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03.18.19

Links 18/3/2019: Solus 4, Linux 5.1 RC1, Mesa 18.3.5, OSI Individual Member Election Won by Microsoft

Posted in News Roundup at 5:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • What is BTCPay Server? Free & Open Source Bitcoin Payment Processor

      Bitcoin’s potential as a decentralized, P2P digital currency is, in many cases, limited by the extension of the application and design space around the legacy cryptocurrency. Particularly in regards to merchant adoption, legacy payment processing services remain much more straightforward to use.

      Bitcoin is an invention of money, not explicitly payments. However, furthering its adoption as a means of payment will go a long way in bolstering its prominence among the mainstream.

    • ArcShell offers modular automation development with Bash

      ArcShell is an open-source modular development framework for building automation solutions using Bash. It runs on most Unix and Linux hosts. It’s easy to install, easy to distribute, and easy to build upon. New capabilities are added every week, and the project is actively maintained.

      I am the founder of Arclogic Software and the developer of ArcShell. I have been building automation and monitoring solutions from scratch for two decades.

      I am frustrated by the lack of unified solutions to the kinds of problems everyone writing scripts encounters. The answers I find are often not up to date, portable, buggy, and generally not usable for one reason or another. In August of 2016, I left a long stint working in IT services to pursue the goal of solving that problem by building ArcShell.

    • Red Hat Summit Labs Highlights 2019

      Red Hat Summit is a fantastic opportunity to learn about technologies that impact your business, and to deepen your understanding of Red Hat’s products it’s hard to beat the labs at Red Hat Summit.

      Summit labs are two-hour, hands-on sessions that walk through specific products or solutions. Everything needed to complete the labs is provided by Red Hat, from laptop/workstation to content and remote access to a pre-built environment.

      Instructors help students walk through the labs step by step. Red Hat labs are proctored by Red Hat engineers, and are an opportunity to not only learn about technology, but also to meet some of the people building the technology.

    • Entry Power S812 Gets A New – But Still Short – Lease On Life

      Despite the fact that Moore’s Law increases in performance in CPUs have been slowing for years, for many customers, the growth in the throughput performance of processors as more cores and threads are added to a Power9 chip have outstripped the capacity growth requirements for many IBM i shops. For many of these customers, a single core Power7, Power7+, or even Power8 processor did the trick just fine, and is better suited to their needs than an entry Power9 machine with just one core running IBM i.

      We would argue – and have argued many times – that what IBM needs to do is make the Power chip cores and the IBM i and Linux licenses that run on them cheaper so more customers will consolidate X86 Linux workloads onto Linux partitions on Power and, wherever possible, port X86 Windows Server workloads to Linux on Power and pull these in, too. This would mop up all of that extra capacity, and provide a more integrated, hybrid system than is possible over the network, and give Power Systems a nice jolt in the arm, too.

    • The What and the Why of the Cluster API

      Early in the evolution of the Kubernetes project, there was a desire for configurability, as different environments had varying constraints. This flexibility gave way to a myriad of assertions, and opinions, that initially fragmented the community around installation paths. However, it was clear to the community that there were a set of common overlapping concerns, or a lowest common denominator. In order to address these specific concerns, kubeadm was born as a composable bootstrapping tool for Kubernetes clusters.

    • College student with ‘visions of writing super-cool scripts’ almost wipes out faculty’s entire system

      Monday has once more reared its ugly head, but brings with it the charming face of Who, Me?, El Reg’s weekly look at cringeworthy events of readers’ pasts.

      This week, we meet “Ted”, who tells us of a time many years ago when he was at a local college taking a course in computing.

      “At the time, we were one of the first to go through a new curriculum that combined both hardware and software engineering,” Ted said.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • How usable is desktop Linux on ARM?
    • gnuWorldOrder_13x12
    • Linux Action News 97

      We try out the latest GNOME 3.32 release, and why it might be the best release ever. New leader candidates for Debian emerge, we experience foundation inception, and NGINX is getting acquired.

      Plus Android Q gets an official Desktop Mode, the story behind the new Open Distro for Elasticsearch, and more!

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1-rc1

      It’s Sunday, and two weeks have passed, and everything is normal. You
      all know the drill by now – the merge window is closed, and things are
      supposed to calm down.

      The merge window felt fairly normal to me. And looking at the stats,
      nothing really odd stands out either. It’s a regular sized release
      (which obviously means “big” – , but it’s not bigger than usual) and
      the bulk of it (just over 60%) is drivers. All kinds of drivers, the
      one that stands out for being different is the habanalabs AI
      accelerator chip driver, but I suspect we’ll be starting to see more
      of that kind of stuff. But there are all the usual suspects too – gpu,
      networking, block devices etc etc.

    • Linux 5.1-rc1 Kernel Released After A “Fairly Normal” Merge Window
    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Development of Linux 5.1 Kernel, First RC Is Out Now
    • Linux kernel 5.1 development started

      Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, announced that development has started on Linux kernel 5.1.

      “It’s Sunday, and two weeks have passed, and everything is normal,” said Torvalds.

      “You all know the drill by now – the merge window is closed, and things are supposed to calm down.”

      Torvalds said that the merge window for Linux kernel 5.1 was “fairly normal” with no big outliers or oddities.

      As a result, the first Release Candidate of Linux kernel 5.1 is now ready for testing.

    • The Big Features Of Linux 5.1: IO_Uring, Intel Fastboot Default, Goya AI Accelerator, New Hardware

      The two-week long merge window for Linux 5.1 is expected to close later today so here is a look back at all of the changes and new features coming with this next version of the Linux kernel.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA 418.49.04 Linux Driver Brings Host Query Reset & YCbCr Image Arrays

        NVIDIA has issued new Vulkan beta drivers leading up to the Game Developers Conference 2019 as well as this next week there being NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) nearby in California.

        The only publicly mentioned changes to this weekend’s NVIDIA 418.49.04 Linux driver update (and 419.62 on the Windows side) is support for the VK_EXT_host_query_reset and VK_EXT_ycbcr_image_arrays extensions.

      • Nouveau NIR Support Lands In Mesa 19.1 Git

        It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but landing today in Mesa 19.1 Git is the initial support for the Nouveau Gallium3D code to make use of the NIR intermediate representation as an alternative to Gallium’s TGSI.

        The Nouveau NIR support is part of the lengthy effort by Red Hat developers on supporting this IR as part of their SPIR-V and compute upbringing. The NIR support is also a stepping stone towards a potential NVIDIA Vulkan driver in the future.

      • Vulkan 1.1.104 Brings Native HDR, Exclusive Fullscreen Extensions

        With the annual Game Developers’ Conference (GDC) kicking off tomorrow in San Francisco, Khronos’ Vulkan working group today released Vulkan 1.1.104 that comes with several noteworthy extensions.

        Vulkan 1.1.104 is the big update for GDC 2019 rather than say Vulkan 1.2, but it’s quite a nice update as part of the working group’s weekly/bi-weekly release regiment. In particular, Vulkan 1.1.104 is exciting for an AMD native HDR extension and also a full-screen exclusive extension.

      • Interested In FreeSync With The RADV Vulkan Driver? Testing Help Is Needed

        Since the long-awaited introduction of FreeSync support with the Linux 5.0 kernel, one of the missing elements has been this variable rate refresh support within the RADV Vulkan driver.

        When the FreeSync/VRR bits were merged into Linux 5.0, the RadeonSI Gallium3D support was quick to land for OpenGL games but RADV Vulkan support was not to be found. Of course, RADV is the unofficial Radeon open-source Vulkan driver not officially backed by AMD but is the more popular driver compared to their official AMDVLK driver or the official but closed driver in their Radeon Software PRO driver package (well, it’s built from the same sources as AMDVLK but currently with their closed-source shader compiler rather than LLVM). So RADV support for FreeSync has been one of the features users have been quite curious about and eager to see.

      • The-Forge Rendering Framework Refactors Input, Adds Other New Features

        The-Forge, a cross-platform rendering framework that is open-source and has supported Linux and Vulkan since 2016 and worked on a variety of interesting rendering features like more advanced “Tress-FX” support, rolled out two new releases this month.

        After The-Forge 1.23 rolled out in February with a new cross-platform ray-tracing interface (including Linux/Vulkan support), they continued their rendering quest by releasing versions 1.24 and 1.25 so far this month.

      • Mesa 18.3.5
        Mesa 18.3.5 is now available.
        
        
        This release predominantly focuses on the ANV and RADV Vulkan drivers.
        See the shortlog below, for more details.
        
        -Emil
        
        
        Alok Hota (1):
              swr/rast: bypass size limit for non-sampled textures
        
        Andrii Simiklit (1):
              i965: re-emit index buffer state on a reset option change.
        
        Axel Davy (2):
              st/nine: Ignore window size if error
              st/nine: Ignore multisample quality level if no ms
        
        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (4):
              radv: Sync ETC2 whitelisted devices.
              radv: Fix float16 interpolation set up.
              radv: Allow interpolation on non-float types.
              radv: Interpolate less aggressively.
        
        Carlos Garnacho (1):
              wayland/egl: Ensure EGL surface is resized on DRI update_buffers()
        
        Danylo Piliaiev (1):
              glsl/linker: Fix unmatched TCS outputs being reduced to local variable
        
        David Shao (1):
              meson: ensure that xmlpool_options.h is generated for gallium targets that need it
        
        Eleni Maria Stea (1):
              i965: fixed clamping in set_scissor_bits when the y is flipped
        
        Emil Velikov (8):
              docs: add sha256 checksums for 18.3.4
              meson: egl: correctly manage loader/xmlconfig
              cherry-ignore: add 19.0 only anv/push buffer nominations
              cherry-ignore: add gitlab-ci fixup commit
              cherry-ignore: ignore glsl_types memory cleanup patch
              cherry-ignore: add explicit 19.0 performance optimisations
              Update version to 18.3.5
              docs: add release notes for 18.3.5
        
        Eric Engestrom (1):
              egl: fix libdrm-less builds
        
        Francisco Jerez (1):
              intel/fs: Implement extended strides greater than 4 for IR source regions.
        
        Ian Romanick (2):
              intel/fs: nir_op_extract_i8 extracts a byte, not a word
              intel/fs: Fix extract_u8 of an odd byte from a 64-bit integer
        
        Ilia Mirkin (1):
              glsl: fix recording of variables for XFB in TCS shaders
        
        Jason Ekstrand (10):
              intel/fs: Bail in optimize_extract_to_float if we have modifiers
              compiler/types: Add a contains_64bit helper
              nir/xfb: Properly align 64-bit values
              nir/xfb: Work in terms of components rather than slots
              nir/xfb: Handle compact arrays in gather_xfb_info
              anv: Count surfaces for non-YCbCr images in GetDescriptorSetLayoutSupport
              spirv: OpImageQueryLod requires a sampler
              spirv: Pull offset/stride from the pointer for OpArrayLength
              glsl/list: Add a list variant of insert_after
              glsl/lower_vector_derefs: Don't use a temporary for TCS outputs
        
        Jose Maria Casanova Crespo (1):
              glsl: TCS outputs can not be transform feedback candidates on GLES
        
        José Fonseca (1):
              scons: Workaround failures with MSVC when using SCons 3.0.[2-4].
        
        Juan A. Suarez Romero (3):
              genxml: add missing field values for 3DSTATE_SF
              anv: advertise 8 subpixel precision bits
              anv: destroy descriptor sets when pool gets reset
        
        Kenneth Graunke (1):
              intel/fs: Fix opt_peephole_csel to not throw away saturates.
        
        Kevin Strasser (1):
              egl/dri: Avoid out of bounds array access
        
        Lionel Landwerlin (1):
              intel: fix urb size for CFL GT1
        
        Marek Olšák (5):
              radeonsi: add driconf option radeonsi_enable_nir
              radeonsi: always enable NIR for Civilization 6 to fix corruption
              driconf: add Civ6Sub executable for Civilization 6
              tgsi: don't set tgsi_info::uses_bindless_images for constbufs and hw atomics
              radeonsi: compile clear and copy buffer compute shaders on demand
        
        Mauro Rossi (2):
              android: anv: fix generated files depedencies (v2)
              android: anv: fix libexpat shared dependency
        
        Ray Zhang (1):
              glx: fix shared memory leak in X11
        
        Rhys Perry (2):
              radv: bitcast 16-bit outputs to integers
              radv: ensure export arguments are always float
        
        Samuel Pitoiset (8):
              radv: write the alpha channel of MRT0 when alpha coverage is enabled
              radv: fix writing the alpha channel of MRT0 when alpha coverage is enabled
              radv: fix clearing attachments in secondary command buffers
              radv: fix out-of-bounds access when copying descriptors BO list
              radv: don't copy buffer descriptors list for samplers
              radv: properly align the fence and EOP bug VA on GFX9
              radv: fix pointSizeRange limits
              radv: always initialize HTILE when the src layout is UNDEFINED
        
        Sergii Romantsov (2):
              dri: meson: do not prefix user provided dri-drivers-path
              d3d: meson: do not prefix user provided d3d-drivers-path
        
        Tapani Pälli (3):
              nir: initialize value in copy_prop_vars_block
              anv: retain the is_array state in create_plane_tex_instr_implicit
              anv: destroy descriptor sets when pool gets destroyed
        
        Timothy Arceri (1):
              glsl: fix shader cache for packed param list
        
        Yevhenii Kolesnikov (1):
              i965: Fix allow_higher_compat_version workaround limited by OpenGL 3.0
        
        pal1000 (1):
              scons: Compatibility with Scons development version string
        
        git tag: mesa-18.3.5
      • Mesa 18.3.5 Released With Intel/Radeon Vulkan Driver Fixes

        The Mesa 18.3 series will soon be winding down with the Mesa 19.0 release now stable since last week, but out today is 18.3.5 as the latest update.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • MATE 1.22 released

      After about a year of development, the MATE Desktop team have finally released MATE 1.22. A big thank you to all contributors who helped to make this happen.

