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02.26.19

Links 26/2/2019: Plasma 5.15.2, NuTyX 10.6, Purism Working on PureBoot

Posted in News Roundup at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tinkering Is Essential, But How Do We Get Open Source Robocars?

    The auto industry got its start with tinkerers. Much of what’s good in software has come from open source tinkerers to.

  • RoleplayU Is An Open Source VR App For Playing Dungeons & Dragons
  • Sterlite Tech becomes O-RAN Alliance Contributor to build Near Real Time Controllers for 5G

    Sterlite Tech [BSE: 532374, NSE: STRTECH], a global data network solutions company, will be contributing to the O-RAN Alliance, a global carrier-led consortium that promotes software-based, extensible Radio Access Network (RAN).

    Building on a foundation of virtualised network elements and standardised interfaces that fully embrace higher levels of embedded intelligence and openness, Sterlite Tech will contribute to and leverage reference designs developed by the O-RAN Alliance, such as their open-source code to build a near real-time controller and distributed units, with white box hardware.

  • Death Generator lets you put custom text in all the classic video games

    There exist a lot of meme generators on the internet, but few are better organized or authentically made than the Death Generator. Created by programmer Foone Turing, the open-source tool first began as a generator for death screens from Sierra games, starting with Police Quest 2 in 2017. Turing gets most of his screenshots by actually playing through the games, and he’s now up to dozens of classic titles and newer games alike, from SimCity 2000 to Animal Crossing: Wild World.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: NoFlo

    The developers of this week’s highlighted project say their idea isn’t new, harkening back to a 1970s development paradigm from IBM, but that its support for any JavaScript transpiling language and its ecosystem of existing tools and integrations makes flow-based programming of JavaScript components more accessible. NoFlo is an open-source flow-based programming implementation for JavaScript,

  • What Might Be Missing from Your Open Source Evaluation

    Most enterprises considering an open source solution understand they need to rigorously evaluate the software’s licensing terms and gauge the long-term health of its community and ecosystem. What still happens less frequently – but is just as crucial to these risk assessments – is developing a thorough understanding of the business models governing the commercial organizations attached to each solution being considered.

    You must discern the underlying motivations of the vendors or managed service providers (MSPs) you depend on to deliver or support open source software (as well as those vendors with strong influence over its development and maintenance). By acutely understanding these incentives, you can identify if, where, and how they may map to possible risks to your enterprise’s adoption and ongoing open source implementation. Don’t limit the assessment to licenses and community health.

  • Open Source Code: Democratic tech or Oligarchic tool?
  • The Apache® Software Foundation Announces Apache Arrow™ Momentum
  • The Apache® Software Foundation Unveils Apache® Arrow™, the Open Source Big Data In-memory Columnar Layer

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, today announced Apache® Arrow™, the Open Source Big Data in-memory columnar layer.

  • OPFPControl open source app allows more animations, colors in OnePlus 6T in-display fingerprint scanner

    OnePlus’ mid-year refresh of the flagship brought in-display fingerprint scanner upgrade in the OnePlus 6T. While the optical scanner works fine, it is certainly not the fastest. Coming from a physical fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 6, users have mostly found the in-display scanner a bit slow. Also, OnePlus 6T users have very limited options to customize the animation around the optical scanner.

    Considering the popularity of OnePlus devices, an XDA recognized developer ‘Zacharee1’ has come up with an open source app called OPFPControl, which allows more animation and color options around the optical scanner in OnePlus 6T. The app can be found on Github (via XDA-developers) and anyone with an unlocked bootloader can download and use the app. The only thing here is, OPFPControl app will only get installed if you have rooted your OnePlus 6T.

  • This looks fun: open source modular synth software that takes you back to how it was in the 70s.

    The synth setups for guys like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman still conjure a sense of awe in me. How did they manage these stacks of refrigerator-sized modules of electronic? How did they work? How did you program them? And damn, they looked cool.

    [...]

    Open Culture points us to some open source and completely free modular synth-style-based software that will help you uncover your inner Keith Emerson.

    And if you are a keyboardist, prepare to loose yourself in the sounds of 70s- and 80s-era machinery of the kind built by Bob Moog and Don Buchla.

  • OpenAI refuses to make its AI writer open source over fake news fears [Ed: Excuses for staying proprietary]

    Although the technology can effortlessly write stories, researchers fear it could be used maliciously
    The accidental creation of an AI system capable of creating sophisticated fake news stories will be withheld from the open source community over fears it will be abused for malicious purposes.

    Researchers at OpenAI institute said they were attempting to create an algorithm that could produce natural sounding text based upon extensive research and language processing, but soon realised it was capable of creating fake news stories taking cues from the 8 million web pages it trawled to learn about language.

  • AI researchers debate the ethics of sharing potentially harmful programs

    Research lab OpenAI shared details of a new text-generation algorithm, but it withheld the model itself, worried about “malicious applications.”

  • Novel software may help detect heart diseases: Study

    “We believe that ElectroMap will accelerate innovative cardiac research and lead to wider use of mapping technologies that help to prevent the incidence of arrhythmia,” said Kashif Rajpoot, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham Dubai.

    “This is a robustly validated open-source flexible tool for processing and by using novel data analysis strategies we have developed, this software will provide a deeper understanding of heart diseases, particularly the mechanisms underpinning potentially lethal arrhythmia,” Rajpoot said.

  • Standards and open source: Why are patents treated differently?

    Development of standards specifications and development of open source software have much in common: both are mechanisms by which competitors can collaborate; both can facilitate interoperability; both can be used to facilitate the adoption of new technologies; both can be used to crystallize or harmonize mature technologies.

    A technology may use both standards and open source: sometimes one precedes the other; in other cases, they may proceed in parallel. Increasingly, they may use similar tooling and process practices (e.g., fine-grained version control; driving certain development discussions with issue trackers).

  • Purism Announces PureBoot to Help You Better Secure Your Linux Computers

    Dubbed “the high security boot process,” PureBoot promises to be a complete and secured solution for more secure boot process on laptop and desktop computers that run a Linux-based operating system, including Purism’s Debian-based PureOS, which comes pre-installed with the Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops.

    PureBoot is not a new software, but a collection of software and security standards that Purism already uses on its Linux laptops, including the Librem Key USB security token, a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip, the coreboot free BIOS replacement, the Heads tamper-evident boot software, the disabled Intel ME (Management Engine), and multi-factor authentication.

  • PureBoot, the High Security Boot Process

    The boot process, in computer hardware, forms the foundation for the security of the rest of the system. Security, in this context, means a “defense in depth” approach, where each layer not only provides an additional barrier to attack, but also builds on the strength of the previous one. Attackers do know that if they can compromise the boot process, they can hide malicious software that will not be detected by the rest of the system. Unfortunately, most of the existing approaches to protect the boot process also conveniently (conveniently for the vendor, of course) remove your control over your own system. How? By using software signing keys that only let you run the boot software that the vendor approves on your hardware. Your only practical choices, under these systems, are either to run OSes that get approval from the vendor, or to disable boot security altogether. In Purism, we believe that you deserve security without sacrificing control or convenience: today we are happy to announce PureBoot, our collection of software and security measures designed for you to protect the boot process, while still holding all the keys.

  • Purism Working On PureBoot To Secure Your Data & Fully Verify The Linux Boot Process

    Purism has another announcement to make today… PureBoot! PureBoot is the privacy-minded, Linux-focused company’s collection of safeguards to protect the boot process while empowering the end-user.

    Purism’s PureBoot consists of having the Intel Management Engine permanently disabled, Coreboot as a replacement to the system BIOS, a TPM chip, Heads as their boot software, the USB Librem Key as the security token, and multi-factor authentication to handle disk encryption via the Librem Key.

  • Measured Boot Support Is Heading To Coreboot

    Developers have been working on TPM-backed measured boot support with Coreboot. The patches are pending for upstream Coreboot to be able to offer this trusted boot integration.

    Coreboot/LinuxBoot developer Philipp “_zaolin_” Deppenwiese has been working on the measured boot support for Coreboot’s vboot (verified boot) component to enhance the verification/trust steps around the boot process; Vboot is most notably used by Google for verification purposes on Chromebooks.

  • Events

    • Open Source Summit urges more support to segment to fuel innovation

      The second edition of Open Source Summit was organised in New Delhi by Bharat Exhibitions and it was a roaring success. “Open Source is where all the innovation happens”, said Peter Lees, Chief Technologist & Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, SUSE, while speaking at the inaugural session of the “Open Source Summit, 2019″.

      According to him, all the new technologies, all the new ideas and all the new approach have their foundation in open source. “In the past few years, open source has exploded. There are millions of open source projects that can help manage your business,” he further added.

      “There are government policies which recommend or mandates use of open source, open API, open platforms within the government establishments. The adoption is increasing”, said Anand Pande, Senior Vice President & CISO, Goods & Service Tax Network (GSTN), commenting on the adoption of Open Source in the government sector.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Front-End Performance Update #13

        It’s been just a little over two weeks since my last update, so let’s see where we are!

        A number of our projects are centered around trying to improve start-up time. Start-up can mean a lot of things, so we’re focused specifically on cold start-up on the Windows 10 2018 reference device when the machine is at rest.

        If you want to improve something, the first thing to do is measure it. There are lots of ways to measure start-up time, and one of the ways we’ve been starting to measure is by doing frame recording analysis. This is when we capture display output from a testing device, and then analyze the videos.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • LibreOffice

    • Next C++ workshop: Recursion and fractals, 28 February, 19:00 UTC

      Yes, it’s that time again! You can improve your C++ skills with the help of LibreOffice developers: we’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting. For the next one, the topics are recursion (third part) and fractals. Start by watching this presentation:

  • Education

    • Principles Of 2019 Web Game Development For Open Source Educators

      We owe this evolution to game developers most of all. The web-based graphics engine OpenGL alone has become the standard for the massively popular apps.

      An overview of the tools and use cases written by open source advocate Mozilla sparks some interesting ideas for teachers, instructional designers, and developers of learning technologies.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Dating

      I recently wrote a post for the FSF on dating as a free software issue. It’s also something I talked about at SFScon back in November. I wanted to write a bit about it for my own blog, to reflect my own ideas and not just those of the FSF, as well as provide a bit of a summary from my talk. My slides from SFScon are available on Gitlab. The talk is only 15 minutes long, so I recommend checking it out if you want to listen.

      I wanted to have some fun when talking about software freedom. I feel like when we talk about the rights of users we have a tendency to focus on the extreme cases of freedom: dissidents, whistleblowers, and revolutionaries. We think about people whose lives literally depend on their technology. In doing so, we tend to ignore the less showy ways people’s lives depend on their technology — I talked about my own experiences of life-saving technology at SeaGL.

      [...]

      One of the things I talked about is the opacity of algorithms. Algorithms have been shown to be racist and sexist. Tinder likes to occasionally show men to lesbians.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Teaching scientists how to share code

      The Open Science MOOC is divided into 10 core modules, from the principles of open science to becoming an open science advocate.

