved (along with 5-6 others) to the back of the line after its fair shake on CounterPunch’s main page.

      Ed claims to have reached out to inquire why his piece wasn’t to be found on the main page but failed to get a prompt reply. His emails arrived over the weekend when both of us try to take a break from our steady stream of emails. At the time, Jeffrey, who Ed claims to have reached out to, was taking a much-needed break on the Oregon coast, doing his best to refrain from opening his laptop.

    • How a few shady social media posts fed a viral firestorm over Covington Catholic (and why it will happen again)

      In the aftermath, USA TODAY analyzed more than 3 million tweets and thousands of public posts on Facebook, from the moments after the video of Covington Catholic students encounter with Native American activist Nathan Phillips was posted to President Trump’s tweets days later.

      The volume and velocity provide an illuminating example of how social media and the news media can be exploited to fuel outrage in a deeply divided country, even as the full picture of an event is still forming.

      All it took was a nudge from a few suspicious accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Partisan fervor mixed with high emotions did the rest.

    • ‘Meduza’ fact check: is Russia too big to use an online voting system?

      A large number of time zones would be no obstacle to deploying a voting system modeled on Estonia’s. In that country, citizens can vote through the Internet only if they vote early, and they have seven days (153 hours) to make their decision during that period. Early voting ends several days before regular voting in physical voting sites. The online voting period typically closes on a Wednesday evening to give election commissions enough time to make a record of those who have already cast their vote using that system before in-person begins over the weekend. In order to protect voters from potential outside pressure, those who vote online can change their decision as many times as they would like, but only during the course of those seven days.

    • A Slow Motion Striptease in France

      This is the tale of an amoral minister. Heard that one before ? All right this one is about the tale of an amoral minister who kept his job against the odds. Heard that, too ? All right, how about a minister in charge of tax collection who was up to his wellies in secret accounts — his own. Not the least bit surprised, you say ? You’re jaded, dear reader. How about six years later and the minister is sitting comfortably at home, having never served a day in jail ?

      Jérôme Cahuzac was, until March 19, 2013, Budget Minister in François Hollande’s socialist government, in charge of the enforcement of tax laws during a time of fiscal crisis and high unemployment.

      Regarded as one of the more effective ministers in the Hollande government, Cahuzac lost little time lowering the boom. He grilled members of the new administration, pointedly asking Marylise Lebranchu if there wasn’t a zero missing from her husband’s tax declaration, and in September 2012, announced a 19.6% levy on plastic surgery, an industry with powerful clients which may have felt untouchable, not least because Cahuzac was a plastic surgeon.

      On December 5, 2012, the website Mediapart published the recording transcribed above, claiming it was Cahuzac’s voice speaking to a third party about a secret Swiss bank account.

      Despite his ardent denials over the next three months — first that the voice was not his, and later that the account had been closed in 2010 — Cahuzac’s position became untenable. He resigned and made a public apology.

      Such are the twists and turns of fate that, in November, 2012, Cahuzac announced a crackdown on tax fraud and on April 2 of the next year he was standing in the dock before anti-corruption judges Renaud Van Ruymbeke and Roger Le Loire, facing charges of concealing his UBS account.

    • Trump Wants You to Be Afraid of Socialism

      President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are reviving the Red Scare as a central tactic of his 2020 campaign to retain the White House. In Trump’s view, a socialist system is synonymous with poverty and despair, government coercion, domination and control. It is antithetical to liberty and independence. This approach might seem curious, given that interest in socialist ideas is at an-all time high in the United States, as ordinary people react to an out-of-control capitalist system designed to enrich the rich. Trump and his party are betting that good, old-fashioned American individualism will overcome any desire for greater collectivism and more government-funded social programs.

      If there is any doubt that this is guiding his path to reelection, Trump’s President’s Day speech on Venezuela is Exhibit A. During his roughly 30-minute address, Trump used the words “socialism,” “socialist,” “communism” or “communist” 36 times—roughly 1.2 times per minute. He echoed simplistic platitudes in an attempt to associate socialism with tyranny (“Socialism is about one thing only: power for the ruling class”). Trump first uttered the words, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country” during his Feb. 5 State of the Union address, receiving wild applause—from both sides of the aisle. He repeated a version of that phrase on Monday:

      [T]o those who would try to impose socialism on the United States, we again deliver a very simple message: America will never be a socialist country.

      An earlier instance of the Trump White House exploring this strategy can be traced to a document published Oct. 23, 2018, by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, titled, “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism.” The document anxiously refers to how “[d]etailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the electorate.” It points out that “[i]n a socialist system, the state decides the amount to be spent, how it is spent, and when and where the services are received by the consumer,” failing to mention that major monopolistic corporations often make such decisions for us in the current system.

    • Donald Trump’s National Emergency Is The Exact Same As Barack Obama’s National Emergency

      Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency is being framed as an unprecedented step towards authoritarianism, a unique proclamation against Latinas and Latinos, and even a sign that we should have elected racist hawk Hillary Clinton. Happy President’s Day to Ms. Clinton, by the way. In the age of Trump, words tend to be used in unconventional ways, are forgotten quickly, and mean little to nothing in relation to fact. The exact declaration of national emergency was used by Barack Obama less than three years ago.

      Obama’s national emergency is relevant to the present moment for a number of reasons. First off: his definition of a national emergency is the same as Trump’s. Mr. Obama did not see the climate apocalypse—which is destroying every piece of life on earth as a national emergency. He like Trump, saw much more danger in working class Latinas and Latinos putting food on the table. Secondly, Barack Obama’s declaration of a national emergency was in regards to a very hot topic in our political climate: the socialist government of Venezuela.

