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03.24.19

Links 24/3/2019: Microsoft Does Not Change; Lots of FOSS Leftovers

Posted in News Roundup at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Has Microsoft Changed?

    Microsoft’s billion-dollar PR department would like everyone to know that they have shed their old ways and evolved into a hip and woke gentle giant, but have they really?

    There is currency in being viewed this way in the public eye and public relations department would like you to believe this about X company because of the trust it fosters. Further, it is also the job of any public relations team to distract us from such and many others that contradict said narrative. In PR and good ol’ fashion propaganda alike, such tactics are referred to as spin. And when a company such as Microsoft employs a former marine and Defense Information School alumni to spin their web, facilitate their social wetwork, and maintain dossiers on journalists (an act of intimidation), it may be wise to remain skeptical.

    As such and rather than focusing on the ambiguous notion of change popularized by zealous employees raving in unison with fan sites shilled by PC ads masquerading as media outlets, it may be wise to highlight a few mainstay behaviors that Microsoft of old has been notorious for and see if they are existent today instead. From there, we can decide for ourselves whether Microsoft is truly the woke, edgy and reformed tech company that their PR and marketing departments would love everyone to believe or if they’re the same law firm with a software problem that they’ve always been with some minor aesthetic changes.

    [...]

    It often goes overlooked, but legal departments can carry as much or more weight than the office of the CEO and this is certainly not an exception for a company founded by the son of a prominent attorney. However, it’s also overlooked how much lawyers generally suck at change; go work for a few law firms if you doubt this. That said and despite Microsoft’s hip new CEO, Brad Smith, one of the largest individual shareholders of Microsoft, has been working within their office of the general counsel since the ‘90s, was named their general counsel towards the conclusion of their embarrassing anti-trust case with the US, and is now their Chief Legal Officer. As a consequence of their legal victories and the billions in revenue made possible through Brad Smith’s leadership, it is almost irrational to think that Microsoft’s legal department has changed as they have no incentive to do this.

    When considering Brad Smith’s clear specialty in the realms of damage control and anti-competition, even approached by Facebook recently, it is difficult to say whether Microsoft has changed much or if they just have the best (dirtiest?) lawyer in the room. After all and just as you tend to stop having to call your traffic attorney as much when you slow down and stop speeding, Microsoft wouldn’t need the Jose Baez of anti-competition on their payroll if they weren’t up to the same antics that got them in trouble in the first place.

    As a result of this, Microsoft Licensing, still overseen by the aforementioned Brad Smith, is still a complex, ever-changing labyrinth that is streamlined to ensnare businesses and add cost at every interchange. Even Azure, the lynchpin of their future, is a licensing hellscape of sorts that appears to borrow heavily from these same practices.

    Although Microsoft claims to be an equal opportunity company that is in the court of women now, 99% of sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims made by highly educated and accomplished women with everything to lose have been found to be meritless and are snuffed out by their HR and employee relations investigations team (ERIT) which Brad Smith also oversees. For what it’s worth, Kathleen Hogan, VP of HR at Microsoft, would like you to know that only 10% of discrimination and 50% of harassment claims are found to be hogwash, which is still garbage.

    [...]

    Despite their layoffs, aesthetic changes, and acquisitions though, Microsoft still appears to be employing the same people that they always have, especially within their highest ranks. In turn, these same people appear to be employing the same sort of employee required to build the same core suite of products that necessitate the same partner distribution network, the same marketing ploys, the same lock-in nature, and the same legal clout that they have been dependent on for decades to make this all possible, leaving little else to be changed beyond the paint on the walls.

  • Server

    • Is open source lock-in possible? [Ed: Well, it is possible, but a lot cheaper to exit and a lot less likely, too]

      Earlier this week, open source software company SuSE announced that it is strengthening its presence in the Asia-Pacific region following its acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus.

      Well-known for its SuSE Linux distro that got me into Linux during my student years, SuSE is now Europe’s leading Linux distribution, thanks in part to its German roots, but faces strong competition from its bigger US rival Red Hat.

      The two open source software companies have similar offerings, starting with Linux for the infrastructure piece, to container orchestration and OpenStack in the platform layer. But unlike Red Hat, which has Red Hat Ansible under its fold, SuSE does not appear to have a commercial version of the Ansible open source automation tool.

    • SUSE contrasts proprietary VMware with its open-source offering

      Open source company SUSE has taken a pot-shot at cloud infrastructure and business mobility vendor VMware, contrasting the latter’s proprietary, closed-source offering with the OpenStack Cloud that it sells.

      A blog post by Ryan Hagen, consulting manager, Global SUSE Services, said that VMware owned the virtualisation market and had used its dominance “to proliferate into other parts of the data centre and create a very sticky situation that you have no way to escape”.

    • Here’s how CIOs can address server, open source bottlenecks while implementing AI

      Updated PowerAI toolkit for POWER9 is now available for the first time on Red Hat, including Tensorflow, Caffe, Torch, Theano, and more of the open source community’s most popular deep learning frameworks accessible with an intuitive GUI interface. This makes PowerAI the first commercially supported AI software offering for Red Hat.

    • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Sandboxed API

      This week’s highlighted open-source project aims to make it less burdensome to create sandboxes of C/C++ libraries.

      Google’s Sandboxed API (SAPI) was made open-source earlier this week. In addition, it also made its core sandboxing project, Sandbox2, available as part of the Sandboxed API.

      SAPI works by creating an almost-identical stub API after security policies are set up and library interfaces are created. The API forwards calls to the real library running in a sandboxed environment by using a custom RPC layer.

    • Safely play around with new software in Google’s open source Sandboxed API

      Software isolation isn’t a punishment; it’s a way to make sure your shiny new program that you picked up off of the internet plays nicely with your system and isn’t riddled with malware. Thanks to the newly open sourced Sandboxed API, developers can test out new options without putting their system at risk.

      Sandboxed API (SAPI) automatically generates sandboxes for C/C++ libraries. Security is not an afterthought with this project; each SAPI library utilizes a tightly defined security policy. While it’s only designed to handle part of a binary, the Sandboxed API can be used to try out a library or some other bit of code with an unknown security posture.

    • As Next ’19 approaches, Google confronts strategic challenges in the cloud

      Google has become one of the top-tier cloud vendors, with a key role in driving cloud-native open-source initiatives to ubiquitous adoption among enterprises and solution providers everywhere. It also remains a pacesetter in the core innovations behind cloud-native computing — especially in the Kubernetes container orchestration layer, the Istio mesh fabric and the Knative serverless abstraction layer.

    • TriggerMesh Releases Open Source Knative Event Sources for Multi-Cloud Environments

      TriggerMesh has released their latest open-source project, Knative Lambda Sources (KLASS). KLASS are event sources that can be used to trigger Knative functions in Kubernetes clusters. This enables AWS events to be consumed within a multi-cloud or on-premise environment. This release follows the release of Knative Lambda Runtimes which further enhance the TriggerMesh cloud platform.

      Knative Lambda Sources (KLASS, pronounced class) allow Knative event sources for AWS services. Written as Go event consumers and packaged as container sources which make use of CloudEvents. At the time of writing, KLASS supports events from Code Commit, Cognito, DDB, IOT, Kinesis, S3, SNS, and SQS.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux To Add Support For The MOTU 8Pre Digital Audio Workstation Hardware

      The MOTU 8Pre is a Firewire-connected device for digital audio workstations to be able to connect eight microphone inputs. The hardware itself is more than one decade old and in fact the manufacturer already discontinued the product, but with Linux 5.2 the kernel will be supporting this device.

      SUSE developer and Linux sound subsystem maintainer Takashi Sakamoto queued the support this week for supporting the MOTU 8Pre FireWire digital audio workstation device. Details on the support can be found via the enablement patch.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Kodi Foundation joins the Linux Foundation

        The Kodi Foundation has long been a supporter of open source software and today the developer announces that it has joined the Linux Foundation as an Associate Member.

        The Linux Foundation is a non-profit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and open source in general, and providing support for the open source community as well as sponsoring Linux creator Linus Torvalds, and maintaining the linux.com website.

      • The Kodi Foundation DOES NOT MAKE HARDWARE!

        Do you own a Kodi box? The open source home theater software runs on all manner of hardware, from Windows, Mac and Linux systems, to Kodi boxes and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

        All of the many devices running Kodi have one thing in common though — they aren’t official Kodi products, and they haven’t been made or licensed by the Kodi Foundation.

      • CommunityBridge gives better visibility into open source code [Ed: CommunityBridge gives Microsoft more control]

        “The Linux Foundation has done a fantastic job at bringing a diverse ecosystem on to one platform designed to mutualize resources,” said Eiso Kant, co-founder, and CEO of source{d}. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with the Open Source community and surface insights everyone needs to better manage, develop or contribute to their respective project codebases.”

        As a recent example, source{d} analyzed the Kubernetes project reporting that as it nears 2 million lines of code (including all languages and generated files), the 4-year-old open source project is showing many signs of maturity. The velocity of commits for the core Kubernetes project seemed to be slowing down as the community focus moves to infrastructure testing, cluster federation, Machine Learning, and HPC (High-Performance Computing) workloads management. With just under 16,000 methods, the Kubernetes API also seems to be stabilizing despite its high level of complexity.

      • DevOps Chat: The CD Foundation, with CloudBees’ Kohsuke Kawaguchi and Tracy Miranda

        The first projects to be hosted under the auspices of CD Foundation includes Jenkins, the open source CI/CD system, and Jenkins X, an open source CI/CD solution on Kubernetes. Both were developed by CloudBees. Netflix and Google, meanwhile, are contributing Spinnaker, an open source multi-cloud CD solution. Google is also adding Tekton, an open source project and specification for creating CI/CD components.

        Founding members of the CD Foundation include Alauda, Alibaba, Anchore, Armory, Autodesk, Capital One, CircleCI, CloudBees, DeployHub, GitLab, Google, Huawei, JFrog, Netflix, Puppet, Red Hat, SAP and Snyk.

        In this DevOps Chat we speak with Kohsuke Kawaguchi (aka KK), founder of Jenkins and CTO of Cloudbees, and Tracy Miranda, open source community director for CloudBees. They give us the insight behind the CD Foundation and what the future may be for Jenkins, JenkinsX and CloudBees.

      • The Continuous Delivery Foundation – what will it bring to DevOps?
      • Inside the new Continuous Delivery Foundation

        Does the world need yet another open source foundation? That is a question that was posed to the founding members of the CDF – the Continuous Delivery Foundation – which recently formed as an addition to the roster of sub-groups beneath the Linux Foundation.

        Skeptics might be brought over by the fact that Jenkins, Jenkins X, Netflix and Google’s Spinnaker and Google’s Tekton projects have all found themselves at the heart of the initiative, which is aimed at “developing, nurturing, and promoting open source projects, best practices and industry specifications” related to continuous delivery – in other words, speedy software cycles that are at the heart of the devops motto to ‘fail fast’.

      • Open Source Project Fosters Data Teamwork Best Practices
      • Mainframe DevOps Using Zowe Open Source

        This session will demonstrate how to use the Zowe open source framework to extend modern devops tooling and practices to the mainframe and to enhance the mainframe developer experience. A follow-up to the overview session, the hosts will drill into the Zowe architecture while demoing key capabilities including the command line interface (CLI) and API Mediation Layer.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

    • 6 Best Free Linux Desktop Search Engines

      Desktop search is a software application which searches the contents of computer files, rather than searching the internet. The purpose of this software is to enable the user to locate information on their computer. Typically, this data includes emails, chat logs, documents, contact lists, graphics files, as well as multimedia files including video and audio.

      Searching a hard disk can be painfully slow, especially bearing in mind the large storage capacities of modern hard disks. To ensure considerably better performance, desktop search engines build and maintain an index database. Populating this database is a system intensive activity. Consequently, desktop search engines will carry out indexing when the computer is not being used.

      One of the key benefits of this type of software is that it allows the user to locate data stored on their hard disk almost instantaneously. They are designed to be fast. They are not integrated with a different application, such as a file manager.

      Such software performs in a similar way to Windows Search and Spotlight in Mac OS X. All of the applications featured in this article are released under a freely distributable license

    • Roadmap for Teleirc v1.4

      Teleirc v1.4 is the next feature release of Teleirc. The targeted release date for v1.4 is by the end of April 2019 (i.e. the end of the academic semester for students involved with the project). Following v1.4, the project will likely enter brief hibernation until Fall 2019 when the RIT academic semester begins again.

    • Instructionals/Technical

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce’s Screensaver Is Now Faster & Smarter About Conserving Power/Resources

      Xfce Screensaver 0.1.4 has been released and provides some significant underlying improvements. While people generally don’t give much thought to screensavers in 2019, the new Xfce Screensaver release has finally added support for screen locking when the system goes to sleep (configurable option) and screensavers are now suspended when monitors are powered off via DPMS in order to conserve power, since it’s a waste of resources to be displaying the screensaver when there is no monitor to see said screensaver. The v0.1.4 release also has better laptop lid support and better handling of monitor connection events.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 63

        It’s time for week 63 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative. These things are getting so huge I’m going to have to start splitting them up into multiple posts, because KDE contributors just don’t stop fixing and improving things! Expect more to come soon, but for now, here’s what we’ve got for you…

      • KDE Picking Up Thumbnail Previews For Blender Files, Continued UI Improvements

        It’s Sunday and that means KDE developer Nate Graham is out with his (great) weekly recap of the interesting improvements made over the past week in KDE land.

        Some of the KDE improvements over the past week worth noting for KDE Applications 19.04 are Blender files now getting thumbnail previews and the Dolphin file manager can launched using the new Meta+E global keyboard shortcut.

      • Trying Out KDE Plasma 5.15
      • KDE Neon Installation Walkthrough
  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Zorin OS 15 Linux Beta Released for new desktop experience

        Zorin OS which is based on Ubuntu Linux and one of the best Linux alternative for Windows and MacOS operating systems has released its latest beta version with an overhaul in design. The Linux OS Zorin recently, on its blog revealed the features of the latest Zorin OSD 15 with a quite nice makeover.

        According to the blog of Zorin, the upcoming release has revamped the OS to give a new experience for apps installation and more user-friendly interface than before. The beta version runs on Gnome Shell 3.30 and the Linux kernel 4.1.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE acquisition by EQT complete, company repositions for growth

        Open source firm SUSE has completed the process of acquisition by its fourth owner — Swedish growth investor EQT — and says it would now be the largest independent open source company, a status that Red Hat once enjoyed until it was bought by IBM.

        In a statement, the company said it had expanded its executive team, added new leadership roles and experience to help stimulate growth.

      • Independent SUSE commits to open source community

        SUSE has announced the creation of the largest independent open source company following the completion of its acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus.
        With its ongoing momentum, portfolio expansion and successful execution in the marketplace, as a standalone business SUSE is now even better positioned to focus on the needs of customers and partners as a leading provider of enterprise-grade, open source software-defined infrastructure and application delivery solutions that enable customer workloads anywhere – on premise, hybrid and multi-cloud – with exceptional service, value and flexibility.

      • Growth investor EQT acquires SUSE; creates the largest independent open source company

        SUSE announced the creation of the largest independent open source company following the completion of SUSE’s acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus.

        The newly independent SUSE has expanded its executive team, adding new leadership roles and experience to foster its continued momentum into this next stage of corporate development. Enrica Angelone has been named to the new post of chief financial officer, and Sander Huyts is SUSE’s new chief operations officer. Thomas Di Giacomo, formerly chief technology officer for SUSE, is now president of Engineering, Product and Innovation. All three report to SUSE CEO Nils Brauckmann.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Updates – 7 Things To Know

            Ubuntu 19.04 is scheduled to arrive in another 30 days. I’ve been using it for the past week or so, and even as a pre-beta, the OS is pretty stable and not buggy at all. Here are a bunch of things you should know about the yet to be officially released Ubuntu 19.04.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • DARPA takes on election security with open source

    The defense research agency is exploring the feasibility of locking down election systems with open-source software and secure hardware.

  • DARPA to Develop $10 Million Open Source Voting System

    The US election might be different in 2020 thanks to a project by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the US Department of Defense research division, aiming at bullet-proofing voting machines by moving away from proprietary software that can’t be properly evaluated for bugs, writes Motherboard.

  • DARPA Begins Development of Secure, Open-Source e-Voting System

    In July 2016, a dozen professional hackers tied to the Russian government infiltrated the servers of the Democratic National Committee and released thousands of confidential emails via WikiLeaks.

    The ongoing FBI investigation revealed that hackers targeted voter registration systems in 20 states and successfully breached four databases.

    The audacious DNC hack was an attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election and hit the American democracy as a whole in its heart.

    This unprecedented cyber attack showed just how vulnerable the American election system is and how urgent is the need for an overhaul.

  • DARPA is Developing a Secure Open Source Voting System

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is building an open source secured voting system worth $10 Million.

  • DARPA Researching How to Secure Our Voting Machines

    Importantly, they’re taking a different approach than other cybersecurity providers who try to thwart hacks with software patches. DARPA instead is looking at how the machine’s hardware—like circuits, buses, and I/O ports—could be harnessed and reconfigured to thwart intruders.

    This has real potential since in most cases. If there is a hardware solution to hackers trying to penetrate a system, there isn’t much a hacker can do without being present to physically interact with the machine—at least theoretically. Since software drives hardware, there will still be vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit, but DARPA seems to have a solution for this too.

  • DARPA is working on an open source, secure e-voting system

    The US Government is working on an electronic voting system that it hopes will prevent people tinkering with voting machines at the polls.

  • Jack Dorsey: Square Will Pay Bitcoin Devs To Build Open-Source Ecosystem

    In a move which underscored the tech mogul’s appreciation of both cryptocurrency and freely accessible innovation, Dorsey said he will hire “3-4 crypto engineers and 1 designer” to contribute to crypto full time – and pay them in BTC.

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Launches Open-Source Bitcoin Dev Team

    On March 20th, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter & Square, announced that $32 billion payments company Square is planning on hiring up to five individuals to develop “open source contributions to the Bitcoin and crypto ecosystem.”

    Up to four of the possible open positions are for engineers–particularly those who have prior experience in building blockchains. One of the positions is for a designer. Each of the positions is full-time, and the new hires will either work at Square’s San Francisco headquarters or remotely. And hey, they can even be paid in Bitcoin.

  • Improving Bitcoin: Jack Dorsey Announces Open-Source Initiative Square Crypto

    Jack Dorsey—the CEO of Twitter and Square, announced “Square Crypto”—a team Dorsey is assembling to work full-time on improving the Bitcoin…

  • Open source toolkit eases reinforcement learning for robots

    The company describes gym-gazebo2 as a complex piece of software for roboticists that puts together simulation tools, robot middlewares (ROS, ROS 2), machine learning and reinforcement learning techniques. All together to create an environment where to benchmark and develop behaviors with robots. Setting up gym-gazebo2 appropriately requires relevant familiarity with these tools.

  • China Unicom’s big bet on open source

    Driven in part by the advent of new 5G technologies, many of the world’s largest telecommunications providers—AT&T, BT, CenturyLink, Telefonica, and more—have gone public with their plans to migrate to a microservices architecture running in a cloud to handle the massive jump in data they anticipate. Even at this pace, they still trail the hyperscale cloud service providers like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and Facebook who pioneered the initial adoption of container software in their data centers.

    While these other telcos are lagging, China Unicom is not—in fact, the leading Chinese telco is already there. Even more interestingly, open source software is helping China Unicom lead the way to expand services and improve performance for its more than 320 million subscribers.

  • Engineering Nexus’ Fourth Meetup : Open source and beyond – building smarter QE platforms

    This initiative, which was kick-started with the hope of bringing the local tech industry together to share knowledge and develop Sri Lanka’s engineering practice, focuses on a different area of engineering at each Nexus.

    This time around, the meetup will revolve around harnessing open source technologies to surpass standard QE practices and build more innovative, effective and cost-efficient platforms. There will be three speakers from different firms in the local IT industry who specialize in varying technical areas, discussing topics under this collective theme.

  • Engineering Nexus’ fourth meetup: Open Source and Beyond Building Smarter QE Platforms
  • Complex needs of comms and cloud infra drive open source activity

    There was ‘open’ of course – a common design, like ARM’s or MIPS’ processor cores, which could be licensed by anyone, by contrast with Intel’s rarely-shared x86. But now, emerging network hardware platforms, including white boxes, lend themselves to an extension of that openness, reaching even into full open source communities.

  • Events

    • Percona Reveals Full Conference Session Schedule for Percona Live Open Source Database Conference 2019
    • SUSE and Partners to Showcase Open Source Business Technologies that Transform at SUSECON in Nashville

      SUSE® today announced sponsors, keynotes and breakout session details for its upcoming SUSECON 2019 global end-user conference, to be held April 1-5 in Nashville, Tennessee. With its theme “My kind of open,” SUSECON showcases SUSE’s dedication to collaboration and choice for partners, customers and community members. That openness shows in the latest software-defined infrastructure and application delivery solutions that are flexible enough to be deployed anywhere and are fueling digital transformation and business growth.

    • LibrePlanet Day 1: Trailblazing free software together

      On day one of LibrePlanet 2019, we welcomed 264 attendees to the Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Techology (MIT). The LibrePlanet conference has now entered its second decade, and as software infiltrates more and more of daily life, there are many new and important ethical, social, legal, and technological questions to answer. Today’s sessions examined the theme of “Trailblazing Free Software” from many different angles, addressing how we can apply the practical advantages of free software while maintaining and defending the indispensable principles behind it.

      LibrePlanet 2019 kicked off on Saturday, March 23rd with a moving, urgent keynote by Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician who splits his time between Canada and the Gaza Strip, focusing on the production and proliferation of free medical devices. Loubani’s work involves gaining self-sufficiency and local independence for medical systems through the use of free techniques.

      Dr. Loubani described his journey from seeing change as the work of superheroes to a point of understanding change as built by millions of “tiny ants,” working collaboratively to improve how we live. Beginning with stethoscopes, Dr. Loubani and other determined medical professionals and designers created free designs to 3D print cheap but high-quality medical devices, which can save lives in Gaza and other war-torn regions around the world. While many of the stories he told were tragic, Dr. Loubani’s talk ended on a hopeful note, celebrating the dignity and ingenuity of the Palestinian people, and connecting it to the vibrancy and importance of the free software movement.

  • Web Browsers

    • 10 Best lightweight browsers for Linux or Ubuntu

      Web Browsers, the day when they started making our lives easier by allowing us to crawl the internet to today’s world; they have been gone through numerous technological advancements. Browsers are quite advance to handle high-end graphics, online videos, apps and more without the help of third-party software. But this also has made them heavy in terms of consuming hardware resources, means more RAM and storage space. Such kind of browsers works well on good system configuration machines, however, Linux operating systems those are running on old PC or laptops or low configuration systems require light browsers with a minimal approach to work fast.

      Mainstream browser or shall I say the dominated one: Google Chrome that Linux users refrain themselves from instaling it on their machines is rather resourced consuming browser. This is the main reason why most of the Linux OS like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Centos and more come with Firefox Mozilla but somewhere it still not that much lightweight as we need it to be. So, I have done some research and gathered some lightweight Linux browsers.

    • Chrome

  • SaaS/Back End

    • DataWorks Summit 2019: Cloudera allays post-merger fears with ‘100% open-source’ commitment

      The ‘new’ Cloudera has committed to becoming a fully open-source company, having followed an open-core model prior to its $5.2 billion merger with former rival Hortonworks.

      All 32 of the current open source projects found between both Hortonworks and Cloudera’s legacy platforms will remain available as cloud-based services on its new jointly-developed Cloudera Data Platform (CDP).

    • Q&A: Cloudera’s Fight Back Begins in 3, 2, 1… [Q&A: Cloudera CMO Mick Hollison on Cloud Rivals, Open Source Licencing and More...]

      Post-merger your companies are providing over 30 open source-based products and keeping both Hortonworks and Cloudera iterations of tools. Are you focussed enough?

      It’s certainly a very valid question. I think it’s more focused than it’s ever been. This whole galvanising concept of an enterprise data cloud is really pulling it all together.

      Once all of the open source components are delivered as cloud-based services, you quit worrying so much about which open source project you picked; you let the customers make those decisions. And honestly even for them it’s delivered as a service.

      They just know that it’s a service that provides them with a data warehousing capability a service that provides them with a data engineering or data pipeline capability.

  • Databases

    • Greenplum 6 ventures outside the analytic box

      It’s about six months early, but Pivotal is talking about Greenplum version 6. It’s a milestone release, as v6 is the one that will finally put the Greenplum database in full sync with the open source PostgreSQL trunk. And in turn, that has freed the development team to spread its wings to cover ground outside Greenplum’s traditional MPP analytics footprint. At the Postgres Conference in New York this week, the company provided a peek into the roadmap for the next version that is currently scheduled for September release.

  • Net/CMS

    • Top 5 decentralized social networks

      Diaspora: It’s been around for awhile and has more than a million users. Servers are independently run, and users own their data.
      Minds: This open source network has more than two million users and prides itself on a lack of censorship. The network focuses on news feeds, blogs, groups, and general discovery features. It uses peer-to-peer advertising and allows you to monetize your content.
      Mastodon: Probably the most familiar and most similar to Twitter, it operates on open source servers and has a 500 character limit. It uses anti-abuse tools, and moderators may step in quick.
      Sola: You don’t follow anyone with this network. AI and user reaction spread information, trying to match quality content with people who would be interested in it. Any user can host a Sola node. It prides itself on being immune to blocking and censorship. Sola splits money it makes from ads, user payments, and partnerships with all of its users.
      Manyverse: This one stores data on user devices instead of servers and syncs using a platform called Scuttlebutt—this makes it usable offline. Data can even be synced directly between devices over Bluetooth.

    • How open source is making the move to Web 3.0 easier

      When HTTP first launched, it revolutionized how we interacted with the web.

      But the technology has not been able to keep up with the increasing data demands of advancements in AI, the rise of IoT and all the technologies that have allowed the tech sector to boom. With more data being packaged, processed and stored on the web than ever before, the drawbacks of HTTP have become abundantly clear.

      Web 3.0 represents a paradigm shift in the way users interact with, transport and store data in a truly decentralized manner. Answering the call for improved security protocols, especially for personal data, is one of the highest priorities for Web 3.0. By putting data protections back into the hands of the user, individuals will have more control over the data they produce – and how businesses can access and use that data.

    • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® CloudMonkey® v6.0
    • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache® Unomi™ as a Top-Level Project

      Powerful Open Source Customer Data Platform in use at Al-Monitor, Altola, Jahia, and Yupiik, among others.

    • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache Unomi as a Top-Level Project
    • Apache Unomi Could Prove a Major Customer Data Platform Disruptor

      Does your business need a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to store customer insights, such as behavioural data, or handle visitor profile management?

      Typically enterprises needing this kind of resource have had to pay for closed source proprietary software – open source alternatives are not thick on the ground.

      That means a: paying for a subscription; b: little configuration flexibility and c: few, if any, commercial CDPs offer integrators the genuine ability to build in a user interface for customers that lets them manage privacy, in a world in which that is becoming both a customer concern and regulatory priority apropos GDPR.

    • eLife Unveils Open Source Platform for Submissions and Peer Review

      eLife joined forces with the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation (Coko) for the first release of Libero Reviewer, an open source submission and peer-review platform that supports eLife’s editorial process. Other organizations can use the components of this solution as is or adapt them to meet their requirements.

  • Healthcare

    • NYU open-sources breast cancer screening model trained on over 200,000 mammography exams

      Breast cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death among women in the U.S. It’s estimated that in 2015, 232,000 women were diagnosed with the disease and approximately 40,000 died from it. And while diagnostic exams like mammography have come into wide practice — in 2014, over 39 million breast cancer screenings were performed in the U.S. alone — they’re not always reliable. About 10 to 15 percent of women who undergo a mammogram are asked to return following an inconclusive analysis.

      That’s why researchers at New York University are investigating an AI-driven technique that promises much higher precision than today’s tests. In a newly published paper on Arxiv.org (“Deep Neural Networks Improve Radiologists’ Performance in Breast Cancer Screening“), they describe a deep convolutional neural network — a class of machine learning algorithm commonly used in image classification — that notches an area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 0.895 in predicting the presence of a cancerous breast tumor. Moreover, they claim that when averaged with the probability of malignancy predicted by a radiologist from the AI system’s results, the AUC is higher than either method achieves separately.

      [...]

      The team began by sourcing a data set comprising 229,426 digital screening mammography exams (1,001,093 images) from 141,473 patients, each of which contained at least four images corresponding to the four views typically used in mammography screenings (right craniocaudal, left craniocaudal, right mediolateral oblique, and left mediolateral oblique). They extracted labels from 5,832 exams with at least one biopsy performed within 120 days of the screening mammogram, and then recruited a team of radiologists — all of whom were provided supporting pathology reports — to indicate where the biopsies were taken “at the pixel level.”

    • Will this new openness to open source heed past lessons?

      NHSX has listed open source as one of its priorities. For Ewan Davis, there is a keen sense of déjà vu – and a desperate desire for the many lessons of the past to be heeded.

      Open source seems to be back on the NHS agenda, courtesy of NHSX. The body lists one of its responsibilities as: “Making sure that all source code is open by default so that anyone who wants to write code for the NHS can see what we need.”

      As a new organisation NHSX has no corporate memory and so I thought it might be helpful to share my observations on what happened last time the NHS got excited about open source.

      It started when Tim Kelsey (peace be upon him) – then NHS England national director for patients and information – went on a trip to the USA. He saw the open source EHR VistA operating in the US Veterans Administration, decided it would be good for the NHS, and wrote it into Tech Fund 1 like Brighton through a stick of rock.

      I got involved, working for NHS England with guys from World VistA and OSERA to establish what would be needed to localise VistA for the NHS. We came up with a plan but the cost was more than NHS England was willing to pay. NHS VistA was doomed.

      Our work did lead to the creation of an open source programme within NHS England, though, which rapidly absorbed and refactored Tim’s next idea: Code4Health.

    • Visikol Releases Open Source 3Screen™ Python Library for Training Convolutional Neural Networks for Use in Digital Pathology

      Over the last two years, Visikol has leveraged its internal 3Screen™ image analysis software to provide its pharmaceutical Clients with unprecedented insights from their tissues. As a leader in the image analysis space, Visikol not only provides best-in-class services to its Clients, but also periodically makes useful 3Screen™ tools available to the academic community. To help the academic community with more easily adopting neural networks in image analysis, Visikol is launching a Python library to assist with training.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Google Launches “Season of Docs” Program to Improve Open Source Documentation

      Google has launched Season of Docs, a program which aims to improve documentation for open source projects. It will do this by building a mentoring relationship between open source contributors and technical writers, helping to create stronger and more comprehensive documentation for various open source technologies.

      The motivation for Season of Docs comes from the Open Source Survey, which demonstrated that good documentation is lacking for many open source projects. Google believes that this is because the creation of documentation is hard, and so in turn have created this program to improve it.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • OpenStreetMap and Deborah Nicholson win 2019 FSF Awards

      This year the FSF awarded OpenStreetMap and the award was accepted by Kate Chapman, chairperson of the OpenStreetMap Foundation and co-founder of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).

      OpenStreetMap is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Founded by Steve Coast in the UK in 2004, OpenStreetMap is built by a community of over one million community members and has found its application on thousands of Web sites, mobile apps, and hardware devices. OpenStreetMap is the only truly global service without restrictions on use or availability of map information.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Amazon Ups Its Game On Open Source, Elastic Shares Down By 5%

      After the year of ups and downs with its relationship with Elastic, AWS has launched its independent library of open source-code known as Open Distro.

    • With its Elasticsearch distribution, Amazon Web Services sends more shockwaves through open-source software

      Nobody really knows what lies ahead for the future of open-source software as cloud computing becomes the dominant force in enterprise tech, but the times are definitely changing.

      Just about anything that Amazon Web Services does has massive ripple effects throughout this world, and last week’s decision to release its own open-source version of Elasticsearch, a popular engine for searching and analyzing internal company data maintained by newly public company Elastic, was no exception. AWS open-source czar Adrian Cockcroft was careful to describe the Open Distro for Elasticsearch as a distribution, rather than a fork, but the move underscores a fundamental conflict between companies based around open-source projects and the growing popularity of cloud service providers.

    • Debunking the open source sustainability myth [Ed: Mac Asay siding with the exploitation and the closing of code (former employer)]

      Open source vendors are draping themselves in the flag of “sustainability” to try to garner support against AWS—it’s not working. Here’s why open source sustainability is fake news.

    • Open source a silent killer? CAST talks about their new alliance with Software Heritage [Ed: That typical pretense that proprietary software does not have security issues (it has back doors too) and proprietary licensing is somehow "safe" and "predictable" (the opposite is true). FUD by omission.]

      Combine IP lawsuits with the aforementioned security concerns and organisations could really have a problem on their hands, which is why the market for software composition analysis (SCA) tools is picking up a bit of steam. SCA tools aim to provide a ‘diagnostic’ view of the all the OSS components that exist within a business and determine whether or not there is a vulnerability or particular licencing requirement to consider. CAST is one of these vendors, and they’ve just announced a new alliance with source code archival not-for-profit Software Heritage, with the aim of taking SCA one step further.

      Essentially CAST is working with Software Heritage, who oversee the world’s largest open archive of software source code, to develop a ‘provenance index’ which allows users to trawl through Software Heritage’s archive using CAST’s Highlight SCA software to identify the original occurrence of any given source file, and all of its subsequent occurrences. CAST says this will allow users to assess any third-party source code within Software Heritage’s library of five billion plus known source code files, weeding out and vulnerabilities and licencing risks they present.

    • Types of open source software and Licenses

      Free and Open source software (FOSS) is a very popular term in the world of software because their license distribution terms.

      There are many open source software in the market. Many people may think that the most obvious feature of open source software is free, but it is not the case. They widely recognize because the availability of source code of the open source software available for anyone to modify.

      It means any developer or community can change the software to improve, adds features, fixing of bugs, distribution under own branding and more. However, the open source system also has copyright, which is also protected by law.

      While using/distribution of open source projects for some commercial or personal use, the users should not only indicate the products are from open source software and the name of the source code writer but also submit the modified products to open source software community, otherwise the modified products can be regarded as an infringement. The indifference of copyright awareness is the biggest obstacle to the development of open source.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open-source solution: Researchers 3D-print system for optical cardiography
    • Open-source solution for multiparametric optical mapping of the heart’s electrical activity

      An international research team from the George Washington University, U.S., and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia, has developed an open-source solution for multiparametric optical mapping of the heart’s electrical activity. The technique involves monitoring multiple parameters at once — for example, both electrical excitation and the changes in the intracellular calcium concentration. This technique is a useful tool for enhancing our understanding of the mechanisms behind cardiac arrhythmias. The 3D models of the mapping system components and the source code for data analysis are openly available, enabling other research groups to benefit from the new solution. The study was published in Scientific Reports.

    • Open-source solution: Researchers 3D-print system for optical cardiography
    • Eight Sectors That Could Benefit From Open Source Programs [Ed: A push to distance "open source" away from actual code?]

      Members of Forbes Technology Council explain the pros of open source software and which business types could benefit most from it.

    • Open Source Fisheries yields good results in coastal districts

      The need now is to foster a shift to more sustainable resources of food such as inland culture fisheries. As many as 184 integrated farming demonstrations, which covers fish, vegetables and poultry have been piloted and 100 low-cost, locally made cages have been installed across the four districts, said Programme Manager OSF Karthik Ramesh said.

    • Dimitri Komatitsch (1970–2019)

      Dimitri Komatitsch had a profound impact on computational seismology and embodied the notion of open-source, collaborative research.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Cost Sensitivity Analysis Performed for 3D Printed, Open Source Infant Clubfoot Brace

        Congential talipes equinovarus (CTEV), perhaps better known as clubfoot, is one of the most common congenital physical deformities, as it occurs at least once every 1,000 births. In countries like the US, CTEV is diagnosed at birth and treated while the patient is still a young child, using a method of weekly manipulation and casting, followed by an Achilles tenotomy. Then a foot abduction orthosis (FAO) is worn until the patient is about four years old so that the deformity will not reoccur. Unfortunately, these types of treatment options are not as readily available, or affordable, in developing countries like East Africa, where clubfoot can occur up to eight times every 1,000 births.

  • Programming/Development

    • 6 Best IDEs For C and C++ Programming Language

      Ability to understand and write code is something that makes a computer science graduate a programmer or developer. Majority of institutes start their curriculum with C programming language and then move to C++. Though C++ is also derived from C and offers object-oriented programming features, if you are not using a good IDE, you will probably have a hard time while coding.

      An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) helps a programmer a lot by providing all comprehensive facilities required for the development. It also improves the productivity of a developer with its useful tools, autocompletes capabilities and hundreds of shortcuts. Today, I will share some best IDEs for C and C++ developers that will not only make things easy but also make them accomplish more tasks in lesser time.

    • Fix errors with the python errors encyclopedia.
    • Using Tornado – first steps…
    • Python Dictionaries: Cheat Sheet
    • Deconstructing xkcd.com/1987/

      To me, the point of this xkcd comic is for Randall to be self-deprecating and point out how he let the Python situation on his computer get out of hand. Unfortunately people don’t always pick up on this and instead decide to point at this picture and say, “see, Python is messed up!” But if you take the time to really look at the comic you will notice that pretty much none if it is directly Python’s own fault (not knowing what pip is pointing at is pretty much the only thing you could point at and say is still the Python community’s fault).

    • Wing Python IDE 7.0 Release Candidate 1

      The first release candidate of Wing Python IDE version 7 is now available through our Early Access Program.

      This release improves the array and data frame viewer, solves several issues in Python code intelligence, fixes VI mode jj and jk, fixes whole file PEP8 reformatting, and makes about 12 other improvements.

    • Microsoft’s TypeScript programming language rising fast, almost makes top 10 [Ed: According to a Microsoft site (“RedMonk uses code repositories hosted on GitHub”), Microsoft is on the rise. Lousy research. Delete GitHub as it helps Microsoft craft propaganda. This kind of thing has been done for years. Anti-GPL FUD, claims that Microsoft is top contributor to FOSS and so on. As if GitHub is the same thing as FOSS. GitHub itself is proprietary. RedMonk itself lists Microsoft as a client. The author of this article habitually bashes Linux (for years) and the site is Microsoft-sponsored (through ads). Fernando Cassia said: “If shell and powershell are “programming languages” I’m an astronaut. It’s hard to take any analysis based on raw github categories too seriously. I’m not sure JVM languages with a non-JVM counterpart are counted for instance. Is jruby counted in the same category as Ruby?”]

      RedMonk uses code repositories hosted on GitHub and discussions on Stack Overflow to rank programming languages.

    • How I learned Machine Learning

      The whole world is being computerised. When I started learning Python Programming, I figured out some introduction of Machine Learning. And when I listened one statement I got very interest. The statement was, “Machine Learning is a technology of programming in which If a machine is made it can learn to play football. It will get trained itself. ” I was totally amazed by this sentence. And I also thought of learning Machine Learning.

    • List, Set and Dictionary Comprehensions in Python

      In this post, we will discuss the three Python comprehensions, i.e., list, set and dictionary comprehensions, with examples.

