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03.09.19

Links 9/3/2019: International Women’s Day, QtLottie

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • International Women’s Day

    • International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2019

      A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world? Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

    • Women’s Day 2019

      Is this year’s UN motto for the International Women’s Day. And we find it quite fitting. It suits our own concerns, our own philosophies.

      In Purism, we care about rights. Digital rights concern everybody, touch most people’s lives, and carry a heavy societal weight when it comes to women. In spite of that, the gender gap in Tech is abyssal – and women are almost nowhere to be seen.

      So Happy Women’s Day.

      To say women are under-represented in the IT sector is an understatement; the situation in Free Software development is not much better, although some steps have been taken to improve the gender gap. There is, for example, the Debian Woman project, with its own mentoring program; or Outreachy, inviting cis and trans women, trans men and genderqueer people to apply – and, if you have a sense of humor, there’s also WoMan.

      But we all need more, and we need it sustained and sustainable. Women matter. History repeats itself in forgetting those without a voice – and we all lose, collectively. Women in technology were only somewhere between 2% and 5% of all programmers a decade ago; and are only about 10% now. At Purism, as of this writing, our nine-person independent board comprises 33% women – in addition to being racially and geographically diverse; our full team is over 20% women, and once again racially and geographically diverse. Groups that are little-represented urgently need to be able to create, and give feedback on, what is created by other groups. Women and girls must contribute to making real change in tech as well, help shape how it impacts their lives. And it does impact their lives immensely.

      Consider, in no particular order and among many others, the work (and legend) of Hypatia of Alexandria; remember Grace Hopper, who found that bug; Ada Lovelace, who got you your first computer program (and the Analytical Engine); Muriel Cooper and the information architecture that led to digital interfaces; Hedy Lamarr, movie star and wireless encryption specialist; Katherine Johnson, for allowing (manned) space exploration; Carol Shaw and Super Breakout, because playing games matters; think about Margaret Rock and the Enigma Machine, Karen Sandler and the Software Freedom Conservancy.

    • Take five for women in tech

      One might say “the more thanks we give, the more thanks we get.” It may not feel like it some days, but I do believe that being grateful helps us keep a healthy, happy mind. And the more of that we can get in the tech world, the better.

      So, for International Women’s Day, I followed that line of thinking and asked our writer community to share a woman who has changed their life in tech.

      Take a few minutes today to find out what these eight women in tech have accomplished and done to further the success of others. Share your thanks in the comments!

    • Why Not Mind One’s Own Business?

      There were a new graphic published on the blog that points on the International Women’s Day. The author gave hints how to forge a more gender-balanced world

  • Desktop

    • Microsoft’s New Skype for Web Doesn’t Support Linux and Mozilla Firefox

      Microsoft has released the new Skype for Web, letting users chat with their contacts without the need for installing a desktop client.

      And while this is possible using nothing more than the browser, the new version of the service comes with some unexpected limitations.

      First and foremost, Microsoft says that you must be running Windows 10 or macOS 10.12 or higher to be able to connect to Skype for Web, which means that Linux isn’t officially supported.
      Furthermore, the only browsers that are compatible with the new Skype for Web are Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, so you won’t be able to use Mozilla Firefox to chat in the browser.

    • Micosoft’s new Skype for Web no longer supports ChromeOS or Linux

      Microsoft announced a slick new Skype for Web yesterday,integrating most of the features it had brought to the desktop over the past year. In what seems to be a puzzling omission, the web app no longer supports Chrome OS or Linux. That is to say, users aren’t simply prevented from using the new web skype interface, they are disallowed from using Skype for the web, period.

    • Windows 10, macOS get new Skype for Web: HD video, call recording but Linux misses out

      Skype for Web has many of the features it showed off in preview last October, including high-definition video calling, Skype-to-Skype call recording, and a notifications panel.

      There’s also a search box within chats for finding messages in the current conversation and a chat media gallery for finding files, links, and photos shared in a conversation. This feature should save time compared with scrolling through chat history.

      As with the preview, Microsoft notes in a blogpost that the new Skype for Web requires Windows and MacOS 10.12 or higher and the latest versions of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

      That means Skype for Web won’t work on a Chromebook or on an Ubuntu or any other Linux machine, and nor will it work in the Firefox browser.

      This limitation annoyed some fans during the Skype for Web preview, who were obliged to install the desktop app. It’s sure to annoy more Firefox and Linux users now that Skype for Web is more widely available.

    • New Skype For Web Revamp Drops Support for ChromeOS and Linux

      Skype for Web was launched back in 2015. But due to the lack of features compared to the actual app, the Web version had little to no success as users did not really make much use of it. However, in a surprise move, Microsoft has just released a brand new update for the Web app.

      Yesterday, Microsoft announced an exciting new Skype revamp for the web. Microsoft has made major improvements to the Skype web app, so now you won’t have to go through the hassle of downloading the software itself. The new update brings high-definition video calling, a redesigned notifications panels and a revamped media gallery. The update also brings a built-in call recording feature. You can read more about the new update here.

    • Microsoft Windows Alternatives: 7 Powerful Operating Systems in 2019

      With 1.5 billion active users, Microsoft Windows stands straight as the most popular operating system in the entire world. No other OS in human history has served these many desktop machines. However, we submit that Windows has no grip over the mobile phone industry, where Android is competing with its over 1 billion active mobile machines. Therefore, we will keep ourselves to personal computers, although it’s a matter of time when the line between mobile phones and computer fade away. Anyhow, despite the popularity of Windows, the OS is not for everyone. The price is high and we found that users often complain about its buggy updates and functionality problems. In fact, the problem of a slow PC has been prevalent through the years, and it doesn’t seem to go anywhere even with its latest Windows 10. All this suggest that we should explore some Microsoft Windows Alternatives.

    • Chrome OS 75 will let you uninstall Linux apps from the launcher on your Chromebook

      Currently, it’s easy to uninstall either a Chrome web app, a PWA (Progressive Web App) or an Android app from a Chromebook: You can typically right click on the app in your Chrome OS launcher to see an “Uninstall” menu option. There’s no such method to do this for installed Linux apps though. There will be.

  • Server

    • Open Outlook: Red Hat

      Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Organizations can’t just flip a switch and become cloud-native. They’re going to have to straddle their existing infrastructure with their plans for the future. That’s why we believe the future is a hybrid one.

      We typically talk about “hybrid” as something relevant only to IT (think “hybrid IT,” “hybrid cloud,” and so on), but in truth, it applies to the entire organization. Open, hybrid technologies work best when supported by open teams with open cultures. And the more I talk with customers, the more I see them recognize something that has guided Red Hat from its earliest days: open unlocks the world’s potential. They understand not only that open technologies are now a default choice in organizations all around the world, but also that open cultures and methods are becoming standard operating procedure in many of the most innovative organizations today.

    • With Rising Arm Core Counts, Linux 5.1+ ARM64 Images Default To 256 Cores Support

      As a change in acknowledging the increasing Arm SoC core counts as more vendors take stabs at higher-end server chips, the default 64-bit Arm (ARM64 / AArch64) kernel image as of Linux 5.1 will default to supporting 256 CPUs compared to the current default limit of 64 CPU cores.

      This change is about making the default kernel configuration more relevant to systems with increasing Arm core counts in NR_CPUs is now bumped from 64 to 256. Arm developers made the default NR_CPUS change for the default ARM64 Linux kernel configuration with already there are shipping ARM64 platforms having 256 threads and only more to come.

    • A Game Changer for Containers | cgroups v2

      Containers are only increasing in popularity. Here at Linux Academy, we’ve seen an over 30% increase in demand for container-related courses.

      Containers help simplify building applications by providing a way to package up the software and all the necessary dependencies and components. This consistency speeds up the development and deployment process to keep up with trends and shift your focus toward adding value to your end users as opposed to maintaining disparate systems.

    • Trends in financial services 2019

      What financial services trends do I expect to dominate in 2019? Expect to see traditional financial institutions adopt new processes, practices and invest in forward-looking capabilities – all to better adapt to a fast-changing, and increasingly tech-driven industry ecosystem.

      This year I expect business executives to take a more forceful role in driving digital modernization – from back office transactions through to digital engagement channels. High on the list of 2019 priorities include cloud computing, open banking and application programming interfaces (APIs), artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and blockchain.

    • Introducing Google Cloud Hands-On Labs by Linux Academy
    • What’s next for Kubernetes and hybrid cloud

      What does the future hold for the hybrid cloud model? Kubernetes is at the core of the open hybrid cloud. It has emerged as the de facto standard for application-focused clustering technologies. Cluster management, cluster scheduling, and cluster orchestration are all in Kubernetes’ wheelhouse and it has really cemented its role in the industry in the past year. Cloud-native applications require a level of resource elasticity and are potentially responding to a global-scale load that requires a tool like Kubernetes to scale applications.

      Just as Linux emerged as the focal point for open source development in the 2000s, Kubernetes is emerging as a focal point for building technologies and solutions (with Linux underpinning Kubernetes, of course.)

    • Kubernetes: Raw Block Volume support to Beta

      Block devices enable random access to data in fixed-size blocks. Hard drives, SSDs, and CD-ROMs drives are all examples of block devices.

      Typically persistent storage is implemented in a layered maner with a file system (like ext4) on top of a block device (like a spinning disk or SSD). Applications then read and write files instead of operating on blocks. The operating systems take care of reading and writing files, using the specified filesystem, to the underlying device as blocks.

      It’s worth noting that while whole disks are block devices, so are disk partitions, and so are LUNs from a storage area network (SAN) device.

    • 6 critical factors to consider when deploying containers

      Developers don’t generally think about potential problems from a performance perspective, but just because you can access an application with your web browser doesn’t mean it will handle a huge amount of concurrent transactions. You won’t know how well it handles until it is truly put to the test. Your application may “work on my box” but will it perform at 1.5M transactions per second in production?

      Kubernetes can scale up but it also eats up a ton of resources doing so. Containers help architectural problems and make sure all necessary dependencies are there, but it doesn’t automatically apply performance after it’s been rolled out.

      The quality of the underlying language runtimes, web servers, and libraries like openssl all have an effect on performance. Make sure your Linux distribution has a proactive group of performance engineers testing for regressions, and more importantly, tuning the entire stack for performance.

    • What does Linux have to do with containers? Everything

      What are containers, exactly? Think of it as a small slice of software, which can be easily relocated among relatively disparate environments, such as from development to production or from data center to cloud. The goal of containers is to reduce dependency on specific related applications or libraries and to ease the transition across dissimilar topologies or environmental policies.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 57 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, every now and then we cover something from the project that this show gets its name from and this is one of those weeks so we’ll discuss the release of Linux 5.0. Then we’ll cover some other releases from LineageOS, NuTyX, Fatdog64, Linux from Scratch and some more core news with releases from the WINE and Vulkan projects. Later in the show, we’ll check out some App News from OBS Studio, Headset Music Player, BorgBackup, a couple desktop weather apps, one with a GUI and the other for the terminal. All that and much more, this is your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

  • Kernel Space

    • The Raspberry Pi 3A+ is getting Linux 5.1 kernel support

      RASPBERRY PI users will soon be able to run Linux on even more models, thanks to an update to be unleashed as part of the forthcoming Linux 5.1 kernel.

      The most recent version of the Raspberry Pi 3, which is a cut-down version of the top-of-the-line B+, has been added to the change list for commits to the core of Linux operating system, as curated by our very own Colonel Kitten.

      The Raspberry Pi 3 A+ offers fewer ports, and only half the RAM (512GB) but at a much-reduced price, making it ideal for those simple projects that don’t justify all the whistles and bells.

      The ARM-based single-chip machines already run a number of Linux variants – in fact, the default OS, Raspbian is a version of Debian. It’s proved so popular, it recently launched its first bricks and mortar store in Cambridge.

    • Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ support to arrive in Linux 5.1

      Raspberry Pi fans rejoice! Support for another of the diminutive computers has been added to the next version of Linux Kernel, 5.1.

      The Pi 3 Model A+ Single Board Computer (SBC) was added as part of a much larger update that brought support for a wide range of Arm hardware.

      We took a look at new Model A+ back in November and liked what we saw. All the bang of the bigger brother for not as many bucks. As long as the loss of ports and half the RAM didn’t worry you.

    • RISC-V’s Linux Kernel Support Is Getting In Better Shape, Maturing On HiFive Unleashed

      The Linux kernel’s RISC-V processor support is getting into good shape now since the support for this open-source processor ISA was originally introduced back for Linux 4.15. Moving forward, it’s now expected the support to be maintained and only improve for the HiFive Unleashed developer board.

      Since Linux 4.15, the RISC-V support has continued improving with picking up new hardware support and various architectural additions. With the current Linux 5.1 kernel cycle there is now an HWCAP to indicate the CPU capabilities/extensions that the enabled processor(s) support, no longer spinning indefinitely during the boot process, various code clean-ups, and other changes.

    • Linux 5.1 Getting A Minor Spectre V2 Retpolines Optimization For Select Instances

      As the latest on the Spectre/Meltdown front for the Linux kernel, the in-development Linux 5.1 kernel is bringing an optimization for Retpolines “return trampolines” so GCC will generate more efficient code on x86/x86_64 in its mitigations against Spectre Variant Two.

      The x86/build updates for Linux 5.1 brings a change to raise the limit for generating indirect calls from switch cases.

    • XFS File-System Picks Up New Features With Linux 5.1 Kernel

      The mature XFS file-system continues seeing new improvements and with the Linux 5.1 kernel is a fair amount of new material.

      XFS for Linux 5.1 features improved meta-data validation, online fsck’ing fixes, a new cache to speed-up unlinked inode handling for faster processing, a shutdown issue has been resolved, copy-on-write improvements, and other work in “preparation for future features.”

    • Intel’s Linux Graphics Driver Seeing More Patches To Prepare For Bring-Up Beyond Icelake

      A month ago we were first to report on Intel posting Linux graphics driver patches for “device local memory” as they prepare for the bring-up of their “Xe Graphics” discrete GPU hardware due out at some point in 2020. To no surprise, there are more patches out today as the Intel open-source developers begin pushing out more code restructuring work for bringing up graphics support past Icelake “Gen 11″ graphics.

    • Linux Foundation

      • What I learned at the ONAP & OPNFV Event in Paris-Saclay

        The ONAP and OPNFV projects kicked off 2019 with a combined developer event at the Nokia Paris-Saclay facility in France earlier this year. A few more than 200 developers from those combined communities came together to discuss their next respective releases, plan longer-range strategic priorities, and for the first time ever met together to explore further collaboration between the two groups.

        As always, I get energized by taking part in these discussions and planning sessions feeding off of the enthusiasm, and passion for excellence that everyone in these communities exude. This event had approximately 150 sessions spread across four days as well as an OPNFV Plugfest and 2 demonstrations set up by our Nokia hosts. I want to thank Nokia for hosting this event. They have always been an incredibly supportive participant in these communities and an outstanding Platinum member of the Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) fund.

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Server Gets New Option For Specifying Screen Size On Headless Systems

        NVIDIA’s Andy Ritger has contributed a simple yet long overdue addition to the X.Org Server with the new “NoOutputInitialSize” option.

        The NoOutputInitialSize option for X.Org Server 1.21 allows specifying an initial screen size in cases where there are no physical displays currently present.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 9 Compiler Tuning Benchmarks On Intel Skylake AVX-512

        Recently I carried out a number of GCC 9 compiler benchmarks on AMD EPYC looking at the performance benefits of “znver1″ compiler tuning and varying optimization levels to see when this level of compiler tuning pays off. There was interest from that in seeing some fresh Intel Skylake-X / AVX-512 figures, so here are those benchmarks of GCC 9 with various tuning options and their impact on the performance of the generated binaries.

        This round of testing was done with an Intel Core i9 7980XE as the most powerful AVX-512 HEDT CPU I have available for testing. The Core i9 7980XE was running Ubuntu 18.10 with the Linux 4.18 kernel and I had manually built the GCC 9.0.1 2019-02-17 compiler snapshot (the most recent at the time of testing) in its release/optimized form.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Jonathan Riddell: pulseaudio-qt 1.0.0 is out!

        pulseaudio-qt 1.0.0 is out!

        It’s a Qt framework C++ bindings library for the PulseAudio sound system.

      • Announcing QtLottie

        QtQuick was designed to be useful for both software developers and for UX designers. Ideally this would be a seamless blend of the two, but very often this ends up with the designers desiging things with Adobe tools, and the engineers working from PDFs, JPGs, etc to recreate what the design team want. In the case of complex animations this can mean recreating everything entirely in code.

        Wouldn’t it be much easier if they engineers could just embed the designers’ animations directly in the UI?

        Engineers over at Airbnb thought the same, and in 2017 released their way of doing it.

      • Qt 5.13′s Lottie Support Is Ready To Easily Play Portable Animations

        One of the big features coming up with the Qt 5.13 tool-kit release due out in May is support for Lottie files.

        Lottie is a portable format for animation files, primarily exported from Adobe After Effects and especially popular among iOS/Android applications. Lottie was originally designed by Airbnb for mobile usage and comprised of a JSON-based file format for easy consumption by other libraries/programs.

        With Qt 5.13 is support for handling Lottie files so these animations can be easily embedded into Qt Quick applications and manipulated using QML just like you can with any Qt Quick element.

      • Jonathan Riddell: libqaccessibilityclient 0.4.0

        Most of the stack is part of Qt 5, so nothing to worry about, that’s the part that lets applications expose their UI over DBus for AT-SPI, so they work
        nicely with assisitve tools (e.g. Orca). In accessibility language, the applications act as “servers” and the screen reader for example is a client.

        This library is for writing clients, so applications that are assistive, such as screen readers. It currently has two users: KMag and Simon with Plasma also taking an interest. KMag can use it to follow the focus (e.g. when editing text, it can automatically magnify the part of the document where the cursor is. For Simon Listens, the use is to be able to let the user trigger menus and buttons by voice input.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Pragha Music Player – GTK+3 lightweight music player

        Are you looking for a lean and spritely music manager? Do you want something that doesn’t devour bucket loads of RAM or CPU cycles? Pragha Music Player may meet your requirements.

        This music player is written in the C programming language, uses the GTK+ widget toolkit and stores database in a SQLite3 database. Enough of the technical gubbins, let’s crack on.

      • GNOME Web: A Web Browser Integrates Well With GNOME Desktop Environment

        GNOME Web (or just Web) is another cool Internet browser that is powered by the same engine (Webkit) that powers Opera and Google Chrome Internet browsers. It’s aesthetically beautiful while at the same time modern web pages are rendered well like those major browsers. However, it’s not the default web browser on GNOME desktop environment nor is it installed out of the box with the Operating System. Read on below to learn more about this cool browser and how you can install it on your computer.

      • Videos and Books in GNOME 3.32

        GNOME 3.32 will very soon be released, so I thought I’d go back on a few of the things that happened with some of our content applications.

        [...]

        The other major change is that Videos is available, fully featured, from Flathub. It should play your Windows Movie Maker films, your circular wafers of polycarbonate plastic and aluminium, and your Devolver indie films. No more hunting codecs or libraries!

        In the process, we also fixed a large number of outstanding issues, such as accommodating for the app menu’s planned disappearance, moving the audio/video properties tab to nautilus proper, making the thumbnailer available as an independent module, making the MPRIS plugin work better and loads, loads mo.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Parrot Home: Enjoy the Privacy Extras

        Parrot offers several options for running a Linux operating system that pays much closer attention to security matters.

        If you already are handy with digital forensic tasks and want a state-of-the-art system to handle pentesting and privacy issues, check out the Parrot Security release.

        Parrot Security offers a complete all-in-one environment for pentesting, privacy, digital forensics, reverse-engineering and software development. It includes a full arsenal of security-oriented tools.

        For typical Linux users who just want a leg up on privacy protections built into an all-purpose operating system, Parrot Home edition could well be your do-everything Linux OS. A special edition designed for daily use, it includes easy-to-use applications to chat privately, encrypt documents with the highest cryptographic standards, and surf the Internet in a completely anonymous and secure way.

    • New Releases

      • ExTiX 19.3, Build 190307 based on upcoming Ubuntu 19.04, with Xfce 4.13, Kodi 18.2 “Leia”, Refracta Snapshot, Nvidia graphics driver and kernel 5.0.0-exton

        A new extra version of ExTiX is ready. This version is based on upcoming Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo. ExTiX 19.3 uses the Xfce Desktop 4.13 and kernel 5.0.0-exton. Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. This version of ExTiX Xfce4 is for non-UEFI computers. Kodi 18.2 Leia is also preinstalled in this version of ExTiX. Just start Kodi like any other program while logged in to the Xfce4 Desktop as the ordinary user live. I have enabled a few addons in Kodi. Most important the Netflix addon. Nvidia proprietary Graphics driver 418.43 is pre-installed in ExTiX 19.3. It will automatically be used if your computer has support for it. Study all pre-installed packages in ExTiX 19.3.

      • ExTiX 19.3 Is the First OS to Ship with Linux Kernel 5.0, Based on Ubuntu 19.04

        GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton released a new version of his ExTiX Linux distro that has been rebased on the upcoming Ubuntu 19.04 operating system and ships with Linux kernel 5.0.
        ExTiX 19.3 is now available and it appears to be the first stable GNU/Linux distribution to ship with the recently released Linux 5.0 kernel. This milestone was achieved by developer Arne Exton due to the rebase on the forthcoming Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system, which will be powered by Linux kernel 5.0 too.

        However, ExTiX 19.3 doesn’t uses Ubuntu 19.04′s GNOME desktop environment as it ships with the lightweight Xfce desktop environment, so we can say it’s a derivative of Xubuntu, though it features its own modifications and artwork. Xfce 4.13 is installed by default in the ExTiX 19.3 release.

        “A new extra version of ExTiX is ready. This version is based on upcoming Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo,” said Arne Exton in the release announcement. “ExTiX 19.3 uses the Xfce Desktop 4.13 and kernel 5.0.0-exton. This version of ExTiX Xfce4 is for non-UEFI computers. Kodi 18.2 Leia is also preinstalled in this version of ExTiX.”

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • BPSolutions decided it needed to be GREEN!!

        I am very proud to announce our first Dutch Solution Partner: BPSolutions. This is one out of ten SUSE Solution Partners in Europe. BPSolutions has a proven track record when it comes to delivery and support of open source solutions and innovations at customers. The company has been investing for years in knowledge and expertise of open source technology. As a SUSE Solution Partner they will continue helping customers in creating innovation and delivering added value based on SUSE technology.

    • Slackware Family

      • Handbrake 1.2.2 packages fix library mismatch in -current

        Handbrake in Slackware-current was broken after a libvpx upgrade. So I had to recompile. Instead I took the opportunity to compile the new release of HandBrake (1.2.2). Read the releasenotes for the 1.2.x series if you are interested. Most notable is that the team switched back from libav to ffmpeg 4.x as the core engine.

        Always uncertain whether the GTK+-3 based GUI will compile. This time, I had to patch a function call out of the sourcecode that was introduced in a later version of GTK+3 than we have in Slackware 14.2. But that was relatively easy, all you will miss is a clickable link to the Handbrake homepage in the “About” box I think. Slackware-current is still uptodate as far as GTK+-3 is concerned.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora at SCaLE 17x – Day 1 – Setting up

        Fedora is at the 17th annual Southern California Linux Expo in Pasadena, CA! ParadoxGuitarist and myself (vwbusguy) came early and got the booth setup. The exhibition hall doesn’t open until tomorrow, but we attended talks, connected with conference regulars, and talked about what’s new in Fedora during our hallway conversations.

      • Modularity Hackfest, March 2019

        Some time ago, the Modularity team in Fedora attempted to organize a proper hackfest on Modularity. The hackfest was intended to gather together members of the Fedora community (both internal and external to Red Hat) in Ireland and work through some of the bigger UX and packaging concerns around Fedora Modularity. Unfortunately, the planning and funding for the hackfest fell through. However, it turned out that we were able to pull together a less-ambitious hackfest in the Red Hat Boston office over Monday and Tuesday (at effectively no notice). The attendance was a bit limited, but we were able to get several people together along with several more through video-conferencing technology.

        Among the attendees from Red Hat were Petr Šabata, Langdon White, Adam Šamalík, Mohan Boddu and Matthew Miller. From outside of Red Hat, we were joined by Neal Gompa and Igor Gnatenko.

        Much of this two-day hackfest was spent identifying and scoping the most urgent problems that we need to solve. We opened the session by inviting Neal Gompa to report on his experiences with attempting to consume and build modules for the projects he works on in his day-job. In particular, his internal toolchain uses the Open Build Service (OBS) to build his tools on multiple operating systems. At present, OBS does not handle repositories with modular content appropriately. OBS relies directly on libsolvext for working with repodata which does not currently handle the module metadata. As a result, the Fedora Modular and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta AppStream repositories look like a collection of conflicting data.

      • Fedora Challenge And NextCloudPi | Choose Linux 4
      • Start a Fedora 29 installation from the GRUB menu
      • Fedora Community Blog: Kernel 5.0 Test Day 2019-03-12
      • My First 24 Hours With Fedora Workstation

        To begin with, let’s touch on everyone’s first contact: the Fedora installer. The overall intuitiveness and speed of installing an operating system matters, so I’m happy to report that installing Fedora 29 is straightforward. Except for one element.