    • Atypon acquires Authorea and Manuscripts and signals its plans for open science

      Atypon has announced today its acquisition of two authoring platforms – Authorea and Manuscripts – enabling the company to provide free HTML-first authoring and collaboration tools for researchers. Already used by over 200,000 researchers across the globe, these tools enable researchers to write, cite, collaborate, host data, and publish.

      “We were incredibly impressed with the teams at Authorea and Manuscripts, and how they quickly developed innovative solutions to the challenges their founders faced in their own research careers,” said Atypon’s Chairman, Georgios Papadopoulos. “We share a vision to help researchers be successful – to provide them with tools that simplify their communications and help with organizing so they can spend more of their time progressing science and their careers.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • DIY Open source HiFi preamplifier running CircuitPython

        Developer Max Williams has published a new tutorial to the Hackster.io website providing details on how you can build your very own open source HiFi preamplifier. The project includes schematics, PCB layouts, CircuitPython code via GitHub, BoMs, measurements and photos.

      • Bluespec to Co-Host Upcoming SiFive Technical Symposium
      • MIPS’ Rising Stature Challenging RISC-V?

        When Wave Computing acquired MIPS, “going open source” was the plan Wave’s CEO Derek Meyer had in mind. But Meyer, a long-time MIPS veteran, couldn’t casually mention his plan then. Wave was hardly ready with the solid infrastructure it needed to support a legion of hardware developers interested in coming to the MIPS open-source community.

        To say “go open source” is easy. Pulling it off has meant a huge shift from MIPS, long accustomed to the traditional IP licensing business.

        Wave’s first step was hiring Art Swift as president of its MIPS licensing business. Swift fit the bill as someone who knows the best of both worlds — old (traditional IP for licensing) and new (open source). Swift had served as vice-chair of the RISC-V Foundation’s Marketing Committee and was vice president of marketing and business development at MIPS Technologies from 2008 to 2011.

      • How Open Source Hardware Empowers Procurement

        The advent of processors based the RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) is not just exciting for engineers and designers—open source hardware benefits procurement, experts said.

        “Open source does two things for you: it rationalizes price and motivates adoption and investment,” explained Keith Witek, senior vice president, Corporate Development, Strategy, and General Counsel at SiFive, a provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP. “If I charge you too much, you can leave and go to different vendor. I can’t lock you up with proprietary architecture or tools. And you feel like you can invest, because no one can take it away from you. RISC-V takes a big part in democratizing silicon.”

      • RISC-V Support Added To The GRUB Bootloader

        The mainline GNU GRUB boot-loader now supports the RISC-V architecture as another important step for better mainline support for this new, royalty-free processor ISA.

        As working towards this year’s GRUB 2.04 update, we’ve known they have been on the finishing stretch for merging RISC-V support and as of this morning that milestone has been crossed.

      • A Raspberry Pi Grimoire For The Command Line Wizard

        In the series of videos after the break, viewers have the opportunity to watch a project go from idea to final product. The first video was uploaded nearly a month before the project was completed, and goes over some of the design elements of the project as well as different ideas [Kamitech] had in terms of things like component placement. Throughout the video, he illustrates his ideas in TinkerCAD, which might not have been our first choice for a project this complex, but it does go to show what’s possible in the free web-based CAD package.

        By the second video, [Kamitech] has printed some parts and now has the hardware coming together. The general idea is that the outside panels of the “book” are made out of steel cut from the side panel of an old computer, with the 3D printed components taking the form of spacers between the electronic components. These plastic “pages” are not only easier and faster to print than a complete case, but help sell the appearance of the book when viewed from the sides.

  • Programming/Development

    • LLVM/Clang 9.0 Picks Up Support For Arm’s Cortex-A76

      For those interested in Arm’s Cortex-A76 that was announced last year, this CPU with “desktop-class performance with smartphone efficiency” is now supported by the LLVM Clang compiler.

      As of this Clang commit and this LLVM commit on Monday, there is back-end support now wired up for the Cortex-A76 and Cortex-A76AE. With the cortex-a76 and cortex-a76ae values for -mcpu=, the Clang compiler can generate optimized machine code for this Arm CPU.

    • Why Programmers Should Learn LAMP Stack Development?

      A stack is basically a bundle of different components that are brought together to form a unified platform designed to perform specific tasks. In most cases, stacks are named depending on the software that it contains. Typically, a stack consists of an operating system, programming language, web server, and database software.

      In this case, LAMP is an acronym that stands for Linux, Apache HTTP server, MySQL, and PHP. It is the world’s most popular platform for web development.

    • Building A Simple Python API for Internet of Things Gadgets

      It’s no secret that I rather enjoy connecting things to the Internet for fun and profit. One of the tricks I’ve learned along the way is to spin up simple APIs that can be used when prototyping a project. It’s easy to do, and simple to understand so I’m happy to share what has worked for me, using Web2Py as the example (with guest appearances from ESP8266 and NodeMCU).

      Barring the times I’m just being silly, there are two reasons I might do this. Most commonly I’ll need to collect data from a device, typically to be stored for later analysis but occasionally to trigger some action on a server in the cloud. Less commonly, I’ll need a device to change its behavior based on instructions received via the Internet.

    • Stack Overflow: Python is on fire, and Kubernetes needs some housecleaning

      Google’s Felipe Hoffa just published an excellent analysis of Stack Overflow questions, trying to uncover the direction developers are moving. For example, it’s interesting to know that developers have a long-standing affinity for Java (which also shows up in the Redmonk rankings and elsewhere), it’s much more interesting (and surprising) to see that Java doesn’t crack the top 10 in the most recent quarter, and even vanishes from the top 30 questions (measured by current page views).

      Java, a mainstay for decades, struggles to get noticed with developers today, according to Stack Overflow data. Python, by contrast, is on fire, largely due to its flexibility and applicability to the burgeoning world of data science.

    • Top 20 emerging skills that American tech companies are looking for

      Hadoop tops the list of 20 fastest-growing skills in the Upwork Skills Index

    • The Eclipse Foundation Specification Process

      The Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP) defines a general framework for developing specifications in open source at the Eclipse Foundation. At the heart of the EFSP is the notion of an open source project and, much like an open source software project, an open source specification project is concerned with creating various artifacts in an open and transparent manner. In the case of a specification project, however, at least one of the artifacts that’s produced is a specification document that describes how software should be implemented.

      The EFSP extends the Eclipse Development Process (EDP). The EDP defines the governance of open source projects at the Eclipse Foundation. This EDP describes, for example, our open source “rules of engagement” (open, transparent, meritocratic), how open source projects are structured, roles and relationships, and our review process around releases. The EFSP adds a few extra checks and balances.

    • ActiveState Offers Free Methodology to Implement Open Source Language Automation
    • Imperva Open Sources Active Directory Java Connector
    • Learning from DevOps nightmares
    • Podcast.__init__: – Episode

      Any time that your program needs to interact with other systems it will have to deal with serializing and deserializing data. To prevent duplicate code and provide validation of the data structures that your application is consuming Steven Loria created the Marshmallow library. In this episode he explains how it is built, how to use it for rendering data objects to various serialization formats, and some of the interesting and unique ways that it is incorporated into other projects.

    • Gina Helfrich on the Changelog Podcast

      I was happy to be an invited guest on the popular Changelog podcast to talk about NumFOCUS and open source sustainability, the difference between sponsored and affiliated projects, corporate backing, and more. You can listen to my conversation with Adam Stacoviak and Jerod Santo by clicking “play” below.

    • Student Made Stress Management Mask

      Sean Tibor, a teacher based at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been in touch about a cool project created by one of his students called Dilnaam D.

      Sean is one of the co-hosts (along with his colleague Kelly Schuster-Pared) of the excellent Teaching Python podcast. I’ve been working through the available episodes and constantly find myself grinning like the Cheshire Cat as I’m reminded of my own experiences as a teacher (of music), and learn how this talented duo of pedagogical pros practice the art of teaching technology, and especially Python. I heartily recommend you take a listen.

      Onto the intriguing student project…

    • Sorting and Merging Single Linked List

      In the last article, we started our discussion about the linked list. We saw what the linked list is along with its advantages and disadvantages. We also studied some of the most commonly used linked list method such as traversal, insertion, deletion, searching, and counting an element. Finally, we saw how to reverse a linked list.

      In this article, we will continue from where we left in the last article and will see how to sort a linked list using bubble and merge sort, and how to merge two sorted linked lists.

    • Eighth Annual PyLadies Auction at PyCon 2019

      PyLadies is an international mentorship community for women that use Python. Since it’s founding in 2011, PyLadies has continued to bring women into the Python community through a variety of methods, including hosting events in local PyLadies chapters and offering grant opportunities to attend PyCon. Their mission is to promote, educate and advance a diverse Python community through outreach, education, conferences, events, and social gatherings.

      The Python Software Foundation (PSF) is proud to announce the Eighth Annual PyCon Charity Auction for 2019.

    • Programming Lessons and Methods
    • Find the currency exchange rate with python
    • Create the mana object with Pygame
    • Protecting Code Integrity with PGP — Part 1: Basic Concepts and Tools
    • PyDev of the Week: Lilly Ryan
    • PyBites: PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 02, 2019
    • Top 7 Programming Tools for Kids

      The Raspberry Pi created a lot of interest in the press for its low cost and credit-card size. The main reason for the creation of the Raspberry Pi was to see it used by kids all across the globe to learn programming. Computer classes in the UK have been constrained by the national curriculum for ICT, with students having to limit their computing activities to learning applications such as Word and PowerPoint, and using the internet to help with their school work. However, learning how to use Microsoft Office is often of little or no interest to students. Students are motivated by interactive activities such as programming, as they like to make things to find out how they work.

      The art of programming is often perceived as being a difficult activity. This is, in part, because coding can be quite unforgiving with lots of information to remember. It is not a simple activity such as surfing the net, or formatting paragraph text.

      Fortunately, there is a growing range of software, often open source, that helps students learn how to code. Stripping away the complexity, the programming languages and associated tools featured in this article aim to create new ways of helping students create projects that appeal to younger minds.

    • Jekyll and GitHub pages: access the download URL (aka browser_download_url) for an asset of your latest release via site.github
    • RcppStreams 0.1.3: Keeping CRAN happy
    • C Command Line Tutorial 6 – Code indentation, increment/decrement operators, do-while and for loops, and more
    • Happy Little Accidents – Debugging Javascript
    • Python 3.8.0a2 is now available for testing
    • Understanding ROC Curves with Python
    • Python dis module and constant folding
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxvi) stackoverflow python report
    • The First Baby Step Towards Intel’s SYCL Support In LLVM Clang Lands In Git/SVN

      On the LLVM/Clang front one of the milestones we are looking forward to hopefully see happen in 2019 is the merging of Intel’s SYCL back-end. The first baby step in that direction has now been merged to Clang albeit it’s not the actual back-end and just preparatory work.

      In early January we reported that Intel was looking to add SYCL support to LLVM/Clang for the single-source programming model based on C++ that in turn can target accelerators from GPUs to FPGAs and DSPs. This SYCL effort for mainline Clang is most likely part of Intel’s oneAPI initiative they announced back in December.