    • Endlessh: an SSH Tarpit

      This program opens a socket and pretends to be an SSH server. However, it actually just ties up SSH clients with false promises indefinitely — or at least until the client eventually gives up. After cloning the repository, here’s how you can try it out for yourself (default port 2222):

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Cruise Ship in Trouble; 1,300 Passengers Being Evacuated by Helicopter

    A cruise ship with engine problems sent a mayday call off Norway’s western coast on Saturday, then began evacuating its 1,300 passengers and crew amid stormy seas and heavy winds in a high-risk helicopter rescue operation.

    The Norwegian newspaper VG said the Viking Sky cruise ship ran into propulsion problems as bad weather hit Norway’s coastal regions on Saturday and started drifting toward land. Police in the western county of Moere og Romsdal said the ship’s captain, fearing his vessel would run aground, managed to anchor in Hustadsvika Bay, between the western Norwegian cities of Alesund and Trondheim, so the evacuations could take place.

    Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances.

  • Science

    • You can help “rescue” weather data from the 1860s

      The Weather Rescue project uses volunteers—a group you could join by visiting the website—to read the scanned paper records of the daily measurements from the network Fitzroy created, which span a century. The data has scientific value beyond historical curiosity.

    • The Very Mathematical History of a Perfect Color Combination

      It turns out I’m not alone. I’m not a coder by trade, but I like to use code editors for writing and organizing notes. While hunting for tools after switching from a Mac to Windows, I started to see Solarized Dark and its sibling Solarized Light, which uses the same 16-color palette, practically everywhere I looked. It’s hard to say how many programmers use it. The design is free and open source, so there’s no tally of purchases. It’s available for every major code editor and many other programming tools. Microsoft even bundled it with its popular code editor VS Code. Solarized has a loyal following.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Colorado wants to import prescription drugs from Canada. How it could work, and why it may not.

      Colorado is trying to become one of the first states in the nation to import prescription drugs from Canada, a bid to give consumers relief from soaring pharmaceutical costs.

      A bill making its way through the General Assembly with the support of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis would create a program to start importation by 2022. But hurdles abound. Federal approval is required, and in the 16 years since Congress authorized the practice in 2003, no state has ever obtained that permission.

      But that may change as a growing number of states are pressuring federal regulators. In Vermont, the legislature last year approved creating an importation program. And President Donald Trump supports doing so in at least some situations, suggesting a path forward on a practice that has long been opposed by federal administrations on both sides of the aisle.

    • Tens of Thousands of Heart Patients May Not Need Open-Heart Surgery

      Replacement of the aortic valve with a minimally invasive procedure called TAVR proved effective in younger, healthier patients.

    • Judge stays Kentucky’s fetal heartbeat bill, keeping the state’s lone abortion clinic open — for now

      A federal judge temporarily blocked a Kentucky law that would effectively ban abortions in the state on Friday — the latest battle site in the right’s campaign to bring legislation to the Supreme Court that could challenge Roe v. Wade.

  • Security

    • Webauthn in Linux with a TPM via the HID gadget

      Account security on the modern web is a bit of a nightmare. Everyone understands the need for strong passwords which are different for each account, but managing them is problematic because the human mind just can’t remember hundreds of complete gibberish words so everyone uses a password manager (which, lets admit it, for a lot of people is to write it down). A solution to this problem has long been something called two factor authentication (2FA) which authenticates you by something you know (like a password) and something you posses (like a TPM or a USB token). The problem has always been that you ideally need a different 2FA for each website, so that a compromise of one website doesn’t lead to the compromise of all your accounts.

      Enter webauthn. This is designed as a 2FA protocol that uses public key cryptography instead of shared secrets and also uses a different public/private key pair for each website. Thus aspiring to be a passwordless secure scalable 2FA system for the web. However, the webauthn standard only specifies how the protocol works when the browser communicates with the remote website, there’s a different standard called FIDO or U2F that specifies how the browser communicates with the second factor (called an authenticator in FIDO speak) and how that second factor works.

      It turns out that the FIDO standards do specify a TPM as one possible backend, so what, you might ask does this have to do with the Linux Gadget subsystem? The answer, it turns out, is that although the standards do recommend a TPM as the second factor, they don’t specify how to connect to one. The only connection protocols in the Client To Authenticator Protocol (CTAP) specifications are USB, BLE and NFC. And, in fact, the only one that’s really widely implemented in browsers is USB, so if you want to connect your laptop’s TPM to a browser it’s going to have to go over USB meaning you need a Linux USB gadget. Conspiracy theorists will obviously notice that if the main current connector is USB and FIDO requires new USB tokens because it’s a new standard then webauthn is a boon to token manufacturers.

    • Netgate® Advances TNSR™ Open Source Secure Networking with Release 19.02
    • Using an OpenBSD Router with AT&T U-Verse

      I upgraded to AT&T’s U-verse Gigabit internet service in 2017 and it came with an Arris BGW-210 as the WiFi AP and router. The BGW-210 is not a terrible device, but I already had my own Airport Extreme APs wired throughout my house and an OpenBSD router configured with various things, so I had no use for this device. It’s also a potentially-insecure device that I can’t upgrade or fully disable remote control over.

      Fully removing the BGW-210 is not possible as we’ll see later, but it is possible to remove it from the routing path. This is how I did it with OpenBSD.

    • Report: EU to reject ban on Huawei [iophk: "for a minuscule fraction of the price, the countries could add wireless to openbsd and have done with the question permanently"]

      Citing four unnamed sources familiar with the decision, the outlet reported that Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s digital chief, will present his recommendation next week.

      The proposal will reportedly advise member states to adopt the EU’s cybersecurity guidelines to coordinate and share information on their wireless networks.

      According to Reuters, the plan would be to allow countries to decide for themselves whether to ban Huawei.

    • Exclusive: EU to drop threat of Huawei ban but wants 5G risks monitored – sources

      European digital chief Andrus Ansip will present the recommendation on Tuesday. While the guidance does not have legal force, it will carry political weight which can eventually lead to national legislation in European Union countries.

    • Cybercriminals target the UK police force with ransomware [iophk: "Windows endangers whole countries, divest from proprietary software now; however, using Twitter in place of a public form of communication is stupid and probably illegal."]

      The organisation represents 119,000 police officers across England and Wales, and revealed it had been hit by ransomware in a statement on Twitter, complete with the thoroughly uncatchy #PFEWCyberAttack hashtag. The attack was reported on March 11, within the three days required under European law.

    • ‘Critical’ Denial-of-Service Bug Patched in Facebook Fizz

      A critical denial-of-service (DoS) vulnerability was found in Facebook Fizz, the social media giant’s open source implementation of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, Semmle reports.

    • Facebook patches denial-of-service flaw in its open-source Fizz TLS implementation

      Facebook last month patched a critical denial-of-service vulnerability in Fizz, its open-source implementation for Transport Layer Security protocol TLS 1.3, researchers have reported.

      Unauthenticated remote attackers could exploit the flaw to create an “infinite loop,” causing the web service to be unavailable for other users and thus disrupting service, according to a March 19 blog post from Semmle, whose researcher Kevin Backhouse uncovered the issue.

      And because Facebook made Fizz’s source code available for public use last August, other web services can potentially be attacked this way as well if they fail to apply secure updates.

    • NSA Opts for Open-Source Sleuthing of Cyber Threats

      Cyber security is taking an open-source step forward with the National Security Agency’s release of tools designed to reverse-engineer malware that holds people and companies hostage when their systems become infected.

      Unveiled at the recent RSA security conference in San Francisco, the NSA’s Ghidra application for disassembling machine-instruction code covers a spectrum of operating systems and chip architectures for data centers and devices alike. By making the tool an open source kit, the Defense Department’s top secret data intelligence agency is enlisting private developers to help it fight cyber crime.

    • Coalfire Labs Develops Open Source Password Cracking Tool

      Coalfire, a trusted provider of cybersecurity advisory and assessment services, announced today that the Coalfire Labs Research and Development (R&D) team released NPK, an open source tool that provides unprecedented password cracking capabilities to break the security surrounding hashed passwords.

      The distributed hash-cracking platform is built entirely of serverless components in Amazon Web Services (AWS) including Cognito, DynamoDB, and S3. It leverages the exceptionally powerful GPU instances in AWS to bring staggering hash cracking performance to a price tier in reach of a weekend tinkerer. It was designed for easy deployment and flexible usage.

    • Nitrokey Fido U2F Review & Rating

      The Nitrokey Fido U2F security key delivers two-factor authentication for the most popular sites on the web, and does so with impressive open-source bona fides.

    • Mozilla Releases Firefox 66.0.1 to Patch Two Critical Security Vulnerabilities

      Mozilla released the first point release to its latest Firefox 66 web browser to address two critical security vulnerabilities exposed during the Pwn2Own hacking contest event.
      Firefox 66.0.1 is now available, just a few days after the release of Firefox 66.0 earlier this week, to patch CVE-2019-9810 and CVE-2019-9813, two security vulnerabilities reported by Richard Zhu, Amat Cama, and Niklas Baumstark via Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative.

      According to the security advisory published by Mozilla on March 22nd, CVE-2019-9810 describes a buffer overflow issue and missing bounds check flaw in the Firefox 66.0 release due to incorrect alias information in the IonMonkey JIT compiler for the Array.prototype.slice method

    • Ways to safeguard your privacy on the Net
    • Over 100,000 GitHub repos have leaked API or cryptographic keys
    • What Is Network Security? Types of Network Security – EC-Council Official Blog

      Over the past decade, the world has become more interconnected, with the advancement of new networking technologies. Similarly, our dependency on the Internet has reached an unimaginable level. A huge amount of personal, commercial, and confidential data is stored on either private or openly accessible networks. The significance of this intellectual data reflects the importance of network security in our lives. The probable threats to this data are sometimes not easy to detect or prevent. Conversely, the victims face a tough time in terms of time spent to recover the compromised data and money lost due to financial theft.

    • An Android Vulnerability Went Unfixed for Over Five Years
    • Meet the new generation of white hats

      The people who contribute and help maintain open source projects are pretty passionate about being proactive members of the community. They believe in helping to make the projects better and stronger for others to use. These discoveries have wide-reaching effects since open source projects easily find their way into large commercial products that depend on open source projects to help solve problems and add features that in-house developers would have to otherwise write themselves.

      Getting involved in finding vulnerabilities in open source projects can also be a great way for new researchers who are hoping to enter the security field can enhance their resume, which in turn will help them in the job hunt down the line.

    • 5 essential router security settings you need to check now

      The bad news: most people don’t give a second thought to their routers. This lack of know-how puts a lot of households in a dangerous position. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has issued an alert about Russian state-supported hackers carrying out attacks against a large number of home routers in the U.S.

    • Thousands of security flaws found on UK government websites

      Of the 3220 domain names registered under the .gov.uk domain ending – encompassing everything from central government departments to local and district councils – 524 have unpatched vulnerabilities. In total, the 524 insecure websites, including the National Archives, the Scottish prosecution service and the Health and Safety Executive, have about 7200 vulnerabilities between them.

    • [Windows] Ransomware Forces Two Chemical Companies to Order ‘Hundreds of New Computers’ [iophk: "those who signed off on deploying Windows in a production environment need to be brought to justice;"]

      On the day of the attack, some of the companies’ Windows computers were hit with a blue screen error and their files encrypted, said the current employee, who asked to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to speak to the press.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • American History for Truthdiggers: A Cruel, Costly and Anxious ‘Cold’ War

      Nothing is inevitable. Not war, not peace. Those writers and politicians who tell readers or constituents otherwise are selling snake oil. So it is, oftentimes, with proclamations about the Cold War. Americans have been taught, programmed even, to believe that a permanently bellicose nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union was inescapable—such was the diabolical nature of global communism. There were no alternatives, we have been told, to a firm military response to Soviet aggression in the wake of World War II. This myth of inevitability served, and serves, a vital purpose. That purpose is to explain the seemingly unexplainable: how Soviet Russia, America’s valued ally in World War II, so quickly transformed, almost overnight, into a national boogeyman. You’re not supposed to ask tough questions or draw nuanced conclusions; to wit: Weren’t the U.S. and the Soviet Union ideological enemies long before they were allies (of convenience)? And, couldn’t different American policies have assuaged Soviet fears and lessened the atmosphere of tense standoff after 1945? To answer yes to either, of course, is to commit national heresy, but honest history demands that the scholar and student do exactly that.

    • Pilots trained for Boeing’s 737 Max airplane with “an iPad lesson for an hour”

      US pilots got an extra hour or two of training to prepare to use Boeing’s new 737 Max 8 aircraft, which has been involved in two deadly crashes in less than six months.

      The first crash involved a Lion Air flight in Indonesia that plunged into the sea soon after takeoff in October last year, killing all 189 on board. A week ago, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed six minutes after taking off, killing 157 people. After the second crash, China grounded the aircraft, and was quickly followed by other nations. The US Federal Aviation Administration initially allowed airlines in the US to keep flying the plane, but on Wednesday (March 13) grounded both the Max 8 and Max 9 models, citing refined satellite data and “physical evidence” found at the scene that showed similarities between the two crashes.

      The aircraft was developed to include changes to the flight control system that would sharply pitch the plane’s nose down if the onboard computer sensed an imminent stall. The system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, was incorporated because the plane has larger engines placed further forward on the craft, and so has a chance of facing a stall at lower speeds than earlier 737 variations. In the Lion Air flight, pilots appeared to be fighting against the system before the aircraft crashed, according to the preliminary accident report.

    • Pentagon Spending Is a Poor Job Creator

      The Trump administration touts weapons spending as the best way to bolster the American economy. It’s not.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Amid Assange’s ongoing censorship, all leftists must learn from Ecuador’s hostile takeover

      Chilean journalist Patricio Mery Bell made the documentary La Traición Cuántica (‘The Quantum Betrayal’). It sets out to convey the cynicism of current Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno. Politicians who break campaign promises may be very common, but Moreno’s case really is stunning.

      Imagine Jeremy Corbyn, the day after he takes office in the UK, announcing that the Conservative Party manifesto is what he had really supported all his life. That would approximate what Moreno pulled off in Ecuador.

    • The Wiki effect on governance? Democracy in the pawnshop

      When the WikiLeaks papers were published some years ago, senior US officials urged the exposed governments to take evasive action. What could anybody do? There was turbulence across the world, though India took the revelations mostly below the radar, and the matter was more or less forgotten. Also, not everything was published, given the self-censorship the corporate media exercises selectively.

      Next month, and in May, India is going to have its crucial general elections. The Assange revelations, though not too recent, remain relevant, and they curiously offer a glimpse of how the stage may be set for both sides, away from public scrutiny. The cables importantly give a flavour of things that people are not generally told.

    • WikiLeaks probe: supporters say Chelsea Manning in ‘solitary confinement’

      Chelsea Manning, the anti-secrecy campaigner who was jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, has been held in solitary confinement for over two weeks, supporters said on Saturday.

      Since being sent to a detention centre in Alexandria, Virginia earlier this month, “Chelsea has been placed in administrative segregation … a term designed to sound less cruel than ‘solitary confinement,’” the Chelsea Resists group said.

      “However, Chelsea has been kept in her cell for 22 hours a day.

      “Chelsea can’t be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material. She has not been outside for 16 days,” they added.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Hurricanes to Deliver a Bigger Punch to Coasts

      When tropical cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira, Mozambique on March 14, a spokesperson for the UN World Meteorological Organization called it possibly the the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere.

      This massive and horrifying storm caused catastrophic flooding and widespread destruction of buildings and roads in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi feared the death toll might rise to more than 1,000 people.

      Cyclones, also known as hurricanes or typhoons, are intense wind storms that can take thousands of lives and cause billions of dollars in damage. They generate large ocean waves and raise water levels by creating a storm surge. The combined effects cause coastal erosion, flooding and damage to anything in its path.

  • Finance

    • [Older] Activision Blizzard to lay off nearly 800 employees after ‘record results in 2018’
    • Pinterest files for IPO, but avoids calling itself a social network

      The latest Silicon Valley company to file for an initial public offering is Pinterest, the San Francisco-based social network and image board that in recent years has built a large advertising and commerce business from its growing user base. The company, although it is still not profitable, says it earned more than $750 million in revenue last year, and it’s cut its losses from nearly $200 million in 2016 down to just under $75 million annually. Pinterest says it was in fact profitable in the fourth quarter of 2018, but not profitable enough to get out of the red for the full calendar year.

      The company, headed up by original co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann, plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. [...]

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Trump Investigations Are Far From Over

      Politics, punditry and human nature being as they are, the late-Friday news that special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s final report has been transmitted to the Attorney General (and will be described in summary form to Congress very soon) has spurred a frenzy of speculation, and the first of many leaks (credible and otherwise). The most prominent detail is that Mueller isn’t recommending any additional indictments in his probe of possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign or obstruction of justice by the president himself.

      If that is true, you can be sure that the president and his allies will gloat that even Robert Mueller admits that his investigation was a witch hunt producing nothing but fresh evidence that the president has been unjustly persecuted by rogue elements in the FBI and the Justice Department.

    • The DCCC’s Undemocratic Decision

      On Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced that it will refuse to do business with vendors or consultants who support Democrats attempting to primary incumbent Democrats in blue districts. Firms that contract with the DCCC learned of its decision via a list of new hiring standards sent out Friday morning. “The core mission of the DCCC is electing House Democrats, which includes supporting and protecting incumbents,” the form reads. “To that end, the DCCC will not conduct business with, nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting Member of the House Democratic Caucus.”

      The most generous read of the DCCC’s decision is that it represents ordinary, nonideological professional cowardice. Anyone given the opportunity to create barriers for people who would compete with them for their jobs would likely do so, especially if it were possible to tuck their efforts away in an innocuous-looking form. A more ideological read would hold that the DCCC continues to be frustrated by the success of leftward congressional challengers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who successfully “primaried” then-Democratic caucus chair Joseph Crowley, and hopes to nip the campaigns of these progressive challengers in the bud.

      The DCCC’s move to undercut primary challengers comes at a particularly ironic moment for the Democrats: 2020 candidates such as Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have advanced the idea of abolishing the electoral college in order to empower the popular vote; meanwhile, Andrew Gillum has launched a massive voter registration drive in Florida; and Georgia’s Stacey Abrams is pushing back against voter suppression in her state. It would be fair to characterize the 2020 Democratic message as primarily centering on the importance of democracy itself, with due focus on enacting the will of the people.

      And that makes sense. Globally, thinkers in democratic countries have begun voicing concerns about the rise of strongman authoritarianism and the decline of democratic values. Democrats have led America’s contribution to this international defense of democracy, comparing Trump to the anti-democratic, illiberal leaders he praises: Kim Jong Un of North Korea, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.

    • Hannity and Maddow: Across the Street but Worlds Apart

      For Sean Hannity, the “witch hunt” was finally over. Rachel Maddow considered it the start of something.

      The diametrically opposed opinion hosts, who vie for the distinction of the most popular in cable news, were the windows through which many Americans digested Friday’s news that special counsel Robert Mueller had concluded a nearly two-year investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. While his report, or even a summary, has not been released, television news still had hours to fill talking about it.

      Fox News Channel’s Hannity, a close Trump ally, focused on reports there will be no additional indictments from Mueller.

      “The left’s favorite conspiracy theory is now dead,” Hannity said. “It is buried, and there was no collusion, no conspiracy, no obstruction. The witch hunt is over and there will be no further charges.”

    • Everyone Washington Supports, by Definition, Is a Moderate Centrist

      The Trump administration seems to have found their man in National Assembly leader and self-appointed president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó. Guaidó has been extremely attentive to US interests, promising to allow US oil companies to increase their activity in Venezuela. He has also pledged mass privatizations and harsh rounds of austerity, as FAIR contributor Ben Norton reported (Mint Press News, 1/24/19). Having met with and secured the support of the Trump administration before he acted, the previously unknown 35-year-old emerged as a prominent opponent of the leftist government, championed by right-wing nations in the region keen to see the end of President Nicolás Maduro’s administration.

      Despite this, or rather precisely because of it, the media are presenting Guaidó not as a conservative (or further still to the right), but as a centrist social democrat who can unite a fractured nation. CBC (1/23/19) and Forbes (1/24/19) both described him as a “centrist social democrat,” the former adding that he is also an activist and a “salsa-loving baseball fan.” Others went further, claiming that he and his party are “center left” (Reuters, 1/24/19) or even “socialist” (London Independent, 1/24/19). The New York Times (3/4/19) claimed, more broadly, that Gauidó had “captured the heart of the nation” and that “a vast majority of Venezuelans support him.”

      In reality, Guiadó’s Popular Will party has always represented the most radical right-wing elements of the Venezuelan opposition, perhaps the reason that Fox Business’ Trish Reagan (1/29/19) eagerly endorsed him as a “freedom fighter leading his country to democracy” amid “massive cheers from the people.” Popular Will has consistently favored confrontation and violence over negotiation; a recent opposition plan to amass an army of 200 soldiers to shoot their way across the border to bring Guaidó back into Venezuela after an overseas tour was only stopped by a panicked Colombian government, according to Bloomberg (3/6/19).

    • ‘Put It To the People’: One Million+ March in UK to Demand Brexit Rethink

      With the right-wing U.K. government of Prime Minister Theresa May under fire for the chaos unleashed by failed Brexit negotiations—and a final deadline swiftly approaching—more than a million people took to the streets of London and other cities on Saturday as part of “People’s Vote” demonstrations demanding a new referendum on whether or not the country should leave the European Union.

      According to the Independent: the estimate of over one million demonstrators, “provided by the People’s Vote UK, would make it the biggest march to be held in the UK since the Iraq War protest in 2003.”

    • Mass Protest Vowed If Demand for Public Release of Mueller Report Not Met

      Democratic lawmakers are demanding the full contents of the report submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the Department of Justice on Friday be released to the public and progressive groups are vowing massive protests if the DOJ or the Trump administration do anything to hinder its disclosure.

      “It is absolutely critical that Attorney General William Barr makes special counsel Robert Mueller’s report public in its entirety,” declared MoveOn on Saturday as it urged people to sign a pledge for action. “There are over 500 events being planned if Barr covers up for Trump or if the Trump administration otherwise prevents the investigation from serving its public mission.”

      Following Mueller’s submission of the report on Friday, Barr said he would review its contents and report back to key congressional lawmakers as early as this weekend.

    • On Cherry-Blossom and Conflict-of-Interest Motifs: The Tacky, Relentless Selling of America

      While we await the Mueller findings, Trump is greedily hustling to squeeze every cent he can from hard-pressed taxpayers before – please please – prison or impeachment calls. Hence the new line of crap from his Trump Store, released last week for spring: A cherry-blossom-themed mess of mugs, shirts, soap et al “inspired” by Trump’s D.C. Hotel that goes one step further into bizarre, grandiose hucksterism by plastering the name “Trump Hotels” and “Trump Washington D.C.” over images of the White House and other Capitol buildings, evidently in hopes of convincing us the White House is a Trump Hotel and America is him. And yes: Not just tawdry, but illegal.

      The collection includes a long-sleeve shirt ($45), jumbo mug ($16) and soap set ($22) featuring both blatant lies – the soap reads “Trump Hotels” over an outline of the White House – and slimy, truth-fudging misrepresentation like the moniker “Trump Washington D.C.” over the hotel and “our capital’s landmarks and iconic flora.” Presumably, given the site also separately lists “Made in the USA” items, the blossomy stuff is all made in China. Responses on social media were mixed: One commenter said he’s waiting for an I-never-cared-for-McCain mug, while #Kavanaugh’s Beer noted, “I’m a beer and I understand the emoluments clause better than this guy.”

      In other how-else-can-we-rip-off America news, a leaked recording has exposed oil and gas executives giddily boasting about their newly unprecedented presidential access – it’s “worked out well”; the Republican National Committee just spent another $1,085.60 at Trump’s D.C. hotel, bringing its total spending there to $404,077.57 since 2017; campaign filings show Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office – $1.3 million of donor money that went straight into his slimy pocket – and, because grifters gonna grift, on Friday the Palm Beach County GOP held their annual Lincoln Day Dinner at – yes! – Mar-a-Lago.

    • Nationalism is trending, and Trump isn’t doing anything about it [Ed: False. Trump does a lot to PROMOTE it. That’s where his “base” comes from; that’s also how he distracts from his endless corruption.]
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • In China, ‘Fortnite’ Penalizes Minors for Playing Too Much

      But those games have to comply with Chinese laws, which means that anyone under the age of 18 is subject to restrictions such as those in Fortnite. Gamers in China have to register with the government to prove they’re not underage. Gaming addiction has been one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s areas of social concern, even claiming that too much gaming has led to an epidemic of myopia among China’s children.

    • Google Unlocked Aims to ‘Uncensor’ Google Search Results

      Google Unlocked is a new extension for Chrome and Opera that attempts to ‘uncensor’ Google search results affected by DMCA notices. While it tends to work as advertised overall, it suffers from – surprise, surprise – an inability to distinguish between infringing and non-infringing URLs.

    • Google Stadia wants creators to play with fans, but could leave them vulnerable

      Google wants its upcoming game-streaming service, Stadia, to up the ante for live-streamed games on YouTube, but Google didn’t address the many ways its system could lead to harassment, demonetization, and other problems for creators

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Criminal Suspects Deserve Genetic Privacy, Too

      Almost a year ago, police apprehended Joseph DeAngelo—dubbed the Golden State Killer—for more than a dozen murders and 50 rapes committed in the 1970s and ’80s. His arrest was thanks to the advent of open-source DNA databases, which allowed law enforcement to match his DNA to that of a family member who had submitted their own genetic information for genealogical purposes. While this technology clearly helped bring DeAngelo to justice, it has raised a Pandora’s box of privacy concerns. One in particular has been largely neglected thus far by both policy advocates and the media.

      DNA testing, once an expensive technology, is now so inexpensive that approximately 26 million people have taken advantage of it. With sites like Ancestry.com and 23andMe, you can easily submit samples of your DNA and receive information about your family history and health. Both sites allow individuals to obtain raw DNA data files, which they can then upload to an open-source database like GEDmatch in order to connect them to distant family members. While the files are supposedly anonymous, one study found that an outside individual could identify an “anonymous” set of data using GEDmatch in just one day.

    • Amazon’s Rekognition software lets cops track faces: Here’s what you need to know

      Amazon Rekognition is the company’s effort to create software that can identify anything it’s looking at — most notably faces.

      Business organizations and, yes, law enforcement agencies are already licensing that software for their own use. That means that you don’t need to use Facebook or buy a face-scanning iPhone or a fancy video doorbell from Google-owned Nest or Amazon-owned Ring in order for facial recognition to be a part of your everyday life. With Rekognition, maybe it already is.

    • NSA Opens More of its ‘Hot Tech’ to Private Sector

      The agency’s Technology Transfer Program (TTP) recently added several new patents to its TTP portfolio, through which industry and entrepreneurs can license the patents for further innovation. But this year, NSA is framing its offering as a list of “hot technologies” available for licensing, in an apparent effort to spur further participation.

      Licensing a TTP patent can help a company attract funding, hire new people, and look to increase its market share. The NSA, for its part, gets its piece of the licensing pie while allowing private-sector innovation to improve on the technologies.

    • Facebook staff had access to hundreds of millions of people’s passwords

      This time, the company acknowledges that it mishandled sensitive passwords for hundreds of millions of its users, primarily those who use its Facebook Lite product. The disclosure casts doubt on the company’s abilities to protect its users’ information as it focuses more on privacy.

      On Thursday, Facebook (FB) said it didn’t properly mask the passwords of hundreds of millions of its users and stored them as plain text in an internal database that could be accessed by its staff.

    • Facebook Stored Millions Of User Passwords In Plain, Readable Text

      Unknown to hundreds of millions of Facebook users, their passwords were sitting in plain text inside the company’s data storage, leaving them vulnerable to potential employee misuse and cyberattack for years.

    • Secret Emails Allegedly Show Facebook Knew About Cambridge Analytica Scandal Earlier Than Admitted

      Facebook and the attorney general are in court Friday to argue whether those emails can be viewed by the public. If unsealed, their contents might contradict sworn testimony Zuckerberg made before Congress last year. It’s part of a lawsuit filed by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, accusing Facebook of failing to protect user data.

    • Secret emails show Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica earlier than they’ve said, DC AG claims

      The Beast reports late Friday that Facebook and the attorney general of Washington, D.C. “are sparring over an internal email chain that allegedly shows Facebook employees discussing Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal in September 2015.”

      That would have been a few months before Facebook told lawmakers–and the rest of America– it learned that Cambridge Analytica, the dirty political data consulting firm founded by Trump backers, was grabbing information for millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.

    • Facebook Is Accused of Knowing Cambridge Mined Its User Data

      At least three states are investigating the Menlo Park, California-based company’s user data-protection practices, as is a federal grand jury in New York. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook for its role in the Cambridge Analytica saga. On Thursday, the agency announced a broader probe of tech company data collection practices. Also on Thursday, Racine said he was unveiling legislation to bolster legal protections for the personal data of district residents.

    • Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica earlier than thought

      It’s just over a year ago that the Cambridge Analytica scandal fully blew up, and Facebook will have been hoping it would have gone away by now. Given that the company was forced to deny a 2016 meeting Wylie just a few days ago, it looks like this story has no plans of dying any time soon.

    • Finland to investigate Nokia-branded phones after data breach report

      Norwegian public broadcaster NRK reported on Thursday a data breach related to the Nokia 7 Plus model, built by HMD. It said the company had “admitted that an unspecified number of Nokia 7 Plus phones had sent data to the Chinese server.”

      Nokia, which receives royalties from HMD but has no direct investment in the firm, declined to comment.

    • Valve Software dreams of analyzing your brainwaves to tailor in-game rewards

      But one suggestion in particular raised our alarms: adjusting virtual goodies in a game on the fly. “We can figure out what kinds of rewards you like, and the kinds you don’t,” Ambinder suggested, potentially based on the physiological responses a player might have from getting loot. He didn’t talk to the very severe privacy implications of this feedback loop, however, nor about the abuse potential for having a game pump players with loot-driven endorphins at the moment they might start getting bored. (Slot machine and loot box mechanics are already decried for artificially toying with player expectations to hook them longer.)

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Saudi Arabia and Iran share a mutual disdain for women who speak up

      Kate Maltby writes that Saudi Arabia and Iran, despite their deep political divisions, share one thing in common: a repression of feminists fighting for equality — and the United States would do well to address this injustice.

    • Trump Signs Broad Executive Order [iophk: "the US does not have a monarchy (yet); does his office even have the authority to directly address this?"]

      President Trump on Thursday delivered on his promise of an executive order that would hold colleges that receive federal research funding accountable for protecting free speech.

      However, his bombastic rhetoric in a White House East Room ceremony wasn’t matched by the modest language of the order.

    • Donald Trump’s Rhetoric Is No Longer Just Silly And Offensive: It’s Dangerous And Undemocratic

      In repeating the mantra of fake news again and again, Trump is very much trying to mislead the public. His efforts at deception, however, go well beyond discrediting journalists and news outlets that are critical of him. Last week, we learned that Trump was actively engaged in efforts to influence the public statements and congressional testimonies of those in his employ. He has critiqued not only journalists, but also the speech of comedians who are critical of him as well Saturday Night Live. He has threatened to tighten libel laws and go after networks he does not like. All of this is dangerous and deeply undemocratic. So, it was shocking when at CPAC last week, the president talked about the need to protect free speech on campuses. No modern president has done more to threaten both free speech and a free and independent press than Donald Trump.

    • Trump Signs Executive Order Tying Grant Money to Free Speech

      It’s yet unclear how the order will be implemented and whether it will be used to cut off research funding to institutions found lacking in their free speech protections. Trump had announced the possibility of such an action in a speech on March 2.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Tesla sues former employees, Zoox for alleged trade secret theft

      Tesla has filed a pair of lawsuits against a handful of former employees who went to work at self-driving vehicle startup Zoox and Chinese EV automaker Xiaopeng.

      The separate lawsuits filed late Wednesday allege former Tesla employees stole trade secrets and used them at their new places of employment. Tesla declined to comment on either lawsuit.

    • Tesla lawsuits target former employees over alleged trade-secret theft
    • Tesla sues self-driving startup Zoox and former employees for alleged trade secret theft

      The Silicon Valley automaker claims that four former employees stole “proprietary information and trade secrets to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.”

      [...]

      Tesla says the four former employees who went to Zoox — Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craigh Emigh — “absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer,” and that at least one used confidential information to poach other employees. Tesla says the group’s alleged theft was “blatant and intentional.”

    • Jotwell Review of Frakes & Wasserman’s Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office

      I’ve previously recommended subscribing to Jotwell to keep up with interesting recent IP scholarship, but for anyone who doesn’t, my latest Jotwell post highlighted a terrific forthcoming article by Michael Frakes and Melissa Wasserman.

    • Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office

      There is widespread belief that the Patent Office issues too many bad patents that impose significant harms on society. At first glance, the solution to the patent quality crisis seems straightforward: give patent examiners more time to review applications so they grant patents only to those inventions that deserve them. Yet the answer to the harms of invalid patents may not be that easy. It is possible that the Patent Office is, as Mark Lemley famously wrote, “rationally ignorant.” In Rational Ignorance at the Patent Office, Lemley argued that because so few patents are economically significant, it makes sense to rely upon litigation to make detailed validity determinations in those rare cases rather than increase the expenses associated with conducting a more thorough review of all patent applications. He supported his thesis with a cost-benefit calculation in which he concluded that the costs of giving examiners more time outweighs the benefits of doing so.

      Given the import of the rational ignorance concept to the debate on how best to address bad patents, the time is ripe to revisit this discussion. This Article seeks to conduct a similar cost-benefit analysis to the one that Lemley attempted nearly fifteen years ago. In doing so, we employ new and rich sources of data along with sophisticated empirical techniques to form novel, empirically driven estimates of the relationships that Lemley was forced, given the dearth of empirical evidence at his time, to assume in his own analysis. Armed with these new estimates, this Article demonstrates that the savings in future litigation and prosecution expenses associated with giving examiners additional time per application more than outweigh the costs of increasing examiner time allocations. Thus, we conclude the opposite of Lemley: society would be better off investing more resources in the Agency to improve patent quality than relying upon ex-post litigation to weed out invalid patents. Given its current level of resources, the Patent Office is not being “rationally ignorant” but, instead, irrationally ignorant.

    • SHOULD PATENT EXAMINERS GET MORE TIME?
    • Copyrights

      • On the #uploadfilter problem

        The copyright holders in europe are pushing hard mandate upload filters for internet. We have been here before – when they outlawed circumventing DRM. Both have roots in the same problem. The copyright holders look at computers and see bad things happening to their revenue. They come to IT companies and say “FIX IT”. It industry comes back and says.. “We cant.. making data impossible to copy is like trying to make water not wet!”. But we fail at convincing copyright holders in how perfect DRM or upload filter is not possible. Then copyright holders go to law makers and ask them in turn to fix it.

      • Pirate IPTV: Police Across Europe Carry Out ‘Largest Ever’ Operation

        In conjunction with Europol, police forces in Spain, UK, and Denmark, have carried out what is being described as the “largest ever” operation against a pirate IPTV network. Five people have been arrested, accused of crimes including IP violations, fraud, and money laundering.

Just Published: Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office

Posted in America, Patents at 2:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Frakes, Michael and Wasserman, Melissa F., Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office (November 13, 2018). Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 72, 2019, Forthcoming; Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2018-64.

Michael D. Frakes
Homepage of Michael Frakes

Summary: Iancu and his fellow Trump-appointed “swamp” at the USPTO are urged to consult academics rather than law firms in order to improve patent quality in the United States

THE latest paper from Michael Frakes (Duke University School of Law) and Melissa F. Wasserman (The University of Texas at Austin School of Law) was last revised yesterday (23rd of March, 2019) and it is applicable to the European Patent Office (EPO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), especially under Battistelli, Campinos, and Iancu. The full paper is recommended by Lisa Ouellette, who has just added (having dealt with it elsewhere 11 days ago): “my latest Jotwell post highlighted a terrific forthcoming article by Michael Frakes and Melissa Wasserman.”

Frakes and Wasserman had previous work indirectly (via the media) cited by the staff union of the EPO (SUEPO). We mentioned it a year and a half ago.

This is their latest abstract:

There is widespread belief that the Patent Office issues too many bad patents that impose significant harms on society. At first glance, the solution to the patent quality crisis seems straightforward: give patent examiners more time to review applications so they grant patents only to those inventions that deserve them. Yet the answer to the harms of invalid patents may not be that easy. It is possible that the Patent Office is, as Mark Lemley famously wrote, “rationally ignorant.” In Rational Ignorance at the Patent Office, Lemley argued that because so few patents are economically significant, it makes sense to rely upon litigation to make detailed validity determinations in those rare cases rather than increase the expenses associated with conducting a more thorough review of all patent applications. He supported his thesis with a cost-benefit calculation in which he concluded that the costs of giving examiners more time outweighs the benefits of doing so.

Given the import of the rational ignorance concept to the debate on how best to address bad patents, the time is ripe to revisit this discussion. This Article seeks to conduct a similar cost-benefit analysis to the one that Lemley attempted nearly fifteen years ago. In doing so, we employ new and rich sources of data along with sophisticated empirical techniques to form novel, empirically driven estimates of the relationships that Lemley was forced, given the dearth of empirical evidence at his time, to assume in his own analysis. Armed with these new estimates, this Article demonstrates that the savings in future litigation and prosecution expenses associated with giving examiners additional time per application more than outweigh the costs of increasing examiner time allocations. Thus, we conclude the opposite of Lemley: society would be better off investing more resources in the Agency to improve patent quality than relying upon ex-post litigation to weed out invalid patents. Given its current level of resources, the Patent Office is not being “rationally ignorant” but, instead, irrationally ignorant.

Ouellette has noted: “Litigation savings depend on Frakes and Wasserman’s prior finding that time-crunched patent examiners make mistakes, and that they are more likely to erroneously allow an invalid patent than to reject a valid one. When examiners are promoted up a step on the USPTO pay scale, they suddenly receive less time per application. Frakes and Wasserman found that they manage the increased workload by spending less time searching prior art and granting more patents. Based on both subsequent U.S. challenges and comparisons with parallel applications at foreign patent offices, these extra patents seem to involve more mistakes. Patents rejected by time-crunched examiners, on the other hand, are no more likely to be appealed within the USPTO. Extrapolating from these results, Frakes and Wasserman estimate that doubling examination times would lead to roughly 80,000 fewer patents granted and 2,400 fewer patent/lawsuit pairs each year, translating to litigation savings above $490 million. Similar calculations suggest about 270 fewer instituted PTAB challenges, for an annual savings above $110 million.”

That’s alluding to Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) for the most part. In conclusion she says: “Most importantly, any of these interventions should be implemented in a way that aids robust empirical evaluation. The USPTO has shown an encouraging willingness to experiment with pilot programs that might improve examination, but has not implemented them in ways that make it easy to evaluate their effectiveness, such as by randomizing over applicants who want to opt in to the programs. Rigorous pilot programs may be both financially and politically costly, but how much effort to spend on examination is a core question of patent policy with tremendous financial implications. And I’m sure the USPTO could easily find free help from academics—perhaps including Frakes and Wasserman—excited to help design and evaluate these initiatives.”

