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03.05.19

Links 5/3/2019: EasyOS Reviewed, Debian ‘Cloud’ Team

Posted in News Roundup at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Red Hat Satellite 5 customers: Important updates on RHN and ISOs

      As Red Hat phases out its Red Hat Network (RHN), customers on Red Hat Satellite 5.6 and 5.7 will need to upgrade now to continue receiving content and updates. Read on for details and steps to move to the Red Hat Content Delivery Network (CDN).

      Red Hat has been notifying customers since early 2017 that Red Hat Satellite 5.7 and Satellite 5.6 would be at end of life on January 31, 2019. We encourage customers on those releases to move to Satellite 5.8 as soon as possible, then start planning your migration to Satellite 6. As a reminder, Satellite 5.8 is planned to be at end of life May 31, 2020.

      The end of life of earlier Satellite versions was just one of the reasons to move to Satellite 5.8. Another reason is that Satellite 5.8 is the only Satellite 5 version that uses Red Hat CDN instead of RHN.

    • Open Outlook: Management + Automation

      As organizations accelerate their digital transformation efforts they are embracing new hybrid IT models that include a mix of traditional, private and public cloud technologies. Workload strategies in these new models must consider cost, availability, security and reliability, as well as compliance and regulatory requirements. Many enterprises have evolved from use of on-premises virtualization and private clouds to hybrid and, frequently, multicloud environments.

      While management and automation technologies have always been instrumental to enterprise IT governance, their importance grows as organizations grapple with the resulting increased speed, scale and complexity. Traditional solutions have been unable to adapt to the needs of these rapidly changing hybrid cloud environments and many organizations plan to acquire new tools to address these challenges.

    • How and Why We’re Changing Deployment Topology in OpenShift 4.0

      Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is changing the way that clusters are installed, and the way those resulting clusters are structured. When the Kubernetes project began, there were no extension mechanisms. Over the last four-plus years, we have devoted significant effort to producing extension mechanisms, and they are now mature enough for us build systems upon. This post is about what that new deployment topology looks like, how it is different from what came before, and why we’re making such a significant change.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Rusty Rubies | Coder Radio 347

      Mike breaks down what it takes to build a proper iOS build server, and leaves the familiar shallows of Debian for the open waters of openSUSE.

      Plus Wes’ reluctant ruby adventures and our pick to ease your javascript packaging woes.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5 is now out

      Nothing special Torvalds just ran out of fingers and toes

      Linux 5.0, the first major milestone release of the open-source Linux kernel in 2019, has been launched.

      Linux 5.0 is the first version of the kernel since April 2015, when Linux 4.0 was released, with a significant latest version number.

      Linux creator Linus Torvalds doesn’t appear to be particularly excited and does not see a specific significance in reaching the big 5.0.

      IT’s “Mr Sweary” said the numbering change was not indicative of anything special.

    • Linux 5.0 Is Here

      Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux kernel has announced the release of Linux 5.0. Despite any excitement around the major release number, the fact is these numbers really don’t mean much. Torvalds has often said that he chooses a new number when the version number becomes too long. He simply doesn’t want “the numbers are big enough that you can’t really distinguish them.”

      Announcing 5.0, Torvalds wrote, “I’d like to point out (yet again) that we don’t do feature-based releases, and that “5.0″ doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes.”

      That said there are many new features in this release, including support for GPUs. Linux 5.0 comes with improvement for AMD FreeSync, NVIDIA RTX Turing, and Raspberry Pi Touch Display support. It also comes with Google’s Adiantum storage encryption system.

    • Linux 5.0: A major milestone with minor improvements

      In an earlier Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) message, Torvalds had written “About 50 percent [of Linux 5.0] is drivers, 20 percent is architecture updates, 10 percent is tooling, and the remaining 20 percent is all over (documentation, networking, filesystems, header file updates, core kernel code..). Nothing particular stands out, although I do like seeing how some ancient drivers are getting put out to pasture (*cough*isdn*cough*).”

      That said, it does contain some worthwhile improvements.

      The new Linux comes with Google’s Adiantum storage encryption system. Adiantum works on low-powered devices such as Android smartphones. It’s a big step forward in securing these devices. It’s faster than previous encryption systems. Paul Crowley and Eric Biggers, of Google’s Android Security & Privacy Team, blogged, “Storage encryption protects your data if your phone falls into someone else’s hands Adiantum is an innovation in cryptography designed to make storage encryption more efficient for devices without cryptographic acceleration, to ensure that all devices can be encrypted.”

    • Linux 5.0-ad1 Patch Lets You Build The Kernel With “-march=native”

      While the upstream Linux kernel developers may not be interested in adding all of the CPU compiler tuning optimizations carried by Gentoo for their kernel builds, if you are after just “-march=native” compiler tuning to optimize your kernel build for the CPU being used, an updated patch is now available.

      Developer Alexey Dobriyan has published his “Linux 5.0-ad1″ patch where the focus of his patch is on carrying Gentoo’s “-march=native” kernel option for this newest Linux kernel release.

    • Linux 5.0 “Shy Crocodile” Arrives With Google’s Adiantum Encryption

      Linus Torvalds just released version 5.0 of the Linux kernel, codenamed “Shy Crocodile”. Linux 5.0 includes Google’s new encryption tech as well as support for AMD FreeSync, Raspberry Pi touch screens, and more goodies.

      Linux 5.0 arrived on March 3, 2019. As Linus explained back in January on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML,) this isn’t really a huge release:

    • Linux Lite Users Are the First to Try Linux Kernel 5.0, Here’s How to Install It

      Released last weekend, Linux kernel 5.0 is a major milestone with minor improvements. Linux Lite developer and founder Jerry Bezencon is usually among the first to offer a new major kernel series to his users, and you can now install the Linux 5.0 kernel series on Linux Lite 4.x and 3.x series.

      Highlights of Linux kernel 5.0 include FreeSync support in for AMD GPUs for a stutter-free viewing experience on LCDs with dynamic refresh rates, a new energy-aware scheduling feature for ARM big.LITTLE CPUs, support for swap files in the Btrfs file system, and support for the Adiantum file system encryption for low power devices.

    • Linux 5.0 is out except it’s really 4.21 because Linus ‘ran out of fingers and toes’ to count on

      Linus Torvalds has squeezed out version 5.0 of the Linux kernel and flung open the merge window for its follow-up, 5.1.

      In the post announcing the arrival, Torvalds was at pains to point out that feature-based releases really aren’t a thing and the 5.0 “doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes”.

      However, there is actually much to delight Linux lovers in the release, which had been known as “4.21″ before Torvalds’ fingers and toes moment.

    • Linux 5.1 Continues The Years-Long Effort Preparing For Year 2038

      Linux 5.1 continues the massive undertaking in preparing the kernel for the Year 2038 problem.

      The Linux kernel has been seeing “Y2038″ work for years and the effort is far from over. Thomas Gleixner sent in the latest Y2038 work for the Linux 5.1 kernel, which after a lot of ground work in previous kernels has introduced the first set of syscalls that are Year 2038 safe.

    • Linux Foundation

      • LF Edge Welcomes Aricent as Premier Member to Help Unify Open Edge Computing

        LF Edge, an umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system, today announced Aricent, a global design and engineering company, has joined LF Edge as a Premier member.

        “We are pleased to welcome Aricent as the newest Premier member of LF Edge,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, the Linux Foundation. “Their expertise in delivering robust edge frameworks for leading mobile operators, combined with their commitment to collaborative development of open, innovative networks, will help the community establish a common platform for edge computing.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel ANV Vulkan Driver Adds VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block, VK_EXT_ycbcr_image_arrays

        The open-source Intel “ANV” Vulkan Linux driver has picked up support for some of the newer extensions.

        First up, the ANV driver now implements support for VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block, the extension that has been around since September’s Vulkan 1.1.84 release. VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block allows for uniform blocks to be backed directly with descriptor sets by storing the inline uniform data within descriptor pool storage.

      • Intel’s i965 Mesa Driver Now Supports Threaded OpenGL

        While Intel may be developing the Iris Gallium3D driver as their future OpenGL driver, they haven’t given up all work on their existing “i965″ classic Mesa driver. Hitting Mesa 19.1′s development code this morning is support for threaded OpenGL with this existing and widely-used driver on Linux systems.

        For ages now the Mesa Gallium3D drivers have supported “mesa_glthread=true” mode for turning on threaded OpenGL where more work can be punted off to separate CPU threads. This same treatment is now available to Intel’s current (non-Gallium) OpenGL driver. We’ve done many tests on this mesa_glthread functionality since it came about two to three years back.

      • AMD Posts Patches Implementing RAS Support For AMDGPU Linux Driver

        AMD developers today posted a set of twenty patches implementing RAS support for the AMDGPU Linux kernel diver.

        The AMDGPU driver is seeing support for RAS — Reliability, Availability, Serviceability — for supported hardware that at least for now appears to be focused on Vega 20 — likely just the Radeon Instinct products and not Radeon VII. The AMDGPU RAS support includes SRAM/VRAM ECC, bad page tracking, and error containment.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Iris Pro 6200 Graphics – i965 vs. Iris Gallium3D OpenGL Performance

        With the initial Iris Gallium3D driver that was merged into Mesa at the end of February from our tests on UHD Graphics the performance is quite promising considering the early stage of this new open-source OpenGL driver and it not yet being fully tuned/optimized. The Iris Gallium3D driver support goes back to Broadwell CPUs so I decided to run some benchmarks with the legendary Core i7 5775C that features the Iris Pro Graphics 6200 with 128MB of eDRAM.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Screenshot Galore!

      The QNX desktop has seen some significant improvements over the last few months. While it is still mostly a one-person spare-time project, it is becoming more and more usable.

      First, I owe a debt from my original post. I was reprimanded by commentators for the window decoration’s lack of visual appeal. To address this I added a simple theme plug-in API to the window manager, which facilitates the creation of new themes. These are built into shared objects that are loaded when the window manager starts. With the help of the Cairo library I was able to write two new themes: one original, the other less so (see if you can spot it…).

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.12.8 LTS Desktop Environment Released with over 70 Improvements

        KDE Plasma 5.12.8 LTS is now available as a point release to the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment, bringing more than 70 chnages that include breeze_cursors as default cursor theme, improved weather notifications, better contrast of crosshair cursors, keyboard navigation support for the KonsoleProfiles applet, as well as Qt 5.12 compatibility for the PulseAudio sound server.

        Other notable changes include a fix for the autologin session loading in SDDM KCM, a fix for the group popup dialog, improved selection of default web browser in Componentchooser KCM, focus handling fixes, improved drop between shared views, and numerous improvements to the weather data engine. A detailed changelog is available here.