    • Python Community Interview With Ali Spittel

      Happy 2019! For our first community interview of the year, I’m joined by Ali Spittel.

      Ali is a Pythonista with a passion for CSS art and teaching Python. Join us as we talk about her non-traditional path to learning to code, teaching at a Bootcamp, and her recent move to one of the most positive developer communities around.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New Research Study Describes DNDi As A “Commons” For Public Health

      Since 2003, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) has worked to meet the public health needs of neglected populations by filling gaps in drug development left by the for-profit pharmaceutical industry

    • SPCs not available for animal feed additives

      The fundamental question which types of products are amenable to SPC protection and which types of marketing authorizations allow the filing of SPCs has aroused much controversy in Europe, and reached a climax when the CJEU in its judgment Boston Scientific (C-527/17) of 25 October 2018 denied the grant of SPCs on the basis of CE-mark approvals for medical devices, as previously reported on this blog.

      The series of disappointments to SPC applicants continues as the German Federal Patent Court in a recent decision denies SPC protection for animal feed additives.

      While the SPC Regulation (EC) 469/2009 establishes in Article 2 that SPCs are available for the active ingredients of medicinal products approved in accordance with Directive 2001/82/EC (on veterinary medicinal products) or Directive 2001/83/EC (on human medicinal products), feed additives are explicitly excluded from the scope of Directive 2001/82/EC and are instead approved under Regulation (EC) 1831/2003 (on additives for animal nutrition).

    • Wolters Kluwer publishes a Practitioner’s Guide covering almost everything you need to know about SPCs
    • More States Say Doctors Must Offer Overdose Reversal Drug Along With Opioids

      In a growing number of states, patients who get opioids for serious pain may leave their doctors’ offices with a second prescription — for naloxone, a drug that can save their lives if they overdose on the powerful painkillers.

      New state laws and regulations in California, Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, Washington, Vermont and Rhode Island require physicians to “co-prescribe” or at least offer naloxone prescriptions when prescribing opioids to patients considered at high risk of overdosing. Patients can be considered at high risk if they need a large opioid dosage, take certain other drugs or have sleep apnea or a history of addiction.

      Such co-prescribing mandates are emerging as the latest tactic in a war against an epidemic of prescription and illegal opioids that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives over the past two decades.

      The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to recommend naloxone co-prescribing nationally (an FDA subcommittee recently voted in favor), and other federal health officials already recommend it for certain patients. And the companies that make the drug are supportive of the moves. It’s not hard to see why: An FDA analysis estimated that more than 48 million additional naloxone doses would be needed if the agency officially recommended co-prescribing nationally.

      Most states have limited the volume of opioids doctors can prescribe at one time and dramatically expanded access to naloxone. In California, for example, pharmacists can provide naloxone directly to consumers who are taking illegal or prescription opioids or know someone who is.

    • In Memoriam: Dilip Shah (1941-2019)

      It is hard to overstate Dilip’s importance in advancing India’s position as pharmacy of the developing world. He first became known to many working outside India toward enhanced access to medicines around the year 2000. Concerns were rising as the effects of the TRIPS Agreement began to manifest themselves, and various developing country delegations, NGOs and inter-governmental organizations convened in Geneva and the surrounding area to consider ways and means to ameliorate the impact. Dilip arrived on behalf of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance that was newly-formed to represent the interests of a key group of Indian pharmaceutical producers that would face increasing obstacles from the barriers being erected.

  • Security

    • Criminals Weaponize Open Source Tools, Target IoT [Ed: Oh, look, someone uses code that isn't secret code to do something bad, hence FOSS is bad?]
    • Addressing Inherent Risks in Code Repositories [Ed: There is a similar risk in proprietary software and the source of the binaries]
    • HackerOne CEO on the Evolving Bug Bounty Landscape
    • Millions of websites threatened by highly critical code-execution bug in Drupal
    • Strategies for securing container deployments [Ed: containers are often ramps for proprietary software on servers and secret code cannot be secured, only blindly trusted]
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Reducing security risks with centralized logging

      Logging is, to be specific, an append-only sequence of records written to disk. In practice, logs help you investigate an infrastructure issue as you try to find a cause for misbehavior. A challenge comes up when you have heterogeneous systems with their own standards and formats, and you want to be able to handle and process these in a dependable way. This often comes at the cost of metadata. Centralized logging solutions require commonality, and that commonality often removes the rich metadata many open source logging tools provide.

    • Linux and Open Source FAQs: Common Myths and Misconceptions Addressed

      LinuxSecurity debunks some common myths and misconceptions regarding open source and Linux by answering a few Linux-related frequently asked questions.

      Open source and Linux are becoming increasingly well-known and well-respected because of the myriad benefits they offer. Seventy-eight percent of businesses of all sizes across all industries are now choosing open source software over alternative proprietary solutions according to ZDNet (https://zd.net/2GCrTrk). Facebook, Twitter and Google are are among the many companies currently using, sponsoring and contributing to open source projects. Although Linux and open source are widely recognized for the advantages they provide, there are still many myths and misconceptions that surround these terms. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Linux and open source:

      Question: What are the advantages of the open source development model? How can using and contributing to open source software benefit my business?

      Answer: Open source offers an array of inherent advantages which include increased security, superior product quality, lower costs and greater freedom and flexibility compared to other models. It also is accompanied by strong community values and high standards, which encourage the highest levels of creativity and innovation in engineering.

    • Hackers Can Now Run Malicious Code From Your Browser When Not in Use [Ed: Web sites should never be proprietary programs anyway]

      Cyber attacks are common nowadays with precautionary measures becoming a necessity. In the latest event, a new browser attack has been found that can infect you even after closing the browser. According to reports, the new browser attack has been devised by Academics from Greece. Through the attack, the hackers get to run malicious code in your browsers.

    • New browser attack lets hackers run bad code even after users leave a web page [Ed: Drama queen Cimpanu is being a drama queen, as usual. This is not a new kind of "attack". CBS just baiting for hits, i.e. more of the same.]
    • A basic question about TCP

      This isn’t just a basic question, it is the basic question, the defining aspect of TCP/IP that makes the Internet different from the telephone network that predated it.

      Remember that the telephone network was already a cyberspace before the Internet came around. It allowed anybody to create a connection to anybody else. Most circuits/connections were 56-kilobits-per-secondl using the “T” system, these could be aggregated into faster circuits/connections. The “T1″ line consisting of 1.544-mbps was an important standard back in the day.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Diego Garcia: UN Court Calls on Britain to ‘Decolonize’ Chagos Islands

      The United Nations’ highest court on Monday called Britain’s claim of sovereignty over the Chagos Islands “illegal” and urged London to “decolonize” the remote archipelago — which is home to one of the most important US overseas military bases — by returning the islands to Mauritius.

      In a 13-1 vote, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands issued an advisory opinion declaring that the Chagos Islands were not lawfully separated from the former British colony of Mauritius, which was forced to give up the islands in 1965 in exchange for independence. ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the “unlawful” separation had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned” and was therefore a “wrongful act.”

      “The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring an end to its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, thereby allowing Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory,” Yusuf asserted.

      The ICJ agreed with Mauritius’ submission, which argued it had been coerced into giving up the islands. Such an act is a violation of UN Resolution 1514, which prohibits the breakup of colonies before independence. The only judge who dissented from the court’s main opinion was Joan E. Donoghue of the United States.

    • VICTORY FOR THE CHAGOS ISLANDERS 25.02.19 00:00

      The International Court of Justice in The Hague has handed down a momentous judgement that says Britain’s colonial authority over the Chagos Islands is no longer legal. John Pilger, whose 2004 film, Stealing a Nation, alerted much of the world to the plight of the islanders, tells their story here.

    • Russian newspaper deletes article by defense analyst who accused Moscow of sabotaging long-range missile shipment to China

      Last week, Meduza summarized a column by Pavel Felgenhauer that appeared in Novaya Gazeta on February 21 where the defense analyst accused Moscow of sabotaging a shipment to China of 40N6 very-long-range missiles for the S-400 air-defense system. (Felgenhauer believes the weapons aren’t ready yet.) That text has since disappeared without explanation from the newspaper, though it’s been republished at several other websites. (You can still read it here, for example, but the original hyperlink leads to a “404 Not Found” error, and Novaya Gazeta’s most recent published article by Felgenhauer is currently from February 9.)

      In her weekly radio show on Ekho Moskvy, fellow Novaya Gazeta columnist Yulia Latynina expressed similar doubts about the bungled missile delivery, though she didn’t mention Felgenhauer’s article or say outright that the Russian authorities deliberately damaged the cargo.

    • On War and Dehumanization

      Dressler at boulevard Kurfürstendamm, being close to my hotel, became a regular late stop after long city trails – my turn to lean back into the shadows and watch wanderers from the vantage point of a pavement café table. As did the impassive immortals of Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire – those curious Crombie-coated angels perched on the Brandenburg Gate – I peered hard into the faces of passers-by, trying to tune in to their thoughts. Everyone has been drenched in accounts about the people in this part of the world, few of them good, and dark imaginings undoubtedly surface in the mind of every tourist wandering the city. The Wall crumbled, but barriers persist. The immortals had to give up their wings and fall to Earth if they desired to fully understand those ordinary humans living ordinary lives in the ordinary streets below. I wondered what it would take should ordinary others desire to do the same.

      Bertolt Brecht is buried in Berlin. I fell upon his grave quite by accident one morning among the stylish, avant-garde headstones, and it was clear I had hit a lucky run when I happened upon Hegel, Fichte and Schinkel soon afterwards. The graveyards were high on my to-do list on this visit to Berlin, but the plan ended there and I didn’t know who I might find, or what to expect. I knew the boneyards of Paris well enough, though it took me several visits to find Beckett in Montparnasse. Being near the front gate, Sartre and De Beauvoir were easy to find – people throw Metro tickets on Sartre’s grave (an ironic twist on a spent journey), with words written on them like ‘see ya’. Hell really is other people. Serge Gainsbourg has a decorative display of floral bouquets, photographs, cards and letters – some Christmas tree lights would give the perfect finishing touch. But just the bare bones for Beckett: plain, polished plinth, grey granite grave.

    • Brazil Is Now Effectively Run by a Military Junta

      It was a little more than 45 days of the most bizarre power experiment in Brazilian history, but it’s over. The Jair Bolsonaro government, as the victorious power arrangement that won at the ballot box in 2018, no longer exists. A new phase two is beginning, of a regime that is ending the period of the people’s Constitution of 1988. A military junta is taking power in a government which they already dominated. There are 4 generals encapsulated in the Presidential Palace: Augusto Heleno, Hamilton Mourão, Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz and Eduardo Villas Bôas. In the next few days, the Junta may incorporate General Floriano Peixoto Neto, who is slated to substitute General Secretariat Minister Gustavo Bebianno, Bolsonaro’s campaign coordinator who was recently ousted on money laundering charges.

      It is not exactly a coup d’état. The coup took place in 2015-2016. They were already there. Now they occupy all of the key positions in the government. They have taken the power that was left vacant by the cartoon caricatures of Bolsonaro and his sons. Captain Jair may continue living in the Presidential Palace and even play video games in his office in the Capital building. All he has to do is obey his commanding officers, the generals.