At the moment Iancu seems to be taking instructions and advice from law firms, neither from academics nor scientists. This isn’t particularly shocking considering who gave him the job and where he came from.

Microsoft Paid the Open Source Initiative. Now (a Year Later) Microsoft is in the Board of the Open Source Initiative.

Posted in Microsoft, OSI at 1:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Entryism
Wikipedia on entryism

Summary: The progression of Microsoft entryism in FOSS-centric institutions (while buying key “assets” such as GitHub) isn’t indicative of FOSS “winning” but of FOSS being infiltrated (to be undermined)

I WORRY greatly about where Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is heading. Why wouldn’t I, having dedicated my entire adult life to this cause (literally my entire adult life, since my late teens or early twenties)? Having just written my sincere thoughts about the LF (hardly worthy of the “Linux” brand anymore), I feel inclined to comment on other organisations. It is no secret that Microsoft is on the Board of the LF (whereas community participation in the Board got completely scuttled). These people in the Board would support Zemlin as long as he supports the likes of Microsoft, so it’s entryism or a slow-motion ‘coup’. Torvalds was already self-’suspended’ for a number of weeks; can he still speak about Microsoft the way he used to? It would now be in direct violation of the new CoC.

Not a word from LF regarding the patent blackmail by Microsoft — a new patent lawsuit which was exposed earlier this month (OIN has not uttered a word, either) [1, 2, 3]. How come? Don’t they care? Don’t they oppose software patents? OIN certainly does not and its new leadership gives room for concerns (the same patent trolls who attacked Linux now hold top positions in OIN).

“Not a word from LF regarding the patent blackmail by Microsoft — a new patent lawsuit which was exposed earlier this month (OIN has not uttered a word, either).”How about OSI? A couple of years ago the chief of the OSI invited me to run for the Board, but seeing the direction in which it has gone since, I’d probably face a hostile environment, resistant to criticism of corporations that actively attack Open Source while claiming to “love” it (in practice, for the most part, hijacking it while leveraging it to promote proprietary software with back doors).

Talking about the OSI’s elections (the outcome is days old) is a rather sensitive subject, so I will not name people and will not say much. Some readers actually wrote to me about after I had already noticed it. The corporate media keeps focusing only on gender rather than corporate affiliations. It is as though we should quit caring about the agenda of the businesses and instead obsess over something entirely different. Curious readers will notice that Microsoft is now (as far as I know for the first time ever) on the Board of the OSI. So the ‘cancer’ is progressing. Nobody wants to talk about it for fear of being called “Sexist”.

Jim Zemlin’s Linux Foundation Still Does Not Care About Linux Desktops

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Almost as though there’s an implicit agreement to leave that space to Microsoft

Zemlin loves Microsoft
Zemlin loves Microsoft
Zemlin loves Microsoft. Photo sources [1, 2].

Summary: We are saddened to see that the largest body associated with Linux (the kernel and more) is not really eager to see GNU/Linux success; it’s mostly concerned about its bottom line (about $100,000,000 per annum)

SEVERAL months ago I was persuaded by my wife to break the silence on the Linux Foundation (LF), seeing that they had sold out (it irritated even her, a full-time GNU/Linux user for over half a decade). The people who run the Linux Foundation do not themselves use GNU/Linux* and the Linux Foundation is hardly about Linux anymore. It hardly even defends Linux from patent attacks, such as those of Microsoft; to make matters worse, the Linux Foundation takes money from Microsoft (as it last did only weeks ago) and then praises Microsoft.

“…to make matters worse, the Linux Foundation takes money from Microsoft (as it last did only weeks ago) and then praises Microsoft.”I don’t want to name anyone (for privacy reasons), but various prominent people wrote to me regarding these articles. They agree. Some are relieved that someone is finally willing to air these matters and tackle them. So perhaps we shall persist.

One reader told us about the lack of support for actual advocates of GNU/Linux who spread GNU/Linux, e.g. on desktops. Ken Starks wrote about it nearly a decade ago, bemoaning Jim Zemlin’s lack of interest in “Linux desktop” (Zemlin actually told him that directly after he had been invited to an otherwise-exclusive conference). “I got the skinny on the Linux Foundation claims to “support” these orgs for ‘years’,” the reader noted. “It may be years,” the reader added, “haven’t confirmed that but get this: I actually volunteer for [a charity that brings GNU/Linux to children] and they need $ and volunteers. So I asked how LF “supports” them and got this answer: No, not financial just advertising in its network. As I understand. And with nice discounts in courses and certifications. Meanwhile, every volunteer goes on their own dime, and [name redacted] is eating table scraps to survive when he brought the content server – Internet in a box… which we should have paid. At least his foooooood!”

The reader took note of “Diversity Programs” from the Linux Foundation, potentially a cynical corporate attempt to appear ethical while not doing anything/much to these ends.

“I reached out to another 10 organizations the Linux Foundation “supports”,” the reader said.

Stay tuned. This is research in progress.

In the meantime we invite anyone with similar experiences to get in contact with us. We’ll protect people’s identities while doing the best we can to shed light on the LF’s underlying agenda, which seems to overlap the collective agenda of the LF’s sponsors rather than of GNU/Linux (many sponsors have nothing to do with Linux).
____
* There’s a tendency to focus on Zemlin’s use of Mac OS X [1, 2], but I know many of the colleagues use Microsoft Windows — arguably worse. “Apparently, Jim Zemlin isn’t who he says he is. I think he should be impeached,” one person argued a couple of years ago. “Essentially, he’s the Terry Colby (from Mr. Robot) of The Linux Foundation. He’s the head of a company that seems to know little about what they do. Remember, in order to become the best possible employee or user of something, you have to be using that product to fully understand it. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind when someone needs your help, or when it comes to truly understanding Linux.” Or as Christine Hall put it minutes ago, “I agree that Zemlin is a traitor to all the early adopters who made Linux what it is today. However, Zemlin has never uttered “the year of the Linux desktop.” He’s never supported desktop Linux at all.”

03.23.19

Links 23/3/2019: Falkon 3.1.0 and Tails 3.13.1

Posted in News Roundup at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • From Trusty to Bionic – my Ultrabook story

      I am happy with how the upgrade went, given that I’ve actually bumped the system two major releases. Apart from small issues, there was nothing cardinal in the move. No data loss, no complications, no crashes. All my stuff remains intact, and so does Windows 8, living happily together and sharing the disk with Ubuntu. Mission accomplished.

      But we ain’t done. I need to make the system as usable as possible. Which means Unity testing – and Plasma testing, of course, duh! Indeed, this remains a productivity box, and as such, it must fulfill some very stringent requirements. It must be stable, fast and elegant. It must work with me every step of the way, and it must allow me to transparently and seamlessly use various programs that I need. On this particular machine, that would be video editing with Kdenlive, that would be image processing with GIMP, the use of encryption and VPN tools, tons of writing on the superbly ergonomic Asus keyboard. But all that and more – coming soon.

      For now, thank you Trusty for five sweet, loyal years. May you ReST in ethernet peace.

  • Server

    • New features in OpenStack Neutron

      OpenStack is the open source cloud infrastructure software project that provides compute, storage, and networking services for bare-metal, container, and VM workloads. To get a sense of the core functionality and additional services, check out the OpenStack map.
      The platform has a modular architecture that works across industry segments because infrastructure operators can choose the components they need to manage their infrastructure in the way that best supports their application workloads. The modules are also pluggable to provide further flexibility and make sure they can be used with a specific storage backend or software-defined networking (SDN) controller.

      Neutron is an OpenStack project to provide a de-facto standard REST API to manage and configure networking services and make them available to other components such as Nova.

    • Kubernetes End-to-end Testing for Everyone

      More and more components that used to be part of Kubernetes are now being developed outside of Kubernetes. For example, storage drivers used to be compiled into Kubernetes binaries, then were moved into stand-alone Flexvolume binaries on the host, and now are delivered as Container Storage Interface (CSI) drivers that get deployed in pods inside the Kubernetes cluster itself.

      This poses a challenge for developers who work on such components: how can end-to-end (E2E) testing on a Kubernetes cluster be done for such external components? The E2E framework that is used for testing Kubernetes itself has all the necessary functionality. However, trying to use it outside of Kubernetes was difficult and only possible by carefully selecting the right versions of a large number of dependencies. E2E testing has become a lot simpler in Kubernetes 1.13.

    • Why Docker Containers Matter, 6 Years After the Project First Started

      Docker, the eponymous name of the container technology and the company behind it, celebrated its six-year anniversary on March 20. From its earliest days, even as just a 1-year-old effort back in 2014, there was no shortage of optimism and excitement about Docker. With the Docker model, applications are more portable and run inside of containers, which are isolated instances that provide a more agile approach for development and deployment. Docker also introduced the “dockerfile” packaging format, which defines how a container image should be built.

      The container model that Docker first introduced has evolved over the past six years and is now the cornerstone of the broader cloud-native space, which includes the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at some of the key facts about Docker and the cloud-native revolution it has inspired.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • DataPractices.org joins the Linux Foundation for data teamwork

        The Linux Foundation will now host DataPractices.org as one of its projects.

        DataPractices.org was initially created by data.world as a “Manifesto for Data Practices.” It was meant to include the values and principles that enable effective, modern, and ethical approaches to data teamwork.

        As part of the Linux Foundation, DataPractices.org will create a vendor-neutral community that can keep establishing best practices and increase the amount of data knowledge in the ecosystem.

    • Graphics Stack

      • vkOpenArena: The ioquake3-Powered OpenArena Game Gets Ported To Vulkan

        OpenArena, one of the most well known open-source games built atop the ioquake3 engine of what started out as id Tech 3, has now seen an independent port to the Vulkan graphics API.

        The vkOpenArena game now marks the latest vintage game seeing a port to Vulkan. Independent developer Sui Jingfeng has been working on vkOpenArena as a port of the OpenArena engine over to using the Vulkan graphics API rather than Vulkan.

      • AMDVLK Has A Small Weekly Code Push For GDC 2019 Week

        With many AMD driver developers being over in San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference, this week AMDVLK saw rather small changes for this open-source AMD Vulkan Linux driver.

      • More AMD FreeSync Patches Likely Coming To Linux 5.2

        While the Linux 5.0 kernel brought initial support for the long-awaited open-source FreeSync implementation, the Linux 5.2 kernel coming out this summer will likely have additional improvements.

        Open-source developer Mario Kleiner has been working on a set of patches this month for enabling proper vblank and page-flip time-stamping when in the FreeSync/VRR (Variable Rate Refresh) mode. This work makes the vblank timestamps as accurate as in the fixed refresh rate behavior.

      • Primus-VK: PRIME-Style GPU Offloading For Vulkan

        For those with a PRIME style notebook or just making use of dual/multiple graphics processors in your system, Primus-VK allows for using a secondary/dedicated GPU for rendering while driving the display from the alternative (often integrated graphics) GPU. Primus-VK is implemented as a Vulkan layer as a clean approach for dealing with multiple GPUs in a Vulkan world.

        Primus-VK pursues Vulkan GPU offloading by implementing this logic as a Vulkan layer for handling the rendering on one GPU and then when it comes to display-time it copies the image over to the integrated/primary GPU. This layer can be installed per-user or system-wide and has been tested on the likes of Debian. ENABLE_OPTIMUS_LAYER=1 is the environment variable used for activating the behavior. Primus-VK has also been tested with Windows games under Wine.

      • NVIDIA Releases Nsight Graphics 2019.2 With Vulkan Profiling Support

        Released for GDC/GTC week was Nsight Graphics 2019.2, the proprietary cross-platform, closed-source utility tool for debugging, profiling, and analyzing Direct3D, OpenGL, and other GPU-accelerated APIs.

        With this week’s Nsight Graphics 2019.2 release they finally have added Vulkan profiling support. This support allows inspecting GPU performance metrics under Vulkan workloads within the program’s Range Profiler. Other new additions include improvements for running Steam games on Linux, a feedback button, and enhancements to the accelerated structure viewer and API inspector.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Ghana’s ‘Queen Fishmongers’ Face an Uncertain Future

      In Ghana’s fishing industry, women process and sell the fish caught by men. A “queen” fishmonger — known as the “Konkohemaa” — holds court as the most powerful woman in a fishing community. Elected by family heads, she draws on centuries of tradition and years of experience. When the boats land, she is the one who bargains with the fishermen, mediates conflicts over pricing and processing, and serves as the mouthpiece for local women involved in the industry.

      This tradition is now under threat. A growing number of industrial trawlers and illegal fishing operations are rapidly depleting fish stocks, making life harder for local fishers and fishmongers. Oil exploration is also disrupting the local fishing industry.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Allan Day: Parental Controls and Metered Data Hackfest

        This week I participated in the Parental Controls and Metered Data Hackfest, which was held at Red Hat’s London office.

        Parental controls and metered data already exist in Endless and/or elementary OS in some shape or form. The goal of the hackfest was to plan how to upstream the features to GNOME. It’s great to see this kind of activity from downstreams so I was very happy to contribute in my capacity as an upstream UX designer.

        There have been a fair few blog posts about the event already, so I’m going to try and avoid repeating what’s already been written…

      • Iain Lane: Parental controls & metered data hackfest: days 3 & 4

        Following on from the first two days, we in days 3 & 4 we moved on to talking about metered data. There’s some debate about whether this is the correct terminology to use, but that’s the title of the hackfest so I’ll stick with it for now.

        This is a set of features to handle internet connections that have limited amounts of data in some way. For example, I’ve personally got a “MiFi” mobile hotspot that provides internet over the 4G mobile network. I bought a pay-as-you-go SIM card that provides 32 GB of data, and when that’s used up I’ll have to recharge it to be able to get online.

        Philip provided a summary of the current implementation in Endless. You can also watch a YouTube video of a talk Philip gave on this topic at GUADEC in 2018. Briefly, this is an opt-in system. The system knows details of your tariff, some of which you can provide in Settings, but which may also come with the system – for example if it’s sold with a mobile network connection already provisioned. Applications ask a new component for permission to begin a large data transfer, and this component tells the application when it can begin the transfer. This could be immediately or later on.

      • Draw On Your Screen with this Neat GNOME Shell Extension

        Ever wish you could draw on the Linux desktop or write on the screen?

        Well, there’s a new GNOME Shell extension that lets you do exactly that: draw on the Linux desktop.

        You may want to point out a bug, highlight a feature, or provide some guidance to someone else by sending them an annotated screenshot.

        In this short post we’ll show you how to install the add-on and how to use it.

  • Distributions

    • Best Linux Distributions For Beginners

      Linux beginners are always confused about choosing the best Linux os to start with. As there are hundreds of Linux distributions so it might always be a confusing part. But I’ll help you choose the right Linux distro to start your Linux exploration. In this article, I’ll walk you through a list of 8 Best Linux OS for beginners.

    • Linux Desktop News: Zorin OS 15 Gets New Touch Interface, Android Sync And Native Flatpak Support

      Zorin OS hit the Linux desktop scene about 10 years ago, and has since been marketed as a fast, more powerful and more secure alternative to macOS and Windows. It also bills itself as being versatile and easy to use. Let’s see how Zorin OS 15 will support that message.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Planning for a Software Defined Infrastructure

        Seems you can’t pick up an IT magazine these days without hearing the term software defined infrastructure. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. You might be thinking ‘people are talking about so it must be something that we need.” Some of you are wincing from the pain felt in trying to adopt the latest technologies without properly looking at what will work for your environment and business.

        In a software defined world, the computing infrastructure is virtualized. That is, it is delivered as a service. Management and control of the networking, storage and/or data center infrastructure is automated by intelligent software rather than by the hardware components of the infrastructure.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 31 Preparing To Start Removing Packages Depending Upon Python 2

        Python 2 support will formally reach end-of-life on 1 January 2020 and Fedora 31 is preparing for that by working to drop packages (or parts of packages) that depend upon Python 2.

        Fedora has been pushing for a Python 2 to Python 3 migration for many cycles now — as most Linux distributions have — while with Fedora 31 they are planning a “mass Python 2 package removal” if necessary. They are planning to closely track the state of packages depending upon Python 2 to either drop the packages or allow packagers to easily abandon Python 2 parts of programs.

      • These Are The Top Reasons Why You Should Use Fedora Linux?

        Fedora is one of the most famous Linux distros. It has a lot of Amazing features and is powered by Red Hat Linux. However, many people prefer alternatives which are quite easy to operate. Those like Ubuntu is known for its simplicity and easy to use interface. Additionally, Kali Linux is known for its unique pen testing feature. On the other hand, people consider Fedora to be a difficult option because of its complicated user interface. However, we believe that Fedora is one of the most useful Linux distros with an active community. Hence, we have listed the Features And Advantages of Using Fedora Linux.

      • How to set up Fedora Silverblue as a gaming station

        This process starts with a clean Fedora 29 Silverblue installation with a user already created for you.

        First, go to https://flathub.org/home and enable the Flathub repository on your system. To do this, click the Quick setup button on the main page.

      • FPgM report: 2019-12

        Fedora 30 Beta is No-Go. Another Go/No-Go meeting will be held on Thursday. I’ve set up weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else. The Fedora 30 Beta Go/No-Go and Release Readiness meetings are next week.

      • Not posting here means not there is nothing done

        I looking with fears to this strange ideas Mindshare has for the future of the Ambassadors. You can not write reports if you not have an event, so I telling here now how hard it is in this country to organize an event.

        Since October 2018 I search for a place which would host the next Translation Sprint. We have tons of co-working spaces or NGO’s which have space available. But is always the same I asked e.g. Open Institute, answer we can host you just on Saturday. And I had actually to write there several times and even make calls because I got no answer for the first contact. The same on The Desk, we can host you only on Saturday. This makes no sense in Cambodia, it is a regular working day, because they have 28 holidays. So most people have to work until 2pm. What sucked on this one, I was working on it since end of January. So first meeting was setup for 11th March, I went there but nobbody there to meet me. This is normal cambodian working style I dont tell I am busy and cant meet you and give you an alternative time. Well the promised mail with an alternative time never arrived, so I had to ask for it again. Second meeting was then this Monday, I spent an hour with them with the useless result of “just Saturday”. But there is light on the horizon OpenDevelopment might host us but here just on Sunday, which is for us better then just Saturday. So six months, hundreds of mails and several meetings and achieved nothing. How easy is it to setup a Fedora Womans Day in the Pune office, compared to this and then just travel around the world to visit other events and this is then called “active”

      • Fedora 30 Modularity Test Day 2019-03-26
      • Fedora 30 Beta Won’t Be Released Next Week Due To Their Arm Images Lacking A Browser
      • Fabian Affolter: Chemnitzer Linux Tage 2019

        Once again, Robert and I went to Chemnitz. We don’t wanted to break with the tradition of having a Fedora Project booth at the Chemnitzer Linux Tage. Robert is representing the Fedora Project at CLT for over a decade now.

        To show the visitors a running Fedora installation Raphael decided to take a larger screen, mounted it on a stand and placed a Raspberry Pi behind it. Pretty straight-forward setup but there is always an issue with the VESA connection on the back of the screen.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 Excellent Web Project Management Software

    Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives. Project management tools encompass many different types of software such as scheduling, resource allocation, collaboration software, quality management, and cost control / budget management. This type of software is typically used by project managers looking to plan and control resources, costs and schedules to meet the objectives of a project.

    It can be very satisfying planning and delivering projects on time. One of the methods that has always helped me is PRINCE2, a de facto process-based method for effective project management. But project management software is equally as important to the success of a project.

    There are a number of different types of project management tools. One of the industry standards is the Gantt Chart, which provides a graphical displays of all the tasks that a project is composed of. Each bar on the chart is a graphical representation of the length of time the task is planned to take. Other popular tools include PERT charts (a method for analyzing the tasks involved in completing a project), Product Breakdown Structure (a hierarchical tree structure of components that make up a project deliverable), and Work Breakdown Structure (a hierarchical tree structure of deliverables and tasks that need to be performed to complete a project).

    To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 10 excellent web based project management software. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to organise their projects. Here’s our rating chart.

  • New Open Source Initiative Sponsors Emphasize Diverse/Broad Industry Adoption [Ed: In fact, so diverse that even companies that attack Open Source are in the Board and are sponsors, e.g. Microsoft]

    Today the Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source software and communities, is pleased to announce the corporate sponsorship of Daily Fantasy Cafe and Lineups.com. The contributions from these diverse companies underscore the broad appeal and applicability of open source software across industries.

    Over 20 years of work, the OSI has constantly found adoption of, and contributions to, open source software growing, year over year, as companies realize the benefits and value of collaborative communities of practice. No longer limited to the data centers and development shops of tech-companies, open source software is now pervasive across diverse industries, all seeking to reduce costs, drive innovation, decrease time to market, increase quality, and avoid vendor lock-in.

    “The OSI is actively engaged with organizations across government, education, manufacturing, agriculture, entertainment—everywhere. As new industries emerge, like fantasy sports, they’re choosing to be, ‘open source first,’” says Patrick Masson, General Manager of the Open Source Initiative. “Daily Fantasy Cafe and Lineups really show how broad the appeal is now, and most inspiring, how companies that benefit from open source choose to contribute back. Open source is a collaborative effort, projects need code, community, and cash.”

  • Events

    • SREcon19 Americas Talk Resources

      At SREcon19 Americas, I gave a talk called “Operating within Normal Parameters: Monitoring Kubernetes”. Here’s some links and resources related to my talk, for your reference.

    • Participating at #Scale17x

      Everytime somebody asks me about Scale I can only think of the same: Scale is the most important community lead conference in North America and it only gets better by the years. This year it celebrated its seventeenth edition and it just struck me: with me being there this year, there have been more Scales I have attended than I have not. This is my nineth conference out of 17.

      The first time that I attended it was 2011, it was the edition followed by FudCon Tempe 2010 which happened to be my first Fedora conference and it was also the first time I got to meet some contributors that I had previously collaborated with, many of which I still consider my brothers.

      As for this time, I almost didn’t make it as my visa renewal was resolved on Friday’s noon, one day after the conference started. I recovered it that same day and book a flight in the night. I couldn’t find anything to LAX -as I regularly fly- so I had to fly to Tijuana and from there I borrowed a cart to Pasadena. Long story short: I arrived around 1:30 AM on Saturday.

    • Snapcraft Summit Montreal

      Snapcraft is the universal app store for Linux that reaches millions of users and devices and serves millions of app installs a month.

      The Snapcraft Summit is a forward-thinking software workshop attended by major software vendors, community contributors and Snapcraft engineers working at every level of the stack.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 74 beta: reducing unwanted motion, private class fields, and feature policy API

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Android WebView, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. View a complete list of the features in Chrome 74 on ChromeStatus.com. Chrome 74 is beta as of March 22, 2019.

      • Chrome 74 Beta Released With CSS Media Query To Prefer Reduced Motion/Animations

        Google engineers are ending out their work week by issuing the beta of Chrome 74.

        The Chrome 74 Beta features the CSS “prefers-reduced-motion” media query for honoring accessibility settings for those that may want to reduce/eliminate animations or other motions. Also on the developer side is ECMAScript private class fields, a JavaScript API for feature policy, CSS transition events, WebRTC additions, and other changes.

    • Mozilla

      • Mike Conley: Firefox Front-End Performance Update #15

        Firefox 66 has been released, Firefox 67 is out on the beta channel, and Firefox 68 is cooking for the folks on the Nightly channel! These trains don’t stop!

        With that, let’s take a quick peek at what the Firefox Front-end Performance team has been doing these past few weeks…

      • SUMO A/B Experiments

        This year the SUMO team is focused on learning what to improve on our site. As part of that, we spent January setting support.mozilla.org up for A/B testing and last week we ran our first test!

      • Get the tablet experience you deserve with Firefox for iPad

        We know that iPads aren’t just bigger versions of iPhones. You use them differently, you need them for different things. So rather than just make a bigger version of our browser for iOS, we made Firefox for iPad look and feel like it was custom made for a tablet. Mostly because it was.

  • Programming/Development

    • Sublime Text Editor For Debian/Ubuntu/Linux Mint

      Programmers/Developers always love rich-feature text editor, they can be more productive using such application. Sublime Text Editor has been around since 2008 and widely used by many programmers. It is written using C++ and Python programming language, the best thing about this editor is that it’s cross-platform and available for Linux, Mac and Windows.
      Sublime-Text editor natively support numerous amount of programming and markup languages, more functionality can be added using plugins, the plugins are mostly built by its community and maintained user free-software licenses.

    • RcppArmadillo 0.9.300.2.0

      A new RcppArmadillo release based on a new Armadillo upstream release arrived on CRAN and Debian today.

      Armadillo is a powerful and expressive C++ template library for linear algebra aiming towards a good balance between speed and ease of use with a syntax deliberately close to a Matlab. RcppArmadillo integrates this library with the R environment and language–and is widely used by (currently) 583 other packages on CRAN.

    • William Lachance: New ideas, old buildings

      Last week, Brendan Colloran announced Iodide, a new take on scientific collaboration and reporting that I’ve been really happy to contribute to over the past year-and-a-bit. I’ve been describing it to people I meet as kind of “glitch meets jupyter ” but that doesn’t quite do it justice. I’d recommend reading Brendan’s blog post (and taking a look at our demonstration site) to get the full picture.

      One question that I’ve heard asked (including on Brendan’s post) is why we chose a rather conventional and old technology (Django) for the server backend. Certainly, Iodide has not been shy about building with relatively new or experimental technologies for other parts (e.g. Python on WebAssembly for the notebooks, React/Redux for the frontend). Why not complete the cycle by using a new-fangled JavaScript web server like, I don’t know, NestJS? And while we’re at it, what’s with iodide’s ridiculous REST API? Don’t you know GraphQL is the only legitimate way to expose your backend to the world in 2019?

      The great urban theorist of the twentieth century, Jane Jacobs has a quote I love:

    • Setup your Raspberry Pi Model B as Google Colab (Feb ’19) to work with Tensorflow, Keras and OpenCV
    • Getting started with the updated VS Code Yeoman extension for Camel projects
    • Plot the Aroon Up and the Aroon Down lines with Python
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 15 – 2′s Complement and Negative numbers
    • Using multiprocessing – a simple introduction.
    • Basic AI Concepts: A* Search Algorithm

      Artificial intelligence in its core strives to solve problems of enormous combinatorial complexity. Over the years, these problems were boiled down to search problems.

      A path search problem is a computational problem where you have to find a path from point A to point B. In our case, we’ll be mapping search problems to appropriate graphs, where the nodes represent all the possible states we can end up in and the edges representing all the possible paths that we have at our disposal.

    • Learn Python 3 Web-Bootcamp: Strings And Numbers In Python3 (Part 2)

      In the part one of this series, we showed you how to use variables in Python 3. In this tutorial, we are going to work with Strings and Numbers.

    • Configuring Django Templates

      Django is among the most recommended full stack web development frameworks at the moment. Django follows Model-Template-View (MTV) architecture. This is something similar to the traditional MVC( Model-View_Controller) architecture, but in Django, views are more like controllers, and MVC’s views are actually the template of Django.

    • Detect nudity with nudepy python module.
    • Python Bytes: #122 Give Me Back My Monolith
    • How I learned Python Programming
    • How to transition into a Developer Relations career
    • A Look at Python, Parameterized

      I’ve written A Look at Python, Parameterized on the Toptal blog — a look at how, in Python, you can replace 6+ design patterns with one concept.

Leftovers

  • The Greatest Projects I Never Madokok

    She was a terrible boss. But she was wise about work. “We are defined more by the business we refuse to take than the ones we do,” she told me. That turned out to be true. My cartoons are notable for what they don’t include: symbols like donkeys and elephants, labeled graphic metaphors, a reliance on caricature.

    Film fanatics muse about the Greatest Movies Never Made. There was talk about remaking John Carpenter’s campy, low-budget, politically brilliant 1988 movie “They Live.” Unlike Harrison Ford’s oafish 1995 do-over of “Sabrina”—first rule of Hollywood should be don’t remake a film by Billy Wilder—“They Live” with money for special effects and real actors might have been something to see.

    Projects that get dropped before completion reveal the outer limits of a creator’s interests. Ideas intriguing enough to pursue initially and fall apart in the face of financial or marketplace distribution issues or other, easier-to-finish plans present a tantalizing portrait of a career that might have been under different circumstances.

    I’ve been slogging through a midlife crisis. Court battles, career pains and my mother’s flagging health have me focused on mortality. For a poor kid from the Rust Belt I’ve lived an amazing life; if I die today I’ll feel that I scored a better deal than many others. Still, to whine is human. Closer to death than birth, I’m considering how to spend the time I have left and regretting cool things I never got to do and probably never will: work on staff inside the offices of a newspaper or magazine, study toward a master’s degree, teach, live or study overseas.

  • Science

    • US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn

      The official opening of the American University of Malta (AUM) on Friday 8th March foregrounds a new trend in USA Higher Education influence in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. The term ‘American’ is being applied to universities which are not US-driven at all but which simply adopt the US university style of operation and system. The AUM is run by a Jordanian Company, the Sadeen Group.

      The Sadeen Group’s official statement says that “Through the years, the group has its reputation and had been made known to various engineering consultants, business travelers, investors and other business organizations for being committed to produce a high quality and excellence services. Today, Sadeen Group has recorded a sizable growth in the field of construction, travel and tourism services. The group is a graded class in building constructions both on commercial and industrial RCC, pre-engineered building, water treatment plant construction, correspondence and their business with the utmost secrecy and confidentiality.”

      It has been reported that it had bought the programmes on offer at AUM from De Paul University in Chicago. This is as far as ‘American’ goes with respect to the ‘for profit’ private university in question. It has been effectively operating for the last two years, while works were being carried out on the campus site, attracting few students to date.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Sugary Drinks May Boost Risk of Premature Death

      Links between excess sugar in your diet and disease have been well-documented, but new research by Harvard’s School of Public Health might make you even more wary of that next soda: it could increase your risk of an early death.

      The study, published this week in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, found that drinking one or two sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) each day — like sodas or sports drinks — increases risk of an early death by 14 percent.

    • Tyson Foods Recalls Nearly 70,000 Pounds of Chicken Strips After Customers Find ‘Fragments of Metal’

      Tyson Foods is recalling approximately 69,093 pounds of frozen chicken strips because they may have been contaminated with pieces of metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

      The affected products were fully-cooked “Buffalo Style” and “Crispy” chicken strips with a “use by” date of Nov. 30, 2019 and an establishment number of “P-7221″ on the back of the package.

      “FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers,” the recall notice said. “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

    • New York City Public Schools to Join ‘Meatless Mondays’ Movement

      For students in the United States’ largest school district, “Meatloaf Monday” in the cafeteria will soon be a thing of the past.

      Instead, New York City public schools will be adopting “Meatless Mondays” for the 2019-2020 school year in an effort to improve public health and reduce the city’s environmental footprint, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week.

    • New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell

      For years animal agriculture apologists have tried to convince the public that “inflammation, not cholesterol, is the cause of chronic disease.” Eat all the eggs, meat and milk you want, they cajole: you won’t die from a stroke or heart attack at age 50. We promise.

      This week a JAMA study reverses the industry-friendly hype, at least until the industry shills resume their spin. Each added 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol represented a 17 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular disease and 18 percent increased risk of all-cause premature death, concludes the study.

      This is far from the first time eggs have been definitively linked to disease and death. In 2008, the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation reported that just one egg a day increased the risk of heart failure in a group of doctors studied. And in 2010, the Canadian Journal of Cardiology lamented the, “widespread misconception…that consumption of dietary cholesterol and egg yolks is harmless,” cautioning that, “Stopping the consumption of egg yolks after a stroke or myocardial infarction would be like quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer: a necessary action, but late.”

    • Interview With Charles Gore, Medicines Patent Pool Executive Director

      Charles Gore took over the role of Executive Director at the Medicines Patent Pool in July 2018, just after its board decided to greatly expand its mandate into essential medicines. Nine months into his term, IP-Watch’s William New talked with him about his role and how the expansion is going.

      Gore took up the post last year following a career in patient representation and public health advocacy. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1995 and cirrhosis in 1998. In 2000 he set up The Hepatitis C Trust in the UK which he ran for 18 years. In 2002 he was treated and cured of the virus. He helped create the European Liver Patients Association and was its first President in 2004. In 2007 he established the World Hepatitis Alliance and was President until December 2017. As a result of advocacy by the Alliance, WHO adopted successive viral hepatitis resolutions in 2010, 2014 and 2016, culminating in endorsement of the goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C by 2030.

      [...]

      GORE: We recently got the licence for AbbVie’s combination of Glecaprevir and Pibrentasvir, a key hepatitis C treatment, and are currently in the process of sublicensing it to generic companies. I would like to think that I contributed somewhat to this because of my 20 years’ experience of working in hepatitis C but the MPP’s success is down to a whole team effort. Our business development team, based in Geneva and India, work with the originator companies to obtain the licences and then manage the sublicensing, which includes helping our generic partners with development. Our policy team helps inform us which drugs we should look to licence as well as creating, together with the communications team, the environment in which originators are happy to grant us licences. Our legal team oversee our rigorous generic manufacturer selection process and negotiate the terms of both licences and sublicences to ensure they are truly public health agreements. And of course support staff make all this possible. My job is really to make it all work harmoniously; it’s not at all about ‘making my mark’. One of my key jobs is overseeing our expansion into the new areas and so one of our key current activities is the creation of a framework to guide us in the selection of new drugs to target in areas such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, antimicrobials that we are now looking at for the first time.

    • Grandson of legendary John Deere engineer defends right-to-repair and condemns Big Ag for “taxing customers”

      Willie Cade’s grandfather Theo Cade was one of John Deere’s most storied engineers, with 158 patents to his name; he invented the manure spreader and traveled the country investigating stories of how farmers were using, fixing, modifying and upgrading their equipment; today, Willie Cade is the founder of the Electronics Reuse Conference, having spent a quarter-century repairing electronics, diverting e-waste from landfills and rehabilitating it for use by low-income schools and individuals.

      In a stirring op-ed for Security Ledger, Cade the Younger takes aim at John Deere and the other businesses that have lobbied against Right-to-Repair legislation that would force them to end practices ranging from the use of software locks to prevent activation of new parts to withholding parts, documentation and service codes from the independent repair sector.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump Reversing New Sanctions on North Korea

      President Donald Trump says he is reversing his administration’s decision to slap new sanctions on North Korea, ordering them withdrawn.

      White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump “likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”

      Trump says in a tweet that, “It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea.”

      But he says, “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

    • Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs

      As internal and external pressures mount to hold Boeing responsible for its criminal negligence, the giant company is exerting its immense influence to limit both its past and future accountability. Boeing whistleblowers and outside aviation safety experts are coming forward to reveal the serial, criminal negligence of Boeing’s handling of its dangerous Boeing 737 Max airplanes, grounded in the aftermath of two deadly crashes that took 346 lives. Boeing, is used to having its way in Washington, D.C. For decades, Boeing and some of its airline allies have greased the wheels for chronic inaction related to the additional protection and comfort of airline passengers and airline workers.

      Most notoriously, the airlines, after the hijacks to Cuba in the late Sixties and early Seventies, made sure that Congress and the FAA did not require hardened cockpit doors and stronger latches on all aircraft, costing a modest $3000 per plane. Then the 9/11 massacre happened, a grisly consequence of non-regulation, pushed by right wing corporatist advocacy centers.

      Year after year, Flyers Rights – the airline passenger consumer group –proposed a real passengers bill of rights. Year after year the industry’s toadies in Congress said no. A slim version passed last year — requiring regulations creating minimum seat standards, regulations regarding prompt refunds for ancillary services not provided or on a flight not taken, and a variety of small improvements for consumers.

    • Boeing Values Profits Over Lives—By Design

      The fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft on March 10 shows us in stark terms just how deadly unfettered capitalism is. Boeing has pushed the legal limits of how far a corporation can manipulate a system to maximize its profits, even if it means risking lives.

      Just a few months ago, another fatal airline crash of the same type of Boeing aircraft, operated by Lion Air, resulted in 189 lives lost. The New York Times reported that what the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air flights had in common was that both doomed planes lacked safety features linked to why the pilots were unable to recover from erratic dips after takeoff. Those safety features, rather than being built into the standard models, cost extra. Imagine being told that your car’s seat belts were an optional feature that cost more and then finding out in a deadly crash just how important those belts are.

      One expert explained that the optional features are “critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install,” and that “Boeing charges for them because it can. But they’re vital for safety.” Perhaps the airlines purchasing the Max 8 aircraft from Boeing didn’t realize the safety features would make the difference between life and mass death. Perhaps, like Boeing, they were trying to cut costs and maximize profits—no matter the consequences.

    • Human Rights Attorney to Trump: “Israel Is Not Interested in the Golan Heights for Security”

      Just weeks before major elections in Israel that could determine the future of embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump declares the U.S. will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, in defiance of international law and decades of U.S. policy. The announcement comes as he is set to host Netanyahu at the White House next week amid the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, where Vice President Mike Pence will speak, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, among others. A growing number of Democrats—including at least eight presidential candidates—say they will skip the summit. We get reaction from Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat, author of the new book “Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.”

    • After Activist Pressure, Amazon Purges Dozens of Far-Right Books

      The overwhelming size of Amazon’s distribution sphere is known for its ability to suppress the prices of the media it sells and to crush a diversity of sellers, but the advantage for small publishers is that it sells just about everything.

      As a central purchasing hub, it is relatively easy to get books sold on Amazon, allowing tiny publishing operations to have essentially the same distribution platform as Random House, not to mention self-publishing options like CreateSpace. This has also given Amazon enormous power to determine what is available: If a book isn’t sold at Amazon, does it really even exist?

      Greg Johnson, editor-in-chief of the white nationalist publishing house Counter-Currents, was forced to ponder this on February 24, when Amazon removed his publishing house’s most-sold book, The White Nationalist Manifesto. Counter-Currents had been founded by Johnson to give legitimacy to Johnson’s white nationalist movement, as well as to give him a job when he quit as web editor for the white nationalist journal The Occidental Observer. Counter-Currents would try to mimic the success that Verso Books had on the left, and he aspired to be the fascist equivalent by publishing extreme books on philosophic, spiritual and literary subjects.

      While the removal of The White Nationalist Manifesto came with little fanfare other than Amazon saying that it violated the company’s policies (though it was unclear what policies those were), Johnson could see the writing on the wall. Two days later, Amazon banned 15 more Counter-Currents titles, including Western Civilization Bites Back by British Nationalist Party leader Jonathan Bowden and books by Nazi mystic Savitri Devi. Amazon had also banned four books by white nationalist leader Jared Taylor.

    • A Russian court has sentenced a Ukrainian teen to six years in prison for ‘abetting terrorism.’ The suspect says FSB agents abducted him in Belarus.

      On March 22, the North Caucasian District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced 19-year-old Pavel Grib to six years in prison for abetting terrorist activity. According to prosecutors, Grib tried to convince a young woman in Sochi named Tatyana E. to stage a terrorist attack at her high-school graduation ceremony. Officials also accused him of supporting the “Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense,” which is banned in Russia as an extremist organization.