      • KaOS Linux Gets First ISO Snapshot in 2019 with KDE Plasma 5.15, LibreOffice 6.2

        The KaOS project released the first ISO snapshot for 2019 as KaOS 2019.02, an up-to-date live and installation media that contains all the latest software updates, bug fixes, and security issues.
        KaOS 2019.02 is a major release that will replace about 70 to 80 percent of your install base with updated packages. It ships with the latest KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment accompanied by the KDE Frameworks 5.55.0 and KDE Applications 18.12.2 software suites, and the Qt 5.12.1 application framework.

        Under the hood, the KaOS 2019.02 snapshot is powered by the Linux 4.20.13 kernel and Mesa 18.3.4 graphics stack, and ships with updated components that include LibreOffice 6.2.0, NetworkManager 1.14.6, GNU Nano 3.2, Rust 1.32.0, ICU 62.1, Bison 3.2.4, Python 3.7.2, PHP 7.2, Glib2 2.58.3, and Libvpx 1.8.0.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • User account fallback images in GNOME 3.32

        Your face might resemble this one in the left (avatar-default) as much as it could be pretty much everyone else using the same computer as you. With this in mind, we introduced a small feature in GNOME 3.32 that intends to make it easier for users to identify themselves in a list of system users, such as in the login screen or in Settings.

        From now on, GNOME won’t set the “avatar-default” icon for users created in the Initial Setup or in Setting. It will create a colourful image with the user’s initials on it.

      • GNOME Shell + Mutter 3.31.92 Bring Fractional Scaling, Updated Screen-Casting API

        One week ahead of the official debut of GNOME 3.32, the release candidate will be out this week and GNOME Shell along with the Mutter compositor have outed their 3.31.92 release.

        The GNOME Shell / Mutter 3.31.92 releases are very exciting in that it delivers the long-awaited fractional scaling support! No more is the HiDPI/retina display scaling limited to integer values for scaling the UI elements but now supports fractional values.

        This update is also exciting for last minute performance improvements. There already was a lot of GNOME performance work during the 3.31 cycle while in time for the release candidate are the final bits.

      • Outreachy GNOME usability testing wrap-up

        The December-March cycle of Outreachy has finished, and I wanted to do a quick recap of the work from our intern, Clarissa.

        As I mentioned when we started week 1 GNOME usability testing, most of our work in the internship was testing designs that haven’t gone “live” yet (this is called “prototype usability testing”). Allan and Jakub created mock-ups of new designs, and Clarissa did usability testing on them.

        That means a lot of the applications were still being worked on, and were often delivered in Flatpak format since these “in development” versions were not part of a systemwide release (which would have likely been included natively in a Linux distribution somewhere).

        As a result, we ran this cycle of usability testing in a more “loose” fashion that we have in previous cycles. We didn’t have a long run-up to usability testing, where we could take our time learning about usability testing and carefully constructing new scenario tasks. Rather, Allan provided an overview of what he was hoping to get out of each usability test (how do users respond to this new feature, do they interact with the user interface differently, etc?) and Clarissa had to quickly assemble scenario tasks based on that. I helped with focus and wording on the scenario tasks.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • EasyOS Teaches an Old Dog New Tricks

        Do not let the fact that EasyOS is an experimental Linux distro deter you from trying it out. It is far from being dumbed down. The developer provides numerous help files and simple directions linked to the EasyOS website on how to download, create the installation media, and use the distro.

        Whether you are familiar with Puppy Linux variants or other Linux distros, EasyOS has much to offer. If you are new to Linux, be assured that the detailed instructions and ample illustrations will make trying out EasyOS a less-frustrating experience.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSECON 2019: Family and innovative partnerships to support customer needs

        SUSECON provides a forum for building a passionate community of technically knowledgeable participants who use open source technology from SUSE in their enterprise IT environments and share their passion for this open source technology with their peers. At our annual conference, we announce and demonstrate SUSE’s vision and latest technical advances to customers, partners, press and analysts. We also share insights and share best practices on the practical usage of these technologies.

    • Debian Family

      • TC decision on “Merged /usr” – #914897

        The Debian Technical Committee was asked in #914897 to overrule the debootstrap maintainers regarding the “merged `/usr`” default.

      • Debian Sticking With Merged /usr Plan

        For years Debian developers have been planning for a merged /usr concept where the /{bin,sbin,lib}/ directories becoming symbolic links to /usr/{bin,sbin,lib}/. With the upcoming Debian 10 Buster is the initial step of their plan after it was postponed from Debian Stretch.

      • News from Debian Cloud Team

        The Debian project has started the freezing process to prepare to release Debian 10 (codename Buster) in the coming months. During the development-cycle time of this release the Debian Cloud team has made progress in many fronts: formalizing the team inside the project, improving our tooling, investing in QA, optimizing the generated images and increasing the number of supported architectures.

        Last October, the Debian Project Leader (DPL) officially announced the creation of the Debian Cloud Team and appointed some Debian Developers as Delegates: Lucas Filipozzi (lfilipoz), Steve McIntyre (93sam) and Tomasz Rybak (serpent). The delegates are responsible for the policies, procedures, and services that are necessary for the production and maintenance of the official Debian images for use on cloud providers. The team chose those developers as Delegates because they have no direct involvement with cloud providers (many people in the team provide consultancy or work for cloud providers), avoiding any bias in the decisions made by the team. Moreover, the delegates with the support of Software in the Public Interest (SPI) have been working with some cloud providers (Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud) to create official Debian accounts in each of them, which will allow us to perform tests and publish Debian community images to their users.

      • Derivatives

        • SolydXK 201902 overview | Stable and Secure

          In this video, I am going to show an overview of SolydXK 201902 and some of the applications pre-installed. #

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS (Trusty Tahr) Emergency Point Release Arriving March 7th

            Following on last week’s Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS (Xenial Xerus) emergency point release to patch a critical security vulnerability affecting the APT package manager, which could allow attackers to execute code as root and possibly crash the system by installing malicious apps, Canonical is now working on Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS.

            The Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS point release will be similar to the Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS point release, but for those who want to deploy the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system series on new computers without taking any security risks caused by the said APT vulnerability.

          • Meet the Official Ubuntu 19.04 ‘Disco Dingo’ Mascot

            Sat above this line is the official mascot design for the upcoming release of Ubuntu 19.04 (due mid April).

            With Ubuntu 19.04 named Disco Dingo the companion artwork is (naturally) designed accordingly.

            The line-art logo depicts a dingo (a wild Australian dog) staring upwards while wearing over-ear headphones (because, presumably, he’s a DJ?).

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 9 Open Source/Commercial Software for Data Center Infrastructure Management

    When a company grows its demand in computing resources grows as well. It works as for regular companies as for providers, including those renting out dedicated servers. When the total number of racks exceed 10 you’ll start facing issues.

    How to inventory servers and spares? How to maintain a data center in a good health, locating and fixing potential threats on time. How to find the rack with broken equipment? How to prepare physical machines to work? Carrying out these tasks manually will take too much time otherwise will require having a huge team of administrators in your IT-department.

  • Web Browsers

    • Why I chose Brave as my Chrome browser replacement

      This year, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the ideal Chrome alternative in the Brave browser. If your reasons for sticking with Chrome have been (a) extensions, (b) compatibility, (c) syncing across devices, or (d, unlikely) speed, Brave checks all of those boxes. What’s more, it’s just one of a growing number of really good options that aren’t made by Google.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 54

        Firefox Account is experimenting with putting an avatar next to the hamburger menu. It will give users visibility on their account, sync status as well as links to manage the account. Targeting landing & beta uplift this week!

      • QMO: DevEdition 66 Beta 14 Friday, March 8th

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, March 8th, we are organizing DevEdition 66 Beta 14 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Firefox Screenshots, Search, Build installation & uninstallation.

        Check out the detailed instructions via this etherpad.

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Indian government allows expanded private sector use of Aadhaar through ordinance (but still no movement on data protection law)

        The Court had placed fundamental limits to the otherwise ubiquitous use of Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID system, including the requirement of an authorizing law for any private sector use. While the ordinance purports to provide this legal backing, its broad scope could dilute both the letter and intent of the judgment. As per the ordinance, companies will now be able to authenticate using Aadhaar as long as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is satisfied that “certain standards of privacy and security” are met. These standards remain undefined, and especially in the absence of a data protection law, this raises serious concerns.

        The swift movement to foster expanded use of Aadhaar is in stark contrast to the lack of progress on advancing a data protection bill that would safeguard the rights of Indians whose data is implicated in this system. Aadhaar continues to be effectively mandatory for a vast majority of Indian residents, given its requirement for the payment of income tax and various government welfare schemes. Mozilla has repeatedly warned of the dangers of a centralized database of biometric information and authentication logs.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • State of the copyleft union

      The license-importance divide seems almost generational: the older generation cares about licenses, and the younger generation does not. Yet, the historical focus on licensing in FLOSS, while occasionally prone to pedantry to a degree only developers can love, stemmed from serious governance considerations regarding how community members interact.

      Copyleft was invented to solve the many problems of project governance, assuring the rights of users and creating equal footing for all contributors. The licensing infrastructure today also has increased in complexity, with proprietary relicensing business models, excessive use of CLAs, and tricky clauses on top of existing licenses.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RISC-V opens up processor design

        Today, if you want to build a high-performance computing device, you can almost certainly find all the software you need in a free and open form. The same is not true for the processor chips that run that free software — whatever you choose, a chunk of what you pay will go on proprietary hardware licences to Intel, ARM, or their friends.

        RISC-V, pronounced ‘Risk-Five’, is a new architecture that’s available under open, free and non-restrictive licences. It has widespread industry support from chip and device makers, and is designed to be freely extensible and customisable to fit any market niche. To be a success, however, it has to perform technically as well as be economic to design for, verify and program. It has enthusiastic supporters, but it also has enormous competition that has been dug into the very heartland of IT for decades.

  • Programming/Development

    • Testing Discourse for GTK

      For the past 20 years or so, GTK used IRC and mailing lists for discussions related to the project. Over the years, use of email for communication has declined, and the overhead of maintaining the infrastructure has increased; sending email to hundreds or thousands of people has become increasingly indistinguishable from spam, in the eyes of service providers, and GNOME had to try and ask for exceptions—which are not easy to get, and are quite easy to be revoked. On top of that, the infrastructure in use for managing mailing lists is quite old and crumbly, and it’s unnecessarily split into various sub-categories that make following discussions harder than necessary.

      After discussions among the GTK team, with the GNOME infrastructure maintainers, and with the GTK community at large, we decided to start a trial run of Discourse as a replacement for mailing lists, first and foremost, and as a way to provide an official location for the GTK community to discuss the development of, and with, GTK—as well as the rest of the core GNOME platform: GLib, Pango, GdkPixbuf, etc.

    • Programming Text Windows with ncurses

      In my article series about programming for the text console using the ncurses library, I showed you how to draw text on the screen and use basic text attributes. My examples of Sierpinski’s Triangle (see “Getting Started with ncurses”) and a simple Quest adventure game (see “Creating an Adventure Game in the Terminal with ncurses”) used the entire screen at once.