      The most prominent member of the Military Junta will probably be Villas Bôas. He was the great strategist, the negotiator, the man who took the initiative to betray democracy, ordering the Supreme Court to block Lula’s freedom and impeding the ex-President’s candidacy and with this, guaranteeing the rise of a new regime. The decisive role of Villas Bôas, which should have remained in the shadows, turned public in a pathetic manner – like everything in this process – by the clumsy Jair Bolsonaro. During the January 2 inauguration ceremony for Defense Minister, General Fernando Azevedo e Silva (one more general), the now zombie President publicly mumbled, “General Vilas Boas, what we spoke about privately will remain a secret. You are one of the people responsible for me being here.”

    • ‘Not Every Option Is on the Table’: EU Leaders Reject Idea of US-Led Military Intervention in Venezuela

      The European Union and the Spanish government on Monday both rejected calls by the Trump administration and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to keep “every option on the table” to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power—saying they do not support, nor would they would participate, in military intervention.

      “Not every option is on the table,” Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told the Spanish news outlet Efe on Sunday. “We have clearly warned that we would not support—and would roundly condemn—any foreign military intervention, which is something we hope won’t happen.”

    • Abe Signals He’ll Ignore Will of Okinawa Voters Who Just Overwhelmingly Rejected New US Military Base

      Voters in the Japan’s Okinawa prefecture on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected construction plans to build a new U.S. military base to replace another “noisy and dangerous” base, sending a clear message to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration that residents remain frustrated by the significant presence of American armed forces in the region.

      More than 72 percent of those who turned out for the referendum—representing nearly 40 percent of the southwestern prefecture’s eligible voters—came together across age groups and political parties to oppose “the landfill work for the construction of the U.S. base that the government is planning in Henoko, Nago City, as a replacement for the Futenma airfield.”

      “The central government should reconsider its policy that Henoko is the only candidate site for relocation, and suspend the [ongoing land reclamation] work,” said Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, according to the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. “We will also strongly demand that the central government start dialogue with the Okinawa prefectural government toward the closure of the Futenma air station and return of its land [to Japan].”

    • As the Coup Attempt in Venezuela Stumbles, It’s Time that Guaidó Recognize that Regime Change has Failed

      On January 28, COHA’s Editorial Board released a statement condemning the US-backed coup attempt in Venezuela and in support of the dialogue promoted by the government of Mexico and the United Nations to settle the conflict peacefully. Since then, the regime change effort has severely lost momentum. The strained attempt to legitimize self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó, a previously unknown 35-year-old National Assembly member of the right-wing Voluntad Popular party, has largely failed. The government of President Nicolás Maduro remains firmly in power and only a handful of military leaders have defected to Guaidó’s side. In spite of multiple US allies in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and beyond having formally recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, four of the five major emerging BRICS nations – Russia, China, India, and South Africa – continue to recognize Maduro, along with 15 other African countries, some of the Caricom nations and stalwart regional allies Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

    • Forget the Blunders on Brexit and Foreign Policy, the ISIS Mother and Her Infant are the “Real Threat”

      The decision of home secretary Sajid Javid to strip former Isis mother Shamima Begum of her British citizenship is evidently motivated by his wish to be seen – along with Theresa May – as tough and proactive amid the chaos and uncertainties of Brexit. The decision is probably illegal, given that Begum does not have a Bangladesh passport, but by the time the case works its way through the courts, the gesture will have served its turn.

      The frenzy over the Begum story is partly impelled by the media’s desperation to report something other than Brexit. But taking away Begum’s right to a British passport is only the latest in a series of bizarre gestures by ministers designed to give the impression of a government in control at home and abroad, though the weirdness of its actions suggests one that is rattled and does not know where it is going.

      Sending the giant aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to disputed waters off China has a fine “Britain rules the waves” feel to it. Defence minister Gavin Williamson says it is a display of “hard power” and “lethality”. Except we do not rule the waves anywhere much and certainly not in the South China Sea, and to pretend otherwise gives a very large hostage to fortune.

      There is even an ominous echo here, which probably passed Williamson by, of a spectacularly ill-judged bit of gesture strategy. Churchill sent the warships Prince of Wales and Repulse to the far east to serve as a “veiled threat” to deter Japanese aggression. Both vessels were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft and their fate should have served as a warning to any power that bluffs without thinking through what will happen if that bluff is called.

    • Following Putin comments, pro-Kremlin pundits gleefully (and incorrectly) imagine a missile strike against the U.S.

      In his annual State of the Nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government is preparing a response to the possible transfer of American missiles to Europe, where “their flight time to Moscow could be as low as 10 – 12 minutes.” Putin said a symmetrical response would not only target rocket launchers; it would target “the territories where decisions are made to deploy missile complexes that threaten us.”

      “Naturally, it is their right to think what they want. But can they do math? They probably can. Let them calculate the range and speed of our own advanced weapons systems. That’s all we’re asking: they should calculate first and only later start making decisions that can present new, serious threats to our country and, naturally, lead to retaliatory measures on Russia’s side,” Putin said, addressing the United States directly.

    • With US Dropping ‘More and More Bombs,’ Afghan Civilian Deaths Hit Record High in 2018

      According to the data released Sunday by the United Nations, there were 3,804 civilian deaths last year, which marks an 11 percent increase compared to 2017.

      Among those thousands were 927 children—a figure U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called “particularly shocking.” The U.N. also said it was the highest child death toll recorded during a single year. Women and children together represented 38 per cent of all the civilian casualties.

      “The report’s rigorously researched findings show that the level of harm and suffering inflicted on civilians in Afghanistan is deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. secretary-general’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “All parties need to take immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed.”

      Revealing the scope of “human misery and tragedy,” Yamamoto added that 32,000 civilians were killed over the last decade.

    • Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Resigns Hours After Meeting With US Peace Delegation

      Instead, President Trump quit the agreement and implemented even more sanctions on Iran and on any international company that has economic dealings with Iran. Now just 51 percent of Iranians think the nuclear agreement is a good idea because it has brought no economic relief to the Iranian people. Jarif expressed frustration with the Europeans, who say they want to salvage the deal but refuse to provide real economic relief.

      We left the meeting feeling so impressed by the depth of Zarif’s knowledge, his diplomatic skills and his commitment to finding peaceful ways to deal with conflicts—including his efforts to solve the crisis in Yemen. We also left understanding the difficult position he was in, having staked his reputation on the success of the nuclear deal.

    • “You Can Stop This” — Venezuela’s Message to Americans

      The American people can stop a war on Venezuela, that country’s foreign minister told Democracy Now! on Monday.

      “I believe that the American people and the American institutions can stop this from happening, this insane proposal of invading Venezuela,” Jorge Arreaza told Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales during an interview. “And this is the right time to do it.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The man from Ukhra helping whistleblowers stay invisible

      Living in the age of snoops can be difficult. It’s hard enough to escape garden variety profiling, let alone become a whistleblower. Living up to the expectations of Edward Snowden and a high profile team building tech to help the free press is without a doubt harder. One misstep and it could cost jobs or even lives of people.

      “We have bad information security for whistleblowers in India. They routinely get compromised by accident,” says Kiran Jonnalagadda, the co-founder of Bengaluru based HasGeek, a community for geeks.

      Helping Snowden and dozens of news organisations — which includes the likes of The Guardian, Associated Press and The Intercept — build a top grade system that facilitates whistleblowers send documents securely to journalists is West Bengal born Kushal Das, an open source programmer, known little outside of the tight-knit community.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Striking for the Right to a Future

      She began cutting school on Fridays and simply sitting on the steps of the Swedish parliament. Her name was Greta Thunberg. She was 15 years old, with a mind of her own and a sign demanding a school strike against climate change. Her parents wanted her to go back to school, but Friday after Friday she kept at it until others (including one of her teachers) began joining her.

      She handed out leaflets that said, “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.” She demanded that her country’s politicians “prioritize the climate question, focus on the climate and treat it like a crisis” — like, that is, the one that could take down civilization and cripple the planet. She knew that it was time to panic. (“I want you to panic,” she insisted in a speech directed at the ultra-rich in Davos, Switzerland. “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”)

    • ‘A World Without Clouds. Think About That a Minute’: New Study Details Possibility of Devastating Climate Feedback Loop

      Stratocumulus clouds cover about two-thirds of the Earth and help keep it cool by reflecting solar radiation back to space. Recent research has suggested that planetary warming correlates with greater cloud loss, stoking fears about a feedback loop that could spell disaster.

      For this study, researchers at the California Institute of Technology used a supercomputer simulation to explore what could lead these low-lying, lumpy clouds to vanish completely.

    • The Green New Deal Can Work – Here’s How

      The Green New Deal resolution recently submitted by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) proposes a broad vision to transform America. It calls for a mobilization to create a climate-safe America and thereby “create millions of good, high-wage jobs, virtually eliminate poverty, provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic securing for all U.S. persons, and counteract systemic injustices.” Here’s a strategy for how it can succeed.

    • Evidence of Human-Caused Climate Crisis Has Now Reached ‘Gold Standard’-Level Certainty, Scientists Say

      Most Americans now recognize the scientific community’s consensus that human activity is fueling the climate crisis, according to polls—but for those who are still unconvinced of the conclusion reached by 97 percent of climate scientists, a new study makes an even more definite assertion.

      Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California found that the information available can now be classified as “five-sigma”—a standard in the scientific community meaning that there is a one-in-a-million chance that the same data would be observable if humans were not causing the planet to grow warmer through activities like fossil fuel extraction. The classification represents a “gold standard” level of certainty.

    • Slandering the Not-So Radical Green New Deal: A Bipartisan Operation

      But calling the Left “antis” – people who are just against stuff but not for anything– is only one of the rhetorical mechanisms employed to slander and demean radicals and progressives. Another set of false accusations come into play when progressive solutions see the light of day and threaten to garner significant popular support. When that happens, it no longer suffices to say that the Left offers no alternatives. The slander shifts and portside activists and intellectuals are accused of calling for too much, not for too little. They are charged with authoritarian, even totalitarian overreach. At the same time, Left proposals are smeared as “unrealistic,” “fantastic,” “pie-in-the sky,” “dreamy,” and the like.

      As with the “no solution” slur, this different set of allegations come not just from Republicans but also and most dangerously from the reigning corporate and neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party, assigned the task of defining and policing the narrow leftmost boundaries of acceptable political and policy debate in the United States.

      [...]

      Feinstein’s statement that her job is to draft a “responsible resolution” and that climate change “won’t get turned around in ten years” revealed her belief that the GND is pie-in-the-sky. Congressional Democrats might be more likely than their insane white-nationalist Republican counterparts to accept clime science, but so what? Feinstein’s perspective, downplaying the urgent action required, is the standard “mainstream” Democratic perspective, befitting that party’s longtime status as the nation’s Inauthentic Opposition (the late Sheldon Wolin’s dead-on description of the deplorable corporate Democrats).