      Barack Obama wrote this: “Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order (the “order”) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” Obama sounds literally insane in this statement. While Donald Trump’s mental illness is clear and should be pointed out—Obama demonstrates that he was completely brainwashed by the mythos of U.S. Empire.

    • The Political Lyre

      One of the most telling aspects of the Trump presidency is its lack of music. The inept clutch of Melania and Donald at their 2017 inaugural ball shuffling about to Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way“ said everything about the Commander-in-Chief’s utter lack of taste and ideas. Last November’s Presidential Medal conferred on Elvis only confirmed Trump’s vacuity. Dead or alive, the King certainly merited the honor, but the chief executive’s choice hardly fizzed with engaged awareness. There is no room for the aesthetic in Trump’s set-upon psyche: to call his cultural awareness stagnant would be to suggest that it had once flowed in any direction whatever.

      Unsurprisingly, then, no battle hymn, no rallying jingle, no Meatloaf remix, has ridden to Trump’s rescue as things close in around him.

      By contrast to this most amusical, anti-cultural of presidents, many have been the political leaders who have sought to bolster a flagging popularity through public music making. Tacitus relates how Nero took to the stage on one memorable occasion with his lyre and sweet voice. Insulating himself from failure, Nero packed the audience with soldiers and sycophants, patricians along with the “lowest rabble,” some of whom had just engaged in various forms of staged debauchery as a public prelude to the musical spectacle to follow. Tacitus‘ description of Nero’s musical apotheosis is bitterly laconic: “Last of all, the emperor himself came on the stage, tuning his lyre with elaborate care and trying his voice with his attendants.” While the music was greeted with “a thunder of applause,” the Prefect Burrus, Nero’s one-time tutor and later advisor “cried as he clapped.” Like so many since, Burrus must have felt the emotional riptide so often set in motion when the mighty perform in public, for then the thoughtful listener is subjected to powerful cross-currents of admiration and dismay, envy and repulsion, scorn and sympathy. By many accounts a well-trained and talented musician, Nero’s musical pandering appalled those who claimed a nobler purpose for both politics and music.

      The most obvious parallel to the late days of the American Empire is to one of the canniest of musical opportunists among the politicians—Bill Clinton. Who can forget his 1992 appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show, when the Arkansas governor donned Ray-Ban sunglasses and bluffed his way through Heartbreak Hotel, riding the knife edge between the inept and the barely passable to the rapture of the studio audience? Tacitus would have called them rabble. There are even those who mark Clinton’s late-night performance as a watershed in his campaign for the imperial presidency, more crucial even than sending the mentally handicapped African-American, Ricky Ray Rector, to his death by lethal injection six months earlier. Regardless of what one makes of music in Clinton’s political career, it seems clear that he not only used his power and fame to enjoy undreamt of musical opportunities, but also that he exploited his limited ability in crafting his political aura.

    • Whitewashing Dr. King

      But King was much more than his dream. Indeed, his dream has been co-opted to the point that he and the dream have been made almost synonymous in popular culture. Every February, during Black History Month, those glorious words are repeated on television almost ad nauseam, inducing a state of reverential patriotism that obscures and distorts the genuine legacy of King.

      Every major city in the United States has streets and schools named for King. Throughout the world, his image appears on stamps, picture books, and objects like cups and saucers. Prints, paintings and murals with his face adorn public buildings and private businesses. The popular King memorial in Washington, D.C., along with others throughout the nation and the world, makes no mention of past and continuing racism. They merely encourage audiences to venerate a great patriot—which indeed he was, but for reasons that millions of Americans and others can hardly imagine.

      French cultural historian Sylvie Laurent, author of an intellectual and political biography of King, warns of the political manipulation of memory. This is especially tragic in the case of King, whose legacy has been so distorted that he even appears, as she notes, in a commercial for trucks. It is dismaying that one of America’s giant radical figures has become part of a semiofficial mythology that inhibits people from any understanding of his structural critique of American capitalism.

    • The Rise of Kamala Harris

      It won’t be a political tragedy, no matter who wins, but I can’t help seeing the San Francisco district attorney’s race as the sad, final act of “Othello at the Hall of Justice.” The outcome was inevitable; and yet it didn’t have to come to this.

      I worked closely with Kamala Harris for a year, and even more closely with Terence Tyrone Hallinan for two-and-a-half years as the San Francisco District Attorney’s public information officer. I’d known “Kayo” since 1967. We used to drive down to Fort Ord together when I was covering the Presidio mutiny court martials for Liberation News Service (a syndicate for the “underground press”) and he was representing 14 desperate young GIs who’d held a nonviolent sit-down to protest conditions at the stockade.

      Back then there was a sign across Highway 1 as it went through the small city of Castroville that said “Welcome to Castroville, the artichoke capitol of the world.” I sent a note to the Castroville chamber of commerce suggesting that they change their slogan to “the artichoke heart of the world.” Many years later the sign was replaced, but the C-of-C stuck with “artichoke capitol.” Which goes to show that excellent advice, given away freely, becomes ignorable.

    • “A Historic Power Grab Requires a Historic Response”: House Dems Introduce Measure to Revoke Trump’s Emergency Declaration

      House Democrats on Friday introduced a measure to terminate President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration—an act that’s been denounced as an “anti-democratic power grab rooted in racism.”

      “A historic power grab requires a historic response,” declared Elizabeth Beavers, associate policy director at the Indivisible Project. “Congress has never acted to terminate a national emergency declared by a president, but it is crucial that they do so this time,” her statement adds. “Make no mistake: this was not an emergency. Instead, this was an illegal, anti-democratic power grab rooted in hate. Congress and the people rejected Trump’s wall but he decided it didn’t matter.”