    • MATE Desktop discussion forums are closing

      For sometime now the forum moderators have struggled to keep up with the pace of discussion, combatting spam and new registrations. The original forum administrators are no longer actively participating in the MATE Desktop forums either.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Slimbook & Kubuntu – Combat Report 6

        Here we are gathered, for another episode of drama, thrill and technological escapades in the land of Tux. Starring one Slimbook Pro2 in the main role, with a trusty sidekick called Bionic Beaver of the Kubuntu clan. We’ve had quite a few episodes so far, and they tell a rather colorful story of progress, beauty and bugs.

        Over the past few months, I’ve detailed my usage of the laptop and its operating system in serious, real-life situations, with actual productivity needs and challenges. This isn’t just a test, this is running the machine properly. Many things work well, but then, there are problems, too. Of course, you can read all about those in the previous articles, and again, for the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to link to only the last report here. If you’re truly intrigued, I’m sure you can find your way around.

        [..].

        I believe the Slimbook – with its Kubuntu brains – is slowly settling down. The one thing that is certain is that system updates bring in small tweaks and fixes all the time, and it’s a shame that we can’t have that from the very first minute. On the other hand, the system is stable, robust, and there are no regressions. I am quite pleased.

        But there are still many things that can improved. Small things. The nth-order fun that isn’t immediate or obvious, and so people don’t see it until they come across a non-trivial use case, and then things start falling apart. This is true for all operating system, it’s only the matter of how much. Plasma has made great strides in becoming semi-pro, and I hope it will get better still. Onwards.

      • Krita Interview with Svetlana Rastegina

        I prefer software with an open source license. One of my friends suggested to try it and it met my needs.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Geary 3.32 Released with New App Icon, GNOME 3.32 Support

        A major new version of the Geary e-mail client is now available for Linux users to download.

        Now, you’ll forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu upon reading that as it’s only been a couple of weeks since the release of Geary 0.13 (itself the first update to the email app this year).

        But there’s a reason why a new release has appeared so soon after the last…

      • The GNOME 3.34 Release Date is Set

        The GNOME 3.34 release date is set, and the full release schedule for the new development cycle finalised.

        It won’t be easy for developers to top the recent GNOME 3.32 release, which has been met with near-universal praise for its performance patches and feature refinements.

        But follow it they must.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: Kubuntu versus KDE neon

        Often times when I’m browsing open source forums I run into variations of the query “Why do we need KDE neon when we have Kubuntu?” Or, possibly the inverse: “What is the benefit to running Kubuntu when we have KDE neon?” Sometimes the question is more neutral: “What is the difference between running Kubuntu with backports and running KDE neon?”

        These are fair questions. While Kubuntu tends to be seen as being more geared toward end users and KDE neon tends to be regarded as being a way for curious testers to try out the latest KDE technology, there is a lot of overlap between the two projects. Both are based on Ubuntu, both feature recent releases of the KDE Plasma desktop, and both stick pretty close to a vanilla KDE experience. This got me wondering if there is much of a difference between the two projects from the end-user’s point of view. Are they basically the same experience with slightly different configurations, or are there practical differences in play that would make a users choose one over the other?

        I decided to find out. I downloaded a snapshot of the User edition of KDE neon and a copy of Kubuntu. Since KDE neon is based on Ubuntu long-term support (LTS) releases, specifically Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, I opted to download Kubuntu 18.04.2 in order to make sure the base operating systems were as close to the same as I could get. Then I started comparing the two side-by-side.

    • New Releases

      • Solus 4 Fortitude Released

        We are proud to announce the immediate availability of Solus 4 Fortitude, a new major release of the Solus operating system. This release delivers a brand new Budgie experience, updated sets of default applications and theming, and hardware enablement.

      • Solus 4 “Fortitude” released

        Version 4 of the Solus distribution has been released. “We are proud to announce the immediate availability of Solus 4 Fortitude, a new major release of the Solus operating system. This release delivers a brand new Budgie experience, updated sets of default applications and theming, and hardware enablement.” LWN reviewed Solus in 2016.

      • Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ Linux distro available with choice of Budgie, GNOME, MATE, or KDE Plasma desktop environments

        GNOME is the best overall desktop environment, and deepin is the most beautiful Linux distribution, but there are many other options out there. That’s one of the things that makes Linux distributions so much better than Windows 10 — you can choose from various user interfaces to find one that is best for you. Microsoft and Apple force you to use the environment of their choosing, limiting the overall customization options.

        Today, yet another Linux-based operating system gets a major version update. Solus 4 “Fortitude” can be downloaded immediately, and it is chock full of improvements. While this distro largely focuses on the Budgie desktop environment, you can also opt for GNOME, Mate, or KDE Plasma (in testing).

      • Solus 4 “Fortitude” Officially Released, It’s Now Available for Download
      • Linux Desktop News: Solus 4 Released With New Budgie Goodness

        After teasing fans for several months with the 3.9999 ISO refresh, the team at Solus has delivered “Fortitude,” a new release of the independent Linux desktop OS. And like elementary OS did with Juno, it seems to earn that major version number.

        Perhaps the most notable upgrade is the appearance of Budgie 10.5, even before it lands on the slick desktop environment’s official Ubuntu flavor next month. I first experienced Budgie during my review of the InfinityCube from Tuxedo Computers, and I found a lot to love about it.

        Budgie 10.5 is playing catch-up in some areas, but it introduces welcome improvements across the board, including the Raven notification center, Sound panel, and significant additions to desktop customization.

      • Solus 4 Officially Released With Updated Budgie Desktop, Linux 4.20 Kernel

        Solus 4 has officially set sail as the latest version of this popular desktop Linux distribution that is known for its “Budgie” desktop environment, borrowing some performance optimizations from the likes of Clear Linux, and various usability enhancements and more to enhance its desktop experience.

        Solus 4 “Fortitude” was released on Sunday as a big update and is packing an updated GTK-based Budgie desktop, Firefox 65, LibreOffice 6.2, the Linux 4.20.16 kernel, GNOME MPV 0.16, and Mesa 19.0.

      • Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ Linux Distro Is Finally Here As A Major Release

        When the Solus Project shipped Solus 3.9999 ISO refresh in November 2018, the company made it clear that the release simply included new updates and security fixes.

        For those who were eagerly waiting for new features to be shipped, Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ is finally here with a polished Budgie look, updated applications, and better hardware support. So let’s tell you about all the new changes in brief.

      • Solus 4 ‘Fortitude’ Released with Significant Improvements

        Finally, after a year of work, the much anticipated Solus 4 is here. It’s a significant release not just because this is a major upgrade, but also because this is the first major release after Ikey Doherty (the founder of Solus) left the project a few months ago.

        Now that everything’s under control with the new management, Solus 4 Fortitude with updated Budgie desktop and other significant improvements has officially released.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

      • Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Fedora Linux

        These are some of the major reasons why you should use Fedora. It might not be popular as Ubuntu or comes with advanced tools by default as Kali Linux or user-friendly as Linux Mint, but it has a solid base when it comes to latest features and security. Another fact is, anyone, can build a Linux distribution but you should not use one run by a single or few people. Fedora is backed by RedHat, one of the most reputable names in Linux industry and hence you will have peace of mind.

      • Fedora 29 Linux Gaming Report: The Nvidia, Radeon And Steam User Experience

        Gaming on Linux. Depending on who you talk to, getting stuff like Steam up and running and graphics drivers installed can be a tedious exercise, or ridiculously straightforward. That’s because people don’t really game on Linux. They game on Fedora, Manjaro, Ubuntu, Deepin, Solus. They game on Debian-based distributions or Arch-based distributions. Each with their own philosophies on free (as in open source and freely distributed) versus non-free (Steam and proprietary Nvidia drivers) software. Each with their own approaches to stability, affecting which versions of drivers are available out of the box.

        While there are certain procedures and best practices that persist across any distro, the variances can be daunting for new users. And that’s the jumping-off point for this series.

      • Firefox Wayland By Default Diverted To Fedora 31

        The plans to ship the Wayland-ized Firefox by default in Fedora 30 have been thwarted and will now have to wait until Fedora 31 to try again.

        For a while now there’s been the firefox-wayland package available for Fedora users to try the Wayland-native version of Firefox rather than having to run through XWayland when firing up this default web browser on Fedora Workstation. With Fedora 30 the developers were hopeful the Wayland Firefox version was finally in good enough shape to ship it by default, but that’s not the case.

    • Debian Family

      • Laura Arjona Reina: A weekend for the Debian website and friends

        Last weekend (15-17 March 2019) some members of the Debian web team have met at my place in Madrid to advance work together in what we call a Debian Sprint. A report will be published in the following days, but I want to say thank you to everybody that made possible this meeting happen.

        We have shared 2-3 very nice days, we have agreed in many topics and started to design an new homepage focused in newcomers (since a Debianite usually just go to the subpage they need) and showing that Debian the operating system is made by a community of people. We are committed to simplify the content of and the structure of www.debian.org, we have fixed some bugs already, and talked about many other aspects. We shared some time to know each other, and I think all of us became motivated to continue working on the website (because there is still a lot of work to do!) and make easy for new contributors to get involved too.

      • Daniel Pocock: Happy St Patrick’s Day, IFSO AGM and meeting sock puppets

        Now Debian has similar problems to FSFE: undemocratic behaviour by the leaders, censorship and then, for fear of retribution, it looks like some people stop using their real names when posting on the debian-project mailing list and other people may erroneously be accused of not using real names. With over five thousand people subscribed to the list, I don’t feel that two people with similar names is a compelling example of sock-puppeteering and some of the accusations are uncomfortable for multiple people. Even fewer people dare to open their mouth next.

        This brings us to another of the benefits of setting up local associations like IFSO: people can meet face to face more often, maybe monthly and then nobody is wondering if they are corresponding with a sock puppet. FSFE’s 27 members (what they call the “General Assembly”, or other people regard as a cabal) only officially meets once per year. It has become too big to function like a board or have regular meetings but too small to have the credibility that would come from acknowledging all volunteers/fellows as equal members.

      • Derivatives

        • Whonix VirtualBox 14.0.1.4.4 – Unified OVA Downloads – Point Release

          This release introduces unified ova downloads. Rather than a separate Whonix-Gateway ova and Whonix-Workstation ova download, from now, there is only a single Whonix ova which includes both Whonix virtual machines (VMs), Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation.

          This will reduce the steps users are required to apply (one download less / only one instead of two downloads), improve usability, make Whonix downloads more standardized compared to other software downloads, and simplify our infrastructure maintenance work. The Whonix split VM design (separate Whonix-Gateway and Whonix-Workstation) is remains unmodified. Only the process of setting up Whonix was simplified.

          Instructions for import and verification of Whonix VMs are not yet updated but remain very, very similar.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases Important Linux Kernel Patch for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Update Now

            The new Linux kernel security update is here to address five security issues discovered by various security researchers in the Linux 4.4 kernel used in the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series and official derivatives that aren’t using the Linux 4.15 HWE (Hardware Enablement) kernel from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver).

            These include a flaw (CVE-2017-18241) in Linux kernel’s F2FS file system implementation, which incorrectly handled the noflush_merge mount option, and multiple integer overflows (CVE-2018-7740) in the hugetlbfs implementation. Both issues could allow local attackers to crash the vulnerable system through a denial of service.

          • Canonical Says Ubuntu 14.04 Extended Security Maintenance Begins April 25, 2019

            Released five years ago on April 17th, 2014, the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system series will reach its end of life next month on April 30th. Following on the success of the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) operating system series, Canonical announced some time ago that it would offer its Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) commercial package to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS users as well.

            Canonical said it would reveal more details about when the ESM (Extended Security Maintenance) offering is available for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), so the company now announced that users who want to continue using the operating system and still receive security updates after the April 30th end of life, can purchase the ESM package beginning April 25th, 2019.

          • The path to Ubuntu Core

            At Canonical, helping customers overcome their challenges is what we do every day. In the IoT world, a common challenge we encounter is customers who are interested in transitioning to Ubuntu Core and the snapcraft.io ecosystem, but are unsure how to begin. This post covers the recommended approach.

            In most cases, it’s relatively easy for someone to see the advantages of Ubuntu Core when they’re first introduced to it. The transactional updates, immutable system design, simplified development and powerful update controls have most people going “you had me at transactional!”

            However, we all know the devil’s in the details. Shortly after the “eureka!” moment, there is often an anticlimax, as the newly minted Ubuntu Core believer starts to consider their current product state. For teams of harried software developers on a fixed budget, both in terms of time and money, making changes to the underlying components can feel impossible. Staring down the barrel of one or more projects with aggressive delivery schedules, the last thing you want to do is start changing things. To borrow from a quote often attributed to Walt Kelly, updating your device OS and packaging platform can feel like an “insurmountable opportunity.”