      Who who needs right-wing enemies when you’ve got “liberal” friends like Pelosi, Feinstein, Durbin, Scarborough-Brzezinski, O’Sullivan, Chait, Pesca, Bloomberg, and Moniz et al ?

      Equally representative of the Inauthentic Opposition party’s longstanding alliance with reigning corporate interests is its collaboration with the Republicans and the Trump administration in support of a coup to oust the democratically elected socialist government of Venezuela. The regime-change campaign Washington and Wall Street are mounting against the Bolivarian government in Caracas is meant among other things to help the United States and its transnational oil corporations maintain imperially proper control of the Latin American nation’s massive petroleum reserves (more vast than Saudi Arabia’s). It’s another bipartisan operation.

    • Chernobyl’s legacy imperils many thousands

      The risk of an accident with civil nuclear power may be small, but when an accident does happen the impact may be immense, as a new book on Chernobyl’s legacy makes clear.

      The nuclear industry promotes its technology as a key way of battling climate change. A nuclear reactor can supply vast amounts of energy; compared with coal, oil or gas-fired power plants there are few or no emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

      But nuclear energy does have considerable drawbacks. A nuclear power plant costs many billions of dollars to build – and is even more expensive to decommission at the end of its working life.

    • Green Party responds to record breaking February temperatures

      Responding to reports from the Met Office that temperatures today surpassed 20 degrees for the first time on record, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said:

      “I like spending an afternoon in the sunshine as much as anyone, but it’s impossible to shake the feeling that this isn’t right. After last year’s unprecedented global heatwave and last month’s deadly temperatures in Australia, our baseline perception of what’s normal is shifting.

    • Greens win climate emergency declarations from 27 councils

      The Green Party launched the campaign, which aims to see every council in England and Wales declare a climate emergency, in response to the UN’s warning we have until 2030 to take positive action limit climate catastrophe [1].

      With the Government in Westminster failing to take the action needed to meet the scale of this challenge, Green Party councillors and members are stepping up to take local action to curb climate breakdown.

      Motions calling for councils to declare a climate emergency have been passed on 25 principal authorities across England and Wales [2], with many speeding up commitments to go carbon neutral. Climate emergencies have also been declared on 10 parish or town councils [3].

    • Wildlife Corridors Not High-Speed Rail Coming to California

      In a rare historical moment that counters half a millennium of Modernity, non-human species, their native environments and their freedom of movement, have been privileged over the transportation of humans within the State of California.

      In a month when Gavin Newsom, the newly appointed Governor of California, in his state of the State address, all but threw in the towel over high-speed rail, agreeing to call it quits after the rump line between Merced and Bakersfield in the Central Valley is finally built, the County of Ventura plans to institute a Wildlife Corridor Overlay Zone that will enhance the possibilities of survival for the County’s fragmented wildlife populations.

      Is it entirely specious to couple these two events?

      For one shining instant, can Californian wildlife corridors and the high-speed rail system co-exist within the public imagination and register the smallest of tremors, a foreshock that presages a shift in the zeitgeist? Allow me to savor the possibilities of the moment.

      Upon returning from this fanciful conflation, it is appropriate to remind ourselves, in these days of spurious States of Emergency (can we doubt that more will carom down the Trumpian track?) that,

      “Of all the decisions any society must make, perhaps the most fundamental ones concern the natural world, for it is upon the earth’s biota – its plants, animals, waters, and other living substances – that all human existence ultimately depends.” Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature, 2001.

    • At a Climate Crossroads: Nonviolence or Violence

      Sixty-one years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King declared, “Today the choice is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” Emboldened by the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott two years earlier, King saw nonviolence not only as a powerful strategy for achieving social change; he viewed it as a philosophy and way of life that gave the world its only genuine alternative to the doomsday scenarios posed by the cold war arms race. As he said, “In a day when Sputniks and Explorers dash through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, nobody can win a war.”

      Today, as efforts to control nuclear proliferation appear to be unravelling or failing, and as countries like the U.S. and Russia are engaging in a newly intensified arms race, Dr. King’s words carry new urgency. But there’s another reason for urgency: climate change. Recent scientific reports, including a report issued this past October by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, predict that at the present rate of fossil fuel consumption, the earth will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels by 2040, decades earlier than previously predicted. Severe impacts (major coastal flooding, intense droughts, increased levels of poverty around the world) will likely occur within the lifetimes of many people living today.

      These developments carry profound implications for human society – and for the issues of war and peace. Many researchers and policy makers acknowledge climate change as a major driver of human migration. Increasing numbers of people, displaced by flooding, decreasing crop productivity, and water shortages, will be forced to leave their homes in search of habitable spaces and viable livelihoods. The World Bank issued a report last March predicting that as many as 150 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia could be displaced within their home countries by mid-century. The United Nations has issued similar predictions as well.

      In the United States, defense analysts and policy-makers, have, however, tended to frame these climate-related issues in conventional terms of national security, i.e. climate change as a “security threat.” This past January, for example, the Director of National Intelligence issued a “Worldwide Threat Assessment” in which climate change, along with other environmental factors, is seen as “likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond.” Back in 2017, the U.S. Congress included language in a defense policy bill to indicate that climate change “is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist.”

    • The Showbiz of Conservation: PETA, Google and Steve Irwin

      The world of conservation has thrown up various voices of tenacity. There was Aldo Leopold, a vital figure behind establishing the first wilderness area of the United States when he convinced the Forest Service to protect some five hundred thousand acres of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. There was Robert Marshall, the founder of The Wilderness Society. There was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), a solidly aimed blow at the use of DDT and its environmental effects.

      Then there are the savvy showmen, the exploiters few short of a scruple, and manipulators keen on lining pockets. The animal kingdom, for such types, is entertainment, much in the way that the automobile world is there for a figure such as Jeremy Clarkson. Awareness of the existence of animals – their importance, their relevance – is drummed up by means of display and provocation. The more dangerous, in a sense, the better, for here, human kind can be shown to be jousting with crocodile, sting ray and lion. Humankind can return to savage roots, confronting other species in gladiatorial encounters with film crew and an extensive promotion strategy. This is bullfighting, with a conservationist twist.

      Such a figure was Steve Irwin, who made his way from Australia to the US, assisted by the solid contacts of his American wife Terri Raines, to build a name in the animal show business. He became – and here the language is instructive – the self-styled Crocodile Hunter, audacious, brash and vulgar in his animal chase. He established Australia Zoo, which sports a vision of being “the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the entire world, and” (note the entertainment gong here) “there is no other zoo like Australia zoo!” The emphasis here is also vital: zoos vary in history in terms of what they have done for conservation, turning species as much into museum species for spectacle as any act of preservation.

      Irwin teased out the voyeur in the spectator: would he be added to the crocodile’s next meal? Or, even more daringly, would he add his baby to it? Punters, take your pick, and wait for the outcome – you know you are in store for something grand and grisly.

      This assertion is not far-fetched; in 2004, the showman introduced his one-month old son in what was promoted as “Bob’s Croc Feeding Debut” to a crocodile at feeding time, real fun for the family. While apologising for his actions in the face of strident protest, Irwin’s rather particular view on animal advertising came through. He had, for one, been professional in keeping “a safe working distance with that crocodile when that took place”. He would also have been “a bad parent if I didn’t teach my children to be crocodile savvy because they live here – they live in crocodile territory.” Responsible, indeed.

    • Utilities Are Starting to Invest in Big Batteries Instead of Building New Power Plants

      Due to their decreasing costs, lithium-ion batteries now dominate a range of applications including electric vehicles, computers and consumer electronics.

      You might only think about energy storage when your laptop or cellphone are running out of juice, but utilities can plug bigger versions into the electric grid. And thanks to rapidly declining lithium-ion battery prices, using energy storage to stretch electricity generation capacity.

    • Youth Climate Activists Demanding Green New Deal Arrested for Sit-In at #OilMoneyMitch McConnell’s Office

      As recent polling shows more than 80 percent of Americans back key elements of the Green New Deal put forth by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the mobilization to increase pressure on McConnell comes after the majority leader announced last week that he plans to rush a floor vote on the resolution, which critics denounced as a ploy to fuel divisions in the Democratic Party.

      “Kentucky youth traveled here today because their state needs a Green New Deal. Mitch McConnell’s Green New Deal vote is a political stunt to score some points for his wealthy donors,” Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said in a statement. “We’re here to warn him and all senators: if you refuse to back the Green New Deal, young people will remember next time you ask for our votes.”

  • Finance

    • Brexit could be delayed until 2021, EU sources reveal

      Brexit could be delayed until 2021 under plans being explored by the EU’s most senior officials, at a time of growing exasperation over Theresa May’s handling of the talks, the Guardian can reveal.

      A lengthy extension of the negotiating period is gaining traction as the EU’s default position should the Commons continue to reject May’s deal, and a request emerge.

      Replacing the 21-month transition period with extra time as a member state would allow the UK and the EU to develop their plans for the future relationship with the aim of making the contentious Irish backstop redundant.

    • Kremlin press secretary rejects reports that Putin defended the case against U.S. investor Michael Calvey

      Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary to Vladimir Putin, said the Russian president did not defend the country’s prosecution of American citizen Michael Calvey, who leads the major investment fund Baring Vostok.

    • Investment firm Baring Vostok asks Putin to ‘take personal control’ of the criminal case against its partners

      The investment firm Baring Vostok has published an open letter to Vladimir Putin, asking the president to “take personal control of the criminal case” against Michael Calvey and five other suspects, “in order to ensure a comprehensive, independent, and objective investigation.”

      Published in both Russian and English, the text states that the charges against Calvey and his supposed accomplices were “launched in the midst of a commercial conflict related to Vostochny Bank.” The company argues that the defendants are “accused of offenses in connection with the execution of normal management functions at a commercial organization.” Baring Vostok also protests the suspects’ imprisonment, pointing out that it contradicts Russia’s declining use of jail as a form of pre-trial detention “for cases related to commercial activities.”

    • Why cities should stop playing Amazon’s game and quit offering companies tax incentives

      Amazon’s decision to walk away from its plan to build a new headquarters in Queens stunned city and state officials, who had promised US$3 billion in incentives in exchange for some 25,000 jobs. They had never questioned whether the promised jobs and economic stimulus would actually appear.

      In my own research as an economist studying corporate welfare, I have found and reviewed much evidence on the effectiveness of tax and other incentives. My conclusion: Incentives just don’t work.

    • The Growing Wealth Gap Marks the Return of Oligarchy

      One of the most striking features of our era is the widening gap between rich and poor. In fact, wealth inequality may be higher today than any other era, although we lack the data to draw meaningful comparisons with the distant past. Moreover, the gap between the haves and the have-nots seems to be growing, as the annual reports from the development charity Oxfam clearly indicate. What are the key reasons for the growing divide between rich and poor, especially when governments claim that there is a recovery underway since the 2008 global financial crisis? And what can be done to reorganize society so wealth is no longer concentrated into so few hands while millions of people live in extreme poverty or are barely subsisting? In the interview below, Thomas Weisskopf, emeritus professor of economics at the University of Michigan and a long-time member of the Democratic Socialists of America, offers his insights on the state of economic injustice.