        Automatic partitioning — that’s when you choose the target disk and the installer creates and sizes partitions for you — is a breeze. But I had some trouble finding where to manually partition my drives. It’s actually tucked away under the option “Reclaim Space.” After using the openSUSE, Deepin and Pop!_OS installers which have their own clearly defined version of “Manual Partitioning,” I found myself looking for a similarly-worded option.

        In fairness to the Fedora Project, I didn’t RTFM (there’s a prominent Help button throughout the installation process) or I would have discovered the answer. Lesson learned!

        The more I use various Linux distros, the more I realize how silly and antiquated my fear of hardware incompatibility was. Fedora detected all my components, even function keys for dimming the keyboard backlight, volume, etc. Drive encryption was a breeze, and I’m having zero issues with WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity. So far so good! That’s of course on the XPS 13 laptops. It’s still worth mentioning the problems I had with Fedora on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme.

        I’ll have a new entry soon in my “A Linux Noob Reviews” series tackling the Fedora installer more comprehensively, so be on the lookout!

      • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-10
    • Debian Family

      • The Debian Project mourns the loss of Lucy Wayland

        The Debian Project sadly announces that it has lost a member of its community. Lucy Wayland passed recently.

        Lucy was a contributor within the Cambridge (UK) Debian community, helping to organise the Cambridge Mini-DebConf since several years.

        She was a strong fighter for diversity and inclusion, and participated in the creation of the Debian Diversity Team, working on increasing the visibility of under-represented groups and providing support with respect to diversity issues within the community.

        The Debian Project honours her good work and strong dedication to Debian and Free Software. Lucy’s contributions will not be forgotten, and the high standards of her work will continue to serve as an inspiration to others.

      • Dirk Eddelbuettel: RcppArmadillo 0.9.200.7.1

        A minor RcppArmadillo bugfix release arrived on CRAN today. This version 0.9.200.7.1 has two local changes. R 3.6.0 will bring a change in sample() (to correct a subtle bug for large samples) meaning many tests will fail, so in one unit test file we reset the generator to the old behaviour to ensure we match the (old) test expectation. We also backported a prompt upstream fix for an issue with drawing Wishart-distributed random numbers via Armadillo which was uncovered this week. I also just uploaded the Debian version.

        Armadillo is a powerful and expressive C++ template library for linear algebra aiming towards a good balance between speed and ease of use with a syntax deliberately close to a Matlab. RcppArmadillo integrates this library with the R environment and language–and is widely used by (currently) 559 other packages on CRAN.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS media released with APT fix as end of support nears

            14.04, aka Trusty Tahr, was released back in 2014. A time before Brexit, Trump, and the discovery of an alarming flaw in APT (CVE-2019-3462) that could allow altered packages to be installed as part of a man-in-the-middle attack.

            Canonical had already patched affected versions of Ubuntu (at least those it still supports) from the current 18.10, back through the 18.04, 16.04 and 14.04 LTS editions. The install media for the 16.04 LTS was given an update last week.

            While the update doesn’t bring along any exciting new hardware support, it does roll up updates for “additional high-impact bugs”. Since this is the LTS, Canonical is obviously all about keeping things stable and compatible.

          • Ubuntu 14.04.6 Trusty Tahr Released With High-impact APT Bug Fix

            On February 28th, Canonical released Ubuntu 16.04.6 as an unscheduled update to fix a major security flaw and ensured that integrity of all the new installations.

            Following the same, the Ubuntu team has pushed another updated point release for the vintage Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr. It’s worth noting that unlike other point updates, this release for the Desktop and Server products doesn’t add any new features.

            The vulnerability (USN-3863-1) being mentioned here deals with APT (Advanced Package Tool) and lets hackers exploit the same to deploy man-in-the-middle attacks.

            The updated Ubuntu 14.04.6 ISO also comes with fixes for some other high-impact security bugs. You can find the complete list of fixes here.

          • The Fridge: Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS released

            The Ubuntu team is happy to announce the release of Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop and Server products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support.

            Unlike previous point releases, 14.04.6 is a security-targeted release for the purpose of providing updated installation media which protects new installations from the recently discovered APT vulnerability (USN-3863-1). Many other security updates for additional high-impact bugs are also included, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

            Ubuntu Kylin 14.04.6 LTS is also now available. More details can be found in its individual release notes:

            https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TrustyTahr/ReleaseNotes#Official_flavours

            Users of Ubuntu on clouds are recommended to launch new instances using the latest images from the 14.04 release stream, which include the fix in APT for USN-3863-1.

            Maintenance updates will be provided for 5 years for Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Cloud, Ubuntu Core, Ubuntu Kylin, Edubuntu, and Kubuntu. All the remaining flavours will be supported for 3 years.

          • 优麒麟 14.04.6 LTS 版本发布!
          • Computational storage takes spotlight in new NGD Systems SSD

            Like traditional SSDs, computational storage devices contain NAND flash memory chips, a controller to manage data writes and RAM to buffer reads and writes. But the new Newport In-Situ Computational Storage (ICS) 8100 SSD embeds a quad-core ARM processor into NGD’s custom-built 14-nanometer (nm) application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to run Ubuntu Linux and enable functions such as indexing and searching data within the device.

          • LXD 3.11 releases with configurable snapshot expiry, progress reporting, and more

            The LXD team released version 3.11 of LXD, its open source container management extension for Linux Containers (LXC), earlier this week. LXD 3.11 explores new features, minor improvements, and bugfixes.

          • Launchpad News: Launchpad news, February 2019

            Here’s a brief changelog for this month.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio: Statement to the Community

              Basically, in order for Ubuntu Studio to remain an official flavor, we must have at least one team member with package upload permissions. Right now, out of the three active developers (Myself, Len Ovens, Ross Gammon), we have no upload permissions. As such, since before the release of 16.04 back in April 2016, the team had been going to other members of the Ubuntu community known as Masters of the Universe (MOTUs). Those are a select few active developers that have unlimited upload access to the Universe repository of Ubuntu, which contains applications and components not found in the Main repository, such as the core components of Ubuntu Studio.

            • Ubuntu Studio Runs Into Troubles With None Of Their Developers Having Upload Rights

              The 19.04 release of Ubuntu Studio, the Ubuntu flavor focused on multimedia production / content creation, might not happen unless at least one of their developers are granted package upload rights.

              Since Ubuntu 17.04, none of the remaining Ubuntu Studio developers have had package upload rights themselves to land their changes and thus have relied upon other Ubuntu developers for getting their tool updates and other changes landed.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Coreboot Support For Intel TXT Is Being Brought Up

    In addition to measured boot support being worked on for Coreboot to enhance the security of this open-source BIOS/firmware replacement, support for working with Intel TXT – Trusted Execution Technology – is also happening.

    Philipp Deppenwiese shared that at 9elements Cyber Security they are now working on getting Coreboot running with Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) paired with the LinuxBoot systemd boot-loader for launching a Tboot hypervisor. The work is coming together nicely it appears and they will be upstreaming this support when ready.

  • Google’s GraphicsFuzz 1.2 Released With Support For Compute Shaders & More

    GraphicsFuzz is the 3D GPU driver fuzzer that was born out of academia research for finding GPU driver bugs and ended up being acquired by Google and then open-sourced.

  • Events

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 session highlights: digital transformation

      Red Hat Summit 2019, being held in Boston from May 7 – 9, offers attendees the chance to deep dive into every aspect of Red Hat and open source software. However, with all of the options for sessions to attend, it can be tricky to pick which ones to attend.

      Digital transformation has been a hot topic for several years and we expect it to continue to be as we move into the future. According to the Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook Survey, companies are continuing to take digital transformation efforts seriously, with 35 percent of respondents looking to introduce new business models or new digital products and services to aid it within the next twelve months. There is hardly a question of IF digital transformation is needed, but more a matter of when it will happen and how it will be done. At Red Hat Summit, attendees will hear about the importance of digital transformation and insights into how Red Hat technology can be the backbone of transformation efforts.

    • Save the Date: OpenShift Commons Gathering at Red Hat Summit announces speakers from NASA, Volkswagen, Microsoft Azure and Eli Lilly

      The OpenShift Commons Gathering at Red Hat Summit brings together experts from all over the world to discuss the container technologies, operators, the operator framework, best practices for cloud-native application developers and the open source software projects that underpin the OpenShift ecosystem to help take us all to the next level in cloud-native computing. This next gathering will feature 700+ developers, project leads, cloud architects, DevOps professionals, sysadmins, and cloud-native practitioners coming together to explore the next steps in making container technologies successful and secure at scale.

    • Going to Google Next? Yes, SUSE will be there!

      Are you headed to Google Next in San Francisco this April? Consider yourself invited to the SUSE exhibit in booth S1757. Come see how SUSE, the open, open source company provides the foundation for business innovation on Google Cloud Platform.

    • What talks will you attend at LibrePlanet 2019?

      LibrePlanet 2019 is coming up in only two weeks, and it’s finally time to talk about… talks! The official schedule is now live, and we’ve got so many exciting presentations in store, addressing the social, ethical, legal, and technological past, present, and future of free software. Together, we’ll explore the theme of “Trailblazing Free Software,” asking the question, “How will free software continue to bring to life trailblazing, principled new technologies and new approaches to the world?”

      If you’re not already registered to attend LibrePlanet 2019, happening on March 23-24 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, MA, register here! Free Software Foundation (FSF) members and students can attend gratis!

    • Auto Innovation at Embedded World

      In vehicle infotainment systems and instrument clusters are getting larger and more complex, requiring an exponentially growing base of software to drive them. Furthermore, KDAB finds that self-driving technology does not obviate the need for displays – in fact, autonomous technology seems to be accelerating the trend for larger and more capable graphics software.

      To help meet this challenge, KDAB showcased a number of innovations at this week’s Embedded World 2019 in Nuremberg, Germany, where we focused on three key aspects of in-vehicle embedded displays: optimizing code, eliminating bugs, and adding 3D graphics.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox UX: How to validate an idea when you’re not working in a startup.

        People in startups have tried so hard to avoid spending time and money on building a product that doesn’t achieve the product/ market fit, so do tech companies. Resources are always limited. Making right decisions on where to put their resources are serious in organizations, and sometimes, it’s even harder to make one than in a startup.

        ChecknShare, an experimental product idea from Mozilla Taipei for improving Taiwanese seniors’ online sharing experience, has learned a lot after doing several rounds of validations. In our retrospective meeting, we found the process can be polished to be more efficient when we both validate our ideas and communicate with our stakeholders at the same time.

        Here are 3 steps that I suggest for validating your idea:

      • Mozilla Thunderbird: FOSDEM 2019 and DeltaChat

        During the last month we attended two events: FOSDEM, Europe’s premier free software event, and a meetup with the folks behind DeltaChat. At both events we met great people, had interesting conversations, and talked through potential future collaboration with Thunderbird. This post details some of our conversations and insights gather from those events.

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: One hour takedown deadlines: The wrong answer to Europe’s content regulation question

        We’ve written a lot recently about the dangers that the EU Terrorist Content regulation poses to internet health and user rights, and efforts to combat violent extremism. One aspect that’s particularly concerning is the rule that all online hosts must remove ‘terrorist content’ within 60 minutes of notification. Here we unpack why that obligation is so problematic, and put forward a more nuanced approach to content takedowns for EU lawmakers.

        Since the early days of the web, ‘notice & action’ has been the cornerstone of online content moderation. As there is so much user-generated content online, and because it is incredibly challenging for an internet intermediary to have oversight of each and every user activity, the best way to tackle illegal or harmful content is for online intermediaries to take ‘action’ (e.g. remove it) once they have been ‘notified’ of its existence by a user or another third party. Despite the fast-changing nature of internet technology and policy, this principle has shown remarkable resilience. While it often works imperfectly and there is much that could be done to make the process more effective, it remains a key tool for online content control.

      • Mike Conley: Firefox Front-End Performance Update #14

        We’re only a few weeks away from Firefox 67 merging from the Nightly channel to Beta, and since my last update, a number of things have landed.

        It’s the end of a long week for me, so I apologize for the brevity here. Let’s check it out!

      • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: Real virtuality: connecting real things to virtual reality using web technologies

        Today we’ll report on the proof-of-concept we built in half a day, after our lucky meeting-of-minds at FOSDEM. Our prototype applies 3D visualisation to power an IoT interface. It demonstrates how open, accessible web technologies make it possible to combine software from different domains to create engaging new interactive experiences.

        Our proof of concept, illustrated in the video below, shows how a sensor connected to the Internet brings data from the real world to the virtual world. The light sensor reads colors from cardboard cards and changes the color of entities in virtual reality.

        The second demo shows how actions in the virtual world can affect the real world. In this next video, we turn on LEDs with colors that match their virtual reality counterparts.

      • Mozilla is bringing Tor’s ‘letterboxing’ privacy technique to Firefox

        The technique, known as “letterboxing” is expected to appear in Firefox 67, due in May, and is designed to stop advertisers from tracking you using the size of your browser window.

        It sounds bizarre, but that’s just one of the sneaky techniques being used by the people determined to serve up adverts that are tailored to you, whether you like it or not.

        Letterboxing works by adding grey bars to the side of the screen as you resize, which gradually disappear over the next few seconds. Doing so confuses the “sniffing” technology used by the advertisers, and thus diverts the unwanted attention.

      • Blast from the Past: I filed a bug against Firefox 3.6.6

        The only reason I was reminded this exists was because I received bugmail on my personal email address when someone accidentally added and removed themselves from the Cc list.

        Pretty sure this bug, being no longer reproducible, still in UNCONFIRMED state, and filed against a pre-rapid-release version Firefox is something I should close. Yeah, I’ll just go and do that.

  • CMS

    • Zope spring cleaning sprint

      The last year before the sunset of the Python 2 land has begun. Earl Zope feels relatively well prepared to live in the Python 3 wonderland.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Turing Complete Sed | BSD Now 288

      Software will never fix Spectre-type bugs, a proof that sed is Turing complete, managed jails using Bastille, new version of netdata, using grep with /dev/null, using GMail with mutt, and more.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Codasip to Demonstrate Technology Leadership and Commitment to Open Standards at Taiwan RISC-V Workshop

        Codasip GmbH, the leading supplier of configurable RISC-V® embedded processor IP, will address the topics of RISC-V C compiler optimizations and frameworks for ISA compliance in two presentations at the upcoming RISC-V Workshop in Taiwan.

        In the first presentation, Codasip CTO Zdeněk Přikryl will demonstrate how Codasip generates and optimizes the latest LLVM version 7.0.1 toolchain to make use of custom instructions, including debugging and profiling. The LLVM project continues to expand rapidly as industry leaders have chosen to adopt LLVM compiler due to its excellent quality of results. While many employ various components of the LLVM toolchain, Codasip has announced availability of LLVM for compilation, code generation, and debugging for its family of RISC-V processors. Full support for LLDB in command-line mode or as part of an Eclipse-based graphical debug is now part of its latest generation of licensable software development tools.

  • Programming/Development

    • Remi Collet: PHP version 7.1.27, 7.2.16 and 7.3.3
    • Usability improvements in GCC 9
    • GCC 9 Offering Up Better Error Messages, JSON Output Support

      Besides new/improved CPU targets, C++20 additions, and a lot of other additions to the code-base for GCC 9, there is also continued work on usability improvements for developers to make their lives easier and helping out with more precise error/warning details.

    • Python for NLP: Working with Text and PDF Files

      This is the first article in my series of articles on Python for Natural Language Processing (NLP). In this article, we will start with the basics of Python for NLP. We will see how we can work with simple text files and PDF files using Python.

    • Khronos Continues Working On Better OpenCL + LLVM Integration
    • LLVM Drops Its Shadow Call Stack Support For x86_64

      LLVM for a while has offered a “Shadow Call Stack” pass used to protect programs against stack buffer overflows. While the 64-bit ARM (AArch64) shadow call stack has worked out well, the x86_64 implementation has been deemed insufficient and is now removed.

      The x86_64 LLVM Shadow Call Stack was found to regress performance too much and have security weaknesses so it was expected to be removed while now it’s finally happened. The AArch64 LLVM ShadowCallStack pass will continue to be supported by the x86_64 version has been removed in LLVM 9.

    • Laravel Installation Guide For CentOS

      One of the most popular frameworks of PHP is Laravel. The use of this framework is increasing day by day. Website development becomes easier by using this framework. It is open-source software. So anyone can install and use this software without any cost. This framework supports most of the well-known operating system such as Windows, Linux etc. It also supports maximum popular relational database such as MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL etc. This is a guide on how the framework can be downloaded and installed on CentOS step by step.

    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 8 – Call by Value Vs Call by Pointer/Address
    • Please protect the right to create public domain works

      Most of my Python code is released as public domain. I like the total freedom of not being forced to deal with strings attached, and I want to give this freedom to people who use my code. I don’t even want this code to be “my”. I do not need copyright at all. Giving credits to people and supporting those who need support – this activity doesn’t need copyright. Technology can make it automated. Being present in copyright header doesn’t mean that people care. This problem copyright can not fix.

    • Bootstrap python-pip & setuptools
    • Starting tornado on a random free port

      One of the software I maintain for work is a GUI data browser that uses Tornado as a backend and a web browser as a front-end.

      It is quite convenient to start the command and have the browser open automatically on the right URL. It’s quite annoying to start the command and be told that the default port is already in use.

      I’ve needed this trick quite often, also when writing unit tests, and it’s time I note it down somewhere, so it’s easier to find than going through Tornado’s unittest code where I found it the first time.

    • Techiediaries – Django: Django REST Framework Image File Upload Tutorial & Example [FormData & Angular 7 UI]

      Throughout this tutorial, we’ll see how you can implement file upload in Django and Django REST Framework with a step by step example. Our application will expose an /upload endpoint that accepts POST requests that contain the file posted with a multipart/form-data content type using FormData. For the frontend, we’ll be using Angular 7 to create a simple interface that allows the user to select a file and upload it to the server via a POST request and FormData.

    • Python Tutorial | A Complete Guide to Learn Python Programming

      Python is a high-level, object-oriented, interpreted programming language, which has garnered worldwide attention. Stack Overflow found out that 38.8% of its users mainly use Python for their projects. According to the website’s survey, Python’s popularity surpassed that of C# in 2018 – just like it surpassed PHP in 2017. On the GitHub platform, Python surpassed Java as the second-most used programming language, with 40% more pull requests opened in 2017 than in 2016. This makes Python certification one of the most sought-after programming certifications. In this Python Tutorial, I will be discussing the following topics:

    • PySpark Programming

      Python and Apache Spark are the hottest buzzwords in the analytics industry. Apache Spark is a popular open source framework that ensures data processing with lightning speed and supports various languages like Scala, Python, Java, and R. It then boils down to your language preference and scope of work. Through this PySpark programming article, I would be talking about Spark with Python to demonstrate how Python leverages the functionalities of Apache Spark.

    • A historical look at lowercase defaultstatus

      The other day I was doing some research on DOM methods and properties that Chrome implements, and has a usecounter for, but don’t exist in Firefox.

      defaultstatus caught my eye, because like, there’s also a use counter for defaultStatus.

      (The discerning reader will notice there’s a lowercase and a lowerCamelCase version. The less-discerning reader should maybe slow down and start reading from the beginning.)

      As far as I know, there’s no real spec for these old BOM (Baroque Object Model) properties. It’s supposed to allow you to set the default value for window.status, but it probably hasn’t done anything in your browser for years.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • How to Keep Parents From Fleeing STEM Careers

      It is no secret that working parents in the United States face hardship. Paid family leave is still rare, the cost of childcare is soaring, school hours don’t line up with the workday, and dual-income households are more required than ever as wages stagnate and the cost of living surges. Working parents are often trapped in what feels like a catch-22: To afford to be a parent, you’ve got to work, but most work requires you to act like you’re not a parent.

    • Biology Is Not Destiny

      A small book of selected extracts from “The Second Sex” has now been released under the title “The Independent Woman.” It offers a trail studded with gems of insight, from which I cull a few to comment on today’s events, findings and social thinking regarding girls and women. Entwined within the extracts are a radical timelessness of feminist analysis and the shortcomings of a period piece.

      “Humanity is male,” writes de Beauvoir, “and man defines woman not in herself, but in relation to himself: she is not considered an autonomous being. … [T]he male sex sees her essentially as a sexed being. … He is a Subject. … She is the Other.” Here, however, she is not referring explicitly to widespread sexual violence against women, including stalking, sexual harassment, rape, pimping and exploitation of women in prostitution, lack of reproductive freedom and other violations of women’s bodies, psyches and souls. Rather she is signifying the condition of women: essentialized since birth into domestic and passive feminine roles and, as her contemporary Virginia Woolf wrote in “A Room of One’s Own,” serving “all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”

      De Beauvoir then describes the tangled web in which women, unlike any other oppressed group, live intimately with their oppressors and often collude in their own oppression: “They live dispersed among men, tied by homes, work, economic interests and social conditions to certain men—fathers and husbands—more closely than to other women.” She describes with great nuance the detritus of inequality among intimates, banalized in popular culture as the “battle between the sexes.”

  • Hardware

    • ARM processors like the A12X Bionic are nearing performance parity with high-end desktop processors, but the old truth of x86 superiority still lives strong.

      But after a fair amount of research and deliberation, I came to a very different conclusion. There’s nuance in every corner, but after working through common arguments and misconceptions, such as that the RISC (ARM) instruction set architecture is inherently inferior to CISC (x86), that the benchmarks spruiking excellent ARM performance are inaccurate, that the performance gap is explained by different operating systems, and more, I’ve found that the central claim of these articles largely holds true: ARM processors, particularly those produced by Apple, have caught up to high-end x86 processors in most perspectives of performance. This article is the result of a deep-dive into the topic, intended somewhat to end the myth that ARM processors are behind in terms of performance. Be ready for a good, long read.

    • Huawei Sues the US, Prodding It to Prove Suspicions

      Huawei filed suit against the US on Wednesday arguing that last year’s defense bill unfairly bans only Huawei and ZTE, while other companies that manufacture their equipment in China are not. It also alleges that the ban violates the US Constitution’s separation of powers and violates the company’s rights of due process.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Rebuking Trump State Dept, Democrats Unveil Proposals Asserting Reproductive Rights Equal Human Rights

      House Democrats introduced a bill Thursday rebuking the Trump administration’s position that reproductive freedom should not be considered a fundamental human right.

      The legislation condemns the State Department for omitting the status of reproductive rights from its annual report on international human rights, and would require the department to analyze women’s access to healthcare including abortion care; contraception, and comprehensive sex education; maternal mortality; and other liberties regarding their control over their bodies.

      Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) proposed the Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act (H.R. 7228) in the House alongside 127 co-sponsors Thursday, while Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) urged passage in the Senate with 31 co-sponsors.

    • Trump to Divert Up to $385 Million From Crucial Health Programs To Pay for ‘Government-Sanctioned Child Abuse’

      Alzheimer’s patients, lower-income preschool children, and HIV and cancer patients are among the Americans whose needs may go unmet so that the Trump administration can afford to detain thousands of migrant children.

      Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told Congress this week that he plans to divert $385 million from numerous healthcare programs to pay for detention centers across the country where more than 15,000 young undocumented immigrants are currently being held.

    • Medicare for All is Doable and Most Americans Want It

      In Canada, everyone in the country is guaranteed access to health care by the government.

      The same is true for France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands and every other country that we think of as comparable in terms of levels of wealth, democracy and economic development.

      In spite of providing universal care, these countries also all spend much less on health care than the United States.

      In Canada, per person spending is 60 percent what it is in the United States. In Germany spending per person is 56 percent and in the United Kingdom just 42 percent of what we spend.

      And these countries all have comparable outcomes. People in other wealthy countries not only have longer life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates, they also have comparable outcomes when looking at more narrow health issues like treatment for cancer or heart disease.

      The basic story is that we spend roughly twice as much per person as people in other wealthy countries and we have pretty much nothing to show for it in terms of better health. This is the context in which critics of Medicare for all are telling us it is not possible.

    • Big Pharma, insurers, hospitals team up to kill Medicare for All

      Pharmaceutical manufacturers and health insurance companies don’t agree on much these days. As Congress introduces bills to address rising drug prices, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers are engaged in a lobbying and public relations war with drugmakers over who is to blame.

      But the giants of the healthcare industry agree on one thing: Medicare for All cannot become law.

      Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), a group comprised of major drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals, has spent the last several months lobbying members of Congress, running online ads and working with the media to drive down popularity of Medicare for All, a single-payer health platform that continues to gain popularity in the Democratic party.

      The partnership includes some of the biggest names in the healthcare industry, including the American Medical Association (AMA), Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

      All told, the members of the partnership have a lot of money and influence to spend on Capitol Hill. They spent a combined $143 million lobbying in 2018 alone, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

    • The Time for Medicare-for-All Has Arrived

      Last week, as the media focused on President Donald Trump’s North Korea summit in Vietnam and the congressional testimony of his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, a largely overlooked news conference took place, announcing legislation that could save millions of lives. Seattle Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal introduced the Medicare For All Act of 2019, the latest attempt to pass single-payer health care. Jayapal’s bill has 106 co-sponsors, close to half of the Democrats in the House.

      Jayapal is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House. Among the bill’s co-sponsors was Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell. She replaced her late husband, John Dingell Jr., who was the longest serving member of Congress in history, holding the seat since 1955. John Dingell, who died in February at the age of 92, was a stalwart backer of single-payer health care, introducing legislation yearly during his 60-year tenure. He was inspired by his father, John Dingell Sr., who held that same congressional seat for the 18 years before his son. Dingell Sr. first proposed single-payer health care in 1943.