      The joint resolution was put forth by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), who warned last week that the “baseless declaration” issued by the president “would set a dangerous precedent regarding the constitutional balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches.”

    • Could Sanders 2.0 Win It All, Getting the Democratic Nomination and Defeating Trump?

      Listening to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ videoed announcement of his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, I was struck by how much has changed since 2016, and how little.

      Sanders, recall, ran a spirited primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, a campaign that was undermined by crooked dealing, dirty tricks and sabotage by the Hillary campaign and by the Democratic National Committee, all of which effectively stole the nomination from Sanders that year and that basically handed the presidency over to Trump.

      Sanders could have easily defeated Trump in 2016 had he been the Democratic candidate in November. He might even have become president that year had he accepted, instead of ignored, an invitation from Green Party head and presidential candidate Jill Stein, made after Clinton stole the Democratic nomination, to run for president on the Green ticket. Many Trump voters would probably have dropped him for Sanders in that chaotic election campaign, and millions of Democrats and left-leaning independents were so disgusted with Clinton and the corrupt machinations of the DNC that they would have readily jumped ship for an independent candidate Sanders.

    • The Case for Sanders/Warren 2020: The Populist Dream Team Ticket to Win A Green New Deal

      In 2014, I gave a slight nod to Senator Elizabeth Warren over Senator Bernie Sanders in a widely read column on Common Dreams that went viral and was shared on social media by more than 100,000 people.

      My analysis five years ago accurately predicted the impact a populist primary campaign from the left would have on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment. I was also right about the jump start such a campaign would give to social movement organizing and the progressive agenda after the election was over.

      But Bernie wasn’t yet a proven star all the way back in November of 2014, and I incorrectly called Warren “far more charismatic and popular” when I argued she should lead the hypothetical populist dream team ticket.

      After Sanders announced his candidacy six months later, in April 2015, the democratic socialist from Vermont quickly proved me wrong. I reported on his campaign in places like Madison, Wisconsin, Iowa City and Des Moines, Iowa and watched from the front row as his insurgent campaign caught fire while Warren sat on the sidelines, seemingly unwilling to cross paths with the Clinton machine.

    • That Magic Feeling: the Strange Mystique of Bernie Sanders

      On a cool night in early April, Bernie stood on the stage in Prospect Park, facing more than 28,000 adoring fans, the largest gathering of the campaign. As he worked his way through his speech, Sanders hit all of the familiar notes—on the minimum wage, single payer health care, free college tuition, the corrosiveness of Super PACS–but he stood a little taller, his voice sounded a little friskier, he seemed fueled by the sense that he just might win the New York primary.

      Could New York really be in play? Could Sanders upend the once invulnerable Hillary Clinton in her own adopted state, sending shockwaves through the System? What once seemed impossible now seemed to many Sandernistas tantalizingly within grasp.

      This was, of course, the season of the improbable, the rare warping of political time when the odds were being defied week after startling week. This was a primary season in which aliens and the alienated finally featured in guest-starring roles. The mood of the country, sour and aggravated, seemed primed to embrace, for the first time in decades, a real outsider candidate, not so much because they found either of the two self-identified outsiders especially alluring, but because the electorate saw themselves as outsiders, exiles from a political system run by and for a remote and untouchable cabal of corporations, militarists and financial elites.

    • The Sounds of Silence

      There is a thirteenth-century Chinese Buddhist text (of the Chan or Zen school) in which the buddha gives a sermon that consists of the silent display of a flower. There was great meaning in that silence, as immediately understood by his wisest disciple Kassyapa who smiled in response. Sometimes words are not necessary or get in the way of meaning.

      The U.S. organized a two-day conference on “peace and security in the Middle East,” (as though this were a field in which it specializes) in Warsaw to lecture its allies and partners inspire them to joint action. Russia declined to attend; the EU’s chief diplomat and the Lebanese prime minister declined to attend; Iran was not invited because the whole point of the gathering was to rally U.S. allies around U.S.-Israeli-Saudi plans for war on Iran. Still, those absent sent junior staff to the conference. Angela Merckel attended and pointedly refused to pull out of the Iran Deal.

      The Polish government itself upholds the Iran Deal, and did not want the conference to become an opportunity for U.S. Iran-bashing. But the former Polish ambassador to Afghanistan, Piotr Lukasiewicz told Al-Jazeera, Poland “has lost control over the general message of the conference to the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.” Poland has been among the most slavish of U.S. NATO allies, so this is not surprising.

    • The Funny Tinge Group Ltd is a Boon to the SNP

      The BBC no longer has Westminster’s third party on QT every week, or given much airtime on other news and current affairs programmes, on the grounds the SNP are a “regional body” and thus not entitled to the consideration the Lib Dems got as third party in Westminster. The Funny Tinge Independent Integrity Initiative Group Ltd (Dir. Shai Masot) are of course not a party at all, they are a limited company, and they have no members. One thing they most certainly are is a “regional body”. Not a single vote in Scotland or Wales has ever been cast for them. Though I can think of a disused factory near Auchtermuchty that might vote for them.

      What do we know of their policies? Well we know that are very much against criticism of Israel. We know they think the Cameron coalition government did a very good job on austerity. We know they are against renationalisation of utilities and against abolition of tuition fees and against higher taxes on the rich. I am sure something will eventually distinguish them from the Tories other than Brexit, but they haven’t thought of it yet.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook Still Championing Blasphemy Laws
    • Pro-BDS Tlaib Uses Israeli Web-Development Platform for Campaign Website
    • The End of News?