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • FOSS: On the Road to Nowhere

    I started using free and open source software 20 years ago. In many ways, I’m delighted in how it has developed and spread. I can use KDE’s Plasma, the most advanced desktop on any platform, and it’s been 15 years since I needed to buy software for my professional work. From being an outlying oddity, FOSS has become the norm — so much so that invitations for bids often specify that the resulting software must be open source.

    Yet I can’t help thinking that FOSS as a whole has lost its sense of shared values. Nor do groups that might provide those shared values, like the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Linux Foundation, seem capable of providing the leadership that could provide those shared values.

    Oh, I’m aware that projects and foundations continue to provide leadership on a local scale. I am aware, too, of the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Leadership Summit, which helps to promote cooperative development. What is missing, though, is often the sense of everyone working towards the same goals for shared reasons.

  • A free, open source XR platform

    At the center of Monado is a fully open source OpenXR runtime for Linux. It is the component in the XR software stack that implements the hardware support, it knows how to process non standard input from HMD devices and controllers, it knows how to render to those devices and it provides this functionality via the standard OpenXR API.

    But Monado is not just a runtime – beyond an open standard and an open source codebase, we want to build an ecosystem encompassing the various XR actors from the open source community and the XR industry. If you are an XR enthusiast, an open source hacker, a hardware vendor or already a major player in the XR industry, check out Monado and join our effort to make Linux a fully XR enabled platform.

    For existing XR industry leaders, Monado can greatly reduce maintenance and development costs by providing a base XR platform allowing them to focus on value-add and differentiation.

  • Khronos Releases OpenXR 0.90, Solus 4 Fortitude Now Available, Geary 3.32 Released, Linux Kernel 5.1-rc1 Is Out, Opera Announces Opera 60 Beta

    Khronos today released the OpenXR 0.90 provision specification. From the press release: “OpenXR is a unifying, royalty-free, open standard that provides high-performance access to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)—collectively known as XR—platforms and devices. The new specification can be found on the Khronos website and is released in provisional form to enable developers and implementers to provide feedback at the OpenXR forum.” And following the release of the OpenXR 0.09 provision specification, Collabora announced Monado: “at the center of Monado is a fully open source OpenXR runtime for Linux. It is the component in the XR software stack that implements the hardware support, it knows how to process non standard input from HMD devices and controllers, it knows how to render to those devices and it provides this functionality via the standard OpenXR API.”

  • OpenXR 0.90 Released For AR/VR Standard – Monado Is An Open-Source Implementation

    Last year we were expecting The Khronos Group to introduce OpenXR 1.0 for this standard to address fragmentation and provide interoperability in the VR space followed by AR. That debut last year didn’t happen although they did show off the first demonstration at SIGGRAPH. This week though at GDC they are announcing the OpenXR 0.90 provisional specification release.

    The OpenXR 0.90 provisional specification is now available today. Yes, v0.90 and not 1.0… This caught me by surprise too when being briefed last week. This provisional specification ended up incorporating not only VR support but also AR (augmented reality) into the design. They are hoping for more feedback from AR/VR developers before officially declaring 1.0 especially with the AR support squeezing in when originally they only anticipated to get that in post-1.0.

  • 2019 OSI Board Election Results

    The OSI recently held our 2019 Board elections to seat six Board Directors, two elected from the affiliate membership, and four from the individual membership. We would like to congratulate, Pamela Chestek (nominated by The Document Foundation), and Molly de Blanc (nominated by the Debian Project) who captured the most votes from OSI Affiliate Members. We would also like to congratulate, Elana Hashman, Hong Phuc Dang and Carol Smith for securing Individual Member seats on the Board. Due to a tie for the fourth Individual Member seat, between Christine Hall and Mariatta Wijaya, a run off election will be required to identify the final OSI Board Director.

    [...]

    Affiliate Member Election Results (two open seats)

    29 Pamela Chestek (The Document Foundation)
    28 Molly de Blanc (Debian Project)
    18 Bruce Perens (Open Research Institute)
    13 Charles-H. Schulz (Open Information Security Foundation)
    12 Olawale Fabiyi (American International University West Africa)
    12 Kate Stewart (Linux Foundation)
    9 Lior Kaplan (Debian Project)
    8 Frank Matranga (Rensselaer Center for Open Source)
    7 Rowan Hoskyns-Abrahall (Joomla / Open Source Matters, Inc.)
    3 Hugh Douglas-Smith (Joomla / Open Source Matters, Inc.)

    Individual Member Election Results (four open seats)

    199 Carol Smith
    172 Elana Hashman
    143 Hong Phuc Dang
    104 Christine Hall*
    104 Mariatta Wijaya*
    92 Duane O’Brien
    90 Chris Aniszczyk
    81 Van Lindberg
    77 Justin Colannino
    76 Samson Goddy
    64 Luke Faraone
    55 Marc Jones
    44 Ian Skerrett
    33 Brendan Hickey
    32 Gustavo G Marmol Alioto
    23 Tobie Langel
    17 Rakesh Ranjan Jena
    16 Dave McAllister

  • What OpenDSP Means to the Future

    Open source software to standardize grid-edge technology.

  • These Emulators Bring WWII Cipher Machines Like Enigma To Your PC

    Alan Turing, the popular mathematician and computer scientist, developed Bombe, a device used for cracking Enigma codes and played a major role in World War II.

    GCHQ isn’t the first to bring emulators of code-breaking devices. If CodeChef’s emulator looks tedious, you can try this web-based Enigma emulator from Summerside Makerspace or this Enigma Simulator desktop app by Terry Long.

    Do give these online emulators from WWII a try and tell us about your experience in the comments section.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Welcome Lindsey Shepard, VP Product Marketing [Ed: Hiring from Facebook (under criminal investigation for privacy infringement crimes) for VP role. Worst Mozilla hire since it put a Microsoft person -- yes, the company that puts back doors in everything and is most cooperative with the NSA (started PRISM) -- in charge of "security".]

        Most recently, Lindsey headed up corporate-level marketing for Facebook Inc., including leading product marketing for Facebook’s core products: News Feed, News, Stories, Civic Engagement, Privacy and Safety. Before joining Facebook, Lindsey led marketing at GoldieBlox, a Bay Area start-up focused on bridging the gender gap in STEM.

      • A Homepage for the JavaScript Specification

        Ecma TC39, the JavaScript Standards Committee, is proud to announce that we have shipped a website for following updates to the JavaScript specification. This is the first part of a two-part project aimed at improving our information distribution and documentation. The website provides links to our most significant documents, as well as a list of proposals that are near completion. Our goal is to help people find the information they need in order to understand the specification and our process.

        While the website is currently an MVP and very simple, we have plans to expand it. These plans include a set of documentation about how we work. We will experiment with other features as the need arises.

        The website comes as part of work that began last year to better understand how the community was accessing information about the work around the JavaScript specification. We did a series of in-person interviews, followed by a widely distributed survey to better understand what people struggled with. One of the biggest requests was that we publish and maintain a website that helps people find the information they are looking for.

      • A look at Mozilla’s data science tooling, Google’s Season of Docs, and more news

        Mozilla released Iodide, a new tool for publishing data science. Still in very early alpha, Iodide is a tool designed to help scientists write interactive documents. It is similar, but not exactly equivalent to Jupyter Notebooks or R Markdown in RStudio. Brendan Colloran shares all the technical details in a post on the Mozilla Hacks blog.If you want explore Iodide yourself, Mozilla has a demo site available.

      • QMO

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, March 29th, we are organizing Firefox 67 Beta 6 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Anti-tracking (Fingerprinting and Cryptominers) and Media playback & support.

        Check out the detailed instructions via this etherpad.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • AWS’ contribution to Elasticsearch may only further entrench the open source vendor and cloud war

      Last week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it was launching an open source value-added distribution for search and analytics engine Elasticsearch. As AWS evangelist Jeff Barr put it, the launch would “help continue to accelerate open source Elasticsearch innovation” with the company “strong believers in and supporters of open source software.”

      Yet for industry-watchers and those sympathetic to the open source space, this has been seen as the latest move in a long-running spat between the developers and software vendors on one side, and the cloud behemoths – in particular AWS – on the other. So who is right?

      Previous moves in the market have seen a lot of heat thrown in AWS’ direction for, as the open source vendors see it, taking open source code to which they have not contributed and selling software as a service around it. MongoDB, Confluent and Redis Labs were the highest profile companies who changed their licensing to counter this threat, with reactions ranging from understanding through gritted teeth to outright hostility.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Andes Technology Strengthens the RISC-V EasyStart Alliance to 15 ASIC Design Service Partners

        As the first public CPU IP company in Asia, specializing in low-power, high-performance 32/64-bit processor IP cores and SoC design platform, Andes Technology Corporation (TWSE:6533) created a RISC-V promotion program called the “EasyStart” in July, 2018. The goal of the RISC-V EasyStart program is to help Andes’ design service partners catch the emerging opportunity in RISC-V based SoC design and development. The expanding global alliance now has 15 members and is on the way to its target 20 members in the near future.

        The alliance in alphabetical order includes Alchip, ASIC Land, BaySand, CMSC, EE solution, INVECAS, MooreElite, PGC, SiEn (Qingdao) Semiconductor, Silex Insight, Socle , XtremeEDA and 3 unnamed partners. These companies cover foundry process technologies from 90nm to 10nm and some provide both SoC design and turn-key service. The alliance partners will use Andes qualified V5 RISC-V processor cores to provide their end customers total RISC-V design service solutions.

  • Programming/Development

    • RQuantLib 0.4.8: Small updates

      A new version 0.4.8 of RQuantLib reached CRAN and Debian. This release was triggered by a CRAN request for an update to the configure.ac script which was easy enough (and which, as it happens, did not result in changes in the configure script produced). I also belatedly updated the internals of RQuantLib to follow suit to an upstream change in QuantLib. We now seamlessly switch between shared_ptr<> from Boost and from C++11 – Luigi wrote about the how and why in an excellent blog post that is part of a larger (and also excellent) series of posts on QuantLib internals.

      QuantLib is a very comprehensice free/open-source library for quantitative finance, and RQuantLib connects it to the R environment and language.

    • 10 Python image manipulation tools

      Today’s world is full of data, and images form a significant part of this data. However, before they can be used, these digital images must be processed—analyzed and manipulated in order to improve their quality or extract some information that can be put to use.

      Common image processing tasks include displays; basic manipulations like cropping, flipping, rotating, etc.; image segmentation, classification, and feature extractions; image restoration; and image recognition. Python is an excellent choice for these types of image processing tasks due to its growing popularity as a scientific programming language and the free availability of many state-of-the-art image processing tools in its ecosystem.

      This article looks at 10 of the most commonly used Python libraries for image manipulation tasks. These libraries provide an easy and intuitive way to transform images and make sense of the underlying data.

    • PyDev of the Week: Bruno Rocha

      This week we welcome Bruno Rocha (@rochacbruno) as our PyDev of the Week! Bruno works for Red Hat and participates in the Python, Flask and Rust communities.

    • HTTP Method and Accept headers

      Zato 3.1 includes new means to manage access to REST services based on input Method and Accept headers in HTTP requests – here is how they can be employed in practice.

    • Text Processing in Rust

      This article is about text processing in Rust, but it also contains a quick introduction to pattern matching, which can be very handy when working with text.

      Strings are a huge subject in Rust, which can be easily realized by the fact that Rust has two data types for representing strings as well as support for macros for formatting strings. However, all of this also proves how powerful Rust is in string and text processing.

      Apart from covering some theoretical topics, this article shows how to develop some handy yet easy-to-implement command-line utilities that let you work with plain-text files. If you have the time, it’d be great to experiment with the Rust code presented here, and maybe develop your own utilities.

    • Plotting the Chaikin AD line graph
    • Create a sports score application with python
    • WadC 3.0

      A couple of weeks ago I release version 3.0 of Wad Compiler, a lazy functional programming language and IDE for the construction of Doom maps.

      3.0 introduces more flexible randomness with rand; two new test maps (blockmap and bsp) that demonstrate approaches to random dungeon generation; some useful data structures in the library; better Hexen support and a bunch of other improvements.

    • Rcpp 1.0.1: Updates

      Following up on the 10th anniversary and the 1.0.0. release, we excited to share the news of the first update release 1.0.1 of Rcpp. package turned ten on Monday—and we used to opportunity to mark the current version as 1.0.0! It arrived at CRAN overnight, Windows binaries have already been built and I will follow up shortly with the Debian binary.

      We had four years of regular bi-monthly release leading up to 1.0.0, and having now taken four months since the big 1.0.0 one. Maybe three (or even just two) releases a year will establish itself a natural cadence. Time will tell.

    • Django 2.2 release candidate 1 released

      Django 2.2 release candidate 1 is the final opportunity for you to try out the salmagundi of new features before Django 2.2 is released.

      The release candidate stage marks the string freeze and the call for translators to submit translations. Provided no major bugs are discovered that can’t be solved in the next two weeks, Django 2.2 will be released on or around April 1. Any delays will be communicated on the django-developers mailing list thread.

