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02.27.19

Links 27/2/2019: X.Org Server 1.20.4, LibreELEC (Leia) 9.0.1, Go 1.12

Posted in News Roundup at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS 74 Dev Channel 74.0.3713.0 brings Linux container Backup/Restore feature (and it works!)

      Google released a new version of Chrome OS 74 for the Dev Channel on Monday and there are a ton of references to “Crostini”, which is the project that added Linux containers to Chromebooks. Among the many mentions — there are over 500 — is audio support fo Linux apps and the first implementation of a backup and restore feature for Crostini, which I mentioned was coming earlier this month.

  • Server

    • Open Outlook: Emerging Technologies

      If you look at Red Hat’s product portfolio, you’ll find one thing in common across the board — everything we ship today was once an immature technology you’d have been unwise to put into production. In some cases, it was even technology that may not have appeared to have production applications. The technologies we depend on today were once emerging technologies that weren’t guaranteed to make it into production.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • xorg-server 1.20.4
        A variety of bugfixes across the board, but primarily in Xwayland.
        Thanks to all who contributed with testing and fixes!
        
        A. Wilcox (1):
              DRI2: Add another Coffeelake PCI ID
        
        Adam Jackson (6):
              automake: Distribute meson's configure header templates
              dri3: Fix XACE access mode for open and get_supported_modifiers
              mi: When {en,dis}abling extensions, match names case-insensitively
              vnd: Fix a silly memory leak
              gitlab: Skip the docker-in-docker step
              xserver 1.20.4
        
        Alan Coopersmith (3):
              Update README for gitlab migration
              Update configure.ac bug URL for gitlab migration
              os: Report errors opening authorization file (#469)
        
        Ilia Mirkin (1):
              modesetting: fix conn_id termination and potential overrun by 1 byte
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (1):
              present: fix compile warning with debug traces
        
        Lyude Paul (1):
              modesetting: Actually disable CRTCs in legacy mode
        
        Maya Rashish (2):
              Fix typo in error message
              xfree86: Try nouveau on NetBSD as well.
        
        Michel Daenzer (2):
              travis: Use a single meson invocation
              Make artifacts of piglit results if job fails
        
        Michel Dänzer (22):
              xwayland: Plug leaks in xwl_present_sync_callback
              xwayland: Use xwl_present_reset_timer in xwl_present_timer_callback
              xwayland: Rename xwl_present_events_notify to xwl_present_msc_bump
              xwayland: Complete "synchronous" Present flips from xwl_present_msc_bump
              xwayland: Replace xwl_window::present_window with ::present_flipped
              xwayland: Add xwl_present_unrealize_window
              xwayland: Don't need xwl_window anymore in xwl_present_queue_vblank
              xwayland: Don't take buffer release queue into account for frame timer
              glamor: Check that storage format is compatible with RENDER format
              xfree86/modes: Don't clobber gamma LUT of compatibility output's CRTC
              Drop Travis Linux build in favour of GitLab CI
              gitlab-ci: Docker image can be generated as part of pipeline
              test: Use .../piglit instead of .../piglit-*.py
              gitlab-ci: Set LC_ALL=C.UTF-8
              gitlab-ci: Only run docker-image stage if relevant source files change
              gitlab-ci: Don't rely on $CI_PROJECT_NAME
              gitlab-ci: Add ccache to docker image, and leave in autotools
              gitlab-ci: Use ccache
              gitlab-ci: Add autotools build & test job
              present/wnmd: Allow flipping if the window pixmap matches the toplevel's
              glx,xquartz: Fix make distcheck
              gitlab-ci: Run make distcheck in autotools build & test job
        
        Olivier Fourdan (3):
              present/wnmd: Fix use after free on CRTC removal
              xwayland: do not crash if `gbm_bo_create()` fails
              xwayland: handle case without any crtc
        
        Peter Harris (1):
              os: Fix GetTimeInMicros resolution
        
        Peter Hutterer (2):
              test: fix failing tests
              Xi: lock the input thread for any pointer barrier list manipulation
      • X.Org Server 1.20.4 Released With XWayland Fixes

        Adam Jackson of Red Hat has issued the X.Org Server 1.20.4 point release with the latest stable updates primarily consisting of XWayland enhancements.

      • AMDVLK 2019.Q1.6 Vulkan Driver Released

        Normally AMD developers update the AMDVLK public source repositories on a weekly basis, but for whatever reason that hasn’t been communicated, there hadn’t been any source pushes in three weeks. But today that changed with AMDVLK 2019.Q1.6. While it’s three weeks worth of changes, the work isn’t too particularly exciting. As a reminder, AMDVLK is the official AMD open-source Vulkan driver derived from the same sources as their Windows driver as well as what is used by the Radeon Software PRO driver. RADV is the Mesa-based, open-source Radeon Vulkan driver alternative to AMDVLK.

      • AMD SEV Firmware Added To Linux-Firmware Tree For Easier Updating

        For those making use of Secure Encrypted Virtualization for secure VMs running on AMD EPYC platforms, the firmware bits required for supporting SEV have now been added to the linux-firmware.git tree to allow for easier updating to this virtualization security feature.

      • mesa 19.0.0-rc6

        Hi List,

        Sorry for the short summary, it took me longer to get the release ready than
        normal and I’m running a bit short on time.

        Mesa 19.0.0-rc6 is now available for your general consumption. Lots and lots in
        this release candidate, mostly Intel, AMD, and NIR changes, but with a few other
        things thrown in for good measure.

        The list of opened bugs blocking the 19.0 release is starting to get small, and
        several more bugs should be closed soon, so I’m hoping that this will be the
        last rc for 19.0 and the release can happen next week.

        Dylan

      • Mesa 19.0-RC6 Released With Many Intel & Radeon Fixes

        Mesa 19.0-RC6 is now available for testing and it’s quite a big update for this stage of development. Particularly if you are a RADV/RadeonSI AMD Linux user, this update is quite notable.

        For AMD Radeon users, Mesa 19.0-RC6 adds in the radeonsi_enable_nir DriConf option and immediately makes use of it to enable NIR by default for the Civilization 6 game. Enabling RadeonSI NIR for Civilization VI works around corruption problems. These changes were back-ported from Mesa 19.1 Git master.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC (Leia) 9.0.1 MR

        LibreELEC 9.0.1 (Leia) has arrived based upon Kodi v18.1, the 9.0.1 release contains many changes and refinements to user experience and a complete overhaul of the underlying OS core to improve stability and extend hardware support. Kodi v18 also brings new features like Kodi Retroplayer and DRM support that (equipped with an appropriate add-on) allows Kodi to unofficially stream content from services like Netflix and Amazon.

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 128 is ready for testing

        we have a great bunch of updates lined up for you with some great features that will improve IPFire’s IPsec VPN capabilities and a huge make-over for our Intrusion Prevention System. But before that, we have another maintenance update with a new kernel, introducing TLS 1.3 throughout the whole system and of course a whole package of bug fixes and other improvements.

        Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this Core Update with either sending in patches, testing, reporting bugs and many many other things. I am quite happy to see the team grow slowly and surely!

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Debian Family

      • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #200

        Holger Levsen submitted the Reproducible Builds project to the May/August 2019 round of Outreachy. Outreachy provides internships to work free software. Internships are open to applicants around the world, working remotely and are not required to move. Interns are paid a stipend of $5,500 for the three month internship and have an additional $500 travel stipend to attend conferences/events. So far, we received more than ten initial requests from candidates. The closing date for applicants is April 2nd. More information is available on the application page.

      • Linus Torvalds is wrong – PC not longer defines a platform

        Yes, the ability to easily by a cheap whitebox PC from CompUSA was the important factor in making X86 dominate server space. But people get cheap servers from cloud now, and even that is getting out of fashion. Services like AWS lambda abstract the whole server away, and the instruction set becomes irrelevant. Which CPU and architecture will be used to run these “serverless” services is not going to depend on developers having Arm Linux Desktop PC’s.

        Of course there are still plenty of people like me who use Linux Desktop and run things locally. But in the big picture things are just going one way. The way where it gets easier to test things in your git-based CI loop rather than in local development setup.

        But like Linus, I still do want to see an powerful PC-like Arm NUC or Laptop. One that could run mainline Linux kernel and offer a PC-like desktop experience. Not because ARM depends on it to succeed in server space (what it needs is out of scope for this blogpost) – but because PC’s are useful in their own.

      • Debian Policy call for participation — February 2019

        Here’s are some of the bugs against the Debian Policy Manual. Please consider getting involved.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-8 Won’t Move To Mir 1.1 + Unity 8 Due To Qualcomm Binary Blob Issues

            The Ubuntu Touch community team has put out their latest questions/answers about this effort continuing to let the Ubuntu effort live on for mobile devices like the Nexus and other hardware as well as looking ahead to get this mobile operating system running on the likes of Librem 5 and Pine64 phones.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 Is Coming To The Raspberry Pi 3

              I finally bought myself a Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+ and I’ve been discovering an endless amount of cool projects to spend far too much time on when I’m not indulging in retro gaming nostalgia. For example, did you know you can create your own personal DropBox-style file and backup server without even using the command line? But let’s get to why you’re here. The $35 single-board computer is about to get some fresh Ubuntu MATE, courtesy of Canonical’s Martin Wimpress.

              Wimpress recently announced that he’s working on Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 images for the Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3/3+. Just 24 hours ago he stated there was “nothing exciting to report just yet.” Today on Twitter he reports that “bootable images are a thing” and “the essential stuff works.” Well, that was speedy.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Get ready to rock at Red Hat Summit 2019

      Every year, one of the most exciting parts of Red Hat Summit is the entertainment. Two years ago, Red Hat Summit attendees watched as the Boston Red Sox took on the Baltimore Orioles at the iconic Fenway Park – president of Products and Technologies, Paul Cormier, even threw out the first pitch! Last year, we took it up a notch, attendees experienced a night of food, drinks, and music – featuring Grammy Award-winning band Weezer – at the San Francisco Armory.

  • Web Browsers

    • Beaker: the Decentralized Read-Write Browser

      The Beaker Browser project is creating a decentralized peer-to-peer web browser that, if successful, could return the web to its users. Let’s explore how this is done!

    • Mozilla

      • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: Announcing a New Management Structure for Ecma TC39

        In 2019, Ecma’s TC39 (the standardizing body behind JavaScript/ECMAScript) will be trying something new. The committee has grown in the last few years. As a result, the requirements of running the meeting have grown. To give you an idea of the scale — between 40 and 60 delegates (and sometimes more) meet 6 times a year to discuss proposed changes to the ECMAScript specification. Since we have grown so much, we will be changing our management structure. We will move away from single-chair and vice-chair roles to a flat hierarchy with three chairs sharing the responsibility.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Jingle Smash: Performance Work

        Performance was the final step to making Jingle Smash, my block tumbling VR game, ready to ship. WebVR on low-end mobile devices like the Oculus Go can be slow, but with a little work we can at least get over a consistent 30fps, and usually 45 or above. Here’s the steps I used to get Jingle Smash working well.

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

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

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

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

      • Firefox 66 Beta 10 Testday Results
  • SaaS/Back End

    • Kubernetes Gets Smaller With K3S Project for the Edge

      The open-source Kubernetes container orchestration platform has become a de facto standard for cloud-native computing, but there is at least one catch–it’s not optimized by default for edge use cases.

      On Feb. 26, Rancher Labs formally announced the launch of the open-source K3S effort that builds a lightweight implementation of Kubernetes that requires only a fraction of the storage and memory footprint of a regular Kubernetes installation. Kubernetes is also often referred to as K8S, and K3S is all about being a smaller version that takes less than half the size.

      “We really have two goals with K3S: make Kubernetes small and consume less memory, and the other is make it really dead simple to operate,” Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, told eWEEK.

  • Databases

    • MariaDB readies new enterprise server

      At its annual user and developer conference MariaDB OpenWorks in Manhattan’s Financial District, MariaDB Corp announced it’s releasing a new version of its MariaDB, MySQL-compatible database management system (DBMS), MariaDB Enterprise Server 10.4. This new business server comes with more powerful and fine-grained auditing, faster, highly reliable backups for large databases, and end-to-end encryption for all data at rest in MariaDB clusters. This is the MariaDB for demanding companies that want the best possible DBMS.

      MariaDB Enterprise Server, which will be released in 2019′s second quarter, remains fully open source. Going forward, it will be the default version for MariaDB Platform on-prem or in the cloud customers. MariaDB CEO Michael Howard wants to make sure that MariaDB users and developers know that MariaDB Community Server is not becoming a second-class citizen. MariaDB’s corporate side will continue to collaborate with the community.

  • Education

    • The Value of Open Source Software In Higher Education

      Establishing curricular connections between in house open source expertise and the generation about to enter the 21st century workplace is a ‘win’ for all concerned. As data handling, computational skills and algorithmic literacy become integrated with an increasing number of subject areas, open source software offers the possibility of developing deep and significant understanding. Such engagement also offers the potential for students to become co-creators of their own learning.

      The future. Existing software categories, such as the LMS, are neither immutable nor the apogee of technology enhanced learning. Three years ago, EDUCAUSE consulted broadly around what they term the “Next Generation Digital Learning Environment”. The EDUCAUSE conception of the NGDLE demonstrates an emerging consensus about the direction of software to support teaching and learning. The NGDLE contains significant challenges in terms of realization, but we are also entitled to ask – in three years, why aren’t we closer? Could the closed nature of commercial proprietary software and its failure to innovate towards identified community needs be bound up in this failure?

    • SUSE, GroupLink, & TTP: FREE Resources for Academic Technology Teams (Recorded Webinar)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • City of Nijmegen reinvigorates OSS policy, forcing interoperability

      Nijmegen, the oldest and 10th largest city of the Netherlands, is reinvigorating its open source policy. Last month, the City Council unanimously adopted the resolution ‘Nijmegen digitally independent’. The resolution basically requires the City to deploy both the mandatory and the recommended open standards listed by the Dutch Standardisation Forum for external as well as internal communications. At the same time, the City wants external suppliers to have sufficient experience with open source solutions, and to explicitly include open source alternatives in their consultancy recommendations.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Amazon Adds RISC-V Support To FreeRTOS [Ed: What good is RISC-V when it’s totally (even physically) controlled by a secretive contractor of the Pentagon (might as well assume back doors and surveillance then)?]