    • Trump’s Tax Cut Has Failed to Deliver Promised Investment Boom

      Last week, the Commerce Department released data on equipment investment for December 2018. Orders for new equipment were up just 2 percent from year–ago levels and actually down almost 2 percent from the levels reached in July 2018. In fact, even the peak level reached in July was lower than the peak reached under Obama in March of 2012, and that’s before adjusting for inflation.

      The other categories of investment don’t look much better. The smaller categories of intellectual property products and nonresidential construction are both seeing modest single–digit increases. This is fine for normal times, but there is no acceleration from the growth rate we saw under Obama. In short, we clearly are not seeing the investment boom promised by the Trump administration and other proponents of its tax cut.

      In case folks had forgotten, the main rationale for the tax cut was supposed to be that it would trigger a huge surge in investment. This was supposedly the reason that corporations received the bulk of the tax cuts.

      While the immediate beneficiaries of a cut in corporate taxes are shareholders, who are disproportionately the rich and very rich, the argument was that ordinary workers would ultimately be the biggest beneficiaries. The story was that lower tax rates would give corporations more incentive to invest. More investment would lead to more productivity growth. With workers getting their share of productivity growth in higher wages, the typical working family would be $4,000 better off as a result of the tax cuts, after just four years.

    • ‘We Are Crushing the Next Generation’: Young Millennials Saddled With $1,005,000,000,000 in Student Debt

      In the last quarter of 2018, outstanding student loan debt went up $15 billion to $1.46 trillion. Credit card balances shot up as well, raising $26 billion to $870 billion, according to (pdf) the most recent quarterly housefold debt report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data.

      The youngest age bracket in the report, those aged 19-29, had over $1 trillion in debt in 2018. “That’s the highest debt exposure for the youngest adult group since late 2007,” Bloomberg reported. Moreover, “Student loans make up the majority of the $1,005,000,000,000 owed by this cohort, followed by mortgage debt,” the reporting adds.

      “We are crushing the next generation with debt,” tweeted Democratic presidential hopeful and Universal Basic Income proponent Andrew Yang in response to the findings.

    • Worker Visas in Doubt as Trump Immigration Crackdown Widens

      Immigrants with specialized skills are being denied work visas or seeing applications get caught up in lengthy bureaucratic tangles under federal changes that some consider a contradiction to President Donald Trump’s promise of a continued pathway to the U.S. for the most talented foreigners.

      Getting what’s known as an H-1B visa has never been a sure thing — the number issued annually is capped at 85,000 and applicants need to enter a lottery to even be considered. But some immigration attorneys, as well as those who hire such workers, say they’ve seen unprecedented disruptions in the approval process since Trump took office in 2017.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Citing Vision of Granny D, Elizabeth Warren Vows Campaign Built on ‘Ideas and Principles – Not Money and Access’

      Announcing her campaign will shun the tradition of “fancy receptions,” endless phone calls, and “big money fundraisers” with deep-pocketed donors “who can write big checks,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday—inspired by the courageous activism of Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who in her late eighties walked thousands of miles against the corrupting influence of big money in politics—told supporters that she will walk a path focused on small donors as she pursues the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

      “For every time you see a presidential candidate talking with voters at a town hall, rally, or local diner, those same candidates are spending three or four or five times as long with wealthy donors—on the phone, or in conference rooms at hedge fund offices, or at fancy receptions and intimate dinners—all behind closed doors,” Warren wrote in an email to supporters early on Monday. “When I thank the people giving to my campaign, it will not be based on the size of their donation.”

    • At Chicago City Hall, the Legislative Branch Rarely Does Much Legislating

      She saw it as an example of why she and her 49 City Council colleagues have so much power over their wards, down to their alleys and sidewalks.

      Residents “need to have a go-to person, someone you can expect to address your issue,” Dowell said. “That person needs to be on the ground with you.”

      From 2011 through 2018, Dowell was the chief sponsor of more than 900 separate ordinances in the City Council, most of them pertaining to such hyperlocal issues as business sign permits, driveway alley access and parking meter hours for single addresses or blocks.

      That volume of ward-specific legislation is typical for Chicago aldermen. Dowell and others have fought for more oversight of city government. But the city’s legislative branch is largely consumed with processing small-bore and neighborhood administrative matters, with few aldermen taking the lead on issues beyond their ward boundaries, a ProPublica Illinois analysis of more than 100,000 pieces of legislation has found.

      The structure of the council has received new attention over the last several months, as the city’s political establishment has been rocked by scandals involving aldermen. In January, federal prosecutors charged Ed Burke, the council dean and Finance Committee chair, with trying to shake down a Burger King franchisee that needed building and driveway permits for a restaurant in his Southwest Side ward. Burke has said he is not guilty.

    • Kremlin press secretary’s daughter scores internship with right-wing European Parliament member

      Yelizaveta Peskova, the daughter of Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, has found work as an intern in the European Parliament. The television channel Nastoyashchee Vremya discovered her position on February 25.

    • Behind Paul Manafort’s sordid career: Hints of a much larger Trump conspiracy

      Most of you probably didn’t stay up late on Friday night on pins and needles waiting for the sentencing memorandum in Paul Manafort’s case to drop. That would be because you are sane people who have lives. Quite a few journalists and news junkies obviously can’t say that, because we sat there in front of our phones and keyboards, checking Twitter every few moments in the vain hope that the “Big Reveal” was finally coming and Robert Mueller was going to lay out whatever he’s got.

      As it turned out, the memorandum wasn’t filed until Saturday afternoon and it turned out to be a richly detailed 800-page document about Paul Manafort’s sordid history of criminality. There is little doubt that this man has spent a lifetime consorting with terrible people doing terrible things and making a lot of money at it. You’d think Donald Trump would have done a little bit of research before he tapped such a person to run his campaign, particularly since one of his major campaign promises was that he would only hire the very best people. Considering how many other corrupt, criminal, incompetent hires there have been to his campaign and administration, that clearly cannot be among those “promises kept” he likes to brag about. There has never been a more motley group of misfits populating one presidency in American history.

    • Trump Campaign Staffer Becomes 23rd Woman to Publicly Accuse President of Sexual Assault

      Women’s rights groups pledged their support on Monday for Alva Johnson, a former staffer on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign who has alleged that the president sexually assaulted her on the campaign trail weeks before he won the election.

      According to the Washington Post, Johnson is alleging in a new lawsuit against Trump that he kissed her without her consent at a campaign event in Florida on August 24, 2016.

      “I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it,” Johnson said, calling Trump’s actions “super creepy and inappropriate.”

      “Johnson’s story should serve as a reminder to all Americans that Donald Trump is a self-confessed sexual predator—who will never stop abusing women,” said Emma Boorboor, deputy director of organizing for UltraViolet, noting that “she joins more than twenty other women who have had the courage to share their stories of sexual abuse by Donald Trump with the American people.”

      “We cannot truly tackle the epidemic of sexual violence in this country until we hold Donald Trump and his enablers accountable. We urge Congress to investigate these latest accusations against Trump,” Boorboor added.

    • America Has Already Fired Trump

      Special counsel Robert Mueller’s soon-to-be-delivered report will trigger months of congressional investigations, subpoenas, court challenges, partisan slugfests, media revelations and more desperate conspiracy claims by Donald Trump, all against the backdrop of the burning questions: Will he be impeached by the House? Will he be convicted by the Senate? Will he pull a Richard Nixon and resign?

      In other words, will America fire Trump?

      I have news for you. America has already fired him.

      When the public fires a president before election day – as it did with Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover – they don’t send him a letter telling him he’s fired. They just make him irrelevant. Politics happens around him, despite him. He’s not literally gone, but he might as well be.

      It’s happened to Trump. The courts and House Democrats are moving against him. Senate Republicans are quietly subverting him. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told him to end the shutdown.

    • Mueller Report: Secrecy Shouldn’t be an Option

      As February draws to an end, rumors abound that we’re about to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Or at least that someone — namely, newly confirmed US Attorney General William Barr — is about to see that report. The rest of us, maybe not so much.

      “I don’t know at the end of the day what will be releasable,” Barr told the US Senate during his January confirmation hearing. “I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations.”

      That’s not good enough.

      Robert Mueller has spent nearly two years and more than $25 million supposedly getting to the bottom of the “Russian meddling” claims — claims that have, both before and throughout his tenure, roiled the news cycle and called the integrity of American elections into question.

      Mueller may answer to Barr, but both he and Barr claim to work for the public. And that money didn’t come out of Mueller’s pockets or Barr’s. It came out of your pocket and was supposedly spent on your behalf.

      That report is, by any reasonable standard, your property.

    • Women Marched for Korean Reconciliation. Washington Is in Our Way.

      In 2015, we were among 30 women from around the world who came together to cross the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), the infamous strip of land that has separated North and South Korea since a “temporary” cease-fire halted the Korean War 65 years ago.

      We marched to show this anachronistic conflict need no longer separate families, prohibit communication, and provide excuses for land mines, nuclear weapons and an expensive, ongoing U.S. military commitment. Among us were women who had won Nobel Peace Prizes for helping to bring peace to Liberia and Northern Ireland.

      Despite criticism that we were naively playing into the sinister plans of one side or the other, we held a peace symposium in Pyongyang with hundreds of North Korean women, and marched with thousands in the capital and in Kaesong. After crossing the DMZ, we walked with thousands of South Korean women along the barbed-wire fence in Paju.

      We never could have predicted that only three years later, the leaders of South and North Korea would meet in the DMZ and declare that “there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula.” This put in motion the kind of steps toward peace that we had marched for — soldiers from both sides shaking hands and removing guard posts, the beginning of land-mine removal from the DMZ. The new reality is a tribute to Korean leaders and their determination to end the standoff that has separated their people for three generations.

    • The Economic Rationale for the Democrats’ Aggressive Agenda

      Just because Congress is anchored in a toxic combination of partisan gridlock and Trumpian chaos doesn’t mean policy debates are dead. Democrats are working overtime to craft an alternative to the status quo, including progressive tax reform, jobs programs, pushback on climate change, universal health care, expanded Social Security and more.

      As it happens, economic conditions right now make this an excellent time for a bolder-the-better agenda.

      First, the Federal Reserve recently announced that its previously planned interest-rate increases were on pause. After holding the benchmark rate they control at zero for an unprecedented six years, in late 2015, the Fed began raising rates. A few years later, even as interest rates and unemployment remained historically low, enough economic head winds developed that the bank realized it had better stop tapping the growth brakes.

      There were lots of reasons for those head winds, including President Trump’s trade war, global growth problems, stock market volatility and more. But there’s always a lot of other stuff going on in global markets. The key fact is that the U.S. economy started to wobble with the Fed funds rate at 2.5 percent, a level that’s but one-half of its long-term average.

    • The missing piece from the DCMS report? Themselves

      The Disinformation and ‘fake news’ report from the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee splashed onto front pages, news feeds and timelines on 18 February. And what a response it provoked. Parliamentarians are once again talking tough against the role of big tech in one of the key areas of our life: the democratic process. The custodians of the democratic tradition are vociferously calling time on “out of control” social media platforms and demanding further regulation.