      Grib maintains his innocence, and his lawyer, Marina Dubrovina, argued in court that others had access to his Skype account, which sent messages to Tatyana about bomb-making. Dubrovina told Meduza that she plans to challenge the ruling, stating that prosecutors failed to produce evidence that her client is responsible for the correspondence at the center of the case.

    • Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama

      With former Vice President Joe Biden seemingly ready to join the presidential race, a Washington Post reporter wrote: “Biden and his allies picture an election that poses a choice between four more years of Trump disruption and a chance to restore the Obama administration.”

      Ah, the hope of an Obama restoration!

      But is a “return to normalcy” truly enough? After decades in which giant corporations have amassed huge political and financial control while racial and economic inequities kept widening – and with climate scientists now telling us that planetary survival requires radical reforms?

      And what about the real danger that a return to Obama-style, go-slow “corporate liberalism” would lead to the next right-wing faux-populist upsurge, this time commanded by someone smarter and slicker than Trump?

    • NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries

      2019 is a year of interesting commemorations, among them the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of D-Day, the landing of allied troops in France that, along with Russia’s Operation Bagration (which “inflicted the biggest defeat in German military history by completely destroying 28 out of 34 German divisions and completely shattered the German front line”), heralded the end of the Second World War. Then there was the anniversary of the first landing on the moon, which was fifty years ago in July.

      Additionally, on March 9 there was the sixtieth birthday of the Barbie Doll, an expensive puppet-like figurine that can adopt any number of postures.

      Which brings us to the US-NATO military alliance that celebrates two anniversaries of its own this year in its new headquarters in Brussels that cost 1.23 billion dollars. It commemorates its creation 70 years ago and the occasion when “On March 12, 1999, in the presence of their US counterpart, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the foreign ministers of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic finally signed the protocols of NATO accession.”

    • Is It Really So Shocking?

      The first time Code Pink went on a tour of Iranian state ministries, as well as shopping in Tehran’s magnificent bazaar, I got all outraged and ended up writing up my rage. A website published it.

      Medea Benjamin emailed me with her phone number for me to call. To straighten things up, I guess. I was in Vietnam at the time, and an international phone call would take some logistical work; but quite frankly I simply didn’t want to talk to somebody who had just been led around various Iranian government ministries by a guy who had written a hatchet job on me, published by some western websites. Additionally, I was paranoid-sure her phone would be hacked by the Iranian state. Better paranoid and safe. You can never be too paranoid when you’re Iranian. So, I made up excuses and never called.

      This time around, when Code Pink went on another tour of various state ministries and shopping, I thought to myself, “Is it really so shocking that a group of westerners, feminist and peace-loving, would visit ministries of a state that jails women’s rights activists — don’t forget labor rights activists, students’ rights activists, free speech rights activists, environmental activists, minority rights activists, people dancing to Pharrell’s song, Happy, and the list goes on — a state that, to make things even sweeter, is wrapping up a successful campaign of participation in the incineration of a half a million Syrians?”

    • [Reposted in another site] White Supremacy is a Global Threat
    • Robert Dreyfuss and Diana Duarte on the Media’s Role in Iraq War

      Many in media were critical of Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush, who used the March anniversary of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, based on what Americans were told was the imminent threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, as an opportunity to launch a Twitter tirade to say, “It’s a myth that Bush lied.” He and Bush “faithfully and accurately reported” intelligence community assessments, Fleischer maintained.

      Media seemed concerned that Fleischer was insufficiently respectful of the toll of the Iraq War, including what the Washington Post modestly estimated as “thousands of dead Iraqis”—researchers would put that number at, minimally, half a million.

      But Fleischer’s revision isn’t just wrong in emphasis or in sentiment. And we didn’t have to wait 16 years to know that. In February 2004, CounterSpin spoke with investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss about that pre-war intelligence on Iraq, and the role of a secret and largely unaccountable organization inside the Pentagon in manufacturing and publicizing it. We’ll hear that interview today.

    • Pompeo Is at Odds With Lebanese Officials Over Hezbollah

      U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday blasted Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which he vowed the U.S. would continue to pressure, and called on the Lebanese people to stand up to the Iran-backed militant group he said was “committed to spreading destruction.”

      His harsh comments in Beirut were in strong contrast to those of Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil who minutes earlier, while standing next to Pompeo, insisted that Hezbollah is “a Lebanese group that is not a terrorist organization and was elected by the people.”

      Pompeo, however, warned that “the Lebanese people face a choice: Bravely move forward or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future.”

      He added that the U.S. would continue using “all peaceful means” to curb Hezbollah and Iran’s influence.

    • The U.S. Deserves Its Own Nuremberg Trials

      Are Americans capable of committing atrocities on the same scale as Germans did under Nazi rule? That is the question that University of San Francisco ethics professor Rebecca Gordon and Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer grapple with in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” Gordon, author of “Mainstreaming Torture” and “American Nuremberg,” posits that if America’s actions in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, were to be scrutinized the way Nazi Germany’s crimes were probed in the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. would likely also be found guilty of crimes against humanity.

      Gordon begins her comparison by exploring the main charge levied against Nazis during the Nuremberg trials, which was committing a crime against peace due to Germany’s breach of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, which, she explains, “essentially outlawed war.” American prosecutors in the mid-20th century insisted that this initial crime was the unlawful act from which all other crimes committed by the Nazis originated.

      “By comparison,” the author tells Scheer, “I look at the Bush-Cheney administration’s decision to make an unnecessary and illegal war, both in Afghanistan and especially in Iraq.

      “It’s very clear from the documentary record that exists that the main reason people were being tortured [by the U.S. before the Iraq War began] was because they wanted to get somebody somewhere to say that Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaida, so that there could be an excuse for invading Iraq,” Gordon says.

    • China plans to build “national logistics base” in disputed waters

      China is planning to build an “island city” on three neighbouring islands in a disputed area of the South China Sea.

      The announcement, made by Zhang Jun, the Communist Party secretary of Sansha, said the development would be a “key national strategic service and logistics base” on Woody Island (Yongxing, in Chinese) and the two nearby islets of Tree and Drummond (Zhaoshu and Jinqing).

      He said in a press statement: “We need to carefully plan the overall development of the islands and reefs based on their different functions, taking into account their complementary relationship.”

      The islands are part of the Sansha district of China’s southernmost province of Hainan. Zhang said the decision followed a speech by President Xi Jinping last year and a central government directive issued in April to mark Hainan’s 30th anniversary.

    • Veterans Demand Congress End the Forever Wars

      As politicians and pundits opined on the 16-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq this week, organizer and veteran Perry O’Brien observed that people who were born after the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of the global war on terror are now old enough to join the military and deploy to Afghanistan, where fragile peace talks between with the Taliban continue. Blood is still spilling in Kandahar, the province in Afghanistan where O’Brien served as a medic during the early years of the Afghan war.

      “In 2003, the idea of being in Afghanistan even five more years would have sounded unlikely; 15 years would have been madness,” O’Brien said in an interview with Truthout.

      Nowdays, O’Brien is a political organizer with Common Defense, a nationwide group of progressive veterans that grew out of protests against President Trump’s racist remarks on the 2016 campaign trail. Conservative political forces have long held a monopoly on the public image of military service and patriotism, O’Brien said, but the nationwide community of progressive veterans is actually “enormous.”

      “We didn’t want to be props for Trump’s campaign for hate,” O’Brien said. “We were outraged by his remarks about Muslims and immigrants, and the whole platform and were, you know, angry with … how he wraps himself in the flag and the symbols of service even though he has never served anything other than himself.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • What’s in the Mueller Report?

      It was the firing heard round the world. With one move, on the advice of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Donald Trump fired James Comey on May 9, 2017. It would change the course of the Trump presidency.

      Comey, delivering a speech in California, learned of his termination when it flashed across cable news. Trump, under pressure to explain his decision, blamed a Justice Department official named Rod Rosenstein, a man Trump himself had appointed to his position. In explaining the firing, Trump released a memo Rosenstein had written, at Trump’s request, that listed Comey’s failures over the years.
      It was Trump’s second impulsive move, and it may have been his most consequential. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, much to Trump’s dismay, had recused himself from oversight of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That meant the authority fell to Rosenstein, the next-highest ranking official in the Department of Justice. Infuriated by Trump’s attempt to pin the blame for Comey’s firing on him, Rosenstein used the power he had at his unilateral disposal to do the one thing that could cause Trump more damage than anything else: He created the position of Special Counsel, and filled it with former FBI director Robert Mueller.

    • The Mueller Report Is In. They Were Wrong. We Were Right.

      The Robert Mueller investigation which monopolized political discourse for two years has finally concluded, and his anxiously awaited report has been submitted to Attorney General William Barr. The results are in and the debate is over: those advancing the conspiracy theory that the Kremlin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government were wrong, and those of us voicing skepticism of this were right.

    • Julian Assange refuses House request as WikiLeaks colleague slams ‘pathetic’ hunt for collusion

      WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson denied ties Friday to President Trump’s election campaign on the heels of his predecessor, Julian Assange, defying requests for related material from the House Judiciary Committee.
      “It’s rather pathetic how people are trying to connect the dots about some kind of collaboration,” said Mr. Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist who previously served as the spokesperson for WikiLeaks prior to succeeding Mr. Assange as the website’s editorial lead last September.

      Mr. Hrafnsson made the remarks in an interview published by the Reykjavík Grapevine shortly after it emerged that Mr. Assange and an associate, Randy Credico, would both refuse requests issued as part of the House panel’s probe into alleged obstruction, corruption and other crimes potentially committed by Mr. Trump and individuals in his inner circle.

    • Episode 20: US-Venezuelan Relations

      On this episode of Along the Line, Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III, Dr. Nolan Higdon, and Janice Domingo discuss the history of US-Venezuelan relations.

    • Seymour Hersh’s Anonymous Sources

      Ever since 1969, when he rose to national prominence with the story of the My Lai massacre, Seymour Hersh has been one of the best-known investigative journalists in the world. His career has not been without controversy. His most recent piece, about the recently deceased George H.W. Bush’s role in the Iran-Contra affair (“The Vice President’s Men”), is a clear example of why he remains controversial.

      Hersh’s principal thesis, that the office of Vice President George H.W. Bush controlled much of President Reagan’s foreign policy, including the Iran-Contra debacle, is certainly plausible. Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel directing the Iran-Contra investigation, found substantial evidence leading to the vice president’s office, and Bush, by then president in his own right, pardoned virtually every conspirator while misleadingly denouncing Walsh’s indictment of felonious activity as merely “the criminalization of policy differences.”

    • Tree Rings Reveal Climate Secrets of the Forest

      Neil Pederson’s introduction to tree rings came from a “sweet and kindly” college instructor, who nevertheless was “one of the most boring professors I’d ever experienced,” Pederson said. “I swore tree rings off then and there.” But they kept coming back to haunt him.

      As a future forest ecologist, he needed to learn more about the history of forests. So he read countless articles in graduate school extolling the importance of tree rings in unraveling a forest’s past. Ultimately, “I fell in love with the beauty and wealth of information found in tree rings,” he said. “Since then, tree rings have revealed to me the absolute resiliency of trees and forests. I’m hooked.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Exhausted by Scandal: ‘Dieselgate’ Continues to Haunt Volkswagen

      Volkswagen can’t seem to shake off its “Dieselgate” scandal, even as it has cost the company more than $30 billion in fines, penalties, restitution and settlement of lawsuits since September 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week charged Volkswagen AG, two of its subsidiaries, and its former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, “for defrauding U.S. investors, raising billions of dollars through the corporate bond and fixed income markets while making a series of deceptive claims about the environmental impact of the company’s ‘clean diesel’ fleet.”

    • Leaked Audio Exposes Oil & Gas Execs Laughing With Joy Over Cozy Access to Trump Officials

      A newly-leaked audio recording reveals that oil and gas executives in a private meeting were “giddy” with laughter in the summer of 2017 as they rejoiced over the “unprecedented access” they were being given to the highest levels of the Trump administration, boasting about their ability to have closed-door meetings with top officials and the ascendance of their own industry colleagues to some of the most powerful seats of government.

      Among the topics in the recording, reports Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting—which was provided the audio—the oil and gas executives who belong to the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) “are heard discussing David Bernhardt, now deputy secretary of the Interior and a former industry lobbyist.” Notably, Bernhardt—described by the executives in the recording as a close friend and industry operative—has now been nominated by President Trump to be the next Secretary of Interior, with his confirmation hearings scheduled for next week.

      Lance Williams, a senior reporter for Reveal, detailed the contents of the recorded June 2017 meeting, which took place inside a Ritz-Carlton hotel conference room in Southern California, with an extensive piece for Politico’s weekend magazine published Saturday. Williams said the “recording gives a rare look behind the curtain of an influential oil industry lobbying group” congratulating itself on their political fortunes under a friendly administration.

    • Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws

      Paper receipts are a habitual end to retail transactions. But their usefulness is questionable — they can be tossed out within minutes of being printed, or go on to line the bottoms of our bags and wallets.

      In an increasingly digital world, it may seem that paper receipts are in decline, but new data from Grand View Research shows the opposite to be true. Every year, paper receipt use is increasing worldwide — including in the U.S., where 256,300 metric tons of paper receipts were consumed in 2018.

      These small pieces of paper can have a huge impact.

      Millions of trees and billions of gallons of water are consumed to create them, generating tons of waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Most thermal paper receipts are also coated with Bisphenol A (BPA) or S (BPS), endocrine-disrupting substances that we absorb through contact, posing exposure risks for workers and customers.

      But there may be changes coming soon.

    • Achieving Escape Velocity

      I grew up with the idea that leaving Earth was inevitable. The Space Age had arrived and the sky was no limit. Per ardua ad astra was no longer a metaphor; it would happen, it was happening. Invisible radiation traveled through the air every afternoon to bring me indelible images of humans in space, benignly, bravely venturing out into the numinous beauty of the galaxy strung with stars, enticingly intercalated with exotic life. A chorus of ethereal voices accompanied their stalwart ship each time, as it boldly went where no man [sic] had gone before.

      What it carried with it were clean, comfortably-appointed living spaces where slim, attractive people sported glittery, form-fitting synthetics and teased and pomaded hair that was preternaturally perfect. Mutual respect, affection and humor were their mainstays. There was racial harmony – for humans had united, at last! (Often against other species, but only if they threatened us first. Otherwise, we sought to befriend them.) Artificial intelligences informed, protected and consoled us, but knew their place, like good housemaids. If they overstepped, we pulled the plug. Our marvelous cultural diversity was still intact no matter how deracinated our existence had become, speeding along in a vacuum, light-years from home among the stretched-out stars.

      Earth had figured it out. Humans had figured it out. We had solved all the challenges on our home planet, and now – on to the final frontier!

    • Following Monsanto, Exxon Could Be Next US Corporation to Face EU Lobby Ban

      ExxonMobil could soon join Monsanto as one of the only two companies not allowed to lobby European Union lawmakers.

      The oil giant, one of the world’s largest energy companies, was a no-show at a climate change denial hearing in Brussels Thursday, prompting the action.

      In a statement, ExxonMobil said that it was unable to attend because of “ongoing climate change-related litigation in the U.S.”

      That wasn’t good enough for Molly Scott Cato, a Green Party member of the European Parliament. In a statement, Green said a company which had spent millions on climate denial and then ducked responsibility for its actions didn’t deserve the right to promote itself in the EU.

      “We cannot allow the lobbyists from such corporations free access to the corridors of the European parliament,” said Cato. “We must remove their badges immediately.”

      ExxonMobil spent over €35 million on lobbying efforts in the EU since 2010. If the vote goes against the energy giant, it would lose that right in the European Parliament.

    • Nearly 50 Dead in Explosion at Chinese Chemical Plant

      The blast forced more than 3,000 people to evacuate the area, AFP reported. More than 600 are injured and 90 are in the hospital with serious injuries following one of the country’s worst industrial disasters in recent years. The blast from the explosion was so strong that it caused a minor earthquake and felled nearby factory buildings, trapping workers. It also blew out windows in houses around three miles away, according to Sky.

    • Mozambique Is Drowning. Nebraska Has Flooded. We Need a Green New Deal.

      The ocean has come for the coastal African nation of Mozambique. Tropical Cyclone Idai, a devastating storm that pummeled the country with fierce winds, was followed by a massive flood that has obliterated dams, swept away homes and bridges, erased roads, shuttered airports, and damaged 90 percent of the city of Beira, home to more than 500,000 people. There are bodies in the water and no one to collect them, making diseases like cholera an imminent threat.

      More than 1,000 are confirmed dead, a number that is sure to rise. Thousands more are homeless and seeking refuge. “Many people were waiting for food, water and medicine,” reports The New York Times, “in makeshift shelters in primary schools and other government buildings.” Satellite imagery over Mozambique shows a new flood-made inland sea that is 30 miles wide in places. “We’ve never had something of this magnitude before in Mozambique,” said non-governmental organization coordinator Emma Beatty. To the west in Zimbabwe and Malawi, more than 100 people are known dead, hundreds more are missing and the damage is extensive.

      “There are at least three major ways that the Mozambique floods are related to climate change,” reports Eric Holthaus for Grist. “First, a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which makes rainfall more intense. Idai produced more than two feet of rainfall in parts of the region — nearly a year’s worth in just a few days. Second, the region had been suffering from a severe drought in recent years in line with climate projections of overall drying in the region, hardening the soil and enhancing runoff. Third, sea levels are about a foot higher than a century ago, which worsens the effect of coastal flooding farther inland.”

    • “Water Is Life”: Midwestern Floods Threaten Indigenous Communities at Forefront of Climate Crisis

      As Nebraska and the U.S. Midwest recover from devastating climate change-fueled floods, we speak with Lakota historian Nick Estes on how two centuries of indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life.” Estes’s new book is titled “Our History Is the Future.” He is a co-founder of the indigenous resistance group The Red Nation and a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

    • How to Keep Conservation Policies From Backfiring in a Globally Connected World

      For many years environmentalists have urged the public to “think globally, act locally” – meaning, consider the health of the planet, then take action in your own community.

      But this approach can have unintended consequences. In a recent study, I worked with colleagues from academia, government and the nonprofit world to gather examples of fishery, forestry, agriculture and biofuel policies that appeared successful locally, but on closer inspection actually created environmental problems elsewhere, or in some cases made them worse.

      For example, in my field of fisheries ecology and management, one strategy for managing the problem of bycatch — when fishermen accidentally catch non-target species, such as sharks, sea turtles and dolphins — is to reduce local catch limits. But when the United States curtailed Pacific swordfish catch between April 2001 and March 2004 to protect sea turtles, U.S. wholesalers imported more swordfish from other countries’ fleets operating in the Western and Central Pacific.

      These fleets subsequently caught more swordfish to meet continued U.S. market demand. In the process, the number of sea turtles unintentionally hooked by fishermen increased by nearly 3,000 compared to before the closure.

      My colleagues and I see this pattern, which scholars often call leakage or slippage, as vast and growing. To help address it, we identified ways to avoid taking actions that just displace environmental harms from one place to another rather than reducing them.

    • ‘In a Just World, It Would Be Treated as Crime Against Humanity’: New Report Exposes Big Oil’s Real Agenda

      In the years since the 2015 Paris agreement, the world’s top five Big Oil firms collectively have spent more than a billion dollars on “misleading” branding and lobbying to “capture the public and political narrative” on the climate crisis while they continue expanding their fossil fuel operations.

      That’s according to Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change, a new report published late Thursday by InfluenceMap, a London-based nonprofit that tracks and analyzes how corporations influence climate policy.

    • Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?

      The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act or NREPA was once again introduced into Congress by Rep. Carolyn Mahony from New York last month. NREPA would protect all the remaining roadless lands in the Northern Rockies by designation under the 1964 Wilderness Act. Conservation scientists recognize Wilderness as the “Gold Standard” for land protection.

      Hell’s Canyon, a 10-mile-wide canyon located along the border of eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and western Idaho, is North America’s deepest river gorge. The bill, if passed, would also create a Hells Canyon National Park and Preserve in Oregon and protect several other iconic wild places in the Northern Rockies.

      Iconic wild places that would receive permanent protection includes Scotchman’s Peak, Meadow Creek, and Lost River Range in Idaho, the Great Burn, Big Snowies, and the Gallatin Range in Montana, the Palisades and Wyoming Range in Wyoming, and the Kettle Range in Washington. The bill, if passed, would also create a Hells Canyon National Park and Preserve in Oregon.

      In addition to protecting these wilderness areas, it would designate and protect more than 1,800 miles of rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

    • ‘All Rhetoric and No Action’: Oil Giants Spent $1 Billion on Climate Lobbying and Ads Since Paris Pact, Says Report

      A new report by a British think tank estimates that since the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s five largest listed oil and gas companies spent more than $1 billion lobbying to prevent climate change regulations while also running public relations campaigns aimed at maintaining public support for climate action.

      Combined, the companies spend roughly $200 million a year pushing to delay or alter climate and energy rules, particularly in the U.S. — while spending $195 million a year “on branding campaigns that suggest they support an ambitious climate agenda,” according to InfluenceMap, a UK-based non-profit that researches how corporations influence climate policy.

  • Finance

    • “We Demand Food for Thought”: UIC Grad Workers On Strike for Living Wages and Respect

      In front of the historic Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on March 19, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) graduate workers began an indefinite strike. The union is joining a national movement of higher education employees demanding livable wages and better working conditions in the often-unstable field of academia.

      The strike is the result of more than a year of negotiations between UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) Local 6297 and the university administration. Since September 2018, over 1,500 teaching and graduate assistants have worked without a contract. An overwhelming 99.5 percent of UIC GEO members authorized a strike last month as part of a wave of educator work actions, from public school teachers in Los Angeles and West Virginia to faculty at Rutgers University and Wright State University. Jeff Schuhrke, co-president of the UIC GEO and labor history Ph.D. candidate, said the strike exemplifies the vital labor graduate students provide.

      “The University of Illinois system just seems to not care about its employees and is always very hostile to collective bargaining and to unions,” Schuhrke told In These Times. “They just try to lowball us and they disrespect us. We’re fed up with it, obviously.”

      UIC graduate employees make a minimum salary of $18,065 for two semesters of 20-hour work weeks, with $13,502 in fee and tuition waivers. Schuhrke said this doesn’t account for the amount and quality of labor, which can include teaching classes for up to 60 students. He said since the union was recognized by the university in 2004, “modest” raises haven’t accounted for increasing university fees, which cut into graduate employees’ salaries. Currently, UIC GEO is seeking a 24 percent pay increase over three years, with the university offering 11.5 percent.

    • New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On

      As is often the case, a spurt of media attention on one event leaves any deeper issues virtually untouched. It was just over a month ago that Amazon announced it was pulling out of its highly subsidized deal to build one of its second headquarters in New York. Three billion in city and state subsidies and goodies like its own personal heliport proved to make much of the public too curious for Jeff Bezos’ liking, rather than attempt any further negotiation and despite the spurned Governor Cuomo’s shameless and pathetic attempt at begging him to reconsider, Bezos set sail, no doubt on the lookout for brighter red carpets. Meanwhile, activists celebrating that victory ceased to realize that an even greater monstrosity was emerging just across the river from the proposed Amazon location.

      If one looks back at the three terms of former mayor Michael Bloomberg choosing their worst feature could be challenging. From ‘stop and frisk’ to the rezoned waterfronts now brimming with luxury apartments well beyond reach of the workers who used to toil there to the arrogant orchestrated overturning of term limits with massive personal spending for reelection campaigns, the choices are plentiful. Yet perhaps Bloomberg’s legacy can be best encapsulated by the recent opening of Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Westside. Billed for over decade as the ‘largest real estate deal in American history’, built by Related Companies and Oxford Properties, two of the largest developers in the world, and with some nonunion building labor, the 28 acre complex when completed sometime in 2035 will hold 13 buildings including apartments, millions of square feet of office space, a performance arts center, a seven-story mall, a hotel, and the requisite celebrity chef-owned restaurants.

    • There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t

      Get ready to hear a lot about baking this campaign season.

      When it comes to how wealth is distributed in this country, “pie” is a favorite pundit metaphor. Some politicians want to “re-divide the pie,” so everyone’s slice is more equal in size.

      But that’s “socialism,” some pundits scold. Better to trust our billionaires and millionaires to “grow the pie” so big that every American has a generous slice.

      New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman indulged a bit of this recently. Michael Bloomberg, Friedman explained, is a grow-the-pie guy. Bernie Sanders, he warned, is a re-divide-the-pie guy.

      Bloomberg has a net worth of about $50 billion. How big would he have to grow the pie so that every American household gets a slice as big as his? By my calculations, that would require about a 500,000 percent increase in the size of America’s total wealth — to over $600 quadrillion.

    • Unfair State Tax Codes Also Exacerbate Racial Inequity

      The latest edition of ITEP’s Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States details how most state and local tax structures contribute to income and wealth inequality by asking low- and moderate-income residents to pay a significantly higher effective tax rate than the wealthy.

      Nationwide, the lowest-income households contribute, on average, 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes while the top 1 percent of households contribute just 7 percent of their income—that’s a tax rate that is 50 percent higher for families working hard to make ends meet than for the wealthiest 1 percent. The tax systems of 45 states widen the income gap between their most affluent residents and lower- and middle-income families. State and local tax systems also worsen existing racial disparities.

      Due to a long history of racially discriminatory economic and social policies and practices, communities of color, particularly Black and Latinx households, are overrepresented in the lowest-income quintiles of taxpayers and underrepresented in the highest. These policies include wealth stripping and exclusionary housing policies, a persistent reliance on regressive revenue streams like criminal justice fees and more. A 2019 ITEP analysis found that Black and Latinx households are overrepresented in the lowest-income quintiles; while they represent about 22 percent of overall tax returns, they account for 30 percent of the poorest quintile of taxpayers.

    • How Billionaires Are Using Hate to Divide Us

      The union I lead, the United Steelworkers (USW), believes in unity, that “all working men and women, regardless of creed, color or nationality” are eligible for membership.

      That was the guiding principle of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) when it formed in 1937.

      I return to that statement in times like these, times when terrorists shoot up mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 worshipers; a synagogue in the USW’s hometown of Pittsburgh, killing 11; an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine; a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, killing six; a nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 mostly young gay people.

      The USW membership eligibility statement is an assertion of inclusion. All working men and women qualify. They can all join. They can all attend local union meetings at which members call each other “brother” and “sister.” This practice creates artificial, but crucial, bonds between them. This solidarity gives the group strength when facing off against massive multinational corporations and demanding decent pay and dignified working conditions.

    • ‘Like Nominating Dr. Phil to Run CDC’: Alarm Bells as Trump Nominates Right-Wing Sycophant Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve

      “I will be nominating Mr. Moore for the Fed. You know who I’m talking about,” Trump told reporters while arriving in Florida for the weekend. “He’s going to be great on the Fed.”

      Whispers that Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who advised Trump’s 2016 campaign, might join the central bank had been circulating online since late Thursday. In a tweet on Friday, the president called him “a very respected Economist.”

      Concerned economic and political commentators decried Moore as “a famous idiot” who “has proved deeply impervious to facts.”

      Several critics also pointed out that Moore was among the “principal architects of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s massive tax cuts, and their predictions that those tax cuts would spur an ‘immediate’ Kansas economic boom have proved strikingly inaccurate.”

      As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a progressive think tank, explained in a 2016 blog post, “the Kansas tax cut package has had a deleterious impact on the state’s financial stability and the provision of critical services.”

    • Billionaires May Pose the Single Greatest Threat to American Democracy

      The union I lead, the United Steelworkers (USW), believes in unity, that “all working men and women, regardless of creed, color or nationality” are eligible for membership.

      That was the guiding principle of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) when it formed in 1937.

      [...]

      Exclusion is self-defeating, whether workers belong to a labor union or not. Because every man and woman is needed on deck, we can’t let billionaire hate purveyors like the Mercers and Murdochs split us, in our workplaces or in our communities.

      Robert Mercer, 72, who made his billions as a hedge fund manager, is a major funder—more than $10 million—of Breitbart, the website once run by former White House aide Stephen Bannon. This is what the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization devoted to monitoring and exposing domestic hate groups and extremists, wrote about the site:

      “In April of 2016, the SPLC documented Breitbart’s embrace of extremist ideas and racist tropes such as black-on-white crime and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Further analyses showed how under executive chair Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s comment section became a safe space for anti-Semitic language.”

    • HUD’s Inspection System Gets a Poor Grade in Congressional Watchdog’s Report

      The federal government’s system of inspecting taxpayer-subsidized housing is fundamentally flawed, and leaders at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development haven’t taken adequate steps to fix it, according to a congressional watchdog report released Thursday.

      The findings of the Government Accountability Office mirror those of an investigation by The Southern Illinoisan and ProPublica last year, which documented numerous cases in which substandard housing complexes received passing — and in some cases, glowing — scores from HUD. The news organizations built an online tool to allow users to look up the scores of taxpayer subsidized housing developments near them.

      The GAO faulted HUD for failing to implement critical recommendations that senior staff made over two years ago to improve the agency’s inspection protocols, which are designed to protect low-income families living in federally subsidized housing and prevent landlords from gaming the system.

      Those recommendations included changing the scoring system to place more emphasis on health and safety concerns facing tenants inside their units, shortening the time frame that property owners have to address emergency conditions identified during inspections, and creating a system to verify whether landlords are actually making promised repairs.

    • Potential Recession Signal: A Key ‘Yield Curve’ Has Inverted

      One of the most closely watched predictors of a potential recession just yelped even louder.

      The signal lies within the bond market, through which investors show how confident they are about the economy by their level of demand for U.S. government bonds.

      It’s called the “yield curve,” and a significant part of it flipped Friday for the first time since before the Great Recession: A Treasury bill that matures in three months is yielding 2.46 percent — 0.03 percentage points more than the yield on a Treasury that matures in 10 years.

    • Eric the Heartbroken

      It is no wonder his heart is broken. Not only have they been wonderful employees, but it’s impossible for him or anyone else to know what Eric’s daddy really wants. It all has to do with the confusing rules about legal and illegal immigrants, his daddy’s inconsistent statements, and the difficulty his daddy’s companies have had complying with the law when it comes to employing immigrant workers at their various properties.

      When it was reported, late in 2018, that the Trump organization employed many undocumented workers at its assorted properties, and in some cases had assisted them in falsifying their documents so they could remain employed, the organization vowed to change its ways. Eric Trump, a vice president of the company, explained, while simultaneously demonstrating his grammatical creativity: “We are actively engaged in uniforming this process across our properties and will institute e-verify at any property not currently utilizing this system.”

      When it became publicly known that the Trump organization employed a number of workers who were not qualified to work in the United States, even though many of them had worked for the Trump properties for many years, they were fired. Their firing took an emotional toll on Eric.

    • EU Takes Charge, Forces Brexit Deadlines on U.K.’s May

      Isolated at home and abroad, British Prime Minister Theresa May was laboring against the odds Friday to win backers in Parliament for her unloved Brexit deal — to a timetable dictated by the European Union.

      Almost three years after Britons voted to walk away from the EU, the bloc’s leaders seized control of the Brexit timetable from May to avert a chaotic departure at the end of this month that would be disruptive for the world’s biggest trading bloc and deeply damaging for Britain.

      “We are prepared for the worst but hope for the best,” said European Council President Donald Tusk. “As you know, hope dies last.”

      May’s mantra since Britain’s 2016 EU membership referendum in 2016 has always been about “taking back control” of U.K. affairs from the EU. But the process has seen her lose control — of the U.K. Parliament, which has twice rejected her Brexit deal, and now of the date of departure.

    • Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs

      I think we, as a nation, have a problem with how we discuss money and public policy. Let me compare it to household finances, since that is something everyone can relate to.

      [...]

      Right now I’m working on my PhD. I pay tuition and school fees, plus I’m spending at least six years of my life in poverty as a poorly paid graduate student. Is that a waste of money? No. Right now, it’s not a profitable decision. In the long run, however, my degree will (hopefully) allow me to earn more money in my career.

      When you can afford it, making decisions that allow you to save money or earn more down the road, even when the payoff doesn’t occur until years later, is a wise choice.

      When we talk about public spending and the national budget, we all understand the general idea that we should spend our tax dollars on useful things that will benefit all of us. We shouldn’t pay wasteful, inflated prices for what we can get for less. And we certainly shouldn’t spend money on things we don’t need at all.

    • College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education

      My first reaction to the recent college admissions scandal was, “Who is Lori Loughlin?” I had never heard this name and not having watched American television until 2007, I also blanked on the name of the TV show which was her claim to fame. My second reaction, however, was simply one of dismay as to the naïveté of those who were surprised by the tactics being used by parents desperate to see their children enter into elite universities.

      Coming from academia and having taught at universities around the world, I have gained a healthy skepticism for the university systems in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom where entry to these universities is generally quite expensive aside from admissions processes which often disadvantage anyone from lower class backgrounds. Or, a quick review of the Harvard admissions process trial last Fall shows us that not only can anything be bought, but standards can be skewed any which way to produce the desired “personal rating” for the intake of new students. While the Rolling Stone story on this issue outlined the facts of this case, one statement from the U.S. District Attorney for the state of Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, unwittingly spoke volumes about the larger structural problems: “We’re not talking about donating a building so a school is more likely to taker your son or daughter….we’re talking about deception and fraud.” I cackled reading this line since Lelling clearly sees a moral and legal distinction between these two acts where most of us simply do not.

      It is this difference which serves as the paradigmatic basis for reading university admissions today: those of us who were accepted to universities for having taken prerequisite tests and having achieved certain high school grades—many despite great odds—and then the rest. And this rest not only includes the elite families who can afford to send their children to private schools and elaborate summer programs that tick all the right boxes, but failing this these parents have the means to hire someone to sit their children’s exams, create fake photos of their daughter on a rowing team and the money to purchase a building or endowment to ensure their progenitors will have easy admissions to the institution of choice.

    • The Rich Are No Smarter Than You

      Nothing makes me angrier than stupid rich people getting unfair advantages. These same entitled rich people then turn around and fight against so-called “entitlement” programs and affirmative action because they seem to think their achievements are based on merit while the rest of us who actually work for a living—or at least try to—are nothing more than lazy freeloaders or unscrupulous “welfare queens” who deserve to die if we can’t afford our hospital bill.

      Now we see some richies arrested for lying, bribing and cheating to get unfair advantages for their offspring. To hell with them and their unearned privilege. May they suffer the indignity of a second-rate college or otherwise rot in a minimum-security prison.

      The college bribery scandal is just the latest example of what anyone who’s been paying attention should already know: the United States is not a meritocracy. The biggest marker of success seems to be the zip code you are born into—regardless of how talented, intelligent, or charismatic you are. The Horatio Alger story has gone from mythical to fraudulent.

      The real tragedy is that many average people, whose parents cannot afford to spend millions to send them to Harvard, operate under the assumption that a person’s financial net worth is equivalent to actual worth. I blame this primarily on our education system and our mainstream media, both of which do the masses a grave injustice by shielding them from class-based analysis.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Only Socialist in US History of ‘With Serious Chance of Winning’: DSA Endorses Bernie Sanders for 2020

      The Democratic Socialists of America have officially endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president saying the self-described socialist running for the Democratic nomination is the best candidate to put forth a “class-struggle agenda” heading into the 2020 elections and the first candidate of his kind in the nation’s history with a legitimate chance of winning.

      The endorsement came in a vote by the group’s National Political Committee on Thursday night after surveys of chapters and members nationwide showed 75 percent approval for the decision.

      “Bernie Sanders is part of an incredible revival of resistance to billionaires and their corporations,” said DSA national director Maria Svart. “Democratic socialists are proud to join with Sanders, his millions of supporters, teachers and other workers on strike across the U.S., and students protesting climate change across the world in fighting for a society that puts people over profit.”

    • It’s Mueller Time: ACLU Demands DOJ ‘Swiftly’ Release Special Counsel Report to the Public

      “The American people have a right to know if President Trump and his associates coordinated with Russia to interfere in our elections, the full extent of Russian efforts to affect our elections, and any attempts to interfere with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.”

    • Mueller Concludes Russia Probe With No New Indictments

      Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday turned over his long-awaited final report on the contentious Russia investigation that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump’s presidency, entangled Trump’s family and resulted in criminal charges against some of the president’s closest associates.

      The comprehensive report, still confidential, marks the end of Mueller’s probe but sets the stage for big public fights to come. The next steps are up to Trump’s attorney general, to Congress and, in all likelihood, federal courts.

    • Fox News viewers are convinced: Donald Trump is the greatest president ever

      President Trump stood in the White House Rose Garden this week with President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, beaming from ear to ear as this fellow right-wing demagogue parroted Trump’s favorite catchphrase, “fake news,” in front of the assembled White House press corps. Trump said he was very proud to hear Bolsonaro use the term and went off on an extended rant against social media, promising to “do something about it.”

      Trump complained again last weekend about “Saturday Night Live” mocking him, and suggested that the FEC and the FCC look into stopping them. His top henchman in the House of Representatives, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, just this week filed a $250 million lawsuit against small-time Twitter parody accounts that made fun of him (most famously, one allegedly written by a cow) and Donald Trump Jr. is writing op-eds complaining about Twitter and Facebook censorship.

    • Is the Democratic Party Finally Standing Up to the Israel Lobby?

      Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro, among candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president, have all announced that they will not attend the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

      [...]

      MoveOn.org seems to me to have moved left over time, including on Israel/Palestine. It spearheaded the movement to get out of Iraq in the zeroes. It also protested the 2009 war on little Gaza.

      A Bernie Sanders spokesperson told NBC News that the senator is “concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution.” Sanders did not go to AIPAC in 2016, but Hillary Clinton has been a frequent guest and is close to the Israel lobbies and the Netanyahu government. She hasn’t given any sign of caring what happens to the Palestinians one way or another since about 1996. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will be headliners at AIPAC this year. The organization says it isn’t disturbed by the exodus of presidential candidates, insisting that it focuses on Congress. Hmm. I wonder what it does for the congressional representatives?

    • As 2020 Democrats Steer Clear, Progressive Groups Urge Pelosi and Schumer to #SkipAIPAC

      A diverse coalition of progressive advocacy groups representing Jewish and Muslim Americans is pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and other top Democrats to cancel planned speeches at AIPAC’s annual conference as a growing number of the party’s presidential candidates are vowing to skip the event.

    • The Masculinity of the Future

      “I hope you’ve got enough cojones!” George Bush snapped at Tony Blair. The American president then outlined his planned bombardment of Iraq to the British Prime Minister: “I’m gonna kick ass!”

      Over the last two decades, much of the world has witnessed a wave of masculinization. Ideas about how strong men are an attractive future ideal have taken hold in many people’s minds. The #MeToo movement is facing a serious attack, fueled by the resentment and aggressiveness of large numbers of men.