        Amazon has maintained their own version of FreeRTOS, the MIT-licensed real-time operating system designed for embedded devices that works with dozens of micro-controller platforms, where they have supported OTA updates, WiFi, Bluetooth LE, and other features. The latest feature addition to Amazon FreeRTOS is RISC-V support.

  • Programming/Development

    • Go 1.12 is released

      Today the Go team is happy to announce the release of Go 1.12. You can get it from the download page.

      For details about the changes in Go 1.12, see the Go 1.12 release notes.

      Some of the highlights include opt-in support for TLS 1.3, improved modules support (in preparation for being the default in Go 1.13), support for windows/arm, and improved macOS & iOS forwards compatibility.

    • Golang 1.12 Released With Opt-In TLS 1.3, Better Modules Support & Performance Work

      Google’s team responsible for the Go programming language has released Go 1.12 with a half-year worth of improvements and new features.

      Go 1.12 adds opt-in support for TLS 1.3, Go’s race detector is now supported on Linux 64-bit ARM, Cgo is now supported on Linux PowerPC 64-bit, support for Windows 10 IoT Core on 32-bit ARM chips, improvements to modules handling, and various library improvements.

    • Go 1.12 released
    • The New Features & Changes With The LLVM Clang 8.0 Compiler Stack

      If all goes well, LLVM 8.0 will ship as soon as tomorrow along with the Clang 8.0 C/C++ compiler and the other sub-projects for this open-source compiler stack. Here’s a look at what LLVM 8 means for developers.

    • Eclipse IoT Milestones, Bare-Metal Cloud Computing Risk, Purism Announces PureBoot, Go 1.12 Released, and Qualcomm and Thundercomm Launched a Robotics RB3 Platform that runs Linux with Robot Operating System

      The Eclipse Foundation this morning announced that Eclipse IoT, “a leading collaboration of vendors working together to define an open, modular architecture to accelerate commercial IoT adoption”, has reached “3 million lines of code, 41 member companies, 37 IoT projects and 350 contributors”. See the Eclipse IoT website for more on how “Eclipse IoT is the open source center of gravity for IoT”. Eclipse IoT also wants to hear your thoughts and invites you to take its 2019 IoT Developer Survey.

    • On the Delivery of Data Science Projects – talk for Business, Analytics and Data Science meetup

      Last night I spoke at Pivigo’s Business, Analytics and Data Science meetup (thanks for having me!). I spoke on the key points that I cover in my public training (Successfully Delivering Data Science Projects) aimed at the meetup’s audience where many folk are earlier on their data science journey.

    • MQTT version 5 updates and how they apply to Qt MQTT

      Previously I have been writing about how topics in messages can have a significant impact on the amount of data for publishing via MQTT. Since then the MQTT version 5 standard has been released and first implementations are available. Naturally, Qt MQTT follows along and this post will reflect how new features in the standard are available in our Qt for Automation module.

      In this post, we will not go into every detail of the updated specification, but rather showcase some highlights and benefits for upgrading to the latest versions.

      Also, before we forget, make sure to sign up for my upcoming webinar on the same topic. Tune in and discuss!

    • RabbitMQ Scrapy Item Publisher in Python
    • How I Write Books about Python

      I get asked questions about my book writing process from time to time and I have been meaning to write about this topic for a while. The main reason I wrote my first book, Python 101, was because of the readers on my blog. They had been encouraging me to write a book on wxPython for a while and I decided that I should start by writing an introductory book so I wouldn’t need to include a bunch of introductory information in my intermediate level book if I ever got around to writing it.

      When I was writing that book, I had to search for ways to generate PDF, mobi (Kindle) and epub formats. I skipped Microsoft Word because I hadn’t seen good ways to convert that document type to other file types and it didn’t work well cross-platform anyway.

    • PyBites: PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 02, 2019
    • Generating Beautiful Code Snippets with Carbon and Selenium
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #357 (Feb. 26, 2019)
    • Test and Code: 66: Brian is interviewed by Phil Burgess
    • Continue developing the currency exchange application

      Hi, after deep thought I have decided to continue developing the currency exchange application which I have created in the previous chapter and make it a standalone python application. In the previous chapter, we had created a simple interface which will display all the usd/world currencies exchange rate in a tkinter label which we will further modify this interface and make it displays the other currency pair as well as we progress, but before we go even further we do need to convert the currency ID to their real name first, for example, it is very hard for the first timer to know which currency is this by just look at its ID : CAD, if we can convert the ID to the name of that currency then it will be better, for example, CAD = Canadian Dollar. In this chapter, we will just go to make an API call for the ID and the name of all the available currencies and print them out under the console.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • What I learned from going offline for 48 hours

      I was curious to know what this extraordinary traffic could be about. My work email was more or less where I had left it before I signed out, but everywhere else was chatter. I had more than a 100 notifications of birthdays, events, and important occasions that I had missed. Despite the fact that I had not produced any content, not initiated any conversations, and not engaged with any material, I had more than 400 notifications from five main social media apps, where people had tagged me, poked me and pulled me into long conversation threads that I could no longer recognise or trace back.

      An equal number of friendly algorithms had curated things that needed my attention and were warning me that I might have missed out on the most life-changing moments. My personal messaging system was filled with group messages, those from family and friends who were not talking to me but making me a witness to their conversations. There were also a few frantic messages, first checking if the messages were being delivered, then wondering why I was not responding, and then going into a rage about my rudeness for not even informing them that I wouldn’t be replying to them.

      I looked at the huge volume of information waiting for me to see, sort, and store it and create my own archives and digital footprints and was left thinking: how is it that even when I was offline, my digital avatar was in a state of continued interaction and conversation? What does it mean for us to be tagged without consent, to be pulled into chats with no notice, to be asked questions and sent information at a speed and volume that is almost impossible to fathom?

    • Capitalism Is Responsible for Your Depressing Office Building

      Ruskin’s conclusion was summarized in his most famous, if somewhat earnest and romantic passage, which is found in Unto This Last’s final essay: “There is no Wealth but Life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest numbers of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest, who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others.”

      In this, Ruskin pinpointed the root of capitalism’s deficiencies—deficiencies for which, some 160 years later, the system’s apologists are still unable to answer. It is a profoundly corrupt and inadequate way to organize a society, because it does not have as its end that which any healthy socioeconomic system should: beautiful buildings, happy workers, human fulfillment. Instead, it is organized solely for the benefit of capital. And the result, as Ruskin predicted, is ugly.

    • Anger Can Be Contagious — Here’s How To Stop The Spread

      Anger leads to more anger. But a single act of kindness can help stop the spread.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts

      The cost of having children in the U.S. has climbed exponentially since the 1960s. So it’s no wonder the growing crop of Democratic presidential candidates have been proposing ways to address or bring down the costs tied to raising a family.

      Most recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she wants to provide universal access to child care. According to her proposal, the U.S. would partner with local governments and other organizations to provide various child care options, paying for it with revenue from her wealth tax.

      Whether or not Warren’s proposal becomes law, the data show a worsening problem. In 2015, American parents spent, on average, US$233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17, not including college. This number covers everything from housing and food to child care and transportation costs. This is up 8 percent from 1990.

      As a mother myself, as well as a sociologist who studies families, I have experienced firsthand the unexpected costs associated with having a child. And this spike in costs has broad implications, including leading fewer families to have children.

    • Legislative Lowlights: Abortion Restrictions Sweep Through GOP-Held Legislatures

      Republican lawmakers on Friday introduced a measure that would require abortion providers to inform their patients that it may be possible to “reverse” the effects of a medication abortion. Four states (Arkansas, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah) currently require physicians to provide similar information, which has been debunked by the medical community. Georgia is the sixth state this year (after Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) to consider requiring physicians to promote the unproven treatment.

    • Corporate Media ‘Culpable,’ Say Women’s Rights Advocates, for Bolstering Trump’s Abortion Lies

      Women’s rights advocates were relieved late Monday when Senate Democrats blocked an extreme anti-choice bill from advancing to a floor debate—but were soon outraged by President Donald Trump’s lies about abortion care, as well as the corporate media for enabling his blatantly false characterization of the bill to stand.

      After Senate Republicans failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to push through the so-called “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Trump attacked Democrats for their rejection of a bill that would punish doctors for providing medical care to pregnant women and allow civil action against women themselves for making an often-painful, life-or-death decision about their health and family.

    • States Are Reconsidering Restrictive Medicaid Waiver Policies

      New governors and legislatures in Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and New Mexico are taking steps to protect access to health care for thousands of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries by reconsidering restrictive policies that their predecessors put in place through federal waivers, such as taking Medicaid coverage away from people who don’t meet rigid work requirements and imposing premiums and high cost-sharing.

      Mounting evidence from Arkansas shows the disastrous impact that work requirements in particular have on coverage. Since Arkansas became the first state to implement Medicaid work requirements in June, more than 1 in 5 beneficiaries subject to the new policy have lost Medicaid and likely became uninsured. Many of those losing coverage are working people and people with serious health needs who can’t overcome the red tape that these policies create. In fact, the number of people losing Medicaid coverage exceeds the number of those that this policy presumably targets — that is, those not working or not exempt from the requirement.

    • Numerous Mistakes Led to Fatal Blood Transfusion at St. Luke’s in Houston, Report Finds

      Six days after Thanksgiving last year, a 73-year-old woman showed up at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston. Her body was retaining too much fluid after a dialysis treatment, and she was in need of emergency medical care.

      What happened next could have killed her.

      Hospital staff put in a request to give the woman a blood transfusion, but the order was meant for another patient with a different blood type. Fortunately, the St. Luke’s laboratory caught the error, sparing the woman from harm.

      Four days later, however, hospital staff committed a similar mistake, only this time workers in the lab didn’t notice when a blood sample arrived with another patient’s blood in it. As a result, a 75-year-old woman was given the wrong blood, mistaken for a patient who had been in her ER room immediately before her.

      She died the next day after repeated bouts of cardiac arrest.

      The fatal mistake followed a pattern of blood labeling errors at St. Luke’s during the past year, according to a scathing report issued last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and made public Tuesday by the hospital. The government report came after a yearlong investigation by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica that documented numerous lapses in patient care at a hospital once regarded as among the nation’s best for cardiac care.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Linux security: Cmd provides visibility, control over user activity
    • Supermicro hardware weaknesses let researchers backdoor an IBM cloud server

      In short, BMCs are motherboard-attached microcontrollers that give extraordinary control over servers inside datacenters. Using the Intelligent Platform Management Interface, admins can reinstall operating systems, install or modify apps, and make configuration changes to large numbers of servers, without physically being on premises and, in many cases, without the servers being turned on. In 2013, researchers warned that BMCs that came preinstalled in servers from Dell, HP, and other name-brand manufacturers were so poorly secured that they gave attackers a stealthy and convenient way to take over entire fleets of servers inside datacenters.

      Researchers at security firm Eclypsium on Tuesday plan to publish a paper about how BMC vulnerabilities threaten a premium cloud service provided by IBM and possibly other providers. The premium service is known as bare-metal cloud computing, an option offered to customers who want to store especially sensitive data but don’t want it to intermingle on the same servers other customers are using. The premium lets customers buy exclusive access to dedicated physical servers for as long as needed and, when the servers are no longer needed, return them to the cloud provider. The provider, in theory, wipes the servers clean so they can be safely used by another bare-metal customer.

    • 4G/5G Vulnerabilities Lets Attackers Track Phones And Intercept Texts

      A recent report published by Techcrunch has revealed that newer broadband cellular network technologies including 4G and 5G are vulnerable to a number of privacy attacks.

    • New flaws in 4G, 5G allow attackers to intercept calls and track phone locations
    • New B0r0nt0K ransomware roughs up Linux servers [Ed: This impacts already-compromised boxes and has little/nothing to do with "Linux"; in fact, Windows too gets mentioned.]
    • ETS Isn’t TLS and You Shouldn’t Use It

      The good news: TLS 1.3 is available, and the protocol, which powers HTTPS and many other encrypted communications, is better and more secure than its predecessors (including SSL).

      The bad news: Thanks to a financial industry group called BITS, there’s a look-alike protocol brewing called called ETS (or eTLS) that intentionally disables important security measures in TLS 1.3. If someone suggests that you should deploy ETS instead of TLS 1.3, they are selling you snake oil and you should run in the other direction as fast as you can.

    • Open Source Maintainers Want to Reduce Application Security Risk [Ed: LF entertaining and giving a platform to Microsoft partners whose job is to demonise FOSS and sell proprietary software]
    • Plain wrong: Millions of utility customers’ passwords stored in plain text

      Those companies service 15 million or so clients (estimated from GIS data and in some cases from PR brags on the utility sites themselves). But the real number of affected Americans could easily be several times that large: SEDC itself claims that more than 250 utility companies use its software.

    • FastMail fears customer exodus due to encryption law

      Melbourne-based secure email provider FastMail says it has begun to see existing customers leave and potential customers go to other providers, and the reason cited is the government’s encryption bill.

    • Mozilla may treat Aussie staff as ‘insider threats’ to code base

      In separate submissions to a senate inquiry examining the now-passed laws, the two technology companies raised concerns about how they could trust their workers.

      Both Mozilla and FastMail worry that individual employees could be targeted by law enforcement to make secret changes to systems.

    • 5G already has its own security flaws

      The first of the vulnerabilities is called Torpedo and exploits a weakness in the paging protocol which alerts your phone to incoming calls or texts. By starting and cancelling a bunch of calls in quick succession, you can send a paging message to the device without actually triggering an alert. Not only does this leave the door open to blocking or inserting messages, but it can also lead to two more attacks.

      These are called Piercer and IMSI-Cracking, which use different methods but achieve the same thing. They let an attacker figure out your unique IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) number which leaves you wide open to remote eavesdropping, or even less welcome stalking.

    • Lime warns riders about ‘sudden excessive braking’ due to firmware bug

      According to Lime, the bug occurs in “very rare cases,” usually when a rider is going downhill at top speed and hits a pothole or obstacle, the scooter will unexpectedly brake the front wheel, which has led to some riders being injured. Lime says that the issue isn’t common, with less than 0.0045 percent of all Lime rides encountering the problem, but the company is warning customers anyway and noting that they should use extra caution while the issue is being fixed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Microsoft CEO defends $479 million contract with Pentagon after employee protest

      The Microsoft workers in the letter asked Nadella and Microsoft President Brad Smith to cancel the company’s plan to equip the U.S. military with HoloLens headsets, which will be used during combat.