      With the new Congress this year, the most diverse in history, the 75-plus-year-long effort to secure universal health care may be at a tipping point. Whether or not it passes—considered unlikely with the Senate and White House under Republican control—single-payer health care will undoubtedly be a central issue in the 2020 presidential race.

    • Big Pharma Gave Money To Patient Advocacy Groups Opposing Medicare Changes

      Dozens of patient advocacy groups, like the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, recently appeared in national advertisements objecting to a Trump administration proposal that could limit drugs covered by Medicare providers.

      But a Kaiser Health News analysis found that about half of the groups representing patients have received funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

      Drugmakers funneled more than $58 million to the groups in 2015 alone, according to financial disclosures in KHN’s “Pre$cription for Power” database, which tracks the little-publicized ties between patient advocacy groups and drugmakers. As patient organizations gain ground lobbying Congress and the administration, experts have begun to question whether their financial ties could push them to put drugmakers’ interests ahead of the patients they represent.

      The advertisement, which ran in national newspapers, attacked proposed changes to Medicare Part D’s “protected” drug classes, which require that “all or substantially all” drugs must be covered by all insurers. The medicines involved include oral cancer drugs, HIV medicines and antipsychotics.

      The protection can have the effect of guaranteeing sales to Medicare patients no matter the price tag.

      The proposed rule would give insurers more opportunities to instead steer patients toward lower-cost therapies and generics using prior authorization or step therapy, in which patients must try cheaper drugs before they can switch to options that are more expensive.

      It would also allow protected drugs to be left off Medicare Part D formularies when price hikes exceed inflation or new formulations of drugs don’t offer a “significant innovation” over existing versions.

    • Boy spent 47 agonizing days in ICU with tetanus. Parents still refuse vaccines

      The young son of anti-vaccine parents endured excruciating pain and spent 47 days in pediatric intensive care after contracting tetanus, a devastating bacterial infection easily prevented by vaccines.

      Despite the nightmarish ordeal, his parents still refused to have him vaccinated, according to health officials in Oregon who helped treat the boy. They reported the boy’s harrowing case Friday, March 8, in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, an online publication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      The six-year-old Oregon boy contracted tetanus—also called lockjaw—innocently enough. He got a cut on his forehead while playing on his family’s farm in 2017. The boy’s wound was treated and sutured at home. Six days later, he showed signs of tetanus.

      Tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which is found in soil and produces a toxin that causes painful muscle contractions. The boy’s symptoms started as crying fits, jaw clenching, muscle spasms, and neck and back arching. The same day, he started having trouble breathing, at which point his parents contacted emergency medical services, who quickly air-lifted him to a pediatric medical center.

      When he arrived at the hospital he was suffering jaw muscle spasms. He indicated he wanted some water but couldn’t open his mouth enough to drink it. Some of his muscles necessary for breathing also started spasming, throwing the boy into respiratory distress. He had to be sedated, intubated, and placed on mechanical ventilation.

    • Inconsistent Water Testing Exposes U.S. Schoolchildren to High Levels of Lead

      Millions of children across the U.S. have been exposed to high concentrations of lead through their school drinking water due to inconsistent testing standards, a recent study found.

      Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reviewed 25 state programs for testing for lead in schools’ drinking water supply and found that there is no uniformity in states’ approaches to develop initiatives to test for lead in school drinking water, action levels or maintaining water quality data — public schools in some states are not even required to perform testing on all drinking water taps.

    • Kona Coffee Growers Sue Walmart, Amazon, Costco and More for Selling Fake Kona

      Grown only on the slopes of two volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii, kona remains one of the better-known geographical sources of coffee in the U.S., even as coffee from Central America and East Africa have become trendier. But kona is still extremely expensive—when it’s real.

      Three kona farmers, reports West Hawaii Today, are suing several huge retailers and multiple coffee producers for selling fake kona coffee. The list of defendants includes Walmart, Amazon, Costco, Safeway and Kroger, along with producers like Maui Coffee Co (Hawaii), Magnum Coffee Roastery (Michigan) and Copper Moon Coffee (Indiana).

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Turnbull’s ‘laws of mathematics’ statement ridiculed at RSA Conference

      Public-key cryptography pioneer Whitfield Diffie has poured scorn on former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull over the latter’s comment that “the laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia” made in the run-up to the introduction of the encryption bill in Parliament last year.

    • Adi Shamir questions whether top tech conferences should be held in US

      Turing Award winner and globally renowned cryptographer Adi Shamir has confirmed that the US Government did not grant him a renewal of his tourist visa and thus prevented him from attending the RSA Conference this year. He questioned whether it was time to think of hosting top scientific confernces elsewhere.

    • New Security Patch for Ubuntu 18.10, man-pages-5.00 Released, Be Sure to Update Google Chrome, Qt Creator 4.9 Beta2 Now Available and KDevelop Bugfix Is Out

      Canonical has released a Linux kernel security patch for Ubuntu 18.10 on the heels of yesterday’s patch for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. According to Softpedia News, this patch addresses two of the same vulnerabilities as yesterday’s patch: CVE-2019-6133 and CVE-2018-18397. It also addresses CVE-2019-16880, which is an out of bounds write vulnerability discovered by Jason Wang. Update now if you haven’t already.

    • Citrix: We had to find out from the FBI that our internal IT was hacked – and we have no idea what the crims stole

      Citrix is warning customers that hackers unknown have been romping through its internal company network stealing corporate secrets.

      The enterprise software giant said today it was contacted on Wednesday by the FBI, who claim to have evidence that miscreants accessed the business’s IT systems and exfiltrated files.

      What is most concerning about the cyber-break-in is not the information Citrix chief information security officer Stan Black gave in his report, but what he wasn’t able to give.

      Black said that, as of right now, Citrix does not know exactly which documents the hackers obtained, and the company did not say when the hackers got in, how they got in – the FBI thinks it was by brute-forcing weak passwords – or for how long they may have been camping on the corporate network.

    • The Pirate Bay Users Targeted By Russian Doll ‘PirateMatryoshka’ Malware

      While P2P file sharing isn’t illegal, torrent websites turn out to be the biggest sources to download copyright-protected media. Due to a plethora of free content available there, users visit them in large numbers and often end up infecting their PCs with malware.

      Along the similar lines, the researchers from Kaspersky Labs have found that a new Trojan downloader is spreading via The Pirate Bay. This malware is masquerading itself as popular software and the unsuspecting users are accidentally downloading it.

    • Pirate matryoshka

      The use of torrent trackers to spread malware is a well-known practice; cybercriminals disguise it as popular software, computer games, media files, and other sought-after content. We detected one such campaign early this year, when The Pirate Bay (TPB) tracker filled up with harmful files used to distribute malware under the guise of cracked copies of paid programs.

    • Backdoored GitHub accounts spewed secret sneakerbot software

      Researchers have uncovered a network of GitHub accounts containing backdoored versions of legitimate software. In some cases, the doctored applications secretly downloaded bot software that could be used to remotely bid on high-value sneakers.

      Researchers at DFIR.it seem to favour quality over quantity. They blog roughly once each year, but when they do it’s a doozy. This year’s blog contains a detailed investigation into a network of over 300 accounts on GitHub, an online service that allows people to store and collaborate on software projects. The accounts promoted a mixture of Windows, Linux and Mac OS software with malware backdoors.

    • Linux Kernel expand_downwards Function NULL Pointer Dereference Vulnerability [CVE-2019-9213]

      A vulnerability in the Linux Kernel could allow an unauthenticated, local attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on the targeted system.The vulnerability exists in the expand_downwards function, as defined in the mm/mmap.c source code of the Linux Kernel, which does not provide adequate checking for the mmap minimum address. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by supplying invalid data to the affected system, causing a NULL pointer dereference on the Linux Kernel. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to cause a DoS condition on the targeted system.Proof-of-concept (PoC) code that demonstrates an exploit of this vulnerability is publicly available.Kernel.org has confirmed the vulnerability and released software updates.

    • 10 Vendors Making Product Announcements at RSA Conference 2019

      During RSA Conference 2019, which runs from March 4-8 in San Francisco, announcements of new products, partnerships, research and strategic direction are happening at a dizzying rate. Much of the news occurs during the first two days of the event. Among the news announcements from the first day of this year’s conference are a number of new cybersecurity products spanning email security, container security, threat detection, SIEM, endpoint detection and response (EDR), and cloud security.

    • BSides SF CTF Author Writeup: Cloud2Clown
    • BSides SF CTF Author Writeup: Flagsrv
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Watch: Mercenary Erik Prince Confronted Over Calling Iraqis ‘Barbarians’

      In an interview scheduled to air on Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel Friday morning, journalist Mehdi Hasan confronts former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince over comments Prince made about Iraqis and the bloody history of his mercenary company.

      “What drives you, when you kind of, come up with these plans to do private security especially in a lot of these Muslim-majority countries?” Hasan asked Prince in a clip posted to Twitter Wednesday. “Because you yourself have referred to the people your men were fighting in Iraq as barbarians who crawled out of the sewer.”

      Prince said that he was referring to “terrorists,” a point Hasan conceded while pointing out that Prince’s wording in the quote suggested the mercenary saw all Iraqis as terrorists.

      “You said, ‘These were the chanting barbarians American troops had been sent to liberate?’” Hasan said. “You weren’t sent to liberate ‘terrorists.’ It sounds like you’re talking about Iraqis.”

      Hasan’s question left Prince at a loss for words, though Prince did, after a few seconds, deflect to attacking Saddaam Hussein and pointing out that he wasn’t behind the policy decision to invade Iraq.

    • The Trump/Kim Bromance: It’s Gross, But Let’s Hope It Leads to a Third Date

      So, expectations were high that Trump and Kim would consummate their relationship at a second summit in Vietnam and produce something of lasting importance: denuclearization, removal of economic sanctions, a peace declaration, an exchange of liaison offices.

      But the two leaders didn’t even stay for the full meeting. They passed up a final lunch together and skipped the statement signing. The food left uneaten was statement enough. What was supposed to be the crowning achievement of Trump’s foreign policy, the one-and-only rationale for his receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, has turned into a high-profile embarrassment.

      Trump reportedly went big and failed, and Kim reportedly went small and failed. Trump’s offer: scrap the nukes and the United States will scrap the sanctions. Kim’s bargain: North Korea would close one key part of the nuclear program, the complex at Yongbyon, in exchange for the removal of the latest and most onerous sanctions.

    • War Crimes in Yemen? U.S. & U.K. Arms Killed & Injured Nearly 1,000 Civilians in Saudi-Led Attack

      As Yemen faces the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a major new report has been released documenting the role that the U.S. and Europe have played in the deaths of hundreds of civilians in the Saudi- and UAE-led war on Yemen. A group of organizations, including a Yemen-based human rights organization, released the damning report on Wednesday, claiming that between April 2015 and April 2018, 27 coalition attacks killed at least 203 civilians and injured at least 749 people. The report found that 22 of the attacks likely involved weapons produced in the United States. The other five attacks were carried out either with weapons produced in the United Kingdom or with parts produced in both the U.S. and the UK. We speak with Ruhan Nagra, the executive director of the University Network for Human Rights, and Radhya Al-Mutawakel, chairperson of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights. They are co-authors of “Day of Judgment: The Role of the US and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen.”

    • Trump Moves the World Closer to Wars

      President Trump has recently flown out of Hanoi, having failed to reach any agreement in negotiations with President Kim of North Korea, who went back home by train, with his tail up and wagging — having laid a wreath at the mausoleum commemorating Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese leader who led his country’s fight for independence for so many years.

      Trump’s aerial departure from Hanoi wasn’t on the same lines as America’s well-publicized flight from Vietnam in April 1975, when the last frantic evacuees were helicoptered out to sea from the US Embassy roof and President Gerald Ford told the American people and the world that after twenty years of hideous conflict, the Vietnam War was “finished as far as America is concerned.”

      The exit from Vietnam was a departure of defeat, to be sure, but at least it signaled the end of US wars for a while, at least until Washington’s muscles flexed in 1983 and it invaded the Island of Grenada (population 90,000) because it didn’t like its government and wanted, in the words of President Reagan, “to restore order and democracy.” The UN called the attack “a flagrant violation of international law” and the Security Council tried to stop it, but Washington used its veto to get out of that and then invaded Panama (population 2.3 million) in 1989, with President GHW Bush saying the main reason was “The Panamanian people want democracy, peace, and the chance for a better life in dignity and freedom.”

      America’s invasive commitment to democracy and freedom has been reiterated over the years, most notably before and during the catastrophes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and has been eerily echoed by President Trump’s declaration that he “stands with the people of Venezuela as they demand democracy, human rights, and prosperity denied to them by Maduro” the president who is likely to die like other leaders in the unfortunate countries invaded by the freedom-loving military-industrial state in Washington.

      We can’t tell for sure if Donald Trump likes wars quite as much as his predecessors, because as with every other important policy matter he flicks from side to side, leaps backwards and forwards, and thoroughly confuses his country and the rest of the world about his intentions.

    • The Blindness of Empire

      Last week a startling meme showed up on my Facebook newsfeed. It pictured what was apparently the youngest US soldier fighting in the war on Afghanistan today, and noting that he was not even born when that war began. Perhaps what is more startling, however, is how quickly that shocking fact was buried. I imagine for many Americans it was simply one more news item to scroll on by.

      It was about 1 ½ years ago that President Trump vowed to expand the US war in Afghanistan, now the longest one in American history. Started by George W. Bush (with the help of his father who made preliminary advances in the latter part of the 20th century) and maintained by Barrack Obama who happened to drop over 26,000 bombs around the planet in his last year in office alone, Afghanistan has become one of the most vital colonial assets to the American Empire. It has been called the “graveyard of all empires” a statement which tends to downplay the enormous suffering ordinary Afghans have had to endure through these imperialistic incursions over the centuries. But with each passing year that phrase appears to carry more weight. And as this assailed nation sits atop a treasure trove of rare earth minerals amounting to at least a trillion dollars, there is little doubt why the American Empire refuses to leave.

      Militarism is essential to empire; but it is also its Achilles’ heel. This is because it exacts a heavy price and takes an enormous toll on the stability and capacity of a government to provide for the basic needs of its citizens. This is especially true of capitalist societies where profit flows upward to an increasingly smaller group of extremely wealthy people. While it spends trillions on war, it denudes its own society’s well-being in the process.

      That the United States began by expanding westward across North America through violent ethnic cleansing, genocide and slave trade economics is no exception to the general course of empire. And in its short time on the world stage it has managed to become the most powerful dictatorship of capital wealth and money the world has ever seen. Here the ruling elite routinely buys the allegiance and voice of politicians and the media, and police and military agencies serve to protect the accumulated wealth of those upper classes. But like its forebears it is now an empire teetering on a precipice of social, financial and ecological catastrophe thanks to a convergence of climate change, endless exploitation of finite resources, and perpetual war to maintain it all. Join this with rampant corruption, gross social and economic inequities, a rising fascist element and the militarization of the police/surveillance state and a recipe for collapse is writ large.

      Perpetual war is a hallmark of the American Empire. It has been in some kind of military action, occupation or intervention for at least 224 of its 243 years as a self-described republic. Yet despite the enormous and appalling healthcare, social and financial neglect of the working class veterans of its many wars, the magicians of the ruling class never cease in casting the spell of “American exceptionalism” over the general public. They routinely conjure up new villains and boogeymen, foreign and domestic, for ordinary Americans to project their animus, frustration and alienation on. Maduro today, Qaddafi a few years ago. Hussein some years before that. None of them were or are an actual threat to the American homeland, but they stood in the way of wealth and capital, the only thing the American ruling class truly cares about. And for that reason the lie of militarism and war must continue to go unchallenged.

    • The Conflict of Our Time: U.S. Imperialism vs the Rule of Law

      The world faces many overlapping crises: regional political crises from Kashmir to Venezuela; brutal wars that rage on in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia; and the existential dangers of nuclear weapons, climate change and mass extinction.

      But beneath the surface of all these crises, human society faces an underlying, unresolved conflict about who or what governs our world and who must make the critical decisions about how to tackle all these problems – or whether we will tackle them at all. The underlying crisis of legitimacy and authority that makes so many of our problems almost impossible to solve is the conflict between U.S. imperialism and the rule of law.

      Imperialism means that one dominant government exercises sovereignty over other countries and people across the world, and makes critical decisions about how they are to be governed and under what kind of economic system they are to live.

      On the other hand, our current system of international law, based on the UN Charter and other international treaties, recognizes nations as independent and sovereign, with fundamental rights to govern themselves and to freely negotiate agreements about their political and economic relations with each other. Under international law, multilateral treaties that have been signed and ratified by large majorities of nations become part of the structure of international law that is binding on all countries, from the least to the most powerful.

      In a recent article, “The Hidden Structure of U.S. Empire,” I explored some of the ways that the United States exercises imperial power over other nominally sovereign, independent countries and their citizens. I cited anthropologist Darryl Li’s ethnographic study of U.S. terrorism suspects in Bosnia, which revealed a layered system of sovereignty under which people around the world are not only subject to the national sovereignty of their own countries but also to the overarching extraterritorial sovereignty of the U.S. empire.

      I described how Julian Assange, trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, detained while changing planes at Vancouver Airport, are victims of the same extraterritorial U.S. imperial sovereignty as the hundreds of innocent “terrorism suspects” that U.S. forces kidnapped around the world and shipped off to indefinite, extralegal detention at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. prisons.

    • Has NATO Met Its Match?

      Despite claims by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to have defeated its own troops using Facebook (and, really, what plot to take over a high school hasn’t done that?), the biggest challenge NATO will face this year will probably not be nefarious Russian social media posts.

      Nor will it be the dreaded Russian military, now sucking down 6 percent as many dollars each year as the war machines of the NATO nations.

      Nor is NATO terribly threatened by a U.S. president who demands that its members spend more, that more nations join, that the North Atlantic nation of Colombia partner up, and that the war games and weapons deals and expansion eastward press ahead, but who once blurted out obvious stuff his handlers would never allow him to act on, such as that NATO serves no good purpose. (Which of his projects does serve any good purpose?)

      NATO is extremely popular among militarists, warmongers, weapons dealers, Republicans, and Democrats, some of them proud of its various aggressive and catastrophic wars, some of them willfully ignorant of them or eager to excuse them. It’s that last group that presents a danger for NATO, a weak link. People think that NATO somehow makes wars legal or acceptable, which actually makes wars easier to start. People think NATO is defensive, so that distant aggressive wars are OK. People think putting nuclear weapons into more countries is safe and legal if they’re NATO countries. People think adding Russia’s neighbors to NATO makes them safer, but that adding Russia would endanger them. But will people resist learning the truth when NATO celebrates itself on a date that belongs to peace and Martin Luther King Jr?

    • Biblically-Legitimized Imperialism

      The way many Christians quote The Bible you would think it is the Word of God. And that is the imperialistic rub. Such Christians believe The Bible contains the infallible revelation of Divine truth. They then seek to impose that truth – which is assumed to be a projection of their aspirations and authority needs — on everyone else. Here is biblically inspired and legitimized imperialism, which leads people to become evangelistic, not equalitarian; predatory, not participatory; dominating, not liberating; paternalistic, not democratic; incompatible, not reconcilable. The aim is to gain power over people, not to empower them. What is actually authoritarian is professed to be authoritative, as “it’s in The Bible,” which believers have been taught is absolutely true and beyond question. It is about power and obedience, not authenticity and empathy.

      Biblically-bound evangelistic Christians justify the imperialistic nature of their faith by pointing to Jesus’ supposed “Great Commission” in Matthew 28: 16-20: a reportedly resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples and declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Never mind that the Trinity was not formulated until some three centuries after Jesus’ crucifixion. (See “Trinity,”www.religiousfacts.com) The inerrancy of 20/20 theological hindsight.

      Never mind also that, after Christians suffered severe persecution by Rome, Christianity became recognized as the religion of the Roman Empire. And in the wake of Rome’s imperialistic military conquests, Christians converted and baptized those conquered “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” They also used their political power as a weapon to outlaw and purge all “competing religions.” (See ‘THE CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION OF PAGANISM, ’www.worldfuturefund.org) .

      The Jews suffered a similar fate as the pagans. As James Everett Seaver writes in “The Persecution of the Jews in the Roman Empire (300-428), ” To the student of the fourth century, the whole of the Bible was written under the compulsion of divine inspiration. This idea,” he continued, “was very harmful to the Jews when all the promises in the Bible were applied to the Christians, and all the curses and threats therein were leveled at the Jews. A terrible falsification took place.”

    • Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s remains ‘burned in tandoori oven’

      In an Al Jazeera documentary investigating his death, a worker who constructed the oven said it was built in the consul’s garden before Khashoggi’s visit to the nearby consulate in October.

      He said the furnace was built according to specifications from the consul, including that it had to be deep and withstand temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius, hot enough to burn metal.

      Khashoggi’s body parts were taken in bags to the consul’s home, a few hundred metres away from the consulate where he was killed, where Turkish authorities monitored the burning of the oven from outside the premises.

    • U.S. Gears Up for War on Venezuela

      The relentless U.S. imperial beast has embarked on a full-scale, openly declared, bipartisan regime-change war aimed at overthrowing Venezuela’s democratically elected government headed by President Nicolás Maduro.

      Top U.S. officials—from President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser John Bolton and special envoy Elliot Abrams of Iran/Contra infamy, to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and pretend socialist Bernie Sanders—almost daily take to the airwaves, with the world’s corporate media cheering in lock step, insisting that “all options are open,” including overt war via direct U.S. military intervention.

      Sanders demanded that Venezuela open its borders to “humanitarian aid,” while DSA Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waffled on the issue.

      [...]

      While Guaidó’s hoped-for triumphant re-entry into Venezuela as the nation’s savior proved to be farce, the real war waged by the U.S. against Venezuela remains deadly serious. The sanctions and related economic measures imposed by the U.S. against oil-rich Venezuela have been draconian, if not unprecedented. These include instructions to all U.S. banking institutions to seize hundreds of billions of dollars in Venezuelan accounts and transfer the funds into accounts payable to puppet president Guaidó.

      The details of this have been well documented. Here it is sufficient to report that the full force of the U.S. leading capitalist banking elites, from the Bank of America to the J.P. Morgan Chase financial behemoths, have joined in stealing funds generated from the sale of Venezuelan oil in the U.S. and around the world. Add to this the U.S.-pressured decision of the British ruling class to sequester Venezuelan gold deposited in British banks to the tune of $1.3 billion, and the severing of Venezuelan access to the world’s lending institutions, and you have nothing less than a U.S.-led war against the Venezuelan people.

    • We Are Being Lied Into War Again

      I was 23 when we invaded Iraq, and I wasn’t sure it was based on lies, but something deep down in me—just behind the spleen—told me it was based on lies. Kinda like if your blind date shows up and you notice he has a 2004 flip phone. It seems vaguely worrisome, and no explanation he can haltingly supply will put you at ease. Plus, anyone else who acts like it’s normal also becomes suspect.

      The invasion of Iraq just felt like it was a lie to me. And it turned out that I was right, that it was a lie, and that the entirety of the mainstream media and our government were either wrong or lying and, most of the time, both.

      Now our government and our media are trying their damnedest to lie us into another war, this one with Venezuela. They tell us the Venezuelan people are desperate for necessities like toothpaste, while independent journalists show piles of affordable toothpaste in Caracas.

      And even if they didn’t have toothpaste, that hardly seems like a good reason for America to begin dropping our long-range bad decisions on the heads of innocent people. Turning a town into an impact crater for the sake of a battle to stop gingivitis seems a bit extreme.

      The mainstream media and nearly the entirety of the U.S. government tell us Juan Guaido is the “interim president,” even though he was never elected to that position and the current president is still leading the Venezuelan government and military. So I guess this “interim” is the time between Guaido being a nobody and the time when he goes back to being nobody but now gets to tell women at parties, “You know, I used to be interim president.”

    • Washington’s Escalation for Venezuela’s Oil

      If we listen to Washington’s threats to Venezuela there is always a military component to everything they do to undermine the legitimate Maduro government. “All options are on the table”, is the repeated slogan that is now also heard from the self-appointed “president”, Juan Guaidó, as if he were referring to another country and not his own.

      A realistic successful military intervention can only take place if the Venezuelan high-ranking officers of the armed forces deserted in mass. This is not likely to happen. However, Venezuela cannot ignore those threats. The US has carried them out irresponsibly in other countries.

      The provocation with “humanitarian aid” on February 23 was a pathetic attempt to break the loyalty of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) as well as to test the reaction of the Venezuelan people, particularly on the Venezuelan border with Colombia. In fact, the main stage was Colombia and not Brazil. That’s where Guaidó, Ivan Duque and Elliot Abrams congregated for the “aid” show and the photo op of the trio holding hands as if they were rooting for a baseball team.

      Marco Rubio, in the meantime, kept tweeting about how many army people were deserting to the Guaidó “team”. Not too many did. The official number identified publicly as deserters by the Venezuelan government has been 116. So, at this point Guaidó’s army is very thin. But as a former “guarimbero” (rioter) he is more comfortable among his fellow “guarimberos”. In fact, there were a few at hand at the border in Colombia doing their favorite thing, preparing and throwing Molotov cocktails. Eventually they managed to burn down the trucks of “aid”.