      In all the outrage and column inches generated by the report, however, campaigners for political office and representatives of political parties being angrily vocal about platforms and adverts and elections have failed to acknowledge one of the most critical actors in personal data and political campaigning: themselves.

    • Ex-Trump Campaign Staffer’s Lawsuit Challenges Nondisclosure Agreements

      Alva Johnson, a staff member of Trump’s 2016 presidential run, sued the campaign in a Florida federal court on Monday, Ronan Farrow reports in The New Yorker, alleging “that she experienced ‘racial and gender discrimination’ while working for the campaign, that she was paid less than male and white colleagues, and that Trump once kissed her partially on the mouth, without her consent.”

      Johnson, who is African-American, had multiple roles on the campaign, including director of outreach and coalitions in Alabama and administrative field-operations director in Florida. In addition to Johnson being paid “substantially less” than white men in similar roles, as the lawsuit alleges, Farrow reports that “campaign staffers made comments about race that made her uncomfortable.”

      Four people on the campaign, plus Johnson’s mother, father, and partner, report hearing about the kiss. Two people who were said to be near Trump and Johnson at the time, campaign staffer Karen Giorno and Trump surrogate Pam Bondi, both denied the incident. Bondi told Farrow, “Had it happened, I feel I would have seen it, because I was there the entire time.”

    • Time For Socialist History Month?

      This season, Black history month’s coinciding with the start of the presidential candidate primaries. On the Democratic side, we’re already seeing journalists stretching for their pencils to divvy the candidates up. So far, the main divides they’ve identified seem to stem from which of the contenders lead with race and gender justice, and which want to sock it to the corporations.

      But those social vs economic distinctions aren’t going to hold up for long when every last Democrat, for all their faults, is a civil rights paragon in contrast to the Klan endorsed guy in the White House.

    • Bernie Sanders Says 1,000,000 People Have Signed Up as Campaign Volunteers

      It took less than one week, but the Bernie Sanders campaign on Monday announced that more than one million people have now volunteered to support the senator’s 2020 bid.

      “We did it,” Sanders said in an email just before noon. “We hit this first important goal we needed to reach if we’re going to win this campaign. But the truth is, that goal is just a start.”

      While the campaign generated headlines last week by raising nearly $6 million in its first 24 hours—including approximately $600,000 in recurring monthly giving—hitting its volunteer goal in less than six days shows that there’s plenty of energy among the progressive base of his supporters.

    • The Judiciary Won’t Save American Democracy

      Now that President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to pave the way for construction of his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the question is whether anyone or anything can stop him.

      On Tuesday, the House is expected to pass a joint resolution terminating the emergency. The resolution will then head to the Senate, which should vote on it by mid-March. In addition, at least six high-profile federal lawsuits have been filed to contest the emergency decree.

      Unfortunately for anyone concerned with preserving the last vestiges of American democracy, the emergency declaration is likely to stand. Before explaining why, it’s helpful to recall how we got here.

      Trump proclaimed the emergency on Feb. 15 in a rambling, self-centered, stream-of-consciousness Rose Garden speech more suited to a psychiatric session than a presidential event. Careening from such far-flung topics as his personal relationship with China’s Xi Jinping and his admiration of China’s death penalty for drug offenders to the second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the status of Brexit and the latest military developments in Syria, Trump finally got to the point and explained he was dissatisfied with the $1.375 billion Congress had appropriated for 55 miles of new border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley to avert another government shutdown.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Latest Garbage Twitter/Terrorism Lawsuit Is The Stupidest Twitter/Terrorism Lawsuit

      Because there’s no shortage of people willing to pay money for the thrill ride that is losing a lawsuit in federal court, 1-800-LAW-FIRM and Excolo Law remain viable entities. The lawsuits they bring aren’t viable, but presumably retainers have been collected before the inevitable process of dismissal-appeal-dismissal begins.

      These two firms are behind most of the lawsuits we’ve covered featuring plaintiffs attempting to hold a number of social media platforms responsible for acts of terrorism. The underlying events are tragic, but these lawsuits aren’t the answer. They’re ridiculous. Despite not having racked up a win at any level of the court system, the lawsuits continue to be filed. This doesn’t reflect well on the law firms specializing in taking money from victims of terrorist attacks while offering them false hope of closure, if not actual compensation.

      The latest lawsuit filed by these firms is only novel in the respect that it features a Dallas transit officer as a plaintiff, rather than someone from the private sector. Retana was wounded in the ambush of Dallas law enforcement officers back in 2016. This is where the Twitter+terrorists boilerplate — which fills most of the lawsuit’s 96 pages [PDF] — gets really weird. (h/t Eric Goldman)

      To get around the obvious Section 230 roadblock, these lawsuits invoke the US Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The filings tend to spend numerous pages detailing the history of whatever terrorist organization is relevant to the case, followed by a bunch of screenshots of supposed members of these groups utilizing Twitter, Facebook, et al. With this, the plaintiffs hope to convince a judge that the mere existence of terrorists on social media networks is “material support for terrorism” — a violation of multiple anti-terrorism laws.

    • Has the Elite’s Slavish pro-Israel Agenda Finally Gone Too Far?

      Hezbollah’s defeat of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the July war of 2006 was heroic and an essential redress to the Middle East power balance. I supported Hezbollah’s entirely defensive action then and I continue to applaud it now. That, beyond any shadow of a doubt, makes me guilty ofn the criminal offence of “glorifying terrorism”, now that Sajid Javid has proscribed Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. I am unrepentant and look forward to the prosecution.

      A large majority of the public, and certainly almost everyone who remembers that 2006 invasion, would revolt from my being prosecuted on those grounds. The very absurdity of it is a sure measure that Sajid Javid has simply gone too far in naming Hezbollah – the legitimate political party representing in parliament the majority rural population in Southern Lebanon – as a terrorist organisation.

      Together with the largely manufactured “Corbyn anti-semitism” row, Javid’s move is aimed at achieving in the UK the delegitimisation of political opposition to Israeli aggression and absorption of the occupied territories and the Golan Heights, in the way that has been achieved in the USA. However, there is a much better educated population in the UK and a great deal of popular awareness of decades of Israeli crimes. In fact, the continuing resilience of the Labour vote shows that at least over a third of the British population does not buy the “anti-semitism” tag applied to all those concerned at the continued plight of the Palestinians.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Governments Must Face the Facts about Face Surveillance, and Stop Using It

      It’s time for governments to confront the harmful consequences of using facial recognition technology as an instrument of surveillance. Yet law enforcement agencies across the country are purchasing face surveillance technology with insufficient oversight—despite the many ways it harms privacy and free speech and exacerbates racial injustice.

      EFF supports legislative efforts in Washington and Massachusetts to place a moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology. These bills also would ban a particularly pernicious kind of face surveillance: applying it to footage taken from police body-worn cameras. The moratoriums would stay in place, unless lawmakers determined these technologies do not have a racial disparate impact, after hearing directly from minority communities about the unfair impact face surveillance has on vulnerable people.

      We recently sent a letter to Washington legislators in support of that state’s moratorium bill.

      We also support a proposal in the City of San Francisco that would permanently ban government use and acquisition of face surveillance technology.

    • More Consumer Data Privacy Hearings Without Enough Consumer Data Privacy Advocates

      Last year, the U.S. Senate held a hearing about consumer privacy without a single voice for actual consumers. At the time, we were promised more hearings with more diverse voices. And while a hearing a month later with consumer advocates did seem to be a step forward, this week’s two hearings–only MOSTLY full of witnesses from tech companies–make us worried about a step back.

      EFF actively supports new consumer data privacy laws to empower technology users and others. Today, 90 percent of Americans feel they no longer have control over their data when they go online. Laws that impose legal duties on large technology companies that monetize consumer data, coupled with strong enforcement such as a private right of action, will give users back control.

      In order to create an enforceable law that actually protects consumers, Congress needs to consider many different aspects of the issue. This week, both the House and the Senate are holding hearings on this topic, but unfortunately, instead of hearing a variety of voices and perspectives on this topic, once again, Congress decided to hear mostly from tech companies.

    • Court Says DOJ’s Attempt To Force Facebook To Break Encryption Can Remain Under Seal

      Late last summer, the DOJ attempted to get a court to force Facebook to break encryption on its Messenger service so investigators could tap into phone calls being made by criminal suspects. Facebook responded that doing so would fundamentally alter the way Messenger works. The request was a non-starter according to Facebook. According to the DOJ, it was nothing more than asking a few smart people to do a few smart things, so the burden Facebook complaints about “burdensome requests” was overstated.

      A couple of months later, the DOJ had again failed to obtain favorable anti-encryption precedent. The underlying documents remain under seal, but sources “close to the case” had indicated the court had sided with Facebook.

      The secret litigation over software alterations that would affect millions of Facebook users continues. Messenger’s encryption is no longer at stake — at least not for the time being — but the government still wants the public to stay out of its private discussions with our federal court system.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Supreme Court Rightly Cited the Black Codes in Ruling Against Excessive Fines, Fees, and Forfeitures

      The justices held that the Eighth Amendment protects people from state and local authorities’ abusive reliance on monetary penalties to raise money.
      Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare unanimous ruling in Timbs v. Indiana, holding for the first time that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to state and local governments — not just federal authorities.

      The fact that this landmark decision is unanimous is itself remarkable. But it bears noting that in separate opinions, both Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledge the historical context for the modern-day protection against excessive fines, fees, and forfeitures: southern states’ abuse of fines to enforce white supremacy in the years following the Civil War.

      The question presented by Timbs is whether the Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated by the 14th Amendment and therefore applicable to the states. When the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, it applied only against the federal government. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to formerly enslaved people and, among other things, prohibited state governments from depriving people “of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that most of the protections in the Bill of Rights apply to the states because they are incorporated by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

    • Intrepid Journalism 101: Watch This Reporter Jump Over the Border Wall!

      Bestowing vital hope on beleaguered journalists everywhere, Hilde Lysiak, 12-year-old reporter, editor and publisher of the Orange Street News, last week faced down an Arizona cop who threatened to “have you arrested and thrown in juvey” for chasing down a tip on her bike, aka doing her job – or as Lysiak conscientiously reported, “The OSN was working on a story in Patagonia, Arizona when a law enforcement officer threatened the reporter with arrest unless she stopped reporting the news.” This was her second encounter with Marshall Joseph Patterson, who’d variously charged her with disobeying his “lawful order,” riding on the wrong side of the road and acting unsafely with a possible mountain lion in the area. Filming him as she repeatedly asked just what crime she’d committed, he retorted it was illegal to film him or “paste my face on the Internet” – not – and he didn’t “want to hear about any of that freedom-of-the-press stuff.” In the end, she writes, “The officer told the reporter he was calling her parents. ‘You aren’t an adult so don’t act like it,’ before driving off.”