    • Warren Buffett Joins the Crowd Struggling to Understand Oracle
    • The Christian Genocide During the Ottoman Empire Sounds a Dark Warning for the Future

      Israeli historian Benny Morris doesn’t do things by half. The footnotes of his new book on the 30-year genocide of Christians by their Turkish rulers, cowritten with his colleague Dror Zeevi, take up more than a fifth of the 640-page work. “It was nine years, a long haul,” he admitted to me this week, with an audible sigh over the phone. And he talks about the involvement of Ataturk in the later stages of the genocide of around 2.5 million Christians of the Ottoman empire; how “religions do drive people to excessive violence” – he has in mind the Turks, Isis, the Crusades – and even condemns the Arabs for their inability to criticise themselves.

      The mere title of the Morris-Zeevi book, The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities 1894-1924, is going to have the Turks enraged, from Erdogan down. The Armenians and other Christians will dispute his apparent claim that he has only just discovered that their slaughter lasted for 30 years – others have talked of the Armenian genocide of 1915 bookended by the late 19th-century massacres in Turkey and the post-1915 killing of surviving Armenians and Greeks, Assyrians and others. And the Arab world will challenge his view that the holocaust (my word) of Christians was more motivated by Islam than Turkish nationalism.

      [...]

      The authors briefly compare the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian genocide – I prefer the terms Jewish Holocaust and Armenian Holocaust – and there are some already published parallels. Armenians might be spared if they would convert to Islam or marry Muslim men. Jews could not save their lives by converting. The Turkish massacres were more sadistic. I rather think the German-inspired slaughter could be just as bad in the Second World War: witness the head-chopping at the Jasenovac camp on the Croatian-Bosnian border. Persecution of the Jews under the Nazis lasted at most 12 years, but persecution of Christians in Ottoman territories 30 years.

      German civilians played little role in the Jewish Holocaust. Turkish civilians played a far greater role. If 2.5 million Christians is the correct figure for those murdered in the 30 years – Morris warned me that it cannot be accurately tallied, and I’m sure he’s right – at least six million Jews were killed in the 1939-1945 period, and so it took the Nazis five times as few years to slaughter more than twice as many human beings. The Turks simply didn’t have the industrial tools to kill more Christians more quickly, because these mechanics were unavailable at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. But working on this basis, how many people will be killed in the future – and how quickly – with new technology?

    • Russian military court sentences two former cybersecurity officials to a combined 36 years in prison for treason, allegedly for selling intel to the FBI

      A military court in Moscow has sentenced former Federal Security Service Information Security Center agent Sergey Mikhailov and former Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity expert Ruslan Stoyanov to 22 years and 14 years in prison, respectively. Mikhailov was also stripped of his FSB rank and fined 400,000 rubles ($6,085). Stoyanov was fined 150,000 rubles ($2,280) and stripped of his police rank as a major.

    • India Strikes Inside Pakistan After Deadly Kashmir Attack

      A pre-dawn airstrike inside Pakistan that India said targeted a terrorist training camp and killed a “very large number” of militants ratcheted up tensions on Tuesday between the two nuclear-armed rivals at odds over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

      Islamabad said there were no casualties in the strike near the town of Balakot, close to the border with Pakistan’s section of Kashmir, where residents said loud explosions woke them up, rattling their homes.

      “It was the middle of the night, we were very scared,” one resident, 20-year old Mohammad Abbas to The Associated Press. “We didn’t think for a moment that it was from planes but the explosions were very powerful.”

    • India’s Attack on Pakistan Sparks Fear of Wider War

      Warplanes from India launched an attack on an alleged militant camp Tuesday morning, violating Pakistani airspace in the disputed territory of Kashmir in the latest escalation between the two nuclear powers. The attack carried with it fears of wider war between the two countries.

      “Armed conflicts once started take their own course without either side being in control to decide where such hostilities will end,” Professor Muzaffar Ahmed told Indian news service IANS.

      The aerial attack came in the wake of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, after a Feb. 14 suicide attack on Indian security forces in the Kashmiri town of Pulwama, which killed 42, led to India cutting Pakistan off from a key water source controlled by the former on Feb. 21.

      The result of the morning’s Indian incursion was unclear at press time. Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale claimed the attack struck a militant training camp and blamed the Pakistani government for allowing the camp to flourish. “The existence of such training facilities, capable of training hundreds of jihadis,” said Gokhale, “could not have functioned without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities.”

      Pakistani sources disagreed with the Indian version of events and said the Indian planes had dropped their payload without a target, showing craters near the small town of Balakot as evidence.

    • Historicizing the Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir

      The discourse of nationalism affects to make sense of the absurd loss of life that occurs. Human knowledge, however, is always tentative and arbitrary. We must learn to cross the frontiers of culture, nationality, language, and citizenship in order to make humanist responses to conflict situations.

      There is growing awareness among the people of Jammu and Kashmir that a satisfactory and lasting solution of the Kashmir problem is possible only if both India and Pakistan examine this problem from the interest of the good of the people of the state as a whole.

      The state of Jammu and Kashmir is so situated geographically that it depends for its economy on a free flow of trade to both countries. For ages, Kashmiri arts and crafts have found markets in India. At the same time, the rivers and roads of Kashmir stretch into Pakistan. Kashmir’s railhead used to be Rawalpindi and the traders in the Valley would use Karachi as the sea-port for overseas trade.

    • How to Avoid a War in Venezuela

      One month after Juan Guaidó, the speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly, said he was assuming the powers of the Venezuelan presidency, currently held by Nicolás Maduro, the country’s political crisis remains far from over. Tensions have escalated to the point that a full-blown civil war—a seemingly implausible scenario just weeks ago—is now becoming increasingly possible. At least four people died and hundreds were injured in violent clashes at Venezuela’s borders last weekend as government forces opened fire on an attempt by the opposition to bring aid convoys into the country.

      The Maduro regime is authoritarian, militarized, and ready to kill civilians to maintain power. The society is bitterly divided between the revolutionaries inspired by Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor, and a large and aggrieved opposition. Each side despises the other. The question is therefore a complex and practical one: what to do to help guide Venezuela away from civil war and toward a peaceful and democratic future?

      On this great challenge, US President Donald Trump’s administration has gravely miscalculated. When the United States chose to recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s president – along with a group of Latin American countries – and ban oil trade with the Maduro government, it was betting that the pressure would be sufficient to topple the regime. As a former senior US official told the Wall Street Journal, “they thought it was a 24-hour operation.”

    • The Open Veins of Venezuela

      John Bolton, Donald Trump’s maniacal National Security Advisor of Fox News-fame, tweeted that the whole “world is watching” the US-staged drama in Venezuela.

      Elliot Abrams, Donald Trump’s neocon “Special Representative for Venezuela,” is the man on the scene, despite (or because of) his record as a war criminal from Ronald Reagan’s war on Nicaragua, his role as a key architect of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, and his complicity in the failed 2002 coup in Venezuela against its elected President Hugo Chavez.

      Throw in the lapdog Juan Guaido, educated in Washington DC at George Washington University where the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank hold sway. Guaido is openly calling for US military intervention to put himself in power, so that he can inaugurate a Milton-Friedmanesque shock-doctrine austerity program to resolve Venezuela’s economic problems, and hand over Venezuela to Big Oil. I imagine he is also hoping to get a Nobel Prize someday.

      The cast of characters here alone tells the tale. The US government is once again proclaiming loudly that they are in command in Latin America, that governments in the empire’s back yard must show their loyalty to the Gringos, or else. No more talk of socialism, not even of the much-ballyhooed 21st-century variety.

    • The Coup Has Failed & Now the U.S. Is Looking to Wage War: Venezuelan Foreign Minister Speaks Out
    • Venezuela’s 23F: A Collective Victory for a Collective Future

      It was George W. Bush who invented the term: misunderestimating. And it’s what imperialism continually does with Venezuela.

      I recall an Aló Presidente program in which Chávez was talking about the 2002 coup attempt. He said that the US thought it could easily replace him. “As simply as this,” he said and demonstrated by moving a glass of water across the table where he was seated.

      Replacing Chávez wasn’t easy at all, as everybody knows. Pedro Carmona, the usurper, was quickly forgotten, whereas Chávez lasted another decade, and his movement is still in power today.

      Something very similar may have happened on Saturday, as Maduro resisted a concerted international effort to bring him down.

      What makes it so hard to replace Chávez and now Maduro? Certainly it’s not merely a question of leadership, since Maduro’s is middling at best. So, it must be something else: some quality or substance that generally goes unperceived on the political radar.

    • Why Bernie Sanders’ Statements On Venezuela Are Crucial To Efforts To Defeat Trump

      If elections were held in Venezuela in the next few months, with international observers present, and the people re-elected President Nicolas Maduro, would the political establishment in the United States accept the outcome?

      The question is key because the answer would likely expose how the push for regime change is not about helping those starving or suffering from dire poverty. Rather, it revolves around a fundamental disagreement about how the Venezuelan people, through Hugo Chavez and then Maduro, chose to organize their society and government by embracing programs of social democracy, which multinational corporations and wealthy elites oppose.

      President Donald Trump and his administration are committed to a political fight that they have cloaked in the language of humanitarian intervention. With Elliott Abrams as the special envoy to Venezuela, they are perverting the global struggle of human rights just as Abrams and other officials in President Ronald Reagan’s administration did while the U.S. was engaged in dirty wars in Central America.

      But even the few Democrats, who raise concerns about Trump’s agenda, do not clearly articulate the cynical nature of what the administration is really pursuing with Abrams, Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the forefront.

    • Notes From the Streets of Venezuela—The People Are Resilient in the Face of Foreign Intervention

      Across Venezuela, there are millions of people like Mariela. They are ordinary people, dirt under their fingernails, pride in their hearts. When the Bolivarians won the election and took power in 1999, 10 years after the Caracazo and 20 years ago, people like Mariela demanded more from the system. In La Vega, they spotted an empty plot of land that had been given to some developers. It was likely to be turned into a shopping center. Mariela, her family and 91 other families occupied the land. They approached Chavez and asked to build houses on the plot. “Can you do it?” Chavez said to them. “Yes,” Mariela told Chavez. “We built this city. We can build our own houses. All we want are machines and materials.”

      So, they built Kaikachi. It is a clean neighborhood of apartment buildings with a community center at one end. A bust of Chavez stands before the community center, where there is a bakery to provide good quality and low-price bread to the community, where there is a kitchen that feeds 400 people, where there is a community hall (with the obligatory mural of Che Guevara) where there is small room where women sew clothes in a self-help business. “We are Chavistas,” says a woman, her eyes shining, a child at her hip.

    • UK Rejects International Court of Justice Opinion on the Chagos Islands

      In parliament, Alan Duncan for the government has just rejected yesterday’s stunning result at the International Court of Justice, where British occupation of the Chagos Islands was found unlawful by a majority of 13 to 1, with all the judges from EU countries amongst those finding against the UK.

      This represents a serious escalation in the UK’s rejection of multilateralism and international law and a move towards joining the US model of exceptionalism, standing outside the rule of international law. As such, it is arguably the most significant foreign policy development for generations. In the Iraq war, while Britain launched war without UN Security Council authority, it did so on a tenuous argument that it had Security Council authority from earlier resolutions. The UK was therefore not outright rejecting the international system. On Chagos it is now simply denying the authority of the International Court of Justice; this is utterly unprecedented.

      Duncan put forward two arguments. Firstly that the ICJ opinion was “only” advisory to the General Assembly. Secondly, he argued that the ICJ had no jurisdiction as the case was a bilateral dispute with Mauritius (and thus could only go before the ICJ with UK consent, which is not given).

      [...]

      The International Court of Justice represents the absolute pinnacle of, and embodies the principle of, international law. In 176 decisions, such as Nigeria vs Cameroon or Malaysia vs Indonesia, potentially disastrous conflicts have been averted by the states’ agreement to abide by the rule of law. The UK’s current attack on the ICJ is a truly disastrous new development.

      I have taken it for granted that you know that the reason the UK refuses to decolonise the Chagos Islands is to provide an airbase for the US military on Diego Garcia. If Brexit goes ahead, the Chagos Islands will also lead to a major foreign policy disagreement between the UK and US on one side, and the EU on the other. The EU will be truly shocked by British repudiation of the ICJ.

      I have studied the entire and lengthy ICJ Opinion on the Chagos Islands, together with its associated papers, and I will write further on this shortly.

    • Navy Leaders Taken to Task by Lawmakers, Including One Who Was Grilling a Former Boss

      Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday expressed frustration to senior Navy leaders over the pace of reforms arising from two ship collisions in the Pacific that left 17 sailors dead.

      Rep. Elaine Luria, a newly elected Democrat from Virginia, asked at a hearing whether the Navy was moving quickly enough to deliver on promises made after the deaths of the sailors on board the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain in the summer of 2017.

      A former Navy commander, Luria displayed her insider knowledge of naval operations in rapid-fire questions to the admirals appearing before a House Armed Services Committee panel.

      Luria, who retired in 2017 after 20 years of service, had once served under one of those admirals, John Aquilino, current head of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

      “We continue to be incapable of properly manning, training and equipping our surface forces,” Luria said. “For nearly two decades, we prioritized efficiency over effectiveness.”

      Rep. Rob Wittman, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, said he blamed Navy leadership for the deaths of the sailors on board the Fitzgerald and the McCain. Both destroyers were hit by slow-moving cargo ships.

      “It is apparent that senior leadership failed to put adequate systems in place to prevent these collisions,” said Wittman, who has closely tracked the accidents over the past 18 months. “If the appropriate reforms are not properly implemented, these problems and these deaths will continue.”

    • Navy Promised Changes After Deadly Accidents, but Many Within Doubt It’s Delivering on Them

      After two of its destroyers were involved in deadly accidents in the summer of 2017, the Navy’s leaders pledged real change: more sailors for their ships, and better training for those sailors and the officers who led them. Old or broken equipment would be fixed, too. Most important, the Navy’s top command would stop forcing ships out to sea before they were ready.

      In late 2017, as part of an effort to assure commanders that the Navy was committed to genuine reform, Adm. Philip Davidson embarked on a speaking tour. Davidson was in charge of “readiness” — responsible for making sure that the Navy’s ships were fully staffed, and that sailors were adequately trained and equipped and ready for combat. He had recently authored a public report laying out dozens of specific weaknesses that the Navy had begun fixing.