      Professional, evidence-based journalism has been under assault for decades now, but over the past few months, fresh attacks have battered it further. These attacks arrive fast and furiously, from so many directions that one hardly has time to acknowledge them all, much less address them in a way that keeps journalism’s business model alive and protects the integrity of the original enterprise.

    • Laws Suppressing Boycotts of Israel Don’t Prevent Discrimination — They Violate Civil Liberties

      There’s a big difference between refusing to serve a same-sex couple and boycotting companies that support the Israeli government.
      A number of states recently passed laws that require state contractors — including teachers, lawyers, newspapers and journalists, and even students who want to judge high school debate tournaments — to certify that they are not participating in politically motivated boycotts against Israel. Dozens of states have considered such “anti-BDS” laws, and a bipartisan group of 73 senators recently passed a bill — the Combating BDS Act — that would encourage states to adopt such laws.

      The ACLU takes no position on boycotts of Israel or any foreign country, but we have long defended the right to boycott, which is protected under the First Amendment. That’s why we challenged anti-boycott laws in Kansas, Arizona, Arkansas, and Texas, and strongly opposed the Combating BDS Act in Congress.

      Taking issue with our defense of the right to boycott, critics have accused us of hypocrisy for fighting laws that prohibit contractors from boycotting Israel while also supporting antidiscrimination laws that require businesses to serve the public. Anti-BDS laws, they argue, are also designed to prevent discrimination.

    • EA Responds to Accusations that it Forcefully Took Down Negative Anthem Review

      Anthem, Bioware’s online cooperative action-RPG, released on February 22nd 2019. Reviews are now being published, but not all have good things to say about it. YouTuber Gggmanlives, who is a part of EA’s Game Changers community partnership program, was sponsored by EA to review Anthem. After posting a negative review of the game, the reviewer claimed that EA not only forced him to take the video down, but also blacklisted him from Game Changers.

    • Does Twitter Have An Anti-Conservative Bias, Or Just An Anti-Nazi Bias?

      In an article for Quillette titled, “It Isn’t Your Imagination: Twitter Treats Conservatives More Harshly Than Liberals,” Columbia University research fellow Richard Hanania offers us proof–once and for all–that social media companies are biased against conservatives. Either that, or it’s the latest in a growing list of bogus, exaggerated or otherwise dubious anti-conservative bias claims (I’ll let you judge for yourself).

      “Until now, conservatives have had to rely on anecdotes to make their case,“ Hanania writes. Adding that, “[m]y results make it difficult to take [social media platforms’] claims of political neutrality seriously.” The data he collected (with the help two research assistants, no less) looks at “prominent, politically active” people suspended from Twitter since the company’s launch in 2006.

      Accounts included in the data set were selected from individuals and organizations whose suspension was covered in a “mainstream” news outlet, and who expressed a preference for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Profs prep promising privacy-protecting proxy program… Yes, it is possible to build client-server code that safeguards personal info

      Computer science boffins from Harvard and MIT have developed a software framework for building web services that respect privacy, provided app developers don’t mind a minor performance hit.

      In a paper scheduled to be presented on Thursday at the USENIX Networked Systems Design and Implementation conference, co-authors Frank Wang (MIT), Ronny Ko and James Mickens (Harvard) describe a system called Riverbed – not to be confused with an identically named IT company – that consists of a proxy service to oversee the handling of data locally and on remote servers.

      “To web developers, Riverbed provides a practical IFC [information flow control] system which allows developers to easily ‘bolt on’ stronger security policies for complex applications written in standard managed languages,” they explain in the paper.

    • Facebook Shutting Down Its Data Hungry Onavo VPN App

      A few weeks ago, TechCrunch revealed that Facebook is mining data from teens using a research app that allowed the company to monitor the web browsing patterns of the users. The dubious ‘research’ app was based on the infamous Onavo VPN app owned by Facebook, which was pulled down from the iOS App Store last year for logging users’ data.

      Now, the social media company has said that it is shutting down the Onavo VPN app and the app will be removed from Google Play Store. The app will stop recording user data immediately and will only render Virtual Private Network services for some time until users find a replacement.

    • The Google Fit website is shutting down in March
    • Facebook will shut down its spyware VPN app Onavo

      Facebook will end its unpaid market research programs and proactively take its Onavo VPN app off the Google Play store in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook Research app the sucked up data about teens. The Onavo Protect app will eventually shut down, and will immediately cease pulling in data from users for market research, though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short-term to allow users to find a replacement.

      Facebook has also ceased to recruit new users for the Facebook Research app that still runs on Android but was forced off of iOS by Apple after we reported that it violated Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program for employee-only apps. Existing Facebook Research app studies will continue to run, though.

    • Facebook will let Android users turn off its location data gobbling

      It comes as part of an update to Facebook’s privacy controls, which Facebook’s engineering director of its infrastructure division, Paul McDonald said would give Android users more control over how Facebook collects and stores their data.

    • Users alarmed by undisclosed microphone in Nest Security System

      Google’s Nest smart home brand is in hot water this week after news surfaced (via Daring Fireball) that its home security system, Nest Secure, shipped with an undisclosed microphone. Google activated the microphone earlier this month for Google Assistant functionality, but that meant the device sat in users’ homes for up to a year as an unknown potential listening device.

    • Android Users: Check This Facebook Location Privacy Setting ASAP

      On Wednesday, Facebook introduced a new privacy setting for Android users. Previously, if you had Location History turned on, the app could track you in the background. In other words, even if you didn’t have the app open, it knew where you were. Now, you can stop it from doing so. And you should.