    • Qt 3D Pairs Nicely With Vulkan & NVIDIA RTX To Make A Beautiful Path Tracer

      Not to be confused with Apple’s Quartz graphics layer, a new open-source project called Quartz by developer Michał Siejak is producing stunningly beautiful results while being powered by the Vulkan graphics API, making use of Qt 3D, and NVIDIA RTX support within this path tracer.

      Michał Siejak open-sourced his “Quartz” project this past week and it’s the latest open-source Vulkan project catching our eyes. Quartz is a path tracer designed around NVIDIA RTX (and, yes, does require a NVIDIA GPU) and delivering stunning results as an open-source path tracer that works on Windows and Linux. Beyond that, it offers a JavaScript/ES7-like description language for interacting with this path tracing renderer. The ES7-based description language is based on Qt5′s QML.

    • Plotting Absolute Price Oscillator (APO) Line with Python
    • Montreal Python User Group: Montréal-Python 74: Call for speakers – Virtual Echo
    • Wes McKinney’s Career In Python For Data Analysis
    • How to Build a Python GUI Application With wxPython

Leftovers

  • The Only Hope Is To Be the Daylight

    Belatedly, we mourn the passing of WS Merwin, masterful poet as well as fierce environmentalist and defender of justice, who died in his sleep Friday at 91 at his home on Maui, where over decades he and his wife built an 18-acre palm forest “as fearless and graceful (as) the power of imagination and renewal.” The former Poet Laureate and award-winning author of over 20 books held fast to “an intellectual and moral consistency,” exploring loss, war, nature and age in stirring language that grew increasingly spare and grave; in Worn Words, one of his final poems, he lauded “the late poems/that are made of words/that have come the whole way.” Still, the son of a Presbyterian minister who became a lifetime Buddhist insisted, “What we know is nothing in comparison with what we don’t know.” Wisdom, he once said, is “the question that you cant answer.”

    Merwin revered the natural world and tirelessly raged against those destroying it through war, colonialism or industrialization. Nonetheless, he also mindfully chose to listen and give often-tender thanks, arguing in 2014′s Living With the News that “the only hope is to be the daylight.” He held fast to that principle even when distant from nature, remembering wars, funerals, the rich, “the police at the door, the beatings on stairs…the animals dying around us…the forests falling faster than the minutes/of our lives: “with the cities growing over us/ we are saying thank you faster and faster/with nobody listening we are saying thank you/thank you we are saying and waving/dark though it is.”

  • Who is responsible for preserving indigenous languages?

    Columnist and University of South Africa’s Professor Vuyisile Msila says using English as a universal language should not lead to the extinction of indigenous languages and instead, English should be used as a tool to preserve every other language.

    Speaking at the Mariam Tladi Reading and Book Club gathering over the weekend, Msila emphasised the importance of everyone playing their role in preserving indigenous languages and ultimately using them to grow economies and social development.

    “It should fall on all institutions; families, schools, governments etc. It should be the responsibility of everyone in society.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • VA’s Private Care Program Headed for Tech Trouble, Review Finds

      As the Trump administration prepares to launch a controversial program to expand private medical care for veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs is developing a software tool to determine who’s eligible.

      But the tool is so flawed, according to an independent review obtained by ProPublica, that it threatens to disrupt the health care of about 75,000 veterans every day.

      “This degradation goes against the spirit of the Mission Act to improve the veterans experience and quality of care,” the review said, referring to the 2018 law that authorized the program to expand private care. The program is supposed to start in less than three months.

    • ‘Illuminating Exchange on Health Care’ Reveals Beto Doesn’t Think Insurance Industry Motivated by Greed

      Beto O’Rourke is attracting criticism from Medicare for All proponents after the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said he doesn’t believe the existence of the for-profit insurance industry is a “function of greed” during a campaign stop in Iowa over the weekend.

      O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman who lost a narrow Senate election to Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) last November, made the remark in Independence, Iowa, during a barnstorming tour of the first in-the-nation caucus state. O’Rourke jumped into the crowded Democratic primary for president last Thursday, raising a record $6.1 million in his first 24 hours.

    • “Off the charts” arsenic levels detected in Western Pennsylvania groundwater

      New data shows arsenic at levels 372 times greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold for safety in groundwater an hour northwest of Pittsburgh.

      The cancer-causing pollutant is leaching from a former coal ash landfill at the New Castle Generating Station, according to a new report. Of the 265 power plants throughout the U.S. that are investigated in the report, New Castle Generating Station ranked number five of the 10 most contaminated sites.

      The study, conducted by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, used industry-reported data from more than 4,600 groundwater monitoring wells located around the ash dumps of 265 coal-fired power plants, or roughly three quarters of all coal plants in the country. Of those sites, 91 percent were contaminated with unsafe levels of toxic contaminants like the ones found at the New Castle site.

    • Delay, Delay, Delay: Restrictive Laws Force Later-Term Abortions

      Many were horrified by news accounts of an 11-year-old girl in Argentina who, 23 weeks pregnant, underwent a procedure like a C-section rather than the abortion she had sought weeks earlier. The girl had been raped by the boyfriend of her grandmother, with whom the girl had been living. In language that will be hard to forget, she wanted doctors “to remove what the old man put inside me.” Lucia (a pseudonym) was placed in state care a week after her pregnancy was discovered because “self-inflicted lesions” indicated suicide attempts.

      Argentina law allows abortions in the case of rape or to protect the life of a pregnant person. In the U.S., Lucia might still have been in elementary school. Her pregnancy was discovered long before fetal viability, when the fetus/baby would have a reasonable chance of surviving outside the womb. Some news reports said 16 weeks, others 19. But government-created delays caused the pregnancy to progress to the point where there were calls to “save both lives.” Doctors performed a procedure similar to a C-section, even though the infant was unlikely to survive. The baby died after 10 days in intensive care. Two children, then, were harmed by the abortion delay.

      It’s easy to think that would never happen in the U.S. But which part? Certainly, such a rape can and does happen here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18 in the U.S.

    • Beating the Pharma Shell Game: When Health Rights are at Stake

      A Harvard-Politico poll taken after the 2018 elections showed that both Republican and Democrat voters cite prescription drug pricing as the top priority for this new Congress. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey reveals that nearly one in three US adults don’t take their medicines as prescribed at some point each year because of the cost. The same survey shows 80% of Americans agreeing that the price of medicines is unreasonable. Elected officials at the federal and state levels are reacting to this rising level of voter frustration by lining up to propose significant reforms.

      But Big Pharma did not get big by rolling over when challenged. The industry that tops the lists for US campaign contributions and lobbying dollars is aggressively countering the criticism with a classic tactic: a shell game designed to distract our attention elsewhere.

      [...]

      Big Pharma’s gambit to deflect attention and blame is dishonest and inaccurate. But that does not mean it may not be successful. Already, that same Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that a majority of Americans agree with the line that the PBMs are a ‘major factor’ contributing to the prices of prescription drugs.

      People who are outraged by skyrocketing drug prices, including the lawmakers who are looking to respond to the crisis, cannot afford to be fooled by this shell game. They can avoid the distractions if they focus on these three questions, which highlight the real problem.

      One: Who is making the money? The goal of a shell game is to confuse the ‘mark’ by showing a lot of rapid movement and bewildering options. The pharmaceutical industry puts out its own reports and videos depicting a convoluted drug pricing process and downplaying the companies’ role in it. The industry also spends millions of dollars funding patient ‘advocacy’ groups that widely distribute their own versions of the self-labeled ‘complex’ system.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 137.5 – Holy cow Beto was in the cDc, this is awesome!

      Josh and Kurt talk about Beto being in the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc). This is a pretty big deal in a very good way. We hit on some history, why it’s a great thing, what we can probably expect from opponents. There’s even some advice at the end how we can all help. We need more politicians with backgrounds like this.

    • Is Huawei a security threat? Seven experts weigh in

      Regardless of how the suit shakes out, it will hardly be the last volley in the ongoing battle. Is the US right to target Chinese equipment makers like Huawei, or has the company, as it maintains, been unfairly maligned? The Verge convened experts, from prominent China-watchers to Sen. Marco Rubio, to give their views.

    • Should you be concerned about LastPass uploading your passwords to its server? [Ed: Wladimir Palant says what I have been saying for years. Alas, it fell on some deaf ears. LastPass is a dangerous trap. Very bad, and not even for convenience. Faith-based security.]

      I’ve written a number of blog posts on LastPass security issues already. The latest one so far looked into the way the LastPass data is encrypted before it is transmitted to the server. The thing is: when your password manager uploads all data to its server backend, you normally want to be very certain that the data visible to the server is useless both to attackers who manage to compromise the server and company employees running that server. Early last year I reported a number of issues that allowed subverting LastPass encryption with comparably little effort. The most severe issues have been addressed, so all should be good now?

      Sadly, no. It is absolutely possible for a password manager to use a server for some functionality while not trusting it. However, LastPass has been designed in a way that makes taking this route very difficult. In particular, the decision to fall back to server-provided pages for parts of the LastPass browser extension functionality is highly problematic. For example, whenever you access Account Settings you leave the trusted browser extension and access a web interface presented to you by the LastPass server, something that the extension tries to hide from you. Some other extension functionality is implemented similarly.

    • User Account Review | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure

      One of the topics you may not often think of as being all that important to security is user accounts on systems. We spend so much time on other things — like managing firewall rules, system patching, analyzing report data, etc. — that user accounts are often a neglected topic.

      At a previous employer, I performed many security-focused audits for organizations needing to meet regulatory compliance. As part of these audits, I would review systems for best practice and general housekeeping. You can tell a lot about an administrator by the state of their environment. Too often I would find accounts that had not logged in for years or may have never logged in. Why do you need those accounts if they’re not being used?

    • Brace yourselves: New variant of Mirai takes aim at a new crop of IoT devices [Ed: Install FOSS firmware and brace yourselves for the latest scaremongering from Mr. Goodin (sued for his dramatisation, exaggerations, and distortions)]

      A newly discovered variant contains a total of 27 exploits, 11 of which are new to Mirai, researchers with security firm Palo Alto Networks reported in a blog post Monday. Besides demonstrating an attempt to reinvigorate Mirai’s place among powerful botnets, the new exploits signal an attempt to penetrate an arena that’s largely new to Mirai. One of the 11 new exploits targets the WePresent WiPG-1000 Wireless Presentation systems, and another exploit targets LG Supersign TVs. Both of these devices are intended for use by businesses, which typically have networks that offer larger amounts of bandwidth than Mirai’s more traditional target of home consumers.

    • Routed IPsec VPNs are landing in IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 129

      The forthcoming Core Update will have some brilliant changes to our IPsec stack.

      These changes were required for a project that Lightning Wire Labs has been doing and are potentially a little bit niche. We have backported these as well from IPFire 3 where this feature is even more advanced and – to me – a lot more exciting, too.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • It Wasn’t Just Khashoggi: Saudi Crown Prince’s Brutal Drive to Crush Dissent

      At least some of the clandestine missions were carried out by members of the same team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul in October, suggesting that his killing was a particularly egregious part of a wider campaign to silence Saudi dissidents, according to the officials and associates of some of the Saudi victims.

      Members of the team that killed Mr. Khashoggi, which American officials called the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group, were involved in at least a dozen operations starting in 2017, the officials said.

      Some of the operations involved forcibly repatriating Saudis from other Arab countries and detaining and abusing prisoners in palaces belonging to the crown prince and his father, King Salman, the officials and associates said.

    • Saudi crown prince launched covert campaign to silence dissenters prior to Khashoggi killing: report

      American officials with knowledge of classified reports told the Times that the group of operatives which killed and dismembered Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October carried out several other missions against dissidents.

    • On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle

      British photojournalist Alan Gignoux and Venezuelan journalist-filmmaker Carolina Graterol, both based in London, went to Venezuela for a month to shoot a documentary for a major global TV channel. They talked with journalist Paul Cochrane about the mainstream media’s portrayal of Venezuela compared to their experiences on the ground.

      Paul Cochrane (PC): What were you doing in Venezuela, how long were you there and where did you go?

      Alan Gignoux (AG): We went in June 2018 for a month to shoot a documentary; I can’t disclose what channels it will be on right now, but it should be on air soon. We visited the capital Caracas, Mérida (in the Andes), Cumaná (on the coast), and Ciudad Guayana (near the mouth of the Orinoco river).

      PC: How did being in Venezuela compare to what you were seeing in Western media?

      Carolina Graterol (CG): I am a journalist, I have family in Venezuela, and I knew the reality was very different from what the media is portraying, but still I was surprised. The first thing we noticed was the lack of poverty. Alan wanted to film homeless and poor people on the streets. I saw three people sleeping rough just this morning in London, but in Venezuela, we couldn’t find any, in big cities or towns. We wanted to interview them, but we couldn’t find them. It is because of multi disciplinary programmes run by the government, with social services working to get children off the streets, or returned to their families. The programme has been going on for a long time but I hadn’t realized how effective it was.

      PC: Alan, what surprised you?