      This was not Lysiak’s first run-in with recalcitrant police; she says the cops in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania “definitely don’t like to talk to me – I’d have more luck getting answers from a tongue-less cat.” The daughter of a former New York Daily News reporter who used to take her along on stories, she began her career covering events in her family or community – “My first issue was the birth of my baby sister. Lame.” – went on to report small crimes like vandalism, and at nine broke her most famous story of a homicide, interviewing witnesses before other media had reached the scene and dismissing skeptics with panache: “Just because I’m nine doesn’t mean I can’t do a great story.” That one was “easy”; she’s proudest of her investigative piece on a serious drug problem at the local high school that had gone unreported and ultimately prompted action by the school district. After working on it for months, “My sources were going to let me ride along on a heroin run to a nearby town and report how it all went down, but my parents said no.”

    • Florida Dept. Of Corrections Sued For Screwing Inmates Out Of $11.3 Million In Digital Purchases

      Last fall, the Florida Department of Corrections decided it needed to enrich itself at the literal expense of its inmates. It signed a new contract with new provider of jailhouse entertainment, instantly making $11.3 million in purchased digital goods worthless. You don’t own what you paid for, even at inflated prison prices.

      The new contract with JPay rendered the purchased content unusable. Even the players purchased by inmates aren’t technically theirs and must be returned to the vendor. Not that keeping the players would help much. The licensing agreements covering the content are only valid if the previous contractor is providing the service. Since it’s not, the mp3s and ebooks can’t be transferred to JPay devices.

      Unsurprisingly, inmates are furious. So are their families — the ones who paid extortionate rates to give their imprisoned family members a little music to enjoy. The DOC recognized this was a problem and created a portal for the filing of complaints related to this disappearance of purchased digital goods. That portal is going to be very useful in the upcoming lawsuit against the Florida DOC for screwing inmates out of their purchases.

    • Petition Delivered to Philly DA Calling for Fair Appeal for Mumia

      As you know, respected human rights groups like Amnesty International have criticized the 1982 trial that convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal – as well as the corrupted appeals process that followed. Amnesty pointed to racial bias at the trial and “possible political influences that may have prevented him from receiving an impartial and fair hearing.” Since that tainted trial, Mr. Abu-Jamal has spent roughly 37 years in prison, much of it on death row in solitary confinement.

      After [Pennsylvania Common Pleas] Judge Leon Tucker recently granted Mr. Abu-Jamal the right of appeal based on the appearance of bias in the appeals process, we were dismayed to hear you have decided to challenge Judge Tucker’s decision, apparently over concern that it might open the way for appeals by other less prominent convicted prisoners.

      We urge you to drop your appeal of Judge Tucker’s ruling – and we ask you: Given the racial, judicial and political biases that have tarnished Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case from day one, isn’t nearly four decades behind bars more than enough?

    • Supreme Court Screw-Up Sullies U.S. Constitution

      Giving a speech at Georgetown University, late Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., said: “[T]he Constitution is a sublime oration on the dignity of man.” However, after the Supreme Court’s February 7 refusal to stay devout Muslim Domineque Ray’s execution – despite Ray’s unrebutted claim only Christian prisoners in Alabama are afforded a spiritual advisor during their final moments – this high-minded aspiration for one of our country’s founding documents appears to be, as it has before (see, for example, Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu), empty words. As Justice Kagan observed in dissent, it was “profoundly wrong.”

      The morning after Ray’s unholy execution, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist John Archibald wrote: “There was a lot of legal maneuvering in the days and hours leading up to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed his 6 p.m. execution. The prison ultimately gave him back his Quran and the state said it would not force him to have the Christian chaplain present, though it would not let any outsider into the execution chamber for security reasons, even in the name of religious freedom. That protocol, prison officials said, has not changed.”

      Callously and without any indication he was copycatting the state’s own abominable proposal – one made during last-minute litigation to ensure Ray’s execution – Archibald asserted: “The answer seems pretty simple. If Alabama can’t allow an inmate to choose his own religious guide as he exits this earth, maybe they shouldn’t let any religious leaders into the execution chamber at all. Easy. But Ray is dead. I do not ask you to grieve for him, the grief is more appropriate for his victims Earnest and Reinhard Mabins and Tiffany Harville.”

    • Respectability Politics Is Losing Ground in Black Liberation Struggles

      We held signs of Michael Brown and chanted his last words, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” Hundreds of protesters made a human wall on the Brooklyn Bridge. It was night and the car headlights nearly blinded us, but we stopped traffic. We forced the city to see the images of young Black men killed by police.

      It was 2014 and Glenn Loury, a Black economist at Brown University, said “Michael Brown is no Rosa Parks.” He invoked a form of respectability politics to say Brown’s death should not spark a movement, and that Black Lives Matter was misguided. His critique is shared by a few older civil rights activists like Barbara Reynolds, who oppose its rhetoric and tactics.

      Now in 2019, it’s clear that respectability politics, a conservative ideology, is waning. Black activists have decidedly turned away from mirroring middle-class, white values. This February, as we near the end of Black History Month, it is vital to look at the timeline of this radical transformation. How did it come to pass, and what does it mean for the future of racial justice activism?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • How to decentralize social media, according to Wikipedia’s co-founder

      The problem about social media is that it is centralized. Centralization empowers massive corporations and governments to steal our privacy…

    • Trump Administration’s ‘National Broadband Plan’ Comically Refuses To Acknowledge A Lack Of Competition

      We’ve well documented how the telecom sector is a pit of regulatory capture and dysfunction, pretty evident if you’ve ever tried to switch ISPs, negotiate a lower rate, or contact Comcast customer support. And since these companies have their lobbying teeth stuck deep into regulators and lawmakers (something that teeters toward parody on the state level), the government’s “solutions” to the problem tend to wind up being of the decidedly half-assed variety. That’s not helped by many folks who still labor under the misconception that you motivate natural monopolies to behave by eliminating already modest regulatory oversight.
      So every few years, regardless of the party in charge, the government will put forth a new broadband plan it promises will finally address this cavalcade of dysfunction. And time and time again, these proposals fall well short of actually pushing policies that could actually drive more competition to market, because that’s the very last thing the companies holding sway over our lawmakers and regulatory agencies actually want. The result is plans that sound really good upon superficial inspection, but don’t come close to fixing the real problem. Again, because the wealthiest providers don’t want it fixed.
      That was certainly the case with the FCC’s 2010 “national broadband plan,” a collection of politically-timid policy goals set forth by Obama’s first FCC boss, Julius Genachowski. The plan failed to really offer a solution to drive competition to market, downplayed the potential role of open access, public/private partnerships, and community broadband as useful motivators for natural monopolies, and failed to really even mention the competitive logjam at the heart of the problem.

    • Charter Spectrum Keeps Mindlessly Jacking Up Its Bullshit Fees

      When Charter Communications (Spectrum) proposed merging with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016, the company repeatedly promised that the amazing “synergies” would lower rates, increase competition, boost employment, and improve the company’s services. Of course like countless telecom megamergers before it, little if any of those promises actually materialized.

      Instead, the company quickly set about raising prices to manage the huge debt load. And its service has been so aggressively terrible that the company recently almost got kicked out of New York State, something I’ve never seen in 20 years of covering telecom. All the while, the company continues to not only jack up its standard pricing, but the sneaky fees it uses to advertise one rate, then charge users something else when the bill actually comes due.

      We’ve noted for some time how cable providers over the last few years have added a “broadcast TV” fee to customer bills. Such a fee, which simply takes a part of the cost of programming and buries it below the line, lets cable providers advertise one rate, then hit customers with a higher bill. It’s false advertising, but you’d be hard pressed to find a regulator anywhere in North America that gives much of a damn about the practice, be it in telecom, cable TV, the airline sector, or anywhere else. Culturally, American “leadership” appears to view such fees as the pinnacle of capitalistic creativity.

      So it just keeps on going. The Los Angeles Times notes that Spectrum is informing its already angry customers that they’ll soon be facing yet another $2 monthly hike in the company’s broadcast TV fee, on the heels of another hike just last fall. The fall hike bumped the fee 12% to an additional $8.85 per month. This latest hike bumps it another $2 (20%) to $12 per month. And again, this is just for the cost of programming, something you’re supposed to have already paid for in your base, above the line bill.

    • Surprise: Uganda’s New Social Media Tax Seems To Have Led To Fewer People Using The Internet, And Total Value Of Mobile Transactions To Drop

      Techdirt has been following the regrettable story of African governments imposing taxes and levies on Internet use. For example, Uganda has added a daily fee of 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.05) that its citizens must pay to access social media sites and many common Internet-based messaging and voice applications (collectively known as “OTT services”). It has also imposed a tax on mobile money transactions. When people started turning to VPNs as a way to avoid these charges, the government tried to get ISPs to ban VPN use. As we pointed out, these kind of taxes could discourage the very people who could benefit the most from using the Internet.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Keeping up with the Copyright Directive

        Copyright reform in the EU has been in progress for many years now. In September 2016 the EU Commission proposed a new directive to update its copyright framework after years of public consultation. Since then, we have seen much negotiation and several amendments to the proposal. The most controversial parts of the proposed EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market are of course Article 11 [press publishers rights, Katposts here] and Article 13, which was intended to address the so-called “value gap” [Katposts here]. See Katpost here for views from Jaime de Mendoza Fernandez (Legal Officer DG CNECT, European Commission, Brussels) and Tobias McKenney (Senior EU IP Policy Manager, Google).

        The final text has now been agreed and will be put to the Parliamentary vote in the coming weeks.

      • EFF Asks the Supreme Court to Clean Up the Oracle v. Google Mess

        EFF has just filed an amicus brief in support of Google’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the long-running case of Oracle v. Google. The case asks whether functional aspects of computer programs are copyrightable, and involves two dangerous court opinions that held that functional works are both copyrightable and are not fair use as a matter of law.

        That Supreme Court review is long overdue. Nine years ago, Oracle filed a copyright suit against Google over the application program interface (API) of the Java programming language. The trial court ruled in Google’s favor, finding the APIs in question weren’t copyrightable. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed, and Google asked the Supreme Court to review that disastrous ruling. Unfortunately the Court declined, sending the parties back to the trial court to determine whether Google’s use was a fair use. Google won, again, and the Federal Circuit reversed, again. And that means Supreme Court now has another chance to fix this mess.

        It should take it. As we’ve explained before, the two Federal Circuit opinions are a disaster for innovation in computer software. Its holding that APIs are entitled to copyright protection ran contrary to the views of most other courts and the long-held expectations of computer scientists. Indeed, excluding APIs from copyright protection was essential to the development of modern computers and the Internet.

      • Who Needs Article 13: Italian Court Finds Facebook Liable For Hosting Links

        Got that? This is a case where someone posted links to (likely) infringing videos on YouTube to Facebook. And of all the possible parties liable for infringing content on YouTube… the court agreed that it’s Facebook that is liable because a Facebook user posted links to content on YouTube that is likely infringing. And somehow that’s Facebook’s fault. This is… ludicrous. But, this is also why the legacy entertainment companies are licking their chops over similar bad court rulings in the EU even absent Article 13.

        The ruling’s problems don’t stop there. It does suggest that knowledge of the infringement is necessary, but (unlike the very reasonable — and only workable — standard in the US that the knowledge be specific of the infringing work and where it is) decided that no specific details are necessary for Facebook to become liable.

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