    • Introduction to Python Decorators

      In Python, a decorator is a design pattern that we can use to add new functionality to an already existing object without the need to modify its structure. A decorator should be called directly before the function that is to be extended. With decorators, you can modify the functionality of a method, a function, or a class dynamically without directly using subclasses. This is a good idea when you want to extend the functionality of a function that you don’t want to directly modify. Decorator patterns can be implemented everywhere, but Python provides more expressive syntax and features for that.

    • Avoid Django’s GenericForeignKey
    • PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 03, 2019
    • Building a Python Tips API with Django REST Framework and Deploying it to Digital Ocean
    • Parallel Programming: March 2018 deferred-processing query

      Do you know of additional publicly visible production uses of sequnce locking, hazard pointers, or RCU not already called out in the remainder of this blog post?

      I am updating the deferred-processing chapter of “Is Parallel Programming Hard, And, If So, What Can You Do About It?” and would like to include a list of publicly visible production uses of sequence locking, hazard pointers, and RCU. I suppose I could also include reference counting, but given that it was well known before I was born, I expect that its list would be way too long to be useful!

    • PyCon 2019 Talks, Charlas, Posters, and Education Summit Schedules
    • Python hacks: opening a compressed mailbox
    • Python Bytes: #120 AWS, MongoDB, and the Economic Realities of Open Source and more
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #358 (March 5, 2019)

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The periodic table is 150 years old this week

      Lavoisier’s list of elements, published in 1789, five years before his execution, had 33 entries. Of those, 23—a fifth of the total now recognised—have stood the test of time. Some, like gold, iron and sulphur, had been known since ancient days. Others, like manganese, molybdenum and tungsten, were recent discoveries. What the list did not have was a structure. It was, avant la lettre, a stamp collection. But the album was missing.

    • Turning 30: World Wide Web, SC and security grow up together

      Time flies when you’re making history. Hard to believe so much time has passed, but 30 years ago in 1989, at the same time SC made its debut, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was inventing the World Wide Web while at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. Berners-Lee wrote the first web client and server a year later in 1990, and the URI and HTTP specifications he developed at CERN along with HTML coding were refined as web technology was more ubiquitously deployed.

      For those in the industry and the press that covered it, the late 1980s into the 1990s were some heady, exciting times. SC Magazine launched at the tail end of the ‘80s and throughout the internet boom of the 1990s, it was common for multiple print technology magazines to publish well more than 200 pages a week, although security looked much different than it does today.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New Study Ties Spike in Hospitalizations for Genital, Skin, and Urinary Ailments to Fracking in Pennsylvania

      New research has tied high rates of hospitalizations for genital, skin, and urinary conditions to fracking in Pennsylvania, underscoring mounting concerns about the public health implications of the controversial process of extracting natural gas.

      Alina Denham, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Rochester, led a research team that analyzed county-level hospital data for the state from 2003 to 2014. Their findings indicated that “long-term exposure to unconventional drilling may be harmful to population health.”

      The conclusion bolstered previous findings about the dangers of fracking—a process also called hydraulic fracturing that involves injecting a mix of water and chemicals into the ground to access gas.

    • Enjoy Your High, But Not at the Expense of Palestinian Human Rights

      The Israeli medical cannabis industry, as it is currently set up, whitewashes Israeli war crimes, provides legitimacy and profits for people responsible for past massacres in Gaza, and supports Israel’s illegal settlement, a direct cause of Palestinian suffering.

      On December 28, the Israeli Knesset approved legislation for the legal export of medical cannabis. While the law still needs to be finalized — it needs the prime minister’s signature — exports are expected to begin by the end of 2019, and the Israeli cannabis industry is celebrating. Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN, an Israeli venture fund and medical cannabis technology incubator, boasted, “Israel, already the most advanced nation in cannabis R&D, will now be able to produce and market cannabis and cannabis-based products that will help millions of people.”

      The global medical cannabis market is expected to reach $28 billion by 2024 and Israel is already a big part of it. Thanks to a merger with Canada’s Aurora, the Israeli medical cannabis company Tikun Olam holds a value of $400 million. Another company called Together Pharma, which has products for sale in Delaware and Washington State, and will soon sell medical marijuana in California and Florida, was valued at 300 million shekels (around $83 million) as of October 2018. InterCure, an Israeli holding company for small medical cannabis firms, is valued at around $180 million. InterCure aims to produce 100 tons of medical cannabis by 2020.

    • Will US Drug Pricing Politics Change Intimidation Practices Globally?

      The global health world, particularly as concerns skyrocketing drug prices and patent abuse, is in a unique space in time. Recently, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has been carrying on as per usual. It has threatened the Malaysian and Colombian governments at numerous junctures to prevent them from issuing compulsory licences – a completely legal mechanism which the US uses regularly – to access generic hepatitis C drugs. The Trump Administration has sent delegations to global health agencies in Geneva to intimidate them into reducing, or hiding, work on TRIPS flexibilities and fairer drug pricing.

      [...]

      A number of 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates including Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar, and Harris have made statements on the exorbitant prices set by the pharmaceutical industry. Trump HHS Secretary Alex Azar acknowledged drug pricing issues and in May 2018 released a blueprint to address high prices, but was criticised as ‘foregoing the most effective and obvious reforms that are needed to make a real difference’. Regardless of this, it is clear that drug pricing is high on the US political agenda.

      For decades, translating domestic US intellectual property into global norms has been high on the political agenda. Access to US markets was made contingent upon countries adopting US standards on intellectual property. Countries around the world are sorted into the USTR’s Special 301 ‘naughty list’ for countries that contravene its own standards on intellectual property, and this includes if they don’t provide the monopolies that the United States does for its own pharmaceuticals. US intellectual property standards have proliferated through numerous bilateral trade agreements around the globe. The proliferation of US standards worldwide is not restricted to intellectual property – the Obama presidency, for example, saw US diplomatic missions increase efforts to tackle regressive LGBT policies in the developing world.

    • This Political Family Has Been Fighting for Social Security and Medicare for All Since the 1930s

      Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a leader in the fight to improve Medicare and expand it to cover everyone in America. With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), she is one of the two lead sponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which was just introduced with more than 100 cosponsors. Dingell and Jayapal co-chair the Medicare for All caucus. She is also leading the fight to increase Social Security benefits, as co-chair of the Expand Social Security Caucus and as an original cosponsor of the Social Security 2100 Act.

      At the introduction of the Medicare for All Act, Dingell gave an impassioned speech about why we need to make health care a right for everyone in America. She spoke about how when Social Security was first proposed, right-wingers attacked it with the same cynical arguments they’re now using against Medicare for All. But now, we can’t imagine a world without Social Security. Rep. Dingell is particularly familiar with this history because her family has been fighting for Social Security and universal guaranteed health insurance since the New Deal.

      Representative Dingell’s father-in-law, John Dingell Sr., was first elected to Congress in 1932. He was part of the Democratic wave that swept into Congress alongside President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his promise of a New Deal for the American people. Dingell fought tirelessly for FDR’s agenda. He was so instrumental in the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935 that he was invited to attend the signing ceremony and watch FDR sign the legislation into law.

  • Security

    • Linux 5.1 Landing Feature For Reducing Scope Of Spectre V4 Speculation Protection

      The x86/pti updates for Linux 5.1 is bringing a new PR_SPEC_DISABLE_NOEXEC option where speculation protection for SSBD doesn’t end up being passed to new processes started by exec in such use-cases where it’s safe to do so. Utilizing this option will thus eliminate the overhead associated with this Spectre Variant 4 “Speculative Store Bypass” behavior.

      Back in January when the work around PR_SPEC_DISABLE_NOEXEC was initially queued up in the x86/pti working tree, I wrote about it in more detail. See Linux Kernel Getting New Option So SSBD Isn’t Over-Protective – Helping Performance. Now that the Linux 5.1 merge window is open, this pull request has been submitted for landing in the mainline kernel.

    • LibreSignage Looking for Beta Testers, OpenNebula v. 5.8 “Edge” Now Available, New SPOILER Attack Affecting Intel CPUs Discovered, Bug Found in Android TV OS and GNU Linux-libre 5.0-gnu Released

      New “SPOILER” attack discovered affecting Intel’s CPUs. Phoronix reports that researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and University of Lubeck discovered the speculative attack and that “Intel was notified of this issue a few months ago but no software/hardware fix appears ready yet, while the researchers claim there might not be an effective software solution available at least anytime soon—and any mitigation would likely come at a performance cost, as we’ve seen with Spectre and Meltdown over the past year. AMD and ARM CPUs aren’t believed to be impacted by SPOILER.” See also “SPOILER: Speculative Load Hazards Boost Rowhammer and Cache Attacks”.

    • Intel CPUs Reportedly Vulnerable To New “SPOILER” Speculative Attack

      SPOILER is the newest speculative attack affecting Intel’s micro-architecture.

      Researchers out of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and University of Lubeck discovered this new speculative attack dubbed SPOILER, Speculative Load Hazards Boost Rowhammer and Cache Attacks.

    • All Intel chips open to new Spoiler non-Spectre attack: Don’t expect a quick fix [Ed: All Intel chips have intentional back doors anyway. Stop buying Intel (or things with Intel)]
    • Is Open Source Becoming More Insecure?

      The survey quoted Jonas Manalansan, a cybersecurity engineer of Northrup Grumman, “Successful DevSecOps projects are able to bring security into the DevOps processes without slowing them down. All in all, DevSecOps delivers reduced cost, reduced development churn, and reduced application attack surface, which delivers higher ‘security and higher confidence to the organization’.”

      So, in a nutshell, there is no increase in breaches related to open source, there is an increase in the adoption of open source and these users must embrace best practices.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #201
    • Security updates for Tuesday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russian poet is off the hook for saying Hitler would have won over more in the USSR if he’d dropped the Antisemitism

      Anti-extremism police have determined that poet and writer Dmitry Bykov was within his civic rights last December, when he gave a lecture in St. Petersburg claiming that Adolf Hitler would have won over more Soviet anti-Communists, if the Nazi leader hadn’t sought the extermination of Jews and Roma.

      Experts hired by the Interior Ministry say Bykov’s remarks do not constitute “obvious disrespect for society” or “profanity against Russia’s military glory.” Bykov is also off the hook for “rehabilitating Nazism,” disappointing critics who were convinced that the public intellectual had finally crossed a line.

    • In bizarre twist, Huawei’s CFO is suing the Canadian Mounties

      The daughter of Huawei Founder Ren Wanzhou (yes, we can hear you, Ren Fandango) is undergoing extradition to the US to face charges of breaching sanctions against Iran in order to strike a trade deal.

      At the same time, Ms Meng launched a civil suit against their friends in the North, for breach of her civil rights.

    • Why Has Haiti Risen Up Once Again?

      The Haitian masses have mobilized a new wave of protest against the corrupt government of President Jovenel Moïse.