      AG: We have to be realistic. Things look worn down and tired. There is food, there are private restaurants and cafes open, and you could feel the economic crisis kicking in but poverty is not as bad as what I’ve seen in Brazil or Colombia, where there are lots of street children. Venezuela doesn’t seem to have a homeless problem, and the favelas have running water and electricity. The extreme poverty didn’t seem as bad as in other South American countries. People told me before going I should be worried about crime, but we worked with a lady from El Salvador, and she said Venezuela was easy compared to her country, where there are security guards with machine guns outside coffee shops. They also say a lot of Venezuelan criminals left as there’s not that much to rob, with better pickings in Argentina, Chile or wherever.

    • Serbia President Vows to Defend Law and Order Amid Protests

      Serbia’s president pledged Sunday to defend the country’s law and order a day after opposition supporters stormed the national TV station, protesting what they called his autocratic rule and biased grip on the country’s media.

      The opposition clashes with police on Saturday and Sunday in Belgrade, the capital, were the first major incidents after months of peaceful protests against populist President Aleksandar Vucic. The demonstrators are demanding his resignation, fair elections and a free media.

      As Vucic held a news conference Sunday in the presidency building in downtown Belgrade, thousands of opposition supporters gathered in front demanding his resignation and trapping him in the building for a few hours.

    • The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition

      In the early 1970s, a handful of Sandinistas were in the mountains of Nicaragua fighting to overthrow the 40-year U.S.-backed, brutal dictatorship of the Somoza family. When a powerful volcanic eruption struck Nicaragua in 1971, Sandinista Omar Cabezas later recounted, they told the peasants whom they encountered that God was punishing them for not getting rid of Somoza.

      After the Sandinistas triumphed in 1979, the U.S. waged a bloody war to take back the country with a terrorist paramilitary force called the contras, who regularly murdered civilians. President George H.W. Bush made it clear during the Sandinistas’ second election in 1990 that, although he was not God, he would continue to punish Nicaraguans with a trade embargo and war if they did not get rid of the Sandinistas. Weary of war, hyperinflation, and economic collapse, Nicaraguans voted for the opposition: The Sandinistas lost.

      Today the Trump administration is repeating the collective punishment strategyin Venezuela with a crippling financial embargo since August 2017 and, since January, a trade embargo. The financial embargo has prevented any measures that the government might use to get rid of hyperinflation or bring about an economic recovery, while knocking out billions of dollars of oil production. The trade embargo is projected to cut off about 60 percent of the country’s remaining meager foreign exchange earnings, which are needed to buy medicine, food, medical supplies, and other goods essential to many Venezuelans’ survival.

      Seeking to foment a military coup, a popular rebellion, or civil war, the Trump administration has made it clear that the punishment will continue until the current government is ousted. “Maduro must go,” said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence yet again in early March.

    • The World’s Most Dangerous Divide

      In the beautiful and terrifying novel The City of Devi, communal hatreds escalate in India and Pakistan until the two countries feel compelled to threaten each other with nuclear weapons. At least, it starts out as a threat. Pakistan vows to take out Mumbai, and India will level Karachi. But everyone involved knows that nuclear war doesn’t really work that way.

      “Nuclear bombs are like potato chips,” the author Manil Suri writes, “nobody can stop at just one. Every scenario predicts that a country under attack will launch all its weapons at once to avoid losing them.”

      The populations of the two cities panic. A great exodus takes place as residents flee by car, by train, even by foot, and the wealthy try to snag the last berths on the outgoing ships. A woman and a man traverse this chaos in search of the object of their affections: it’s love in the soon-to-be-ruins. They hope against hope that the bombs won’t fall. And then an accident happens, as they so often do, and Pakistan mistakenly launches one missile at Mumbai. And India retaliates with four strikes on Karachi.

    • ‘Clear Similarities’ in Boeing Crashes, Ethiopia Minister Says

      Preliminary information from the flight data recorder of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed a week ago and killed 157 people shows “clear similarities” with an earlier disaster involving the same kind of Boeing aircraft in Indonesia, Ethiopia’s transport minister said Sunday.

      The disclosure came as thousands marched in the capital of Addis Ababa, accompanying 17 empty caskets at a funeral for the Ethiopian victims of Flight 302. The caskets were empty because authorities have said that recovering and identifying the remains will take months.

      The crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 on March 10 and that of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia in October — both of them Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners — have prompted the United States and other countries to ground the aircraft.

    • Under Fire After Pair of Crashes, Filing Shows Boeing CEO’s 27% Raise Brought Pay to $23.4 Million in 2018

      As the aerospace giant and weapons manufacturer Boeing faces international outrage and government scrutiny following two deadly plane crashes in the last five months, financial filings showed the company’s chief executive received a 27 percent raise in 2018.

      Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s chairman and CEO, brought home $23.4 million in total compensation last year, up from $18.5 million the previous year. When stock options are included, Muilenburg pulled in around $30 million, according to Boeing’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

      Muilenburg’s raise is part of a broader trend of soaring CEO pay following President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, which disproportionately benefited the wealthiest Americans.

      According to a Wall Street Journal analysis on published Sunday, the median pay of 132 top CEOs climbed to $1 million per month in 2018.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Manning and the New Inquisition

      The U.S. government, determined to extradite and try Julian Assange for espionage, must find a way to separate what Assange and WikiLeaks did in publishing classified material leaked to them by Chelsea Manning from what The New York Times and The Washington Post did in publishing the same material. There is no federal law that prohibits the press from publishing government secrets. It is a crime, however, to steal them. The long persecution of Manning, who on March 8 was sent back to jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury, is about this issue.

      If Manning, a former Army private, admits she was instructed by WikiLeaks and Assange in how to obtain and pass on the leaked material, which exposed U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the publisher could be tried for the theft of classified documents. The prosecution of government whistleblowers was accelerated during the Obama administration, which under the Espionage Act charged eight people with leaking to the media—Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden. By the time Donald Trump took office, the vital connection between investigative reporters and sources inside the government had been severed.

      Manning, who worked as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009, provided WikiLeaks with over 500,000 documents copied from military and government archives, including the “Collateral Murder” video footage of an Army helicopter gunning down a group of unarmed civilians that included two Reuters journalists. She was arrested in 2010 and found guilty in 2013.

    • Before WikiLeaks, US Government Threatened Press Freedom With Grand Jury Investigations Into Pentagon Papers

      Chelsea Manning has been jailed for contempt in a county detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia, for over a week. She refused to testify before a federal grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks.

      The grand jury investigation has existed in some form since late 2010, and as the government holds Manning in jail, hoping this will coerce her to answer questions, prosecutors threaten press freedom by pursuing charges against WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and other individuals who have worked on WikiLeaks publications.

      While President Barack Obama’s administration ran up against First Amendment protections that discouraged them from bringing conspiracy charges, President Donald Trump’s administration is apparently convinced it can circumvent these protections and still cobble together a conspiracy case.

      But it is not the first time a grand jury investigation launched by the United States government targeted journalists and undermined press freedom.

      When David House, a founding member of the Chelsea Manning Support Network, was subpoenaed and appeared before the WikiLeaks grand jury in June 2011, he contended President Barack Obama’s administration was employing “fear tactics” honed by prosecutors under Richard Nixon’s presidency.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • On Paying for a Green New Deal with Modern Monetary Theory

      Much of the Democratic Party, including almost the entire pack of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, has embraced the concept of a Green New Deal (GND). This is an ambitious plan for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time creating good-paying jobs, improving education, and reducing inequality.

      At this point, the specific policies entailed by these ambitious goals are largely up for grabs, as is the question of how to pay for this agenda. One way of paying for it, borrowing from the economic doctrine know as Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), is that we don’t have to.

      Modern Monetary Theory argues that a government that prints its own currency is not constrained in its spending by its tax revenue. Some on the left have argued that we can just print whatever money we need to finance a GND. This claim does not make sense.

      The logic of MMT’s claim is that, since the US government prints its own currency, it is not constrained by revenue from taxes, or what it borrows in credit markets. It can always just print the money it needs to cover its spending.

      If the government wants to spend another billion dollars paying workers to build roads or paying contractors for steel, who is going to turn down its money? They will just be happy to get the money, end of story.

      The limiting factor is that, at some point, this process can lead to inflation. If an economy has a substantial amount of excess capacity, meaning that there are a large number of unemployed workers and idle factories and other facilities, the additional spending due to printing money will just put some workers and factories to use. There should still be plenty of competitive pressure to limit wage and price increases.

    • Fire at Houston-Area Petrochemical Plant Rages as Company’s History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny

      A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.

      The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30am Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, “gas blend stocks,” and “base oil.”

      “It’s going to have to burn out at the tank,” Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take “probably two days” for that to happen, he added.

    • ‘Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!’: The Human Story of the Hurricane

      Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. One-and-a-half years later, many of the island’s more than 3 million U.S. citizens continue to be forgotten and ignored by the federal government.

      Earlier this year, Stan Cox and I stayed in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico, for three weeks. We spent part of that time documenting the post-Maria situation there.

    • Lawmaker Who Compared Green New Deal to Genocide Rakes in Oil Money

      The lawmaker who compared the Green New Deal to genocide last week has taken major campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies. Rob Bishop, a Republican congressman from Utah, expressed his opposition rather cryptically after a news conference in which Republican lawmakers called for hearings on New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s plan to address climate change.

      “For many people who live in the West, but also in rural and urban areas, the ideas behind the Green New Deal are tantamount to genocide,” Bishop said. When a reporter asked him to elaborate, he said: “I’m an ethnic. I’m a Westerner,” and also: “Killing would be positive if you implement everything the Green New Deal actually wants to.”

      The oil and gas industry has been Bishop’s top source of campaign cash throughout his career, accounting for $500,000 in donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has taken significant campaign contributions from oil and gas industry giants like BP, Anadarko, Halliburton and Chevron, according to campaign finance data from the political research organization MapLight.

      The Green New Deal resolution seeks to get rid of carbon emissions and pollution while investing in high-paying jobs and strengthening labor laws. The legislation proposes a completely renewable energy system and clean transportation infrastructure to fight against the clock when it comes to climate change. It has nothing to do with targeted violence against an ethnic or religious group.

    • Two Dead, Hundreds Evacuated as ‘Historic’ Flooding Swamps Midwest

      Flooding caused by last week’s bomb cyclone storm has broken records in 17 places across the state of Nebraska, CNN reported Sunday. Around nine million people in 14 states along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were under a flood watch, CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis said.

    • Green New Deal aims for triple payback

      If you haven’t yet heard of the Green New Deal, chances are that you soon will. To its growing band of supporters, it looks like an idea whose time has come.

      Just suppose we could see a way to transform the global economy, society and even the environment so that they met real needs, and promised to go on doing so far into the future. Well, we can. And it’s growing simpler all the time, futurologists say.

      The bad news? Inertia and resistance. Too few of us think we really need a transformation. Too many are actively trying to prevent one. No change there then − except that the balance may be starting to shift, thanks largely to science and money − and ordinary people who are refusing to go on as we are.

      Supporters of the Green New Deal say we don’t have to look very far ahead for results − no further than about mid-century.

    • Over 1,000 Feared Dead After Cyclone Slams Into Mozambique

      More than 1,000 people were feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the country, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the floodwaters, the nation’s president said.

      “It is a real disaster of great proportions,” President Filipe Nyusi said.

      Cyclone Idai could prove to be the deadliest storm in generations to hit the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people.

      It hit Beira, an Indian Ocean port city of a half-million people, late Thursday and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi with strong winds and heavy rain. But it took days for the scope of the disaster to come into focus in Mozambique, which has a poor communication and transportation network and a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.

    • ‘Everything Is Destroyed’: 90% of Mozambique Port City Wrecked by Tropical Cyclone Idai

      Hundreds of people were killed and many more remain missing after a tropical cyclone destroyed 90 percent of the port city of Beira, Mozambique, before moving on to Malawi and Zimbabwe—eliciting fresh demands for bolder efforts to battle the climate crisis that is making extreme weather more common and devastating.

      An initial assessment from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday found that 90 percent of the city and the surrounding area “is completely destroyed” after experiencing a direct hit from Cyclone Idai last Thursday.

    • At Least 150 Dead, 1.5 Million Impacted as Cyclone Idai Slams Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe

      At least 150 people have died in a cyclone that devastated parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the weekend, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people since it hit Mozambique’s port city of Beira late Thursday, then traveled west to Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds are still missing and tens of thousands are without access to roads or telephones.

    • Whale Dies After Swallowing 88 Pounds of Plastic Bags

      Yet another whale has died after ingesting plastic bags. A young male Cuvier’s beaked whale was found washed up in Mabini, Compostela Valley in the Philippines Friday, CNN reported. When scientists from the D’ Bone Collector Museum in Davao investigated the dead whale, they found it had died of “dehydration and starvation” after swallowing plastic bags―40 kilograms (approximately 88 pounds) worth of them!

    • A Global Strike for Climate Change: 1.4 Million Students Walk Out of Class Demanding Action

      Up to 1.4 million children around the world took part in a global climate strike on Friday to demand world leaders do more to address the dangers of climate. The mass protests were sparked by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has skipped school every Friday to sit outside the Swedish parliament to demand leaders act on climate change. Democracy Now! was in the streets of New York City on Friday with the young activists. We speak with 18-year-old Alysa Chen, one of the organizers of the walkout at New York City’s Bronx High School of Science.

    • ‘Off the Charts’: Catastrophic Flooding Wallops Midwest

      Nebraska residents are bracing for more record-breaking river levels as major flooding continues to affect portions of the Midwest.