      When the hope of a mutiny of the armed forces ended, plan B was to use the so-called “humanitarian aid” as a grandstand stunt against “the brutal regime of Nicolas Maduro”. And they turned it into the false flag of burned trucks of “aid” in Colombian territory falsely attributed to the Venezuelan forces.

    • Venezuela in the US Press – Interviews with Chesa Boudin, Dan Beeton, Laura Carlsen, Mark Weisbrot, Miguel Tinker Salas and Alfredo Lopez

      International opinion largely opposes Donald Trump’s current and threatened intervention in Venezuela, but that’s not the impression you get US corporate news media, who appear to be all-in with Trump’s push for the ouster of democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro. (As far as we know, these media still firmly oppose any election meddling in this country, especially by Donald Trump.) In reality, 75 percent of the world’s countries reject the US anointing of Juan Guaidó—whom most Venezuelans hadn’t heard of when Trump declared him their leader. And the UN has formally condemned US sanctions on Venezuela, which a special rapporteur compared to a “medieval siege.”

    • Venezuela Wins Round One Against the Empire

      The clash between Venezuela and the Empire last weekend ended with a humiliating defeat for Elliott Abrams, the alleged designer of the operation.

      What the neocons initially planned may never be known, but what is known is that they could not culminate in an invasion or another false flag operation.

      The most notable facet of the confrontation, according to the most objective international experts and observers, has been the scant effect that Anglo-Zionist propaganda had inside Venezuela.

      Although certainly a few senior officers and Venezuelan soldiers betrayed their country by uniting with the enemy, the overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan military remained faithful to the Constitution and their homeland.

      President Maduro and his government successfully carried out a strategy that combined roadblocks, a musical concert on the Venezuelan side, and the minimal – but effective – use of riot police to keep the border closed and order throughout the homeland. Most notably, the “unidentified snipers” did not seem to shoot on both sides (the Empire’s favorite tactic to justify its interventions).

      Outside Venezuelan national territory, this first confrontation was also a defeat for the Empire. Not only because most countries in the world refused to recognize Washington’s puppet, but because the level of rejection of a possible invasion proved remarkably intense, and the Internet and the blogosphere overwhelmingly opposed U.S. intervention. This situation created many internal political tensions in several Latin American countries whose public opinion is firmly opposed to any form of U.S. interference in Latin America, even if not with the historic oligarchy.

    • Khanna, Ocasio-Cortez Among Progressive Democrats to Condemn US-Backed Regime Change in Venezuela

      Over a dozen progressive House Democrats on Thursday condemned the Trump administration’s “unacceptable” push for regime change in Venezuela.

      The comments came in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and signed by Reps. Ro Khanna (Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), and 13 other House Democrats.

      “President Donald Trump and other senior United States (U.S.) officials have generated alarm in Venezuela and throughout the region with actions and statements—such as the recent threat that ‘all options are on the table’—which indicate a pursuit of American military-led regime change,” reads the letter.

      [...]

      Trump’s Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams—whose role in U.S.-backed massacres and genocide and Latin America during the 1980s has come under scrutiny since his appointment in January—said during a Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday that the administration is planning to “expand the net” of sanctions against Venezuelan institutions.

      While condemning the Maduro government for violence against protestors and “disregard of the rule of law,” House progressives said the Trump administration’s meddling is “making life worse for ordinary Venezuelans” and urged the White House to support peaceful negotiations.

      “Unilateral measures and violent threats only threaten to stoke chaos and instability,” the letter concludes. “Instead, the U.S. must abide by its obligation under the Organization of American States (OAS) Charter to abstain from using armed force or ‘any other form of interference or attempted threat” against another state. We urge you to support efforts by Uruguay, Mexico, and the Vatican to promote dialogue and help Venezuelans resolve their own problems.”

    • A Peaceful, Democratic Solution to Venezuela’s Crisis Requires Fact-based Analysis and Advocacy

      In our 45-year history, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has built a long trajectory of criticizing both U.S. military intervention and violations of democracy and human rights in our hemisphere. In the case of Venezuela, we were one of the first U.S. human rights organizations to condemn the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, and have been critical of U.S. unilateral policies towards the country. We have opposed, and we continue to oppose, foreign military intervention in Venezuela.

      At the same time, we have consistently denounced the accelerated attacks on Venezuela’s democratic institutions and repeated human rights violations carried out in recent years by the Maduro government, including violence against protesters, crackdown on dissent, and assaults on the democratically-elected National Assembly. We have been clear that the May 2018 electoral process that Nicolás Maduro used to claim a new term lacked the fundamental guarantees of a free and fair process.

      In the face of a deep political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, WOLA supports a non-violent, negotiated, and democratic solution to the conflict among Venezuelans, with the support of multilateral actors.

      In a letter sent to us several days ago and posted on Common Dreams, a number of academic colleagues criticized our positions on Venezuela. We appreciate their concern and their willingness to engage in a principled dialogue on an issue that too often descends into personal attacks. The issues are important and it is essential that progressive activists, policymakers, and analysts be proactive in speaking about Venezuela’s crisis.

    • Can We Divest From Weapons Dealers?

      Impoverished people living in numerous countries today would stand a far better chance of survival, and risk far less trauma, if weapon manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Raytheon stopped manufacturing and selling death-dealing products

      About three decades ago, I taught writing at one of Chicago’s alternative high schools. It’s easy to recall some of their stories—fast-paced, dramatic, sometimes tender. I would beg my students to three-hole-punch each essay or poem and leave it in a binder on our classroom shelf, anxious not to lose the documentation of their talents and ideas.

      Some of the youngsters I taught told me they were members of gangs. Looking down from the window of my second-floor classroom, I sometimes wondered if I was watching them selling drugs in broad daylight as they embraced one another on the street below.

      Tragically, in the two years that I taught at Prologue High School, three students were killed. Colleagues told me that they generally buried three students per year. They died, primarily, from gunshot wounds. I think they could have survived their teenage years if weapons and ammunition hadn’t been available.

      Similarly, I believe impoverished populations of numerous countries at war today would stand a far better chance of survival, and risk far less trauma, if weapon manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Raytheon, stopped manufacturing and selling death-dealing products. It would also help if the people living in countries that export deadly weapons were well-informed about the consequences these businesses bring.

      Consider this: The 2018 U.S. Census Report tallies U.S. exports of bullets to other countries. Topping the list is $123 million-worth of bullets to Afghanistan—an eight-fold rise over the number of bullets sold in 2017 and far more than the number of bullets sold to any other country.

      During a recent visit to Afghanistan, I heard many people voice intense fear of what would happen if civil war breaks out. It seems to me that those who manufacture bullets are doing all they can to hasten the likelihood and deadly outcome of an armed struggle.

    • Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama’s Last-Minute Drone Strike Reporting Requirements

      After years of increasing overseas drone strikes, the Obama administration briefly attempted to salvage its reputation. Having turned countries like Syria and Yemen into the Killingest Places on Earth, Obama drafted a few rules to rein in the use of drones. A charitable take was that he recognized the blowback caused by these strikes, which tended to result in the unintended killing of civilians. A less charitable take is he recognized he might be turning these powers over to the Republicans and wanted to tie them up with restrictions he would have never placed on his own administration.

      One of the few positive steps Obama took was mandating periodic reporting on drone strikes to assess the amount of collateral damage caused by these attacks, presumably in hopes of further reducing civilian casualties. Obama’s executive order instituted yearly reporting that would (eventually) be passed on to the public.

    • Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the Bomb

      On February 19, the Democratic majority of the House Oversight and Reform Committee released an eye-opening interim report. Based on testimony from “multiple” whistleblowers, the report reveals that the Trump Administration is engaged in a frenzied dash to push through a sale of nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia without consulting Congress.

      Several of the individuals who are promoting the deal, including our old friend General Michael Flynn, are Trump cronies both inside and outside the administration who stand to make a killing if the deal goes through. If only Iran had had the sense to buy nukes from friends of Trump, it would never have faced sanctions or the threat of a US invasion.

      Selling nuclear reactors to the Saudis should cause alarm. The kingdom claims that it needs nuclear reactors (it has none currently) in order to meet its rising energy needs. However, the House interim report states that “experts worry that transferring sensitive U.S. nuclear technology could allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons that contribute to the proliferation of nuclear arms throughout an already unstable Middle East.” The Saudis are insisting that the agreement give them the right to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium from spent nuclear reactor fuel. Enrichment and reprocessing capability would enable the Saudis to go in a short time from a peaceful, civil nuclear program to producing a bomb. During an interview which aired on the March 18, 2018 “60 Minutes,” Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (“MBS,” as he is known), said: “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

    • Trump’s Bullshit Bullseye

      Whatever one might think about Donald Trump’s claim to be a “stable genius,” his rambling and seemingly unfocused rant of a speech to an enthusiastic throng of CPAC attendees on Saturday demonstrated the kind of demagoguery at which he has become adept—and included a chilling shot across the bow of the smoldering political debate dividing this country. What Trump did was raise the ante in a very dangerous way, and in so doing reinforce the concern Michael Cohen expressed last Wednesday in public testimony before Congress, a concern that has been on my mind for a couple of years now but gets very limited attention in the mainstream media or on guardedly progressive cable networks like MSNBC.

      Addressing the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, Cohen said in a closing statement, “I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Coming from a longtime Trump “enforcer,” lightly regarded for his political or intellectual gravitas, the warning was both surprising and sobering.

      Trump had already raised the stakes last month when he declared a national emergency over border wall funding, ignoring the wishes of Congress and making an unprecedented grab for executive power that many thought threatened the checks and balances written into the Constitution by the founding fathers. But on Saturday his rhetoric seemed to launch a new phase of escalation and make Cohen’s concerns even more ominous.

    • Framing Al-Awlaki: How Government Officials and Corporate Media 
Legitimized a Targeted Killing

      This article was originally published as Chapter 12 in Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution (Seven Stories Press, 2012). Although some of its data and citations are now dated, its primary argument—that the American public is not properly informed about the US government’s international campaign of drone strikes, and its deadly human toll—remains salient today. As independent and corporate news outlets have reported, on March 6, 2019, President Trump rescinded President Obama’s July 2016 executive order which had required US intelligence officials to publicly report the number of US drone strikes “outside areas of active hostilities” and “assessments of combatant and non-combatant deaths” resulting from those strikes. As Charlie Savage observed in the New York Times, the Trump administration’s order will increase “the secrecy that cloaks one of the most contentious aspects of the fight against terrorists.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chelsea Manning Risks Jail To Fight WikiLeaks Grand Jury

      Chelsea Manning will face a closed contempt hearing after refusing to testify before a grand jury that is investigating WikiLeaks.

      [...]

      On March 6, Manning appeared before the grand jury after she was granted immunity for her testimony.

      “All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010—answers I provided in extensive testimony during my court-martial in 2013. I responded to each question with the following statement: ‘I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.’”

      Manning added, “In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available. My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”

      She could face up to 18 months in jail if she is found “in contempt” of court.

      Manning launched a campaign, “Chelsea Resists,” to raise funds for her legal defense as she fights the grand jury subpoena.

      A legal attempt to quash the subpoena prior to her appearance before the grand jury was rejected by a federal judge on March 5.

    • Chelsea Manning Faces Contempt Hearing After Refusal to Answer Grand Jury Questions

      Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning expressed no regrets Thursday when she revealed that she faces a contempt hearing— and possible jail time—after declining to answer a grand jury’s questions.

      Manning appeared before a grand jury Wednesday after being subpoenaed, apparently to discuss her 2010 disclosure of government and military documents about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to Wikileaks.

      The subpoena came about three months after federal prosecutors in Virginia’s Eastern District, where the former Army intelligence analyst was called to testify, inadvertently revealed that they had filed sealed charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

    • Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify on Wikileaks

      Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.

      U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning to jail Friday after a brief hearing in which Manning confirmed she has no intention of testifying. She told the judge she “will accept whatever you bring upon me.”

      Manning has said she objects to the secrecy of the grand jury process, and that she already revealed everything she knows at her court martial.

      The judge said she will remain jailed until she testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work.

    • Chelsea Manning faces contempt hearing after refusing to testify before grand jury

      Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, faces a contempt hearing and possible jail time for refusing to testify in front of a grand jury this week, she said in a statement Thursday.

      Manning said she invoked her Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendment rights Wednesday while appearing before a grand jury that asked questions about her public disclosure of diplomatic cables and military logs in 2010, a crime for which she served more than six years in prison. She said she will return to federal court for a closed contempt hearing Friday.

    • Chelsea Manning Jailed for Refusing to Testify on WikiLeaks

      Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been sent to jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

      U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning to jail for contempt of court on Friday after a brief hearing in which Manning confirmed she has no intention of testifying. She told the judge she “will accept whatever you bring upon me.”

      Manning has said she objects to the secrecy of the grand jury process, and that she already revealed everything she knows at her court martial.

      The judge said she will remain jailed until she testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work.

    • Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify on WikiLeaks

      Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning to jail for contempt of court on Friday after a brief hearing in which Manning confirmed she has no intention of testifying.
      Manning has said she objects to the secrecy of the grand jury process, and that she already revealed everything she knows at her court martial. She told the judge she “will accept whatever you bring upon me.”
      Manning’s lawyers had asked that she be sent to home confinement instead of the jail, because of medical complications she faces.
      The judge said she will remain jailed until she testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work, and that U.S. marshals can handle her medical care. Prosecutor Tracy McCormick said the jail and the marshals have assured the government that her medical needs can be met.

    • ‘I Will Not Comply’: Chelsea Manning Sent Back to Prison Over Grand Jury Refusal

      Chelsea Manning won’t be bullied by the federal government, she told supporters on Friday.

      In a move her defenders called “an outrageous government overreach and absolutely inhumane,” Manning was remanded to federal prison for contempt on Friday morning due to her refusal to testify in a secret grand jury hearing Wednesday.

      “I will not comply with this, or any grand jury,” said Manning. “Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.”

    • Defying WikiLeaks Grand Jury, Chelsea Manning Carries On Tradition Of Resistance And Goes To Jail

      A federal judge sent Chelsea Manning to jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury that is investigating WikiLeaks.

      On March 6, Manning appeared before the grand jury after she was granted a minor form of immunity for her testimony.

      “All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010—answers I provided in extensive testimony during my court-martial in 2013,” Manning stated afterward. “I responded to each question with the following statement: ‘I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.’”

      Judge Claude Hilton had Manning jailed on a civil charge of contempt. She will be jailed as long as she refuses to testify or as long as the grand jury is empaneled in Alexandria, Virginia.

      CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who served a prison sentence and supports Manning, said, “I have great admiration for what she did for the simple reason that she could have taken two other ways out. She could have testified or she could have gone before the grand jury and just answered each question with the words, ‘I don’t recall.’ But she didn’t do either one of those things. She cited her constitutional rights under the First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments.”

      “She took the hard way, and the hard way is the admirable way because she’s standing on principle, and for that, I have great admiration,” Kiriakou added.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • College Students Calling out Climate Denial Machine That’s Older Than They Are
    • EPA Report: Vehicle C02 Emissions Are at a Record Low

      For new cars and trucks released in 2017, carbon dioxide emissions reached a record low, and mileage per gallon reached an all time high, according an U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) report released Wednesday.

      The findings are leading many environmental advocates to ask, if Obama-era fuel economy standards seem to be working, why roll them back, as Trump’s EPA has proposed?

    • Greenland’s winter rain melts icecap faster

      The largest body of ice in the northern hemisphere faces a problem scientists had not identified before: Greenland’s winter rain is accelerating the loss of its vast store of ice.

      Two new studies have identified mechanisms for ever-faster melting of the ice. One is that the snowline keeps shifting, to alter the levels of radiation absorbed by the ice sheet that masks the Greenland bedrock.

      The other is that ever more snow and ice is simply washed away by the rainfall – even in the Arctic winter. That is because global warming has raised Greenland’s summer temperatures as much as 1.8°C, and by up to 3°C in the winter months.

      Reports of winter rain over an icecap large enough – if it were all washed into the ocean – to raise global sea levels by more than seven metres are a surprise: glaciologists expect some melting of the polar ice caps each summer, to be replaced each winter by snowfall that insulates the ice below and then endures for much of the following summer.

    • England’s Fracking Policy Unlawful, High Court Declares

      England’s High Court ruled Wednesday that the government’s planning policy on fracking was unlawful, in a major victory for anti-fracking group Talk Fracking.

      In part of his ruling, Mr. Justice Dove found that the government had not taken up-to-date information on climate change into account when drafting its policy.

    • As the World Burns: Hurtling Towards an Unlivable Planet

      Are we really supposed to take their games seriously as humanity veers ever more dangerously off the environmental cliff?

      In 2008, James Hansen, then head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and seven other leading climate scientists reported that we would see “practically irreversible ice sheet and species loss” if the planet’s average temperature rose above 1°Celsius (C) thanks to carbon dioxide’s (CO2) presence in the atmosphere reaching 450 parts per million (ppm).

      CO2 was at 385 ppm when this report came out. It was “already in the dangerous zone,” Hansen and his team reported. They warned that deadly, self-reinforcing “feedbacks” could be triggered at this level. The dire prospects presaged included “ice sheet disintegration, vegetation migration, and GHG [greenhouse gas] release from soils, tundra, or ocean sediments.”

      The only way to be assured of a livable climate, Hansen and his colleagues warned, would be to cut CO2 to at least 350 ppm.

      Here we are eleven years later, well past Hansen’s 1°C red line. We’ve gotten there at 410 ppm, the highest level of CO2 saturation in 800,000 years. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest climate report reflects the consensus opinion of the world’s leading climate scientists. It tells us that we are headed to 1.5°C in a dozen years. Failure to dramatically slash Greenhouse Gassing between now and 2030 is certain to set off catastrophic developments for hundreds of millions of people, the IPCC warns.

      The IPCC finds that we are headed at our current pace for 3-4°C by the end of century. That will mean a planet that is mostly unlivable.

      And here’s the kicker: numerous serious climate scientists find that the IPCC’s findings are insufficiently alarmist and excessively conservative. That’s because the IPCC deletes and downplays research demonstrating the likelihood that irreversible climatological “tipping points” will arrive soon. Among many reports pointing in this direction is a recent NASA-funded study warning that the unexpectedly rapid thawing of permafrost could release massive volumes of CO2 and methane within “a few decades.”

      Conservative though it may be, the UN report is no whitewash. It calls for “unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to drop global CO2 emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels and 60 percent below 2015 levels by 2030. We need to hit zero by the mid-century point, the IPCC says. We cannot do that without radically and rapidly reducing our energy consumption.

    • Glyphosate is Good for You and You are a POS for not Agreeing

      While having an interesting discussion on the concerns of Monsanto’s widely used biocide glyphosate, better known as Round Up, I stumbled onto a corporate land mine. I received a torrent of vulgar insults, veiled threats and a blistering critique of my reputation as an environmental biology and marine science instructor of nearly 34 years. A simple conversation with a student I had in class nearly 20 years escalated into exposing the playbook of big tobacco and chemical company fierce defenders.

      I replied to a post about roundup, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide. I questioned if this known biocide, Roundup, that is now being found in beer and wine is indeed safe?

      Yes: I understand that the levels of Roundup in beer and wine, were found in incredibly low concentrations, in parts per billion, significantly lower than the 1-300 ppm allowed by the EPA in food crops. I was just following along in this discussion. And: I do have genuine concerns about the safely of Roundup. A study in Environmental Sciences Europe documents a staggering amount of this biocide, 1.8 million tons of glyphosate, has be used since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4½million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. Now, homeowners can apply Glyphosate on their lawns, engineered to kill those weeks while our nation is literally awash in chemical poisons. Are we absolutely sure that Roundup does not cause cancer or disrupts crucial hormone messaging in our bodies? Having three grandchildren I worry. I worry a great deal. �Consider that Roundup use has exploded, with the onset of Roundup ready crops what are we putting into our soil and groundwater and foods? To put this into perspective, that 1.8 million tons is equivalent to the weight of water in over 2,300 Olympic-sized swimming pool or enough to spray half a pound of Roundup on every cultivated acre of land in the world! I am old enough to remember the complicit nature of tobacco ads and other corporate backed science: now, I am told that Roundup in my grandchildren’s cereal is no problem?

      Another gentleman, suggested a site to check out, written by a friend of his at the University of Washington, a well-respected microbiologist with a Ph. D. The site took me to an organization called the American Council on Health and Science ACHS). I was aware of this organization, having read a piece that suggested human population was not a huge ecological concern and seemingly suggested that exposure to mercury and secondhand smoke were exaggerated. I gave my concerns that ACHS was primarily in the business of advocating for products made by Monsanto and others.

    • Citing ‘Permanent Oil Price Decline,’ Norwegian Fund’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Could Spark Global ‘Shockwave’

      In a statement on Friday, Minister of Finance Siv Jensen explained the decision is meant to “reduce the vulnerability” of the Norwegian fund “to permanent oil price decline.” With an estimated $1 trillion in total holdings, Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund is the largest publicly held investment in the world. According to a spokesperson for the finance ministry, the fund currently has roughly 66 billion Norwegian krone ($7.5 billion) invested in energy exploration and production stocks—approximately 1.2% of the fund’s stock portfolio.

      The recommendation from the Norwegian fund will now be sent to the nation’s parliament for approval.

      Climate groups that have pushed aggressively for divestment from the fossil fuel industry in recent years as a key way to decrease the threat of greenhouse gases and runaway global warming celebrated the announcement as a possible crucial turning point.

      “We welcome and support this proposal,” said Yossi Cadan, senior divestment campaigner at 350.org, “if it passes through parliament it will produce a shockwave in the market, dealing the largest blow to date to the illusion that the fossil fuel industry still has decades of business as usual ahead of it. The decision should sound like a red alert for private banks and investors whose oil and gas assets are becoming increasingly risky and morally untenable.”

    • Norwegian Government Proposes $40 Billion Divestment from Oil and Gas
    • Norwegian Government Recommends $7.5 Billion Divestment From Oil and Gas
    • Norway Set to Divest $1 Trillion Wealth Fund From Oil and Gas Exploration Companies

      The news that the world’s largest wealth fund, known as the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), which is highly influential just by its huge financial size, will divest from companies that explore and produce oil, “has sent shockwaves through the energy sector,” according to the Financial Times.

      Whilst the move is significant in driving the fossil fuel disinvestment momentum, the Financial Times notes there are caveats: “the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund has given a reprieve to the global oil majors” such as Shell and BP and “the fund appears to be allowed to still invest in oil and gas companies if they have activities in renewable energy.”

      The move is primarily concerned about protecting the Norwegian economy from any future plunge in the oil price rather than climate concerns, although these are mentioned by the government.

      In its report, published Friday, it stated that “Climate risk is an important financial risk factor for the GPFG, and may over time have an impact on several of the companies in which the Fund is invested, including those in the energy sector.”

      Norway’s Finance Minister Siv Jensen said: “The objective is to reduce the vulnerability of our common wealth to a permanent oil price decline. Hence, it is more accurate to sell companies which explore and produce oil and gas, rather than selling a broadly diversified energy sector.”

    • One Solution to Climate Change No One Is Talking About

      It was a nightmarish Iowa blizzard in 1998 that made Seth Watkins rethink the way he farmed.

      Before then, he’d operated his family business—he raises livestock alongside hay and corn crops for feed—pretty much as his parents had, utilizing practices like monocropping and unseasonal calving cycles, methods designed to cheat nature. The blizzard, which imperiled the lives of many newly born calves that year, made him realize there must be a better way to steward the land and the animals on it — methods more attuned to the natural scheme of things.

      In the 20 years since, Watkins has shepherded in a number of major changes—such as prairie strips, cover crops and rotational grazing—that prevent soil erosion, curb toxic nitrate and phosphorus runoff into nearby waterways, stimulate the biodiversity of the local ecosystems, and improve soil moisture and nutrient content, all the while increasing profits, he said.

      These regenerative farming practices also achieve one other key outcome — they improve the soil’s ability to sequester carbon. This is something that brings practical impacts at the local economic level. But soil carbon sequestration also has the potential to tackle one of the single greatest threats to humanity: anthropogenic climate change.

      “Carbon is life,” said Watkins. “Carbon really does belong in the soil where it sustains us.”

    • The Green New Deal Must Transform the Economy

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey introduced the Green New Deal on February 7, a resolution that deserves praise for putting forth the boldest climate change proposal in U.S. history.

      Considering two recent projections of catastrophic climate change — namely scientists’ warning of a runaway “hothouse Earth” scenario and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report detailing the impacts of a 1.5 degree Celsius (1.5°C) rise in global temperatures — an increasing number of scientists and activists are calling for a dramatic policy response to tackle climate change. The IPCC specifically calls for “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to prevent the 1.5-degree scenario.

      While centrist and self-fashioned “pragmatic” Democrats deny the scope of change necessary to address climate change by pushing ineffective, market-based solutions, the Green New Deal elevates the seriousness of climate change proposals and includes bringing the U.S. to net-zero carbon emissions in 10 years, increasing resiliency to climate impacts, investments in public transportation and “smart” energy infrastructure, overhauling transportation systems with high-speed rail and zero-emission vehicles, supporting sustainable agricultural practices, and using reforestation to absorb carbon.

      Although currently limited, as Representative Ocasio-Cortez acknowledges, the Green New Deal is the only climate change proposal to date that approximates what is necessary to avert catastrophe. The deal deserves widespread support. The left’s aim should be to identify where it does not go far enough, and to push for amendments and improvements early on to create a deal that is truly transformative. In addition to the proposals in the resolution, several additional measures would help to more rapidly, directly and effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two achievable and transformative additions to the deal are considered here: nationalizing and decommissioning fossil fuel companies, and work-time reduction.