      Autocratic, populist right-wing leaders are an example of this new, unbridled masculinity. Donald Trump mocks disabled people, treats women as if they were sex dolls, and boasts about touching them up. Vladimir Putin has a habit of stripping to the waist so he can show off his muscles while being photographed in the snow. In recent years, his government has decreed that domestic violence is not against the law and the Russian state encourages cruelty towards homosexuals and people with different ethnic backgrounds. To the extent that in Russia things have got to the stage where the murders of the dissident journalist Anna Politkovskaya and dozens of other intellectuals, are regarded as little more than peccadillos. Much of Russian society became fed up with democracy and gave the green light to the so-called siloviki, the tough guys. Many Russians support the rule of force as a state policy. One of the most popular Russian rock songs is dedicated to Putin and his tough guys: “I love a guy like Putin, he’s as tough as they come’, sing the teenage stars Larissa, Natasha and Ira.

    • Think Dishonest Politics and Dark Money Elections Bad Now? Court Ruling Opens Floodgates for ‘Scam PACs’

      A federal judge on Thursday struck down FEC regulations barring unauthorized political action committees from using a candidate’s name to mislead voters and attract donations, a ruling critics warned could lead to the proliferation of “scam PACs.”

      Paul S. Ryan, vice president for policy and litigation with Common Cause, said the ruling “will embolden scam PACs to trade on the names of candidates to raise money for their own ends from unknowing citizens.”

      “The Federal Election Commission (FEC) can and should still be enforcing the ban—and opening a rulemaking to establish new disclaimer requirements for non-candidate websites that use a candidate’s name in the URL,” Ryan added.

      In a series of tweets, FEC chair Ellen Weintraub explained that political action committees are still barred from using candidates’ names in their formal titles.

      But, Weintraub continued, the judge’s ruling will allow PACs to use candidates’ names in their “solicitations, other communications, and special projects.”

    • The Zionist Smear Campaign Against Bernie Sanders Is Just Beginning

      A United States plagued by inequality, corruption, racism, and war is gearing up for a polarizing and potentially explosive election season in 2020.

      Most likely, President Trump will be the Republican nominee, while Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the pack of (declared) contenders with his democratic socialist challenge to the status quo.

      Senator Sanders, however, is facing an opposition coalition that has found common cause in his destruction: Republicans, liberal Democrats and their common ally — Zionists.

      Trump is in trouble. His term bursts at the seams with controversy, beleaguered with the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, a transparent and so-far failed coup attempt in Venezuela, a long list of more than two-dozen White House officials who were either fired or quit, hush payments to porn stars, major breaches in national security, support for unsavory racists and authoritarians, Mafioso-style appointments, and questionable security clearances for friends and family members. What’s more, recent polling show he has the lowest approval rating for this period of his presidency of any U.S. president in recent history. Yet in spite of Trump’s failed presidency and record of gross dishonesty, Republicans continue to back him. His is the true face of the capitalism they seek — unapologetically white supremacist, misogynistic, imperialist, corporate-friendly and xenophobic.

      With nearly two-dozen declared and potential challengers to Trump, Democratic hopefuls are attempting to present themselves as alternatives to the president’s divisive, reactionary agenda.

    • Who will be on stage in the Democratic debates? It depends on how you measure popularity

      The DNC rules for entry into the Democratic debates in June and July are like a presidential primary Hunger Games. To earn a place on the stage, candidates must have at least one percent support in selected polls or raise money from 65,000 unique donors in 20 states with 200 donors per state. The DNC indicated the latter option would allow lesser-known candidates to participate in the debates.

      With 14 high profile candidates already in the running, a maximum of 20 candidates will be selected to participate in the debates. Rather than have them all on stage at once, 10 candidates will appear over two consecutive nights on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo.

      It’s easy to find out who is ahead in the polls with an internet search. But the number of donors a candidate has is not a matter of public record.

      Mandatory financial disclosures to the FEC for the quarter ending on March 31 aren’t due until April 15. Before that date, information candidates release about their donors is voluntary and many candidates are not offering a full picture of what they’ve raised.

      Not so for Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. His campaign told the New York Times he raised $10 million from 360,000 donors during the first week, with $5.9 million coming in the first 24 hours. Sanders, who ran for reelection to the Senate in 2018, already had $9 million cash on hand from previous campaign fundraising. Sanders can use that $9 million to help fuel his presidential run.

    • Progressives Refuse to Back Down as DCCC Moves to Kneecap Primary Challengers

      Progressives made clear they have no intention of backing down to the party establishment after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday threatened to cut off funds to firms and strategists that support primary challengers against incumbents.

      “The DCCC can do anything it wants to try to prevent the next generation of Democrats from taking power. They will not succeed,” Sean McElwee—co-founder of Data for Progress, which is recruiting progressives to oust conservative Democrats—said in a statement.

    • Anti-Brexit Marchers Swarm London Streets, Demand New Vote

      Anti-Brexit protesters swarmed the streets of central London by the tens of thousands on Saturday, demanding that Britain’s Conservative-led government hold a new referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union.

      The “People’s Vote March” kicked off shortly after noon and snaked from Park Lane and other locations to converge on the U.K. Parliament, where the fate of Brexit will be decided in the coming weeks.

      Many marchers carried European Union flags and signs praising the longstanding ties between Britain and continental Europe.

      Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, invited to help lead the march, called the crowd impressive and unified.

      “There is a huge turnout of people here from all walks of life, of all ages and from all over the country,” he tweeted. “We are a Remain country now with 60 percent wanting to stop the Brexit mess.”

      More than 4 million people endorsed an electronic petition this week in favor of revoking Article 50, the act that formally triggered the Brexit process.

      The march comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May, who opposes a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership, is easing away from plans to hold a third vote on her troubled Brexit withdrawal plan, which has been strongly rejected twice by Parliament.

    • The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell

      It takes close to zero genius, imagination or insight to write a dystopian novel. They are released now like junk mail. One can hardly get through a week without being bombarded by the latest book telling you the world is going to end. Strangely enough such books are not just met with critical acclaim, but with excitement. It is the liberal’s version of the Book of Revelation. Many people don’t seem to mind the world ending—as long as they predicted it.

      Climate change aside, people have been predicting that the world will end throughout the history of imperialist civilizations. Every society built on the destruction of another society naturally anticipates their own demise by some greater force whether that be the government, God, or something in between. The United States of America is especially prone to this thesis because of our ruthless genocide of Native Americans. Now it is the same class of people guilty of genocide that are gleefully predicting the end of the world.

      Climate change may finally bring the world to its knees. But this by no means ends the world. New species will grow and eventually the earth will recover. Humans may be extinct by then, although populations as of now are still growing. Regardless, if the world is going to end, it will not be by any human “government” policy. It will be by climate change which was caused by the heartless greed of a handful of people. Climate change is also unique because it is an event that will supersede politics. The devastation it causes sends entire civilized countries into war, famine and desperate poverty. Of course, so do even the least imperialist U.S. politicians, but in general, one has to admit climate change is a rather unique phenomenon.

      Either way pre-climate change dystopians have even less excuse for their lazy works than present-day ones. The most celebrated dystopian is George Orwell, who put together the book 1984, as well as several other paranoid and underdeveloped pieces of literature. Donald Trump must be stopped. But celebrating dystopia will only reinforce Trumpism even when it is in the name of anti-Trump.

    • Kazakh capital renamed after ex-leader

      Astana becomes Nursultan just one day after Nursultan Nazarbayev’s surprise resignation.

    • The Crux of the Accusations Against David Sirota From the Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere Is False

      he Atlantic on Tuesday published a sensationalistic series of accusations by reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere aimed at long-time journalist David Sirota, whose hiring by the Sanders 2020 presidential campaign as a speechwriter and adviser had just been announced earlier that day. The Atlantic article predictably and quickly went viral, cited by major media outlets and Democratic Party operatives as proof that Sirota had acted unethically by critically reporting on rival presidential candidates in the prior months while dishonestly concealing his work as an operative or adviser for the Sanders campaign.

      In his viral tweet promoting what he hyped as his “SCOOP,” Dovere was even more explicitly accusatory, claiming that “Sirota, just hired as Bernie Sanders’ speechwriter and senior adviser, has been quietly writing speeches and advising him for months without disclosing it but while bashing pretty much every candidate in the field.”

    • Foreign-Owned Corporations Funnel Millions Into US Elections

      After the Federal Election Commission hit the Jeb Bush-affiliated Right to Rise super PAC with a record fine for illegally soliciting donations from foreign donors, focus has shifted to how many foreign-owned companies actually participate in American elections. The answer? Quite a few.

      Foreign-based corporations or U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-based corporations have contributed millions of dollars to super PACs and hybrid PACs following Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that opened up federal elections to direct corporate contributions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • US Cloud platforms potentially incompatible with GDPR

      It’s common knowledge that Cloud platforms come with benefits but also with known risks. Compliance with various regulations, being an ever changing landscape, is generally not seen as a major risk as it’s built into the sometimes tedious but necessary tasks.

      In some cases your organisation’s compliance with directives, regulations and international agreements is dependent on third parties and you have to make sure those third parties follow the same rules.

      Over the last year it has become more and more clear that non-EU Cloud services, including those from large US providers like Microsoft, Dropbox, Google, etc…, are not compliant with EU privacy regulations like the GDPR. The Dutch government recently concluded this and the Swedish National Procurement Service published, just last month, a pre-study report about Cloud based office platforms.

      In short: if your organisation uses Cloud services controlled by US companies to store European citizens Personally Identifiable Information (PII) your organisation may not be GDPR compliant any more as those services are in breach of Articles 44 – 50 in many ways.

      The risk for your organisation is to be sued by any EU citizen that hasn’t provided consent for their data to be transferred and naturally by the local Data Protection Authority for non compliance.

      Since the publication of Sweden’s pre-study the situation worsened as The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent agency of the US Government, published a set of statements made by the members of the board during the forum titled “Countering Terrorism While Protecting Privacy and Civil Liberties: Where Do We Stand in 2019?”.

    • To Search Through Millions of License Plates, Police Should Get a Warrant

      Earlier this week, EFF filed a brief in one of the first cases to consider whether the use of automated license plate reader (ALPR) technology implicates the Fourth Amendment. Our amicus brief, filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Yang, argues that when a U.S. Postal Service inspector used a commercial ALPR database to locate a suspected mail thief, it was a Fourth Amendment search that required a warrant.

      ALPRs are high-speed, computer-controlled camera systems. Some models can photograph up to 1,800 license plates every minute, and every week, law enforcement agencies across the country use these cameras to collect data on millions of license plates. The plate numbers, together with location, date, and time information, are uploaded to a central server, and made instantly available to other agencies. The data include photographs of the vehicle, and sometimes of its drivers and passengers. ALPRs are typically attached to vehicles, such as police cars, or can be mounted on street poles, highway overpasses, or mobile trailers.

      One leading commercial database operated by DRN advertises that it contains 6.5 billion plates. DRN is owned by the same company as Vigilant Solutions, and according to testimony from a Vigilant executive in the Yang case, the Vigilant LEARN database used by the Postal Service to locate the defendant includes all of DRN’s records as well as a wealth of data available only to law enforcement agencies.

      If police want to search through ALPR data, we believe they should get a warrant.

      In recent years, EFF, the ACLU, and others have called attention to ALPR’s invasive tracking capabilities and its proliferation across the country. We won a major victory when the California Supreme Court agreed with us that the public has a right to know how police use this technology. Starting with Yang, we will be arguing that government use of ALPRs is a search that implicates the Fourth Amendment, and it should require a warrant in routine investigations.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pigs (A Million Different Ones)

      Some years ago, the summer after college – and this was right at the start of the Great Recession, which may be relevant – I had a job working at a small airport, shuttling rental cars. It paid $10 an hour and was mostly outdoors – you’d pick up the cars in the drop-off garage, run them back to our garage, clean and vacuum the interior, run it through the carwash, then park them for the next customer. I liked it.

      One of my co-workers was a guy my age. He was one of the friendlier guys, instinctively called me “Danny” in the way I’ve found New Englanders like to do. Wore a jean jacket, smoked, and seemed sensible and level-headed in the way quiet people often tend to seem. Basically, a nice, modest guy with whom I preferred processing the cars.

      One morning, we were the first guys in our garage, and for some reason had no cars to pick up. We sat around in the auto bay – or leaned against the cinder-block wall actually, there was nothing to sit on – and just shot the shit.

      “Danny,” he asked, “you heard about this Amero thing?”

      [...]

      But what he was talking about was nuts, a far-right conspiracy theory circulated by the lunatics who claimed the United Nations was going to invade any day now, and that Obama was a secret Muslim born in Kenya. How did he not know that?

    • FBI’s ‘Clothing Match’ Expert Changed Testimony To Better Serve Prosecutors, Co-Chairs Nat’l Forensic Committee

      A little more than a month ago, we covered the ultra-weird offshoot of FBI forensics spearheaded by Richard Vorder Bruegge. Vorder Bruegge claimed mass-produced clothing like jeans were as unique as fingerprints and DNA. According to his forensic “expertise,” a match could be made using only low-res CCTV screengrabs and whole lot of arrows.

      [...]

      The entire report is a fascinating, if disheartening, read. Jurors and judges are easily swayed by FBI experts, even after cross examination exposes mathematically-impossible levels of certainty or, in at least one case, Vorder Brugge’s admission he worked backward from the conclusion prosecutors wanted him to reach.

      Work like Vorder Bruegge’s is exactly why a prominent federal judge resigned from a forensic committee in 2015. Judge Jed Rakoff recognized the DOJ did not want to fix its forensic problems. It only wanted to give the appearance it cared for as long as it took to sweep the embarrassment under the rug. The DOJ has too much invested in half-baked science and self-made experts to actually clean house and add more actual science to its forensic methods.

    • In Boston, People Are Charged With Crimes That Waste Taxpayers’ Money and Prosecutors’ Time

      When people in Boston are charged with certain low-level crimes and misdemeanors, prosecutors dismiss the charges nearly 60 percent of the time.
      America’s growing awareness of mass incarceration and the over-incarceration of people of color has sparked something nationwide: From Birmingham to Boston, voters are electing progressive, reform-minded prosecutors.

      Suffolk County District Attorney candidate Rachael Rollins last year announced that, if elected, her office would decline to prosecute 15 misdemeanors and low-level felonies in Boston and surrounding municipalities. The list included breaking and entering when it is for the purpose of sleeping or seeking refuge from the cold and there is no property damage, minor in possession of alcohol, drug possession, resisting arrest as a standalone charge, and minor driving offenses.

      “I believe that we are spending too much time on petty crimes that are clogging up our system and costing us more money,” she told Fox’s Tucker Carlson last September. “They’re more social problems than they are crimes.”

    • It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!

      When Zion Williamson’s foot broke through the sole of his Nike shoe on February 20th, the sporting world stood still.

      The consensus number one player in college basketball was playing in the biggest game of the season — North Carolina versus Duke — and suffered his startling injury in the opening minute. Williamson’s sprained knee cost Nike $1.1 billion in stock market valuation the next day.

      The injury came on the doorstep of March Madness, the NCAA’s most profitable event of the year — to the tune of $900 million in revenue.

      Despite the billions riding on his performance, the NCAA insists that athletes like Williamson are “amateurs” — student-athletes there only for the love of the game. It forbids them to make money off their performance, even as they support an industry worth billions. Duke alone makes $31 million off its basketball program.

    • Beyond Prisons: Taylar Nuevelle On Knitting In Prison

      Taylar Nuevelle joins the Beyond Prisons podcast to talk about her experiences with knitting while incarcerated. In particular, we talk about her love of knitting, the space it created for her in prison, as well as how it was used to punish her.

      Ms. Nuevelle is a writer and advocate for justice-involved women. In 2017 she created a writing program at the Central Treatment Facility (CTF), the women’s jail in DC, “Sharing Our Stories to Reclaim Our Lives.” She is credited for creating the concept of the “Trauma-to-Prison Pipeline” for women and girls.

    • Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir

      In my work, previous and current, I attempt to foreground the radical potential of voices that are considered marginalized. In doing so, I neither attempt to neglect the adverse effects of domination or displacement, nor do I associate the authoritarian qualities of writing and pedagogy exclusively with the West. How did Kashmiri women navigate the often impenetrable terrain of formal spaces of political power created not just by elites but by insurgent movements as well, which are often striving for forms of nationalism that are similar to the exclusionary and patriarchal nationalisms of neocolonial elites? Did Kashmiri women create new forms of subjectivity that were radically different from the essentialist and dichotomous state-nationalist subject? Do these new forms of subjectivity enable the construction of resistance feminisms? Does this subject provide “a constant critique of nationalist and even insurgent agendas, of power relations that structure global economic flows, and will never be complete” (Grewal 1997: 234)?

      I briefly examine the oppositional and nonessentialist narratives of Kashmiri women that forge new niches in Kashmiri society through the pathways of multilayered identities and inclusiveness. The multiple narratives of Kashmiri women, including my own, disrupt the voicelessness of women placed on the altar of cultural iconicism.

      The renowned Kashmiri scholar Prem Nath Bazaz assesses the scintillating role that Kashmiri women of ancient times played in the social and cultural life of Kashmir (Bazaz [1967] 2005: 12), but these women were cushioned by their royal lineage in a monarchical regime, untormented by the lack of wherewithal that women of other socioeconomic classes were had to contend with. How did Kashmiri women, from different walks of life, express their political agency during the nationalist awakening in the 1930s; during the Quit Kashmir movement in the 1940s; during the invasion by raiders from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1947; during the period preceding and succeeding the accession of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian dominion; at the onset of the militant movement in the late 1980s; and during the era of gross human rights violations by the Indian army, paramilitary forces, Pakistani-trained militants, mercenaries, and state-sponsored organizations in the 1990s and 2000s? Does the insurgent movement in Kashmir create parameters for women that are just as restrictive as those created by the politics of the nation-state? Have Kashmiri women signified a reconciliatory presence and been harbingers of peace?

    • Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts

      This past month, for instance, claims of ISIS’s near total defeat in Syria have continued to mount. As a result, numerous foreigners who had traveled there to fight for, or support, the caliphate have appealed to their home countries to take them back, presumably to stand trial for their support of terrorism. Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, and other nations have crafted responses that vary from lukewarm acceptance to outright denial of their citizenship status.

      On that score, Donald Trump’s White House hasn’t just led the way, but has used the occasion to put yet more concrete and steel into the great wall his administration has been constructing around the very idea of what it is to be an American. Here in the United States, where the Statue of Liberty has been a welcoming beacon for more than a century, the Trump administration’s response has not just been a fierce aversion to the return of such people, but the use of one of them to help redefine ever more narrowly the very idea of citizenship, of who belongs to this country. In the rejection of the citizenship of a former ISIS bride with child, the president and his advisors have, in an unprecedented way, refused to uphold the rights of U.S.-born citizens, let alone naturalized ones.

    • CBP Detains 9-Year-Old US Citizen For 36 Hours, Accuses Her 14-Year-Old Brother Of Sex Trafficking

      This debacle started the way something like this usually does: with US citizens engaged in activity they engage in every day. In this case, mother Thelma Galaxia’s children were being driven from Tijuana to the border crossing in order to attend school in San Ysidro, California. This was the normal state of affairs for her 9-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son.

      Traffic was heavy at the crossing so her friend told them to walk across the border to make sure they got to school on time. Both children were questioned by CBP officers. These officers decided 9-year-old Isabel Medina didn’t resemble her passport photo. They accused her of actually being her cousin, Melanie.

      That wasn’t enough for the CBP. It also decided to terrorize her 14-year-old brother, Oscar, by accusing him of being a criminal.

    • ‘We Have Roughly 12 Years’: Progressives Demand Urgency as Centrist Dems Push Bipartisan Incrementalism

      Centrist House Democrats continue to argue for incrementalism and bipartisan solutions to address the climate crisis—even as progressives are doubling down on their demand for urgent and visionary action.

      A resolution put forward in the House February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposes a Green New Deal that would take drastic action over the next decade, but not all members of the caucus are on board for what the global scientific community has said is necessary.

      The New Democrat Coalition, a moderate group within the Democratic caucus, announced last week that it would pursue what the group defined as “tangible, achievable” approaches to the climate crisis through “gradual” action.

      “We’re not going to do 100 percent [renewable energy] over 10 years,” the coalition’s Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) in an interview with The Hill published on Friday.

      The New Democrats have a climate task force in place to develop plans to tackle the crisis, but not to go so far as the “aspirational” ideas of the Green New Deal, said Luria.

      “The entire plan of the task force is to find ways to attack this incrementally,” Luria said.

    • Two Indiana Police Officers Face Federal Charges in Videotaped Beating of Handcuffed Man

      A federal grand jury has indicted two Elkhart, Indiana, police officers on civil rights charges for repeatedly punching a handcuffed man last year, U.S. prosecutors announced Friday.

      Elkhart County prosecutors had originally charged the two officers, Cory Newland and Joshua Titus, with misdemeanor battery in November, after the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica learned of the incident and requested video.

    • The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs

      The absurd cruelties of the American police state keep reaching newer heights.

      Consider that if you kill a police dog, you could face a longer prison sentence than if you’d murdered someone or abused a child.

      If a cop kills your dog, however, there will be little to no consequences for that officer.

      Not even a slap on the wrist.

      In this, as in so many instances of official misconduct by government officials, the courts have ruled that the cops have qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that incentivizes government officials to engage in lawless behavior without fear of repercussions.

      This is the heartless, heartbreaking, hypocritical injustice that passes for law and order in America today.

      It is estimated that a dog is shot by a police officer “every 98 minutes.”

    • Supreme Court Approves Indefinite Detention of Immigrants

      President Trump has faced significant criticism for his immigration policy, yet the administration has managed to find a friend on this issue in the Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court decided that ICE may detain immigrants indefinitely while awaiting deportation proceedings.

      As a consequence, ICE can continue putting any immigrant — legal or undocumented — into a detention center for perhaps years at a time if the individual has ever committed a crime. Not only is there no timeline for how long immigrants can be held in these centers, but immigrants can also be apprehended years after the crimes — even relatively minor ones — without warning.

      Traditionally, if the government feels an immigrant warrants deportation after serving a criminal sentence, U.S. officials almost immediately set that process in motion. The Trump administration, however, has contested that the law only stipulates “when the alien is released” – presumably with the intent to kick out immigrants remaining in the country under previous administrations.

      While the five conservative justices thought this was a fair interpretation, the four liberal justices dissented pretty strongly. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court’s decision “runs the gravest risk of depriving those whom the government has detained of the oldest and most important of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.”

    • Why School Psychologists Are Worried About the Mental Health of America’s Students

      A new ACLU report shows that millions of kids are in schools that have no mental health staff. One of the report’s authors discusses the implications.
      Earlier this month, thousands of school psychologists met in Atlanta at the annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists. One of the hottest topics among attendees was exhaustion — a consequence of having to serve more students who are experiencing more trauma and other mental health problems without more help in carrying the load.

      It’s not just school psychologists who are concerned about being short-staffed. I know of far too many school counselors, social workers, and nurses who are serving more students than any practitioner can reasonably handle. Their impossible caseloads result in not only work overload and the risk of burnout but also an alarming number of young people not getting the help they need.

      For the past several years, members of the school psychologist community have been raising concerns about the detrimental under-investments in school-employed mental health staff — and a new report from the ACLU adds further data to the extent of the problem. “Cops and No Counselors,” co-authored by me and six other experts, analyzed data that the U.S. Department of Education collected from every school district in the nation. We found that the majority of K-12 schools are ill-equipped to address the mental health needs of children who are experiencing record levels of anxiety and depression during their formative years.

    • Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave

      Ten years ago, my husband and I opened a specialty oil and vinegar shop. Early on, we learned that our store would be only as good as the people who work in it. To invest in our employees is to invest in our business.

      Now we employ five people. One of our most valued long-term employees, Linda, worked at the phone company for 27 years before coming to us. She left the phone company as a retiree but didn’t have enough money from her pension to retire.

      When Linda fell and broke both of her arms last year, my husband and I told her to take the time she needed to recover. When payroll came around, I went to her apartment with her paycheck. She was sitting with the TV tray in front of her, deciding how to figure out rent with her leasing agent, what food to cut, and whether to sell her car.

      I gave her a full check, including pay for the time she’d been out recovering. She was incredibly relieved, and my husband and I were honored to be able to cover her time, which we continued to do through her recovery.

      But this took a toll on our family, our finances, and our business. I have three children and scrambled to pay for child care to cover my employee’s shifts. My husband and I missed a mortgage payment on our house, and we were late on a commercial rent payment.

    • Speaking the Unspoken

      Julie Delporte’s raw and devastating graphic memoir, “This Woman’s Work,” chronicles the 35-year-old author’s struggle to decipher what befell her as a small child. She often seems to be still swallowed whole by grief.

      [...]

      She is fearful about marriage and motherhood and how it will infringe on her ability to produce art.

    • Gripped by ALS, Social Justice Activist Ady Barkan Inspires With Story of ‘The Best Hug I’ve Ever Had’

      Healthcare and social justice campaigner Ady Barkan, who rose to national prominence as as an outspoken critic of the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress even as he suffered from the debilitating disease known as ALS, answered that question late Friday night with an eloquent, heartbreaking, and very personal thread on Twitter that also served as a reminder to other progressives about the human side of the political battles waged in Washington, DC and far beyond.

      The topic: the best hug ever from his young child.

    • The 1942 Internment of Japanese-Americans Holds Lessons for Today

      With detention camps along the U.S. Southern border and the president’s revised Muslim ban upheld by the Supreme Court, Karen Korematsu thinks it’s important for people to know the history of 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two thirds of them native-born citizens, who were incarcerated during World War II without due process. Korematsu, director of the Fred Korematsu Foundation, a civil rights educational organization, travels the country to talk to students about her father, Fred Korematsu, who refused to go to the camps. His case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled against it 6-3.

      Korematsu wants people to know how Japanese-Americans were treated after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She hopes that by teaching history, a similar fate for others can be prevented.

      Korematsu was an adviser for an exhibit titled “Then They Came For Me.” Currently on display in San Francisco until the end of May, the exhibit next moves to Chicago and New York. It features photos of the internment camps, including some by Dorothea Lange, work by incarcerated Japanese-American artists and historical documents. The exhibit includes such artifacts as Fred Korematsu’s letter thanking his American Civil Liberties Union attorney for taking his case; trunks the prisoners took to the camps; and a jacket given to a man sent to a prison camp marked with “E.A.,” for “Enemy Alien.”

    • ‘You Go Through It Alone’: New Bill Would Keep Incarcerated Pregnant Women From Being Put in Medical Isolation

      Angela was eight months pregnant when she entered the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, Maryland.

      One day after her arrival, she was brought to the prison’s medical infirmary and placed in a cell, where she was locked behind a steel door nearly 24 hours each day—which prison officials call “restrictive housing,” and prisoner rights’ advocates call “solitary confinement.”

      Regardless of the terminology, Angela was miserable. “There was no rec time to go outside. They barely let you out to use the phone,” she told Rewire.News. At times, she had to decide between waiting to use one of the unit’s two phones to call her three children or taking a shower during the 30 minutes she was allowed out of her cell.

      She was in the process of appealing her conviction and four-year prison sentence. But while she waited for the courts to decide, this was how she’d be forced to spend the last month of her pregnancy.

    • Trump administration losing 94 percent of lawsuits over illegal policy changes

      The Trump administration is losing court battles at an unprecedented rate, with many losses coming because officials failed to follow basic rules in changing policy.

      Federal judges have ruled against the administration at least 63 times since Trump took office, The Washington Post reported. Two-thirds of those cases involved complaints that the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a 1946 law that set procedural requirements that federal agencies must follow when unilaterally changing policies or regulations.

      The normal “win rate” for the government in such cases is about 70 percent, the Post reported, but according to the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, the Trump administration’s win rate in these cases in just 6 percent.

    • Commemorating 40 Years of “Injustice for All”
    • One out of 20 domestic abuse victims in Malaysia are men

      Sexual dysfunction, jealousy and asking for a divorce were among the factors that led to cases of domestic violence recorded by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

      Its Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh, also expressed worry that many more cases go unreported – including husbands who are abused by their wives.

      “Of the 1,037 domestic violence cases reported between 2017 and June 2018, 56 cases, or 5.4 per cent involved husbands who were the victims,” she said when answering a question raised by Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique (BN-Kota Tinggi) in Parliament on Thursday (March 21).

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The U.S. Desperately Needs a “Fiber for All” Plan

      We have a real, coming broadband access crisis in the United States. Data from the government and independent analysis show that we are falling behind the world. This crisis comes from the fact that fiber-to-the-home deployment, the alternative to your gigabit cable monopoly (if you even have that choice), is languishing and slowing down across the board.

      In contrast to the United States, countries around the world are aggressively modernizing their telecommunications infrastructure. They are actively pushing fiber across the board, with advanced Asian markets like South Korea and Japan already finished, and countries in the EU heading towards universal access. China is predicted to have more than five times (around 80 percent of households totaling at 193.5 million homes) the U.S. number of fiber gigabit connections by 2023.

      The big difference between the United States and the rest of the advanced economies around the world is that the U.S. is the only country that believes having no plan will solve this issue. We are the only country to completely abandon federal oversight of an uncompetitive, highly concentrated market that sells critical services to all people, yet we expect widely available, affordable, ultra-fast services. But if you live in a low-income neighborhood or in a rural market today, you know very well this is not working and the status quo is going to cement in your local broadband options to either one choice or no choice.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Federal Appeals Court Cautions Against Overapplication of Alice in Biotechnology

      In Natural Alternatives Intl. v. Creative Compounds, LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decision by a lower court finding claims directed to dietary supplements containing beta-alanine subject-matter ineligible under § 101. The claims were found to be subject-matter ineligible in a motion for judgment on the pleadings by Judge Huff of the District of Southern California. The District Court held that, because beta-alanine is a naturally occurring substance, the claims were directed to the natural law that, “ingesting certain levels of beta-alanine, a natural substance, will increase the carnosine concentration in human tissue and, thereby, increase the anaerobic working capacity in a human.”

      In reversing the District Court, Judge Moore and Judge Wallach (over a dissent by Judge Reyna) offered some helpful analysis of the Supreme Court’s Alice decision (and subject-matter eligibility) in the context of life sciences. For patent applicants in life sciences spaces, this decision provides a great tool for avoiding a rejection under Alice or Mayo as it supports the notion that an application that deals with natural law is not necessarily susceptible to a rejection under § 101. The case is also notable for patent litigants as it reinforces prior decisions (in Berkheimer v. HP Inc. and Aatrix Software, Inc. v. Green Shades Software, Inc.) that make it challenging for defendants to prevail on a motion on the pleadings under § 101, because plaintiffs can create factual disputes through their complaints and claim construction arguments and defeat a motion on the pleadings.

    • Patent case: No inter partes patent invalidity in arbitration, Portugal

      The Supreme Court held that the mandatory arbitration court provided for litigation between patent holders and applicants for generic medicines does not have jurisdiction to decide, inter partes and incidenter tantum, the validity of a patent. The right of defence of the generic applicant is not disproportionally restricted because they can challenge the validity of the patent before the Court of Intellectual Property.

    • IP Australia’s CDO on mission to ‘reimagine digital experience’

      He said a key piece of work is the rollout of the ‘transactional digital services program,’ that covers customer transactions – for example, when a customer files an IP trademark or a patent. He said it involves transforming IP Australia’s digital business model.
      “There’s some very legacy outdated ways and systems that we manage to do that – so part of what I’m focusing on is moving to a modern API-based platform and reengineering, rearchitecting and reimagining our digital experience for customers.
      “Thinking of it less as a place where everyone has to come to do business, but opening up some of our digital assets, through APIs and through API marketplaces, in enabling software developers and customers to actually innovate off of our services.”
      This large piece of work will then lead to IP Australia’s modernisation of the web experience and the digital experience of the customer, who come in all shapes and sizes, he noted.

    • Supreme Court Asks SG for Views on Another Section 101 Case [Ed: This is potentially dangerous as SCOTUS could either bring back software patents to the US or nail another long nail into their coffin]

      For the second time this term, the U.S. Supreme Court has asked for the solicitor general’s views on a case involving Section 101 patent eligibility.

    • Qualcomm sees South Korean antitrust fine lowered to $200M

      South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission on Thursday reduced damages in a decade-old antitrust case involving Qualcomm, with the U.S. chipmaker now facing penalties that amount to roughly $200 million.

    • Inventor’s Problem-Identification Carries No Patentable Weight (When Alternative Motivation Exists)

      The decision here offers a reminder of the objective nature of the obviousness analysis.

      Conrad’s invention is a urine-deflector — especially useful when toilet-training low-accuracy children. The main idea is to block the opening between the toilet seat and the toilet bowl with a bendable deflector that “lacks a folding seam” — a design element added to avoid incidental urine collection and resulting malodor.

      [...]

      In its non-precedential decision, the Federal Circuit has sided with the USPTO – confirming that the claim is obvious — and holding that the inventor’s identification of the problem need not be considered in the obviousness analysis.

      [...]

      The problem/solution approach to obviousness could be interesting to consider in parallel to eligibility analysis — noting that the non-obvious problem identification can – at times – lend patentable weight.

    • Prior art found for GTX Corp patent

      Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Sachin Srivastava, who received a cash prize of $2,000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 7,177,838, owned by GTX Corp., an NPE. The ’838 patent, directed toward electronic commerce using electronic tokens, has been asserted against dozens of companies in district court litigation. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

    • Unified files amicus brief defending the constitutionality of PTAB judges [Ed: Koch-funded efforts to scuttle PTAB]

      On March 11 Unified, joined by HP Inc. and Engine Advocacy, filed an amicus brief with the Federal Circuit in Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC v. Netflix to defend the constitutionality of the appointment of all PTAB administrative patent judges. Affinity Labs of Texas, who has sued more than 20 diverse companies such as Ford, Blackberry, the NHL, and Nike and has unsuccessfully appealed other patents canceled under 35 U.S.C. § 101, brought the constitutional argument up for the first time on appeal. Unified’s brief demonstrates the history of PTAB appointments, from the “Duffy fix” to the current broad power of the USPTO Director to oversee the proceedings and the APJs. The U.S. Government intervened, and Unified’s brief supports their position.

    • CCIA Letter to Senate Judiciary IP Subcommittee Members On Questionable Studies [Ed: CCIA Letter to Senate Judiciary IP Subcommittee Members On Koch-funded lies]

      At last week’s Senate Judiciary IP Subcommittee hearing, questioners referenced two studies. The first, on multiple IPR petitions, was conducted by Steve Carlson and Ryan Schultz of Robins Kaplan. The second, on venture capital and § 101, was conducted by Prof. David Taylor of SMU.

      But, as Twain said in a somewhat more colorful form, it’s important to get your numbers right. Data can be misinterpreted and these two studies have some significant flaws. Below is a letter from the Computer & Communications Industry Association to the members of the Subcommittee, explaining CCIA’s concerns with the referenced studies.

    • Japan antitrust case: FTC cancels exclusion order to Qualcomm

      On March 13 2019, Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) made a decision to cancel the exclusion order against Qualcomm which had been issued on September 28 2009 and appealed by Qualcomm on November 24 of that year. It took almost a decade! It’s too long, but Qualcomm has finally got an expected result.

      The main issue was whether or not the Qualcomm’s license agreement on intellectual properties for CDMA mobile wireless communication, which includes the following provisions, possibly restrains the business activities of Japanese mobile device manufacturers and disrupts fair competition.

    • Copyrights

      • The proposed fair use exception under South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill

        In December 2018, South Africa’s National Assembly approved the redrafted version of the Copyright Amendment Bill, opening the way for the Bill to be sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence and, subsequently, for Presidential assent. See here for all the versions of the Bill.

        Since coming up before the NCOP, the bill was considered in February and earlier this month with the Committee of the NCOP resolving to adopt the final report by 20th March.

        The Bill provides inter alia for accreditation of Collecting Societies; fair use of copyright works; and exceptions for educational and academic activities, libraries, archives, museums and galleries. As with almost every copyright legislative reform, the Bill has attracted both strong support and criticisms. One of the most debated provisions in the Bill is Clause 13 – relating to “fair use”.

      • This Could Be It: Key Polish Political Party Comes Out Against Article 13

        With only days to go before the final EU debate and vote on the new Copyright Directive (we’re told the debate will be at 0900h CET on Tuesday, 27 March, and the vote will happen at 1200h CET), things could not be more urgent and fraught. That’s why today’s announcement by Poland’s Platformy Obywatelska—the second-largest party in the European People’s Party (EPP) bloc—is so important.

        Platformy Obywatelska has said that it will vote to block the entire Copyright Directive unless Article 13—a ground-breakingly terrible Internet law that will lead to widespread filtering of all Europeans’ Internet speech, images, and videos—is stricken from the final draft.

        EPP, a coalition of European national political parties, is the key backer of Article 13 and the largest party in the European Parliament. Without its support, Article 13 is very unlikely to make it through the final vote.

        The EPP is deeply split on the issue. EPP parties from Luxembourg, Sweden and the Czech Republic all oppose the measure, so Poland is in good company.

        The other blocs that strongly back Article 13 are the S&D (socialist) and ALDE (liberal) MEPs.

      • Sites Warn EU Users Of Just How Bad Article 13 Will Be

        As we mentioned, a bunch of websites started protesting yesterday in the lead up to next week’s vote on Article 11 and Article 13 that will fundamentally change the nature of the internet. The main ones were various European Wikipedia editions, which completely blacked out and posted a warning message.

      • La Quadrature du Net calls for the European Parliament to reject the Copyright Directive!

        Next week, the European Parliament will have to take a stance with a last vote on the fate of the Copyright Directive, which has been discussed for several years. La Quadrature du Net calls for the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to throw out this bill that would induce severe restrictions to the freedom of speech and the access to information. Far from re-balancing the equilibrium with the Internet’s Majors, this bill would lead to devolve a worrying automated censorship ability to them. This bill is not the copyright reform the EU needs and it contains no tangible element that would improve the situation for creators.

        The bill following the negotiations that were carried by the European institutions over the last months did not fix a single one of the issues that led us to call to already reject the bill many times in 2018. Our analysis remains the same: cultural industries and big rights holder companies are actually seeking to loot crumbs left behind by the Internet’s Majors thanks to the mass surveillance they are pursuing through targeted advertising. Under the guise of carrying out a “redistribution of wealth”, this directive would constitute a serious renunciation for the EU, as it would tie creation and press funding to a systematic violation of the rights of individuals.

        This will all happen on the back of fundamental liberties, because of the directive’s articles 11 & 13, which spark the opposition of a great amount of civil society’s members. Even if the scope of the article 13 in its final form does not affect what La Quadrature considers as an open and free Internet—namely decentralised or federalised services such as Mastodon or Peertube —it will enforce on centralised and profitable platforms an obligation to preemptively filter contents that our association has always opposed. The exercise of such processes is evidently disproportionate and the directive adds no satisfying guaranty protecting freedom of speech. The Copyright Directive was thereby used as a laboratory for the automated censorship algorithms that can be found in other bills, such as the anti-terrorist regulation against which La Quadrature has stood.