      The still-unfolding catastrophe caused at least three known deaths across the region.

      The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said Sunday that 17 locations across the state had been hit by record flooding, and more records could be broken over the next two days. Flooding in some areas may continue until next weekend, the agency added.

      “Major to historic river flooding is expected to continue across parts of the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins,” the National Weather Service warned Monday, “due to rapid snow melt the past few days.”

      Suggesting the still-unfolding catastrophe is a sign of a “hot new world,” climate activist and author Bill McKibben tweeted, “The Midwest flooding is off the charts—at places in Nebraska, the Missouri is four feet higher than it’s ever been before.”

    • Some Carmakers Put Their Faith in the Trump Administration. It’s Costing Them.

      “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.” This is something that everybody has to learn at some point. Lately, the lesson has hit home for a group of American automakers.

      Over the last several weeks, officials from the Trump administration have been meeting with representatives from big carmakers like GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler, in hopes of getting them to publicly support the president’s proposed freeze on Obama-era fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. But even though some of these companies might want those standards to be relaxed to some degree, they’ve been forced to watch — and wince — as the administration speeds headlong into a legal brick wall. And honestly, what sort of automaker would ever endorse that kind of driving?

    • Silicon Valley’s Farm Bot Is as Dystopian as It Sounds

      How’re you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen… Angus? Not the cattle breed, but the 1,000-pound “farmer of the future.”
      Angus is a robot, toiling away on an indoor hydroponic farm that’s soilless as well as soulless. Programmed by a multimillion-dollar Silicon Valley start-up named Iron Ox, Angus’ homestead is an 8,000-square-foot concrete warehouse in a San Francisco suburb.
      The farm bot is more of a heavy lifter than a heavy thinker, wheeling around the warehouse to lift, move, and hand off large pallets produce to another robot that, so far, hasn’t earned a name. The human overseers of this robotic animal farm don’t wear John Deere caps, but clean-room hair nets, apparently to prevent anything organic from contaminating the edibles or the bots.
      Started by a Google engineer, Iron Ox hopes to install duplicates of its faux farm in metro areas across the country. “If we can feed people using robots,” he says, “what could be more impactful than that?”
      How about this: Reconnecting our food system to nature, a democratic economy, and humans?
      The roboticists brag that local warehouses can provide fresher lettuce than the mega farms ship from thousands of miles away. But local farmers markets already do that, and the consumer dollars stay in the community, rather than being siphoned off to Iron Ox and the Wall Street financiers of Angus robots.

    • European Moves to Restrict Palm Oil Have Enraged Malaysia and Indonesia

      “Don’t expect us to continue buying European products,” Malaysia’s former plantations minister Mah Siew Keong told reporters in January last year. His comments came just after he had accused the EU of “practising a form of crop apartheid.”

      A few months later Luhut Pandjaitan, an Indonesian government minister close to President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, warned his country would retaliate if it was “cornered” by the EU.

    • Exxon’s Climate Denial Comes Under Scrutiny in EU Parliament on Thursday
    • Environment Remains Under Siege Two Years Into the Trump Administration

      Two years into his presidency, Donald Trump has racked up some high-profile policy failures. There’s no wall spanning the length of our southern border, no denuclearization underway in North Korea, and ethics scandals have swamped his administration.

      But when it comes to environmental policy changes, the administration’s record of success has been remarkable.

      The Trump team has effectively stalled or reversed at least 78 major environmental rules, including broad national policies aimed at stemming and monitoring air and water pollution, curbing toxic substances in the environment, protecting wildlife, and conserving public lands.

      The administration has taken particular aim at stopping or slowing Obama-era directives and regulations aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas pollution that’s altering the climate. Trump lifted the previous administration’s coal-mining moratorium on federal lands, rolled back its curbs on both smog-causing and climate-heating pollution from oil and gas operations, power plants, and other industrial operations, and threw into doubt standards that would improve the fuel efficiency of cars, pickup trucks and SUVs.

    • Trump’s ‘Emergency’ Border Wall Threatens My Home

      For some people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump’s attempt to declare a national emergency and extend the border wall is worse than a wasteful, unconstitutional stunt. It’s an attack on their way of life that threatens to desecrate their loved ones’ graves.

    • What Norway’s Big Divestment Decision Means for Fracking, Tar Sands and Global Oil Exploration

      Norway’s sovereign wealth fund — a state-owned investment fund worth approximately a trillion dollars — recently announced it was divesting from oil and gas exploration companies around the world. Not surprisingly, many oil and gas stocks declined following the announcement.

      While this is good news for the climate, this was simply a smart business decision. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), primarily exists due to Norwegian oil production. And the fund will continue to be a major investor in companies like Exxon.

      It appears it’s just cutting its losses on money-losing endeavors like fracking in America, tar sands oil production in Canada, and frontier exploration by UK companies in Africa and South-East Asia.

    • Wolves and Jaguars Are Already Threatened by Border Razor Wire As Trump Vetoes Bid to Block Emergency Wall Funding

      President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency Friday, overturning Congress’ vote to block his national emergency declaration to fund a border wall that environmental advocates say would put 93 endangered species at risk. However, the president’s decision came the same day as an in-depth report from UPI revealing how razor wire placed at the border in the last four months already threatens wildlife.

  • Finance

    • Gentrification, School Closings, and Displacement in Chicago

      Beginning in 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled an ambitious plan to shutter 330 underperforming public schools. The plan was soon whittled down to 54 schools citywide. Parents fought back in Bronzeville, an African American neighborhoodon Chicago’s South Side. If these schools were as terrible as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials claimed, then why did parents and other residents use every tool at their disposal, including hunger strikes, to keep them open? Eve Ewing, a University of Chicago’s School of Social Service assistant professor, who was born, raised and still lives in in the city, documents one community’s struggle against the fallout from gentrification in Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side.

      The starkly different perceptions of what a neighborhood school means to a community can be chalked up to the perniciousness of segregation and structural racism. CPS officials had resorted to steep budget cuts, whittling away at the schools year after year. As families moved out of the area seeking better neighborhood schools, the student population dwindled. The school district finally fell back on a devious argument. The buildings, the officials said, were underutilized. But the Bronzeville schools also did not have enough assistant principals, counselors, or teachers. As one teacher told Ewing, who taught in Bronzeville before the closings: “People will take everything you have, then blame you for having nothing.”

      But where school system officials saw educational failure, parents saw vital African American institutions that had served families for generations. Parents developed close relationships with teachers and other school professional—and some of them lived in the neighborhood. These families knew the teachers, participated in events at the schools, and continued school-based get-togethers after children graduated. The schools were like community centers, and teachers were familiar faces in the area.

    • Federal Reserve Board Policy and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate

      Last week’s job report, in spite of the slow job growth for February, was actually pretty good news. As many of us pointed out, the most likely reason that the Labor Department reported only 20,000 new jobs in February, is that the economy reportedly added 311,000 jobs in January.

      There is always a substantial element of error in these numbers. If we envision that there is some underlying rate of job growth of say, 180,000 a month, if we get a number like January’s strong figure, it is reasonable to expect that job growth in subsequent months will be slower. Either the rapid growth in January was due to error in the survey, or alternatively many businesses may have decided that January was a good time to hire. In both cases, it is reasonable to expect slower growth in future months.

      If this just sounds like hand waving to cover up a bad story, consider that the non-seasonally adjusted change in employment in February was a plus 827,000 jobs. In other words, if we just looked at the raw data, the economy actually added a ton of jobs in February. Of course, the economy always adds lots of jobs in February. In 2018 it added 1,236,000 and in 2017 it added 1,030,000. This is why we have seasonal adjustments. But the adjustment is never perfect, and it is one of the factors that leads to error in the headline numbers that get so much attention.

      So we should not be too troubled by the weak job growth reported for February. However, as I noted in my jobs report, there was a drop in average weekly hours, which could presage lower hiring in future months. Also, several sectors, notably construction (both residential and non-residential) and manufacturing seem to be weakening, so there are some grounds for concern about slowing growth, apart from the 20,000 jobs reported for February.

    • The Gentrification of Payments

      A slow-moving phenomenon is unfolding all over the world. It will have serious consequences, but very few people are consciously aware of it, perhaps because it involves something seemingly banal and benign: the spread of digital payments. This phenomenon is not only occurring in the major cities of economically advanced nations, but also in poorer countries, often promoted via the “financial inclusion” programs of international development organizations in partnership with major financial institutions.

      The rise of digital payment (sometimes going under names like “e-money”, “plastic money” or “mobile money”), and the associated phasing out of physical cash, gives financial institutions and governments a new means of financial monitoring and control on an unprecedented scale. As I will argue, this can be seen as the gentrification of payments.

      The term “gentrification” usually refers to the neighborhood process in which a marginalized community — often characterized by informal economic networks, street markets and a rough edgy vibe — finds their environment gradually diluted by the influx of wealthier newcomers who price them out and use their community as the setting for new formal markets.

    • Federal Authorities Raided Trump Fundraiser’s Office in Money Laundering Probe

      Federal authorities raided the office of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy last summer, seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates, according to a sealed search warrant obtained by ProPublica.

      Agents were authorized to use the megadonor’s hands and face to unlock any phones that required fingerprint or facial scans.

      The Washington Post reported in August that the Justice Department was investigating Broidy. The sealed warrant offers new details of federal authorities’ investigation of allegations that Broidy had attempted to cash in on his Trump White House connections in dealings with foreign officials. It also shows that the government took a more aggressive approach with the Trump ally than was previously known, entering his office and removing records — just as it did with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

      Broidy served as a major Trump campaign fundraiser and was the national deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee until he resigned in April 2018, when it was revealed he had agreed to secretly pay off a former Playboy model in exchange for her silence about their affair.

      The search warrant cites three potential crimes that authorities are investigating: conspiracy, money laundering and violations of the law barring covert lobbying on behalf of foreign officials. To obtain a search warrant, authorities have to convince a judge that there’s a probable cause they will find evidence of those specific crimes.

    • The U.S. college admission scandal: when brands, brand equity and status “break bad”

      Key to understanding a brand is that it creates an emotional connection between the mark identifying the brand and the consumers for whom the brand is intended. David Aaker extended the notion to “brand equity”, which includes the following features: (i) brand loyalty; (ii) brand awareness; (iii) perceived brand quality: and (iv) brand associations. Taking these notions together, connecting to a brand means creating an emotional bond with what the brand is believed to embody.

      But over time, the notion of a “brand” extended beyond the commercial context and become a synonym for virtually any sign that creates an emotional connection between it and some real or imagined good or service. How far this process has gone can be seen with respect to the well-publicized scandal over alleged criminal actions in the U.S. college admissions process.

    • Brexit chaos as speaker rules May must change her plan to get another vote

      Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans were thrown into further turmoil on Monday when the speaker of parliament ruled that she could not put her divorce deal to a new vote unless it was re-submitted in fundamentally different form.

    • The Real College Admissions Scandal Is Structural Inequality

      The indictments last week of a number of prominent people for paying bribes to get their children into elite colleges was perhaps more amusing than shocking. The fact that rich people are often able to buy their kids into schools is hardly a secret. After all, who believes that Donald Trump would have been accepted at the University of Pennsylvania, or his son-in-law Jared Kushner would have been attending Harvard, had it not been for their wealthy fathers?

      We also know about all the ways in which people who are affluent, but not super-rich, give their children a huge advantage in the college admissions process. These kids go to the best schools, either public or private, that prepare students to get into and attend an elite college. They also can count on help from tutors if they have difficulty in their classes and to improve their scores on standardized tests.

      In addition, the children of the affluent can count on being able to learn and master a musical instrument, which can make an applicant more attractive to an elite school. They may become expert at a less popular sport, like fencing or horseback riding, which can also make them appear well-rounded on a college application.

      And, if we’re making the comparison with more working–class children or those in a low-income household, the children of affluent families need never be concerned about work while they are in school. Nor do they need to worry that their families face eviction from being unable to pay the mortgage or rent.

      For these reasons and more, we already knew the children of the upper middle–class enjoy an enormous advantage in applying to elite schools over those with less money, even if their parents couldn’t afford to buy the school a new building. What we learned with the college admissions scandal is that there is a “side door” through which rich, but not super-rich, people could get their kids admitted to elite schools for which they would not otherwise be qualified.

    • School Daze: Use That Bribe Scandal to Fight for Debt-Free College

      This will come as no surprise to most sentient human beings but we have an education crisis in this country that begins with the Cheeto Benito in the White House and trickles down all the way to households in which a child has never had a storybook read to them.

      That my generation, as a wise man once said, is the first to teach the next generation less than we know goes beyond a sad commentary on our growing collective ignorance to reflect a society in which the best education is too often reserved for the scions of the high and mighty, the children of the very wealthy.

      As for the rest, there seems a willful effort among many of those in political power to look askance at knowledge or expertise and to keep the rest of the populace as dumb as or dumber than they are. In the minds of our president and his pals, perhaps this makes for a more complaisant albeit angry voter. But it certainly does not yield a better citizen.