      It began with demonstrations last summer in July and August, re-emerged in November and December, and exploded again in the first two weeks of February when hundreds of thousands marched in all the major cities of the country, from the capital of Port-au-Prince to the northern city of Cap-Haïtien.

      The demonstrators demanded an investigation into what happened to billions of dollars of funds from Venezuela, an end to austerity measures and price increases for basic goods, and the resignation of Moïse and his prime minister, Jean-Henry Céant.

      The government predictably responded with a combination of concessions and repression. It rescinded the price increases and promised investigations into corruption, but neither Moïse nor Céant agreed to step down.

    • Venezuela-Baiting: How Media Keep Anti-Imperialist Dissent in Check

      Corporate media have always attacked leftists for their positions on Venezuela, a country consistently demonized and misrepresented in the US press (FAIR.org, 6/1/02, 11/1/05, 4/1/13, 2/22/19). But with President Donald Trump’s latest tightening of sanctions, and signs of a build-up to a long-rumored invasion (Fox News, 2/27/19), the media’s Venezuela-baiting has been turned up to 11.

      The political right is uniting with establishment Democrats in denouncing presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders for his supposedly pro-dictatorship stance on Venezuela. And the media are piling on.

    • Inside the Secretive U.S. Air War in Somalia: How Many Civilians Have Died as Strikes Escalate?

      The Trump administration is rapidly escalating a secretive air war in Somalia. According to the think tank New America, at least 252 people have been killed in around two dozen U.S. airstrikes in Somalia so far this year. The U.S. has already carried out more strikes in Somalia in 2019 than in any single year under President Obama. In addition to the air war, the Pentagon reportedly has about 500 U.S. troops on the ground in Somalia, including many special operations forces. For years, the U.S. has attempted to aid the Somali government by targeting members of al-Shabab, but the effort has increased dramatically under Trump, and it has come with little congressional oversight or media attention. We speak with Amanda Sperber, a freelance journalist who reports from Nairobi, Kenya, and Mogadishu, Somalia. Her new article for The Nation is titled “Inside the Secretive US Air Campaign in Somalia.”

    • “How to Hide an Empire”: Daniel Immerwahr on the History of the Greater United States

      “How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.” That’s the title of a new book examining a part of the U.S. that is often overlooked: the nation’s overseas territories from Puerto Rico to Guam, former territories like the Philippines, and its hundreds of military bases scattered across the globe. We speak with the book’s author, Daniel Immerwahr, who writes, “At various times, the inhabitants of the U.S. Empire have been shot, shelled, starved, interned, dispossessed, tortured and experimented on. What they haven’t been, by and large, is seen.” Immerwahr is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

    • An Open Letter to the Washington Office on Latin America About Its Stance on US Effort to Overthrow Venezuelan Government

      We write out of concern for the direction that WOLA has taken with regard to a matter of life and death, and possibly war and peace, in Latin America. This letter is an attempt to engage with WOLA about your support for various components of the Trump administration’s efforts to topple the government of Venezuela.

      We believe that the Trump administration’s regime change effort in Venezuela is wrong in every way: morally, legally, and politically. Since war has been openly threatened repeatedly by Trump himself and his top officials, this effort also runs a high risk in terms of the loss of human life and limb, and other unforeseen consequences of war and political violence.

      For these reasons and more, WOLA should oppose this regime change effort unequivocally, just as progressives throughout the world opposed the Iraq War of 2003. But it has not done so. Rather, it has endorsed much of it. People may have differing personal opinions regarding the internal politics of Venezuela or how Venezuelans might best resolve their differences. But there is no doubt that the Trump administration’s illegal regime change operation is greatly worsening the situation and should be opposed by all who care about human life and international law.

    • Will the U.S. End Up Putting Sanctions on Every Country That Doesn’t Bend to Its Will?

      The phrase is used over and over again by the government of the United States. “Strongest sanctions in history”—now against Iran, then against Venezuela. U.S. government officials revel in the timbre of exaggeration, their phrases shaking countries and overturning civilizations. It is hard to keep track of how many countries the United States currently sanctions. There are the obvious ones: China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.

      But, in fact, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list begins with “Balkans-Related Sanctions” and ends with “Zimbabwe Sanctions.” This is not the total list. There are sanctions for counterterrorism and for counternarcotics, for the rough diamond trade and for non-proliferation. These are not always the “strongest sanctions.” Those are reserved for a handful of countries, the ones that are at the center of the international news cycle.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Fed Prosecutors Who Screwed Up Big Time over Possible Assange Case Get Judge’s OK on Chelsea Manning Subpoena

      Remember when the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) had to respond to his office mistakenly naming WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a target of yet-to-be unsealed criminal charges? That same U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) has subpoenaed Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who was infamously convicted of violating the Espionage Act by disclosing thousands of “classified (and unclassified but ‘sensitive’) documents” to WikiLeaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires Destroy Forests, Study Finds

      The paper, published in Nature Climate Change Monday, found that the number of heat wave days per year had increased by more than 50 percent during the last 29 years (1987 to 2016) when compared to the years between 1925 and 1954. This is bad news for important ocean ecosystems from kelp forests to coral reefs.

    • Thousands Flee as 19 Wildfires Burn in Southeast Australia

      One of the residents to suffer the impact of the fire was Andrew Clarke, owner of the Jinks Creek Winery, who lost the vineyard he had first started planting in 1979, Network 10 reported.

      “My vineyard is basically melted. I was meant to be picking my grapes yesterday, the first lot. That’s about it, we’ve just lost everything,” Clarke said, according to CNN.

      Firefighters are working to control the blazes before “gusty and erratic” winds are predicted to reach the area Wednesday. Cooler temperatures are also expected. However, accompanying thunderstorms could actually spark more fires, and the rain and snow predicted will not be enough to douse the fires, Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Michael Efron told The Guardian.

      “Really these fires will be burning for some time until we get significant rainfall,” he said.

    • The big problem with climate ‘realism’

      Climate change has vaulted to the top of the political discourse, with the rollout of the Green New Deal policy framework and the subsequent discussion of what policies it should contain. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), for instance, recently announced he is running for president with a platform laser-focused on climate change.

      All this has political moderates rolling their eyes. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?” scoffed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) scolded a bunch of children who came to her office begging her to support the Green New Deal, saying “I know what I’m doing … it’s not a good resolution.” New York Times columnist Bret Stephens concludes that if famed lefty Pelosi doesn’t support it, the GND must be basically silly: “[I]t’s time to move climate policy beyond impractical radicalism and feckless virtue-signaling to something that can achieve a plausible, positive, and bipartisan result.”

      All this reveals the bankruptcy of so-called “realism” on climate change.

      The remarkable thing about Stephens’ column is that he perceives the problem with the Democratic moderate climate stance with perfect accuracy. Unlike Stephens in his Wall Street Journal incarnation, Feinstein and Pelosi do not deny the science of climate change. But if the scientists are right, “isn’t Pelosi’s incrementalist approach to climate absurdly inadequate?” he writes. “Isn’t it, in fact, like trying to put out a forest fire with a plant mister?”

    • Who Is Gov. Tim Walz and Why Is He So Important for the Climate?

      We’ve only got 10 years to work on the climate. But, thankfully the Green New Deal is pushing and shoving its way through Congress — putting elected leaders and presidential candidates to the test to show us whether they’re actually serious about climate action.

      And while climate champions like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are advocating for widespread and far-reaching federal climate policy, we need to do everything in our power (which is pretty mighty) to make sure state officials like Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan keep fossil fuels in the ground right now by stopping projects like Enbridge’s dangerous Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

    • Trashing the Planet: 15 New Books About Garbage, Climate Change and Endangered Species

      There’s nothing disposable about the ideas presented in this month’s new environmental books.

    • New Warnings on Plastic’s Health Risks as Fracking Industry Promotes New ‘Plastics Belt’ Build-Out

      A new report traces the life cycle of plastic from the moment an oil and gas well is drilled to the time plastic trash breaks down in the environment, finding “distinct risks to human health” at every stage.

      Virtually all plastic — 99 percent of it, according to the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) report — comes from fossil fuels. And a growing slice comes from fracked oil and gas wells and the natural gas liquids (NGLs) they produce.

    • Could Mardi Gras’ Most Iconic Accessory Get a Sustainable Makeover?

      Today is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which means it marks the culmination of Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans. But once the party is over, someone will have to clean up the mess.

      Last year, nearly 1,200 tons of trash were collected after the parade, most of which ended up in landfills. But one Louisiana State University (LSU) biologist is working to make sure the holiday’s iconic beads won’t be part of future collections, The Huffington Post reported.

      LSU Biological Sciences Professor Naohiro Kato has developed a process for making biodegradable beads and doubloons from algae. Kato harvests a kind of microscopic algae called diatoms and turns it into a powder used to cast beads that will break down in soil after one to two years, LSU explained.

    • Acme Equities Hedge Fund Wants to Add Expensive Carbon Capture to Distressed New Mexico Coal Plant

      The hedge fund trying to buy a New Mexico coal plant slated for closure has pitched legislators on its plan: it wants to install expensive technology to capture the plant’s carbon pollution, despite the fact that the plant is closing because it cannot compete economically with renewable energy.

      The City of Farmington, which is in talks to sell the plant to Acme, asked New Mexico legislators on Saturday to amend a bill currently under debate, the Energy Transition Act, to allow Acme the time it says it needs to install the carbon capture technology. Legislators planned to consider the amendment on Monday. The bill aims to transition the state’s economy to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050.

      “Carbon capture and sequestration” technology, or CCS, has failed to reach commercial adoption in the United States, despite decades of support from many utilities, the coal industry, and some environmental groups. That’s because so far, no one has been able to implement CCS without making power plants much more expensive to build and operate.

    • Report Exposes ‘Devastating’ Economic, Public Health, and Environmental Impacts of Trump’s Industry Giveaways

      Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts: State Attorneys General Prepare to Fight (pdf) was published by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law, which provides support to state attorneys general working to defend and promote clean energy, climate, and environmental policies.

      “This special report unmasks the Trump administration’s plan to give a climate pollution pass to industries that represent almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” David J. Hayes, the center’s executive director, said in a statement.

      “State attorneys general will not let the administration get away with its brazen attempt to turn major industries’ legal obligations to reduce damaging pollution into an invitation to continue to pollute—climate effects and adverse health impacts be damned,” he added.

  • Finance

    • Google claims it has no market power in online search or advertising

      Google has rejected the preliminary findings of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s digital platforms inquiry, saying there is no need for any regulatory body to oversee its functioning and claiming that it does not have any market power in search and advertising online.

    • What’s Worse Than Ticket Scalpers? Stock Scalpers.

      Internet bots immediately snapped up Beyonce’s presale tickets last year. And when the resale price rose above $1,000, the Beyhive was mighty peeved.

      Ticket scalpers are indeed frustrating. But their Wall Street cousins — what UMass-Amherst professor Douglas Cliggott calls the “stock scalpers” — are far more dangerous.