    • Patients, health data experts accuse Facebook of exposing personal info

      In a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint released publicly on Tuesday, the group alleges that Facebook prompts its users to join online medical support groups under the guise that they are “private” – but does not make clear that users could expose their health data when they join those groups.

      [...]

      The FTC complaint claims Facebook is not transparent about how users are targeted to join certain medical support groups and how their health data could be accessed once they join those groups.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Florida prisoners could form class action to demand refund on confiscated media players and files

      Over the course of the Access contract, which dates back to 2014, more than 30,299 media players were sold and 6.7 million songs downloaded — about $11.3 million worth of music.

      The department ditched the contract in 2017 in favor of a more lucrative multimedia tablet deal with JPay, rendering all past purchases irrelevant.

      The complaint details the rollout and advertising of the Access program. It quotes ad copy directed toward inmates promising, “Once music is purchased, you’ll always own it!”

    • Florida prisons are getting sued for erasing $11 million worth of prisoner music purchases

      Demler’s complaint involves Florida’s digital music player program, which let inmates buy a specially designed media player for $99 or $119, then buy individual songs or audiobooks for $1.70 apiece. The complaint claims that prisons heavily advertised the program, run by contractor Access Corrections, with promises that inmates could keep songs forever. Between 2011 and 2017, prisoners spent roughly $11.3 million to buy 6.7 million files in total, and Demler himself spent roughly $569 buying music, plus more money for the player itself.

    • Florida inmate says prison sold him $569 of music, then took it away

      Florida inmate William Demler says that since 2012, he has spent $569.50 on digital music via a proprietary digital music service sponsored by the Florida prison system. Demler listened to his music on a prison-sponsored music player he purchased for $99.95. Demler, who is serving a life sentence, says ads for the prison-sponsored service promised access to his music for his entire prison term.

      But last year, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) switched music vendors, and as a result, Demler lost access to his music collection. He was told that he’d need to buy the same songs again using the new system if he wanted to continue listening to them.

    • Google Will Stop Making Employees Waive Class Action Rights

      Google stopped so-called forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault last year after 20,000 workers walked out to oppose how the search giant handles internal complaints. That wasn’t enough for some of the employees, who kept pressing the company to end the practice altogether. Google will do that on March 21, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. The company will also cease enforcing agreements that waived workers’ right to bring their claims as class actions.

    • J’Accuse!

      A short essay on my thoughts about the Yellow Vest movement in France (now spreading to other parts of the world) and the coincidental (alleged) rise of anti-Semitism. I use the term ‘essay’ in its French meaning of the verb ‘essayer’: to try out, or try on, i.e., I am trying my theory on you.

      I accuse the Macron government, in its frustration over failure to bring an end to the Yellow Vest uprising, of raising the issue of anti-Semitism in order to discredit the movement. By accusing the movement of stirring up anti-Semitism and blaming it for the recent desecration of Jewish cemeteries and shops and other iconic symbols suddenly appearing in Paris and other cities around France where the movement has been most active, the government hopes to instill fear in the public, who until now, polls show, has been by a large margin, favorable to the movement.

    • Zionists are the Most Precious Snowflakes

      Well, dearest motherfuckers, apparently I’m an anti-Semite. I know! I had know idea either. But if being a mild mannered critic of Israel like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar makes you a rabid anti-Semite then color me Adolf fucking Eichmann because there is nothing mild about me. Being an openly anti-Zionist drag queen pretty much makes that biologically impossible. When a state walls in an entire group of people based solely on race and then systematically starves them to death, I call that fucking genocide regardless of which end of the rifle the chosen people happen to be on. Pardon me all over the goddamn place for having a color blind moral compass. But apparently that’s all it takes because Zionists are the most precious snowflakes.

      I say Zionists because Jews have nothing to do with this. A Jew is a member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. A Zionist is a Jewish supremacist who believes Israel should be a fascist satellite of American imperialism and many of them aren’t even Jews. But apparently these revanchist goyum have been awarded the Jehovah given right to proclaim anyone who doesn’t agree with their insane foreign policy or the apartheid regime illegally occupying Palestine to be a stark raving, goose-stepping anti-Semite. And based on the limp-wristed, half-assed, back-peddling, Israel critics in the DNC that they’ve stapled this red scarlet letter to, a flaming, unapologetic, Israel-basher like me is all but guaranteed to make their voluminous shit-list. Good riddance. They can kiss the queerest part of my ass.

    • KOL260 | Discussion with LP Chair Nicholas Sarwark about the Fourteenth Amendment

      Libertarian Party Chair Nick Sarwark and I discuss a potpourri of libertarian issues, such as minarchy vs. anarchy, libertarian “centralism” and the Fourteenth Amendment, and applications to abortion, gay (same sex) marriage, civil asset forfeiture, and the like. Related links: Timbs vs. Indiana (2019)–recent Supreme Court civil asset forfeiture case Supreme Court rules against highway robbery through asset forfeiture Another neo-confederate, xenophobic racist…

    • Secrets of the ’60s Counterculture

      The Beat movement, synonymous with now-household names such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Dennis Hopper, is what Tosh Berman, son of Beat artist Wallace Berman, calls “a collection of misfits.” In his recent book, titled “Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman’s World,” Berman details what his childhood was like surrounded by the rebel artists that shaped a generation.

      “I was a kid running among … these, quote unquote, giants of culture of that time,” Berman tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest edition of “Scheer Intelligence.” “The fact is, through my eyes as a child especially, it was really just a collection of misfits of sorts. All artists, or poets and writers, who somehow did not fit into, at the time, the mainstream America at the time.”