      Last week’s revelation of a big college bribery scandal among the rich and famous is further proof of the vast inequality between rich and poor and the plutocracy’s willingness to game the schools for themselves while ignoring the educational plight of everyone else. Parents, including Hollywood notables Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, allegedly used wads of cash to cheat on their kids’ entrance exams or to buy and fake their way into university sports scholarships claiming non-existent athletic prowess. FBI Special Agent Joseph Bonavolonta told NPR, “Some spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million for guaranteed admission. Their actions were, without a doubt, insidious, selfish and shameful.”

    • US general alleges Pakistan $10bn in debt as result of China’s “predatory economics”

      Pakistan is at least $10bn in debt to China for work carried out on the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), one of the centrepieces of the China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to evidence given to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

      General Joseph Dunford, chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the debt was evidence of Beijing’s use of “predatory economics” to expand its global influence.

      He said: “Pakistan owes China at least $10bn for the construction of Gwadar Port and other projects … China is diligently building an international network of coercion through predatory economics to expand its sphere of influence.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Being Better Than Republicans Is Not Good Enough

      Progressives often applaud the idea of “speaking truth to power.” But this concept is hazardous. If taken literally and deployed as a single-minded strategy, it can divert attention from the crucial need to take power away from those who abuse it. Political movements don’t get very far if they depend on appealing to the moral scruples of the powerful.

      While noting that “power without love is reckless and abusive,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out that “love without power is sentimental and anemic.” All too often, progressive activists don’t realize their own potential power when they rely on ethical arguments to persuade authorities. Appealing to the hearts of people who run a heartless system is rarely effective.

      Humane principles are low priorities in the profit-driven scheme of things, as the devastating impacts of economic inequality and militarism attest. By and large, rapacious power already knows what it’s doing — from Wall Street and the boardrooms of mega-corporations to the Pentagon and the top echelons of the “national security” state.

      Speaking truth to power is fine, but it’s far more important — and potentially transformational — to focus on public education efforts, agitation and organizing that speaks truth about power while challenging it. Only by mobilizing to take power can we realistically hope to overcome and dismantle the dominant power structures.

      In 1967, when Dr. King was describing “love without power” as “sentimental and anemic,” the most meaningful efforts to express love for Vietnamese people involved striving to stop the U.S. government from killing them. Speaking truth to powerful elites could be helpful, but for Americans the moral imperative was to speak truth to each other in a process of trying to end the war.

    • Will McConnell buck the voters?

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has built a career on weakening our democracy. Nothing seems to bring out the passion in the famously stoic McConnell more than opposing pro-democracy reforms.

      Well, now he has the challenge of a lifetime. The House of Representatives has just passed HR1, the For the People Act, the most sweeping pro-democracy and anti-corruption measure of the past 50 years. McConnell has denounced HR1 and pledged that he will block it from coming to the floor of the Senate.

      But if McConnell is so eager to hold a vote on the Green New Deal, a legislative proposal that he strongly opposes, why is he so committed to blocking Senate consideration of HR1? Could it be that he thinks Republicans will have a hard time voting against pro-democracy reforms? Is he worried that voters may hold accountable defenders of the current corrupt political system?

    • ‘Political Reptilian Brains’: Cuomo Blasts Democrats and the Left

      In a far-ranging interview Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized fellow Democrats and what he called an anti-business mentality in his state that he believes was part of a political miscalculation which cost the state an Amazon facility in New York City.

      Cuomo’s remarks came during a 33-minute interview with Alan Chartock, chief executive officer of NPR affiliate WAMC.

      Throughout the conversation, Cuomo repeatedly decried what he defined as a “political reptilian brain” on the part of politicians to act based purely on “fight or flight” instincts and placed much of the blame for his current problems with his party on said response.

      The governor leveled particular criticism at some of his fellow New York Democrats—including, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Democratic state Sen. Mike Gianaris, the state Senate Majority Leader. All three opposed the Amazon headquarters project in Queens, which ended when the company pulled out citing an unfavorable political environment.

    • ‘One of the World’s Most Respected Intelligence Services’: Bolsonaro’s Bring-Your-Son-to-the-CIA Day

      Nearly 55 years after the CIA backed a coup d’état that overthrew Brazil’s democratically-elected government, the nation’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro raised eyebrows on Monday with an unusual and unannounced trip to the spy agency’s U.S. headquarters.

      Bolsonaro is officially in town to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, the Brazilian’s first bilateral meeting with a head of state since taking office in January. His visit to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia was revealed by his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, in a tweet on Monday morning.

    • ‘Total Embarrassment’: WaPo Rebuked for Failed Fact-Check of Sanders on Trillion-Dollar Wall Street Bailout

      Kessler took issue with a line the Vermont Independent and 2020 presidential contender often includes in his stump speeches: “Not one major Wall Street executive went to jail for destroying our economy in 2008 as a result of their greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior. No. They didn’t go to jail. They got a trillion-dollar bailout.”

      Dismissing the trillion-dollar figure as “a nice round number” that is “not borne out by the facts,” Kessler added up the amount of aid major banks received through the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

      Even under an expansive definition of Wall Street, Kessler asserted, the bailout amounted to “just over $500 billion—or half a trillion.” Under the Post’s vaguely defined scoring system, Kessler rewarded Sanders with two “Pinocchios.”

      But Sanders’ team and other critics were quick to argue that Kessler’s focus on TARP funds was overly narrow and neglected emergency loans from the Federal Reserve that amounted to trillions of dollars in bailout money that kept Wall Street afloat.

      “If anything, Senator Sanders has underestimated the size of the post-crisis bailouts,” Arianna Jones, a spokeswoman for Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, told the Post. Jones pointed to several studies and news reports showing that Fed loans exceeded a trillion dollars and may have been as high as $29 trillion.

      “Sorry, Wall Street got a MULTI-trillion bailout,” tweeted Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ staff director.

    • Washington Post Fact-Checker Creates His Own Reality

      Because we have a president who says anything that pops into his mind and expects it to be accepted as the absolute truth, fact-checking has become a popular news genre for certain journalists. Sometimes, those people could look within to focus more on fact-checking themselves before fact-checking others. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, for example, has somehow made a career for himself rating politicians’ statements based on the unscientific and unquantifiable method of “Pinocchios.” Even the idea that falsehoods exist on a scale seems not particularly journalistic.

      On Monday, Kessler gave independent Vermont Sen. and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders two Pinocchios for a statement that was correct, and that Sanders’ staffers then backed up with evidence.

    • Neither Debs Nor Brandeis, Or Why it is a Mistake Now to Exaggerate Differences on the Left

      The piece below is a critical response to a recent piece published in Jacobin, the widely-read publication that bills itself as “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture. The print magazine is released quarterly and reaches over 30,000 subscribers, in addition to a web audience of 1,00,000 a month.” I hoped to publish it in Jacobin , but its editors were not interested in the piece, which runs counter to their editorial perspective. So I sent it to Dissent, which bills itself as “ one of America’s leading intellectual journals and a mainstay of the democratic left.” Its editors were not interested in running a critique of a piece published in Jacobin. As a long-time editor myself, I have total respect and admiration for the above-mentioned editors, who do a fine job of piloting their journals and advancing the missions of those journals. At the same time, as someone who believes that real dialogue on the broad left is important, it is of some concern that each of these fine journals seems satisfied to proceed in relative disregard of the other. Fortunately, Public Seminar exists as a space for such dialogue across the broad liberal and democratic left. Such spaces are as important now as they have ever been.

      In his recent Jacobin piece, “You Can Have Brandeis or You Can Have Debs,” Shawn Gude insists that it is important to be clear about who is a socialist and who is not. He maintains that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders “draw their lineage from distinct political traditions,” and that “Warren’s political tradition is the left edge of middle-class liberalism; Sanders hails from America’s socialist tradition. Or, to put the distinction in more personal terms: Warren is Louis Brandeis, Sanders is Eugene Debs.” His essay’s subtitle accurately underscores the point: “Don’t confuse the two.”

      Gude sees Warren as “a regulator at heart who believes that capitalism works well as long as fair competition exists,” and sees Sanders as “a class-conscious tribune who sees capitalism as fundamentally unjust.” He draws a convincing genealogy linking Warren to Brandeis, both legal scholars and activists concerned to regulate the abuses of corporate capitalism, and both liberals (and not radicals or socialists).“Brandeis” he argues, “put his ideals into action in 1910 when he helped settle a New York garment workers’ strike. Brandeis, advancing his conception of ‘industrial self-government,’ assisted in setting up three boards with worker representation that handled labor-management disputes and oversaw labor conditions.” Debs, on the other hand, was an anti-capitalist sought to create a “cooperative commonwealth” centered on labor solidarity, struggle, and empowerment. “Power had to be ripped from the employer class through voting and strikes and class unity. No amount of fair-minded bargaining, no amount of cool reasoning, could close the structural gulf between workers and capitalists.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

      According to CNN Business, “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter struggle to deal with New Zealand shooting video.”

      “Deal with” is code for “censor on demand by governments and activist organizations who oppose public access to information that hasn’t first been thoroughly vetted for conformity to their preferred narrative.”

      Do you really need to see first-person video footage of an attacker murdering 49 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand?

      Maybe not. Chances are pretty good you didn’t even want to. I suspect that many of us who did (I viewed what appeared to be a partial copy before YouTube deleted it) would rather we could un-see it.

      But whether or not we watch it should be up to us, not those governments and activists. Social media companies should enable our choices, not suppress our choices at the censors’ every whim.

      If Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube had been primary news sources in 1915, would they have permitted us to view footage (rare, as film was in its early days) of New Zealanders’ desperate fight at Gallipoli?

    • Putin has signed into law Russia’s ‘fake news’ and ‘Internet insults’ bans

      Vladimir Putin has signed two controversial new laws, despite widespread public controversy. The legislation penalizes Internet users and online media for publishing “unreliable” information of social significance or spreading “obscene” criticisms of the Russian government, its symbols, or some of its members.

    • Russia’s Putin signs law banning fake news, insulting the state online

      President Vladimir Putin has signed into law tough new fines for Russians who spread what the authorities regard as fake news or who show “blatant disrespect” for the state online, an official portal for legal information showed on Monday.

      Critics have warned that the legislation could create a mechanism for state censorship, but lawmakers say the new measures are needed to combat false news reports and abusive online comments.

      The legislation grants authorities the power to block websites if they fail to comply with requests to remove information that the state deems to be factually inaccurate.

      Under the new law, individuals can be fined up to 400,000 rubles ($6,100) for circulating false information online that leads to a “mass violation of public order”.

    • Court Dismissed Lawsuit Brought Against Social Media Companies Alleging An Anti-Conservative Conspiracy

      Alt-right sideshows Laura Loomer and Larry Klayman sued Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Apple for [checks filing] participating in a government-enabled conspiracy to deplatform Freedom Watch/Loomer in order to further a leftist agenda, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Their complaint alleged violations of the Sherman Act, DC’s public accommodation law, and the First Amendment. In support of these allegations, the plaintiffs offered vague theories about “public platforms” and some misreadings of pertinent court precedent. (via Eric Goldman)

      After a round of motions, the court has ruled in favor of everyone being sued. The decision [PDF] makes it clear none of the arguments made by the plaintiffs hold water, much less achieve complete coherence. The only thing the court agrees with is that Loomer and Freedom Watch have standing to bring the suit. But standing is only worth something when your arguments have merit.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Beware the Tech Industry’s Latest Privacy Trojan Horse

      A tech startup is pushing a set of state bills disguised as medical data privacy measures — but they’re really focused on profits not patients.

      Did you hear the story about the do-gooder tech company that is pushing new state “privacy” bills across the nation?

      The pitch by that company, Hu-manity.co — which is so effective its Oregon bill was introduced with more than 40 co-sponsors — is that patients’ health information is being sold for big money without their consent and without providing them any compensation. The solution these bills propose is to prohibit such information from being sold without patients’ permission and without giving them a cut of the profits when their information is sold. Sounds like a big win for privacy and consumers.

      Only it’s not. Beware the tech industry’s latest privacy Trojan Horse.

      If these bills were purely designed to prevent the sale of patient’s personal information without their express permission, the ACLU would wholeheartedly support such “opt-in” privacy measures. But that is far from these bills’ goal.

      Hu-manity.co’s real goal is to use state legislation to create a new way for data sellers to profit off of consumers’ personal information. The current bills being pursued are limited to medical patients, but future iterations are likely to cover a broader range of consumers.

    • ICE Has Access To ALPR Databases, Bypasses Internal Restrictions By Outsourcing Searches To Local Cops

      ICE has been wanting full access to the billions of license plate records stored in ALPR databases for years. The DHS first floated the idea more than five years ago. It was reined in briefly in response to public backlash and Congressional criticism, but the idea of a national ALPR database was never truly killed off.

      ICE was the agency sending out quote requests for a national database access. A few minimal protections were put in place, but all that was holding ICE back was logistics. The contract was finalized at the beginning of last year, hooking ICE up with ALPR records gathered by the hundreds of plate readers operated by local law enforcement agencies. Now, all that third party work is paying off.

      [...]

      As the ACLU points out, these informal requests allow ICE to bypass the internal processes that are supposed to ensure access to this wealth of plate/location data is justified. The communications contained in these documents show ICE repeatedly ignoring these requirements.