      One of Davidson’s stops in November 2017 was in San Diego, and inside the base’s movie theater, he addressed hundreds of concerned commanders and officers. He was met with a series of tough questions, including a particularly sensitive one: If the commanders believed their ships were not ready, could they, as the Navy had promised, actually push back on orders to sail?

    • Is Your Ship Safe? Help Us Find Out Whether Navy Reforms Are Actually Making a Difference.

      This month we published an investigation into how top Navy brass ignored years of warnings from within its own ranks before two historically deadly accidents in 2017 killed 17 sailors on the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain.

      In the weeks since the investigation, scores of current and former Navy officers and sailors wrote and called us to say that not enough has changed: The Navy is continuing to neglect its ships and its crews.

      We are taking this outreach seriously.

      The Navy has promised reforms, but detailed information about the progress of those fixes is hard to come by. This is where you come in: We need as many active duty or recently retired Navy service members as possible to fill out the following questionnaire. Help us figure out whether substantive changes have actually been made. Are those changes addressing the problems uncovered by the crashes? How much of a difference are they making?

    • Progressives Endorse House Resolution Calling for Formal End to Korean War

      Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Ca.) introduced a House resolution to end the Korean War on Tuesday after 69 years of conflict. The resolution comes as President Donald Trump is in Hanoi, Vietnam, in advance of a historic meeting with North Korean President Kim Jong Un to discuss North Korean denuclearization.

      “Historic engagement between South and North Korea has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to formally end this war,” Khanna said in a statement. “President Trump must not squander this rare chance for peace.”

      Khanna’s resolution (pdf) was cosponsored by 18 House progressives, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Ca.), and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).

      Kim’s openness to dialogue with the American president comes after a thawing of relations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon and Kim met at the DMZ, or demilitarized zone, on April 26, 2018, as a show of unity in friendship. Since that meeting, Kim and Moon have pushed to end hostilities, but the push is complicated by the U.S. presence in South Korea and decades of tension.

    • ‘Incessant Warmongering’ Pays Off: Critics Respond to Nikki Haley Joining Boeing’s Board

      Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is expected to join the board of directors for weapons systems and aircraft maker Boeing on April 29 – a continuation of the Washington revolving door system between government and private corporations.

      “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to Boeing’s continued success as a cutting edge industry leader and a great American company,” Haley said in a statement.

      News of the Boeing appointment came less than 24 hours after Haley announced she was forming a new policy group, “Stand America Now.”

    • A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-1966

      Half a million people killed and more than a million imprisoned and tortured; the tragedy that befell Indonesia in 1965 was among the more dramatic moments in 20th-century history. It was also one of the most ignored. After more than half a century, Geoffrey B. Robinson’s new book is the first comprehensive history to appear in the English language.

      In 1965, Indonesian President Sukarno headed a coalition government that included the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), the largest such party outside of the socialist bloc. Arrayed against Sukarno and the PKI were powerful domestic forces that included the Army, the Council of Islamic Scholars, and the rightwing Indonesian Nationalist Party. Sukarno also faced external opposition from the United States and the United Kingdom. The US in particular had long tried toundermine the Sukarno government, and in 1957-98 the CIA conducted a covert operation to provide funding and weapons to opposition groups.

      When lower ranking Indonesian Army officers abducted and then killed six generals and a lieutenant on October 1, 1965, in what they said was an effort to stop a planned CIA-backed military coup, the Army swiftly responded with a loud propaganda campaign that falsely blamed the PKI for the killings. The Army then launched a campaign of mass slaughter, aimed at eradicating the PKI and its affiliates, including women’s, youth, peasant, and worker organizations. For the next several months the Army, under the command of Major General Suharto, systematically seized power, first sidelining President Sukarno and then later ousting him from his position.

    • To Prevent Victory for Hard-Liners, Calls for Iran’s Leaders to Refuse Resignation of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

      “While Zarif is not above criticism, over the past forty years, the U.S. and Iran have had few clear channels for negotiations, and Zarif has long been a major proponent of U.S.-Iran negotiations and deescalation,” noted National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Jamal Abdi. “Hard-liners in the U.S. have long cheered for Iran to be led by radical elements to make engagement difficult and validate calls for sanctions and military action. Should Zarif bow out of Iran’s political theater, Trump and his team may be getting exactly what they wish for—and the world will be worse for it.”

      The U.S.-educated Zarif, a longtime critic of hard-liners in both the United States and his own country, was instrumental in securing the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Iran has continued to comply with despite Trump’s withdrawal—along with other moves by the administration to ramp up tensions—and mounting frustration among the Iranian people over the impact of U.S. sanctions.

      The vague Instagram post—in which Zarif offered an “apology” for his “inability to continue to his service” but didn’t detail the reasoning behind his decision—came just hours after he met with a delegation of peace activists with the U.S.-based group CodePink. Medea Benjamin, the group’s co-founder, and U.S. Army veteran Ann Wright wrote that they were “deeply saddened” by the development but also shed some light on the frustrations he shared with them.

    • Trump’s Foreign Policy is Hated by Pundits but Popular With Voters

      President Trump keeps coming under attack for his foreign policy, predictably by Democrats but also by legacy Republican leaders.

      “I’m very concerned,” Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said about Trump’s plans to bring troops home from the Middle East.

      “It makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances and empower our adversaries,” said Marco Rubio.

      Trump’s late-2018 announcement that he planned to withdraw 2000 US troops from the meatgrinder of Syria’s brutal civil war prompted bipartisan dismay. Next the new Doha peace framework to end US involvement in Afghanistan had establishment politicos and pundits reviving their hoary, false canard that America’s “abandonment” of Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew in 1989 led to 9/11. Now he’s getting attacked for trying to reach a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea (possible bonus: a formal end to the Korean War).

      Deescalation? Why, that could cause peace! What could be a more dangerous threat to American interests?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Shifting the Centre of Gravity: Julian Assange Receives His Passport

      In March 2008, one Michael Horvath of the US Army Counterintelligence Center within the Cyber Intelligence Assessments Branch considered the risks posed by WikiLeaks in a 32 page document. Created under the auspices of the Department of Defence’s Intelligence Analysis Program. The overview suggests, importantly, the interest shown in Assange by the defence wing of the United States at the time it was starting to make more than a generous ripple across the pond of information discourse. Importantly, it suggests a direct interest of the military industrial complex in the activities of a guerrilla (read radical transparency) group.

      The question it asks remains a source of ongoing interest and curiosity about the role played by WikiLeaks in the information wars: “Wikileas.org – An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?” The answer is implicit in the text: its all of the above.

      The document remains salient for the persistent strategy adopted against WikiLeaks and its chief publishing head throughout. To avoid the integrity and credibility of the information, target the man, the organisation and the method. Suggest he is wonky, a crank, generally wobbly on principles and ethics. Suggest, as well, that his reputation is questionable, as are his moral inclinations.

      The document highlights a feature that gained momentum in the 2016 US presidential elections: that WikiLeaks might serve “as an instrument of propaganda, and is a front organisation for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).” (The only difference in 2016 was that the CIA had fallen out of the orbit of paranoid reckoning, replaced by wily Russian operatives in the US imaginary of electoral manipulation.) Not only had the organisation denied this, there was “no evidence” mustered “to support such assertions.”

      The DoD document makes the objective clear; nothing else will suffice than a campaign ranging on various fronts to target WikiLeaks and its system of obtaining and releasing information. “The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current and former insiders, leakers or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy the center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bailing Out Aging Coal Plants is an Unmitigated Disaster

      Montana’s Republican legislators have a long and horrific record of savaging Montana’s consumers while doing everything possible to increase the profits of the state’s utility corporations. Despite the devastating mistakes of the past, they’re at it again. This time with a bill that will allow Montana’s largest utility, NorthWestern Energy, to buy Colstrip for a buck — and inherit the liabilities that come with the shutdown and remediation of the antiquated and massively polluting power complex, which will then be passed on to the utility’s customers.

      Those with good memories will recall the disastrous deregulation bill passed by the Republican-dominated legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Marc Racicot in 1997. The measure was sponsored by Sen. Fred Thomas, a Hamilton Republican widely known back then as “the man of a thousand bad ideas.” Thomas is back in the legislature and, not surprisingly, still lives up to that description.

      The phony premise behind utility deregulation was that “competition” and “choice” would bring Montana’s consumers lower energy prices. Since Montana had the lowest-cost power in the region, it was pretty obvious competition was not going to lower our energy prices. But never letting facts interfere with ideology, the Republicans stuffed through the massive bill with their majorities and set in motion a tidal wave of disastrous consequences.

      Montana Power Company, then-owner of the Colstrip complex and a monopoly utility regulated by the Montana Public Service Commission, decided to sell its holdings in the coal plants and hydroelectric dams and then turned itself into Touch America, a communications company. The result? Montana’s electricity costs went from lowest in the region to highest while Montana Power went bankrupt and, tragically, took stockholder and pension funds down with it.

    • Trump climate advisory panel structured to avoid public records

      The group will be structured so that it can do its work off the record. The Post notes that a formal Federal Advisory Committee would include having meetings in public and creating extensive public records of its deliberations. As a result, the new plan is to create an ad-hoc working group instead, which avoids the need for any public disclosure.

    • Yes, The Paris Climate Agreement Sucks

      The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 was a big deal as 195 nations agreed to take steps to mitigate global temperatures to +2°C, but preferably +1.5°C, post-industrial or over the past 250 years. When temperatures exceed those levels, all hell breaks loose with our precious life-support ecosystems.

      Today, we’re already more than halfway to that first temperature guardrail but accelerating fast. Problematically, the latency effect of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions impacting global temperature is several years; similarly, a household oven turned to 450°F doesn’t immediately go to 450°F. Earth’s atmosphere, similar to that oven, takes time (years and years) to respond to GHGs that essentially turn up its thermostat.

      Implementation of Paris ‘15, however, is another matter. With four years of hindsight, the original Paris Agreement appears to be nothing more than “hope springs eternal.”

    • World may hit 56m year carbon level by 2159

      Humankind could be about to open the throttle on greenhouse gas emissions and revert to a 56m year carbon level – to a world with a global temperature marked by ice-free poles and crocodiles in the waters of the Arctic.

      And it could happen by the year 2159 – just five human generations or 140 years from now.

      By then, if humans go on burning ever-greater quantities of fossil fuels to underwrite ever-accelerating destruction of forests, wetlands and savannahs, they will have pumped into the atmosphere about as much carbon as accumulated during a geological period called the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a dramatic global warming event that reached its peak 56 million years ago.

      The long-ago warming event occurred naturally, and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere happened over a timespan of between 3,000 and 20,000 years.

    • What One Scientist Learned in 50 Years of Studying the Earth’s Climate

      When Warren Washington completed his doctorate in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University in 1964 he was just the second African American ever to earn a PhD in the atmospheric sciences. In May, Washington, now 82, will return to the school for a ceremony as a building is named in his honor.

      It’s just one more thing that Washington, a pioneer in the study of climate change, can add to a long list of accolades. In 2010 President Obama honored him with the National Medal of Science. And this month Washington was named winner of the Tyler Prize, the prestigious award recognizing environmental achievement. He shares this year’s prize with fellow climate scientist Michael Mann.

      Washington helped pioneer the field of atmospheric computer modeling, a tool that’s widely used today to help better understand climate change. At the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where he began working in 1963, he helped build one of the first computer models to understand the Earth’s climate. He worked there until retiring last year.

    • Game Over? Report Card on Our Planet’s Environment

      The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report for 2019 indicates that most experts point to environmental problems as being the most serious threats to global stability—just as they found in the previous two years. That report follows on one in October 2018 by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It said with “high confidence” that at the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, “global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.” Avoiding the worst-case consequences would require measures that have “no documented historic precedent.”

      As Americans see the evidence of climate-influenced destruction, they’re on edge: Seventy-two percent of those polled late last year considered climate change “important,” a 15-percentage point increase over 2015. Sixty-nine percent were “worried” about it.

      So here we are again, facing another round of bad news on the environment. Actually, the news is worse this time around. 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record; 2015-2017 are the other three. The Arctic experienced its second-warmest year ever. The head of the World Meteorological Organization said: “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.”

    • Of Insects and Men

      Insects are all over the world – in and over the waters at the edge of the seas, in and over the waters of lakes, rivers and creeks and swamps and irrigation ditches. They thrive in the forests, mountains, deserts, land, cities, villages, in the tropics and in the homes of the poor and the powerful. Their populations are the largest of all other species. They have been occupying the Earth for 400 million years.

      However, insects are tiny, short-lived organisms, hiding for the most part under the surface of the land, crawling in the floor, among rocks, and on everything that has roots, trunk or leaves. So, unless they are beautiful like the Monarch butterflies and obviously very useful like honeybees, insects are invisible.

      We call scientists who study insects entomologists from the Greek word for insect, entomon, something that is divided in parts. Aristotle gave this name to insects, saying these parts or notches are on the bellies or the backs and bellies of insects. He studied honeybees and mayflies and some other five-hundred animals in his pioneering zoological research. He founded science and biology as we know them.He urged us to study and love animals because we live in their midst. They make up the natural world, which is absolutely essential for human survival and happiness.

    • If Emissions Aren’t Curbed, Clouds May Disappear

      A study just published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows that if we continue with business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions, the atmosphere will hold 1,200 parts per million CO2 in about a century from now, which will cause stratocumulus clouds to disappear. Their absence could leave the Earth to warm by a staggering 8 degrees Celsius (8°C).

      The computer simulation used in the study showed that once that 1,200 parts per million (ppm) tipping point of atmospheric CO2 is breached, the Earth’s temperature would soar by 4°C just from the CO2. Then, it would increase by another 4°C due to the absent clouds no longer reflecting solar radiation back into space.

      Stratocumulus clouds cover around two-thirds of the planet, and play a key role in keeping the planet cool, due to their white color and reflective qualities. Research has shown that planetary warming correlates with the loss of clouds. This is yet another unforeseen climate feedback loop that could catapult us into catastrophic warming.

      Kerry Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is a leading authority on atmospheric physics, told Quanta Magazine that the results of the study still needed to be replicated independently, but that the possibility of the simulation being accurate was “very plausible.”