    • Our Preoccupation with the Presidency is Killing the Planet

      The 2020 US presidential campaign is already underway. With each day that passes between now and election day, all other topics will receive less attention, both from talking heads on the news and from regular folks (and bots) in the social media universe.

      This is quite unfortunate because the race for this office is far less important than a myriad of other topics, chief among them the environment and (inextricably connected) US militarism.

      “But wait,” insists the true-believer political junkie. “The outcome of this race will have a big effect on those issues.”

      Yeah, except that it won’t.

      No matter what candidate is selected, the state of the environment will worsen and US militarism will march on unrestrained. This is a multi-decade trend that will not be reversed by changing the occupant of the Oval Office next year.

      Starting after Carter’s term in the late 70’s, the state of environmental and imperial affairs has worsened each time a new party takes over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They speak in different tones of voice, but pummel the world with the same corporate-powered club.

    • Pesticide Exposure Changes Bees’ Genes

      A new study has found that exposure to certain pesticides can alter bees’ genes, leading researchers to call for tougher regulations on the widely-used chemicals.

      The study, published Wednesday in Molecular Ecology, looked at the impact of two neonicotinoid pesticides on bumblebee populations and found that they impacted genes involved in a variety of important biological processes.

    • Militarised Conservation: Paramilitary Rangers and the WWF

      Think charity, think vulnerability and its endless well of opportunistic exploitation. Over the years, international charity organisations have been found with employees keen to take advantage of their station. That advantage has been sexual, financial and, in the case of allegations being made about the World Wild Life Fund for Nature, in the nature of inflicting torture on those accused of poaching.

      BuzzFeed, via reporters Tom Warren and Katie J.M. Baker, began the fuss with an investigative report claiming instances of torture and gross violence on the part of rangers assisted by the charity to combat poaching. It starts with a description of a dying man’s last days, one Shikharam Chaudhary, a farmer who was brutally beaten and tortured by forest rangers patrolling Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Shikharam, it seems, had been singled out for burying a rhinoceros horn in his backyard. The horn proved elusive, but not the unfortunate farmer, who was detained in prison. After nine days, he was dead.

      Three park officials including the chief warden were subsequently charged with murder. WWF found itself in a spot, given its long standing role in sponsoring operations by the Chitwan forest rangers. As the BuzzFeed report goes on to note, “WWF’s staff on the ground in Nepal leaped into action – not to demand justice, but to lobby for the charges to disappear. When the Nepalese government dropped the case months later, the charity declared its victory in the fight against poaching. Then WWF Nepal continued to work closely with the rangers and fund the park as if nothing had happened.”

      The report does not hold back, insisting that the alleged murder of the unfortunate Shikharam in 2006 was no aberration. “It was part of a pattern that persists to this day. In national parks across Asia and Africa, the beloved non-profit with the cuddly panda logo funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.”

    • Governor Appoints San Joaquin Valley Grower William Lyons to New ‘Agriculture Liaison’ Position

      The Governor’s Office’s press release didn’t mention that Bill Lyons owns Mapes Ranch, a3,500 acre “diversified farming and cattle operation” producing almonds, wheat, tomatoes, alfalfa, corn, grapes, oats, barley, beans, forage mix, and melons, adjacent to 3,000 acres of rangeland.

      Nor did the Governor’s Office mention that Mapes Ranch gets water through the Modesto Irrigation District (MID), a water district that sued the State Water Resources Control Board over the Phase 1 Update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan on January 10.

      Eye on Modesto, a blog by Emerson Blake about his “thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County” noted that Bill Lyons has been CEO of Lyons investments (read Mapes ranch) since 1976, “and that is around the time Bill began treating the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) as his personal fiefdom.”

      “Bill and or his family and business associates controlled three of the five votes on MID’s Board as long as most can remember (until Jim Mortensen bungled it),” claimed Blake. “For years they funded any challenge to his votes/puppets by cutting a campaign donation check for $5,000 anytime they were opposed during an election (in most elections they ran unopposed due to lack of interest). For perspective a $5,000 check in past MID terms was more like a $50,000, check today.”

      California Waterfowl applauded Newsom’s appointment of Lyons. “California Waterfowl works extensively with farmers, particularly rice growers, to provide habitat for migrating waterfowl in the fall, winter and spring, as well as nesting habitat for resident birds in the spring and summer. Bill Lyons understands conservation and water issues that California Waterfowl will be working on with the Governor’s office,” the group said in a statement.

    • Trade Group Targets Shareholders Pressuring Big Oil on Climate Change

      The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a 123-year-old trade group that has worked diligently to defend Big Oil in the burgeoning climate liability battles, has also taken on another opponent to the status quo: investors.

      In addition to filing briefs in defense of the fossil fuel industry, launching campaigns to discredit the communities filing suits and intervening on the side of the federal government in a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, NAM has rallied behind efforts to keep corporate shareholders from influencing how oil companies conduct business.

    • Who Will Displace the Omniciders?

      The only reason Congress has been an oil, gas, and coal toady, instead of an efficient, renewable energy force, is because we have sat on the sidelines watching ExxonMobil be Congress’ quarterback

    • The Last Best Chance to Save the Last Best Place

      The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act or NREPA was once again introduced into Congress by Rep. Carolyn Maloney from New York.

      NREPA would protect all the remaining roadless lands in the Northern Rockies by designation under the 1964 Wilderness Act. Conservation scientists recognize Wilderness as the “Gold Standard” for land protection.

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

      In addition to wilderness, it would designate and protect more than 1800 miles of rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

      NREPA would protect the best of the best wildlands in the United States and help ensure that ecological integrity of our ecosystems is conserved. It would help recover and preserve the high-quality habitat for endangered species like bull trout, grizzly bear, and lynx as well as other iconic species like elk, moose and bighorn sheep.

      It would help to battle climate heating by keeping carbon in our forests rather than logging them which has been shown to release tremendous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

    • The Trump Administration Pushes to Delist Wolves — and History Repeats Itself

      Wolves are in the Trump administration’s crosshairs, and it’s déjà vu all over again.

      This week David Bernhardt, acting secretary of the Department of the Interior and former oil-industry lobbyist, announced a plan to remove gray wolves (Canis lupus) from the protection of the Endangered Species Act throughout the lower 48 states.

      If finalized the long-rumored move would put an end to wolf recovery in the contiguous United States and open up many wolf populations to hunting, removal and expanded persecution by ranchers and farmers.

      Most scientists and conservation groups don’t agree that wolves have reached a sustainable population level or have recovered after being nearly eradicated in the early 20th century. Wolves once roamed across the country, and today there are only about 5,000 of them in eight states. Yet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which reports to Bernhardt, positioned this as a success story.

      “Recovery of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of our nation’s great conservation successes,” the Service said in a statement that was made available to the media on request but not published on their website. The agency said wolves were now “joining other cherished species, such as the bald eagle, that have been brought back from the brink with the help of the ESA.”

      The wording echoes back to what we heard during earlier attempts to remove wolves from the Endangered Species Act.

    • Realtime Training for the Cascadia Megaquake

      This part of Oregon doesn’t see this much snow, the last time around 1915, give or take, as snow records are not kept here. We live just west of Elkton along State Highway 38 where the Umpqua slices through the coast range, at the confluence of two creeks falling a quarter mile to the river, in a rectangle single story house on a couple acres surrounded by a sheep ranch that is also better populated by hundreds of mature black and white oaks with encroaching douglas firs.

      The storm came in the afternoon, a Sunday, picking up steam as the night progressed. Forecast for 2-4 inches of rain and localized flooding, a usual event, the Pineapple Express cold front instead slipped south or was just was colder aloft than thought, and instead we received the snow.

      Elkton is 35 miles from the Pacific Ocean and the snowfall gained intensity as the airmass rose inland, the Hawaiian river of condensation flowing up the river valley through the fragmented, monoculture rainforest remnant, first wringing it’s atmospheric towel at the coast range and never stopping until met with the dry continental polar of the rain shadow Cascade eastside that is meteorologically influenced by the Great Basin sagebrush steppe.

      [...]

      Electric crews are not ready here, many down in California fixing things after their State of Emergencies based in fire, slowing progress. They must first clear lines from roads for safety, then roads crews supplemented by local fire crews clear one lane of debris, days later moving to the clear rest to the ditches. For months they’ll be cleaning up the ditches, for years utilities and roads crews will struggle to clear their entire rights of way.

  • Finance

    • ‘Turning Its Back on Millions of Workers,’ Trump Admin Moves Backward With New Overtime Pay Rule

      Workers who are paid hourly and make less than $35,308 a year would qualify for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week, under the Trump proposal (pdf). While the rule features an increase from the current threshold of $23,660, it comes as a replacement for delayed Obama era guidelines that would have raised it to $47,476. The implementation of those guidelines has been held up in court.

      Economist Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the progressive Economic Policy Institute (EPI), said in a statement that Trump Department of Labor should defend the Obama administration’s rule rather than replace it with a weaker one.

      “A preliminary calculation suggests that well over half of the workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under the 2016 rule would be left behind by this rule,” Shierholz explained. “That means this administration is effectively turning its back on millions of workers.”

    • Obama: ‘Teachers are so grossly underpaid in this country’ that those in San Francisco ‘have no place to live’

      “Teachers are so grossly underpaid in this country,” he said. “If you live in San Francisco on a teacher’s salary, you literally have no place to live. And part of that is we don’t want to pay enough taxes to make sure those teachers can support their families.”

      He’d particularly like to see businesses change their point of view. Thanks to the wide variety of tax breaks in the tax code, some of the richest corporations in the land pay the lowest effective tax rates. Amazon, for instance, is said to have paid little to no federal taxes for years.

    • Amazon is shutting down all of its US kiosks in favor of expanding its physical stores

      Amazon’s pop-up stores have been operating since 2014, usually located inside malls as small kiosks selling devices like Echos, Kindles, and tablets. The kiosks have also operated inside Kohl’s and Whole Foods stores, with new pop-ups opening up as recently as a few months ago. However, the sudden shutdowns show how abruptly the company is shifting its retail strategy toward expanding its larger physical stores and product offerings.

    • Gender, Class and Capitalism

      A half-century ago a capitalist coup was launched in the U.S. to shift power from labor and the liberation movements of the 1960s to the lords of capital. The political trajectory since then has gone in only one direction— to the right. The populace— starting with those most likely to develop revolutionary tendencies according to official logic, has been mass incarcerated as the police have been militarized. A simulacrum of democracy was created through oppositional political parties that serve a single master— capital.

      How ‘we,’ the citizens of the West, got from there to here is a great mystery by design. Terms put forward as descriptive, like populism and economic anxiety, are cover for more brutal realities. The language and social dimensions of liberation were coopted as weapons of class warfare. Liberation movements, conceived in opposition to capitalism, were moved within its confines. Once within, these movements served to direct attention elsewhere as oligarchs made off with the greatest concentration of wealth in human history.

      Following from the women’s liberation movements of the 1960s, gender pay equity was separated from class struggle to be made a ‘women’s issue.’ Women workers in the U.S. have long been paid less than men for equivalent work. Since they began re-entering the (paid) labor force in large numbers in the 1970s, liberal efforts have centered on closing this gender pay gap. Left out of liberal framing is whether doing so would be achieved through raising the living standards of working-class women or lowering the relative position of labor in class terms.

    • Amazon Lobbies to Exempt Employees From Labor Protections

      Many of Amazon’s Seattle-area employees would be exempt from new labor protections in a bill passed by the state Senate after lobbyists for the tech giant pushed to change a key threshold in the rules.

      The protections would partially prohibit non-compete clauses — controversial agreements used by tech companies and others to block employees from going to work for competitors or launching rival startups.

      Lawmakers say Amazon lobbied to have the income threshold set at a level that would likely exempt many workers in Seattle.

      The effort came as the company has expanded its presence in the state capital, where its spending has tripled in recent years.

      The bill passed the Washington state Senate Tuesday with the salary threshold set at $100,000 – the level sought by Amazon. Employees above the threshold would be exempted from the labor protection. The original wage threshold in the measure was about $180,000.

    • Senators Urge IRS to Focus on Big-Time Tax Cheats, Citing ProPublica Stories

      Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and three fellow senators say the agency should do more to tackle financial crimes, even in the face of crippling budget cuts.

      [...]

      As ProPublica has documented with a series of articles, the IRS is a shadow of its former self, the result of a near-decadelong campaign by Republicans in Congress to starve the agency of funds. The agency’s enforcement staff has dropped by more than a third. That has been a boon to the rich and to tax cheats in particular, who have benefited from a collapse in audits, collections and criminal tax prosecutions.

      As we reported, and as the senators noted in their letter, the story has been different for the poor, as the IRS has devoted a disproportionate number of its audits to taxpayers who receive the earned income tax credit, one of the government’s largest antipoverty programs.

    • In Iowa, Sanders Addresses ‘Rural Community Issues We Almost Never Hear About’: Factory Farms and Big Ag

      Bernie Sanders took aim at factory farms and agribusiness in a speech kicking off his Iowa presidential campaign Thursday.

      “We need policies in Washington for rural America that represent the needs of working people and family farmers,” the Independent senator from Vermont told a crowd of around 2,000 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, “not agribusiness and large, multinational corporations.”

      That Sanders would focus on agriculture in his first Iowa appearance isn’t a surprise: the Midwestern state has seen an explosion in factory farming over the past two decades and that growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. According to a report at Food and Water Watch, there were at least 15,000 factory farms in operation in Iowa in 2018—producing untold amounts of pollution and waste.

    • ‘A Message to Corporate CEOs Across the Country,’ Says Sanders, After Wabtec Workers Claim Strike Victory

      “It is absolutely unacceptable for profitable corporations to provide obscene compensation packages to executives, while ripping off workers and their families,” the senator and 2020 presidential candidate said in a statement.

      “Their victory is not only a win for the workers at Wabtec, but for workers all around America who are sick and tired of seeing their standard of living decline as a result of corporate greed,” he added.

      Sanders helped thrust the nearly two-week strike into the national spotlight by pledging his support for the striking workers and inviting union leader Scott Slawson to speak at his first 2020 presidential rally in Brooklyn on Saturday.

    • Elizabeth Warren Declares War on Big Tech

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced on Medium on Friday her intention for “big, structural change” to the tech sector if she’s elected president in 2020. Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said that her administration would break up tech giants Facebook, Google and Amazon.

      Her broad plan proposes ways to reduce tech giants’ political and economic power, prioritizing ways to allow smaller businesses to compete in the marketplace. She would pass legislation saying that companies that make more than $25 billion annually from services such as Google Search, Amazon Marketplace and Google Ad Exchange would be designated as “platform utilities.” They would be barred from sharing data with third parties or owning a company that uses their platforms, which would stop Google and Amazon from prioritizing their own products in search results.

    • Elizabeth Warren Praised for Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled her plan for how to break up the nation’s technology behemoths on Friday.

      The Democratic senator from Massachusetts, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination for president, laid out her proposal in a Medium post entitled “Here’s How We Can Break Up Big Tech.” In the post, Warren argued that it’s essential to crack down on the unfair market advantage enjoyed by Amazon, Facebook, and Google in order to boost competition and fuel innovation.

      [...]

      “Sen. Warren’s proposal rightly recognizes that digital platforms have become the core infrastructure of our economy,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and author of multiple deep-dives into Amazon’s threats to an open market. “If we’re going to restore competition and protect the free exchange of goods and ideas, then we cannot allow Amazon and other big tech companies to continue to use their control of this infrastructure to privilege their own goods and services at the expense of their competitors.”

    • Elizabeth Warren Wants To Break Up Amazon, Google And Facebook; But Does Her Plan Make Any Sense?

      Let me make my position clear on all this too: I am always supportive of greater competition, and have always been a huge supporter of disrupting incumbents, because I believe that’s how we get to better innovations. But I also believe that this is rarely done by government intervention, and usually comes from new technologies and new innovations in the marketplace. For years now I’ve been talking about why the real way to “break up” big tech platforms is to push for a world of protocols, rather than platforms, which would push the power out to the ends of the network, rather than keeping them centralized under a single silo with a giant owner.

      But I fear that nearly all of these plans to “break up” big tech actually make that harder. It doesn’t open up new opportunities for a protocol-based approach, and simply assumes that the world will always be managed by giant platform companies — just slightly smaller, and highly regulated, ones. And that might actually lead us to a much worse future, one that is still controlled by more centralized systems, rather than more decentralized, distributed protocols where the users have power.

      The internet is a constant challenge with lots of new upstarts hoping to disrupt the big guys. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. We should be wary of companies with too much power abusing that position to block competition. And I’m certainly open to looking at specific situations where it’s alleged that these companies are blocking competitors, but a general position that says breaking up the internet giants seems more opportunistic and headline-grabbing than realistic.

    • American Net Worth Fell a Record $4 Trillion at End of 2018

      Total American household net worth fell by $4 trillion at the end of 2018, sparking fears that the economy may be headed to a downturn.

      Data from the Federal Reserve in its quarterly Flow of Funds report showed the decline. The drop was “the single largest quarterly dollar drop on record,” according to a blog post on the data by The Big Picture’s Barry Ritholtz.

      “As a comparison, the U.S. bear market losses from 2007-2009 = $11 trillion dollars,” wrote Ritholz.

    • #ChiMayor19—Episode 4: Ending Austerity For Chicago Public Schools

      In conjunction with reporting from journalist Aaron Cynic on the Chicago mayoral election, Shadowproof is producing a limited podcast series, “#ChiMayor19,” featuring Aaron.

      A new episode will be posted after each of Aaron’s reports on issues, which grassroots groups believe candidates for mayor must address if they are elected.

      The fourth episode in the series is on the resentment toward Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s education policies that led Chicago to send two candidates to a runoff election who have repudiated Emanuel’s agenda to various degree during their campaigns. It ties in to Aaron’s report published on February 28.

    • Nearly 1.4 Million Puerto Ricans Facing ‘Dangerous’ Food Stamp Cuts as Trump and Congress Fail to Act

      With hurricane relief funding stalled in Congress due to opposition from the Trump administration, Puerto Rico has reportedly started slashing food stamps in an attempt to preserve the life-saving program.

      The move could harm as many as 1.4 million Puerto Ricans—including hundreds of thousands of children and elderly people.

      [...]

      Socorro Rivera, executive director of the San Juan non-profit La Fondita de Jesús, told the Post that “a lot of people will have severe problems” if the Congress and the Trump administration do not act quickly to provide relief.

      “It is dangerous. People don’t have enough money to buy food already,” Rivera said.

      The reductions in food stamp assistance come just over a month after the Trump administration dismissed as “excessive and unnecessary” House Democrats’ plan to provide $600 million in funding for Puerto Rico’s Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP).

      According to the Post, the White House is now backing a broad Republican proposal that includes $600 million in food stamp aid to Puerto Rico, but there is no vote scheduled on the measure.

    • Puerto Rico Forced to Slash Basic Food Aid While Waiting for Washington to Act

      Some 1.35 million low-income residents of Puerto Rico — more than a third of its population — reportedly have had, or will have, their food assistance benefits cut dramatically this month because its disaster food aid has run out and the President and Congress haven’t granted the governor’s request for $600 million more in funding. The House passed an aid package that includes the funds. A proposal introduced in the Senate also extends disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico, but the Senate must act quickly to ensure those still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricanes María and Irma can meet their basic food needs.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Amazon Is Flooding D.C. With Money and Muscle: The Influence Game

      Federal records show that Amazon.com Inc. lobbied more government entities than any other tech company in 2018 and sought to exert its influence over more issues than any of its tech peers except Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Last year, Amazon spent $14.2 million on lobbying, a record for the company, up from its previous high mark of $12.8 million in 2017. The $77 million that the nine tech companies in the charts below spent in 2018 to lobby Washington looks minuscule next to the $280 million spent by pharmaceutical and health-care products companies. Tech has, however, pulled ahead of the $64 million that commercial banks spent—and Amazon in particular has a cachet that allows it to punch above its weight at times. Of the nine, only the $21 million Google spent on lobbying beat Amazon’s total. Since 2012, Amazon has ramped up spending by more than 460 percent—much faster than its rivals.

    • Tim Cook is now Tim Apple on Twitter

      Apple CEO Tim Cook has slyly changed his name to “Tim Apple” on Twitter, an apparent reference to the president of the United States, perhaps mistakenly, messing up his name at a meeting. Technically, it’s “Tim ,” but only Mac and iOS users can see the Apple logo symbol.

    • Capitalism and the Reactionary Power of White Identity Politics

      Momentum for building a post-neoliberal U.S. has been gaining strength with each passing day. However, despite the rise of new and exciting figures, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the tide of striking teachers in even GOP dominated states, we must remain aware that whenever there has been potential for revolutionizing government and politics, there has always followed a reactionary and brutal backlash.

      For instance, during Reconstruction, a counterrevolutionary force swept across the South, erecting a system of apartheid and which stripped away newly won economic and political rights for most African Americans. Similarly, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, as African Americans fought to end apartheid across the country, their efforts were met with violence and terror.

      Whenever there has been possibility for the U.S. to free itself from capitalist rule, there has always been a countervailing force allowing for the status quo to recover and regenerate. And often, that countervailing/counterrevolutionary threat that has time and time again cut short eras brimming with hope and promise has been white identarian politics.

      Economic elites and the Right recognize the power of whiteness and its ability to stall major political and economic progress. Although there is now an energized Left in this country, there remains the opportunity for white identity politics to reemerge more potent than ever, especially as Donald Trump and his billionaire allies are desperate to maintain their power in the face of demographic change and the reality that many young people have become jaded with capitalism. If the Left hopes to succeed in turning their vision for economic and political liberation into reality, understanding the reactionary power of white identity politics is essential.

    • No Strategies to Erase Damage Already Done

      Democrats face a challenge that Republicans do not face and that is reconciling a drive for diversity with the urgency of mounting the best challenge to President Trump. More broadly, the challenge is to an Overripe Capitalism that has settled democracy into oligarchy and now, with President Trump, a threatening autocracy.

      But an additional part is achieving this on a stage, both spatial and psychic, where neither a drive for diversity nor the urgency of challenging capitalism is overwhelming the country. This is all less than overwhelming when you imagine how Trump will brand everything in the Green New Deal as socialist. Thus, much needed immediate action on global warming will be tagged as not only conspiratorial science but also socialist.

      Sen. Sherrod Brown, however, won a third term in Ohio even though he was smeared as a socialist, a signifier he wisely avoids. However, the heart of his address is to workers and this theme aligns him with the most far left of the Democrats. This seems to me a clear example, a blueprint, of how socialist leaning Democrats can succeed in 2020. Whether the fact that Brown is a 66 year old white male negates his chances in a 2020 presidential race depends on whether the Democratic Party considers his electoral success in the Midwest of less importance than running a diversity candidate.

      I need to step back here because I’m not a politician and don’t practice the art of the possible but I recall that in the 2016 presidential election Bernie Sanders failed in reconciling major social justice concerns of the modern left, such as race, gender, and sexuality and his call “to stand up to Wall Street.” A Twitter backlash to Bernie’s call to go beyond identity politics proved to be fatal, perhaps as fatal to him as the Democratic Party’s secret campaign against his campaign.

      But the issue remains more than ever prominent in Democratic politics, invigorated by the diversity victories in the midterm Congressional elections. That momentum can perhaps lead to a doubling down on the diversity and identity politics side on the part of Democrats. A woman or Trans woman of color may satisfy the most pressing requirements to which that Party feels it needs to respond. Thus, the success of diversity in the Congressional elections can also be seen as a blueprint for Democratic victory in 2020.

    • Liberals Are Digging Their Own Grave With Russiagate

      “This new Cold War [is] more dangerous than the preceding Cold War,” Professor Stephen Cohen tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” Cohen, a professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University, has a new book out that addresses the possibility of a U.S.-Russia armed conflict in the near future. Part of the current rejection of the Kremlin that has brought the two nations to this dangerous brink, according to Cohen, is rooted in the U.S. political elites’ desire to maintain their ability to determine the world order. When Vladimir Putin was first elected, the professor explains, it became immediately obvious that he wanted Russia to take part in shaping “how the world is structured.”

      “Since then, [there’s a] sense that America doesn’t have a free hand any longer … but I don’t think our establishment has ever gotten used to this reality,” says Cohen. “And a lot of the catastrophes we see, including the wars, is a kind of Don Quixote tilting at these windmills with war, because the world’s not conforming to what Washington thinks it ought to be. Nor will it ever, any longer.”

      Joining the two is Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, to discuss the neo-McCarthyism that has been unleashed by Russiagate and what the journalist calls “Trump derangement syndrome” that leads liberals to buy into hysteria surrounding Russia so long as it serves an anti-Trump agenda. While vanden Heuvel argues that the American left is making significant progress on domestic issues, even progressive leaders such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren “have to some extent bought into this new Cold War.”

      Highlighting the dangers of the current anti-Kremlin hysteria, the journalist posits that in the upcoming general election, however, “you’re going to see people moving ideas forward on the foreign policy front that will not be Trumpian, but will be first principle of restraint, realism, anti-intervention, not policing the world and understanding that endless war is a disaster.”