      Like online ticket scalpers, these financial predators use advanced technology to cheat the rest of us. For huge sums, they buy the privilege of locating their computer servers as close as possible to market exchanges. This allows them to get trading information a split-second faster than traditional investors.

      So when a mutual or pension fund makes a trade, the stock scalpers see that trade on its way to the market. “They hop in front of it, buy it, and bid up what we want to buy and sell it back to us at a higher price,” explains Cliggott, a former JPMorgan Chase managing director.

      The scalpers do this thousands of times a day, using computers programmed with algorithms that have no connection to the real economy. This “high frequency” trading makes up the majority of today’s market activity.

    • Why Did Jeremy Corbyn Support a Second Brexit Referendum?

      Prof. Leo Panitch says Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn held out as long as he could and made a tactical decision to support a second referendum on Brexit.

    • Progressive Tax Takes Aim at Wall Street Transactions, Financial Crashes

      Democrats on Tuesday proposed a tax on Wall Street transactions which could stop another financial crash and bring in $777 billion over the next decade.

      “The Wall Street Tax Act would tax the sale of stocks, bonds, and derivatives at 0.1 percent,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hi.), who introduced the bill (pdf) with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) as lead co-sponsor.

      “A stock trade of $1,000 would incur a tax of just one dollar,” Schatz added.

      The bill was also cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.), who is not.

      The House version of the bill was introduced by U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) with the support of Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

    • What John Oliver Gets Wrong About Robots and Jobs

      In the most recent episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the eponymous host ventured into the complex, dizzying, and occasionally dystopian realm of how technological change will affect jobs and work. While it’s welcome that a well-nuanced discussion of automation is reaching Oliver’s mainstream millions, the limited narratives are obsolete and in need of a major reboot.

      Oliver begins the segment with children answering the familiar question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This idea evolves over the next 20 minutes to “What five things do you want to be when you grow up?” because careers will increasingly lack permanence and long-term reliability. Finally, Oliver amusingly cajoles children into reciting the bleak vision frequently laid out by mainstream economic futurists: “I want to do a series of non-routine tasks that require social intelligence, complex critical thinking, and creative problem-solving.”

      It may be darkly entertaining to see the wild-eyed ambition drained out of children as they recite neoliberal jargon, but that doesn’t actually get at the sources of the problem: workers will have little if any say in how their lives will be forced to change by automation and that automation in the service of unchecked demand and growth will have severe environmental consequences.

      Fundamentally, the claim that a jobless future is looming over workers relies on an often implicit passive voice, in the vein of “robots will take our jobs.” However, machines–for the time being, anyway–have no agency. Robots aren’t filling out applications for your job. They’re not going to escort you out of the building and take your place.

    • On Monday, OCCRP published its latest investigation into Russia’s offshore money schemes. Here’s what happened next.

      On March 4, Meduza published an investigative report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) about an offshore empire that belongs to Ruben Vardianian, the former director of the investment bank Troika Dialog. Based on the same research, other major news outlets including The Guardian and Suddeutsche Zeitung published similar reports on Monday. The next day, across Europe, figures and institutions named in OCCRP’s materials found themselves under scrutiny. Meduza summarizes the immediate fallout from the “Troika Laundromat” investigation.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump to staff on AT&T/Time Warner merger: “I want that deal blocked!”
    • The Making of the Fox News White House

      Nothing has formalized the partnership between Fox and Trump more than the appointment, in July, 2018, of Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News, as director of communications and deputy chief of staff at the White House. Kristol says of Shine, “When I first met him, he was producing Hannity’s show at Fox, and the two were incredibly close.” Both come from white working-class families on Long Island, and they are godfathers to each other’s children, who refer to them as “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Sean.” Another former colleague says, “They spend their vacations together.” A third recalls, “I was rarely in Shine’s office when Sean didn’t call. And I was in Shine’s office a lot. They talked all the time—many times a day.”

    • Trump’s Unhinged CPAC Speech Should Concern Us All

      The president of the United States gave a rambling and incoherent two-hour speech in which he raved like a lunatic and told crazy, self-serving lies from start to finish. If that no longer qualifies as alarming, we’re in serious trouble.

      I realize the speed-of-light news cycle has moved on. I realize anything that happened last week has all but faded into the mists of time. But President Trump’s unhinged performance Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference is surely worth more than a passing shrug. If you had an uncle or a grandpa who sounded so divorced from reality, you’d be urgently concerned.

      “You know I’m totally off script right now,” he said. “And this is how I got elected, by being off-script. True. And if we don’t go off-script, our country is in big trouble, folks. Because we have to get it back.”

      There was nothing, anything, like a script.

      He tried to talk about the Democratic Party’s proposed Green New Deal: “When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric. Let’s hurry up. ‘Darling — Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.’ No, but it’s true.”

      Not even remotely true, but he was just getting started.

      He raged about the special counsel’s investigation: “Now, Robert Mueller never received a vote, and neither did the person that appointed him. And as you know, the attorney general says, ‘I’m going to recuse myself. I’m going to recuse.’ And I said, why the hell didn’t he tell me that before I put him in? How do you recuse yourself?”

      Um, by following the rules. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because he was a potential witness in the investigation, or even a potential subject. He had no choice.

    • Green member of House of Lords seeks to ‘abolish’ herself

      Jenny Jones, Green member of the House of Lords, will today (March 5) continue her fight to transform the unelected chamber, as she resubmits her House of Lords Reform Bill.

      This comes after the government has rejected the incremental reforms put forward by the Burns committee, who recommended that the government slowly reduce the number of peers and only appoint new peers in a way that is proportional with the vote in the last general election and the number of MPs each party has.

      Baroness Jones hopes to gather support from within the Lords for her plans to replace the House of Lords with a democratic and effective second chamber. This would use proportional representation to elect a new house, but keep many existing peers as non-voting experts.

    • Universities on the Foreign Payroll

      After the Central Intelligence Agency found that the crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia likely ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced it would be reviewing its “Institute-level engagements” with the Kingdom. The fallout from the murder of Khashoggi has put a spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s extensive financial connections to universities across the United States.

    • Donald Trump, Pornographer-in-Chief

      He descended that Trump Tower escalator on June 16, 2015, to announce his presidential candidacy already bragging about the “great, great wall” he was going to build on the U.S.-Mexico border (“and nobody builds walls better than me… And I will have Mexico pay for that wall”). “When Mexico sends its people,” he insisted that day, “they’re not sending their best… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

      And his tune has never really changed. Almost three years later, in April 2018, he was still focused on those Mexican rapists, still insisting “they’re not sending their best.” In his final presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in October 2016, he denounced all the “bad hombres” who have made it to this country and how “we’re going to get them out.” A week into his presidency, he was already threatening to send the U.S. military into Mexico to get rid of the “tough hombres” from the Mexican drug cartels preparing to invade this country. And just a week ago at a breakfast with U.S. governors, he was at it again, this time denouncing “rough hombres”: “And I told Guatemala and I told Honduras, and I told El Salvador — three places where they send us tremendous numbers of people… They’re not sending us their finest… They’re sending us some very — as I would sometimes say — rough hombres. These are rough, rough, tough people.”

      In fact, many of those “hombres” — and they are always hombres — turned out to be rough, tough, bad children (even breast-feeding babies of the roughest, toughest sort) and rough, tough, desperate mothers, a crew so malign that they had to be eternally separated and incarcerated, which meant creating a children’s Gitmo on the southern border.

      In his new book, The End of the Myth, From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, TomDispatch regular Greg Grandin focuses on what it means for our country to live beyond the end of its own mythology. He sees that great wall, the one long ago constructed in the president’s mind (if nowhere else), as a forerunner of a grim new American mythology, “a monument to the final closing of the frontier.” Whether it’s ever built, that wall is already a symbol of a country whose inhabitants once believed they could escape history and now are in the process of walling themselves in, psychologically speaking, and becoming what Grandin calls “prisoners of the past.” Oh, and speaking of prisoners, today he points out the one circumstance in which the president tosses those hombres out the window and focuses instead on mujeres. And it’s undoubtedly no mistake that, when he brings them up, they always have duct tape across their mouths.

    • ‘North Star for Democracy Reform’: 70+ Public Advocacy Groups Demand Passage of HR 1

      More than 70 pro-democracy groups are backing a sweeping anti-corruption, pro-voting rights bill as the legislation receives its first committee hearing in the Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday.

      The House Rules Committee was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the For the People Act (H.R. 1), the Democratic Party’s first legislative proposal in the new Congress, which is aimed at expanding voting rights and limiting the influence lobbyists and corporations have over lawmakers.

      H.R. 1 “represents a transformative vision for American democracy,” said the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights in a letter it sent to representatives. “It would create a democracy that welcomes every eligible voter’s chance to participate in civic life, and a democracy that demands integrity, fairness, and transparency in our nation’s elections.”

      The For the People Act “provides a North Star for the democracy reform agenda,” the group added. “It is a bold, comprehensive reform package that offers solutions to a broken democracy.”

      The Brennan Center for Justice, National Black Justice Coalition, and the NAACP were among the dozens of advocacy groups that joined the Leadership Conference in pledging support for the bill. Progressive organization Indivisible urged Americans to call their representatives in Congress to demand passage of H.R. 1.

    • “Moderate” Democrats Are Really Conservatives — and They Are Dangerous

      If I hear the word “moderate” used one more time to describe Blue Dog House Democrats who keep voting with Republicans, or any other non-Republican who actively supports today’s Republican Party, it is entirely possible I will eat my teeth. The term “Blue Dog” is a metaphor for a dog straining so hard on its leash that it has turned blue from lack of oxygen; the dog is a right-leaning Democrat, and the leash represents its tenuous party affiliation. These people are conservatives — period, end of file — who hide behind the “moderate” label even as they undermine policies Democrats have hewed to for half a century.

      They are able to do this, thanks in no small part to the committed care and feeding of big-paper/big-network reporters, editorialists and producers, many of whom haven’t entertained a new idea since Windows 3.1 was the hot new thing. A recent spirited meeting of House Democrats gave these media types yet another chance to strut their fogbound stuff even as they gave cover to their “moderate” friends who, if you believe the mainstream stenographers out there, have it all figured out.

      Their fallback tactic is ease: Inaccurate labeling stands in substitution for analysis because it is easier, tropes outmatch facts because they are easier, and lies from “important people” are not simply allowed to stand, but to flourish. Why? Because it is easier.

      “House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans ‘on a list’ for a primary challenge,” reads the opening line of last week’s febrific Washington Post article on the Democrats’ meeting, only the most recent example of the practice.

      There are 137 words in the first four paragraphs of that thoroughly frantic report, a bunch of which clearly strive to become lit sticks of dynamite in the next life. Exploded! Moderates bucking the party! Threatening! On a list! Primary challenge! Frustrated! Lashed out! Pressured! Unquestioned media superstar! Upped the ante! Admonishing! Liberal activists! Unseat! On a list, again! Would that I had pearls to clutch.