    • Another Oil Train Crashes as Alberta Government Gets Into Oil-by-Rail Business

      The government of Alberta, Canada, the heart of tar sands country, recently announced plans to get into the oil-by-rail business. Attempting to work around a lack of pipelines, the provincial government intends to spend $3.7 billion to lease 4,400 oil tank cars and locomotives to export more Canadian tar sands oil to the U.S. The announcement came just days after the latest oil train derailment and spill in Manitoba, Canada.

    • Sunrise Movement Turns Up the Heat on Congress

      Hundreds of protesters converged Monday at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in Washington, D.C., to demand support for the Green New Deal resolution. McConnell never appeared, and 42 people were arrested.

      The protest was organized by the Sunrise Movement, a youth-oriented environmental group that formed in late 2017. The movement’s profile was boosted last month when two Democrats, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, proposed the New Green Deal legislation to Congress.

    • The Sunrise Movement Hits Capitol Hill

      On Monday, hundreds of young climate activists from the Sunshine Movement converged on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Washington, D.C. office to demand that he and other legislators get behind the Green New Deal resolution. The Capitol Police arrested 42 people.

  • Finance

    • S.E.C. Wants Elon Musk Held in Contempt of Court for Tesla Post on Twitter

      The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday asked a federal court to hold Mr. Musk, chief executive of Tesla, in contempt of court for violating a settlement that he and the company reached with the commission last year. The S.E.C. said Mr. Musk issued an updated production outlook in a Twitter post on last Tuesday without first seeking approval from the company’s lawyers as required under the agreement.

    • SEC declares war on Elon Musk after another misleading tweet

      But the SEC argues that Musk broke those rules promise with last week’s tweet. On Wednesday, the agency wrote letters to Musk and Tesla asking whether Musk had gotten his tweet pre-approved as required by the settlement. In a Friday response, Tesla’s lawyer admitted that he hadn’t.

    • Americans Prefer Economic Insecurity Over Fair Minimum Wage, Says Heiress Ivanka Trump

      Workers’ rights advocates were among those who expressed a mix of amusement, anger, and shock—but not surprise—when Ivanka Trump waded into the national conversation on whether Americans should have the right to a living wage, despite her lack of experience in working to afford necessities.

      In an interview with Steve Hilton on Fox News, President Donald Trump’s adviser and eldest daughter attacked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal resolution, asserting that provisions in the climate action legislation including a $15 minimum wage and a guaranteed jobs program would be unpopular with the American people.

      Americans, she claimed, “want to work for what they get” instead of “being given something.”

    • Photo Essay: Oakland Teachers Fight for Public Education
    • New investigative report says ‘Putin’s chef’ earned billions of dollars in shady state procurement deals over the past eight years

      According to a new report by Current Time, companies with ties to the catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin have won a whopping 5,393 state procurement contracts worth more than 209.2 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) since 2011. The new investigative study by Mikhail Maglov, Timur Olevsky, and Dmitry Treshchanin states that Prigozhin’s empire uses a network of different firms, fielding different bids for the same contracts to create the illusion of competition.

      Current Time warns that it wasn’t able to find all of Prigozhin’s likely government contracts, pointing out that an order by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2017 allowed Defense Ministry subsidiaries to start classifying most procurement purchases.

    • Foxconn Played Wisconsin—With Scott Walker’s Help

      A newspaper photograph last summer portrayed three guys in suits and ties shoveling dirt. They were Donald Trump, then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and the chairman of Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics conglomerate.
      They were doing a PR groundbreaking for a new Foxconn plant that supposedly would hire thousands of blue-collar workers in Wisconsin to make flat-screen televisions. All three hailed the event as the start of a Made-in-the-USA manufacturing renaissance.
      But it was actually a corporate scam.
      Walker, who was up for re-election, was giving away a whopping $4 billion from his state’s taxpayers to lure Foxconn. Still, Trump hailed the deal as “the eighth wonder of the world.”
      Less than a year later, though — oops — it turns out the three had been shoveling BS.
      In January, Foxconn quietly backed away from its promise of all those factory jobs, declaring that “the global market environment” had changed. “In terms of TV,” they said, “we have no place in the U.S.” Having already pocketed much of Walker’s bribe money, Foxconn was downsizing its project from a mass-production blue-collar factory to a much, much smaller R&D operation.

    • To Save Independent Journalism, ‘Ambitious’ Proposal Urges Tax on Tech Giants That Helped Destroy News Industry

      “While this approach doesn’t pretend to solve all of the problems surrounding platforms or journalism, a tax on advertising revenues is a winnable fight and achievable through an act of Congress,” charges the report, Beyond Fixing Facebook (pdf). “If we want to get serious about confronting corporate power and reversing local journalism’s downward spiral, this is where to start.”

      Co-authored by Craig Aaron, Free Press president and CEO, and Timothy Karr, the group’s senior director of strategy and communications, the report outlines how independent and local journalism has increasingly disappeared, to the detriment of democracy, as social media platforms and search engines have greatly expanded and “hastened the spread of hate speech and propaganda and exploited people’s personal data and private information in myriad ways with little accountability, transparency, or consequences.”

    • Want to Save Journalism? Tax the Attention Economy

      Way, way back in 2009 as Facebook was celebrating its fifth anniversary, CEO Mark Zuckerberg blogged that the company was founded “to give people the tools to engage and understand the world around them.”

      In the 10 years since then, Facebook’s user base has multiplied more than 10 times. But instead of giving people the tools to better understand the world, Zuckerberg’s creation has hastened the global spread of misinformation designed to divide populations and manipulate voters.

      At the same time, news organizations are laying off scores of hard-working journalists, those we rely on to set the record straight. Since 2004, about 20 percent of U.S. newspapers have stopped printing, leaving nearly 200,000 newsroom employees without work and at least 900 communities without anyone covering local news.

      While the news industry is in free fall, Facebook rode its year of nonstop scandals to record profits, reporting a net fourth-quarter income in 2018 of nearly $6.9 billion, up 61 percent from the same period in 2017.

      The most recent rounds of layoffs, including sizable cuts at digital news sites Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Vice, have awakened people to just how dire the economics of news have become. If we don’t act now, the downward spiral for local and independent journalism may be irreversible, with harrowing consequences for our democracy.

    • Russian police issue APB for former director of Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation

      Russian police have issued an all-points bulletin naming Roman Rubanov, the former director of Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Records available in the Interior Ministry’s database do not indicate the charges against Rubanov, whose phone was turned off on Tuesday. FBK director Ivan Zhdanov did not respond immediately to Meduza’s request for more information about Rubanov’s case.

      Russian Civic Chamber member and notorious Navalny critic Ilya Remeslo told the website Ruposters that he believes Rubanov is wanted in connection with his alleged felony refusal to abide by a ruling in a defamation lawsuit against FBK. Since October 2018, Russian Criminal Code Article 315 (“non-execution of a court’s judgement”) has applied not only to state officials but also ordinary citizens who have committed the same misdemeanor offense within the past 12 months.

    • Survival of the Richest

      Like a gilded coating that makes the dullest things glitter, today’s thin veneer of political populism covers a grotesque underbelly of growing inequality that’s hiding in plain sight. And this phenomenon of ever more concentrated wealth and power has both Newtonian and Darwinian components to it.

      In terms of Newton’s first law of motion: those in power will remain in power unless acted upon by an external force. Those who are wealthy will only gain in wealth as long as nothing deflects them from their present course. As for Darwin, in the world of financial evolution, those with wealth or power will do what’s in their best interest to protect that wealth, even if it’s in no one else’s interest at all.

      In George Orwell’s iconic 1945 novel, Animal Farm, the pigs who gain control in a rebellion against a human farmer eventually impose a dictatorship on the other animals on the basis of a single commandment: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In terms of the American republic, the modern equivalent would be: “All citizens are equal, but the wealthy are so much more equal than anyone else (and plan to remain that way).”

      Certainly, inequality is the economic great wall between those with power and those without it.

      As the animals of Orwell’s farm grew ever less equal, so in the present moment in a country that still claims equal opportunity for its citizens, one in which three Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom half of society (160 million people), you could certainly say that we live in an increasingly Orwellian society. Or perhaps an increasingly Twainian one.

      After all, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner wrote a classic 1873 novel that put an unforgettable label on their moment and could do the same for ours. The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today depicted the greed and political corruption of post-Civil War America. Its title caught the spirit of what proved to be a long moment when the uber-rich came to dominate Washington and the rest of America. It was a period saturated with robber barons, professional grifters, and incomprehensibly wealthy banking magnates. (Anything sound familiar?) The main difference between that last century’s gilded moment and this one was that those robber barons built tangible things like railroads. Today’s equivalent crew of the mega-wealthy build remarkably intangible things like tech and electronic platforms, while a grifter of a president opts for the only new infrastructure in sight, a great wall to nowhere.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Getting Sanders Backwards

      I live in Rhode Island, the Petri dish of Democratic Party policy initiatives, the incubator where legislative measures are given a test drive before making a wider premiere first along other sections of the I-95 corridor and later nationwide. In the past 4 years that Bernie Sanders has been a force on our national political landscape, the impact has been wildly erratic, spanning a range from notable to negligible. Yet even at its most impactful, something that I will elaborate upon momentarily, his impact has been in the realm of protest politics, not Washington policy initiatives, and claims to the contrary amount to little more than wishful thinking combined with self-important grandstanding.

    • ‘He has learned nothing,’ Zuckerberg considers crowdsourcing news fact-checks for Facebook

      Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveals the company may crowdsource fact-checking as a new model for Facebook’s third-party factchecking partnerships, now that they’ve botched the deal they had with Snopes.

    • Congress Is Unlikely to Stop Trump’s “Emergency,” But Lawsuits Could

      Today, the House of Representatives is poised to adopt a resolution overturning Donald Trump’s trumped-up “national emergency” proclamation, in which he claims authority to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall at the southern border.

      The National Emergencies Act requires Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the House resolution to a vote within 18 days. In order to prevail in the Senate, four Republicans would have to defy Trump. If the bill passes both houses of Congress, Trump has pledged to veto it and there is little chance Congress could muster the two-thirds necessary to override his veto.

      In the likely event the legislature fails to void Trump’s “emergency” declaration, the judicial branch will have the opportunity to check and balance the executive. Six lawsuits have already been filed in federal courts around the country. They quote Trump’s own words to demonstrate that even he doesn’t believe there’s a bona fide emergency. The suits claim Trump violated the Constitution’s Separation of Powers mandate by circumventing the will of Congress, which has rejected Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for his wall. And they allege violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

    • Scurrying Fascist Cockroaches

      The question of the appropriation of Environmental movements by Capital is one that has been resisted even more than I had anticipated. So, right off the bat I encourage you to read Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer’s Wrong Kind of Green…especially now, part four.

      Now this stuff links directly with the rise of the newest wave of sheepdogging Democratic Party hopefuls. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and now, Ilhan Omar, are the darlings of liberal media and punditry. Omar read (haltingly) from a prepared text as she questioned war criminal Elliot Abrams. She essentially called him a liar, which he is, but which is also what the US government itself already calls him. And she mentioned El Mozote. But, when push came to shove, as they say, Omar like Ocasio Cortez, signed on for regime change in Venezuela.

      Now, Ocasio Cortez is floating something she calls the Green New Deal (which, in another form, was already promoted by Green Party candidate Jill Stein) and which is a nakedly pro capitalist bit of three card monte that will provide a boost to the nuclear power industry and line various corporate pockets. Its capitalism. Omar and Ocasio Cortez also signed the odious Code Pink letter condemning US involvement in coups while at the same time slandering and fabricating stories about Maduro. The logic of the letter was that US proxy forces and covert activities had a counter productive effect and only helped to shore up the credibility of the Maduro government. In other words, fascism is OK, is just fine, only please do it in ways that will not bruise my delicate sensitivities.

    • Time to Get on Board With Bernie

      On CNN last week, morning host Poppy Harlow interviewed liberal Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island. Harlow aired a poll showing that socialism is now preferred over capitalism by fully 57 percent of U.S. Democrats. Then she asked Cicilline if this indicates that the Democratic Party is shifting in the direction of socialism.

      Cicilline denied any such radical change. He declared all the Democratic presidential candidates besides Bernie Sanders to be capitalists, and said, “I don’t see any movement in the Democratic Party towards socialism at all. I know the president is making that argument; I think it’s a silly one.”

      It’s curious that a five-term, liberal House Democrat insists that his party is still true-blue capitalist and is making no “movement toward socialism at all,” even as the percentage of Democratic voters who prefer socialism over capitalism climbs up to 6 in 10.

    • Ukania’s Party Defections

      The shambolic meanderings of Brexit took another turn, when 8 Labour MPs and 3 of their Tory counterparts defected from their respective parties to form The Independent Group (TIG).

      A ninth Labour MP, Ian Austin, left without joining TIG– the Tiggers want a second Brexit referendum, which Austin opposes.

      Ukania’s Labour party has faced constant disruption from its Blairite rump, hell-bent from the beginning on undermining the leadership and policies of Jeremy Corbyn.

      The 8 Labour Tiggers and Ian Austin cited Corbyn’s handling of Brexit and alleged mishandling of the antisemitism “crisis” within the Labour party as the primary reasons for their defection.

    • Sanders Tackles Democratic Socialism, Racial Inequality, the ‘Fraud’ of Trump, the ‘Existential’ Climate Crisis, and Much More During CNN Town Hall

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) covered the issues of democratic socialism, Trump’s endless lying, racial inequality and reparations for slavery, Medicare for All, what he called the “existential crisis” of climate change, student debt, foreign policy and U.S. military intervention, and much else during Monday night’s town hall event hosted by CNN.

      The overall message of his campaign, Sanders said, “is that we have got to bring the American people together around an agenda which creates a government that works for all of us, not just those on top.”

      For those who missed it, here’s a selection of key moments.

    • Can Bernie Sanders Fix the Broken American Dream?

      Watching Sanders this morning, cajoling his troops, emoting his followers and leading them again, it is clear that what underlies his movement and gives him energy is the cause. The objective is to give more and more people access to some of the enormous wealth of this extraordinary country.
      “The way he was talking, you’d be mad to rule out another presidential bid in 2020.”

      This was my conclusion to an article published following a weekend at the Sanders Institute in Vermont last November. It ran counter to the prevailing wisdom that Bernie Sanders shouldn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t run for the US presidency again on the grounds that he was too old. If elected in 2020 he will be 79 years old, which would make him the oldest Democratic president ever.