    • SWAT Politics: Law Enforcement and its New Critics

      The Mueller investigation and its surrounding silly partisan atmosphere have at least created some new bedfellows. On one hand ostensible liberals stand firmly with the FBI while conservatives rant about draconian repression. In the aftermath of the January 25th pre-dawn raid on the home of Roger Stone, Trump political advisor and overall reptilian, an unlikely chorus raged about disproportionate force. Disgraced former governor and Trump’s luckless toady Chris Christie labeled the raid ‘overkill.’ Stone, despite his back tattoo of Nixon emerging without a scratch, was quick to shout ‘To storm my house with greater force than was used to take down bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, to terrorize my wife and my dogs is unconscionable.’ Bin Laden and Escobar were of course was shot in head.

      Newt Gingrich, commenting on an earlier raid, that on the New York office of former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen in April 2018, the days before this same chorus tagged Cohen as a liar and a rat, righteously proclaimed ‘It ain’t the rule of law when they kick in your door at 3 o’clock in the morning and you’re faced with armed men. And you have no reason to be told you’re going to have that kind of treatment. That’s Stalin. That’s Gestapo in Germany. That shouldn’t be the American FBI.’ Former FBI man Rudy Giuliani, a man never shy on ‘law and order’, who back in 1992 stood in front of a drunken police riot against an independent Civilian Review Board and who later as mayor pettily unsealed Patrick Dorismond’s juvenile record, Dorismond was an unarmed security guard who was murdered by police, Giuliani gushed that Dorismond wasn’t ‘an altar-boy’ yet labeled the agents that hit Cohen’s office as ‘stormtroopers.’ World class blowhard Lindsay Graham called the Stone raid ‘inacceptable’ and questioned just how common such tactics are and whether usual procedures were followed.

      As is seemingly always the case, the apparent principled outrage on the part of politicians mainly serves the purpose of proving the sheer depth of their reactionary brains. How likely is it that any of the above would reference the May 2014 SWAT team raid on a home in Georgia in the middle of the night that left a 19 year old baby critically injured after a stun grenade fired into the house landed in his playpen? The police had the wrong house and the family, though eventually receiving a settlement, was left with a $1 million medical bill. None of the officers, who that early morning were packing Colt submachine guns, light-mounted AR-15 rifles and Glock .40-caliber sidearm, along with a door-breaching shotgun, a battering ram, sledgehammers, Halligan bars for smashing windows, and a ballistic shield, would be charged.

    • Robert Reich: America Is Rotting From the Top

      Donald Trump has perfected the art of telling a fake story about America. The only way to counter that is to tell the real story of America.

      Trump’s story is by now familiar: he alone will rescue average Americans from powerful alien forces – immigrants, foreign traders, foreign politicians and their international agreements – that have undermined the wellbeing of Americans.

      These forces have been successful largely because Democrats, liberals, “socialists,” cultural elites, the Washington establishment, the media and “deep state” bureaucrats have helped them, in order to enrich themselves and boost their power. Not surprisingly, according to Trump, these forces seek to remove him from office.

      What makes Trump’s story powerful to some Americans despite its utter phoniness is that it echoes the four tales Americans have been telling ourselves since before the founding of the Republic.

      To combat Trump’s fake story, we need a true story based on facts, logic and history. But in order for that true story to resonate with Americans, it must also echo the same four tales.

      [...]

      This is the story of threatening forces beyond our borders. Daniel Boone fought Indians, described then in racist terms as “savages.” Davy Crockett battled Mexicans. Much the same tale gave force to cold war tales during the 1950s of international communist plots to undermine American democracy. The moral: we must be vigilant against external threats.

      As with the other tales, this one has an important element of truth. America battled Hitler and other fascists in the second world war. The Soviet danger was real.

      But Trump wants Americans to believe that today’s Mob at the Gates consists of immigrants, foreign traders and democratically elected governments that have been our allies for decades or more.

      Wrong. These days the real Mob at our gates are thugs like Vladimir Putin and other tyrants around the world who are antagonistic toward democratic institutions, intolerant of ethnic minorities, hostile toward the free press and eager to use government to benefit themselves and those who support them.

      [...]

      But the real Rot at the Top consists of concentrated wealth and power to a degree this nation hasn’t witnessed since the late 19th century. Billionaires, powerful corporations, and Wall Street have gained control over much of our economy and political system, padding their nests with special tax breaks and corporate welfare while holding down the wages of average workers.

      In this, the rich have been helped by Republicans in Congress and the White House whose guiding ideology seems less capitalism than cronyism, as shown time and again through legislative and regulatory gifts to Big Pharma, Wall Street, Big Oil and Coal, Big Agriculture, and giant military contractors.

      America’s true story shouldn’t end with Trump’s authoritarianism and nativism.

    • In connection with Maria Butina, FBI agents reportedly questioned people close to Dmitri Simes, the president of the Center for the National Interest

      While investigating Maria Butina for illegal foreign agent activities, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly explored her ties to Russian-American political expert and Center for the National Interest president Dimitri Simes, who has co-hosted a talk show on Russian state television since 2018. Two sources who know Simes told the online project Otkrytye Media (Open Media) that FBI agents previously questioned them about Simes’s connections to Butina. After Butina’s arrest in July 2018, federal agents reportedly visited the Center for the National Interest in Washington, D.C.

    • Bill Shine Resigns as White House Communications Director
    • Trump Knew It All, From the Beginning

      Every week seems to bring another Trump scandal. There are so many now we’re going to have to start numbering them. Up until now the sheer volume of alleged misdeeds and malfeasance has actually worked in the president’s favor. There is so much out there that it’s hard to keep the whole picture straight in your mind and that has the weird effect of making things seem less serious than they actually are.

      We know that the Trump base and the vast majority of Republican voters still support the president and think it’s all nothing but a witch hunt. They are mesmerized by the president and propagandized by Fox News and other right-wing media. But I would imagine that even people who don’t like Trump but don’t follow all this closely or in much detail wonder whether maybe the whole thing is just a collection of complaints that don’t really add up to anything.

      That’s why it’s meaningful when the likes of Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of Axios, journalists whom the political establishment sees as avatars of acceptable mainstream thinking, decide that it’s time to take stock of how many scandals are now being investigated and how wide the scope of the alleged criminality and corruption has become. It’s rather sobering. On Thursday they wrote out a partial list, entitling it, “The biggest political scandal in American history.”

    • Trump’s Former Campaign Boss Manafort Sentenced to 47 Months

      Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Thursday to nearly four years in prison for tax and bank fraud related to his work advising Ukrainian politicians, a significant break from sentencing guidelines that called for a 20-year prison term.

      Manafort, sitting in a wheelchair as he deals with complications from gout, showed no visible reaction as he heard the 47-month sentence.

      The sentence caps the only jury trial following indictments stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. It was not related to Manafort’s role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Says Justice System ‘Broken’ as Critics Rip ‘Atrociously Low’ Sentence for Manafort

      “It’s atrociously low,” Barbara McQuade, law professor at the University of Michigan and former U.S. attorney, told the New York Times.

      While “many judges do sentence leniently in white-collar cases,” she added, “dropping all the way from 19 years to four years is absurd.”

      McQuade expanded on her criticism of Manafort’s sentence in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, saying the lenient prison term “suggests that the wealthy and the powerful do better in court than many other defendants do, and I think it is an attack on the legitimacy of the criminal justice system.”

    • The “Hirak” Movement in Algeria Against Bouteflika’s “Mandate of Shame”

      Announced as a candidate for a fifth term, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on Saturday, 2nd March has been hospitalised in a clinic in Switzerland since Sunday, 24th February. The Algerian head of state, who could not have been quieter since he fell victim to a serious stroke in April 2013, had already been re-elected without public intervention during the campaign in 2014. Since then, as the Algériepart online media journalist Abdou Semmar explained in an interview conducted by Le Media, Bouteflika’s decision to stay in power in Algeria since 1999 has brought the regime’s institutions to a collapse through inter-clan fighting for his estate.

      In the meantime, the exasperation of the Algerian people seems to have reached its peak in the face of yet another electoral joke, which is scheduled for the 18th of April. Following a text posted on the internet where he displays a sign on which is written “No to a fifth term”, Hadj Ghermoul, member of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) and the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of Unemployed (CNDDC), was arrested on 29th January, and then sentenced on 7th February to 6 months in prison in Mascara (west of the country), officially for “contempt of a constituent body”. The attempt to stifle a protest against Bouteflika’s new term, which since then has been growing, seems to have failed.

    • The ‘We the People Amendment’ Aims to Fix the Crisis of Corporate Rule

      The “fixers” for corporate agents and economic elites in all these schemes has been Supreme Court Justices. Despite no reference to corporations anywhere in the Constitution, the Supreme Court concocted time and again that the civil and property rights of corporations trump human and community rights, which disproportionately harms people of color, the poor, working people, seniors and children.

      By hijacking the Constitution, corporations and economic elites have gained multiple tools to not merely influence elections, but to capture government with all its power to create or overturn laws and regulations to serve their interests. Business corporations have become the single most powerful institution of governance in our nation while billionaires are co-conspirators in the system of legalized bribery otherwise known as political elections and pay-to-play law making. Government is broken because the system is fixed. No wonder so many people are angry at governments not meeting their needs—at this point the system isn’t designed to meet them at all!

      The We the People Amendment is based on the uncompromising and unapologetic belief that, among many other concerns, the crises of widespread climate collapse, inadequate and unaffordable health coverage, widening rich-poor wealth gap, rising gun violence, legalized poisoning of our food and bodies, inability of local communities to protect the health and safety of their residents, and the next looming economic crash (which will be the worst yet if not prevented) all have two things in common. They are largely the result of corporate rule and oligarchy and the solution is radical democracy.

    • T-Mobile Still Pretending That Staying At Trump’s DC Hotel Isn’t An Obvious Ploy To Gain Merger Approval

      As Legere has attempted to sell the press, public, and regulators on the deal, he’s adopted many of his competitors’ worst habits. It’s been clearly documented in countries like Canada or Ireland that when you reduce the total number of major wireless competitors from four to three, it results in dramatically higher rates as the incentive to compete on price is proportionally reduced. Such telecom mergers almost always result in significant layoffs as redundant positions are eliminated. Wall Street predicts T-Mobile’s merger will be no different, eliminating anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 jobs.

      This is not alien territory. In US telecom, these megadeals almost uniformly make the sector worse, as your wallet can attest. Yet both Sprint and T-Mobile execs have engaged in the same old game of Charlie Brown and Lucy football, breathlessly insisting that this deal will somehow be different.

    • Not Even One Republican Voted for Sweeping House Bill to Improve Democracy, Make Voting Easier

      Not a single House Republican voted for sweeping Democratic legislation that would strengthen voting rights and reduce the influence of corporate money on the political process.

      The “For the People Act” (H.R. 1) passed on Friday by 234-193 party-line vote. All 193 no votes were by Republicans. Four Republicans did not vote.

      “Protecting our democracy shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but the Republican Party has decided it is unwilling to even consider reform despite virtually all Americans agreeing that our system is broken,” Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, said in a statement.

      “Today’s vote on H.R. 1 is a monumental step forward for our country that will hopefully lead to the people retaking control of our government from special interests, lobbyists, and billionaire donors,” Pearl added. “It’s also a shameful reminder that Republicans are pursuing political power for the few over the fundamental values that this country was founded on.”

    • Momentum for DC Statehood Surges as HR 1 Passage ‘Paves the Way’ to End Disenfranchisement

      Support for Washington, D.C. statehood appears to have reached a new high in Congress.

      With Friday’s passage in the House of H.R. 1, which endorses D.C. statehood, legislation that would end the district’s 200 years of disenfranchisement is primed for consideration, says its sponsor.

      Democratic non-voting Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced H.R. 51, the “Washington, D.C. Admission Act,” in January. A hearing on the legislation, she said then, would “provide a prime opportunity to inform and remind Americans that over 700,000 of their fellow citizens who live in the nation’s capital are denied their basic democratic rights.” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has partner legislation pending in the Senate.

    • Will 2020 Be the Year Presidential Candidates Actually Take Labor Issues Seriously?

      Call it a sin of omission, but the historic decline of labor union power was on full display during recent CNN town hall meetings with 2020 Democratic presidential aspirants Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar.

      All three nationally televised forums featured questions on a range of issues from students, nonprofit directors, community leaders and other traditional Democratic constituencies (including undisclosed lobbying firms), but not a single question was asked about national labor law.

      It’s not just CNN, either. By and large, the announced 2020 presidential candidates have not spoken at length on the stump about their agenda for labor, at least not yet, instead sticking to broader themes such as economic inequality and policies like raising the minimum wage, Medicare-for-All, free college tuition and universal child care.

      “The candidates are making a distinction between labor policy and labor issues,” David Yepsen, the host of Iowa Press and a leading expert on presidential politics, told In These Times. “It’s politically safer to talk about health care, expanded Medicare, and a higher minimum wage than it is to talk about things like card check.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Can a judge order Elon Musk to delete his Twitter account?

      The problem isn’t just that the tweet was inaccurate. According to the SEC’s filing, Tesla admitted that no one had reviewed Musk’s misleading tweet before it went live, even though the settlement agreement specifically calls for a lawyer to review Musk’s Tesla-related tweets.

      Musk now has to file his own new paperwork, telling the court why he shouldn’t be held in contempt by March 11th. A possible next step is that a judge will hear arguments from the SEC and Musk about whether Musk’s tweet violated the settlement.

    • The Inextricable Link Between Modern Free Speech Law and the Civil Rights Movement

      In Sullivan, the Supreme Court firmly rejected the efforts of Southern officials opposed to civil rights to strangle the civil rights movement through crushing defamation liability judgments in state courts in Alabama and elsewhere. Were it not for the Sullivan decision, they may well have succeeded. It’s a lesson we should not forget as we consider today’s debates about free speech online. The opinion addresses issues like what we might now call “fake news” and attacking intermediaries to silence the speakers who rely on them. The strategy of bringing defamation and similar claims to try to drown political opposition certainly continues today, for example, with recent efforts to sue Greenpeace and other protestors.

      Contrary to Justice Thomas’ remarks in 2019 that “[t]he states are perfectly capable of striking an acceptable balance between encouraging robust public discourse and providing a meaningful remedy for reputational harm,” the Supreme Court in 1964 did not trust Alabama to do so, or to apply other seemingly neutral laws in an acceptable way. That lack of distrust was well-founded. The plaintiff-friendly common law of defamation applied by the Alabama courts, and most states, was just one tool that officials and courts used as part of a widespread effort to suppress the civil rights movement. Indeed, Sullivan was just one of several cases the Supreme Court decided against Alabama officials in 1964 alone repudiating their efforts to broadly suppress the civil rights movement

    • Informal Censorship: The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)

      The IWF, as a de facto Internet censor, has been popular with some people and organisations and controversial with others. The IWF deals with deeply disturbing material, which is relatively easily identified and usually uncontroversial to remove or block. This is relatively unique for content regulation.

      Nevertheless, their partners’ systems for blocking have in the past created visible disruption to Internet users, including in 2008 to Wikipedia across the UK.[1] Companies employing IWF lists have often blocked material with no explanation or notice to people accessing a URL, causing additional problems.Some of its individual decisions have also been found wanting. Additional concerns have been created by apparent mission creep, as the IWF has sought or been asked to take on new duties. Its decisions are not subject to prior independent review, and it is unclear that ISP-imposed restrictions are compatible with EU law, in particular the EU Open Internet regulations, which indicate that a legal process should be in place to authorise any blocking.[2] Ideally, this would be resolved by the government providing a simple but independent authorisation process that the IWF could access.

    • On Freedom of Speech and the Revenge of Individual 1

      Ever fittingly, the current pernicious regime marked International Women’s Day by presenting prestigious Women of Courage Awards to 10 women around the world who conspicuously did not include Jessikka Aro, a renowned Finnish investigative journalist who has long faced down death threats and smear campaigns for her work exposing the Russian propaganda machine; who was earlier notified she had won the award; but who was then, according to Foreign Policy, told oops, sorry, “regrettable error” after U.S. officials stalked her social media and discovered she finds Trump as immoral, incompetent and despicable as the rest of us. In one recent tweet Aro, who is writing a book about Russian trolls and their influence, responded to a berserk “fake media/ witch hunt/ bad people” Trump rant with, “Thanks for providing a never-ending flow of inspiration my book. Your tweets constantly remind me of the importance of my (and Bob Mueller’s) work.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FBI Director Chris Wray Needs To Shut The Fuck Up About Encryption

      Wray can’t honestly define where encryption should stop and law enforcement access begin. All he can do is claim the status quo isn’t working because sometimes the FBI can’t get into a seized device. But how many times is encryption actually bringing an investigation to a halt? That’s something Wray won’t talk about, even though he has access to this information.

      What CNET charitably calls a “back and forth” conversation between Chris Wray and tech companies is actually nothing more than Wray complaining about encryption and ignoring everything he hears back from the companies that would be affected.

      Wray needs to take his anti-encryption ball and go home. Not because I disagree with him, but because the FBI has handled this “conversation” disingenuously since day one. The “going dark” narrative hasn’t been backed by evidence or facts. The FBI misrepresented the number of uncrackable devices it had in its possession for more than three years. Once legislators started demanding proof, the FBI discovered it had no idea how many devices it had on hand.

      No further details have been delivered by the FBI, but it’s safe to assume the original estimate of 8-9,000 devices is actually less than a quarter of that. But we don’t know what the actual count is because the FBI has yet to issue an updated number.

    • Clapper Continues To Pretend He Didn’t Lie To Congress About Domestic Surveillance Programs

      Since everyone clearly knew he was lying, Clapper spent the next several days claiming he wasn’t. First, he said he meant the NSA wasn’t “voyeurestically” reading everyone’s emails. Good, but not what Wyden asked. Then he said it was the only response he could give to Wyden’s “when did you stop beating your wife” question. Then he claimed he thought Wyden was asking about another collection entirely: the foreign-facing Section 702 program (which does, inadvertently, collect a lot of US person data/communications).

      This is the legacy Clapper has secured for himself. He won’t be remembered for his IC leadership or his post-IC career talking headmanship. Nope, it will be his super-weak, super-transparent lie, delivered to a US Senator against a backdrop of leaked documents showing the NSA did “wittingly” collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans.

      Nearly six years later, Clapper is telling the same story to anyone who asks him about this hearing, ensuring the word “Clapper” and “lie” will remain inseparable. The Section 215 program Clapper was alluding to — the program exposed in the first Snowden leak — is back in the news, thanks to an unexpected early retirement.

    • A Privacy-Focused Facebook? We’ll Believe It When We See It.

      At the core of Zuckerberg’s announcement is Facebook’s plan to merge its three messaging platforms: Facebook’s Messenger, Instagram’s Direct, and WhatsApp. The announcement promises security and privacy features across the board, including end-to-end encryption, ephemerality, reduced data retention, and a commitment to not store data in countries with poor human rights records. This would mean that your messages on any of these platforms would be unreadable to anyone but you and your recipients; could be set to disappear at certain intervals; and would not be stored indefinitely or in countries that are likely to attempt to improperly access your data. Even better, the announcement promises that Facebook will not store your encryption keys for any of these services, as is already the case with WhatsApp.

      This all sounds great, in theory. But secure messaging is not easy to get right at either the technical or policy level.

      Secure messaging is not easy to get right at either the technical or policy level.

      In technical terms, end-to-end encryption is only part of the story. In practice, the choices that undermine messaging security often lie far from the encryption engine. Strong authentication, for example, is necessary to ensure that you are messaging only with your intended recipients and not with any law enforcement “ghosts.” Automatic backups are another potential chink in the armor; if you choose to have WhatsApp back up your messages, it stores an unencrypted copy of your messages on iCloud (for iPhone) or Google Drive (for Android), essentially undermining the app’s end-to-end encryption.

      The prospect of merging WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger also raises concerns about combining identities that users intended to keep separate. Each of the three uses a different way to establish your identity: WhatsApp uses your phone number; Instagram asks for a username; and Messenger requires your “authentic name.” It’s not unusual for people to use each app for different parts of their life; therapists, sex workers, and activists, for example, face huge risks if they can no longer manage separate identities across these platforms.

      Zuckerberg’s announcement claims that merging the three apps “would be opt-in and you will be able to keep your accounts separate if you like.” An opt-in—not an opt-out—is an important safety valve and the right choice. Time will tell if a merged “Whatstamessenger” can pull off this promise.

    • Mapping Communication Between Facebook Accounts Using a Browser-Based Side Channel Attack

      A now-patched vulnerability in the web version of Facebook Messenger allowed any website to expose who you have been messaging with.

      In a previous post, I showed how your Facebook likes, location history, and other metadata could have been extracted from your Facebook account using a side-channel attack I named “Cross-Site Frame Leakage,” or CSFL for short.

      In this post, I’ll formalize the CSFL attack, cover the latest enhancements to it, and review the vulnerability I disclosed to Facebook.

    • This Facebook Messenger Bug Revealed Your Messages To Anyone [Patched]

      Mark Zuckerberg-owned Facebook has been surrounded by a host of privacy issues. In addition to the existing ones, a new Facebook bug has surfaced which allowed anyone to view your messages.

      According to a blog post by the Imperva, a cybersecurity firm, Facebook Messenger was prone to a vulnerability (now patched) that allowed Cross-Site Frame Leakage or CSFL attacks, digging out information from the iFrame elements in the app.

    • HTTPS Server: now with seamless Let’s Encrypt support

      Yesterday, I introduced HTTPS Server as a development server. What a difference a day makes! Today, with seamless Let’s Encrypt support via the excellent Greenlock.js module1, HTTPS Server is ready for use as a secure Small Tech personal web server for development and deployment. It is a human-scale tool for creating and hosting single-tenant/personal web applications using Node.js.

    • Exclusive: ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City

      Despite this inclusive and peaceful sentiment, Representative Espaillat’s rally ended up on a government list. In an e-mail sent out on the afternoon of July 31, 2018, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the investigative arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), transmitted detailed information to an undisclosed number of recipients, including at least one Department of Homeland Security supervisor, about public protests planned by mostly liberal and left-leaning groups in New York City. The e-mail contained a four-page document, titled “Anti-Trump Protest Spreadsheet 07/31/2018,” which listed the time, date, location, and purpose of upcoming protests slated to take place around the city.

      The document, which covered protests that occurred between July 31 and August 17 last year, also contained the names of the groups sponsoring each protest and the number of people who had signed up on Facebook to attend them.

    • Facebook takes a shot at Apple in China, says it won’t store data in certain countries

      In a long manifesto about Facebook’s future, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is willing to be banned in countries that object to its new focus on privacy, specifically the emphasis on secure data storage. That might sink any chance of Facebook operating in China, a huge market it’s been flirting with entering for years. But it also might let Facebook claim some moral high ground over one of its competitors: Apple.

    • Mark Zuckerberg announces his firm’s next business model

      Facebook’s plans in India provide some insight into the new model. It has built a payment system into WhatsApp, the country’s most-used messaging app. The system is waiting for regulatory approval. The market is huge. In the rest of the world, too, users are likely to be drawn in by the convenience of Facebook’s new networks. Mr Zuckerberg’s latest strategy is ingenious but may contain twists.

    • Zuckerberg: Facebook will shift focus to private networks instead of open ones

      Zuckerberg additionally announces that the company will integrate WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger into one messaging system, allowing users to seamlessly send and receive messages between them.

    • Zuckerberg says Facebook will shift to privacy-oriented platform

      The post comes as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly considers levying a record multimillion-dollar fine against Facebook over its handling of user privacy. The social media behemoth has faced an ongoing barrage of scandals over its data privacy practices, with governments and privacy watchdogs around the world accusing Facebook of valuing profit over user safety.

    • Facebook finds a way to monetise your death with ‘Tributes’ section

      Death is one of the last places to hide from social media, but there’s no indication that Facebook will do anything as sensitive as turning off the adverts of memorial pages, so this seemingly generous gesture is essentially just another income stream.

    • Mark Zuckerberg wants to make Facebook more ‘privacy focused’… er, ok
    • Zuckerberg, Facebook commit to building ‘privacy focused platform,’ dodging ads and fake news

      But Zuckerberg’s lengthy vision plan barely mentioned advertising and completely ignored fake news and other misinformation—some of the top criticisms leveled against the social network.

    • Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Future and What Scares Him Most
    • Facebook’s pivot to privacy has huge implications — if it’s real

      By 2015, Mark Zuckerberg had grown uncomfortable with his messaging history. His old instant messages had gotten him into trouble in the past — people are still tweeting juvenile IMs from his college days — and the 2014 Sony hack had made him more concerned about his potential exposure. And so Facebook’s CEO took a step then unavailable to any of the 2.2 billion other users of his platform: he snapped his fingers, Thanos-like, and the messages disappeared.

    • Read Mark Zuckerberg’s letter on Facebook’s privacy-focused future

      Zuckerberg’s letter is included in its entirety below.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Outlines New Privacy Strategy for Facebook, Including Messages That Expire

      Among the points of Facebook’s new privacy plan: Zuckerberg said Facebook will introduce a way to make messages time-out, so that they will vanish by default after a preset time limit — for example, one month or within just a few seconds — with users able to control when their messages disappear.