    • After Decades of Described Abuse, Time Is Up for R. Kelly

      Pop singer R. Kelly has been accused of calculated sexual abuse against African-American women and girls for decades while also living the life of a celebrity. A bombshell report in 2017 included details from former members of his inner circle who described his “cult,” in which he keeps women isolated from loved ones and forces them to ask permission to use the bathroom or eat.

      A Cook County, Ill., grand jury on Friday indicted Kelly, charging him with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. The charges involve incidents that took place from 1998 to 2010 with four people, three of whom were underage at the time, said Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, who had previously called on accusers to come forward. Kelly, who denies the allegations, turned himself in to Chicago police Friday night. Meanwhile, federal and local officials are investigating a range of other alleged crimes.

      In multiple accounts, including the six-part Lifetime docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly,” witnesses describe a complex network of friends and employees who have enabled Kelly to carry out his abuse without consequences. Some accusers believe that police complicity and Kelly’s tampering with the legal system allowed him to continue his abuse for so long.

    • California Parents of 13 Plead Guilty to Torture and Abuse

      A California couple pleaded guilty Friday to torture and years of abuse that included shackling some of their 13 children to beds and starving them to the point they stopped growing.

      David and Louise Turpin will spend at least 25 years in prison after entering the pleas in Riverside County Superior Court to 14 counts that included cruelty toward all but their toddler daughter, and imprisoning the children in a house that appeared neatly kept outside, but festered with filth and reeked of human waste.

    • Russian government may ban putting defendants in cages during trials

      Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered three executive agencies to evaluate a proposed ban on enclosures for defendants in Russian court hearings by April 1. Keeping defendants in metal cages or transparent enclosures known as aquariums during their hearings is a common practice in Russia.

      Russian legislators began working on a bill to ban caging defendants in courtrooms in 2018. In November, the bill was accepted for consideration by the State Duma. Now, it will be evaluated by the Justice Ministry, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Finance Ministry, whose officials have already met with Russian senators.

    • Supreme Court Says Civil Asset Forfeiture Violates Constitutional Protections Against Excessive Fines

      Great news on the asset forfeiture front, courtesy of the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court has ruled that forfeitures can violate the Eighth Amendment’s protections against excessive fines.

      The case the Supreme Court ruled on deals with Indiana native Tyson Timbs. Timbs sold $260 worth of heroin to undercover officers. He pled guilty to criminal charges. The state decided to forfeit his $42,000 Land Rover via civil asset forfeiture, routing around the criminal system to make it easier for cops to make off with his vehicle. Timbs challenged this forfeiture as an excessive fine, given that the max fine for his criminal charges was $10,000.

      This case made its way to the state’s Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court’s decision finding in favor of Timbs and the US Constitution, which Indiana had incorporated. The state’s highest court stated that this clause of the Eighth Amendment did not apply to civil asset forfeiture. This was a bizarre position to take, as the Supreme Court pointed out during oral arguments.

    • Buried Alive: The Story of Chicago Police State Racism

      Among the many different forms taken by 21st century U.S.-American racism, one is the curious way in which white-owned corporate media and the criminal justice system racially differentiate worthy from unworthy victims.

      Take the case of Jason Van Dyke, the white Chicago police officer who coldly executed the Black teenager Laquan McDonald on the evening of October 20th, 2014. The dash-cam videotape of the execution has been viewed by many millions of people.

      There’s a reason the city’s police, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and then Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez tried to keep the Laquan McDonald kill tape under wraps. The video didn’t lie. It displayed the senseless murder of a Black youth by a white cop. It showed Van Dyke blasting sixteen bullets into McDonald, who clearly posed no imminent threat to Van Dyke or anyone else. The fusillade continued as McDonald lay prone, smoke rising from his twitching body with each new shot.

      This was no small political matter in the age of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and Black Lives Matter.

      Scanning Chicago area television and during and since Van Dyke finally came to trial last fall, you’d almost think that Van Dyke and his family were the real victims. Again and again, the city and metropolitan area’s residents have seen and heard seen the fallen officer’s tearful wife cry out against how her husband and family have been unjustly punished for something Van Dyke did “in the line of duty.” This was the basic position advanced by Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, himself a white ex-Chicago police officer who has killed in the line of duty. Herbert worked local television, radio and press with the notion that Van Dyke was just another scared first-responder hero trying to do his job.

      When the trial occurred, the videotape evidence was too strong to prevent Van Dyke from being convicted of second-degree murder. It wasn’t strong enough, however, to stop a white racist Cook County Circuit Court Judge, Vincent Gaughan, 77, from letting Van Dyke off with a pathetically minor sentence of “seven years,” certain to be whittled down to three or less with “time served” and other considerations.

    • “The Green Book: Guide to Freedom”: How African Americans Safely Navigated Jim Crow America

      The Academy Awards take place this weekend, and one of the top contenders is the movie “Green Book,” which has renewed interest in the history of “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” So today we look at a remarkable new documentary called “The Green Book: Guide to Freedom,” that offers a real look at the history of a travel guide that helped African Americans safely navigate Jim Crow America. The film premieres Monday on the Smithsonian Channel and details the violence, insults and discrimination black travelers faced on the road, as well as the pride and sense of community they felt in the safe spaces they created around the country, in the form of restaurants, hotels and vacation retreats. We feature excerpts and speak with writer and director Yoruba Richen, professor in the documentary program in the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Investigators, Reporters Close In On The Origins Of Those Fake Net Neutrality Comments

      As several Attorneys General and the FBI investigate who was behind the fake net neutrality comments that plagued the FCC website during the late 2017 repeal, reporters like Jason Prechtel and Gizmodo’s Dell Cameron continue to slowly and methodically connect the dots. Last month, Cameron obtained leaked investigation data linking many of the bogus comments to several Trumpland-linked astroturfing and policy operations like “Free Our Internet,” a bogus consumer-rights group specifically built by ex-Trump campaign staffer Christie-Lee McNally.