    • Democrats, It’s Time We Had A Talk About Power

      It should not be difficult for Democrats to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 3 million votes. His overall approval rating has never ― not for one day ― eclipsed 50 percent. His main political tactic, scapegoating immigrants, doesn’t work very well. After making the 2018 midterms a referendum on a migrant caravan, Trump ended up ceding 41 House seats to the Democratic Party ― the worst result for Republicans since 1974.

      But if anybody can screw this thing up, it’s the leadership of the modern Democratic Party. They did, after all, manage to lose to this guy three years ago.
      And one troubling sign is the dangerous new orthodoxy that seems to be hardening in Washington, in which Democrats are forbidden from criticizing other Democrats to avoid empowering Trump ahead of the election. It’s fine to debate policy, this thinking goes, but it’s not OK to criticize governing records, question priorities or impugn motivations. Any hint of intra-party infighting, it’s argued, would only weaken the eventual 2020 nominee.

    • 2020 Democratic Hopefuls Embrace New Meaning of Reparations

      Several Democratic presidential candidates are embracing reparations for the descendants of slaves — but not in the traditional sense.

      Over the past week, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro spoke of the need for the U.S. government to reckon with and make up for centuries of stolen labor and legal oppression. But instead of backing the direct compensation of African-Americans for the legacy of slavery, the Democratic candidates are talking about using tax credits and other subsidies.

    • For a more perfect union, Restore the Voting Rights Act

      Automatic registration. Vote-by-mail. Same-day registration. Early voting.

      These voting practices are the gold standard. These voting practices are what democracy looks like.

      Many factors affect voter turnout throughout the United States – income, education, race and transportation, for example. One of the greatest influences, though, is the ease and accessibility with which voters can make their voices heard at the polls.

      Voting is the very cornerstone of our democracy. Everything starts with the vote – representation, districting and policies that impact every single American. In the United States, though, voting rights are under attack. Old battles have become new again.

    • Push to Elect Presidents by Popular Vote Gains Momentum

      After Hillary Clinton’s bruising 2016 election loss, when she won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College—the second time in five election cycles this outcome has occurred—multiple advocacy groups, the editorial board of The New York Times and some state legislatures renewed calls for abolishing the Electoral College.

      Now, as NBC affiliate KUSA reports, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, plans to sign a bill that provides for the state’s nine electoral votes for president to go to the candidate who wins the nationwide popular vote, not to the candidate who wins the most votes in the state.

      Eleven other states and Washington, D.C., have joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a joint agreement that would give these states’ votes to the national popular-vote winner. The agreement will only be enacted, however, if states collectively representing 270 electoral votes join. Under the Constitution, states can decide how to “spend” their votes, and most award them to the candidate who wins the most votes in the state.

    • This Moron Is the Only Emergency

      Almost 60 former senior national security officials and grownups, both Democrats and Republicans, just wrote an open letter protesting there is “no emergency that remotely justifies” the Trumpster Fire’s illegal move to build a border wall. Noting that “collectively we have devoted a great many decades to protecting the security interests of the United States,” the 58 former secretaries of state, secretaries of defense, secretary of homeland security, CIA director, head of national intelligence, national security adviser, multiple directors of counterterrorism agencies and many ambassadors declared Trump’s actions “at odds with the overwhelming evidence in the public record, including the administration’s own data.” Citing a mountain of documentation known to anyone not deranged – record low illegal border crossings and no terrorist, national security, violent crime, human or drug trafficking emergency threats – they find “under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today” that entitles Trump to carry on with his wall madness.

    • This 2007 Bernie Sanders Interview Is Still Tragically Relevant

      This video is one of the many Sanders videos that bolster this theory. In this interview with Sanders conducted by Truthout reporter Geoff Millard back in 2007, the Vermont senator holds forth on a number of the pressing topics of the day. Twelve years later, however, Sanders’s words are surprisingly apt in describing the current situation, as well, given Donald Trump’s aggressive ignorance regarding his legal responsibilities, and the ongoing national crisis of money in politics and media.

    • The Return of the Inexplicable Republican Best Friend – Media present GOP left-bashing as good-faith advice

      It’s a trope that dates back more than a decade, but the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has seen a recent surge in the Inexplicable Republican Best Friend (IRPF), a specific genre of concern-trolling where a long-time Republican operative, politician or pundit offers “advice” to Democrats about how they should avoid going “too far left.”

      These takes—frequently featured as earnest appeals in liberal and centrist outlets—are ostensibly framed as straight-talk advice that should be accepted as objectively in the Democrats’ best interest, and never presented as an ideological argument that would otherwise make sense coming from a right-winger. “Republican hates socialism” isn’t that newsworthy, whereas “GOP operative identifies Democrats’ best interests” somehow is.

    • To Counter Trump’s Fake Border Crisis, Poor People’s Campaign Tour Aims to Expose ‘Real Emergencies’ Nation Faces

      “Instead of tackling the real emergencies,” said campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, “the president is diverting funds to build a monument to white supremacy at our southern border.” Meanwhile, she pointed out, 140 million Americans (pdf) are “just one emergency away from poverty,” and 14 million households can’t even afford their water bills.

      The National Emergency Truth & Poverty Bus Tour is set to begin in late March and has stops scheduled in 27 states and Washington, D.C. It will focus on five sweeping issues impacting Americans: systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy, and “our distorted moral narrative.”

      Although the tour comes partly as a challenge to Trump’s racist anti-immigration policies, campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber II emphasized that these “socio-political and moral emergencies” need to be addressed by lawmakers across the political spectrum. As Barber put, “Democrats haven’t done enough to make things better and Republicans do too much to make things worse.”

      “Part of the problem that we see in policies of Democrats vs. Republicans is one talks about they want the wall and the other side said they don’t want the wall,” Barber told The Associated Press. “But nobody has sat down and said: ‘Here are the real emergencies and here is how these resources could be used to address these real emergencies.’”

    • ‘Please Do Your Job’: Grassroots Group Circulates New Pledge Calling on Lawmakers to Support Trump Impeachment

      Calling on election officials to move “off the fence and into action to remove Donald Trump from office,” a grassroots coalition on Tuesday introduced a pledge for members of Congress to sign stating that they will vote to impeach President Donald Trump and support the national movement to ensure that impeachment is pursued by lawmakers.

      The national group By the People joined with CREDO Action and other progressive action groups in circulating the pledge, which reads, “I pledge to defend the Constitution and the American People by voting to impeach President Donald J. Trump.”

      As of Tuesday afternoon, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) were the only two members of Congress who had signed the pledge.

      “As I always say: Tick tock, Individual 1,” said Tlaib, using the code name that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has used to refer to Trump in documents. “I can’t wait for us to show people, especially families in my district, that they are being put first—and that we’re going to hold everyone accountable to the law, including the President of the United States.”

    • Golf Claps and Clapbacks Are Not Solidarity

      Solidarity is the foundation of building political power. When an elected official steps in and lends their voice to an issue that we care about, our voices are amplified. Elected officials are theoretically there to speak up on our behalf, fight for what we believe in, and to take positions that are risky.

      The problem is that we ascribe the same amount of value to every statement that an elected official makes, no matter how calculated and self-serving it is. More often than not, elected officials are bound by message discipline that keeps them from the kind of nuanced judgments required by social issues.

      When they speak up on issues that matter to us or they speak out against an issue that plagues us, they’re rarely taking an uncalculated risk. It takes very little work of reading between the lines when that message discipline helps them build power. If they’re repeating a position instead of responding to the actual content of an issue, they’re hoping to sell us a vehicle without us ever taking a peek under the hood.

      When any public figure, especially elected officials, is anti-Semitic, homophobic, or accused of human rights abuses, we want others to speak up. However, as 84% of Americans think money has too much influence in politics, nearly the same number are afflicted with magical thinking when they assume elected officials are speaking from the heart.

    • Follow the Money to the Border Wall

      Readers may rightly believe that the government and segments of this society have fallen to their absolute lowest levels just as a new outrage becomes obvious. Such is the case with Trump’s (read his far-right handlers) border wall.

      What are the objectives of the border wall? In other words, just what does the man behind the curtain and his handlers have in mind? First, they placate their base of haters and ignoramuses. Next, they make lots and lots of money for their special interests such as security companies, gun manufacturers, infrastructure companies, the military, and other government agencies.

      The Real News Network presents a compelling recounting of just who will profit from Trump’s latest outburst of hate in “Trump’s Border Wall: Who Profits?” (February 25, 2019). Not surprisingly, some companies, like selected Israeli security companies that supply all manner of security equipment such as is used on Israel’s border wall (the Israeli West Bank barrier) at its border with the West Bank, have already seen their stock prices skyrocket: Follow the money: Make some good bets! Readers may be able to see the demonization of immigrants trying to enter the U.S. at the U.S./Mexican border connected to the plight of the Palestinian people in the West Bank. The comparison is more than valid.There’s lots of money to be made around the world from so-called security devices.

    • Chicago Will Elect a Black Woman as Its Mayor for First Time

      A former federal prosecutor and a county board leader will face each other in a runoff to become Chicago’s first black female mayor after leading a large field Tuesday that included a member of the Daley family that has dominated the city’s politics for much of the last six decades.

      Political outsider Lori Lightfoot, who was a federal prosecutor in northern Illinois, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle were the top two vote-getters among 14 candidates, but neither received more than the 50 percent needed to avoid an April 2 runoff. The winner will succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lead the nation’s third-largest city. Emanuel did not seek re-election.

      Among those they defeated was William Daley, who has never held major elected office but featured the most famous surname in the race. His father, Richard J. Daley, and brother, Richard M. Daley, held the city’s top job for nearly 43 years of a 55-year span before Emanuel took the oath in 2011. Daley is a former U.S. Commerce secretary who, like Emanuel, served as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Police open three investigation papers over insults on Islam (Updated)

      Police have initiated investigation papers into three cases of social-media users insulting Islam, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said today.

      He said in the first case, a total of 478 police reports were lodged against a Facebook user, who posted words and infographics that were insulting to Islam.

    • Dr Arslan Khalid appointed as Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media

      According to an earlier notification shared on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) website, Dr Khalid was appointed as the Secretary Social Media of PTI on March 1, 2018. Before this, he had served as the Operations Head of the party’s social media team.

    • FIA watching social media to curb ‘anti-national propaganda, hate speech’

      A senior official confirmed that after the decision of the federal government, all three FIA cybercrime centres in Sindh — Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur — had been officially directed to keep a close eye on social media and all digital platforms.

    • New Govt. Proposals Aim to Restrict Pirate Sites in India

      The latest draft of India’s National E-Commerce Policy includes a number of measures to crack down on pirate sites. Among other things, intermediaries will be required to restrict distribution of copyrighted content while search engines will have to purge their results of identified pirate sites.

    • YouTube And Demonetization: The Hammer And Nail Of Content Moderation

      Last week we had a story about a bunch of Pokemon YouTubers discovering their accounts were dropped after YouTube confused their discussion of “CP” (Combat Points), thinking it might actually refer to a different “CP”: child porn. The accounts were reinstated after a bit of an outcry.

      It appears that this was part of a larger effort by YouTube to deal with a variety of problems on its platform (and, yes, its platform has problems). But some of the resulting stories suggest that YouTube is so focused on “demonetization” as a tool that it’s losing sight of alternatives. The Pokemon story appears to have actually been part of a larger effort to respond to claims that child predators were using the comments of certain, perfectly normal videos of kids to, well, do bad stuff. The whole thing is pretty sickening and horrifying and I have no interest in going into the details.

      As the controversy over this — quite reasonably — gained attention, some pointed out that these videos with exploitative comments were, in many cases, being monetized with big brand name ads appearing next to them. This type of complaint is… not new. People have been complaining about brand names appearing in ads next to “bad” content or “infringing” content for many years. Of course, it’s pretty much all matched by algorithm, and part of the problem is that because people are gaming the system, the algorithm (and YouTube) hadn’t quite caught on to what was happening. Of course, the outcry from the public — especially about the monetization — then resulted in advertisers pulling all their ads from YouTube. And, whether it was the advertisers leaving or the general public outcry (it was almost certainly both, but I’m sure most people will assume it was the advertisers bailing that really made the difference), YouTube went on a big new effort to pull ads from lots of videos.

    • Beware The Rise Of Censorship Under The Guise Of Stopping Fake News: UK Regulators Push For Dangerous Plan

      When we last checked in with UK Parliament Member Damian Collins, he was creating fake news at a hearing he set up to scold Facebook for enabling fake news. If you don’t recall, Collins held a very theatrical hearing, in which his big reveal was that Facebook had actually become aware of Russians hacking its API with billions of questionable requests back in 2014, years before anyone thought they were doing anything. Except, as became clear hours later, Collins completely misrepresented what actually happened. It wasn’t Russians. It was Pinterest. And it wasn’t billions of requests for data. It was millions. And it wasn’t abusive or hacking. It was something going a little haywire on Pinterest’s end. But, to Collins it was a smoking gun.

      It appears that that little incident has not deterred Collins from his war on Facebook, in which he’s using moral panic and fear mongering over “fake news” to try to censor content he doesn’t like. Recently, Collins’ committee — the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee — published its big report on fake news, in which it calls for new regulatory powers to “oversee” what content goes on sites like Facebook. With the report, Collins put out quite the bombastic comment about all of this.

    • China Extends Its Censorship To Australian Books, Written By Australian Authors For Australian Readers

      As the story in the Australian newspaper The Age explains, the reason why Chinese censors are able to impose their views on books designed for the Australian market is that it’s cheaper to have books printed in China than in Europe, say, especially it if involves color illustrations. As a result, publishers can be faced with the choice of accepting Chinese demands, or not publishing the book at all because the costs are too high.

      The list of taboo topics is long, albeit pretty specific to China. It includes mention of major Chinese political figures, such as Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping, as well as a list of 118 dissidents whose names may not be mentioned. Political topics such as Tiananmen Square, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Tibetan independence, Uyghurs and Falun Gong are all out. Pornography is completely forbidden, but even artistic nudity can be censored. The Chinese authorities are very sensitive to how maps are drawn, since they can involve disputed borders. More surprising is the ban on mentioning major religions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • UK Suggests US Worries About Huawei Spying Are Being Overblown

      So, while there’s really no denying that Chinese smartphone and network gearmaker Huawei engages in some clearly sketchy behavior, it’s not anything that can’t be matched by our own, home-grown sketchy telecom companies. And while the Trump administration has been engaged in a widespread effort to blackball Huawei gear from the American market based on allegations of spying on Americans, nobody’s been able to provide a shred of public evidence that this actually occurs. At the same time, we tend to ignore the fact that the United States broke into Huawei to steal code and implant backdoors as early as 2007.