    • U.S. users are leaving Facebook by the millions, Edison Research says

      All the bad press about Facebook might be catching up to the company. New numbers from Edison Research show an an estimated 15 million fewer users in the United States compared to 2017. The biggest drop is in the very desirable 12- to 34-year-old group. Marketplace Tech got a first look at Edison’s latest social media research. It revealed almost 80 percent of people in the U.S. are posting, tweeting or snapping, but fewer are going to Facebook. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams talked with Larry Rosin, president of Edison Research. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

    • Facebook knows Facebook isn’t the future

      With his latest post, Zuckerberg is trying to redefine Facebook. The Facebook he built over the past 15 years is fundamentally structured around a model of privacy and sharing that we’ve realized is problematic and harmful. People are now demanding privacy and ephemerality, and the Facebook of today, Zuckerberg seems to have concluded, just can’t offer that.

    • Facebook Messenger had a vulnerability that could let [intruders] see who you contact

      Like the vulnerability in Facebook reported last November, Messenger users would have been vulnerable if they visited a malicious site with Chrome and then clicked on the site while they were still logged in on Facebook. That would give the hackers access to run any queries on a new Facebook tab and extract personal data.

    • How Russian law enforcement identifies Facebook and Telegram users

      When policing online behavior in Russia, law enforcement agencies enjoy total compliance from the country’s most popular social network, Vkontakte, which coughs up users’ personal data whenever requested. This information — account registration times, linked email addresses and phone numbers, and IP addresses — constitutes sufficient evidence in court to prove that an individual is responsible for the content posted on their account. When it comes to Internet services based abroad, however, there’s no such cooperation, and Russia’s police have to get creative. In a new report for the website Mediazona, journalist Alexander Borodikhin summarizes 10 cases brought against individuals who allegedly violated Russia’s Internet laws by sharing illegal materials on foreign-operated social networks. Meduza summarizes this report.

    • An Email Marketing Company Left 809 Million Records Exposed Online

      While you’ve likely never heard of them, validators play a crucial role in the email marketing industry. They don’t send out marketing emails on their own behalf, or facilitate automated mass email campaigns. Instead, they vet a customer’s mailing list to ensure that the email addresses in it are valid and won’t bounce back. Some email marketing firms offer this mechanism in-house. But fully verifying that an email address works involves sending a message to the address and confirming that it was delivered—essentially spamming people. That means evading protections of internet service providers and platforms like Gmail. (There are less invasive ways to validate email addresses, but they have a tradeoff of false positives.) Mainstream email marketing firms often outsource this work rather than take on the risk of having their infrastructure blacklisted by spam filters, or lowering their online reputation scores.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Plans for Wheelchair-Accessible Cells at Gitmo Paint ‘Chilling Picture’ of Detainees Held Without Trial For Rest of Their Lives

      Newly-revealed plans for expanding the Guantanamo Bay prison confirm that the future of the facility focuses on keeping detainees there well into old age—and likely for the rest of their lives.

      A decade after President Barack Obama signed an executive order calling for Guantanamo Bay to be shuttered, prison officials are seeking contractors to build a wheelchair-accessible 5,000-square foot compound at the detention center, according to reports by the Middle East Eye andthe Miami Herald.

      Human rights advocates on Thursday decried the move.

      “Building wheelchair accessible prison cells at Guantanamo paints a deeply chilling picture,” said Maya Foa, director of the British human rights organization Reprieve. “President Trump appears to be planning to detain men—the vast majority of whom have never been charged with a crime or faced a trial—until they die.”

      The new wing will contain three handicapped-accessible cells—suggesting that the prison is planning to provide end-of-life care to detainees, many of whom have not been formally charged with any crime or been afforded a trial.

    • President Trump Expands Guantanamo’s Indefinite Detention Facilities
    • New Hope for People Suffering from Depression

      Depression has been called a “democratic disease” since it affects people of all social and economic strata. Abraham Lincoln suffered from prolonged periods of depression, which didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most admired presidents in U.S. history.

      [...]

      According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, more than 300 million people were affected by depression worldwide in 2015, equivalent to 4.4 percent of the world’s population. Nearly 50 percent of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Depression is also a major contributor to suicide, which numbers approximately 800,000 globally annually. In the U.S., 44,000 people die by suicide every year.

      Depression is a state of low mood which can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, and sense of well-being. Its symptoms include sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and altered appetite and sleep. Many depressed people have feelings of dejection and hopelessness that may drive them to suicide. According to a person’s condition, it may be a short-term or a long-term affliction.

    • California Attorney General Doubles Down On Threatening Journalists For Possessing Convicted Cops List

      California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has decided there’s too much First Amendment in his state. First, he ignored clarification provided directly to him by the author of the state’s new public records law to declare past police misconduct records off limits. Claiming the question of retroactivity was still open, Becerra denied public records requests seeking documents created prior to January 1, 2019.

      His next potshot at the First Amendment occurred shortly thereafter. Journalists from UC Berkeley received a list of convicted California police officers in response to a records request. The list covered 10 years of convictions and contained 12,000 names. At this point, the journalists have not published the full list. But they have been vetting the list to prep for publication.

      That’s where AG Becerra stepped in. He told the journalists it was illegal for them to possess “confidential information” they obtained lawfully through a public records request. He’s wrong, of course. It is not illegal to possess documents received via public records requests even if the government entity has mistakenly sent you the wrong documents.

    • California Supreme Court Rejects Second Attempt By Cops To Jump The Judicial Queue Over Police Misconduct Records

      California cops hoping to hide their past misdeeds from the public are going to have to get by without the help of the state’s highest court. A new law went into effect January 1st, opening up police misconduct records to the public for the first time in the state’s history.

      With few exceptions, law enforcement’s response has been to pretend the law’s reach doesn’t extend retroactively. This runs contrary to the intent of the law as clarified directly to the courts and the state attorney general’s office by the law’s author, Senator Nancy Skinner.

      Several lawsuits have been filed — some by records requesters and some by law enforcement agencies. Both are seeking a declaration from the courts that their side is the right side. So far, two state courts have sided with requesters, stating that the law is retroactive.

    • Court Says Lawsuit Over Fake Subpoenas Issued By Louisiana DA’s Office Can Proceed

      There’s a very slim chance some New Orleans prosecutors might have to pay for their threats and lies. But a slim chance is better than none. The Orleans Parish DA’s office was caught using fake subpoenas to coerce cooperation from witnesses and victims of crimes — a practice it had engaged in for decades before being hit with multiple complaints and lawsuits.

      Prosecutors sent out bogus subpoenas — all bearing the threats of fines and imprisonment — to hundreds of witnesses over the past several years. None of these were approved by courts overseeing ongoing prosecutions. None of the subpoenas were issued by the Clerk of Courts. The DA’s office was simply cranking out fake subpoenas and hoping recipients would be too intimidated by the threat of jail time to question the veracity of the documents.

      Lawsuits followed the public exposure of this underhanded tactic. One of the lawsuits, filed by a number of crime victims who’d been served the bogus subpoenas, has received the green light to proceed from a federal court in Louisiana. (h/t CJ Ciaramella)

      Unfortunately, there’s a ton of hurdles that need to be overcome by the plaintiffs. If you think qualified immunity shields too much official wrongdoing, just wait until you run up against absolute immunity, which tends to protect those operating above law enforcement’s pay grade: prosecutors and judges.

    • Picking Up Trash While Black

      At this woeful point, we should probably celebrate that nobody died after eight jittery armed cops in Boulder, Colorado confronted a black college student – menacingly wielding a trash grabber and plastic bucket – as he cleaned up the garbage in a patio area outside his own house. The encounter began when one officer asked the Naropa University student if he was allowed to be there; though he offered a school ID and explained he lived and worked in the house, the cop called for back-up, which swiftly arrived, sirens wailing. One of the newly arrived cops then drew a gun and started shrieking, “Put down your weapon!” at the increasingly rankled, still weapon-less guy. “You’re on my property with a gun in your hand,” he fumed, “threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash.” In video of the scene recorded by his equally incensed roommate, you can hear the helpless, mounting rage in both men’s voices. “We fucking live here!” his friend bellowed. “We’re family.”

    • Police Violence and a Safe Black Space

      The psychological impact has been one of anger, disappointment, frustration and rage for many people. While some expected this outcome—given the law, it still feels like a “slap in the face” especially in terms of how Stephon Clark and his personal life was put on trial during the report process. Black people are tired of feeling as though their lives simply do not matter – both locally here in Sacramento and beyond. Stephon Clark did not deserve to die. Period. Many in the Black community are carrying the pain and anguish of his murder, along with so many others who have died at the hands of police violence – without consequences.

    • Neoliberalism’s “Deep Orientalism” and the Refusal of the Sacred Other

      This deep Orientalism, still very much a consequence of western academia, and far from having been overcome by multiculturalism and minority studies on college campuses, is ever more entrenched and toxic. The difficulty in addressing it has intensified even since Said wrote Orientalism. The responsibility falls now upon individuals who, in answering the call to downscale, to restore relationships with the long-neglected and long-spurned “back home,” to commit to the circumstances of living in their own face-to-face communities, have moved into a social and economic environment that is now, in effect, (at least in my Utica case) the third world. Here they must face hydra-headed Orientalism not in terms of its influence on U.S. relations with the Arab world, etc., but as it resides in the minds of liberal friends who, mentally united in the neoliberal totality, do not and will not see the ruins – the third world reality – all around them and thus can maintain the illusion that they know what the real political struggle is (i.e., the lesser evilism one).

      This struggle for individual identity in the face-to-face world has, as far as I know, no precedent. In the past, those who needed artistic or lifestyle freedom struck out from the local community and its demand for conformity to seek personal identity and fulfillment in the pluralistic, energizing City. Now, at least if we are to honor the fact there must be limits to growth, we need to consider if freedom might be realized at home, back among not only those “assigned” to remain local (mainly by school performance), but those whose professional career brought and/or keep them here. This latter educated group, in particular, while in many cases kindly, philanthropical, and more disposed to be objective towards their adopted community, is thoroughly acculturated in the kind of liberal orientalism I am talking about. In a real way, to seek one’s individual identity in the cramped space of the hometown is to find oneself in the position of antagonist and “other” to the liberal majority consensus.

    • The Government Is Detaining and Interrogating Journalists and Advocates at the US-Mexico Border

      DHS created a list of people who were reporting on or working with the migrant caravan to flag for lengthy questioning at the U.S. border.
      In what looks like a coordinated attack on constitutional rights, the U.S. government has reportedly been targeting journalists, activists, and lawyers working to raise awareness of issues facing migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

      On Wednesday, the NBC affiliate in San Diego revealed leaked documents showing that authorities — including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FBI — targeted these journalists and activists for scrutiny at the border and created a secret database containing dossiers that included their personal details, social media information, and descriptions of their migrant-related work.

      This follows news reports in February documenting how CBP repeatedly subjected journalists to lengthy interrogation and confiscations of their cameras and notes at border facilities. The U.S. government also apparently worked with Mexican authorities to prevent photojournalists from entering Mexico to report on migrant issues.

      Let’s be clear: This is unconstitutional.

    • FBI and New York City Regulators Search Offices of Private Trash Hauler

      The FBI and New York City regulators raided the corporate offices of a major private trash hauler last week, the latest sign of trouble for an industry under fire.

      It is unclear what the authorities were seeking at the offices of Five Star Carting, but the investment firm that owns the hauler, GPB Capital Holdings, said it has been cooperating for months with a joint federal and city inquiry. The city’s private trash industry is overseen by the Business Integrity Commission, or BIC, which is tasked with rooting out corruption and other misconduct in an industry once dominated by organized crime.

      “Recently, we have been cooperating with inquiries from various authorities and the visit on February 28, 2019 from the FBI and the New York City Business Integrity Commission, while unscheduled, was a part of that process,” a spokesperson for GPB Capital said in a statement. “We will continue to cooperate with inquiries and are confident that as we move forward our portfolio companies are stable and well positioned for the future.”

    • A Book Review Of Code And Other Laws Of Cyberspace

      But what if each of these premises is at best incomplete and at worse false or misleading? (Leave aside the likelihood that they’re not entirely consistent with one another.) What if the architecture of the Net can be changed by government and the dynamism of e-commerce? What if the very developments that enhance electronic commerce also undermine political freedom and privacy? The result might be that engineers and activists who are concerned about preserving democratic values in cyberspace were focusing their efforts in the wrong direction. By viewing governmental power as the primary threat to liberty, autonomy, and dignity, they’d blind themselves to the real threats—threats that it may require government to block or remedy.

      It is precisely this situation in which Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig believes we find ourselves. In his new book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (Basic Books, 1999), Lessig explores at length his thesis that the existing accounts of the political and legal framework of cyberspace are incomplete and that their very incompleteness may prevent us from preserving the aspects of the Internet we value most. Code is a direct assault on the libertarian perspective that informs much Internet policy debate these days. What’s more, Lessig knows that he’s swimming against the tide here, but he nevertheless takes on in Code a project that, although focused on cyberspace, amounts to nothing less than the relegitimization of the liberal (in the American sense) philosophy of government.

      It is a measure of Lessig’s thoroughness and commitment to this project that he mostly succeeds in raising new questions about the proper role of government with regard to the Net in an era in which, with the exception of a few carveouts like Internet gambling and cybersquatting, Congress and the White House have largely thrown up their hands when it comes to Internet policy. While this do-nothingism is arguably an improvement over the kind of panicky, ill-informed interventionism of 1996′s Communications Decency Act (which Lessig terms “[a] law of extraordinary stupidity” that “practically impaled itself on the First Amendment”), it also falls far short, he says, of preserving fundamental civil values in a landscape reshaped by technological change.

    • Border Security: What and Who is it Good For?

      Robert Frost was clearly on to something when he declared a liberal to be a “man” (sic) too broadminded to take his own side in an argument.” There is much to be said too for “good fences make good neighbors,” a wise, avuncular pronouncement, not at all mean-spirited.

      Those words no longer seem quite so benign after Donald Trump and his wall, the one that was supposed to span the entire southern border and for which Mexico would pay. Trump’s wall is a kind of fence, and it is hard to see how it is good for anything, much less for making good neighbors.

      Could it be that, on border security, Frost, a hard-nosed, cantankerous poet, a political ally of Henry Wallace and John Kennedy, harbored sentiments similar to Donald Trump’s?

      I hope not. It would be disheartening to think that a major American poet and “a racist, a conman, and a cheat,” a major embarrassment to the human race, would have anything of importance in common.

      In more normal times, this would go without saying. But, of course, these are not normal times. This isn’t entirely Individual Number One’s fault. But, for the world’s current state of befuddlement, no one is more culpable.

      If we want to Make America Great Again – not in Trump’s sense, but according to what those words actually mean – then, insofar as the facts allow, we should honor, not demean, the giants of American letters.

    • Forced Blood Draws & Implied Consent Laws Make a Mockery of the Fourth Amendment

      You think you’ve got rights? Think again.

      All of those freedoms we cherish—the ones enshrined in the Constitution, the ones that affirm our right to free speech and assembly, due process, privacy, bodily integrity, the right to not have police seize our property without a warrant, or search and detain us without probable cause—amount to nothing when the government and its agents are allowed to disregard those prohibitions on government overreach at will.

      This is the grim reality of life in the American police state.

      Our so-called rights have been reduced to technicalities in the face of the government’s ongoing power grabs.

      Consider a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (Mitchell vs. Wisconsin) in which Wisconsin police officers read an unconscious man his rights and then proceeded to forcibly and warrantlessly draw his blood while he was still unconscious in order to determine if he could be charged with a DUI.

      To sanction this forced blood draw, the cops and the courts have hitched their wagon to state “implied consent” laws (all of the states have them), which suggest that merely driving on a state-owned road implies that a person has consented to police sobriety tests, breathalyzers and blood draws.

      More than half of the states (29 states) allow police to do warrantless, forced blood draws on unconscious individuals whom they suspect of driving while intoxicated.

      Seven state appeals courts have declared these warrantless blood draws when carried out on unconscious suspects are unconstitutional. Courts in seven other states have found that implied consent laws run afoul of the Fourth Amendment. And yet seven other states (including Wisconsin) have ruled that implied consent laws provide police with a free pass when it comes to the Fourth Amendment and forced blood draws.

      With this much division among the state courts, a lot is riding on which way the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Mitchell and whether it allows state legislatures to use implied consent laws as a means of allowing police to bypass the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement in relation to forced blood draws and unconscious suspects.

      Mind you, this is the third time in as many years that the Supreme Court has taken up the issue of warrantless blood draws.

      In 2016, the Court ruled 7-1 in Birchfield v. North Dakota that states may not prosecute suspected drunken drivers for refusing warrantless blood draws when they are arrested. However, the Court also tossed the cops a bone by giving them a green light to require a warrantless breath test incident to arrest. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito rightly recognized the danger of allowing the government to warrantlessly take possession of—and preserve indefinitely—one’s biological and genetic material.

      In 2013, a divided Supreme Court held in Missouri v. McNeely that people suspected of drunken driving can’t automatically be subjected to blood tests without a warrant and without their consent.

    • Who’s Afraid of Women of Color in Congress?

      Although Congress over time has become more diverse and more representative of the demographics of the nation, the 115th Congress was still mostly white, older, male and Christian. Then, last November, a record number of women and people of color—and especially women of color—ran for election and won office, largely in response to the white nationalist resurgence. The most visible members of this new source of diversity—young, radical, black and brown women, with none of the boys club backing or Wall Street support their congressional colleagues rely on—are fast becoming the most outspoken leaders and the biggest targets of anger and resentment.

      [...]

      There is a disturbing quality to the Ocasio-Cortez haters’ obsession. Conservative social media users have spread fake photos of her, freaked out about her dancing in a video during her college years, focused on her rent, her previous job as a bartender and other personal details.

    • Pro-Putin activists storm a feminist cafe ahead of International Women’s Day and catch a face full of mace

      This Thursday, on the eve of International Women’s Day, members of the pro-Putin organization “Set” (Network) barged into a feminist cafe in St. Petersburg, filming themselves handing out flowers and shouting holiday chants, while ignoring repeated demands that they leave.

      The activists came to the “Simone” cafe with armfuls of tulips, deliberately arriving at an hour when the establishment is closed to men, declaring that they’d come to honor International Women’s Day, a holiday in Russia that’s treated much like Valentine’s Day in the United States, with much of the same misogynist baggage. As the activists were leaving, celebrating their great victory over feminism, one of the women in the cafe spoiled the party by spraying mace in the cameraman’s face. Spokesmen for Set say he suffered an eye burn, as a result.

    • ‘Quantum Leap for Gender Equality’ Demanded on Eve of International Women’s Day

      “In 2018, 1.3 billion women were in employment compared to 2 billion men, which means that there were still over 700 million fewer women in employment than men,” the report states. “In other words, women were still 26 percentage points less likely to be employed than men.”

      With the new analysis and proposal, released just a day before the global community will celebrate women’s rights, “we know much more now about gender gaps and what drives them, and what needs to be done to make meaningful progress on gender equality in the world of work,” said Shauna Olney of the Gender, Equality, and Diversity & ILOAIDS Branch (GED/ILOAIDS).

      “The path is clear,” she added. “With commitment and courageous choices, there can be a quantum leap, so that the future of work does not reinforce the inequalities of the past. And this will benefit everyone.”

    • ‘If We Stop, the World Stops!’: Hundreds of Thousands of Spanish Women Take to Streets for Feminist Strike

      On Friday, unions, feminist groups, and left-wing political parties planned 1,400 marches and rallies in Madrid, Barcelona, and cities throughout the country, guided by the slogan, “If we stop, the world stops.”

      The ultimate goal of the strike is “subverting the world order and the pervading hetero-patriarchal, racist, and neoliberal rhetoric,” declares a document from the Comisión 8M (March 8 Commission), which organized many of Friday’s events.

    • Embracing Grassroots Feminism

      Feminism is inherently political and must not be viewed in isolation from other structural inequalities, including race, generation, and class

      [...]

      Feminist movements are using this opportunity to honor the memories of leaders recently fallen in the struggle for liberation. In Honduras, Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home three years ago for organizing for Indigenous rights to water and territory by protesting the massive Agua Zarca dam complex. And last year in Brazil, Marielle Franco, an elected official who took on the establishment through her commitment to Black and Queer justice, was also assassinated.

      Grassroots organizations and social justice movements are embodying the struggles of feminist leaders like Cáceres and Franco in their collective visions. In the U.S., Grassroots Global Justice Alliance insists that feminism is inherently political, and that it must not be viewed in isolation from other structural inequalities, including race, generation, and class.

      In other words, those most targeted by patriarchal and colonial neoliberal policies must be the ones who outline their replacements. Grassroots feminism does just that by lifting up Black and Indigenous women, and also by spotlighting the unique struggles of femmes and gender variant people in the fight for self-determination and resistance to the patriarchy.

    • In Current Wave of Strikes, Women Workers Are Leading the Way

      For years, International Women’s Day on March 8 would pass by without notice in the U.S. beyond a small number of leftists. Most people who noticed on their calendar probably assumed it had something to do with women’s history, but didn’t think much more.

      But the radical holiday has been revived in recent years, especially in the era of Trump.

      In 2017 and 2018, the historic outpouring of the Women’s Marches was followed up with an international call to strike and protest on March 8. The highlight last year came in the Spanish state, where an incredible 5.2 million women took part in what was called a two-hour “feminist strike.”

      This year, the celebration of working women is more fitting than ever right here in the U.S., the country where the left-wing holiday was born out of workers’ struggles.

      The teacher strike wave that began in West Virginia last winter is now over one year old, and it shows no sign of breaking yet.

    • International Women’s Day: Strikes, Protests and Holidays

      Marches and protests were held Friday across the globe to mark International Women’s Day under the slogan #BalanceforBetter, with calls for a more gender-balanced world.

      The day, sponsored by the United Nations since 1975, celebrates women’s achievements and aims to further their rights.

      U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a commemoration at U.N. headquarters in New York that “remarkable progress on women’s rights and leadership” in recent decades has sparked a backlash from “an entrenched patriarchy.”

    • Defunding the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Would Be Terrible for Women

      Cutting off funding would threaten the existence of a tribunal for people whose voices and claims for justice might not otherwise be heard.
      The future is suddenly looking uncertain for two of the most important organizations advocating for human rights in the Western Hemisphere. The State Department is considering whether to withdraw funding for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its sister organization, the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). In December 2018, nine U.S. senators requested the termination of funds on the grounds that the two bodies “lobby” for abortion in Latin America in violation of U.S. law.

      Earlier this month, five former U.S. members of or nominees to the IACHR — including 2017 Trump nominee Professor Douglass Cassel — came to the defense of the IACHR and CIM in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They explained that the request to defund the organizations was based on a distorted understanding of the IACHR’s function and a flawed reading of the Siljander Amendment, which forbids the use of U.S. foreign assistance in any “lobbying” for or against abortion.

      While lacking factual and legal basis, the senators’ request is consistent with the Trump administration’s policy of weakening and boycotting international human rights bodies and flouting multilateral agreements that hold the U.S. accountable for civil and human rights violations. Organizations including the ACLU have pointed out how this policy undermines systems of accountability and multilateralism that the U.S. has helped to create. Now, more than 50 organizations and experts are urging the State Department to maintain its support of and participation in the IACHR.

    • ‘We Deserved to Be Paid Equally’: Reigning Women’s World Cup Champions Sue US Soccer Over Gender Discrimination

      The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, is just the latest development in the female athletes’ long fight for pay, medical care, training, coaching, travel arrangements, and overall working conditions that are on par with the U.S. men’s national team.

      The suit alleges that by paying the men more, and granting them better working conditions, the federation is violating the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The class of female players—which could grown to include dozens of more former team members—is seeking “punitive damages and all other appropriate relief.”

      Lawsuit plaintiffs Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn, along with former goalkeeper Hope Solo, filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016. The federal agency gave the players a right-to-sue letter last month.

    • League of Women Voters Applauds House of Representatives for Passing the For the People Act

      Today, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the For the People Act (H.R. 1), the sweeping democracy reform bill that will make our elections fairer and put power back in the hands of the American voters.

      “This landmark legislation is the biggest improvement to our democracy since the Voting Rights Act,” said Chris Carson, president of the national board of the League of Women Voters. “From election modernization to redistricting reform, the For the People Act levels the playing field to allow more Americans to participate in our democracy.”

    • International Women’s Day—A Woman’s Place Is Still in the Revolution

      ‘Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo’- You Strike A woman, You Strike Rock! Famous words by South Africa women resisting and standing up to racial oppression in 1956 when 20, 000 women of all races refused to be subjugated by the apartheid government. Although the women’s March was against restrictive pass laws, this movement proved to be a turning point in the struggle against an unjust political system. The women’s march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria led to significant changes in the law and the emancipation women in South Africa.

      History provides examples of women who refused the status quo and forever changed the course of events. From American civil society activist Rosa Parks to Kenyan environmental and women’s rights campaigner Wangari Maathai who are recognised for their contribution and their place in the revolution.

      Today, nothing has changed. Women remain at the forefront of the civil society movement, ensuring their rightful place in bringing about peace and building equality in communities at national and international levels.

      While there has been significant progress and commitments made in the gender narrative, we still have a long way to go to ensure women are no longer on the fringes of society. This is where education plays a crucial role as an equaliser and is an indispensable tool to truly transforming women’s place in society. According to UNWomen, gender inequality still remains a vital cause of hunger and poverty. “It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls” as stated by 2015 – WFP Gender Policy 2015-2020. When it comes to employment, men’s average wages remain higher than that of women and women, the backbones of society, work longer hours than men. Women still lag behind men in decision making and leadership positions.

      [...]