      And this week, both Prechtel and Cameron leaned on FOIA data to discover that another sizeable chunk of the bogus comments were allegedly driven by both CQ Roll Call, a DC-based news and policy organization, and Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF), a “dark money” influence group with historical ties to defending tobacco companies…

    • Ajit Pai says broadband access is soaring—and that he’s the one to thank

      But Pai offered no proof of any connection between his policy decisions and the increased deployment. Moreover, broadband deployment improved at similar rates during the Obama administration, despite Pai’s claims that the FCC’s net neutrality rules harmed deployment during that period.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Russia: Chamber of Patent Disputes cancels design on second attempt

      The first appeal was based on the design’s non-compliance with the novelty provision. In the opinion of the appellant, the patented design was known from a connection fixture covered by British patent №2360337, published in 2001.

      The figures show stages of assembly of the boards using the cited connector according to the British patent, which clearly shows a method of use for such a fixture for making a connection between boards.

    • Turkey: Is a public interest compulsory licence on the way?

      After the Law came into force, the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office published a list of patents for which no use declaration was made within the time period referenced in (i). The list implied that a CL opportunity may exist for those patents. A CL for reasons of non-working or insufficient working must be demanded from an IP court in Turkey. Even if the term mentioned in (i) has expired and justification for not working is not submitted, it does not lead to an automatic CL as the patentee may prove working or justify not working during court proceedings.

    • Qualcomm demands an extra $1.3 billion from Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron: exorbitant late “processing” charge

      On the same page, attorneys for Apple and its contract manufacturers argue that “[t]his is an illegal, unenforceable liquidated damages penalty barred by Cal. Civ. Code § 1671(b).” (again, emphasis in original)

      What Qualcomm is charging here is colloquially called “interest on interest” related to the contract manufacturer’s cessation of royalty payments on the products they make for Apple in the spring of 2017. We know Qualcomm recently claimed that $7 billion in royalties that Qualcomm wants have not been paid. Apple and its contract manufacturers claim that they actually overpaid in the past because Qualcomm extracted supra-FRAND royalties. But even if we assumed, just for the sake of the argument, that Qualcomm had indeed been owed another $7 billion since the spring of 2017, a $1.3 billion surcharge on a $7 billion amount is huge. It’s almost 20% of the amount allegedly owed!

      It’s obviously not the kind of amount that Qualcomm could realistically claim it incurred in administrative costs. Processing a few royalty payments that come in late is not a lot of work. If that truly resulted in a billion-dollar cost, Qualcomm would be the most expensive bureaucracy in the world, and couldn’t exist because, in that case, any employee’s travel expense report would also cost a billion or so to process.

    • Dr. Falk Pharma GmbH v. GeneriCo, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      The opinion notes that the only Federal Circuit precedent for disqualification based on a Rule 1.7(a) violation was in a nonprecedential opinion (Freedom Wireless, Inc. v. Bos. Commc’ns Grp., Inc., No. 2006-1020, 2006 WL 8071423 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 20, 2006)) and that different district courts in the Third Circuit have favored mandatory disqualification while others have considered the totality of the circumstances including “the impact, nature, and degree of a conflict, the prejudice or hardship to either party, and which party was responsible for creating the conflict,” for example Bos. Scientific Corp. v. Johnson & Johnson Inc., 647 F. Supp. 2d 369, 374 (D. Del. 2009). The Court considered none of these complicating factors here, finding that they all weigh in favor of disqualification. Specifically, the panel found that Mylan would not be prejudiced or suffer undue hardship because they will not need to file new briefs in two of the appeals (Salix II and Dr, Falk II) and the Court had stayed briefing in Valeant II so new counsel can draft its briefs in the first instance. Finally, the course of conduct (including not notifying Valeant of the conflict as required under the OC Guidelines) made insufficient Katten’s offer to raise an ethical wall between the conflicted lawyer and lawyers representing B&L in other matters.

      This decision raises at least the following Practice Tips. First, engagement letters should limit the scope of representation to the client engaged and leave for another day representation of affiliates, related companies, etc. Second, OC Guidelines should be negotiated and, if there is no flexibility in them, ensure that there are ways to exit representation without risking disqualification. Finally, when assessing the desirability of hiring lateral lawyers, a firm should be very diligent in identifying existing or potential conflicts and their effects on current and prospective relationships with clients or potential clients.

    • Lessons to Learn? Federal Circuit Disqualifies Firm Adverse to Members of Corporate Family of a Client

      In an order granting motions to disqualify — rather than analyzing with discretion a decision of a district court — the Federal Circuit disqualified Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (“KM”) from representing parties in appeals styled Dr. Falk Pharma GMBH v. Salix Pharma. Int’l., Inc. and Salix Pharma., Inc. v. Mylan Pharma., Inc., available here.

      The case involves a number of issues, some of which are obscured by discussion of agreements that, in large measure, turned out to not affect the court’s analysis. To be clear, this post simplifies the case a lot, but I’ll mention a few weeds at the end.

      The story begins in 2001, when a lawyer at KM began to represent Bausch & Lomb (“Bausch”) in trademark matters. Those representations, apparently a series of off-and-on work (as is common) continued for years. While it was disputed whether that work continued, at the time of the motion to disqualify, KM was representing Bausch in trademark litigation. Plainly, the firm could not be adverse to Bausch.