      In short, this subject is more complicated that the blindly-nationalistic U.S. press coverage tends to indicate, and a not-insubstantial portion of this hand-wringing is driven by good old-fashioned protectionism.

    • AT&T Throwing FundRaiser For Senate Chair Ahead Of Privacy Hearings

      Scandal after scandal after scandal has resulted in many finally realizing that the United States is likely going to have to craft at least some basic privacy guidelines moving forward. The problem: with so many justly wary of Congressional Luddites screwing it up, and so many wealthy industries lobbying jointly to try and weaken the potential guidelines, this isn’t going to be a pretty process. If we come out of it with anything even closely resembling a decent privacy law for the digital age (one that doesn’t make things worse) we’ll be very fortunate.

      But it’s hard to craft much of any meaningful privacy rules when Congress is so grotesquely beholden to the industries they’re supposed to be holding accountable. That was made pretty obvious when the telecom sector lobbied to kill some basic FCC privacy guidelines the FCC had approved before they could even take effect back in 2017. Those rules simply required that ISPs be transparent about what data is being collected and who it would be sold to, something that could have proven extremely useful in the wake of these revelations of carriers selling your location data to any and every nitwit in America.

    • Watching the Black Body

      To his shock, Balogun later discovered that the FBI had been monitoring him for years. He also discovered that he had been arrested that day for one specific reason: he had posted a Facebook update that criticized police.

      Balogun is considered by some to be the first individual prosecuted under a secretive government program that tracks so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIEs).

    • Germany’s Federal Data Protection Commissioner: EU copyright reform poses risks to data protection

      In my previous post I reported and commented on the two-thirds majority of the members of the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee (JURI) that voted in favor of the proposed EU Copyright Directive and announced at the end that I was going to translate–in the post you now have in front of you–a statement that came out just before the JURI vote and may help with a view to the European Parliament’s plenary vote as well as the further process, provided there is a further process, which requires the Parliament to reject or amend the directive.

      The Federal Data Protection Commissioner of Germany, Ulrich Kelber, issued a statement voicing his concerns about the most problematic element of the bill in its current form: upload filters. The bill doesn’t mention them explicitly, but simply makes them a de facto requirement, and Mr. Kelber’s statement (in German; I’ll translate the full text below) addresses the ramifications of upload filters for data protection.

    • India Proposes New E-Commerce Rules To Store Data Locally

      Months after India came up with new rules on FDI in e-commerce, India has now proposed new standards in the e-commerce sector with a focus on local data centers in the country and enhanced privacy measures.

      The proposed rules hint at data centers and server farms in India to ensure that users’ data stay in the country.

    • Companies reveal mountains of sensitive commercial data in their APIs
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Behind “Right to Fail,” a ProPublica-Frontline Collaboration to Overcome Roadblocks and Privacy Restrictions

      In early 2017, I received a tip that the New York State Department of Health was trying to evade a federal court order that required officials to move thousands of people with mental illness out of troubled adult homes and into their own apartments.

      [...]

      I started to hear stories of those struggling in their new apartments, almost completely out of sight from the state. An independent court monitor appointed to oversee the transition had noted in his reports that the state failed to track bad outcomes for those who had moved out of adult homes. While the monitor said many in supported housing were doing well, he recounted cases of some who were not. My editor, Alexandra Zayas, and I found the anecdotes alarming, both in the depth of the despair and the lack of involvement by state and social service agencies.

      One woman stopped taking her medication, began soliciting sex from passing cars, swapped alcohol for drugs with neighborhood children and ultimately became homeless. We began thinking about how to assess the extent of the problem. If the government wasn’t tracking it, maybe we could.

    • California keeps a secret list of criminal cops, but says you can’t have it: Attorney General warns reporters it’s illegal to possess list of thousands of cop convictions

      But when Becerra’s office learned about the disclosure, it threatened the reporters with legal action unless they destroyed the records, insisting they are confidential under state law and were released inadvertently. The two journalism organizations have rejected Becerra’s demands.

    • ‘Shocking’ Report Reveals Thousands of Migrant Children Have Been Sexually Abused While in US Custody

      A House hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy on Tuesday revealed that thousands of children in U.S. custody over the past five years have been subjected to sexual abuse in migrant detention centers.

      Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) released documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing that more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse against minors were filed between 2014 and 2018. More than 1,300 complaints were referred to the Department of Justice.

      “I am deeply concerned with documents that have been turned over by HHS that record a high number of sexual assaults on unaccompanied children in the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement,” Deutch said. “Together, these documents detail an environment of systemic sexual assaults by staff on unaccompanied children.”

      Immigrant rights advocates decried the revelations. Among them was Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) who wrote on social media that the report details “taxpayer-funded abuses of migrant refugee children.”

    • Nearly 6,000 Abuse Complaints at Migrant Children Shelters

      Thousands of accusations of sexual abuse and harassment of migrant children in government-funded shelters were made over the past four years, including scores directed against adult staff members, according to federal data released Tuesday.

      The cases include allegations of inappropriate touching, staff members allegedly watching minors while they bathed and showing pornographic videos to minors. Some of the allegations included inappropriate conduct by minors in shelters against other minors, as well as by staff members.

    • More Reports Of ‘Gladiator Fights’ As California Prison Officials Tear Up Cells To Find Recording Device

      Another fight between rival prisoner groups took place at the state prison in Corcoran, California on the morning of February 20.

      The fight happened during what the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) calls “incremental release,” when small groups of prisoners are released onto the yard together for recreation.

      Prisoners, their families, and advocates argue officials are scheduling incrementals with members of racial groups they know are in conflict. For that reason, they call them “gladiator fights”—a nod to fights orchestrated by Corcoran corrections officers in the 1990s.

      CDCR denies the fights are set up by prison officials.

      The February 20 incident at Facility 3C involved four prisoners from the racial factions known as the Sureños and the Bulldogs, and happened at around 9:40 AM. Officers used a “pepper spray instantaneous blast grenade to quell the incident,” CDCR told Shadowproof, noting prisoners were “decontaminated from the pepper spray and medically evaluated.” No injuries were reported.

    • FBI Debuts ‘First And Only’ Police Shooting Database That Is Neither ‘First’ Nor ‘Only’

      Most of this announcement is incorrect. The Washington Post has been collecting data on shootings by cops for a few years now. The Guardian put a couple of years into this project before dropping it. Fatal Encounters has been around since 2012 — the side project of former newspaper editor D. Brian Burghart… one that now requires 10 hours a day to maintain. There’s even a database of dogs killed by police officers, something no one in the government has ever offered to track.

      So, the FBI is far from the first. It’s not even the “only.” But it could have been both.

      The FBI had a head start. The DOJ’s been charged with collecting this data for more than 15 years now. Its efforts on this front have been nonexistent. The DOJ decided the best way to obtain compliance from the nation’s law enforcement agencies was to do nothing at all. Reporting was completely voluntary, putting the FBI well behind private parties unwilling to wait for law enforcement agencies to pass along data on shootings.

    • Incarceration Is a Deadly Health Risk: Former Chief Medical Officer of NYC Jails Speaks Out

      The former chief medical officer of New York City jails has just published a remarkable new book about the health risks of incarceration. The book is titled “Life and Death in Rikers Island.” Dr. Homer Venters offers unprecedented insight into what happens inside prison walls to create new health risks for incarcerated men and women, including neglect, blocked access to care, physical and sexual violence, and brutality by corrections officers. Venters further reveals that when prisoners become ill, are injured or even die in custody, the facts of the incident are often obscured. We speak to Dr. Venters and Jennifer Gonnerman, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

    • Amy Klobuchar’s Defenders Mistake the Promise of Feminism

      Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s 2020 presidential bid has been beset by grim reporting on her treatment of staff members since the Minnesota Democrat declared her intent to run earlier this month. Reports of Klobuchar’s abuse of staff members have included allegations that she has thrown office supplies such as phones and binders in the direction of underlings in fits of anger, that she regularly berates her workers, and that she has attempted to sink job prospects for staffers departing her office as revenge for their leaving. Her reputation for ill treatment of those in her employ apparently made it difficult for her to put together a team to staff her presidential campaign.

      The reports drew criticism of Klobuchar from most commentators. But some people weren’t convinced. In fact, as former staffers have continued to speak with reporters and allegations of Klobuchar’s office antics have continued to emerge, a specifically feminist line of defense has arisen regarding the senator’s methods of doing business.

    • Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: The Crisis of Online Feminism Today

      I heard this expression frequently when feminist groups would break down and a women would eventually exclaim exasperatingly, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” Over the past few months in feminist groups from the US to the UK, I have witnessed a train wreck of conflicting egos, political narratives that are deemed “incorrect” and myriad other scenarios of women being quite cruel and controlling of other women, albeit on social media which is never known for bringing out the best in people. Still, there are serious problems within feminism online activist circles that have revealed serious issues of elitist narratives that seeks to dispossess others from having a seat at the table in the UK to the meeting of feminists at a far-right venue in Washington DC which sparked the outrage on the other side of the pond. While understandably there are different opinions on how best to do political feminist work, rational discussions are few and far between with mass-shaming quickly becoming the default to a calm online discussion.

      Then I was tagged on one feminist’s wall where she posted about a new French law which will make filling out paperwork for most parents and guardians less confusing. The discussion focussed upon France’s National Assembly having passed a law that will remove the labels “mother” and “father” from forms used in the country’s schools. Today, the number of paper and online forms that automatically default to mother and father make having to deal with every followup problem later (when your form is rejected because you “forgot” to fill out the father) a nightmare. Even signing into municipal portals for childcare placement, online applications for passport renewals and providing details that even free software defaults to a two-parent system, this is a law that is welcome to most because it will save parents time. One would think that of all people, feminists might get behind such a gesture given that women still tend to be the parent that does most of the childcare.

    • U.S. Accused of Trying to Unconstitutionally Strip Citizenship of U.S.-Born Woman Who Joined ISIS

      With the self-proclaimed Islamic State on the verge of losing its last area of control in Syria, nations around the world are debating what do with the men and women who joined ISIS but now want to return home. Here in the United States, the debate centers on a 24-year-old U.S.-born woman who left her family in Alabama in 2014 and moved to Syria, where she lived in the ISIS-controlled caliphate. While in Syria, Hoda Muthana married a series of ISIS fighters, all of whom died in battle. Now she is living in a refugee camp in Syria with her 18-month-old son but is seeking to return to the United States, setting off a constitutional debate. Last week, President Trump tweeted, “I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” The Trump administration is claiming Muthana is not a U.S. citizen, even though she was born in the United States and has been issued U.S. passports. We speak to her family’s attorney, Charlie Swift, the director of the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America.

    • What Does Alabama’s Attorney General Have to Hide in the Police Killing of EJ Bradford?

      In Alabama, a family is still grieving after local police killed their son on Thanksgiving night after a gunman opened fire at a mall. But several months after the incident, the Alabama attorney general is still keeping the Bradfords, and the region’s Black community, in the dark about critical details of what happened that night. The Bradfords and the community still don’t know the identity of the Hoover Police Department officer who fired the fatal shots and the state attorney general refusing to release the evidence he relied on to decide the officer won’t face charges for taking the life of an innocent man.

    • Prosecutors Have the Power to Stop Bad Roadside Drug Tests From Ruining People’s Lives

      Three years ago on New Year’s Eve, Dasha Fincher was arrested in Monroe County, Georgia, after the deputies performed an on-the-spot test of a bag of blue substance that they found in the car in which she was a passenger. The suspicious stuff in the bag came up positive for methamphetamines. After her arrest, the judge in her case set bail at $1 million because she was perceived as a drug trafficker.

      There was just one problem. The roadside drug-test was wrong. The blue substance wasn’t meth — it was cotton candy. Fincher would spend three months in jail because of the faulty test.

      Fincher’s story of cotton-candy-gone-meth isn’t an aberration. The prevalence of false-positive results associated with roadside drug tests is terrifyingly common. ProPublica warned that “a minimum of 100,000 people nationwide plead guilty to drug charges that rely on field-test results as evidence” and that because the tests are so frequently used “even a modest error rate, then, could produce hundreds or even thousands of wrongful convictions.”

    • Texas Is Planning an Execution Based on Fraudulent Testimony

      Billy Wayne Coble was convicted of a Texas triple homicide in 1989. On Thursday, he is scheduled for execution.

      A former ACLU client, Coble’s story was not a happy one before he found himself on death row. He was a Vietnam veteran who had been raised by a mother who was institutionalized for mental illness and by a father debilitated by alcoholism. But if Coble’s execution goes forward, he will be killed not for who he is or for what he’s been convicted of, but because of the testimonies of so-called “experts” whose testimony can be summed up in two words: unreliable junk.

      Years after Coble was initially sentenced to death in 1990, an appellate court in 2007 threw out that death sentence because the trial judge had erred in instructing the sentencing jury. At Coble’s 2008 re-sentencing trial, his behavior in prison between 1990 and 2007 posed a challenge to the state’s claim that, as required for a Texas death sentence, Coble would be a danger to other prison staff and prisoners if not executed.

      As the court later described him, Coble “did not have a single disciplinary report for the eighteen years he had been on death row.” Rather than posing a threat, Coble had instead become known for helping both staff and fellow prisoners alike.

    • Not for Prime Time:“US Kills 951 Civilians!”

      A dry statistic emerged from the UN yesterday reporting that close to 4,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year. It estimated how many were victims of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and then attributed 951 casualties to the U.S. [1]

      These are civilians we killed, and it isn’t even news.

      What is news and what isn’t continues to mystify. It seems when we are the victims, its news; when they are it isn’t.

      Seventeen children were killed in the Parkland shooting. The US media had a blockbuster run on that story featuring it 7,900 times [2]

      Nine people were killed in the Charleston church shooting and the story was wall-to-wall 24-7. [3][4]

      But America’s Afghan killing spree?

      No way.

      These were not “terrorists” or “militants,” by the way, or any of the familiar categories we use to distance ourselves from our actions. These were regular, men, women, children, grandparents, aunt’s, uncles, and cousins who succumbed to American bullets and bombs.