      • MEPs Realizing How Bad Article 13 Could Be, Begin To Back Away From EU Copyright Directive

        The online protests around the terrible Article 11 and Article 13 only began yesterday. This weekend there are expected to be significant in-person protests as well, leading up to the big vote next week. Already the protests are having an impact. MEP Julia Reda passes on the news from Polish MEP Michal Boni that the major Polish political party, Civic Platform (or Platforma) has said they will not vote for the EU Copyright Directive if it contains Article 13…

      • Independent Musician Dan Bull’s New Song, Robocopyright, Warns Of The Dangers Of Article 13

        The key message: Article 13 and its requirement for filters (and, yes, it requires filters) will mean more gatekeepers, more censorship, and less freedom for creators. Algorithmic policing of content does not work as it cannot take into account context. It fails in both directions in blocking legit content and failing to block infringing content (which will only open up platforms to even greater liability). In short, to anyone who understands technology, it will be a huge mess.

      • EU Commission Refuses To Explain Why It Published Medium Article Mocking The Public’s Concerns Over Article 13

        As you may recall, last month, the EU Commission published — and then unpublished — a bit of horrifically misleading propaganda, in favor of Article 13, mocking those who criticized it as a “mob” whose strings were being pulled by an evil dragon (apparently Google) to “slay a knight” (apparently valiant copyright). The article can still be found via the Internet Archive. This wasn’t from a politician or bureaucrat who had officially come out in support, but from the EU Commission’s very own Medium account. It was certainly an insult to the European public. After some outcry, the article was removed, but the “apology” that was put up instead was similarly insulting, saying that it was removed because “it has been understood in a way that doesn’t reflect the Commission’s position.” Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. It was just that crazy mob who “misunderstood” you calling them a “mob” for pointing out that the poorly drafted law might create all sorts of problems.

        Anyway, some in the EU Parliarment were reasonably concerned about the EU Commission acting this way, and sent some questions. European Parliament Member Tiemo Wolken has tweeted out that they’ve finally received some “answers” even though it took way longer than normal and the “answers” don’t actually answer the question. Also of note, is that Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission himself was the one who sent these non-answers. As Wolken notes, it’s “very rare” that Juncker himself would answer such questions. Wolken posted the questions and answers as a screenshot, but I am doing my best to translate them via typing them all into Google Translate.

The Unified Patent Court is Dead, But Doubts Remain Over the EPO’s Appeal Boards’ Ability to Rule Independently Against Patents on Nature and Code

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCOTUS has handed down Alice/Mayo (now in 35 U.S.C. § 101), but European judges (internal to the EPO) lack the independence US Justices have (lifelong tenures)

Harley day in Arnhem

Summary: Patents used to cover physical inventions (such as engines); nowadays this just isn’t the case anymore and judges who can clarify these questions lack the freedom to think outside the box (and disobey patent maximalists’ dogma)

“WHAT is a patent?”

I’ve asked some people that question, seeking to find out/understand their perception of this concept. Many got it totally wrong and false analogies contribute to misunderstandings, misconceptions, miscomprehended goals.

To a patent attorney or lawyer, patents mean money. The more, the merrier. They can never have “enough!” Moreover, patent lawsuits are the best ‘products’ to sell. No wonder many of them still drool over the UPC and they generally hate Alice/Mayo .

“The UPC is unconstitutional in a lot of nations, but almost none even bothered assessing the matter.”In the United States, as we've just mentioned, courts don’t agree with the patent office. They in fact disagree quite a lot. The situation in the European Union is similar (increasingly so over time). Courts are not tolerating software patents, but the European Patent Office (EPO) allows these and the Commission keeps promoting FRAND agenda together with the EPO. It’s a gross attempt to let these patents creep in from the back door, bypassing actual courts. The same goes for the UPC, which is an attempt to replace the existing courts. The UPC is dead however. As noted yesterday, even “Nokia inhouse litigator just voiced skepticism of the Unified Patent Court materializing anytime soon in light of Brexit, German constitutional challenge, political climate in various countries for re-ratification.”

Hungary has already ruled that unconstitutional anyway. Hungarian courts rather than politicians looked into it. The UPC is unconstitutional in a lot of nations, but almost none even bothered assessing the matter.

“So the EPO disregards the law and grants patents in defiance of the EPO. Who can stop it? The Boards of Appeal? Not likely.”The lawlessness of the EPO is a really serious problem. EPO judges do not feel free to judge as they see fit. António Campinos can take them out of their job if he wishes; a colleague was already tortured after he had rejected a European software patent disguised as “medical” (but punished for allegedly passing around what many other people did too).

Yesterday, maybe for the dozenth time, the EPO spoke of “MedTech” as a semi-synonym for software patents when it published this tweet: “Businesses and commercialisation experts in the field of #MedTech should join this event” (we covered this before).

Aaron Gin and Bryan Helwig, messing around with buzzwords like “AI”, have just said there “there has been substantial growth in AI-based medical device patent applications over the last decade…”

AI-based? They mean software-based.

Here’s the New York Law Journal (“Alexa, Will I Be Able to Patent My Artificial Intelligence Technology This Year?”) — quite frankly as usual and as expected — calling such patents “AI” as recently as yesterday.

The EPO loves and adores the term “AI”; it reveres anything that gets labeled “AI” as though it’s revolutionary.

The EPO didn’t stop there. They then (also yesterday) used "blockchain" patents (i.e. bogus software patents that should not be granted) as follows (calling it a “revolution”): “Talking about a new revolution: #blockchain. We report on our recent conference on the topic here…”

So the EPO disregards the law and grants patents in defiance of the EPC. Who can stop it? The Boards of Appeal? Not likely. As we recently noted, they lack the independence they need to stop software patents.

Rose Hughes from IP Kat has just spoken about the decision/referral that can potentially end these patents once and for all. In her own words:

Article 52 EPC specifies that methods for performing mental acts and computer programs are not considered inventions. They are excluded from patentability in so far as a claim relates to excluded subject matter “as such”. Therefore, a claim directed to a computer implemented invention is considered patentable insofar as the claim causes “a further technical effect” (T 1173/97, Computer program product/IBM, Headnote). The question of the patentability of the claims is then shifted from an analysis of whether the claim is directed to excluded subject matter, to one of whether the claimed technical feature is novel and inventive (as established in T 154/04).

The EBA have previously considered a referral from the EPO President on the subject of computer implemented inventions (G 3/08, Programs for computers). Under Article 112(1)(b) EPC the EPO President may refer a question to the EBA where two Boards of Appeal have given different decisions on that question. The President at the time was Alison Brimelow. The EBA declined to hand down a decision, ruling that the President’s referral was inadmissible because the EBA found no divergence in the Boards of Appeal case law justifying the referral (Headnote 7) (IPKat post here).

In G 3/08 the EBA nonetheless reiterated the previous view of the TBA in T 1173/97, Computer program product/IBM, that computer implemented inventions are patenable insofar as they claim “a further technical effect”. This approach has been followed by subsequent TBAs and is outlined in the EPO Guidelines for Examination 2018. The Guidelines also provides examples of what is considered a “further technical effects”. Programs for processing code at low level, such as builders or compilers, for example, “may well have a technical character”.

An assessment of the patentability of a computer implemented invention is therefore dependent on a separation of the “technical” and “non-technical” features of the claim. However, making the distinction between the technical and non-technical features is not always straightforward, given the potentially complex interaction between such features.

Over at Managing Intellectual Property, Jakob Pade Frederiksen has meanwhile spoken about “[t]wo issues [that] have arisen recently causing the Technical Boards of Appeal to refer questions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA).”

“Are patents on cooking recipes next? The USPTO has some notorious patents on the making of sandwiches.”One of these issues is the independence of the Boards. In his own words: “by decision T 831/17 of February 25, an Appeal Board referred questions relating to (1) the right for oral proceedings, (2) a third party’s possible right to appeal, and (3) the venue of oral proceedings in appeal. In relation to the third issue, in particular the EBA is to consider if the president or the Administrative Council of the EPO had the powers to move the Boards of Appeals’ premises to Munich suburb Haar in 2017. In late 2016 the chairmen of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO adopted a resolution objecting to the relocation of the Boards of Appeal to Haar. At that time the issue appeared to be of a purely political nature, but now the matter is clearly becoming a legal one.”

Nicolas Marro and Bérengère Boudeau have meanwhile written about European Patents on life, noting that “the EPO practice concerning Mab sequence identity appears rather variable, all the more so given that there is no official guideline in this area. A journey through Board of Appeal decisions and examination files nonetheless enables certain conclusions to be drawn in order for applicants to be in a better position to handle examination proceedings.”

Hughes expanded on the same day, taking note of the EPO’s practice of granting patents on nature and life itself, specifically in relation to the CRISPR case. In her words:

A year ago, IPKat reported on the decision by the opposition division (OD) of the European Patent Office (EPO) to revoke the Broad Institute’s EP patent for CRISPR/Cas-9 technology (IPKat post here). Given the undeniable commercial importance of CRISPR, the Broad appealed the OD decision (T0844/18).The Broad’s Statement of Grounds of Appeal (and the Opponents’ responses) are a thought-provoking read for anyone with an interest in the concept of priority in Europe.

For a full background of the case and the EPO’s established approach to priority, see IPKat here. In brief, the OD decision for the CRISPR case was in line with the large body of EPO case law on priority. The case law states that the right to claim priority from an earlier application according to Article 87 EPC is afforded to the applicant of the earlier application and to no other party. The Broad’s CRISPR EP patent (EP2771468) was based on a PCT filing (WO 2014204729) claiming priority from a number of US provisional applications. One of the US provisionals named an inventor-applicant who was not named on the PCT application. The EP patent was thus revoked in view of an invalid priority claim.

In that same blog, a comment has meanwhile appeared which bemoans examination. “Ron” wrote:

You might be surprised at the number of unclear patents that exist! When I was a trainee UK examiner under the last days of the 1949-Act my trainer showed us a number of “Friday afternoon” patents as things to watch out for, such as claims not supported by the description, and one such was is this situation in a real infringement action I was involved in. Unfortunately, if the point is not raised in examination, it is not a ground of revocation, a lacuna in my view. This sort of thing is all the more likely nowadays. Under the 1949 Act, it was an essential part of an examiner’s duties to read the entire description to ensure it made sense. Come the 1977 Act, such detailed examination was deemed unnecessary as examiners no longer had to write detailed abridgments of the total disclosure. When patents became more “sexy”, and higher management positions in the Patent Office became progressively occupied by DTI generalists rather than examiners who had progressed up from the coal face, “efficiency” (disposing of the maximum cases in the minimum time, with salary progression determined by achieving disposal targets, regardless of quality) has become more important, meaning that policy has been to reduce the amount of intellectual examination work done by examiners. This is evident from the Manual of Patent Practice. There was even a proposal a few years ago (not adopted, at least officially) that examiners would no longer examine the description at all, but just search the claims. The post-Batistelli EPO, which used to have rigourous examination, now seems to operate on similar lines.

Thus it can be expected that practitioners will meet more unclear patents in the future.

Hughes wrote again some hours ago about another kind of ridiculous European Patents. First we saw patents on beer (this is actually being done, in relation to underlying seeds, thanks to the EPO’s greed) and now “bakers [are] seeking to protect bread-related inventions.” [sic]

Here are some jaw-dropping cases:

The broad definition of bread, and the consequent broad range of prior art, presents challenges to innovative bakers seeking to protect bread-related inventions. In the Board of Appeals decision T 1296/04, the patentee argued that their claim directed to a method for making bread, was not invalidated by prior art relating to pizza dough. Claim 1 of the granted patent (EP 0883348) in question specified a method including the steps of preparing the dough, rolling out the dough into a flat strip, cutting the strip of dough into pieces, baking the flat pieces of dough in an oven for 2-8 minutes at 250-270ºC and cooling.

The Board of Appeal found that the claim lacked novelty in view of prior art describing pizza dough. Pizza dough was considered bread despite the addition of a small amount of oil. The only difference between the claimed method and that of the prior art was therefore identified as the specified temperature range. However, the claimed sub-range was found not to be sufficiently narrow compared to the prior art range of 204-316º C.

[...]

The smell of bread, or more precisely “bread aroma” was the subject matter of granted patent EP0413368, bringing to mind the Peruvian fable The Theft of Smell. The claims of EP0413368are directed towards a method for preparing bread flour extract, particularly rye-bread extract, characterized by use of an organic solvent as an extracting agent. The description indicates that the rye-bread aroma can be used to flavour beer and other products. Thankfully, unlike in the fable, the patentee seeks to protect a process of making bread aroma, as opposed to the smell of bread itself.

Are patents on cooking recipes next? The USPTO has some notorious patents on the making of sandwiches.

These patents represent not an invention. They’re bogus patents. Also abstract ones. Since when is nature an invention? Or mathematics (laws of nature)?

Patent Law Firms Still Desperate to Find New Ways to Resurrect Dead Software Patents in the United States

Posted in America, Australia, Europe, Patents at 11:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Resurrected

Summary: There’s no rebound and no profound changes that favour software patents; in fact, judging by caselaw, there’s nothing even remotely like that

THIS morning and afternoon we took a look at US affairs, seeing that 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains unchallenged and even if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants a software patent (or patents) — as happens a lot — courts will likely reject it (or these). The Federal Circuit follows Alice (SCOTUS) and so does the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) when assessing inter partes reviews (IPRs). We’ve hardly seen any exception to the rule lately (patent maximalists have stooped as low as to cherry-pick mere applications, e.g. yesterday, or revisit rather old cases); it is possible that, as per this report and another from Patently-O, § 101 will be revisited in SCOTUS. And even if it does happen, it will not necessarily bring back software patents to the US; it may as well force another long(er) nail into their coffin of software patents. Suffice to say, law firms and law students casually spread propaganda about software patents, even as recently as days ago. They want people to believe that software patents are both desirable and attainable (maybe at the Office, but courts are another matter). Here’s another new example. The patent microcosm (“Attorney Julie Reed is a member of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s patent team”) keeps lobbying the USPTO and American courts for software patents even though this microcosm never writes any code.

“There’s a similar problem in Europe. Voices are being hijacked and software developers are routinely spoken ‘for’ (without their consent).”The patent microcosm of Australia (Ken Simpson and David Webber of Davies Collison Cave in this case) is still looking at one very old decision in an attempt to sell bogus software patents that Australian courts would likely reject. Maybe the office would reject that one too (if there was a lawsuit over it). There’s this new article about IP Australia at IDG, but it does not deal with this subject.

There’s a similar problem in Europe. Voices are being hijacked and software developers are routinely spoken ‘for’ (without their consent). Patent law firms pretend to care about them, even though all they care about is themselves. But the European Patent Office (EPO) will be the subject of our next post.

03.22.19

Links 22/3/2019: Libinput 1.13 RC2 and Facebook’s Latest Security Scandal

Posted in Site News at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 12 open source tools for natural language processing

    Natural language processing (NLP), the technology that powers all the chatbots, voice assistants, predictive text, and other speech/text applications that permeate our lives, has evolved significantly in the last few years. There are a wide variety of open source NLP tools out there, so I decided to survey the landscape to help you plan your next voice- or text-based application.

    For this review, I focused on tools that use languages I’m familiar with, even though I’m not familiar with all the tools. (I didn’t find a great selection of tools in the languages I’m not familiar with anyway.) That said, I excluded tools in three languages I am familiar with, for various reasons.

    The most obvious language I didn’t include might be R, but most of the libraries I found hadn’t been updated in over a year. That doesn’t always mean they aren’t being maintained well, but I think they should be getting updates more often to compete with other tools in the same space. I also chose languages and tools that are most likely to be used in production scenarios (rather than academia and research), and I have mostly used R as a research and discovery tool.

  • Events

    • More keynotes hitting the stage at Red Hat Summit 2019

      Red Hat Summit 2019 is the industry’s premier enterprise open source technology conference. A place to come together to share ideas, collaborate with peers, learn from the work of others and celebrate advancements in open source. This year, we encourage you to think beyond your normal day-to-day, beyond the limitations and challenges you face, expand your possibilities to think about AND.

      No longer about having to choose, what if you could scale your technology AND culture to meet your needs to help you not just survive, but thrive in a changing business landscape? Think Linux AND containers. Think public AND private cloud. That’s what you’ll find at Red Hat Summit.

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 session highlights: Hybrid cloud infrastructure

      Cloud computing should not be a world that is dominated by public clouds or on-premises datacenters; instead, it should be a blend of technologies that create the concept of hybrid cloud. The Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook for 2019 further details this point, with only six percent of respondents planning a pure public cloud strategy, while 30 percent have a hybrid cloud strategy.

      So what exactly is the hybrid cloud mix? And how can you handle multiple public clouds plus on-premises resources? What about Kubernetes and containers? How is anyone REALLY doing this?

      At Red Hat Summit 2019, May 7-9 in Boston, Red Hat aims to address these questions and more around hybrid cloud infrastructure and strategies. From Kubernetes and Linux containers to hybrid cloud storage and functions-as-a-service (FaaS), presenters at Red Hat Summit will break these concepts down using real world examples to highlight the power, scale and innovation of hybrid cloud infrastructure in modern computing environments.

    • SUSECON 2019 Sponsors, Keynotes and Breakout Sessions Announced! [Ed: Microsoft a sponsor and thus keynote talk]

      At SUSECON 2019, we will be collaborating with our partners to showcase open source business technologies that transform.

    • LibrePlanet is coming in two days! Here’s how you can participate

      It’s almost time for LibrePlanet — the Free Software Foundation annual conference and associate members’ meeting — and we couldn’t be more excited! There is so much going on at the conference, great events in the evenings, a raffle, an exhibit hall, and an amazing collection of free software enthusiasts from around the world. We hope to see you there! Registration may be closed, but you can still register for the conference on-site, space permitting.

      In the event you can’t make it to LibrePlanet, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, there are ways to get involved! We have three ways to enable remote participation: IRC, mumble, and, of course, the livestream. We provide these resources, along with video streaming, so that free software supporters who are unable to travel to the US for economic and/or political reasons are still able to participate.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 66.0 Released with Sound Auto-Play Blocked

        Mozilla Firefox 66.0 was released two days ago. Now it’s available in main repositories of Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 18.10.

      • A Quick Look At The Firefox 66.0 vs. Chrome 73.0 Performance Benchmarks

        Given the recent releases of Chrome 73 and Firefox 66, here are some fresh tests of these latest browsers on Linux under a variety of popular browser benchmarks.

        This initial round of testing was done on the latest of Intel’s Clear Linux with a Core i9 9900K and Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card. Originally the intent was to look at the performance of Clear Linux’s default Firefox build compared to the upstream Firefox x86_64 Linux binary to see how the performance differed or if any Clear optimizations paid off there. In this particular instance, Clear Linux’s Firefox build and that of the upstream/generic Firefox Linux binary basically came down to the same. As a follow-up though will be tests of Firefox/Chrome running on Clear Linux against the likes of Ubuntu to see if the underlying operating system changes yield any performance difference.

      • Firefox 66 Is Now Available for Ubuntu 18.10, 18.04 LTS, and 16.04 LTS Users

        Released earlier this week, the Mozilla Firefox 66 web browser has landed in Ubuntu’s repositories with a bunch of great improvements, such as the hidden system title bar that respects the GNOME guidelines. Not only Firefox will now look good, but you won’t have two title bars, nor you’ll have to use extensions to get rid of one.

        Apart from the looks for GNOME users, which is now the default desktop environment on Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish), Mozilla Firefox 66 comes with various under the hood improvements, such as freezeless downloading of files and faster web content loading by reducing the crash rates and increasing the processes from 4 to 8.

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

        This is not an action that we take lightly, because it’s demoralizing for the Community and potentially confusing for users, but in some cases we have to remove locales from Firefox builds. As outlined in the document, we try our best to revive the localization effort, and only act when it’s clear that we can’t solve the problem in other ways.

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

        This is not an action that we take lightly, because it’s demoralizing for the Community and potentially confusing for users, but in some cases we have to remove locales from Firefox builds. As outlined in the document, we try our best to revive the localization effort, and only act when it’s clear that we can’t solve the problem in other ways.

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

        This is not an action that we take lightly, because it’s demoralizing for the Community and potentially confusing for users, but in some cases we have to remove locales from Firefox builds. As outlined in the document, we try our best to revive the localization effort, and only act when it’s clear that we can’t solve the problem in other ways.

      • Firefox 67 Will Add Support for Running Different Firefox Installs Side by Side

        With the Firefox 66 release out the door, Mozilla is now concentrating its efforts on the next major release of its open-source and cross-platform web browser used by millions of computer and mobile users worldwide, Firefox 67.
        Firefox 67 continues the “Quantum” series of the web browser with some very nice enhancements, such as the ability to finally run different versions of Firefox side by side by default. Furthermore, Firefox 67 promises to protect users against running older versions of Firefox that may cause stability issues or data corruption.

        To better protect the security and privacy of users, Firefox 67 will let users block known crypto-miners and fingerprinters in the web browser via the Content Blocking preferences or in Custom settings, as well as the ability to manually approve newly installed extensions in Private Windows.

        With Firefox 67 you’ll also be able to pin tabs from the Page Actions menu in the address bar and access the Import Data from Another Browser feature more conveniently from the File menu. For Windows 10 users, Firefox 67 will enable the WebRender feature by default for Firefox 64 installations on computers with Nvidia GPUs.

  • Databases

    • How to save time with TiDB

      Last November, I wrote about key differences between MySQL and TiDB, an open source-compatible, cloud-based database engine, from the perspective of scaling both solutions in the cloud. In this follow-up article, I’ll dive deeper into the ways TiDB streamlines and simplifies administration.

      If you come from a MySQL background, you may be used to doing a lot of manual tasks that are either not required or much simpler with TiDB.

      The inspiration for TiDB came from the founders managing sharded MySQL at scale at some of China’s largest internet companies. Since requirements for operating a large system at scale are a key concern, I’ll look at some typical MySQL database administrator (DBA) tasks and how they translate to TiDB.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2.2 Released, New PocketBeagle SBC, Google Enforcing Permissions Rules on Apps, OpenShot 2.4.4 Now Available and DataPractices.org Has Joined The Linux Foundation

      The Document Foundation announces the release of LibreOffice 6.2.2. This version “provides over 50 bug and regression fixes over the previous version”. You can view the changelog for details, and go here to download. Note that “LibreOffice 6.2.2 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.1.5, which includes some months of back-ported fixes.”

    • SmartArt improvements in LibreOffice, part 4

      I recently dived into the SmartArt support of LibreOffice, which is the component responsible for displaying complex diagrams from PPTX. I focus on the case when only the document model and the layout constraints are given, not a pre-rendered result.

      First, thanks to our partner SUSE for working with Collabora to make this possible.

    • Things to know if you are a new contributor to LibreOffice code

      When I began contributing code to LibreOffice, I faced some issues because I didn’t know several facts that the other active contributors knew. This blog post summarizes some of those facts, and I hope it will be useful for other new contributors!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • New vulnerability reporting platform aims to make open source safer [Ed: Ad disguised as an article for firm that works with Microsoft and never speaks about back doors in proprietary software]
    • Why Open19 Designs Matter for Edge Computing [Ed: Openwashing Microsoft without even any source code]

      On the opening day of this year’s Data Center World in Phoenix, Yuval Bachar, LinkedIn’s principal engineer of data center architecture, was on hand to explain why the social network’s Open19 Project will be an important part of data centers’ move to the edge.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Parallel 20190322 (‘FridayforFuture’) released

      GNU Parallel 20190322 (‘FridayforFuture’) has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/
      The change in signalling makes this release experimental for users that send SIGTERM to GNU Parallel.

    • GNU Parallel 20190322 Released – Wants To Help Speed Up Single-Threaded Linux Commands

      GNU Parallel is a tool for carrying out multiple commands/jobs in parallel on one or more computers. Out today is the GNU Parallel 20190322 release with a few changes over last month’s update.

      The primary change of GNU Parallel 20190322 is using SIGHUP rather than SIGTERM to allow for running jobs to finish and they have also changed their ‘SIGTERM SIGTERM’ behavior for killing of running jobs. Additionally, they have added some “cheat sheet” documentation for helping new users understand this utility.

    • Seven new devices from ThinkPenguin, Inc. now FSF-certified to Respect Your Freedom

      Thursday, March 21st, 2019 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to seven devices from ThinkPenguin, Inc.: The Penguin Wireless G USB Adapter (TPE-G54USB2), the Penguin USB Desktop Microphone for GNU / Linux (TPE-USBMIC), the Penguin Wireless N Dual-Band PCIe Card (TPE-N300PCIED2), the PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Card Dual Port (TPE-1000MPCIE), the PCI Gigabit Ethernet Card (TPE-1000MPCI), the Penguin 10/100 USB Ethernet Network Adapter v1 (TPE-100NET1), and the Penguin 10/100 USB Ethernet Network Adapter v2 (TPE-100NET2). The RYF certification mark means that these products meet the FSF’s standards in regard to users’ freedom, control over the product, and privacy.

      [...]

      “I’ve always believed that the biggest difficulty for users in the free software world has been in obtaining compatible hardware, and so I’m glad to be participating in the expansion of the RYF program” said Christopher Waid, founder and CEO of ThinkPenguin.

      ThinkPenguin, Inc. was one of the first companies to receive RYF certification, gaining their first and second certifications in 2013, and adding several more over the years since.

      “ThinkPenguin has excelled for years in providing users with the tools they need to control their own computing. We are excited by these new additions today, and look forward to what they have in store for the future,” said the FSF’s licensing and compliance manager, Donald Robertson, III.

    • FSF Certifies A USB Microphone For Respecting Your Freedom Plus Some Network Adapters

      The Free Software Foundation has announced the latest batch of hardware it has certified for “Respecting Your Freedom” as part of its RYF program.

      Seven more devices from Linux-focused e-tailer Think Penguin have been certified for respecting your freedoms and privacy in that no binary blobs are required for use nor any other restrictions on the hardware’s use or comprising the user’s privacy.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Course Review: Applied Hardware Attacks: Rapid Prototying & Hardware Implants

        Everyone learns in different ways. While Joe is happy to provide as much help as a student needs, his general approach probably caters most to those who learn by doing. Lecture is light and most of the learning happens during the lab segments. He gives enough space that you will make mistakes and fail, but not so badly that you never accomplish your objective. If you read the lab manual carefully, you will find adequate hints to get you in the right direction.

        On the other hand, if you’re a student that wants to site in a classroom and listen to an instructor lecture for the entire time, you are definitely in the wrong place. If you do not work on the labs, you will get very, very, little out of the course.

        The rapid prototyping course is a good introduction to using the 3D printer and pcb mill for hardware purposes, and would be valuable even for those building hardware instead of breaking it. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of these technologies. On the other hand, I suspect that the hardware implants course has limited application. It’s useful to learn what is possible, but unless you work in secure hardware design or offensive security that would use hardware implants, it’s probably not something directly applicable to your day to day.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python for NLP: Vocabulary and Phrase Matching with SpaCy

      This is the third article in this series of articles on Python for Natural Language Processing. In the previous article, we saw how Python’s NLTK and spaCy libraries can be used to perform simple NLP tasks such as tokenization, stemming and lemmatization. We also saw how to perform parts of speech tagging, named entity recognition and noun-parsing. However, all of these operations are performed on individual words.

    • Small history about QA

      To ensure of the quality of PHP, of no regression is a complex, long and serious work. Thanks to all the actors, developers, QA team and users, this works pretty well.
      So, if you use PHP in a development environment, it is essential to install the RC versions to detect and report us quickly any problem, so we can react before the finale version.
      For users of my repository, the RC versions of PHP and various extensions are nearly always available in the testing repositories.

    • PHP version 7.2.17RC1 and 7.3.4RC1
    • Talk Python to Me: #204 StaticFrame, like Pandas but safer
    • Test and Code: 69: The Pragmatic Programmer – Andy Hunt

      Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas wrote the seminal software development book, The Pragmatic Programmer. Together they founded The Pragmatic Programmers and are well known as founders of the agile movement and authors of the Agile Manifesto. They founded the Pragmatic Bookshelf publishing business in 2003.

    • Coding for Time Zones & Daylight Saving Time — Oh, the Horror
    • Deep-dive tutorial series on React, TypeScript, and TDD
    • How to debug code in CodeReady Workspaces
    • Intro to Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) in Python
    • Effective HMI interaction and safety attention monitoring using eye tracking technology: DeepGlance Quick

      Interacting effectively with increasingly widespread and advanced systems is one of the most important challenges of our time. Most modern HMIs are based on mouse, keyboard or touch screen and allow controlling even very complex devices in a simple and intuitive way. However, in certain contexts, the user may be unable to have direct contact with a device, in this case, we are talking about hands-free interactions and often voice commands are used to interact. But controlling a system by voice, however natural, is not effective for all types of operations and in all environments. In fact, every technology has its peculiarities, that’s why the HMI design and the UX are the subject of continuous research and aim to offer increasingly effective and natural interaction methods, also thanks to the combined use of more complementary technologies between them.

    • Seven ways to improve your team’s Python

      If you’re a manager, then you’re always trying to find ways that’ll help your team do more in less time. That’s why you use Python — because it makes your developers more productive. They can spend more time creating new features, and less time debugging or maintaining existing code. It’s no surprise that so many companies are moving to Python.

      After you’ve moved to Python, you can still make your team more effective. That is, your organization can become more productive, combining technology and culture to help your developers improve. In such a scenario, everyone wins: Your company becomes more efficient and effective, and your team members are more satisfied.

    • Rust All Hands 2019: Array iterators, Rayon, and more

      A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Rust All Hands meeting, hosted by Mozilla at their Berlin office. The attendees were a mix of volunteers and corporate employees covering the full range of Rust development, including the compiler, language, libraries, docs, tools, operations, and community. Although I’m sure there will be an official summary of the meeting (like last year’s), in this article, I’ll cover a few things I was directly involved in. First, I’ll look at a feature many developers have wanted for a long time…

    • GCC 9 libstdc++ Lands The C++17 Parallel Algorithms Implementation From Intel

      While the release of GCC 9 (v9.1) is just a few weeks ago, a late addition to this annual compiler collection update is its C++ standard library now having a C++17 parallel algorithms implementation thanks to Intel developers.

      Intel has been working on contributing their C++17 parallel algorithms library code to both GCC and also to the LLVM project. Intel has been working on this Parallel STL implementation the past few years with a focus on contributing the support to the libc++ and libstdc++ C++ standard libraries. The Parallel STL is a portable implementation of threaded/vectorized execution of standard C++ algorithms, which can equate to a performance win on today’s multi-core systems.

    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 14 – Bitwise operators practical examples
    • Tutorial: Introduction to Git and Github

Leftovers

  • Bach-A-Doodle-Doo

    The tinny reveille I heard came not from a Gothic belfry but from a space-grey MacBook Pro a few feet from my right ear. My wife was on the internet and had launched an unlikely wake-up call.

    However feebly delivered, the melody I heard would have been familiar to old Johann, so deeply engraved on his hard drive was this venerable Lutheran chorale. Emanating from the laptop were the hymn’s first two short phrases, rising resolutely step-wise up the minor scale.

    The tune was delivered in electric piano tones, first as a single line, then repeated along with a droning alto, and finally in four parts that were the work of the birthday boy himself. The message conveyed, even without the text being sung, was not exactly one to launch me out of bed to greet the spring day, attack the problems of the world, and be at one with myself and the planet: Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig.

  • The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf

    I came upon a piece of “found art” in the NYT today that was too delicious to pass up. On page D1 of the Style section today (March 21), there was an article on a new book by Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider entitled “Why Does Patriarchy Persist? The article continued on pages D4 and D5 above the advertisement in the attached photo. Priceless.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Will More GMO Foods Be Approved Under FDA’s New Leadership?

      The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

    • Early Pesticide Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

      Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.

      The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.

    • AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF CORPORATE IMPERIALISM

      Traditional narratives of capitalist change often rely on the myth of the willful entrepreneur from the global North who transforms the economy and delivers modernity—for good or ill—to the rest of the world. With Cigarettes, Inc., Nan Enstad upends this story, revealing the myriad cross-cultural encounters that produced corporate life before World War II.

      In this startling account of innovation and expansion, Enstad uncovers a corporate network rooted in Jim Crow segregation that stretched between the United States and China and beyond. Cigarettes, Inc. teems with a global cast—from Egyptian, American, and Chinese entrepreneurs to a multiracial set of farmers, merchants, factory workers, marketers, and even baseball players, jazz musicians, and sex workers. Through their stories, Cigarettes, Inc. accounts for the cigarette’s spectacular rise in popularity and in the process offers nothing less than a sweeping reinterpretation of corporate power itself.

    • Cigarettes Are Central to the History of Corporate Power

      Parker was one of hundreds of young white men who journeyed from the bright leaf tobacco–growing states of Virginia and North Carolina to work for BAT-China from 1905 to 1937, the very years that cigarette consumption skyrocketed worldwide. Southerners filled positions in every department. Richard Henry Gregory from Granville County, North Carolina, ran the agricultural department, where US Southerners introduced bright leaf tobacco and the flue curing system to Chinese farmers. Ivy Riddick, from Raleigh, North Carolina, managed Shanghai’s massive cigarette factories during the 1920s, a decade of dramatic strikes and anti-imperialist protest. James N. Joyner, born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, worked in sales in China from 1912 to 1935, including heading two large sales divisions. And James A. Thomas of Reidsville, North Carolina, was at the helm, steering the China branch of BAT during its years of rapid expansion. For every career man, there were dozens of other, mostly rural white Southerners who worked for BAT-China for one or more four-year terms; hundreds of Southerners went to China over the course of BAT-China’s tenure there.

      These men were part of a network that selected and sorted white men from the Upper South’s bright leaf tobacco region into emerging corporate opportunities in the United States and China. The men who went to China left behind fathers, brothers, and cousins who performed similar work in the cigarette corporations that were emerging simultaneously in the United States. To be part of the transnational network, one had to be white and male and to have some connection to farming, curing, auctioning, or manufacturing bright leaf tobacco. What mattered was not so much what one knew, but who one knew, as those who had a father or brother in the tobacco trade found entrance even without any particular training or experience. This network, then, functioned as a managerial system, coordinating the hire and placement of white-collar managers in both the US and China; it was as foundational to the transnational tobacco corporate structure as the board of directors, and more significant for shaping daily decision-making and corporate culture.

    • Doctors, EMS Leaders Call for Changes to Rhode Island’s 911 System

      As Rhode Island lawmakers consider ways to improve the state’s 911 emergency system, the head of the state police on Thursday pledged to conduct a thorough review of procedures and training provided to 911 call takers.

      The moves follow a report by The Public’s Radio and ProPublica on Wednesday about a 6-month-old baby in Warwick who was the subject of an emergency 911 call last year. The family told 911 that the baby was “unresponsive” and turning purple, but they were never instructed in CPR. The baby died. The investigation also cited serious shortcomings in the way 911 call takers are trained.

      Col. James M. Manni, Rhode Island State Police superintendent, said staff from the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the 911 system, would travel to New Hampshire next week to examine its system. New Hampshire 911 call takers are certified in emergency medical dispatch, which includes training in how to deliver CPR instructions by phone. Emergency medical calls in every other New England state, except Rhode Island, are likewise handled by people certified in emergency medical dispatch, or EMD.

    • EPA Announces 20 Toxic Chemicals It Won’t Protect Us From

      On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as “high priority” for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA’s record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.

      Of the 20 chemicals named, the one that immediately jumps out is formaldehyde. EPA’s program for assessing the hazards of chemicals — known as “IRIS,” the Integrated Risk Information System — completed an assessment of formaldehyde that Trump officials have prevented being publicly released, or even undergoing peer review. This is likely because the conclusions of the IRIS assessment are unfavorable to formaldehyde manufacturers and polluters.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Norwegian firm attack likely through Microsoft Active Directory: claim

      The Windows network at the Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro was probably infiltrated by attackers who planted the LockerGoga ransomware using something like scheduled tasks or services in Microsoft’s Active Directory, a British security expert says.

    • Microsoft starts notifying Windows 7 users about end of support

      Microsoft’s end of support date means that Windows 7 users will no longer receive security updates, and the company wants consumers to upgrade to Windows 10 PCs instead. While the notification doesn’t mention Windows 10, Microsoft links to a new Windows 7 site that encourages consumers to upgrade their PCs.

    • Critical flaw lets [attackers] control lifesaving devices implanted inside patients

      The federal government on Thursday warned of a serious flaw in Medtronic cardio defibrillators that allows attackers to use radio communications to surreptitiously take full control of the lifesaving devices after they are implanted in a patient.

      Defibrillators are small, surgically implanted devices that deliver electrical shocks to treat potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms. In recent decades, doctors have increasingly used radios to monitor and adjust the devices once they’re implanted rather than using older, costlier, and more invasive means. An array of implanted cardio defibrillators made by Medtronic rely on two types of radio-based consoles for initial setup, periodic maintenance, and regular monitoring. Doctors use the company’s CareLink Programmer in clinics, while patients use the MyCareLink Monitor in homes to regularly ensure the defibrillators are working properly.

    • Russian [attackers] are targeting European governments ahead of May election, FireEye says

      FireEye said European government institutions were sent emails with links to websites that appeared to be authentic, luring a person into changing their password and thus sharing their credentials with hackers.

    • How to create good SSH keys

      A couple years back we wrote a guide on how to create good OpenPGP/GnuPG keys and now it is time to write a guide on SSH keys for much of the same reasons: SSH key algorithms have evolved in past years and the keys generated by the default OpenSSH settings a few years ago are no longer considered state-of-the-art. This guide is intended both for those completely new to SSH and to those who have already been using it for years and who want to make sure they are following the latest best practices.

    • Installing Gnuk on FST-01G running NeuG
    • Offline Ed25519 OpenPGP key with subkeys on FST-01G running Gnuk
    • Planning for a new OpenPGP key
    • Simon Josefsson: OpenPGP 2019 Key Transition Statement
    • PewDiePie Ransomware Locks Your Files Until 100M Subscribers Is Reached

      What started as a joke has taken an ugly turn now. PewDiePie fans have begun taking extreme methods to ensure that people “Subscribe to PewDiePie” and the YouTuber reaches 100 million subscribers as soon as possible.

      The latest one involves a ransomware strain which locks away users’ files indefinitely until PewDiePie gains 100 million subscribers.

    • WireGuard Sent Out Again For Review, Might Make It Into Linux 5.2 Kernel

      WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld has sent out the ninth version of the WireGuard secure network tunnel patches for review. If this review goes well and lands in net-next in the weeks ahead, this long-awaited VPN improvement could make it into the mainline Linux 5.2 kernel.

      WireGuard had aimed to be mainlined in the Linux kernel in 2018 but developers having objections to some elements of the new Zinc cryptography implementation had ultimately stalled that work. But now there’s these “v9″ patches that address previous objections and so with a bit of luck we might see Zinc and WireGuard merged for Linux 5.2.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Hidden U.S. Air War in Somalia: Amnesty Accuses U.S. of Possible War Crimes for Civilian Deaths

      Amnesty International is accusing the United States of covering up civilian casualties in its secretive air war in Somalia targeting the militant group al-Shabab. The U.S. has carried out over 100 strikes in Somalia since 2017. For years the Pentagon has claimed no civilians were being killed in the airstrikes, but the new Amnesty report found that at least 14 civilians were killed, and eight more were injured, in just five airstrikes. The overall civilian death toll is likely to be far higher. We speak with Brian Castner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser on arms and military operations. He helped write Amnesty’s report, titled “The Hidden US War in Somalia.”

    • Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs

      As internal and external pressures mount to hold Boeing responsible for its criminal negligence, the giant company is exerting its immense influence to limit both its past and future accountability. Boeing whistleblowers and outside aviation safety experts are coming forward to reveal the serial, criminal negligence of Boeing’s handling of its dangerous Boeing 737 Max airplanes, grounded in the aftermath of two deadly crashes that took 346 lives. Boeing, is used to having its way in Washington, D.C. For decades, Boeing and some of its airline allies have greased the wheels for chronic inaction related to the additional protection and comfort of airline passengers and airline workers.

      Most notoriously, the airlines, after the hijacks to Cuba in the late Sixties and early Seventies, made sure that Congress and the FAA did not require hardened cockpit doors and stronger latches on all aircraft, costing a modest $3000 per plane. Then the 9/11 massacre happened, a grisly consequence of non-regulation, pushed by right wing corporatist advocacy centers.

      Year after year, Flyers Rights – the airline passenger consumer group –proposed a real passengers bill of rights. Year after year the industry’s toadies in Congress said no. A slim version passed last year — requiring regulations creating minimum seat standards, regulations regarding prompt refunds for ancillary services not provided or on a flight not taken, and a variety of small improvements for consumers.

    • Trump: U.S. Recognizes Israel’s Sovereignty of Golan Heights

      President Donald Trump said Thursday that it’s time for the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, an announcement that signals a shift in U.S. policy and comes ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s planned visit next week to the White House.

      The administration has been considering recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Last week, in its annual human rights report, the State Department dropped the phrase “Israeli-occupied” from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it “Israeli-controlled.”

    • No, Critics Declare in Response to Trump, Now Is Time to Give Occupied Golan Heights Back to Syria

      Critics on Thursday swiftly condemned an announcement by President Donald Trump that he believes the U.S. should recognize Israel’s claim over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory Israel has illegally occupied for over half a century.

      “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the president said on Twitter, “which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

    • Thom Hartmann: America Has Forgotten the Warnings of FDR

      America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We’d be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.

      The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they’re on the streets.

      While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a “free” society.

      “Poverty, lack of education, no access to health care, poor-paying jobs, and barriers to voting are all proof of a free society, they tell us, which is why America’s lowest life expectancy, highest maternal and childhood death rates, lowest levels of education, and lowest pay are almost all in GOP-controlled states.”

    • Trump Threatens to Unleash Paramilitary Violence in the US

      This has been one of those whiplash weeks where so many particularly monstrous words have emanated from Donald Trump’s mouth and Twitter-fingers that it becomes almost dizzying.

      Where to focus my outrage? Should I be most concerned about the fact that the supposed “leader of the free world” stumbled through a series of non-answers when asked about the growing threat of white nationalism in the wake of the grotesque massacre of scores of Muslims in New Zealand? Or the fact that last weekend, instead of tweeting sympathy to the victims of that massacre, Trump chose instead to tweet out insults and lies about a dead senator? Or the fact that he threatened to sic the Federal Communications Commission onto a comedy show he didn’t like, while at the same time stepping into the editorial fray to urge Fox News to stand behind two particularly noxious commentators whom he does like?

      All these are bad, but none is as bloody awful as his musings on unleashing paramilitary violence if things go too wrong for him in the political arena. In his trademark “I didn’t say it” way, Trump talked in a March 13 Breitbart interview about how he had the police, the military and the biker gangs in his corner — and how wonderful it was that they weren’t violent … for now; the clear nudge, nudge, wink, wink, subtext being that all he would have to do is give a signal, and his armed proxies would go after his enemies. A few days later, white nationalist Rep. Steve King, one of Trump’s closest ideological soulmates on Capitol Hill, forwarded to his followers a cartoon about the possibility of a modern-day U.S. civil war, and how gun-toting conservatives would have a field day shooting down wishy-washy liberals who couldn’t even work out what public bathrooms they wanted to use.

      None of this stuff is remotely funny, and it has no place in a functioning democracy. Of course, many U.S. politicians in the past have called out the hard-hat brigade when it suited them; segregationist Southern governors during the civil rights struggle routinely stoked white mob violence in an effort to block reforms. In 1968, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley unleashed the police against anti-war protesters with the intent of busting open as many heads as possible. In the Tammany Hall days, machine politicians weren’t averse to making unholy alliances with street gangs. More recently, demagogues from Louisiana politician Huey Long to Red Scare architect Joe McCarthy have all-too-well understood the power of the crowd and the potency of the threat of political violence in an already combustible situation.

    • Trump’s Secrecy Insulates U.S. Public from CIA Drone War
    • America Is Exceptional—in All the Wrong Ways

      I was born and raised in an America far more Orwellian than many now remember. Matters have gone so far off the rails since 9/11 that few seem to recall the madness of the 1980s. The U.S. had a celebrity actor for president, who railed about America’s ostensibly existential adversary—the Soviet “evil empire.” Back then, Ronald Reagan nearly started a nuclear war during the all-too-real Able Archer war game. He also secretly sold missiles to Iran, and then laundered the windfall to the Contras’ Central American hit squads, resulting in some 100,000 dead.

      Looking back from 2019, at least as the contemporary media tell it, those were the good old days. Heck, even Barack Obama—faux liberal that he was—proudly and publicly admired Reagan. Oh, and one of Reagan’s favorite campaign slogans: “Make America Great Again.”

      Today, matters seem to be coming farcically full circle, what with Elliott Abrams—convicted in the aforementioned Iran-Contra scandal—being appointed special envoy to Venezuela, and Uncle Sam again bullying a Latin American country. Welcome to America’s own grisly ’80s foreign affairs theme party! Which all got me thinking, again, about the whole notion of American exceptionalism. Only a country that truly, deeply believes in its own special mission could repeat the hideous policies of the 1980s and hardly notice.

      Perhaps one expects this absurd messianism from the likes of The Donald, but the real proof is that America’s supposed progressives—like Obama—also obediently pray at the temple of exceptionalism. “Orwellian” is the only word for a nation whose leaders and commentariat were absolutely aghast when candidate Obama was seen without (gasp!) an American flag pin on his lapel. Even more disturbing was how quickly he folded and dutifully adorned his mandatory flair. This sort of nonsense is dangerous, folks: It’s hypernationalism—the very philosophy that brought us World War I.

      So it was this week, while sitting on a plane reading my oh-so-bourgeois Economist, and getting infuriated about seeing Elliott Abrams’ war-criminal face, that my thoughts again turned to good old American exceptionalism. My opinions on the topic have waxed and waned over the course of a career spent waging illegal war. First, as a young cadet at West Point, I bought it hook, line and sinker; then, as an Iraq War vet and dissenter, I rejected the entire notion. Only now, observing the world as it is, have I begun to think that America really is exceptional after all—only in all the wrong ways.

    • Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story

      Why is Donald Trump deliberately picking a fight with the ghost of John McCain? It might seem he has nothing to gain and much to lose from this battle. Therefore many believe this is just more evidence of his narcissism, impulsiveness, and thoroughly nasty personality. Beware of underestimating Trump’s skillful and devious political acumen. As often, the president is speaking in coded language to his base, which regards McCain as the Judas who betrayed all those thousands of American POWs left behind in Vietnam.

      In public culture, especially in the corporate media and on the national political stage, John McCain is almost universally acclaimed as a great “American hero.” Why? Traditional American heroes in our wars engaged in some heroic combat action. Sergeant Alvin York, the most celebrated American of the First World War, saved his squad from German machine gunners, personally killing twenty enemy soldiers, including six he shot with his .45 pistol when they charged with bayonets. The most decorated American of the Second World War was Audie Murphy, who at the age of 19 single-handedly held off an entire company of Nazi soldiers for an hour and led a counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition. Growing up in World War II, I knew the names of these heroes. Do you know the name of any authentic American hero of the Vietnam War? How about Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, who landed his helicopter in My Lai, ordered his gunners to shoot any American soldiers who continued to fire, and personally saved a number of Vietnamese jumbled with the mass of dead villagers in a ditch?

      As for John McCain, he was shot down by a missile while bombing the thermal power plant responsible for providing electricity to the Hanoi civilian neighborhood in which it was located. McCain was and is hailed as a great hero not for any of his actions in combat but for what he claimed he endured during his captivity as a prisoner of war. There are two groups of American heretics who do not revere McCain. One remembers him as the senator who never saw a war he did not favor. The other despises him for pretending that America did not abandon many POWs in Vietnam after the war.

    • A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”

      Is it disgusting and pathetic that the mentally deranged President of the United States wakes up early in the morning to engage in hours of adolescent Twitter warfare with his personal and political enemies?

      Is it ridiculous and pitiful that the tangerine-tinted Twitter-addict continues to attack the late United States Senator John McCain and McCain’s family months after McCain has been buried?

      Is it sickening that the primary McCain sin Bad Grandpa Trump can’t seem to forgive is the former Senator’s failure to join Trump and the Republicans in kicking millions of ordinary Americans off the health insurance rolls?

      Is it true that, as, George Conway – one of Trump’s recent Twitter enemies – tweets, Trump is a textbook case of malignant narcissism?

      Is it creepy that Trump calls Kellyanne Conway, George’s wife and a top Trump counselor, “honey” and that Mrs. Conway sides with her demented boss over her husband in the Trump-Conway Twitter feud?

      Is it distressing that the man with his fingers on the nuclear codes feels compelled to call George Conway “Mr. Kellyanne” and a “husband from Hell” – and to Tweet this about Conway: “I barely know him but just take a look, a stone-cold LOSER.”

      The answer to each of these questions is yes, of course. It’s all totally contemptible and yet darkly risible.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange lawyer says he’s declined to cooperate with Nadler’s document requests

      Assange is one of the 81 individuals and entities who were hit with the House Judiciary Committee’s document requests, and he is one of several who have publicly stated they will not cooperate with the panel.

    • Attorney for WikiLeaks witness tells Nadler his panel can get documents from Mueller

      Credico has clashed with Roger Stone, the longtime GOP operative and self-described political “dirty trickster,” over who had contact with WikiLeaks.

      Stone has said Credico served as a conduit between him and Wikileaks, something Credico repeatedly denied.

    • Chelsea Manning Believes Grand Jury May Be ‘Perjury Trap,’ According To Unsealed Documents

      Documents related to Chelsea Manning’s effort to quash a federal grand jury subpoena show her attorneys are concerned the grand jury investigation against WikiLeaks may be trying to draw her into a “perjury trap.”

      Manning is in jail at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, which is also where the grand jury is empaneled. She was charged with contempt on March 8 for refusing to answer questions before the grand jury.

      The government offered her some form of immunity for her testimony, and the United States military has offered a “parallel” form of immunity to assuage concerns that her testimony would open her up to further military prosecution.

      Government prosecutors seem interested in a lengthy statement Manning offered during her military court-martial for Espionage Act-related offenses, where she outlined her role in disclosing over a half million documents. She meticulously described each set of information, why she was drawn to releasing the documents to the public, and how she downloaded, prepared, and electronically transferred the documents to WikiLeaks.

      Moira Meltzer-Cohen, an attorney for Manning, suggested during a hearing on March 5 [PDF], if the government intended to question her about her statement, “She’s sort of faced with the choice of reiterating her previous answers, which the government appears not to accept, or being untruthful, which she refuses to do.”

      “Since her prior testimony made clear that she acted alone and since we have been advised that she is herself not a target in this investigation, it would appear that the government may harbor an interest in undermining her previous testimony, since it doesn’t inculpate anyone else who might be a target,” Meltzer-Cohen added.

    • PACER, Or Your First Amendment Right To Go Fuck Yourself For $0.10/Page

      Anyone who’s used the US Court system’s PACER system has complained about it. Some of those complaints have formed the basis of lawsuits. The multitude of complaints has moved legislators to make periodic runs at eliminating PACER’s paywall. So far, PACER — which looks and feels like it’s still 2001 — has managed to outlast these efforts. The only change over the last nineteen years has been an increase in access fees.

      Many have complained, but few have complained as eloquently as Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. His op-ed for Politico is definitely worth reading. It highlights everything wrong with the PACER system, including its amazing profitability.

    • Information Is Never Neutral: The Editor Of Wikileaks Breaks His Silence

      “If you’re not a radical journalist, you’re not a journalist,” Kristinn tells us near the beginning of our interview. “You’re basically part of the problem. You’re in PR. Not to say that these reporters are necessarily being paid directly by the powers that be; they could also be avoiding conflict or shielding themselves from criticism. It can be difficult to take on power, and some people are just averse to conflict.”

      Kristinn is not one of these people. His entire journalistic career, from his early days at public broadcasting to his current job managing Wikileaks, is a reflection of this notion that journalism is about speaking truth to power. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he cites his early influences as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who broke the Watergate story based on material leaked to them by a whistleblower, along with films such as ‘All The President’s Men’ and ‘China Syndrome’. “Films that depict journalists as a force for good in society.”

      As the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Kristinn certainly has his plate full. Chelsea Manning’s re-arrest, the Cohen testimony, the Mueller investigation as a whole—all of these things involve Wikileaks in some fashion or another, justifiably or not. No matter what Kristinn has to deal with, his convictions on the role of Wikileaks and journalism in general remain strong.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • After Earlier Assurances Over Air Quality, Benzene From Petrochemical Fire Triggers ‘Shelter in Place’ Order for Texas City

      The fire started last weekend at an oil refinery plant for Royal Dutch Shell at the Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park, a city of just over 32,000 that’s 21 miles east of Houston.

      Since Sunday, a plume of black smoke has been omnipresent in Deer Park skies and air quality has gone from bad to worse, despite assurances from local officials.

      On Tuesday, Harris County Public Health appeared to downplay the risks posed by the fire in a statement.

      “Based on current air monitoring reports, there continues to be a low risk to the community because the smoke is several thousand feet above the ground,” said the county.

      That prompted frustration from observers, who feel the city isn’t doing enough for its people during the chemical fire crisis.

    • Fight Climate Change — by Loving Carbon?

      Albert Bates and Kathleen Draper have done the unthinkable: They’ve written a love story to carbon. At a time when much of the world is working on strategies to rid ourselves of carbon to combat the climate crisis, they posit in a new book that we should be embracing it. Or at least some of it.

      “Right now carbon is getting a bad rap. Carbon creates dirty energy. Carbon creates grit, grime and gunk,” they write in Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth. “Carbon should be global-warming enemy number one. But in truth, carbon is something we should all love and cherish. Carbon is life. In the right balance, carbon gives life.”

      [...]

      Sequestration of carbon is crucial in helping to address the dangers of the climate crisis, where scientists say we have to not only reduce our current greenhouse gas emissions but also create “negative emissions” by removing carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases from the atmosphere. How we do that with appropriate technology is a hotly debated topic.

      Bates and Draper say that biochar could play a role in reducing our carbon footprint, but they stop short of selling biochar as a silver bullet to fix the climate crisis. It’s presented as just one tool in the toolbox. Most research on biochar’s potential to aid in climate mitigation has looked at its use to sequester carbon in soil: Add it to soil, and it won’t break down for years, preventing the carbon from returning to the atmosphere. The authors say biochar can lock away carbon for hundreds or thousands of years, which is true under certain conditions. But not everyone is convinced: Studies have found that period can range from less than 10 years to hundreds or thousands of years, depending on soil type, the biomass used, the temperature at which the biochar was produced and other environmental conditions. And scientists have cautioned that not enough field research has been done to understand all those variables.

    • Historic Midwest Flooding Has Devastating Consequences for Farmers

      The record flooding in the Midwest that has now been blamed for four deaths could also have lasting consequences for the region’s many farmers.

    • Jim Crow in our Climate Crisis

      Critics of House Resolution 109 (H. RES. 109)—the “Green New Deal” (GND) introduced in Congress by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)—have condemned this nonbinding resolution for its inclusion of aspirations which, in their view, have nothing to do with climate change. In particular, what they find irrelevant are the aspirations that address social and economic inequalities, such as providing “high quality health care” and “affordable, safe and adequate housing” for all.

      As objectionable as they find these goals, many critics are more disturbed by the aspirations that address the harms suffered specifically by communities of color as a result of historic and present day systemic discrimination. Though they are willing to acknowledge that communities of color are more vulnerable than whites to the impacts of climate change, Resolution critics—including those who are for the passage of some green new deal (just not this one)—are unwilling to accept that these communities’ past and present experiences of discrimination might have something to do with our climate crisis. Consequently, they reject any attempt to redress these harms through climate change legislation, and suggest that mention of these in H. RES. 109 is good enough reason to reject altogether the resolution.

      In response, supporters of H. RES. 109 and of more radical GNDs have noted that the communities most vulnerable to and affected by climate change are the least responsible for creating the climate crisis. Moreover, these same communities (supporters argue) are disproportionately subjected to environmental harms produced by fossil fuel and other toxic industries due to politicians’ discriminatory and industry-friendly industrial zoning decisions, such as those that have produced Louisiana’s infamous–and deadly–Cancer Alley.

    • More Than 500 Dead in Flooding in Southern Africa

      A week after Cyclone Idai lashed southern Africa, flooding still raged Thursday as torrential rains caused a dam to overflow in Zimbabwe, threatening riverside populations. The confirmed death toll in Zimbabwe, neighboring Mozambique and Malawi surpassed 500, with hundreds more feared dead in towns and villages that were completely submerged.

      Aid agencies and several governments continued to step up their deployments, with helicopters in short supply for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the cyclone.

      Spokesman Herve Verhoosel of the World Food Program told reporters in Geneva of the “alarming news” that the Marowanyati dam in Zimbabwe was hit by heavy rains overnight, putting populations in the region at risk.

      Zimbabwe’s defense minister said more than 120 bodies had been washed into neighboring Mozambique, where residents there buried them, and more bodies were still being recovered in rivers, raising the official death toll in the country to 259.

      “Most of the bodies were washed into Mozambique and because they were in a really bad state, they could not keep the bodies,” Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri said, speaking in the eastern city of Mutare. “So they ended up burying them.”

      Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll in Mozambique rose to 217, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported, and in Malawi, at least 56 people were killed. But that was sure to rise. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has estimated that 1,000 people could have been killed in his country alone. Zimbabwean officials have said some 350 people may have died in their country.

    • ‘Potentially Historic’ Flooding Threatens Southern States

      Scientists are warning that historic flooding could soon deluge parts of several Southern states along the lower Mississippi River, where floodwaters could persist for several weeks.

      Major flooding now occurring in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and other Midwestern states is a preview of what forecasters expect the rest of the spring, said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service.

      “We expect the flooding will get worse and become more widespread,” Erickson said, referring to conditions nationwide.

      “The flooding this year could be worse than anything we’ve seen in recent years, even worse than the historic floods of 1993 and 2011,” she said.

      The flood threat was discussed in a conference call Thursday, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2019 spring outlook.

    • Ocean heatwaves drive more fish north

      With a little help from ocean heatwaves, the world’s seas are changing. Researchers in California can now name 37 species that have shifted their range further north than ever before in response to unusually hot summers in the eastern Pacific.

      In the years 2014-2016, the pelagic red crab Pleuroncodes planipes was spotted off Agate Beach, Oregon, a full 595 kilometres further north than ever before. A deepwater invertebrate called the black-tipped spiny dorid Acanthodoris rhodoceras also made it to Oregon, 620 kilometres from what had previously been its most northerly range.

      Both were joined by an assortment of snails, sea butterflies, pteropods, nudibranchs, red algae, sea anemones, siphonophores, fish, dolphins, sea turtles and other citizens of the sub-tropical seas in making the great trek north to what had once been cooler waters, the researchers record in the journal Scientific Reports.

    • ExxonMobil Could Be Banned From EU Parliament After Failing to Show at Climate Hearing

      ExxonMobil could be the second company after Monsanto to lose lobbying access to members of European Parliament after it failed to turn up to a hearing Thursday into whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change.

      The call to ban the company was submitted by Green Member of European Parliament (MEP) Molly Scott Cato and should be decided in a vote in late April, The Guardian reported.

    • Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal

      Since January 2017, the Trump Administration has been in negotiations to allow a sale of two nuclear reactors designed by American companies to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is troubling for at least two reasons. First, nuclear reactors may provide the Saudis with a backdoor to a nuclear bomb. Second, a February 19 interim report from the new Democratic majority on the House Oversight and Reform Committee alleges that the sale may involve conflicts of interest and other violations of federal law by Trump cronies inside and outside the Administration.

      Reckless, corrupt, and illegal: the transaction is the quintessence of Trump. Only a super-salesman can convince Americans that the proposed deal is a good idea and not just a means to enrich Trump associates. Fortunately, the negotiations with the Saudis are being led by a man who describes himself as “America’s number one energy salesman”: US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

      “Of all the recent secretaries of energy, Perry knows the least about nuclear energy [and] nonproliferation policy,” observes Joe Cirincione, President of the nuclear watchdog Ploughshares Fund. Before he became secretary of energy, Perry didn’t even know that the Department of Energy (DOE) is in charge of the US nuclear stockpile. Perry forgot the name of the DOE during the 2016 Republican presidential primary debates while he was trying to list the three cabinet departments he would eliminate as president. Who cares? Perry’s job is selling. To a super-salesman like Perry, whathe’s selling—used cars or nuclear bombs—doesn’t matter.

      Secretary Perry was in Houston last week at the CERAWeek energy conference. (The acronym stands for Cambridge Energy Research Associates.) CERAWeek is an annual gathering of energy industry bigwigs and the politicians who love them (and who hope one day to become energy lobbyists, much as the lowly caterpillar aspires to become a beautiful butterfly).

  • Finance

    • Google’s EU antitrust battle: A timeline of the major milestones

      The European Commission has slapped Google with three massive fines as part of a wide-ranging antitrust investigation.

      In June 2017, Google was fined €2.4 billion (£2.1 billion) for abusing its market share to illegally provide an advantage to its own Shopping service. The next year it was hit with an even bigger penalty: a record €4.34 billion (£3.9 billion) fine for abusing the market dominance of its Android operating system to extend the reach of Google’s search engine.

      A third followed in March 2019, when EU regulators hit the company with a $1.7 billion (£1.28 billion) fine for blocking advertising rivals, and more could be on the way.

      We look at the major milestones in the EU’s case against Google.

    • No Deal Brexit

      No deal Brexit will mean shutting off most of the supply capacity from the EU to Great Britain, as the government says this will be chaotic. Many of the effects are unknown but in the days and weeks that follow food supplies and medicine supplies will start to fail. The rules on moving money about and even making a phone call will be largely undefined. International travel will get unknown new bureaucracies. EU and WTO law means there also needs to be a hard border in Ireland again, restarting terrorist warfare. Inflation will kick in, unemployment will sky rocket and people will die.

      Although the UK government has dropped the dangerous saying of “no deal is better than a bad deal” it is astonishing they were allowed to get away with saying that for so long without challenge. There are still many members of the UK government who are perfectly happy with a chaotic no deal Brexit and the Prime Minister, unwilling to change any tactics, is using more and more Populist language to say how everyone should support her and threaten the whole UK society in the greatest game of chicken since the cold war. It would be trivial to revoke the Article 50 process but unless that is chosen a no deal Brexit will happen.

    • Millennials Are the Most Indebted Generation. They Can Thank Joe Biden.

      Joe Biden is trying to appeal to younger voters as he is expected to launch his bid for the presidency. However, for years, Biden made it his mission to block student debt forgiveness, leaving many young people facing a lifetime of debt.

      Biden’s potential candidacy comes at a time when the U.S. debt crisis is reaching unprecedented levels across all consumer sectors.

      Student debt broke $1.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2018 according to the Federal Reserve, outstripping auto loan ($1.1 trillion) and credit card debt ($977 billion) significantly, with 1.1 million people owing over $100,000 for their educational expenses. Twenty percent of student borrowers default on their loan payments.

      Similarly, almost one in five Americans’ credit reports feature delinquent medical debt. Bankruptcy from growing insurance and prescription costs is also affecting Americans at a precipitous rate. Studies vary widely, but generally between 26 to even 62 percent of bankruptcies cited medical debt as a contributing or even primary factor. A harrowing figure from the October 2018 American Journal of Medicine showed that 42 percent of new cancer patients exhaust their life savings within two years of treatment, with an average loss of $92,098.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Maybe Wall Street Bankers ‘Not the Best Authority’ on Wellbeing of People and Planet

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon of his bank’s massive investments in oil and gas development projects after Dimon suggested the Green New Deal is not an “intelligent” solution to the climate crisis.

      “JP Morgan agreed to pay out $13 billion over its massive role in mortgage schemes with the ’08 recession,” Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman Democratic congresswoman from New York, said in a tweet Wednesday. “They also finance major fossil fuel pipelines. It’s big money.”

      “So maybe they aren’t the best authority on prioritizing economic wellbeing of everyday people and the planet,” she added.

      According to a report card released Wednesday by a coalition of environmental groups, JP Morgan invested $195.66 billion in oil and gas companies between 2016 and 2018, making the Wall Street bank “the world’s top funder of fossil fuels by a wide margin.”

    • ‘Florida Man’ Jokes Are an Excuse to Laugh at the Poor

      “Another tedious, liberal, PC scold,” you may think as you read the headline for this piece. “Why can’t we just have fun and enjoy a hilarious meme in peace?” Well, you can enjoy “Florida man” all you want, but by any objective metric, it’s worth noting that “Florida man” memes—just like all “dumb criminal” or “weird crime” stories—are little more than a socially acceptable way of gawking at and belittling the dispossessed and indigent.

      At the very least, it’s a possibility worth examining—if you would indulge me. The general premise behind “Florida man” memes and jokes is that Florida, for whatever reason, produces uniquely wacky news stories. It’s an online bit that goes back more than a decade, leading to a popular twitter account, @_floridaman, and thousands of glib internet cracks. Everyone’s in on the joke, especially people from Florida. A recent tweet by @g_pratimaaa, making a game out of the name by typing in one’s birthday, has reignited the meme on Twitter, resulting in write-ups in Time magazine, Tampa Bay Times, NBC Palm Beach, USA Today.

    • American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China

      The US government is fighting with all it has to keep China behind in technology. In his State of the Union Address, President Trump claimed this is to stop “the theft of American jobs.” But in reality this war on technological advancement in China destroys American jobs and hurts American consumers and entrepreneurs.

      The first indication that this is not a normal trade dispute was the criminal indictment of a Chinese corporation and three individuals for stealing technology from the “American” Micron corporation. Everything about this indictment is curious. The technology that was allegedly stolen was neither developed in the US nor ever put into production in the US. Micron acquired the technology in 2012 when it acquired Elpida, a corporation that developed the technology in Japan and then produced it in Japan and Taiwan. After Micron acquired Elpida, it did not move it to the US. On the contrary. Its strategy, its spokesman explained, was “to be a global leader…For this reason, Micron is establishing manufacturing, technology and business centers of excellence that will…optimize our global footprint”; to implement this strategy, itthen fired hundreds of employees in Boise, Idaho,and opened an additional manufacturing plant in mainland China.

      The technology that was allegedly stolen was developed and produced overseas and the workers who allegedly stole it were two of Micron’s former foreign workers who worked in one of those overseas plants–in Taiwan. Under these circumstances the US government should not have intervened, and if it hadn’t Micron and other corporations might have had reason to rethink their strategy of producing overseas. Instead, the indictment demonstrated to them that whenthe safety of moving jobs to foreign countries deteriorates, the US government will step in to restore it. Doing so in the name of the American worker is a sham.

    • As mayor of London, I’m clear we need to revoke Article 50 and end this Brexit disaster

      Our government has deliberately brought Britain to within days of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit – something that would cause irreparable damage to jobs and communities. It has to stop, right now.

      Theresa May must listen to the thousands of people that are taking to the streets of London in protest tomorrow, and to those others making their voices heard around the country.

      She must revoke Article 50 – stopping the clock on Brexit to give us time to sort out her mess – and the British public must get the final say on what happens next.

      It has been blindingly obvious that Theresa May’s chaotic Brexit strategy would lead us to this disastrous point ever since she set out her wrongheaded “red lines” for the negotiations and invoked Article 50 long before she needed to and with no plan whatsoever.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Of Red Lines and Red Herring: The EPP’s Delusions about Restraining Orbán

      With the European People’s Party (EPP) considering the possibility of finally expelling Orbán and his Fidesz party, it is worth considering why the EPP has tolerated Fidesz as a member party for so long, and what impact the EPP and Fidesz have had on one another. There is ample evidence that the EPP has protected Orbán and his Fidesz party from EU censure for years as a quid pro quo for their partisan loyalty.

      However, those trying to justify the EPP’s failure to expel Fidesz long ago have offered a more sympathetic interpretation of the EPP’s motivations: they suggest that EPP leaders believed that by keeping Fidesz in their block they would have a restraining effect on the Orbán regime. By encouraging close dialogue with the Orbán government, so this argument goes, EPP membership would moderate the Orbán government and keep it on the side of pro-European forces.

      The flaw in this self-justification is that there is no evidence that the EPP has had a restraining effect on Orbán. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, membership in the respected, democratic center-right EPP has legitimated and sanitized Orbán’s rule, even as it descended into autocracy. And in the crucial early years of his rule, the political protection of the EPP shielded the Orbán government from EU sanctions that it might have faced had his party been part of a weaker, far-right Europarty.

      This post will offer an overview of the main EPP’s ‘red lines’ since the EPP leadership first demanded from Prime Minister Orbán that he immediately comply with EU laws and EPP values nearly two years ago, in April 2017. We will show that, contrary to Weber’s claims about EPP values being non-negotiable, Orbán has repeatedly crossed the EPP’s supposed red-lines with impunity. And rather than being restrained by the EPP, Orbán has sought to transform it.

      This post will end with a brief analysis of the EPP leadership’s latest edition of its regularly redefined ‘red lines’ courtesy of Manfred Weber, the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat, who, rather than joining the mounting calls for the expulsion of Orbán’s party, declared that he hoped he could keep Orbán in the EPP provided that Orbán ends the propaganda campaign accusing Juncker of encouraging mass migration; apologises to other EPP members and allows the Central European University to continue operating and issuing US degrees in Budapest.

    • Bernie Sanders Becomes First 2020 Primary Candidate to Promise Carbon Neutral Campaign

      Bernie Sanders has become the first contender in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field to pledge to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions released by campaign travel, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.

    • Beto O’Rourke Owes His Career to the GOP

      To understand Beto O’Rourke as a candidate, it’s vital to go beneath the surface of his political backstory. News watchers are already well aware of the former Texas congressman’s good looks, charisma, youthful energy and fundraising prowess. But most remain unaware of an inconvenient truth that could undermine the O’Rourke campaign among the people who matter most — the ones who’ll be voting to choose the Democratic presidential nominee next year.

      O’Rourke is hardly eager for those upcoming voters to realize that the growth of his political career is rooted in an alliance with powerful Republicans that began 15 years ago. Or that he supported raising the minimum age for Social Security in 2012. Or that — during six years in Congress, through the end of 2018 — he often aligned himself with Republican positions.

      If facts matter, such weighty facts could sink the “Beto for America” presidential campaign. Since his announcement, information gaining traction nationwide runs directly counter to the Beto brand.

      “Before becoming a rising star in the Democratic Party,” the Wall Street Journal reported a week ago, “Beto O’Rourke relied on a core group of business-minded Republicans in his Texas hometown to launch and sustain his political career. To win their backing, Mr. O’Rourke opposed Obamacare, voted against Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader and called for a raise in the Social Security eligibility age.”

      Meanwhile, a Washington Post news article — under the headline “Beto O’Rourke’s Political Career Drew on Donations From the Pro-Republican Business Establishment” — also foreshadowed a bumpy ride on the campaign trail. In the eyes of most people who don’t like the GOP, key points in the Post’s reporting are apt to be concerning.

    • Decrying ‘War Being Waged Against Working People,’ Sanders Joins Striking Union Members at UCLA

      “What we are seeing all across this country is a war being waged against working people,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday.

      The Independent senator from Vermont spoke at a rally in Los Angeles, standing in solidarity with about 40,000 University of California (UC) workers who staged a one-day statewide strike after months of failed contract negotiations for pay raises and better benefits.

      “I am here today, I should tell you, not as a candidate for president, but as somebody who has spent the last 40 years of his life walking on picket lines with unionized workers,” Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, told the crowd in a 10-minute speech.

    • Dems’ Decline of Corporate Money Could Put a Hurt on PACs

      “The one thing Democratic candidates for president can agree on” writes Politico’s Zach Montellaro, is that “they’re not taking money from corporate PACs.” A new article from Roll Call suggests that political action committees are getting nervous that anti-big money fervor means their influence is declining in the Democratic Party.

      Beto O’Rourke, who raised more money in the first 24 hours after his campaign announcement than any other Democratic presidential candidate, told supporters that this feat proves that his is “a campaign by all of us for all of us that answers not to the PACs, corporations and special interests but to the people,” as Vox reported Monday. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., says he “won’t take a dime from corporate PACs,” a pledge shared by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and former San Antonio mayor and presidential candidate Julian Castro.

      Roll Call’s Kate Ackley reports that attendees at a Florida conference for corporate PACs came “seeking clues about the future of their beleaguered enterprises.” They “run the political action committees of corporations and business associations just when a growing contingent of lawmakers is rejecting their donations,” Ackley writes, noting that one session offered at the conference was titled “Under Siege.”

    • Despite his Swiss bank accounts, Pavel Grudinin was allowed to participate in Vladimir Putin’s reelection last year, but now he’s being kept from the parliament. Here’s why.

      On March 18, 2018, Pavel Grudnin took part in Russia’s presidential election. He lost the race, obviously, but he took second place with 11.77 percent of the vote. During the campaign, the public learned that Grudinin had failed to close his Swiss bank accounts before submitting his candidacy registration documents on December 28, 2017, as required by the law.

      According to Russia’s laws, presidential candidates with foreign bank accounts are permitted to compete, only if they manage to close the accounts before the Central Election Commission finishes reviewing their registration documents. In February 2018, a month after they formally registered Grudinin’s presidential candidacy, Russian election officials learned about his bank accounts in Switzerland.

      With records from Russia’s Federal Tax Service about the foreign accounts, election officials say they declined to remove Grudinin from the race because they trusted him when he said he’d closed these accounts before his candidacy was registered on January 12, 2018. “We take him at his word,” Deputy Election Commissioner Nikolai Bulaev said at the time.

    • Elizabeth Warren versus Joe Biden

      Joe Biden’s almost-certain decision to jump into the 2020 presidential race means that the top three candidates for the White House in 2020 are all white men over the age of 75—Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump.

      There’s something wrong with this picture in a political era defined by #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and a massive backlash against the White Man’s Last Stand presidency of Donald Trump.

      And the problem is bigger than the optics of race and gender.

      Biden’s coziness with the financial industry—especially his support for a 2005 bankruptcy bill that made it harder for ordinary people to get out of crushing debt and easier for big banks to profit from predatory lending—puts him on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      Biden told a group of supporters in Delaware that “I have the most progressive record of anybody running.” But Biden’s not-very-progressive record is actually a huge mismatch for the current political moment.

      A lot of the ghosts in Biden’s past are the consequence of a long, long career in politics: his eulogy for Southern segregationist Strom Thurmond; his warning, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, about “predators on our streets” who were “beyond the pale,” taking credit for a crime law that exacerbated mass incarceration; his dismissive treatment of Anita Hill; his support for the Iraq War.

    • Fox News’ Self-Fulfilling Propaganda on Ocasio-Cortez

      Over the weekend, Fox News published a story (3/17/19) on a recent Gallup poll that asked the public about their opinions on Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The headline claimed that her unfavorable rating had “skyrocketed”—rising 15 points since last September—and that “most people” now viewed her negatively.

      In doing so, the network committed two notable journalistic sins—one of commission and one of omission. First, the headline itself was a sloppy falsehood, as the Gallup poll from February only found a plurality of the public (41 percent vs. 31 percent)—and not a majority, or “most people”—rating Ocasio-Cortez unfavorable rather than favorable.

      But second—and more importantly—the story conveniently left out the key role that Fox News itself has played in damaging the public reputation of the congressmember, thanks to a relentless propaganda campaign over the past six months. It’s a chilling case study in the self-fulfilling nature of the right-wing messaging machine.

      Ever since her shocking primary upset of Democratic Party fixture Rep. Joe Crowley last fall in New York’s 14th District, Ocasio-Cortez has drawn the white-hot spotlight of the press. Young, outspoken, and, at times, unfiltered or imprecise, the representative has quickly built a national presence after only a few months in office, thanks in part to her push for unapologetically big and uncompromisingly progressive platforms, like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. In addition, she’s become a media phenomenon thanks to her massive social media following, which has in turn spawned numerous ham-handed attempts by conservatives to attack her online, which consistently backfire.

    • Gillum’s Drive Aims to Register One Million New Florida Voters to Help Serve Trump ‘Eviction Notice’ in 2020

      Months after garnering national attention with his campaign for governor of Florida, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum unveiled his next political campaign Wednesday—one focused on his state and the future of the Democratic Party as a whole.

      With his “Bring It Home Florida” initiative, Gillum plans to register at least one million voters across his state before the 2020 election, increasing the chances that Democrats will be able to take the White House from President Donald Trump.

    • Kushner, Inc.: Vicky Ward on How Jared and Ivanka’s Greed & Ambition Compromise U.S. Foreign Policy

      House Democrats are continuing to probe how President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner received a top-secret security clearance despite concerns from the CIA. The New York Times recently reported Trump ordered then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant Kushner the clearance despite the judgment of intelligence officials. Kushner failed to report over 100 foreign contacts on his initial application for clearance, which was denied by the FBI after a background check into his financial history and contacts with foreign investors. Kushner later revised his application three times, and was ultimately granted permanent security clearance last May. We speak with Vicky Ward, the author of a new book uncovering details about how Kushner has continued to let the financial dealings of his family impact the policy decisions he promoted overseas. In one case, this almost led to a war in the Middle East between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The book is called “Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.”

    • Judge Blocks Lame-Duck Power Grab by Wisconsin GOP

      Democrats and progressives in Wisconsin are celebrating a ruling by a state judge on Thursday that will halt a backdoor attempt last year by the lame-duck Republicans to hamstring the incoming Democratic state government.

      Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess imposed the temporary stay and injunction on a slate of laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the GOP lost their majorities and the governor’s mansion in the 2018 election.

      The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of left-leaning groups in the state who charged the laws rushed through after the election were a direct effort by Republicans to undermine the will of the voters.

    • The Supreme Court and Dual Citizenship

      As AIPAC preps for its annual policy conference entitled “Connected for Good” with an expected attendance of 20,000 committed Zionists, its most zealous Zionist Congressional supporters will also likely be in attendance; that is, those who have signed the loyalty oath as well as those who retain dual citizenship to Israel and are thereby entitled to AIPAC campaign support.

      There is always more to the story when it comes to AIPAC and how it has been allowed to circumvent and or manipulate US law as it continues to function unfettered by legal requirements that every other foreign country must adhere to. To take a critical eye to AIPAC should not be construed as anti-semetic as AIPAC can take credit for motivating and finagling the US into wars in the Middle East at a cost of $4 trillion from the American taxpayer.