      Meanwhile, two lawyers at Alston & Bird (“A&B”) were representing Mylan in patent suits and an IPR. A&B was plainly representing Mylan, and so could not be adverse to it. Those matters largely wrapped up and were, with one exception, fully briefed before the Federal Circuit.

      [...]

      First, the Outside Counsel Guidelines were part of an engagement letter relating to KM’s representation of Bausch that identified Valeant-CA as the client. KM was representing Mylan against Valeant-CA. Further, language in the engagement letter indicated that corporate affiliates were also the client, and some affiliates were adverse to Mylan, and so KM was adverse to them. Thus, KM was adverse to a current client by operation of the OC Guidelines and engagement letter.

      Second, Judge O’Malley assumed, arguendo, there was some ambiguity, and relied upon principles developed by the Second Circuit (the Mylan patent cases were in the Third and Fourth, and from the PTAB, but she reasoned those jurisdictions would follow the Second Circuit’s lead), which set out a multi-factor test to determine whether, if there is no agreement, affiliates of a client should be considered to be the client for conflicts purposes, which include: “(i) the degree of operational commonality between affiliated entities, and (ii) the extent to which one depends financially on the other.” Based upon those factors, and the affidavit from the movants showing the interrelationships, she held that by representing Bausch, KM was representing all of the various entities.

      After concluding that KM was adverse to a current client, Judge O’Malley noted that there is a split on whether being adverse to a current client automatically requires disqualification or, instead, leads to equitable balancing. She concluded that, even looking at the equities, disqualification was warranted.

    • Invention-Theft Charges against Goodyear Revived by the Federal Circuit

      Coda and Goodyear cooperated in a project to commercialize self-inflating tire technology invented by the CEO of Czech-based Coda (Hrabal). Coda shared its information as well as functional prototypes with Goodyear representatives, including Robert Benedict. At the meeting Benedict photographed the prototype without permission (after asking to be left alone for a moment). All of this sharing was done under a non-disclosure agreement between the companies. Benedict then ghosted and did not return attempted contacts from Coda.

    • Trademarks

      • US: TTAB rules sales to single customer sufficient to avoid abandonment

        In Mombacho Cigars SA v Tropical Tobacco, Inc., the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) addressed the issue of whether a small amount of sales of products bearing a particular mark made to a single customer was sufficient to rebut a claim that such a mark was abandoned.

        Mombacho Cigars had filed a petition for cancellation with the TTAB, seeking to cancel Tropical Tobacco’s registration for the mark MOMBACHO on the ground of abandonment. The Trademark Act provides that a mark shall be deemed abandoned when its use has been discontinued with an intent not to resume such use. The Act states that an intention not to resume use can be inferred from circumstances and that non-use of a mark for three consecutive years serves as prima facie evidence of abandonment. Important to the case at hand, the Act specifically indicates that use of a mark means the bona fide use of the mark in the ordinary course of trade. It does not include uses of a mark made merely to reserve a right in such mark.

    • Copyrights

      • European Journalists Point Out That Article 11 Will Enrich Publishers At The Expense Of Journalists

        In short, the final text pays lip service to the idea that publishers should pass on money to journalists, but also provides a massive loophole in that all the publishers need to do is write this requirement out of any contract and not have to worry about it.

        It appears that this kind of tactic is found throughout Articles 11 and 13. The text says you don’t have to use filters, but provides no workable alternative. The text says that memes are allowed, but never explains how a site can comply with the law without blocking all memes. The text of the directive basically pays lip service to all the complaints and obvious consequences, but rather than deal with the consequences, it just says “and don’t let those consequences happen.” This is no way to make policy.

      • AI Writes Article About AI: Does The Newspaper Hold The Copyright?

        For many years, we wrote about the infamous monkey selfie copyright situation (and lawsuit) not just because it was hellishly entertaining, but also because the legal questions underlying the issue were likely to become a lot more important. Specifically, while I don’t think anyone is expecting a rush of monkey-authored works to enter the market any time soon, we certainly do expect that works created by computers will be all over the damn place in the very, very near future (and, uh, even the immediate past). Just recently, IBM displayed its “Project Debater” offering, doing an AI-powered realtime debate against a human on the “Intelligence Squared” debates program. A few days after that, the Guardian used OpenAI to write an article about itself, which the Guardian then published (it’s embedded about halfway down the fuller article which is written by a real life human, Alex Hern).

      • Japanese Academics Issue The Tamest ‘Emergency’ Statement Over Proposed Copyright Amendment

        It’s as timid a statement as could be offered. And it’s one that essentially amounts to, “Whoa, guys, take a breath, because you don’t know what you’re about to do.” Given the timeline on which this has occurred, it’s a wholly reasonable request as well, given the enormous stake the public has and its nearly complete lack of a seat at the legislative table. The chill on both expression and research that this cluster-bomb law would have can’t really be overstated, as the kind of personal copying that it would seek to criminalize has become essential to both.

        And, to be clear, these academics aren’t exactly against enforcing copyright laws generally, either.

      • Facebook Held Liable for Copyright Infringing ‘Links’ in Italy

        Social networking giant Facebook must pay damages for failing to remove a link to a copyright infringing YouTube video, an Italian court has ruled. The case, which was filed by the Italian media conglomerate Mediaset, centered around a Facebook group where infringing and defamatory clips of the cartoon “Kirarin Revolution” were posted.

      • Academics Issue ‘Emergency’ Statement Over Japan’s Proposed Download Law

        More than 80 academics, researchers, lawyers, and other experts have issued an ‘emergency statement’ urging the government to reconsider the scope of new proposals that would criminalize downloading of any ‘pirate’ content from the Internet, screenshots included.

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