    • No One Is More Oppressed Than Children

      Social justice has become such a loaded term in the Twenty-Teens. There was a time when only renegades gave a flying fuck about the disenfranchised. Now its been hijacked, in name only, by the state to justify its own malign existence. This leads to far too many reactionary renegades either embracing the state as a solution to the woes it perpetuates or conversely rejecting social justice out of hand. The sad reality here is that this has left many oppressed people without any legitimate advocacy outside of their own embattled tribes. The Civil Rights Movement has been twisted into a distraction from the very class issues that serve as the source of virtually all forms of bigotry and too many class warriors have written off social justice as a whole as some kind of neoliberal vanity project. But people are still fucked for more reasons than class even if class is the foreplay that makes that fucking possible.

      Among so-called Social Justice Warriors, the conversation often devolves into a squabble over who gets fucked worst; The blacks or the browns? The trans of the gays? This bickering rarely serves any justifiable purpose but I’m always perplexed by the fact that no one takes the side of the most obvious winner of this dubious distinction. Across the globe, without exception, the most roundly fucked class of people on the planet are children and if that sentence makes you uncomfortable then that’s a start. The fact that this obvious truth is still a total mystery to even the most obsessive compulsive SJW’s only further proves the point. But really think about it, dearest motherfuckers.

      Even here in the supposed civil rights bacchanalia of the West, children are afforded all the rights of pets. They are essentially the property of their adult guardians or even worse, the state, if they see fit to interfere in the oppression process. If you are beneath the sacred age of eighteen in this country, you can’t vote, you can’t own property, you can’t work, and you have absolutely zero say in your living situation. The oppression begins at birth with the glorified genital mutilation of circumcision and, even worse, the painful and invasive surgery that defines intersex children’s physical sex before they can even speak. Children are routinely conditioned to be well-behaved cattle, to be seen but not heard. They are instructed to obey adults without question and do as they’re told. Is it any wonder that children are the number one victims of abuse in this country with the lion share of the abuse being dolled out by the very authority figures they’re groomed to obey; Parents, cops, teachers, priests.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Russia’s government bans the use of satellite Internet without ground stations

      The Russian government has adopted a resolution requiring all satellite traffic in Russia (including telephone and Internet communications) to transmit through ground stations. The new requirements take effect in six months.

      According to the magazine RBC, the resolution is based on findings by the Communications Ministry that operators might create a national security threat by offering “uncontrolled use of foreign satellites communication systems and access to the Internet across Russia.”

    • Judge Ruling In AT&T Merger Again Highlights Broken Antitrust Enforcement, Court Myopia

      Last year AT&T defeated the DOJ’s challenge to the company’s $86 billion merger with Time Warner thanks to a comically narrow reading of the markets by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon. At no point in his original 172-page ruling (which approved the deal without a single condition) did Leon show the faintest understanding that AT&T intends to use vertical integration synergistically with the death of net neutrality and neutered FCC oversight to dominate smaller competitors and tilt the entire internet ecosystem in its favor.
      While the DOJ lost its original case, it was quick to appeal late last year, highlighting how within weeks of the deal AT&T had jacked up prices on consumers and competitors like Dish Networks, which says it was forced to pull HBO from its lineup because it could no longer afford the higher rates. Those rate hikes were directly courtesy of the huge debt AT&T incurred from both its 2015 merger with DirecTV (which eliminated a direct pay TV competitor from the market), and last year’s Time Warner merger.

    • Iran Experts: Zarif Resignation May Bolster Iran’s Hardliners and Trump’s Hawkish Policies
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • BREAKING NEWS: Huawei and Samsung settle their patent infringement dispute

      Huawei and Samsung just filed a joint motion to stay the appellate proceedings before the Federal Circuit relating to Samsung’s antisuit injunction. The reason for the request for a stay (at a stage where everything but the appellate decision had happened already) is that they entered into a settlement agreement yesterday.

    • Radical changes in the SPC system in the EU: SPC export and stockpiling exception soon a reality

      During an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, scheduled for today, February 26th, the Committee will (as it seems) vote on the provisional agreement reached in the trilogue negotiations (you may watch the announcement of the results of the trilogue negotiations here). Assuming that the provisional agreement will be confirmed, this will allow the European Parliament to adopt the agreement in plenum. With the upcoming EU elections in May 2019, one could expect that the Proposal will be voted by the Parliament already in April 2019.

      The goal of the Proposal for a new Regulation is to adapt the SPC Regulation to the modern needs of the pharmaceutical marketplace (taking into consideration the needs of generics and the biosimilars industry) while at the same time preserving the rights of the certificate-holder.

    • Qualcomm surprisingly enlists America’s leading female lawyer for a sideshow lawsuit against Apple

      In a high-stakes case over tens of billions of dollars, where the late “processing” charge alone accounts for more than $1.3 billion, you obviously would want to bring in the best–and only the best–in order to maximize your chances to win. But case no. 3-17-cv1375 in the Southern District of California never was a high-profile case, and by now it is, at first sight, just a nuisance lawsuit. There was the aforementioned ruling that limits the potential for damages, and there was a summary judgment that Apple doesn’t infringe a patent from the same Qualcomm patent family as the one that gave rise to an agnostic injunction in Munich. Also, the way things have gone in the ITC case to which Qualcomm’s 17cv1375 lawsuit was just a companion complaint for the purpose of seeking damages (which the ITC can’t award) doesn’t suggest there’s much that can come out of it. The only patent that an ITC judge held infringed (only a preliminary finding that may or may not be overturned) has been worked around already by means of an iOS update.

      Tiny damages in play; one patent thrown out; five (including the one I just mentioned) already failed in the ITC; and the only one that’s still in play at the ITC has been worked around. The combination of those circumstances would normally make it highly counterintuitive that a litigant–Qualcomm in this case–would throw a huge amount of good money after bad. So why is Qualcomm doing this?

    • CODA Development s.r.o. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Finally, the panel held that the District Court erred in not permitting CODA to file its amended complaint. The opinion cites Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 181–82 (1962), for the principle that “in the absence of any apparent reason (e.g., undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previously allowed amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, futility), leave to amend should be freely given, as Rule 15 requires.”

    • Express Mobile, Inc. v. Code and Theory LLC (N.D. Cal. 2019)

      Two related patent cases Express Mobile, Inc. v. Code and Theory LLC and Express Mobile, Inc. v. Pantheon Systems Inc. within the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California each involve allegations that the various Defendants infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,546,397 (the ’397 patent) and 7,594,168 (the ’168 patent), which share the same specification.

      Defendants in these two actions moved to dismiss, contending that the patent claims are drawn only to abstract ideas, ineligible for protection under § 101 of the Patent Act, as explained in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014), and its progeny. The Court, however, found that the patents described a novel technological solution, and that Defendants’ characterization of the patents as claiming only an abstract idea failed. Thus, the motions to dismiss were denied.

      The patents relate to building web pages. The inventive methodology described in the patents involves building a web page by defining it as a set of user-selected “objects” and/or “settings.” The result is not a markup language code file for the web page, but instead a collection of user selected objects and object attributes. These can be saved in a database, for ease of access and efficient storage. Because complete code files for each page do not need to be stored, the page structure—the full HTML code itself—is created on the fly each time the page is loaded in a user’s Web browser. This is achieved in part through a browser-appropriate “run time engine” and related files.

      [...]

      Thus, the Court focused on the claims being directed to a specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities versus a process that qualifies as an “abstract idea” for which computers are invoked merely as a tool. The claims were not found to be directed to tasks for which a computer is used in its ordinary capacity.

      The Defendants further argued that any potentially patent-eligible technological improvements set out in the specification were not fully reflected in the actual claims. But the Court stated that dismissal under Alice is not appropriate, at least at this juncture, for such reasons because full claim construction is needed. It simply cannot be said on the present record that the claims are drawn so broadly as to be divorced from the potentially patent-eligible purported technological improvements described in the specification. Accordingly, the Court denied the motions to dismiss, and the patents survived a first challenge in the litigation.

    • No Sovereign Immunity for Patent-Asserting State University

      UF’s asserted patent is titled “Managing Critical Care Physiologic Data Using Data Synthesis Technology.” U.S. Patent No. 7,062,251. From the patent title, keen Patently-O readers will recognize a potential eligibility problem. N.D.Fla. District Court Judge Mark Walker dismissed the case on a R.12(b)(6) motion without taking any evidence — finding the asserted claims ineligible as a matter of law. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.

      [...]

      The 11th Amendment has been seen as quite strong — preventing the Federal Courts from hearing “any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const. amend. XI.

      The for UF here is Waiver — UF filed the infringement lawsuit against GE and GE raised invalidity as a defense. The Federal Circuit has clear precedent that “a state waives its Eleventh Amendment immunity when it consents to federal court jurisdiction by voluntarily appearing in federal court.” Regents of the Univ. of N.M. v. Knight, 321 F.3d 1111 (Fed. Cir. 2003). As the court explained in a prior case, “the Eleventh Amendment applies to suits ‘against’ a state, not suits by a state.” Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Eli Lilly & Co., 119 F.3d 1559, 1564–65 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

    • University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc. v. General Electric Co. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      The panel found nothing in the ’251 patent that identified and “specific improvement to the way computers operate” such as was found in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327, 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2016). The very generality used to avoid unduly limiting the scope of the invention became in the Court’s hands evidence that there was nothing analogous to the improvement in computer function that the Court held sufficient to avoid invalidation in Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp., 867 F.3d 1253 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (eliciting another “We are not persuaded” from Judge Moore). The distinction is that here the claimed components UFRF attempts to rely upon are “described in purely functional terms” (emphasis in opinion) in both the specification and claims, without providing any “technical details for the tangible components.” Accordingly the Court held that “at Alice step one that representative claim 1 is directed to the abstract idea of ‘collecting, analyzing, manipulating, and displaying data.’”

      [...]

      Under these facts, the Court readily affirmed the District Court’s invalidation of the ’251 patent for failure to claim a patent-eligible invention under § 101.

    • Copyrights

      • Jiarui Liu on the Dominance and Ambiguity of Transformative Use

        Liu also examines data such as the win rate for transformative use over time, by circuit, and by subject matter. But I particularly like that Liu is not just counting cases, but also arguing that courts are using this doctrine as a substitute for in-depth policy analysis.

      • An Empirical Study of Transformative Use in Copyright Law

        This article presents an empirical study based on all reported transformative use decisions in U.S. copyright history through January 1, 2017. Since Judge Leval coined the doctrine of transformative use in 1990, it has been gradually approaching total dominance in fair use jurisprudence, involved in 90% of all fair use decisions in recent years. More importantly, of all the dispositive decisions that upheld transformative use, 94% eventually led to a finding of fair use. The controlling effect is nowhere more evident than in the context of the four-factor test: A finding of transformative use overrides findings of commercial purpose and bad faith under factor one, renders irrelevant the issue of whether the original work is unpublished or creative under factor two, stretches the extent of copying permitted under factor three towards 100% verbatim reproduction, and precludes the evidence on damage to the primary or derivative market under factor four even though there exists a well-functioning market for the use.

        Although transformative use has harmonized fair use rhetoric, it falls short of streamlining fair use practice or increasing its predictability. Courts diverge widely on the meaning of transformative use. They have upheld the doctrine in favor of defendants upon a finding of physical transformation, purposive transformation, or neither. Transformative use is also prone to the problem of the slippery slope: courts start conservatively on uncontroversial cases and then extend the doctrine bit by bit to fact patterns increasingly remote from the original context.

        This article, albeit being descriptive in nature, does have a normative connotation. Courts welcome transformative use not despite, but due to, its ambiguity, which is a flexible way to implement their intuitive judgments yet maintain the impression of stare decisis. However, the rhetorical harmony conceals the differences between a wide variety of policy concerns in dissimilar cases, invites casual references to precedents from factually unrelated contexts, and substitutes a mechanical exercise of physical or purposive transformation for an in-depth policy analysis that may provide clearer guidance for future cases.

      • Two-thirds majority in European Parliament’s legal affairs committee (JURI) for proposed EU Copyright Directive with upload filters: 16-9

        So I’m speaking from successful experience as opposed to exhorting people to hold out as a matter of principle. Today is not a setback. In fact, a 55%-45% approval of the bill would already have been a surprise, like an upset victory (though technically it would have been a defeat), just because of JURI’s unique composition that is not representative of the plenary.

      • Why 65 Intellectual Property Scholars Filed an Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Google’s Petition for Cert in the Oracle Case

        In January 2018, Google filed a petition to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review two adverse rulings by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the Oracle Am. Inc. v. Google Inc. case. The first was the Federal Circuit’s 2014 decision overturning a district court ruling that several thousand declarations that Google used for its Android platform, which it derived from 37 of 166 Java application program interface (API) packages, were unprotectable by copyright law. Although disagreeing with the lower court’s copyrightability analysis, the Federal Circuit remanded the case, saying that there was a triable issue of fact on Google’s fair use defense. In the spring of 2016, Google’s fair use defense prevailed before a jury. The second adverse ruling was the Federal Circuit’s decision that no reasonable jury could have found fair use. Google’s petition asks the Court to review both the copyrightability and fair use rulings. Oracle will be filing its brief opposing Supreme Court review later this spring. Amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, whether in support of Google’s petition or in support of neither party, were filed this week.

      • Google v. Oracle Filings Thus Far
      • Mozilla Asks Supreme Court to Protect App Development

        Mozilla, joined by Medium, Etsy, Mapbox, Patreon, and Wikimedia, filed a friend of the court brief in Oracle v. Google asking the Supreme Court to review the Federal Circuit court’s holding that Google committed copyright infringement by reusing Oracle’s APIs. The court’s order found that the APIs for the Java platform are protected by copyright and can’t be used by others except with Oracle’s paid permission.

        We disagree. Let’s say a manufacturer produces a toaster and publishes the dimensions of the slots so bakers know exactly what size loaf will fit. Bakers can sell bread knowing it will fit in everyone’s toasters; manufacturers can make new toasters knowing they will fit people’s bread; and everyone can make toast regardless of which bakery they frequent.

        Should other toaster manufacturers be prohibited from using those square dimensions for their own toasters? Of course not. No one has ever bought a toaster and a loaf of bread and needed to ask themselves if they’d fit together. Yet this is what the Federal Circuit’s ruling could do to software programming, and the ability of different pieces of code or software or hardware to talk to each other. The result is ownership not only of the toaster (the Java platform) but also of the dimensions of the toast (the Java APIs).

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