      With allegedly hundreds of members of Congress and Federal government employees with dual US-Israel citizenship, what has been missing since the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision is scrutiny of the unintended consequences of that decision as it has affected American foreign policy.

      To date, there may be no way to confirm which, if any, Members of Congress have dual citizenship with Israel although the informed rumor mill claims that to be the case. In a 2015 interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Diane Rehm, claiming to have a list, unequivocally stated that “you have dual citizenship with Israel” to which Sanders responded just as unequivocally “No. I am an American.” It is essential for Members to be forthcoming about their citizenship since real or imagined conflicts of interest can only result in misguided speculation and further alienation.

    • More Than One Million Crash UK Petition Site With Demand to Cancel Brexit

      The British Parliament’s petitions website crashed Thursday morning as over a million of Britons attempted to make their opposition to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan known.

      Hours after May chastised members of Parliament for rejecting her Brexit plan a second time, an anti-Brexit petition was gathering about 1,500 signatures per minute when it crashed the website for 40 minutes. The site then briefly went up before failing again.

      As of this writing, more than one million people had signed the petition demanding that May’s invocation of Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, which allows a country to formally withdraw from the EU, be revoked.

    • Why Not Impeach?

      What sensate, morally decent human being could fail to appreciate newly elected Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s call “to impeach the motherfucker!” She was referring of course, to Donald Trump.

      What her words, taken literally, call for is a formal indictment, rendered by the House of Representatives that would lead to a trial in the United States Senate. Conviction at trial, not impeachment by itself, would make Trump’s removal from office legally mandatory.

      Tlaib surely knows this and so, most likely, do most of the tens of millions of Americans who agree with her and support the stand she took.

      Therefore, when they call for impeachment, what they are really calling for is not impeachment per se, but the initiation of a process that, if successful, would cause the Donald to be gone in the way that the Constitution prescribes.

      This assumes that Trump, his minions, and his supporters, a third or more of the population, don’t resort to extra-Constitutional means to hold onto power; or that, if they do, that their efforts fail.

      Before Trump, the idea that an American president might defy the Constitution by seeking to hold onto power by force was unthinkable. Most people nowadays still think it is; and they are probably right. With Trump, however, anything, no matter how perfidious, is possible.

    • Tatiana Stanovaya explains why Putin won’t go like Nazarbayev

      In an article for the Carnegie Moscow Center, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya says Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation won’t likely affect Vladimir Putin’s transition-of-power calculus in the way that many observers have speculated. She argues that Kazakhstan’s unique political traditions, elite structure, and society, not to mention the country’s fundamentally different geopolitical conditions, mean that Nazarbayev’s exit doesn’t work as a model for Putin, though the Kremlin will pay close attention to the response from local elites. Meduza summarizes Stanovaya’s text below.

    • Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests

      Violence is a spectacular weapon deployed by the ruling class to discredit movements from below and justify their repression. It is spectacular in the sense of being a great and powerful political tool for governing the masses, and keeping them in their place. In order to do this, however, the weapon of violence is spectacularin a second sense: it creates a carefully orchestrated mise en scène that seeks to render ruling class violence invisible, while simultaneously transforming acts of resistance into prodigious spectacles of criminal violence.

      This is how Act 18 of the Yellow Vests is currently being presented by the mass media: at the precise moment at which the government was concluding its democratic consultation of the people via Emmanuel Macron’s “Grand Débat,” the Yellow Vests have unleashed an inordinate amount of violence that now needs to be repressed in the strongest possible terms. The president of the Champs-Elysées Committee, Jean-Noël Reinhardt, declared in an interview in which he is surrounded by the microphones of many of the major press outlets, that the movement is no longer one of the Yellow Vests, but rather of Black Vests that simply “express hatred and the will to destroy.” Proclaiming that this situation cannot be allowed to continue because of its impact on commercial and tourist activity, as well as its defamation of the global symbol of the Champs-Élysées, his statement bleeds seamlessly into the declaration made by the Prime Minster, Édouard Philippe: new measures will be put in place to prohibit protests in certain locations and allow for even more aggressive police crackdowns.

    • Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left

      Many self-identified liberals are far more than “ten degrees to the right of center” with regard to psychiatry. With the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, and then even more so following 9/11 in 2001, the United States has swung so far to the right that many self-identified liberals embrace, often unwittingly, a right-wing view in many aspects of society, including psychiatry.

      Establishment psychiatry has historically been supported by the ruling elite in return for meeting the elite’s needs to maintain the societal hierarchy and political status quo. Psychiatry has met the elite’s needs by its various attributions—repeatedly proven to be scientifically unfounded—that emotional suffering and odd or frightening behaviors are caused by defects in individual biochemistry and genetics, rather than by trauma and societal defects created by the ruling elite.

      In the past, right-wing psychiatry’s individual defect view—in combination with extreme nationalism that requires an entire population to efficiently meet the needs of its state-corporatist rulers—has resulted in policies of sterilization in the United States and, as was the case in Nazi Germany, euthanasia/murder.

    • Wisconsin GOP’s Lame-Duck Power Grab Ruled Unconstitutional

      A Wisconsin judge ruled on Thursday that laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in December to limit the powers of newly elected Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul were unconstitutional.

      The lame-duck bills limited early voting, stopped the newly elected governor from expanding Medicaid coverage to more citizens, prevented him from withdrawing the state from a lawsuit attacking the Affordable Care Act, prevented the attorney general from representing the legislature in lawsuits, and further curtailed the administrative powers of the new government.

      The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of plaintiffs, including three citizen’s groups, the League of Women Voters, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. It argues that three bills passed last December in the lame-duck session as well as the confirmation of 82 nominees to various boards “are unenforceable” on the basis that “executive session” during which the laws were enacted “was not convened in accord with the Wisconsin Constitution.”

    • Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal

      Donald Trump’s consensual extra-marital affairs with two adult sex workers – along with his repeated denials, his “fixer’s” accusations and his contempt for popular indignation – has turned what once would have been a sex scandal into just another pathetic media story.

      However, the recent revelations about the sexual exploits of entertainer R. Kelley and investment banker Jeffrey Epstein pose a more profound question: Is there a difference between “consensual,” adult sex work and sex trafficking with under-age girls?

      A couple of weeks ago, the news media had fun reporting on the latest sex scandal involving an all-American 1 percenter. No, this one didn’t involve Trump or Stormy Daniels but rather Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots football franchise. He reported visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, FL, on January 19thand 20th, mere hours before the Patriots’ AFC Championship game. Most tantalizing, the local police released videos of the alleged sexual engagements between Kraft and women working at the spa.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube has shut down a popular channel after the mother was accused of abusing her children

      Hackney punished the kids with starvation, beatings, and restricted access to the bathroom when they didn’t follow directions or forgot their lines during filming for YouTube videos, according to records from police in Maricopa, Arizona, who had performed a wellness check on the family at their home.

      YouTube terminated the account on Wednesday afternoon for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.” All details of the channel, and its videos, have been removed from the video-sharing platform.

    • Devin Nunes Has a Cow, and Free Speech Is Endangered

      California Rep. Devin Nunes opened himself up to widespread ridicule across the internet yesterday after he reportedly filed a lawsuit against Twitter, a conservative strategist, and two parody accounts — including one called “Devin Nunes’ cow,” which purports to be, well, an online manifestation of the Republican congressman’s livestock.
      Speaking about the lawsuit with Fox News later that day, Nunes claimed that critical comments posted online were part of “an orchestrated effort” to smear his name. He is suing Twitter and the individual critics for “negligence,” “libel,” and “insulting words.”
      Paradoxically, at various points in the complaint, Nunes accuses Twitter of censoring conservatives, then demands that the platform censor his critics’ speech.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Nokia Phones Allegedly Sent User Information To Chinese Servers

      Data breaches seem to have become a trend in the tech world as various tech companies appear to be involved in some (everyone knows about Facebook!). Now, a new report suggests that HMD Global-owned Nokia could also be a part of the league, as some Nokia phones have reportedly sent user information to Chinese servers.

      According to a report by NRK, a Nokia 7 Plus user claimed that his smartphone contacted a server in China and sent data packages in unencrypted form.

    • Wizard Kit: How I Protect Myself from Surveillance

      The popular apps that many humans use continue to track then even if they are logged out, and they also track users who never created an account in the first place (see Facebook tracks both non-users and logged out users). And Google tracks users’ locations even if they turned off location and denied permissions to apps (see Google Tracks Location Even When Users Turn Service Off). Even good apps that never intended to track users may actually be doing so because the SDKs (software development kits) with which they were built may be tracking users and sending data off to others’ servers without their knowledge. Remember the story about the low cost bathroom scale that didn’t work if location was turned off on the smartphone and there was no internet connection? It turns out that the scale was sending data to bare IP addresses that could be traced back to China.

      Given the state of surveillance, indeed a surveillance state, in which we live today, most consumers are not aware and don’t know how to protect themselves. They find it impossible to wean themselves off the free drugs that have been provided by big tech—free email (Gmail), free videos (YouTube), free social media (Facebook), free maps (Google Maps) and so on. All of these services, and the privacy policies they force users to agree to, are designed to help big tech collect data from users to make money and limit their liability if anything goes wrong, as in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal (see What Is “Surveillance Capitalism?” And How Did It Hijack the Internet?).

    • The FBI Won’t Hand Over Its Surveillance Records on ‘Black Identity Extremists,’ so We’re Suing

      The ACLU and the Center for Media Justice are suing the FBI for records about the surveillance of Black activists—a tactic with a long, sordid history
      At a time when violence by white supremacists is on the rise, the FBI appears to be targeting Black people in a secret intelligence program concerning so-called “Black Identity Extremists”— an inflammatory term for a group that doesn’t even exist. The bureau’s practice echoes earlier, shameful government surveillance programs that sought to discredit civil rights and Black power activists who were critical to advancing racial equality — and it echoes modern-day spying that impacts immigrants and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities.

      That’s probably why the government doesn’t want us to get information about this program. It is also why the ACLU and the Center for Media Justice are taking the FBI to court.

      In August 2017, the FBI issued an intelligence assessment that designated “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers” a new domestic terror threat. Disseminated to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, the intelligence assessment claims, without evidence, that Black people involved in unrelated police killings shared an ideology that motivated their actions. It also focuses on Black people who, in the bureau’s own words, “perceive[] racism and injustice in American society.”

      The intelligence assessment is built on anti-Black racial stereotypes. It is so deeply flawed and of such “poor analytic quality” that even some law enforcement acknowledge that no group of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” even exists.

    • Illinois Appeals Court Says Fifth Amendment Protections Apply To Cellphone Passwords

      The key to determining Fifth Amendment protections against compelled production of passwords appears to be a court’s definition of the term “foregone conclusion.” In many cases, courts have decided the government only has to clear a very low bar to meet this demand. In those cases, the only “foregone conclusion” the government needs to prove is that the person being compelled to provide a password knows the password. Once the government has linked the person to the locked device, it can get on with the compelling.

      If a court decides to raise the bar, it gets far more difficult for the government. In a few cases, the government has been asked to show it knows the evidence it seeks can be found in the locked device. Even if it meets this requirement, it can’t just start throwing court orders at the criminal suspect. This “foregone conclusion” directly implicates the Fifth Amendment. The government is no longer simply asking someone to unlock a device. It’s asking them to directly provide them with evidence that could be used against them.

      An Illinois state appeals court has decided the Fifth Amendment protects defendants from producing evidence to be used against them. (via FourthAmendment.com) In this case, the defendant was a passenger in a car stopped by law enforcement. A drug dog alerted on a leather bag belonging to the defendant. The ensuing search uncovered a prescription pill bottle containing cocaine, resulting in a charge of possession with intent to distribute.

    • Facebook Exposed Millions of Passwords to Employees

      Facebook said Thursday that it stored millions of its users’ passwords in plain text for years.

      The acknowledgement from the social media giant came after a security researcher posted about the issue online.

      “Security rule 101 dictates that under no circumstances passwords should be stored in plain text, and at all times must be encrypted,” said cybersecurity expert Andrei Barysevich of Recorded Future. “There is no valid reason why anyone in an organization, especially the size of Facebook, needs to have access to users’ passwords in plain text.”

    • Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years

      Hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees — in some cases going back to 2012, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. Facebook says an ongoing investigation has so far found no indication that employees have abused access to this data.

    • CodeWeavers Announces CrossOver 18.5.0, RaspEX Kodi Build 190321 Released, Seven Devices from ThinkPenguin Receive the FSF’s Respects Your Freedom Certification, GNU Parallel 20190322 Is Out and Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in Plain Text

      And if you haven’t already heard, Facebook stored hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text for years. KrebsonSecurity reports that “Hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees—in some cases going back to 2012. Facebook says an ongoing investigation has so far found no indication that employees have abused access to this data.” Facebook has posted a statement about this here.

    • Facebook Screws Up Again

      Still, given Facebook’s resources and the volume of security talent they have on staff, the fact that it happened at all is grossly embarrassing. The scandal comes right on the heels of Facebook’s other recent scandals — like its cavalier sharing of user health and real estate data — and is only compounding a scandal-ridden 2018 for the company. Krebs stated that as many as 600 million of the company’s 2.7 billion users could be affected by the company’s latest screw up, though, thus far, Facebook has yet to notify any of the impacted users.

    • Facebook stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text
    • Facebook apps logged users’ passwords in plaintext, because why not

      Facebook Lite is a version of the mobile Facebook application “predominantly used by people in regions with lower connectivity,” as Canahuati put it. The Android app is most popular in Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as other countries in South Asia with older 2G and 3G GSM networks—markets where Facebook has experienced much of its recent growth. Lite uses a proxy architecture, with an application server running most of the application code and minimizing the amount of data that needs to be sent to the user’s phone. And apparently because it was acting as a proxy, the server was acting on behalf of users and logging their credentials for use in connecting to other Facebook services.

    • Facebook has been storing ‘hundreds of millions’ of user passwords in plaintext

      The inquiry, which began this year after an engineer noticed the security screw-up, so far suggests that between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plaintext, making them searchable by more than 20,000 Facebook employees.

    • ‘Hundreds of millions’ of user passwords exposed within Facebook

      According to Krebs, Facebook believes that some of the passwords had been stored in plain text as early as 2012.

    • Facebook passwords for hundreds of millions of users were exposed to Facebook employees

      Krebs paints a different story. Though Krebs stressed that he had no information that Facebook employees had abused their ability to read user passwords, a source told him that employees built applications that logged unencrypted password data for Facebook users and stored it in plain text on internal company servers.

    • Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in Plaintext—Change Yours Now
    • Facebook stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text

      Social media giant Facebook has admitted that it has been storing user passwords in plain text, with the company saying the numbers ran into hundreds of millions.

    • Facebook Exposed Millions Of User Passwords In Plain Text To Employees

      Adding on to the list of goof-ups by Facebook, a new report has surfaced which states that hundreds of millions of users’ passwords were stored in plain text for years. What’s even worse is that Facebook employees had unfettered access to this data.

      This security blunder dates back to 2012 and after cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs published a report on Thursday, Facebook rushed to publish a blog post claiming that the flaw was discovered in January.

    • Congress Has a Chance to Finally End the NSA’s Mass Telephone Records Program

      Earlier this month, the New York Times published a major story reporting that the NSA has stopped using the authority to run its massive, ongoing surveillance of Americans’ telephone records. After years of fighting mass surveillance of telephone records, the story may make our jobs easier: NSA has consistently claimed this surveillance was critical to national security. But now it appears that the agency couldn’t properly use the authority Congress granted it in the 2015 USA Freedom Act, so it has simply given up.

      Coincidentally, EFF had organized a briefing of congressional staff the day after the Times report on the controversial surveillance law used to conduct telephone record surveillance: Section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we told Congress, it is long past time to end the telephone records program for good. Now, we’ve signed a letter to House Judiciary Committee leadership repeating that demand, along with a list of other important reforms we’d like to see before Section 215 and two other Patriot Act provisions expire in December.

      The Times story only added to a feeling of unfinished business from the last time Section 215 was set to sunset, in 2015. When Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s use of Section 215 to conduct its telephone records program, EFF, the ACLU, and others sued to stop it. The courts, Congress, and public opinion seemed to be on our side: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government’s reliance on the law was “unprecedented and unwarranted,” and shortly afterward, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which was intended to stop this mass surveillance.

      But USA Freedom was incomplete: it still allowed the government to conduct suspicionless, ongoing collection of Americans’ telephone records, although under tighter, more specific controls than the program revealed by Snowden. But as information has emerged about how Section 215 has been used (or not used) since the passage of USA Freedom, we have to question even those modest reforms. First, we learned that a law that was supposed to end mass surveillance still allowed the NSA to collect over 500 million telephone records in 2017 alone—a number that sounds a lot like mass surveillance.

    • Kushner accused of using WhatsApp, personal email to conduct official business: report
    • Facebook and Google Are Guilty of a Failure to Take Ownership

      Getting from AI’s idealistic intentions “to understanding the context of a video is like a frog understanding a grocery store,” Turek says.

    • Hundreds of couples livestreamed in South Korean motel spycam porn

      According to police, four men installed tiny cameras – all of them with a lens just one millimetre wide – in 42 rooms in 30 motels, hidden inside hairdryer holders, wall sockets and digital TV boxes.

      They then livestreamed the footage 24 hours a day to a subscription website with some 4,000 members, hosted on a server overseas. Some viewers also paid a 50,000 won (S$59) monthly supplement for access to “exclusive” content – edited highlights available on repeat.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Survey: Some taxi customers feel less safe since deregulation

      Members of special groups who frequently use taxis, such as people with disabilities and others with limited mobility, said that both the feeling of safety in taxis and their availability had diminished. They also felt that drivers had less know-how about customer needs than before.

    • Appeals Court Overturns 47-Year-Old Murder Conviction Predicated On Faulty FBI Hair Analysis Evidence

      For years, FBI forensic experts have been overstating their certainty about… well, everything. Every piece of forensic evidence — the stuff eventually proven to be junk science bolstered by junk stats — was given the official “Thumbs Up of Absolute Certainty” during testimony.

      Eventually (very eventually), it was exposed for the courtroom snake oil it actually was. The FBI, duly chastened, promised to keep doing the same damn thing in perpetuity no matter what actual scientists using actual scientific methods had to say.

      For decades, this was standard operating procedure. A study by The Innocence Project found FBI forensic experts had been overstating their findings in court, resulting in a large number of potentially bogus convictions. The DOJ also admitted this error, but chose only to inform prosecutors of its findings, leaving it up to them to erase their own wins from the board.

      One of these dubious “hair match” cases has finally made its way to the appellate level. John Ausby, convicted of rape and murder in 1972, is challenging his conviction based on the prosecution’s reliance on FBI experts’ overstatements. Thanks to the DOJ’s admission this expert testimony was likely flawed, Ausby can actually pursue this so long after the fact.

      Unfortunately, the lower court claimed the hair match testimony wasn’t instrumental to the guilty verdict. It maintained the verdict would have been reached without the FBI forensic expert’s assertions of certainty and the prosecution’s reliance on this key — but ultimately bogus — piece of evidence.

    • El Salvador Considers Amnesty for Those Accused of Crimes During Its Civil War

      Legislators in El Salvador are considering granting amnesty to those accused of crimes committed during the country’s brutal civil war in the 1980s. The legislation would drop all ordinary criminal charges arising from the war, and it would shield anyone convicted of war crimes from imprisonment.

      The move by conservatives in El Salvador’s Parliament comes as 20 former senior military officers have been charged with an array of crimes, including murder, rape and kidnapping. In December, a judge cleared the way for the men to also be tried on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

      Lawmakers succeeded once before in adopting legislation granting wide amnesty to those accused of often ghastly crimes during the war. In 1993, the Parliament voted to block prosecution of crimes committed during the war, a law that remained in place until the country’s top court ruled it unconstitutional in 2016.

    • What America can learn from the world’s happiest countries

      Item: The life expectancy of the United States was recently found to have declined for the third straight year, something typically associated with all-out war, economic crises, or political collapse. According to the CIA, as of 2017 the U.S. ranks 42nd among nations for life expectancy, behind Malta and Greece.

      Item: The annual United Nations report on the world’s happiest nations was released Wednesday, where the U.S. fell from 18th to 19th place. Meanwhile, the happiest country for the second straight year was Finland. Filling out the rest of the top 5 were Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands.

      This raises the question: What might the U.S. learn from the world happiness grandmasters? A good place to start would be copy-pasting their economic and social welfare institutions.

    • The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era

      We do not live in a post-truth world and never have. On the contrary, we live in a pre-truth world where the truth has yet to arrive. As one of the primary currencies of politics, lies have a long history in the United States. For instance, state sponsored lies played a crucial ideological role in pushing the US into wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, legitimated the use of Torture under the Bush administration, and covered up the crimes of the financial elite in producing the economic crisis of 2008. Under Trump, lying has become a rhetorical gimmick in which everything that matters politically is denied, reason loses its power for informed judgments, and language serves to infantilize and depoliticize as it offers no room for individuals to translate private troubles into broader systemic considerations. While questions about truth have always been problematic among politicians and the wider public, both groups gave lip service to the assumption that the search for truth and respect for its diverse methods of validation were based on the shared belief that “truth is distinct from falsehood; and that, in the end, we can tell the difference and that difference matters.”[1] It certainly appeared to matter in democracy, particularly when it became imperative to be able to distinguish, however difficult, between facts and fiction, reliable knowledge and falsehoods, and good and evil. That however no longer appears to be the case.

      In the current historical moment, the boundaries between truth and fiction are disappearing, giving way to a culture of lies, immediacy, consumerism, falsehoods, and the demonization of those considered disposable. Under such circumstances, civic culture withers and politics collapses into the personal. At the same time, pleasure is harnessed to a culture of corruption and cruelty, language operates in the service of violence, and the boundaries of the unthinkable become normalized. How else to explain President Trump’s strategy of separating babies and young children from their undocumented immigrant parents in order to incarcerate in Texas in what some reporters have called cages. Trump’s misleading rhetoric is used not only to cover up the brutality of oppressive political and economic policies, but also to resurrect the mobilizing passions of fascism that have emerged in an unceasing stream of hate, bigotry and militarism. Trump’s indifference to the boundaries between truth and falsehoods reflects not only a deep-seated anti-intellectualism, it also his willingness to judge any appeal to the truth as inseparable from an unquestioned individual and group loyalty on the part of his followers. As self-defined sole bearer of truth, Trump disdains reasoned judgment and evidence, relying instead on instinct and emotional frankness to determine what is right or wrong and who can be considered a friend or enemy. In this instance, Truth becomes a performance strategy designed to test his followers’ loyalty and willingness to believe whatever he says. Truth now becomes synonymous with a regressive tribalism that rejects shared norms and standards while promoting a culture of corruption and what former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg called an “epidemic of dishonesty.” Truth is now part of a web or relations and world view that draws its elements from a fascist politics that can be found in all the commanding political institutions and media landscapes. Truth is no longer merely fragile or problematic, it has become toxic and dysfunction in an media ecosystem largely controlled by right wing conservatives and a financial elite who invest heavily in right-wing media apparatuses such Fox News and white nationalist social media platforms such as Breitbart News.

    • ‘Outrageous. Unacceptable.’: Indiana Teachers Shot ‘Execution-Style’ With Pellets in School Shooting Drill

      Reacting with horror to Indiana teachers’ testimony, gun control advocates characterized the state’s active shooter drill as an “outrageous” example of what America’s educators are being forced to accept as one school shooting after another takes place without any action from Congress.

      “Active-shooter training has become a macabre ritual for educators in America’s public school system,” noted Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson.

      “We don’t have to live like this,” Moms Demand Action declared, calling for “sensible solutions to the gun violence crisis.”

    • Putting Our Better Angels to Work

      Nationalists — white or otherwise — need “invasions” on a regular basis in order to stay revved up and equal to the cause.

      [...]

      The world is organized the way it is right now thanks to Europe’s nearly 500 years of invasion, conquest and colonization. Blain Snipstal, writing at Why Hunger, puts it about as bluntly as possible:

      “The plantation system was the first major system used by the colonial forces in their violent transformation of the Earth into land, people into property, and nature into a commodity — all to be sold on the ‘fair’ market. This transformation was long, crafted and violent, and supported by the state. Land was stolen from the Indigenous and people were stolen from Africa. Race and White Supremacy were then created to give the cultural and psychological basis to support the rationale, organization and logic of capital.”

      This wraps a terrifying context around the most recent mass shooting: 50 people killed, another 50 injured last week at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The killer was a white nationalist who felt his manhood slipping away because the country was diversifying, ethnically and culturally; and the symbolic sanctity of “the border” — separating white, European culture from whatever else is out there on Planet Earth — was breaking down.

      “Diversity is not a strength,” the killer explained in his manifesto. “Unity, purpose, trust, traditions, nationalism and racial nationalism is what provides strength.”

      Not so long ago, this was simply accepted reality. We don’t have to dig too deeply to start realizing that the racist infrastructure of our world is still in place, even in socially progressive countries like New Zealand.

      “The contagion of white supremacy has been here a long time,” writes New Zealander Kennedy Warne at the National Geographic. “We are part of Britain’s imperial project, premised on the superiority of the white race. The history of colonization in my country is a history of dispossession and cultural destruction for the indigenous Maori. . . .

    • Hate Endures in America, and With It Our Effort to Document the Damage

      Since the start of 2019, in places across the United States, there have been no fewer than five killings in which victims’ race, ethnicity or national origin appears to have been a factor.

      Arthur Martunovich allegedly walked into a Chinese restaurant in New York City in January and killed three men with a hammer. Police said he later explained his motive: “Chinese men are awful.”

      On Feb. 23, José Muñoz, 25, was shot and killed in the lobby of an Olive Garden in Louisville, Kentucky. The suspect in the killing allegedly used racial slurs when a child in Muñoz’s party at the restaurant bumped into him twice. Muñoz’s family insists he was targeted because of his ethnicity as a Mexican immigrant.

      On March 6, scores of mourners gathered on the campus of Indiana University to protest the killing of Mustafa Ayoubi, a 32-year-old graduate of the school.

      He’d been shot and killed in February in Indianapolis, following a road rage incident. Witnesses told police the suspect yelled slurs about Islam and told Ayoubi to “go back to your country.”

      Ayoubi’s family wants police to investigate the murder as a hate crime, but Indiana has no hate crime law.

      Two months into 2018, there had been at least five killings that might qualify as hate crimes. In 2017, according to the FBI, 15 people died in suspected hate crimes.

    • Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther

      Donald Cox was the Black Panther Party’s Field Marshal. He trained party members in the use and care of weapons. During the time he was involved with the Party in the United States, he served as a primary strategist for various operations. After he left the US, he went to Algeria where he was a guard for the Panther compound in Algiers. He left the compound and the Party in 1971. He moved to France where he spent the rest of his life. Cox died in 2011.

      His memoir of that time was recently published. Titled Just Another N*gger: My Life in the Black Panther Party, Cox’s volume is a narrative of a time when revolution was a possibility seriously considered. Men and women gave up their previous lives to commit themselves to creating a world where liberation and socialism would become reality. From Oakland, CA to Hanoi, from Paris to Palestine and all around the world, millions of people were actively involved in a struggle against capitalism and US imperialism. In the United States, the Black Panther Party was considered by many to be at the front of that struggle. The reasons for this were numerous, but the essential one was the Party’s militancy in the face of police and the system the police defended.

    • The University of Illinois Withheld Public Records for Months. Guess What They Showed?

      I’d hoped to share these details last year, but the university withheld the records. It all began last February. Using the Freedom of Information Act, we requested numerous records related to the research misconduct of a UIC child psychiatrist who had overseen a federally funded study testing the effects of lithium on bipolar children and adolescents. The failures by Dr. Mani Pavuluri and university officials eventually led the National Institute of Mental Health to demand the unprecedented return of $3.1 million that had funded the research.

      While the university provided many documents, officials withheld or redacted some related to the university’s oversight failures, saying they were protected by state and federal privacy laws. Since the university continues to deny failures of oversight related to this research, we felt these records were particularly important. We appealed to the Illinois attorney general’s public access counselor, who decides public records disputes.

      After more than eight months, we recently got a ruling. The public access counselor determined that the university should have provided all or parts of the documents — specifically letters from UIC officials to the federal government concerning shortcomings of the university’s Institutional Review Board, the faculty panel that is supposed to protect human research subjects.

      The university then provided the records, and we published a follow-up story this week with some of the details we would have liked to have shared a year ago.

    • Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA

      On a number of different levels, John Levin and Earl Silbar’s “You Say You Want a Revolution: SDS, PL, and Adventures in Building a Worker-Student Alliance” is a must-read book. To start with, it represents an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle known as SDS. For many, SDS meant either the New Left of the Port Huron Statement or the organization that imploded in 1970, leaving behind the wreckage strewn behind it, including the Weathermen and the various Maoist sects such as Bob Avakian’s Revolutionary Communist Party that came out of RYM and RYM2. Missing until now from this puzzle was arguably SDS’s most disciplined and serious component, the Worker-Student Alliance (WSA) that was well-represented in the landmark student strikes at San Francisco State and Harvard University.

      In addition, it is a close look at the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), a group that was the backbone of the WSA as well as the group that had the official blessing of Beijing in the 1960s until the party leadership broke with China over its “revisionism”.

      While being essential for professional historians and those simply trying to understand what was happening on the left 50 years ago, it is also a breathtakingly dramatic story of how people from my generation burned their bridges in order to become revolutionaries. As someone who has read and written about a number of Trotskyist memoirs, none of them comes close to the story-telling power of the 23 people included in this 362-page collection that you will find impossible to put down.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Next month, Russia’s parliament will vote again on sweeping ‘Internet isolation’ legislation. Here’s how one lawmaker justifies the initiative.

      Next month, the State Duma will likely vote on a second reading of legislation drafted by Senator Andrey Klishas that would guard against and simultaneously facilitate the isolation of the Russian Internet. In mid-February, the bill’s first reading passed with support from 334 of the Duma’s 450 deputies; 69 lawmakers didn’t vote at all, and just 47 voted against the legislation. Meduza recently attended a town hall meeting with Nikolai Gonchar, one of the deputies who voted for the bill. When we asked him about Internet isolation, Gonchar offered several questionable justifications for the legislation. Here’s how they hold up against fact checking.

    • To Prevent Big Telecom From Gutting Net Neutrality Bill, ‘Whole Internet’ Urged to Watch Key Hearing

      On Monday, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee is expected to begin marking up Democrats’ net neutrality legislation, which has been hailed as the best plan to restore the open internet.

      To stop telecom-friendly lawmakers from using the amendment process to eviscerate the Save the Internet Act, Fight for the Future is attempting to make the livestream of the committee hearing go viral.

      The goal, said Fight for the Future, is to send lawmakers a simple warning: “The whole internet is watching.”

      “Politicians seem to still be under the false impression that they [can] put the interests of giant telecom companies ahead of the basic rights of their constituents and get away with it,” Evan Greer, deputy director of the advocacy group Fight for the Future, said in a statement. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

      In an effort to “plaster the livestream everywhere on the internet,” Fight for the Future is calling on websites, online communities, and individual internet users to spread the hearing using its embeddable widget.

    • “The Whole Internet Is Watching.” Internet Protest Planned Ahead of Key Net Neutrality Vote Next Week

      Internet activists plan to make livestream of committee markup go viral to stop telecom lobbyists from gutting the Save the Internet Act with bad amendments

    • How The Chaos Of Studying Subatomic Particles Inspired The Creation Of The Web

      30 years ago this month, Tim Berners-Lee penned his original proposal for what would become the World Wide Web.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Heizkessel, Germany

      A nullity action is still admissible after expiration of the patent if it provides the nullity plaintiff, who had been unsuccessful as defendant in infringement proceedings, the possibility of bringing an action for restitution against his conviction and if the nullity plaintiff declares that he intends to make use of this possibility (xref. X ZR 17/02).


    • CJEU bids farewell to SPCs for new formulations of old drugs

      The eagerly-awaited judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the SPC referral Abraxis Bioscience (C-443/17) has been handed down today.

      In the case underlying this referral, the UK IPO had refused an SPC application filed by Abraxis Bioscience for the product “paclitaxel formulated as albumin-bound nanoparticles” (nab-paclitaxel; marketed as Abraxane®) for lack of compliance with Article 3(d) of the SPC Regulation (EC) 469/2009, given that the marketing authorization relied upon by Abraxis was not the first authorization of the active ingredient paclitaxel.

    • Stada Arz to launch generic Exforge in Europe

      Germany’s Stada Arzneimittel group says it will be one of the first manufacturers to launch generic…

    • Unauthorized Practice of Patent Law and State Regulators

      A recent decision by the Colorado Supreme Court has ordered Mr. Dak Steiert (and his company Intelligent Patent Services) to cease unauthorized practice of law in Colorado.

    • Trademarks

      • Fifth Circuit Affirms Springboards To Education’s Loss Against Houston School In Trademark Case Appeal

        Way back in 2016, we discussed one company’s quest to sue a bunch of librararies and schools for infringing on its program to promote reading to young schoolchildren. If that seems positively evil, then, yes, you indeed have a soul, so congratulations. If you’re wondering how such a thing could have legal standing, it all centers around Springboards to Education having created the reading program with rewards that included children entering the “Millionaire Reading Club” for getting through a certain amount of books, the handing out of fake reward money, and other prizes. A bunch of libraries and schools independently setup their own reading clubs with similarly named rewards, thus leading to Springboards filing suit.

    • Copyrights

      • You Wouldn’t Steal a Meme: The Threat from Article 13

        The computer experts are unanimous. The only way to implement Article 13‘s requirements is through a general filter of every user upload. The fact that the word “filter” is studiously avoided in the Copyright Directive’s text makes no difference to this unavoidable fact of digital life. After all, how would it be possible to make sure that no uploaded file contains copyright material unless every one were checked beforehand? The volume of uploads for major platforms is such that manual inspection is out of the question, which means filtering has to be automated. Since that is now clear to (almost) everyone, the argument around Article 13 has moved on to the practical implications of requiring top sites to install censorship machines for user-uploaded content.

        One class of material particularly at risk involves memes. These are often topical ideas that take pre-existing texts, music, images, and videos, and use them with varying degrees of cleverness to make a witty comment or a political point. The vast majority of memes are likely to be blocked by Article 13’s upload filters, since a key feature of them is the use and subversion of other copyright material.

        Few would argue that annihilating the Internet’s meme culture would be a good thing – memes may vary in their tastefulness, but they are undeniably a powerful and characteristic expression of 21st-century creativity. As a result, defenders of Article 13’s blanket filters have been forced to take another tack. Now, the argument is that memes won’t be caught by upload filters, because they are covered by exceptions to copyright that allow precisely this kind of parodic use. But there are a number of serious flaws in this line of reasoning.

      • A Century Ago We Killed The Radio Commons; Don’t Let The EU Do That To The Internet

        Admittedly, as that article notes, this created some amount of chaos, mainly because the spectrum got too crowded, and there was widespread interference between different signals that made the whole space a mess. Over time, laws were put in place to “regulate” the wild west, but what happened was we turned what had been an open commons into a locked up space where only giant media companies could prevail. The US, at the very least, decided that the way to deal with this wild west was to treat spectrum as a property right that could be “licensed.” And in doing so it set things up such that large broadcasters could collect many licenses and dominate markets.

        What had been the open spaces of the public to use for a variety of creative endeavors turned into a locked down space for giant corporations.

        While there are some notable differences, the attempt by the EU to pass Article 13 is truly an attempt to replay this unfortunate scenario nearly a century later. There was a good rationale for radio regulations in the past — dealing with all of the interference that made using radio difficult — and as one 1927 academic so succinctly put it: “highly annoying and almost destructive.”

      • Seal the deal: Canadian court waxes off copyright infringement in Pyrrha Design Inc. v. Plum and Posey Inc.

        The Federal Court of Canada [2019 C 29] recently saw a battle between two wax seal jewellery manufacturers: Pyrrha Design, and Plum & Posey. Pyrrha Design sued Plum & Posey for copyright infringement of the design of nine of its pieces of wax seal jewellery.

        The Federal Court of Canada, Phelan J., dismissed the claim of copyright infringement, stating that even if Pyrrha Design owned the copyright in the designs, Plum & Posey did not infringe it.

      • 130 EU businesses sign open letter against Copyright directive Art. 11 & 13

        The companies signing this letter to the European Parliament are urging you to vote against Articles 11 and 13 of the proposed copyright directive. The text of the trilogue agreement would harm the European economy and seriously undermine the ability of European businesses to compete with big Internet giants like Google.
        We support the goal of the legislation to protect the rights of creators and publishers, but the proposed measures are inadequate to reap these benefits and also fail to strike a fair balance between creators and all other parts of society. The success of our business enterprises will be seriously jeopardized by these heavy-handed EU regulations.

      • Major EU Websites Go Dark With #Blackout21 Protest Ahead of Vote to Create Internet ‘Censorship Machine’

        Free speech and digital rights advocates across Europe blacked out websites on Thursday to protest the controversial Copyright Directive the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on next Tuesday.

        Activists are also planning #SaveYourInternet protests, which are set to take place across Europe on Saturday.

        For the past few years, members of the European Union’s (EU) legislative assembly have negotiated updates to continent-wide copyright rules that are nearly two decades old. Digital experts and activists warn that two particular provisions in the final text of the directive (pdf) collectively would be a “catastrophe for free expression.”

        “Although there are important wins for the open community in the current text, the inclusion of Articles 11 and 13 will harm the way people find and share information online,” the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes free knowledge, said in a policy statement.

        (Note: As part of the legislative process, Article 13 has been renumbered as Article 17.)

      • EU Internet Companies Warn EU Parliament Not To Vote For Articles 11 & 13; Say It Will Hand The Internet To Google

        One hopes that the EU Parliament will actually listen — though I can’t wait to hear Axel Voss and friends explain how this letter from Google’s competitors who are warning about how the bill will entrench Google and limit competition is really “Google shilling.”

        It remains truly disappointing to me how few Article 13 supporters have actually been willing to engage on the specific concerns and criticisms of the bill. No matter what anyone says — even those who explain how it will lock Google into a dominant position, are dismissed as promoting Google’s message. The lack of intellectual honesty displayed by supporters of Article 13 is truly a shame.

      • Anti Article 13 Petition Signed by Five Million People

        The popular “Save The Internet!” petition, which urges lawmakers to vote against Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive, reached a new milestone of five million signatories today. The petition is part of an intensifying campaign which also features offline demonstrations and Wikipedia blackouts. Meanwhile, supporters of Article 13 are not sitting still either.

      • The MPAA says streaming video has surpassed cable subscriptions worldwide

        The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reported today that the world’s entertainment market — encompassing both theatrical and home releases — grew to a new high in 2018: $96.8 billion, 9 percent over 2017. In particular, it highlighted the rapid growth of streaming video, which grew to 613 million subscriptions worldwide, an increase of 27 percent over 2017.

        The report lays out the health of the entire motion picture entertainment industry, and it reports that consumers spent $96.8 billion on entertainment around the world. The international theatrical box office grew to $41.1 billion (spending in the US and Canada grew to $11.9 billion), while home entertainment hit $55.7 billion internationally.

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