    • Selma, the birthplace of modern democracy in America

      This past weekend, political leaders from across the country gathered in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate “Bloody Sunday,” the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where peaceful demonstrators, attempting to cross the bridge, were violently driven back by Alabama State Troopers, Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies and a horse-mounted posse wielding billy clubs and water hoses to savage the crowd.

      The horrors played on TV sets across the country generated a national outrage that provided the final impetus for passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    • Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb calls Mueller ‘American hero’

      Cobb told ABC News that he does not believe the Mueller investigation to be a witch hunt but said he doubts anything else to come from it will damage Trump.

    • Attorney General William Barr won’t recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia probe

      Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government, a Justice Department spokeswoman said Monday.

      Barr’s confirmation for a second stint as the nation’s top law enforcement officer came under scrutiny given his previous statements about the special counsel’s investigation. Barr reportedly sent an “unsolicited memo” to the Justice Department last year, in which he expressed skepticism about parts of Mueller’s investigation. He said that Mueller’s inquiry into potential obstruction of justice by Trump was based on a “fatally misconceived” theory that would threaten the presidency and the executive branch.

      During his Senate confirmation hearings last month, Barr refused to say whether he would recuse himself from any role in Mueller’s probe but noted he would allow Mueller to complete his investigation and make as many of its findings public as possible. Barr was confirmed by a vote of 54 to 45 in the Senate. Mueller is widely expected to wrap up his investigation in the comings weeks.

    • ‘Call It the Oppression of the Supermajority’: Americans Eager for Bold Change, So Why Can’t They Get It?

      Most Americans support Medicare for All, higher taxes on the rich, a Green New Deal, and other major items on the progressive agenda—so why has Congress failed to enact them?

      The reason, Columbia University Law School professor Tim Wu argued in an op-ed for the New York Times on Tuesday, is that the influence of corporations and the donor class on the American political system has drowned out the policy desires of the public.

    • Bernie In Chicago: From Civil Rights Era Activism To Present-Day Struggles Against Racism

      Appearing on “The Breakfast Club” radio show in New York, Senator Bernie Sanders said his 2016 presidential campaign was “criticized for being too male. That was a correct criticism. Too white. That was a correct criticism.”

      He promised his 2020 campaign will be different. “We’ll have a much more diverse campaign.”

      It was a direct response to how poorly his previous campaign performed with African Americans, particularly those older than 35 years-old.

      On March 3, the Sanders campaign came to Navy Pier in Chicago to hold one of two kickoff rallies organized during the weekend. The other was held in Brooklyn.

      Sanders delivered a speech confronting systemic racism, as well as racial aspects of economic inequality. He explicitly pledged to fight mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and gentrification, and advocated for criminal justice reform, affordable housing, and an end to cash bail.

    • In the Age of Trump, Bipartisanship Is Losing Its Allure

      President Obama first gained national acclaim with a 2004 speech that encouraged Americans to focus on what united them. In an often-repeated quote, he said we must remember that “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America. There’s the United States of America.” Obama may have won two elections with a message of unity and bipartisanship, but as Gideon Resnick and Sam Stein report in The Daily Beast, some of Obama’s most devoted advisers, as well as the Democratic party’s base, have a message for candidates hoping to do the same: “Don’t.”

      “There’s this sort of older way of thinking about politics where it’s all about personal relationships. … That’s not how politics works,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Obama told Resnick and Stein. He added, “Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell had shared a bottle of whiskey once and McConnell went out and stole a Supreme Court seat from him.”

      Ben LaBolt, a former national press secretary for Obama’s re-election campaign, concurred regarding the prospects for a harmonious relationship between the two parties. He told The Daily Beast that “I think all of the pixie dust in the world couldn’t make that happen. Believe me, we tried it. We said it. We prayed for it. It wasn’t going to happen. It’s not going happen now and it’s not going to happen ever.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Woman Locked Out of YouTube, Gmail, and Twitter for Having Same Name as Pop Star

      Meghan Trainor, 45, has been an exhibiting artist and performer for more than 15 years. She’s worked in 3D printing, brain-computer interface, robotics, and medieval technology. Drone metal outfit Earth is her favorite band and, this week, she was locked out of her social media accounts for “impersonating” Meghan Trainor—that is, herself.

    • Google and Twitter lock accounts of artist for having same name as Meghan Trainor

      Trainor the artist has been practicing her craft for 15 years, creating her YouTube Channel in December 2013 and her Twitter account in September 2012. Trainor the pop star shot to fame with the release of her hit single “All About That Bass” in June of 2014. Today, Trainor the artist has a much smaller online following than Trainor the pop star, with roughly one thousand Twitter followers compared to the 2.1 million of her namesake. Trainor told Gizmodo that the singer originally tried to buy the artist’s domain, meghantrainor.com, when she was first starting out.

    • Twitter Will Let Users Hide Replies to Fight Toxic Comments

      A year later, little has changed. Twitter is still a largely toxic place riddled with extremists, sock-puppet armies, and fake accounts; and the company’s top brass is still talking about conversational health. Its most recent attempt to improve discourse on the platform was confirmed last week: a feature that would allow users to selectively hide replies to their tweets from public view, so that other users can’t see the offending reply when interacting with the initial tweet.

    • Informal Internet Censorship: The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU)

      The CTIRU consider its scheme to be voluntary, but detailed notification under the e-Commerce Directive has legal effect, as it may strip the platform of liability protection. Platforms may have “actual knowledge” of potentially criminal material, if they receive a well-formed notification, with the result that they would be regarded in law as the publisher from this point on.[1]

      At volume, any agency will make mistakes. The CTIRU is said to be reasonably accurate: platforms say they decline only 20 or 30% of material. That shows considerable scope for errors. Errors could unduly restrict the speech of individuals, meaning journalists, academics, commentators and others who hold normal, legitimate opinions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • VPNs Are No Privacy Panacea, And Finding An Ethical Operator Is A Comical Shitshow

      The terribleness of the VPN sector is decidedly ironic, given that giant broadband providers, who routinely hoover up your data in an ocean of creative and non-transparent ways, have long tried to claim that the United States doesn’t need meaningful privacy guidelines because users can always use a VPN. That was one of the cornerstones of the telecom lobby logic as the successfully convinced Congress to eliminate modest FCC privacy rules in 2017 that could have prevented many of the location data scandals currently plaguing the sector.

      But if it’s not clear yet, a VPN is not a magic bullet to the problems that are plaguing the modern internet. Users are running from one platform to the next, dribbling their private data in a long trail behind them thanks to shoddy and nonexistent standards. Meanwhile a lack of competition leaves them stuck on the network of giant ISPs that not only refuse to respect their privacy, but routinely lobby against any and every legislative solution, no matter how well crafted. Several ISPs have then tried to charge users a surcharge to opt out of data collection and monetization, effectively making privacy a luxury option.

    • NSA Has Halted Mass Domestic Spying Program First Exposed by Snowden in 2013: GOP Aide

      The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has reportedly halted a widely criticized domestic mass surveillance program involving Americans’ phone records first exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      The revelation came from Luke Murry, the national security adviser to the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), on The Lawfare Podcast. His remarks were picked up the the New York Times and quickly spark national attention.

      The now-shuttered program that analyzed metadata from phone records—which shows who called or texted whom, and when, but not what is said—replaced a once-secret operation established under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which Snowden, an ex-intelligence contractor, exposed in 2013.

      Murry said that under the Trump administration, the agency “actually hasn’t been using it for the past six months because of problems with way in which that information was collected.” He added, “I’m not actually certain that the administration will want to start that back up given where they’ve been six months.”

      Technical problems with data collection, acknowledged by NSA last summer, forced the agency to purge hundreds of millions of phone and text metadata records collected from American telecommunications companies over three years after realizing that its database included files the NSA was not authorized to receive.

    • Big Brother Steps Closer as Parents Shackle Teens to Ankle Monitors

      A perfect example of George Orwell’s terrifying view of a society under government surveillance has arrived in the form of ankle monitors for your teens.

      For parents who “need to keep track of [their] teenager at all times,” Tampa Bay Monitoring in Clearwater, Florida, is selling GPS tracking — similar to the shackles used to track those on parole — billed as a way for parents to have “peace of mind” and for so-called troubled teens to have “protection.” Never mind that these monitors function as a form of private surveillance, enabling parents and anyone else with access to shadow a teen’s every move. Besides, these devices can be uncomfortable and can cause problems at airports, hospitals and schools, and many people have concerns about where all the tracking information goes and who has access to it.

      Who has access is crucial in an age where, per TechCrunch, an online zine, Facebook has been paying teenage users $20 a month since 2016 to install an app which monitors their phone and web activity. This is precisely so Facebook can gain usage information. Meanwhile, police in the U.K. have been secretly downloading data from smartphones, which Harmit Kambo, Campaigns Director for the London-based charity, Privacy International, calls a “digital stop and search.” In a paper entitled “’Better than Human’? Smartphones, Artificial Intelligence and Ultra-Punitive Electronic Monitoring,” Mike Nellis, a global export in electronic monitoring, wrote that the prime beneficiaries are always “the data-hungry tech industry.”

    • Over 300 million Chinese private messages were left exposed online

      Each record, drawn from apps like WeChat and QQ, also contained personally identifying Chinese citizen ID numbers, photos, addresses, GPS location data, and info on the type of device being used. Worse, the main database also sent the data back to 17 other remote servers, according to Gevers.

    • Juniper inks agreement to acquire Mist Systems

      Network vendor Juniper Networks has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Mist Systems, a cloud-managed wireless networks provider, in a deal valued at US$405 million.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Moscow police detain man who interrupts Stalin memorial by shouting ‘Burn in hell!’ at his monument outside the Kremlin

      Police in Moscow detained a man at a memorial event honoring Joseph Stalin on March 5, when as many as 500 Communist Party activists came to lay flowers at the late Soviet dictator’s monument outside the Kremlin’s walls. Today marks the 66th anniversary of Stalin’s death.

      One of the men in the crowd on Tuesday didn’t come to pay his respects, however, flinging his carnations at the monument and shouting, “Burn in hell, Executioner of the People and Murderer of Women and Children!”

    • State pollster asks Russians about new opposition labor union, but keeps the results a secret

      Last month, government pollsters surveyed Russians about a labor union project recently announced by opposition politician Alexey Navalny, but the data was never published, two sources told Vedomosti. According to the newspaper, the state-owned Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) conducted a poll based on three question groups: public sector wages and President Putin’s promises to raise them, labor unions generally, and Navalny’s activism and new labor union project. VTsIOM published its results on March 1, withholding all data about Navalny.

    • Trump’s Wall Is a Symbol With a Long and Toxic History

      Although we appear to have been spared another Trump shutdown, we have now been handed an executive power grab in the guise of a “national emergency.” This entire Trump-instigated crisis will remain directly connected in our memories to Trump’s obsession with the “Wall,” i.e., the toy that he has insisted he must have in order to allegedly guarantee the safety of the people of the United States.