      This year the UN celebrates International Women’s Day under the theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” and spotlights innovative ways in which we can all enforce gender equality and the empowerment of women. In the 21st century, women no longer occupy undervalued roles in society. Now more than ever it is imperative that women are celebrated and elevated at the highest level for their immense contribution to shaping a world that is non-sexists, non-gender biased and unequivocally builds gender equitable systems for all.

      GCE celebrates this day and enforces the call for education systems that take into account a full analysis of the gendered barriers girls and boys face to complete a free, inclusive, public quality education. In order to tell a different gender story next year, a wider systematic approach must challenge and transform patriarchal societies into ones that value equality and inclusion.

    • In America, People on Death Row Can Be Executed While the Supreme Court Reviews Their Cases

      The Supreme Court should close its “lethal gap” and afford execution cases the same opportunity for review as other cases.

      Last month in Alabama, Domineque Ray was executed without the presence of his imam in the chamber. This, despite the fact that Christian chaplains are regularly present for executions. This, despite Ray’s compelling claim that his religious liberties were being violated. And this, despite the conservative 11th Circuit’s 28-page opinion explaining how the state was blatantly trespassing upon the Establishment Clause.

      So how — despite these facts — was Ray executed without an imam by his side? The answer lies in a single Supreme Court vote.

      In Ray’s case, four justices voted to put the execution on pause while the lower court could hear his Establishment Clause claim, but this sizable minority was still insufficient. (The split was along party lines, with Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer voting to stay, and Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito in the majority.) In Supreme Court cases, four votes are enough for the court to grant review, while five votes are required to stay a decision.

    • Will Ethnocide in Western China Become Genocide?

      At this moment, China has as many as one million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwestern China. This has been ongoing for some time now and is beginning, finally, to be noticed.

      This unfolding tragedy is well-known by the United Nations as well as influential governments such as the United States. Thus far, little is being done to prevent the Chinese from carrying out its concerted efforts in imprisoning and politically indoctrinating its Muslim populations.

      It is so objectionable that Badger Sportswear of North Carolina announced it stopped purchasing imports from that region of China due to credible reports of mass forced labor.

      The Chinese government is spending huge amounts of money in Xinjiang Province where these ethnocidal horrors are taking place. These so-called “re-education camps” have been analyzed by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). The ASPI examined 28 camps in Xinjiang but stated there may be as many as 1,200 across the entire region. Since 2016, the ASPI found an increase in growth of these camps to almost 470 percent.

      In 1981 the Chinese signed onto and ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), but these camps clearly violate that law.

    • Russell Brand, Henry Giroux and Brad Evans on Fighting Fascism

      In this interview between actor, activist and comedian Russell Brand and Henry Giroux and Brad Evans, there is a wide-ranging and robust discussion about the meaning and the rise of fascism in the United States, the necessity of the left to address it, what it takes to move from a demonstration to a movement, whether there is any room for spirituality in the discourse of resistance and what might be termed the failure of the left around the importance of education as a central feature of politics. Also discussed are the changing registers of violence, populism, the importance of popular culture as a site of resistance, and how the war on the imagination might be countered with a new understanding of a militant and educated notion of hope. While these are some of the central themes addressed in the dialogue, this spirited discussion touches upon a number of other issues, all the while attempting to rethink both the diverse forces at work in the current assault on democracy and the necessity for new forms of critique coupled with a language of possibility.

    • Russian federal agents arrest former geological company executive who was fired for inappropriate behavior on ‘Twitch’

      Ruslan Gorring, the former deputy director of the Russian state-owned geological holding Rosgeo, was detained by federal agents at a Moscow airport on March 8, according to the television network REN TV. Gorring apparently planned to fly to Sochi, buying tickets on three different flights, in an apparent effort to evade the authorities. When he finally tried to board the third plane, FSB agents were waiting for him.

    • Trump Imitates Baldwin

      It was a brilliant move. He one upped Alec Baldwin of Saturday Night Live (SNL) who has become famous for his impersonations of Mr. Trump, impersonations that have repeatedly raised the ire of Mr. Trump. In a moment that no one would have ever expected, Mr. Trump preempted SNL by his performance on Saturday March 2, 1919, in front of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CACI). But I get ahead of myself.

      Fans of SNL remember with pleasure its pre-Christmas show modelled after “It’s a Wonderful Life.” On SNL it was called “It’s a Wonderful Trump” and it raised the ire of Mr. Trump who took to his favorite medium, Twitter, in order to criticize SNL. In his tweet, Mr. Trump said: “A REAL scandal is the one-sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. . . Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?”

      Mr. Trump’s threats notwithstanding, SNL continued to make fun of Mr. Trump through, among other means, media medium, Alec Baldwin, whose impersonations of Mr. Trump are so convincing that they are a source of endless amusement for viewers of SNL.

      With unaccustomed prescience, Mr. Trump took the air out of any impersonation that might have been contemplated by Alec Baldwin, to mark the end of a week that was one of the least successful weeks of the Trump presidency, a no mean feat given some of its other weeks. The week of February 24th could easily be described as “The Week That Was.”

    • Trump Is Nervous. He Should Be.

      Leaving aside the fact that nobody knows what “the commission” is, these sound like the words of a profoundly nervous man. “All killers?” More like 13 career prosecutors and investigators, all well-trained dogs with a fat bone to chew. Trump was on about Robert Mueller at CPAC, but Mueller represents only a fraction of Trump’s swelling legal dilemma.

      If Ronald Reagan managed to claw his way out of Hell and reduced Robert Mueller and his whole team to windblown ashes with a trillion-dollar Star Wars Anti-Commie Death Ray from 1987, Trump would still have to deal with Committee Chairman Nadler, Committee Chairwoman Waters, Committee Chairman Schiff, Committee Chairman Engel, Committee Chairman Cummings, Committee Chairwoman Lowey, Committee Chairman Neal, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the New York Attorney General, the state of Maryland, the District of Colombia and the New York Department of Financial Services. That’s just today’s list.

      Nervous? You betcha, as a former vice-presidential candidate from Wasilla was once heard to say. The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) in particular is about to take Trump for a long walk on a short pier thanks to the testimony of former attorney/bagman/fixer Michael Cohen. When Cohen explained to the Oversight and Reform Committee how Trump would regularly exaggerate his personal wealth to insurance companies, the good folks at NYSDFS were taking copious notes.

      Of interest: Cohen was back at the Capitol on Wednesday to finish his closed-door chat with the House Intelligence Committee where, according to reports, he provided evidence showing how Trump’s attorneys edited his written testimony to Congress in 2017. “I believe,” said Cohen after the conclusion of the hearing, “that all of the members were satisfied with the statements and the responses that I gave to them.”

    • The Trump Administration Is Secretly Tracking Journalists and Activists

      In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump described the approximately 5,000 asylum seekers traveling largely on foot from Central America to the United States as an “invasion.” His description extended not only to the asylum seekers themselves, but to anyone even tangentially affiliated with them. As KNSD, an NBC affiliate in San Diego, reported Wednesday, leaked documents show the government has assembled a secret database of immigration activists, lawyers, journalists and even social media influencers who have reported on, assisted with or been otherwise connected to the so-called migrant caravan.

      The report links the tracking to when migrants reached the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in November. NBC reports that “journalists who covered the caravan, as well as those who offered assistance to caravan members, said they felt they had become targets of intense inspections and scrutiny by border officials.”

      [...]

      At least one person wasn’t surprised to learn her information is in the database. Nicole Ramos, refugee director and attorney for Al Otro Lado, a legal organization for migrants and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico, told NBC, “The document appears to prove what we have assumed for some time, which is that we are on a law enforcement list designed to retaliate against human rights defenders who work with asylum seekers and who are critical of CBP practices that violate the rights of asylum seekers.”

      Customs and Border Protection declined to answer specific questions from NBC, but instead responded with an emailed statement saying, “Criminal events, such as the breach of the border wall in San Diego, involving assaults on law enforcement and a risk to public safety, are routinely monitored and investigated by authorities.”

    • CBP Put A Bunch Of Journalists, Immigration Lawyers, And Activists On A Secret Watchlist

      Leaked documents obtained by an NBC affiliate show the government has taken a direct interest in journalists and activists covering the many, many happenings at our southern border. But the government isn’t interested in keeping them safe or giving them the space to do their jobs. Nope, the CBP has been treating journalists like suspected criminals, hauling them in for hours of questioning and examining the contents of their phones and laptops.

    • Amnesty Response to Reports of Surveillance on Journalists and Immigration Advocates on the US-Mexico Border
    • A Federal Appeals Court Confirms That the Constitution Guarantees Immigrants Access to Courts

      In a landmark decision, a federal appeals court struck down a law limiting judicial review of expedited removal orders as unconstitutional.

      In a major decision on Thursday, a federal appeals court held that immigrants are entitled to seek judicial review of their “expedited removal” orders in federal court. This decision is a significant step towards ensuring that vulnerable asylum seekers and others will get a fair shot to prove their claims that our immigration laws and the U.S. Constitution guarantee.

      Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam fled his home in Sri Lanka to escape torture, beatings, and likely death. Vijayakumar is Tamil, a member of an ethnic minority that the Sri Lankan government has subjected to a well-documented campaign of human rights violations. After government officers abducted and beat him, subjected him to simulated drowning, and threatened to kill him, Vijayakumar fled the country and sought asylum in the United States.

      But his claim was denied after a cursory and inadequate interview. Like many asylum seekers who reach the United States, Vijayakumar was placed into the “expedited removal” system. That system, created in 1996, is an alternative to the normal deportation system and applies at the border to certain immigrants — particularly those who arrive without a visa or other immigration papers.

    • Worse Than a Wall

      The current administration has bent over backwards to force-feed its anti-immigrant agenda to the American public. That agenda remains broadly unpopular, but they’ve tried every trick in the con artist book to impose it anyway.

      Despite years of hysterical anti-immigrant propaganda, most Americans continually report positive views of immigrants and immigration in opinion surveys. Yet we’ve been faced with constant threats of government shutdowns or made-up “national emergencies” if we don’t give the administration money for a wall most of us oppose.

      While politicians debate these things, real people die.

      Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old, was separated from her father, kept in a cage, and died in Border Patrol custody. Felipe Gomez Alonzo, an 8-year-old, died just weeks later in custody in New Mexico.

      Roxana Hernandez, a trans woman seeking asylum from Honduras, died in ICE custody last spring, with an autopsy showing signs of abuse. Thousands of migrants, in fact, have reported sexual abuse and other mistreatment in ICE and CBP custody.

      When big injustice occurs, a bigger plan for resistance must follow. To be effective, we must recognize where the core of the injustice lies.

    • An inside look at Russia’s rental friendship industry

      In the early 2010s, posts advertising so-called “friends for hire” began appearing on Russian-language websites. They allowed Internet users to pay an hourly fee for an apparently ordinary person to listen to them, give them emotional support, or simply chat for a while as though they really were an understanding longtime friend. This service, at least in its online iteration, was apparently invented in Japan, where even a husband or a daughter can be rented online. There are similar services available in Western countries as well. Journalist Anna Chesova explored Russia’s paid friendship industry from every possible angle exclusively for Meduza.

    • “Deaths of Despair”: Trump and the White Working Class

      In November 2015 two Princeton economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton (a Nobel Prize winner), released a revealing study, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among whitenon-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.” It was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The economists’ findings were scary: “Over the 15-y[ear] period, midlife all-cause mortality fell by more than 200 per 100,000 for black non-Hispanics, and by more than 60 per 100,000 for Hispanics. By contrast, white non-Hispanic mortality rose by 34 per 100,000.”

      In one of their few non-technical digressions, the scholars acknowledge: “After the productivity slowdown in the early 1970s, and with widening income inequality, many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents. Growth in real median earnings has been slow for this group, especially those with only a high school education.”

      [...]

      Equally significant, one of their observations challenges widely held conventions about race in the U.S. “Mortality rates of BNHs [Black Non-Hispanics] age 50–54 have been and remain higher than those of WNHs age 50–54 as a whole, but the rate for BNHs have fallen rapidly, by about 25 percent from 1999 to 2015.” They add, “as a result of this, and of the rise in white mortality, the black/white mortality gap in this (and other) age group(s) has been closing.”

      Going further, they are pessimistic about the state of the nation: “Traditional structures of social and economic support slowly weakened … . Marriage was no longer the only socially acceptable way to form intimate partnerships, or to rear children.” They point out that “these changes left people with less structure when they came to choose their careers, their religion, and the nature of their family lives.”

      Stepping back, they warn, “when such choices succeed, they are liberating; when they fail, the individual can only hold himself or herself responsible.” They add, “In the worst cases of failure, this is a Durkheim-like recipe for suicide.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Report Claims Trump Pushed For AT&T Time Warner DOJ Lawsuit To Hurt CNN, Help Rupert Murdoch

      The late 2017 DOJ announcement that it would be suing to stop AT&T’s $86 billion merger with Time Warner turned more than a few heads. While the DOJ insisted that the move was driven entirely by an interest in protecting consumers, the decision was utterly discordant with the Trump administration’s often facts-optional assault on consumer protections with bipartisan support, ranging from net neutrality to basic environmental protections. And the DOJ’s sudden concern about the impact of media consolidation was in stark contrast to Trump’s FCC, where demolishing decades-old media consolidation rules has been a top priority.

      At the time of the lawsuit, many wondered if some other motivations were really at play. After all, Rupert Murdoch had been pushing Trump for more than a year to scuttle the deal for anti-competitive reasons. Time Warner rejected a News Corp. acquisition offer in 2014, and more recently AT&T rebuffed the company’s attempt to buy CNN… twice.

    • Democrats’ net neutrality bill would fully restore Obama-era FCC rules

      The “Save the Internet Act” is just three pages long. Instead of writing a new set of net neutrality rules, the bill would nullify FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s December 2017 repeal of the FCC order passed in February 2015 and forbid the FCC from repealing the rules in the future.

    • Ajit Pai has been touting new broadband investment after he murdered Net Neutrality, but he’s been relying on impossible data from a company called Barrierfree

      But the data that Pai has touted was badly distorted due to a monumental error (or, less charitably, a massive fraud) by a company called Barrierfree, who seem to have incorrectly completed their their “Form 477″ report of broadband availability in a way that vastly overstated the availability of their service, creating an error of such magnitude that it distorted the figures for the whole country.

    • Ajit Pai’s rosy broadband deployment claim may be based on gigantic error

      In reality, BarrierFree’s website doesn’t market any fiber-to-the-home service, and it advertises wireless home Internet speeds of up to just 25mbps, Free Press noted.

      Free Press speculates that BarrierFree ignored FCC instructions to report service only in census blocks in which an ISP currently offers service and instead simply “listed every single census block located in eight of the states in which it’s registered as a CLEC [competitive local exchange carrier].”

    • If it wasn’t for this invention, you wouldn’t be reading this piece

      There are a few moments in the history of technology when everything changed, like when Alexander Graham Bell spoke into the mouthpiece of a device he had invented saying “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.”

      With that one success, the telephone was invented, allowing mothers the world over to nag that you never call. (By the way, she’s right. You really should call your mom if that’s a possibility.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Unified files IPR against US 10,110,898 owned by Velos Media, LLC

      On March 6, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Winston & Strawn serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent No. 10,110,898, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos), as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone.

      The ’898 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is one of the largest families known to be owned by Velos. Including this petition, Unified has now challenged patents representing 27.2% of Velos’ total known U.S. assets.

    • Third Party SPC – Question Referred

      On 4 March 2019, we uploaded a post noting that the English Patents Court had decided to refer a question to the CJEU on whether it was permissible for a patentee to rely on a third party’s MA to obtain an SPC in the absence of consent from that third party. We briefly summarised the history of the issue and noted that it was ripe for a reference.

      The Court records now indicate that on 4 March, Arnold made an Order for a reference asking the following question: “Does the SPC Regulation preclude the grant of an SPC to the proprietor of a basic patent in respect of a product which is the subject of a marketing authorisation held by a third party without that party’s consent?”

    • Patent case: Gilead, Spain

      In preliminary injunction proceedings, the Barcelona Court of Appeal (Section 15) ruled on the interpretation of the wording “protected by a basic patent” in Article 3.a) of the SPC Regulation, on the same facts decided by the High Court of Justice of England and Wales in the 2018 judgment in Teva v Gilead and, following the criteria set out by the Court of Justice of the European Union (also in the Teva v Gilead case), arrived at the same conclusion.

    • Guest Post: Should the Federal Circuit Care about Limits to the ITC’s Agency Authority? A Recap of the Comcast v. ITC Oral Argument

      This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard an oral argument in the case Comcast v. International Trade Commission. Though the case itself involves niche matters of patent law, the argument revealed to me a concerning lack of interest in the proper boundaries of federal agencies, and will be an important marker for the proper role of the administration in many potential cases to come.

      The case arises out of a dispute between Rovi, a successor to TiVo that holds a portfolio of patents on cloud-based DVR recording technology, and Comcast, who operates cloud-based DVR systems for its customers. Rovi accuses Comcast of “inducing” patent infringement by directing customers to use their phones to schedule DVR recordings in a way that is covered by Rovi’s patents.

      While Rovi could have simply filed a case in the federal courts to vindicate its patents, Rovi instead went to a federal agency, the U.S. International Trade Commission, to seek relief. My colleague Bill Watson has described the case well in an article and a paper from last year, but the upshot of Comcast’s argument is as follows. The ITC has authority to block “importation into the United States…of articles that…infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent.” Rovi asks the ITC to block importation of Comcast’s set-top boxes in view of Rovi’s cloud DVR patents.

      The problem is that the set-top boxes are not “articles that…infringe” any patents, and Comcast doesn’t perform any “importation” of those set-top boxes. The infringing “article” is the cloud-based system that is entirely run in the United States, and the importation is done by two contract companies, Arris and Technicolor, not Comcast.

      [...]

      A decision in the case is likely in the next few months, and there will almost certainly be further appeals regardless of the outcome. We will continue watching and reporting as this case progresses.

    • Network Monitoring Patents Fail Alice Test, Says Delaware’s Judge Stark

      Two patents directed to monitoring network response times to determine responsiveness of network services are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, held Judge Stark in the District of Delaware. Citrix Systems, Inc. v. AVI Networks, Inc., No. 17-1843-LPS (D. Del. Feb 13, 2019). Accordingly, the court granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss claims of infringement of US Patent Nos. 8,230,055 and 7,720,954.

    • Using Claim Construction to Import Limitations

      In Continental Circuits LLC v. Intel Corp. No. 2018-1076 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 8, 2019) the Federal Circuit determined the district court erred in its claim construction and explained the high bar that must be met to import limitations from a patent specification to the claims.

      Plaintiff Continental Circuits, LLC, (Continental) sued Defendants Intel Corp. et. al., (Intel) for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,501,582 (“the ’582 patent”); 8,278,560 (“the ’560 patent”); 8,581,105 (“the ’105 patent”); and 9,374,912 (“the ’912 patent”)(collectively “the patents”). The patents are direct toward a “multilayer electrical device . . . having a tooth structure” and methods for making such device. The patents are continuations of each other and share a substantially common specification.

    • Videoconferencing Services Switch System Claim is Patent-Eligible

      The Eastern District of Texas recently denied a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss based on lack of patent-eligible subject matter, under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, in claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,154,734; 9,253,444; and 9,419,939 each directed to a videoconferencing system using an Internet Protocol (IP). Teleconference Systems LLC, v. Metaswitch Networks Corp., No. 18-CV-234-JDK (E.D. Tex. Feb. 5, 2019).The claims of the ‘734 patent were eligible because the claims were not directed toward an abstract idea, but rather were directed toward “a specific device – an allegedly improved videoconferencing services switch – not merely the idea of video conferencing itself.” Additionally, the claims “described a new videoconferencing services switch comprised of several modules and a policy engine to improve on the…videoconferencing technology.”

    • Absolute or Equitable Intervening Rights, It Matters

      The owner of a patent that survives reexamination “is only entitled to infringement damages for the time period between the date of issuance of the original claims and the date of the reexamined claims if the original and the reexamined claims are substantially identical.” Convolve, Inc. v. Compaq Comput. Corp.,812 F.3d 1313, 1322-23 (Fed. Cir. 2016). This case pertains to an issue of law not squarely addressed by the Federal Circuit—i.e., whether 35 U.S.C. § 252, second paragraph, first sentence extends to process claims (or only to product claims). First, a little background…

      The first sentence of 35 U.S.C. § 252, second paragraph commonly is referred to as a defense of absolute intervening rights.

    • Patent Claims Held Indefinite for Mixed Apparatus and Method

      In a Claim Construction Memorandum and Order, a court recently held a claim term indefinite for mixing an apparatus and a method. Wireless IP Holdings, L.P., v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., et al. No. 2:18-CV-28-JRG, (E.D. Texas, Jan. 29, 2019).

      Plaintiff Wireless IP Holdings alleged infringement of United States Patents No. 8,014,284 (“the ‘284 Patent”), 8,559,312 (“the ‘312 Patent”), and 9,392,638 (“the ‘638 Patent”) by Defendant Samsung Electronics Co.Following a Markman Hearing, the Court construed a plurality of claim terms. This blog post discusses a claim term held to be indefinite for mixing apparatus and method subject matter classes.

    • Guest Post on Patent Eligibility and Investment: A Survey [Ed: Jason Rantanen has just posted this Texas propaganda]

      Building upon judges’ views that they are bound by the Supreme Court’s new standard and their concerns that that standard is having devastating consequences, the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the Intellectual Property Owners Association believe the situation is so untenable that they have proposed that Congress overturn that standard.

      Others, however, disagree. They effectively ask: To what extent have the Court’s cases shifting eligibility law actually impacted decisions to invest in the development of technology? Moreover, exactly how have these cases actually impacted investment decisions? And to the extent these cases have had a significant impact on investment decisions, has that impact proven to be positive or negative in the sense of increased or decreased investment?

      Existing literature provides surprisingly little data even to begin to answer these questions. And, make no mistake, these questions are fundamental, and the accuracy of their answers is important. Answers to these questions will either support congressional intervention in the law of patent eligibility or counsel against it. Thus, the questions ought to be asked and—more importantly—answered by reference to hard data rather than gut feeling or prognostication. Quite literally, future innovation—perhaps even lifesaving innovation—hangs in the balance.

    • Trademarks

      • Swedish trade mark court sees its true colours shining through

        “In the land of the Northern Lights, you would think that the mystical importance of colour was recognized. But in the trade mark field, Swedish jurisprudence long held a maximalist view of the scope of protection for black and white trade marks. According to this view, a black and white trade mark’s scope of protection covered all possible colours and colour combinations of the same trade mark.

        Finally seeing the light, the Patents and Market Court of Appeals recently handed down a decision in a matter regarding an international trade mark application designating Sweden (here, in Swedish), changing – with the stroke of a pen – 60 years of Swedish trade mark jurisprudence while bringing Swedish practice closer to what the practice is in most other EU countries.

    • Copyrights

      • Supreme Court Says Of Course You Need To Register Your Copyright Before You Can Sue; Copyright Trolls & Hollywood Freak Out

        This is pretty clear. It also becomes important in a surprising number of situations and cases, including quite a few we’ve discussed just recently, such as the various copyright lawsuits over dances in Fortnite, where it appears that none of the “dances” were actually registered with the Copyright Office. Copyright trolls, also, are somewhat notorious for threatening lawsuits over works without any copyright registration at all.
        So it’s a bit bizarre that the Supreme Court even needed to weigh in on this, but there was a bit of technical confusion between a bunch of circuits as to whether or not you could sue as soon as you submitted a registration application, or if you had to wait until the Copyright Office issues the actual certificate of registration. While getting a registered copyright is mostly (though not entirely) a rubber stamp process by the Copyright Office, it still takes about six to seven months right now, though the Copyright Office has been upgrading its technology (after some earlier hiccups under the previous regime), and insists that before long the timing will be one of weeks, rather than months.

      • Big Flickr Announcement: All CC-licensed images will be protected

        I’m happy to share Flickr’s announcement today that all CC-licensed and public domain images on the platform will be protected and exempted from upload limits. This includes images uploaded in the past, as well as those yet to be shared. In effect, this means that CC-licensed images and public domain works will always be free on Flickr for any users to upload and share.

        Flickr is one of the most important repositories of openly-licensed content on the web, with over 500M images in their collection, shared by millions of photographers, libraries, archives, and museums around the world. The company was an early adopter of CC licenses, and was bought by Yahoo! and later sold to Verizon. Last year, Flickr was sold again, this time to a family-owned photo service called SmugMug. Many were justifiably concerned about the future of Flickr, an essential component of the digital Commons.

        Once the sale of Flickr was announced, CC began working closely with Don and Ben MacAskill of SmugMug, Flicker’s new owners, to protect the works that users have shared. Last November, Flickr posted that they were moving to a new paid service model that would restrict the number of free uploads to 1,000 images. Many, including Creative Commons, were concerned this could cause millions of works in the Commons to be deleted. We continued to work with Flickr, and a week later, they announced that CC-licensed images that had already been shared on the platform would be exempted from upload limits.

      • Canada’s New Anti-Abuse Copyright Notice Rules Are Being Ignored

        Last December, Canada amended its Copyright Act to prevent abuse of the notice-and-notice regime. As a result, copyright holders are no longer allowed to demand cash in infringement notices and ISPs aren’t obliged to pass them on. Sadly, the rules are being ignored.

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