      Walls have a long history of symbolic importance, signifying not only lines of demarcation but frequently the distinction between zones of alleged civilization vs. zones of alleged barbarism. The phrase “beyond the Pale” — which has come to mean beyond a boundary, over the top, unacceptable or outside of reasonable standards — is just one example. The term originates in Ireland and refers to a piece of the island captured by England, within which the current city of Dublin emerged. The English did what they could to enclose this area, essentially setting up a set of fortifications and a ditch. For the English colonizers, “the Pale” was the center of civilization on an island that was viewed as nothing short of barbaric.

      What is important here is that the ditch or Pale was not simply demarcating territory or even a hostile border. With the Pale, much like the Great Wall of China, there was an ideological notion that beyond that barrier lay a barbarian mystery. In the 1790s, Catherine the Great instituted a Russian “Pale,” which was an area for Jews, outside of which they would be subject to overt acts of repression.

      The European invasion of the Western Hemisphere, and subsequent colonization, brought with it many walls. The Dutch colonization of New York, for instance, brought with it “Wall Street,” i.e., the fortified point of demarcation between the Dutch colonists and the First Nations. Throughout the U.S., cities after cities were formed on the basis of walled fortifications.

      Thus, deep in the subconscious of much of the world exists the notion of the ‘Wall’ as the means to preserve civilization. Yet what always remains of interest is that walls are not created in each case between different populations. Take the border between the U.S. and Canada. Both countries like to pride themselves on having the longest non-militarized border on Earth. What is at stake is not only who is perceived as a threat, but also what populations are perceived as representing an existential challenge to the state in question.

    • ‘They used the kids to get to parents like me’: How ICE’s human smuggling initiative targeted parents and children

      A review of the operation by Reveal casts doubt on the official narrative.

    • When children become caregivers

      When a parent contracts a serious physical or mental illness, the responsibility of caring for that parent can fall to a teenager or even a young child. Such cases are especially common when children are raised by one parent or another older relative. In the United States, there are more than one million child caregivers. In Russia, their number is unknown: no organization or government agency collects statistics on the issue, and families with child caregivers receive aid from just a few charities and nonprofits. The government tends to approach these cases by pulling families apart: adults are institutionalized or hospitalized while children are sent to an orphanage. But that isn’t always the case. Meduza special correspondent Irina Kravtsova reached out to children in Russia and Kazakhstan who were forced to grow up before their time when their relatives needed them.

    • ‘People Power Beats Corporate Greed’: After Years of Pressure, JPMorgan Agrees to Divest from Private Prisons

      Civil and immigrant rights groups celebrated a victory Tuesday after JPMorgan Chase announced it was finally heeding their calls to end its financing of private for-profit prisons.

      Make the Road NY, the Center for Popular Democracy, and New York Communities for Change were among the organizations credited with pressuring the bank to stop bankrolling CoreCivic and GEO Group, the nation’s largest private prison operators.

      “Once again, people power beats corporate greed,” Make the Road tweeted.

      [...]

      Under pressure, Wells Fargo announced it was “reducing its relationship” with the companies earlier this year.

      Activists challenged JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon at the bank’s last two annual meetings, and have demonstrated outside his home in New York—holding signs reading, “Jamie Dimon: Stop Bankrolling Oppression!” and denouncing the bank as a “backer of hate” in the rain last summer, and demanding that Dimon “break up with prisons” this past Valentine’s Day.

      Former New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon praised Make the Road NY and others for their campaigning, saying Dimon’s decision offered “more evidence that organizing works” and calling on all banks to follow in JPMorgan’s footsteps.

    • ‘A Very Scary Case’: Placing Rights of Woman Last, Alabama Judge Allows Boyfriend to Sue Abortion Clinic With Fetus as Co-Plaintiff

      An Alabama county court recognized an aborted fetus as a plaintiff in a lawsuit Tuesday, opening a new chapter in the fight for reproductive rights in the United States.

      Madison County probate court Judge Frank Barger allowed Ryan Magers to name the fetus his girlfriend had aborted as a co-plaintiff in his case against Alabama Women’s Center.

      The judge’s decision to establish an estate for the fetus, allowing the suit to move forward, came four months after the passage of Amendment 2 by voters in a state referendum last November. The law, which passed by 18 percentage points, gives fetuses the same legal rights held by a person under the state constitution.

      Women’s rights advocates on social media slammed the decision, noting that it was perhaps the first time in U.S. history a fetus was named as a co-plaintiff in a case.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ‘We Need to Push Lawmakers Extra Hard’: Campaign Aims to Flood Congress With Calls to Support Net Neutrality Bill

      Members of Congress will soon have another opportunity to restore net neutrality, and advocates for the open internet are holding their feet to the fire.

      With House Democrats expected to introduce the “Save the Internet Act” on Wednesday in an effort to restore net neutrality protections, a coalition of grassroots advocacy groups is urging Americans to flood their representatives with calls and emails in support of the legislation.

      “This is huge,” Josh Tabish of Fight for the Future, one of the organizations leading the pressure campaign, said in an email. “But with the news in the headlines, the telecom lobbyists are gearing up to swarm Capitol Hill. Now we need to push lawmakers extra hard to support the new legislation before the lobbyists get to them.”

    • ‘Keep Making Noise’: Grassroots Pressure Working as Democrats Announce Bill to Restore Net Neutrality

      While the text of the bill—formally titled the “Save the Internet Act”—has not yet been released, net neutrality campaigners and policy experts expressed hope that the bill will aim to fully restore the strong open internet protections killed by the FCC, which is currently chaired by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai.

      “The bill isn’t out yet, but we hope it will give a congressional stamp of approval to the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules and the whole Open Internet Order,” Tim Karr, senior director of strategy and communications at Free Press, told Common Dreams. “That’s crucial, because the legal framework already in Title II is the baseline for guaranteeing the full range protections demanded by internet users, including overwhelming majorities of Democratic and Republican voters.”

      The renewed congressional effort to restore net neutrality comes after the House failed to pass a resolution to overturn the FCC’s repeal before the deadline last December. The Senate passed the resolution last May by a 52-47 vote.

    • #NetNeutrality: Pelosi teases ‘Save The Internet Act,’ and Senate Democrats will introduce bill to restore Net Neutrality

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today said that on Wednesday, House Democrats will announce Net Neutrality legislation on Capitol Hill.

    • Democrats to push to reinstate repealed ‘net neutrality’ rules

      Pelosi told lawmakers in a letter that House Democrats, who won control of the chamber in the November 2018 elections, would work with their colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pass the “Save The Internet Act.”

      The text of the proposed legislation has not been released.

    • AT&T Begins Trying To Screw Up HBO In Earnest

      If you haven’t noticed by now, big telecom companies aren’t particularly good at wandering outside of their core competencies. They’ve been government-pampered monopolies so long, innovation, creativity, and competition are concepts that are utterly foreign to their underlying genetics.

      Nowhere has that been more apparent than big telecom’s attempt to pivot to streaming and online advertising. Verizon’s first foray into media, you’ll recall, was a short-lived “tech news” website called Sugarstring, which was quickly shuttered after the telco banned its reporters from discussing subjects like net neutrality or government surveillance. That was followed by a botched joint venture with RedBox. And Verizon’s failed Go90 and Oath efforts, which involved mashing together two failed nineties brands (AOL & Yahoo), then pretending that would be enough to do serious battle in the space.

      [...]

      I’ve studied AT&T for twenty years of my adult life. This is a company whose leadership is really very good at a long list of things. They’re good at running networks (usually), lobbying the government to hamstring competition, and finding creative ways to rip off its own customers, taxpayers, and even the disabled. What they’re not so good at is creativity, innovation, and actual competition, since their near-total domination over state and federal regulators–and the lack of competition in their broadband businesses–means those particular attributes have rarely been exercised.

  • DRM

    • USB4 Specification Announced: Adopting Thunderbolt 3 Protocol for 40 Gbps USB

      The USB4 specification will be based on the Thunderbolt protocol that Intel has contributed to the USB Promoter Group. The new interface will use USB Type-C connectors and will maintain backwards compatibility with USB 2.0, USB 3.2, and Thunderbolt 3 interfaces. The maximum data transfer rate supported by the new USB4 interface is 40 Gbps over 40 Gbps-certified cables. Also, USB4 will support various display protocols, and power delivery.

      The USB4 standard will be officially ratified in the middle of 2019. At present over 50 companies are actively participating in the final stages of development of the draft USB4 specification.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Cory Doctorow: Terra Nullius

      The labor theory of property always begins with an act of erasure: “All the people who created, used, and improved this thing before me were doing something banal and unimportant – but my contribution is the step that moved this thing from a useless, unregarded commons to a special, proprietary, finished good.”

    • Terra Nullius: Grifters, settler colonialism and “intellectual property”

      I gave a keynote based on this essay in January at the “Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain” event at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.

    • Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in Iancu v. NantKwest, Inc.

      On the same day that the Supreme Court decided what the term “full costs” means under the Copyright Act,[1] it granted certiorari to consider what “all the expenses of [a district court review] proceeding” means under the Patent Act in Iancu v. NantKwest, Inc. Specifically, according to the question presented by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Supreme Court agreed to resolve “[w]hether the phrase ‘[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings’ in 35 U.S.C. 145 encompasses the personnel expenses the USPTO incurs when its employees, including attorneys, defend the agency in Section 145 litigation.”

      [...]

      In addition to these substantive arguments for review, the USPTO raised three other points as to why the Court should review this case. First, the decision below was decided by the Federal Circuit en banc. As a result, it would be binding on any subsequent trial court or Federal Circuit panel without further close consideration of the issue. Thus, this case presented a unique final opportunity to consider a carefully reasoned decision on the particular point at issue. Second, the NantKwest decision created a circuit split over two nearly identical statutory provisions in light of the Fourth Circuit’s Shammas decision. Third, the decision would have “significant practical consequences” for the USPTO in § 145 proceedings. The greatest expense for the Office in such proceedings is often the salaries of the personnel (especially attorneys) working on the matter. While the cost of those salaries may not be overwhelming in the face of the entire budget of the USPTO, they are significant — in this case, over $78,000 — and it would arguably be more consistent with the statutory intent to have the § 145 appellant bear them than pass them on to other patent applicants.

      NantKwest responded to the petition and argued that the case below, rather than the Shammas case, was correctly decided.[6] The strong presumption in U.S. courts, unlike for example British courts, is that every party will bear its own attorney’s fees regardless of the outcome of the case — a presumption known as the American Rule. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that a statute must specifically and explicitly provide for the allowance of attorneys’ fees if it is intended to deviate from the American Rule. NantKwest argued that the Federal Circuit was correct in finding that § 145 did not reflect a specific and explicit exception to the Rule, and therefore did not intend to hold an applicant liable for the USPTO’s attorneys’ fees.

      NantKwest relied on a case decided between Shammas and the decision below, Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC, 135 S. Ct. 2158 (2015). According to NantKwest, not only did Baker Botts reflect the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Shammas case’s decision to ignore the American Rule in considering the Lanham Act analogue to § 145′s expenses provision, it alleviated any risk of a circuit split — because Shammas was pre-Baker Botts and allegedly wrongly decided under the Supreme Court case, it should simply be ignored as having been incorrectly decided. NantKwest also argued that cases involving statutes that allow non-prevailing parties to recover attorneys’ fees start with the presumption of the American Rule and work from there; only by ignoring rather than expressly overcoming the American Rule, however, had Shammas and the panel below reached the decision that “expenses” should include attorneys’ fees.

    • Synchview Lobs DVR Patent Suits at Cox, Charter, Altice USA, Hulu

      As if the pay-TV market isn’t challenging enough, here’s another nuisance for service providers to wrestle with — Synchview has lobbed lawsuits at a handful of US cable operators and a top OTT-TV provider over allegations that they are infringing on an old DVR-related patent.

    • H-E-B sued over patent infringement

      H-E-B is facing legal trouble after a Canadian technology startup claims the grocer is infringing on its patents related to the mobile checkout application that it debuted last year.
      According to the San Antonio Business Journal, Toronto-based Digital Retail Apps Inc., founded in 2012, sells software and hardware used for self-checkout in retail stores under the brand SelfPay. It also had Silicon Valley offices at one time.

    • Medicare For All will drastically lower prescription drug prices by taking on Pharma’s greed

      Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-WA) recently introduced Medicare for All Act of 2019 is a powerful and comprehensive plan to make health care a right for every American. Drastically lowering the prices of prescription drugs, while ensuring that patients are always able to get the medications they need, is an essential part of that plan.

      The Medicare for All Act includes a key provision, modeled after the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, which would lower drug prices for all Americans by allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices with corporations.

      And if a corporation refused to lower the price and threatened patients’ access to the medication, generic competition would be allowed using a competitive license.

    • Sleepy decision by the PTAB [Ed: see comment: "Mental process plain and simple. The steps that are recited as being performed by the computer, are not steps different from steps already being performed by doctors via mental processes. Automating a human mental process. IF the claim recited steps that are different than what a human would have naturally done then maybe there is a more grey distinction."]

      In Ex parte Adler (Appeal No. 2017-4809) (PTAB 2019), the PTAB recently found the claimed “snoring detection device” ineligble as directed to the abstract idea of “detecting snoring.”

      [...]

      Rather, the decision follows the usual approach of drawing analogy to the various appellate and Supreme Court cases to find the closest thread.

    • Measuring law firm success at PTAB

      The Institutional Success Index, or “ISIX,” rating was developed by Unified to measure law firms’ success in inter partes reviews. The index permits anyone to easily measure how successful a law firm has historically been at being instituted and successfully invalidating at least 1 claim of a challenged patent. The tutorial demonstrates how users can access the ISIX score for any law firm using the Portal.

    • Coca-Cola faces NPE patent suit

      Coca-Cola is at the centre of a patent infringement suit filed by Texas-based company Virtual Immersion Technologies (VIT).

      The complaint, filed Friday, March 1 at the US District Court for the District of Delaware, alleged that Coca-Cola’s virtual reality systems infringe a patent owned by VIT (US number 6,409,599).

      The ‘599 patent relates to a system in which participants interact with a computerised environment in addition to live and/or pre-recorded performers using a variety of immersion and input devices.

    • Defining Patent Holdup

      There are few patent law topics that are so heatedly debated as patent holdup. Those who believe in it, really believe in it. Those who don’t, well, don’t. I was at a conference once where a professor on one side of this divide just..couldn’t…even, and walked out of a presentation taking the opposite viewpoint.

      The debate is simply the following. The patent holdup story is that patent holders can extract more than they otherwise would by asserting patents after the targeted infringer has invested in development and manufacturing. The “classic” holdup story in the economics literature relates to incomplete contracts or other partial relationships that allow one party to take advantage of an investment by the other to extract rents.

      You can see the overlap, but the “classic” folks think that patent holdup story doesn’t count, because there’s no prior negotiation – the party investing has the opportunity to research patents, negotiate beforehand, plan their affairs, etc.

    • Demystifying Patent Holdup

      Patent holdup can arise when circumstances enable a patent owner to extract a larger royalty ex post than it could have obtained in an arm’s length transaction ex ante. While the concept of patent holdup is familiar to scholars and practitioners—particularly in the context of standard-essential patent (SEP) disputes—the economic details are frequently misunderstood. For example, the popular assumption that switching costs (those required to switch from the infringing technology to an alternative) necessarily contribute to holdup is false in general, and will tend to overstate the potential for extracting excessive royalties. On the other hand, some commentaries mistakenly presume that large fixed costs are an essential ingredient of patent holdup, which understates the scope of the problem.

      In this article, we clarify and distinguish the most basic economic factors that contribute to patent holdup. This casts light on various points of confusion arising in many commentaries on the subject. Path dependence—which can act to inflate the value of a technology simply because it was adopted first—is a useful concept for understanding the problem. In particular, patent holdup can be viewed as opportunistic exploitation of path dependence effects serving to inflate the value of a patented technology (relative to the alternatives) after it is adopted. This clarifies that factors contributing to holdup are not static, but rather consist in changes in economic circumstances over time. By breaking down the problem into its most basic parts, our analysis provides a useful blueprint for applying patent holdup theory in complex cases.

    • Trademarks

      • Facebook sues Chinese companies for selling fake accounts

        The lawsuit names three people and four companies based in the cities of Longyan and Shenzhen: 9 Xiu Network (Shenzhen) Science and Technology Company, 9 Xiu Feishu Science and Technology Company, 9 Xiufei Book Technology Co., and Home Network (Fujian) Technology Co.

    • Copyrights

      • A Big Copyright Mess: Miel Bredouw, Barstool Sports, Slob On My Carol Of The Bells And The DMCA

        Fast forward to the end of last year, when Barstool Sports enters the picture. We’ve written about Barstool Sports twice — and both times involve them being (1) total assholes and (2) totally ignorant or abusive about intellectual property law. If you’re not familiar with Barstool Sports, let’s just say that it’s the kind of work environment where it wouldn’t just be okay to watch a video like the one above while at work, but it would likely be encouraged.

        Anyway, in December, Barstool Sports took Bredouw’s now two-year-old video and reposted it to their own Twitter account, without any credit (and certainly suggesting it was a Barstool Sports production). Bredouw tweeted at them that this was uncool. Yesterday, Bredouw then tweeted out a thread about what happened in the intervening two months, and it is quite a story.

        After Barstool ignored Bredouw’s request for credit, she filed a DMCA notice with Twitter, who took the video down.

      • Russian YouTube channel creates homemade copies of iconic Hollywood and TV trailers

        For the past six months, a little-known YouTube channel called Studio 188 has been publishing homemade, low-budget versions of major Hollywood trailers and television intros. Relying on household items like socks, sausages, and cellophane, and sometimes an application of face paint that would get them fired from American network TV, the small team of Russian creators has reimagined some of the most famous teasers to grace the Internet. Despite Studio 188’s makeshift production and costume design, its source material is always crystal clear.

      • Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?

        It’s been really quite incredible to see MEP Axel Voss — the main EU Parliament cheerleader for Articles 11 and 13 — making the rounds over the past few weeks to insist that all the complaints about the EU Copyright Directive are wrong. Just last week we saw him make incredibly misleading statements about which platforms were impacted by the law, leaving out that the minor exemption only applied to companies less than three years old. And now, his political group in the Parliament, EPP, has put out an astoundingly misleading interview with Voss, which makes claims that make me wonder if he even knows what’s in Article 13.

      • Article 13 Supporters Find Smoking Gun That Isn’t: Majority Of Tweets Criticizing Copyright Directive Are Not Coming From DC

        Volker Rieck runs a German anti-piracy operation, and over the last year or so has been an increasingly vocal — if somewhat unhinged — supporter of Article 13 and the EU Copyright Directive. I won’t link, but a few quick Google searches will find some examples of Rieck trying to build out conspiracy theories of big giant American internet companies secretly running the entirety of the anti-Article 13 push in Europe. You could say that some of them dip into red yarn on a corkboard territory. Of course, as we’ve discussed before, the idea that any attacks on Article 13 are all really because of Google has been a key part of the pro-Article 13 lobbying strategy from the beginning. Of course, as we’ve highlighted, if you look at the actual lobbying, it’s been almost entirely from legacy copyright organizations, with very little coming from the internet industry. This has created all sorts of conspiracy theories, including the crazy claim by a German MEP that he knew the emails he was getting against Article 13 were really astroturf from Google… because many of the senders had Gmail accounts.

        Rieck’s latest move, however, goes into really nutty territory. In a now deleted story, Rieck claimed to have found something of a smoking gun, proving that Article 13 criticism was really being driven by US corporate interests: in a “study” that he helped “conduct,” and resulted in him sending an explosive “warning” letter to Members of the EU Parliament, he claimed to have uncovered that “more tweets (88,000) came from Washington (DC) alone than from the entire EU (71,000).” That would certainly be interesting if it were true.

      • Copyright directive a data protection hazard: data commissioner

        A German federal commissioner has warned that Article 13 of the recently agreed European copyright directive could create an “oligopoly consisting of a few vendors”.

      • Supporters Of Article 13 Briefly Tried To Move Parliament Vote Up Before Scheduled Protests; Now Deny Plan That They Clearly Had

        Despite following this stuff for decades, sometimes even I’m surprised at the levels of intellectual dishonesty coming from those supporting bad copyright policy. The latest is that, despite widespread controversy and criticism over Article 13, some in the EU Parliament thought the appropriate strategy was to speed up the timeline to the vote on the Directive — specifically holding the vote before a massive EU-wide protest that is planned for March 23. Rather than recognize that millions of people across the EU are so up in arms over the problems in Articles 11 and 13, German Member of the EU Parliament, Manfred Weber, the leader of the powerful European People’s Party (EPP) simply proposed voting before the protests could even happen.

      • Court Sanctions Anti-Piracy Lawyer for “Willful Disobedience”

        A California federal court has sanctioned attorney Lincoln Bandlow for willful disobedience. Bandlow, who’s a partner at Fox Rothschild where he handles hundreds of piracy cases for Strike 3 Holdings, failed to meet the court’s deadlines on many occasions. The attorney’s explanations of insufficient staff and an overactive spam filter, were unacceptable, according to the court.

      • Notorious ‘Copyright Troll’ Outfit Hands Over its US Operations to New ‘Joint Venture’

        GuardaLey, the world’s most infamous ‘copyright-trolling’ operation in the BitTorrent space, says it has entered into a joint venture with a US company called American Films Inc. The latter will become the 100% owner of GuardaLey’s US operations. According to Bloomberg data, American Films Inc. currently has no “significant operations”.

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