      At this point, everything will have to be fixed in post. Cops have been utilizing plate readers for years and Vigilant has been storing the billions of plate records generated every year for just as long. The DHS never needed to build a national license plate/location database. One was being built while it put on its little charade about respecting rights and citizens’ freedom to move around the country without being surveilled.

      The ACLU is demanding legislators enact more privacy protections for this data and engage in some actual oversight, but that ship has been sailing for years. ICE’s access was an inevitability. It enacted privacy protections just so it could ignore them by asking local law enforcement to perform database searches. And it was all sold to the public with assurances ALPR tech would hunt down car thieves, kidnappers, and violent criminals. In reality, it’s being used to track people who’ve overstayed their visas.

    • Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, Fourteen Eyes Countries – Understanding Surveillance Groups

      Today we’re going to help build your understanding of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes surveillance groups, what countries participate and what surveillance information they share.

      [...]

      Five Eyes is an international surveillance agreement made between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The pact allows for complete intelligence sharing between the nations, including documents relating to citizen surveillance and logs of online activity.

      The Five Eyes alliance has wartime origins that stretch back to the 1940s, though the greatest deals were struck during the cold war era in the decades that followed. Back then, most activities were related to monitoring suspicious individuals with direct connections to international threats. With the proliferation of online technology, however, the agreement continued and extended to include nearly every member of the countries in question.

    • How Cambridge Analytica Sparked the Great Privacy Awakening

      Cambridge Analytica had purchased Facebook data on tens of millions of Americans without their knowledge to build a “psychological warfare tool,” which it unleashed on US voters to help elect Donald Trump as president. Just before the news broke, Facebook banned Wylie, Cambridge Analytica, its parent company SCL, and Aleksandr Kogan, the researcher who collected the data, from the platform. But those moves came years too late and couldn’t stem the outrage of users, lawmakers, privacy advocates, and media pundits. Immediately, Facebook’s stock price fell and boycotts began. Zuckerberg was called to testify before Congress, and a year of contentious international debates about the privacy rights of consumers online commenced. On Friday, Kogan filed a defamation lawsuit against Facebook.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Black Lives on Trial

      March 18, 2018. Sacramento, California. Two police officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, respond to a 9-1-1 call about an individual breaking car windows. They track the suspect down. They see the suspect is holding a gun. Or a tool bar. They fire twenty rounds.

      Seven bullets enter Stephon Clark’s body from the back. One hits his chest.

      Clark, a 22 year-old black man in his grandmother’s backyard, falls to his death.

      Turns out what he was holding was not a gun or a tool bar, but a cell phone.

      Almost a year goes by. On March 2, 2019, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announces that no criminal charges would be filed against Mercadal and Robinet. The officers had not broken the law.

      Schubert proceeds by pointing out that Clark had recently been accused of assaulting the mother of his children. He had exchanged threatening text messages with his fiancé. He had looked online for information on penalties for domestic violence. He had searched the internet about suicide methods. He had drugs in his system the night of the shooting.

    • The Myth of White Meritocracy

      The recent college admissions cheating scandal involving parents accused of committing bribery and fraud to get their children into elite schools raises two issues: the myth of meritocracy for the privileged and the continued denigration of affirmative action for the less-privileged.

      While most of society will publicly denounce what these parents did, it is in some ways nothing new. People with power and privilege have always done whatever they can to maintain it, while claiming that they simply worked hard and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Then they tell everyone else to do the same, a message specifically targeted toward historically oppressed groups.

      Meanwhile, affirmative action has been called everything from welfare to reverse discrimination. It is more accurately defined, to quote the National Conference of State Legislatures, as “admission policies that provide equal access to education for those groups that have been historically excluded or underrepresented, such as women and minorities.”

      As a black woman, I have experienced misapprehension and resentment about affirmative action firsthand. When I was in graduate school, a white male student and I were having a discussion on race. He told me he couldn’t get a scholarship when he was an undergraduate because undeserving black students were taking all the scholarship money. He blamed this on affirmative action.

    • Protest Condemns ‘Horrible Politics of Division’ as Fascist Jair Bolsonaro Arrives in US to Meet With Trump

      As Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrived in Washington, D.C. on Sunday ahead of a planned meeting with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, demonstrators rallied outside the White House to condemn the “horrible politics of division” deployed by both leaders to gain power and harm vulnerable communities.

      The U.S. trip represents Bolsonaro’s first bilateral meeting with another head of state since his inauguration in January, which followed a presidential campaign filled with fascistic threats and attacks on the LGBTQ community, women, and people of color.

      Since taking office, Bolsonaro has moved quickly to curtail the rights of marginalized people, privatize Brazil’s public services, and open the Amazon to business exploitation.

    • Chechen human rights icon Oyub Titiev sentenced to four years for controversial drug-possession conviction

      Chechnya’s Shalinsky District Court has convicted human rights activist Oyub Titiev of illegal drug possession, sentencing him to four years in a penal colony settlement.

      Titiev, who heads the Chechen branch of the human rights organization Memorial, was arrested in January 2018. Police say they found 200 grams of marijuana in his car, but Titiev maintains that the drugs were planted in his vehicle.

    • Will Decentralization of Neo-Nazism Spur More Right-Wing Terrorism?

      For the first time in decades, it is possible that there will be no U.S. neo-Nazi party large enough to hold public rallies. In a story worthy of a plot-twisting HBO special, Black civil rights activist James Stern convinced the leader of the largest U.S. neo-Nazi party, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), to officially make him their president in order to help protect the party from a lawsuit. Afterward, he said, “As a Black man, I took over a neo-Nazi group and outsmarted them,” and that he intends to dismantle the group from within.

      The NSM is important for opponents of the far right to watch because it is the largest open neo-Nazi group in the United States. As such, it is the furthest stop for a public, organized group on the right wing of the political spectrum. And after the 2018 collapse of the Traditionalist Worker Party, another large fascist party, the NSM has been the only neo-Nazi group able to hold public demonstrations of even a moderate size.

      This, in combination with several other recent events, marks the third major blow dealt to the white nationalist movement since 2016. The first was the wave of deplatforming after Charlottesville. (“Deplatforming” refers to the practice of cancelling digital and other services for certain political groups; for example, when PayPal cancels the accounts of racist groups.) The second was the March 2018 meltdown, when the Traditionalist Worker Party collapsed after a leadership sex scandal, and “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer’s college tour ended after a disastrous finale in Michigan.

    • How Disability Rights Advocates Turned Back the Trump Administration’s Attack on Students of Color

      Rules designed to help children of color and children with disabilities will go into immediate effect.
      Earlier this month, in response to a lawsuit from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a national disability rights group, a federal district court ruled that the Trump administration violated federal law when it delayed a Department of Education rule designed to protect students of color and students with disabilities.

      Children of color are significantly more likely to be identified as needing special education than their peers. According to the department and decades of research and data, there is a “strong concern” that many of these children have been improperly identified to their detriment.

      Congress addressed the problem of significant disproportionality in both the 1997 and 2004 reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under the law, states are required to identify school districts with significant disproportionality in identification, placement, and discipline and take actions to address the disproportionality.

      But states had broad discretion in how to define significant disproportionality, and as a result, relatively few districts were identified as disproportionate by states, despite overwhelming data showing a disproportionality problem. Accordingly, the department issued regulations in 2016 to better understand the extent of and address racial and ethnic overrepresentation in special education.

    • Can Prosecutors Dismiss Jurors for Agreeing With the O.J. Simpson Verdict?

      California’s highest court ruled that the O.J. verdict question was “race neutral.” The Supreme Court now has a chance to weigh in.
      Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions in California has highlighted the pernicious role race has played in who gets the death penalty in that state. In a case now awaiting review, the U.S. Supreme Court will have an opportunity to examine whether discriminatory tactics in jury selection in a California capital case can stand.

      It has long been settled that prosecutors may not dismiss citizens from a jury because they are Black. But can they dismiss them because they supported the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case? The California Supreme Court treated a prosecutor’s invocation of a juror’s views on the O.J. Simpson verdict as a “race-neutral” reason that justified the dismissal of a Black juror. If the rule forbidding race discrimination in the selection of jurors is to have any real effect, such reasons cannot be accepted as race-neutral without further inquiry.

      As everyone — except, apparently, the California Supreme Court — knows, opinions about the verdict in O.J. Simpson’s trial in the late 1990s divided overwhelming along racial lines. A CNN poll following the verdict showed that just 41 percent of white respondents agreed with the verdict, compared with 88 percent of Black respondents.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Internet Archive is working to preserve public Google+ posts before it shuts down

      Google is set to begin deleting data from its beleaguered social network, Google+ in April, but before that happens, the Internet Archive and the ArchiveTeam say that they are working to preserve public posts on the platform before they vanish forever.

    • Verizon Confirms That Yes, 5G Will Cost You Extra

      By now we’ve established that while fifth-generation (5G) wireless will result in faster, more resilient networks, the technology has been over-hyped to an almost nauseating degree. Yes, faster, lower latency networks are a good thing, but 5G is not as paradigm-rattling as most wireless carriers and hardware vendors have led many in the press to believe. 5G is more of a useful evolution than a revolution, but it has become the equivalent of magic pixie dust in tech policy circles, wherein if you simply say “it will lead to faster deployment of 5G!” you’ll immediately add gravitas to your otherwise underwhelming K Street policy pitch.

      Throughout all of the hype, carriers have been really hesitant to discuss what’s perhaps the most important question: how much will 5G cost? After all, next-generation connectivity is only going to help boost broadband competition if it’s both ubiquitous and affordable, two things the US wireless industry has never really been known for. And now that the carrier lobbyists have effectively convinced the Pai FCC to neuter itself, that question has only become more important.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Flex Joins Open Invention Network Community
    • Guest Post — Antibody-Drug Conjugates: Further Patents on Linkers [Ed: Saying "something is difficult" hence I want a patent even when such patents pertain to nature and life itself]

      As evidenced by the flurry of intellectual property activity surrounding ADC linker chemistries and the growing proportion of ADCs in the clinical pipeline, it is likely that innovations in linker stability and selectivity will continue to provide novel opportunities for the biopharmaceutical industry. Considering the intense research efforts and potential for overlap for ADCs, novel developments and adept patent claiming can be fruitful areas of investment for organizations seeking to advance the field of linker chemistry.

    • Qualcomm Wins First U.S. Jury Trial Against Apple
    • U.S. Court Rejects Alvogen’s Patent Challenge for Celgene’s Cancer Drug
    • Infringement, Unbound

      Patents are intended to strike a delicate balance — to encourage innovation by rewarding past invention without unduly hindering future progress. In order to achieve this balance, patent rights are bounded by limitations on subject matter, term, and scope. Like fence posts, scholars tell us, these limits serve as important signals — to both the patent owner (staking her claim) and to “neighbors” (who can create without infringing, using the fence posts as a guide). But what happens if these carefully-drawn boundaries are later loosened by enforcement rules in unpredictable ways? At first glance, that appears to be what is happening in recent years. In response to sophisticated technology and a global cross-border marketplace, patent enforcement doctrines are changing. For example, courts and lawmakers sometimes relax application of the requirement that all elements of a claim must be met in the United States when the infringer is engaged in a cross-border act. And manufacturers and retailers may be held liable for the infringement of their customers as “indirect” infringers.

    • Proximate Cause and Patent Law

      The U.S. Supreme Court’s WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. decision provides the opportunity to open a policy space for proximate cause in patent litigation. As the country’s highest Court has pushed patent law, as well as other statutory torts, in the same direction as other civil causes of action, the full adoption of proximate cause in all monetary forms of recovery appears to be inevitable. At this time, a full adoption of this complex, multidimensional requirement will allow the patent system to resolve several troubling existing problems, including the appropriate extraterritorial reach of the system. Properly implemented, proximate cause in patent law can resolve other difficulties that are explored in this article. These include accounting for the social benefits of infringing implementations, the multiple serial plaintiff problem, and the problem of patent infringement actions brought against end-user consumers as some examples. As the patent system joins other civil causes of action in implementing proximate cause, it is likely that other problems can be implemented and resolved so long as the standard is modified to account for the unique policy problems of the patent system.

    • Broadened Claims and Written Description

      In its original decision in the case, a 2-1 appellate panel upheld a jury’s $140 million verdict in favor of the patent holder Sprint. Time Warner petitioned for rehearing on two grounds: (1) damages apportionment; and (2) written description requirement. In response, the appellate panel has slightly modified its original opinion — but only to better explain its damages decision. As such, the $140 million verdict remains.

    • The invention here is a treatment claim — that is therefore patent eligible.

      Earlier this week I wrote about a separate Natural Alternatives reexamination appeal pending before the US Supreme Court on the issue of improper priority claims.

      The case at hand focuses on patent eligibility. Natural Alternatives sued Creative for infringing six of its patents covering various forms of the naturally-occurring compound beta-alanine and its use as a muscle-building supplement. The district court dismissed the lawsuit on the pleadings for lack of eligibility — finding that the claims were directed toward a product of nature (beta-alanine) and a law of nature (that taking beta-alanine in sufficient quantities builds muscle).

      On appeal the Federal Circuit has sided with the patentee. In an opinion written by Judge Moore and joined by Judge Wallach, the court explained that we shouldn’t take the law-of-nature prohibition too far since “[w]e live in the natural world, and all inventions are constrained by the laws of nature.”

      [...]

      The court considered the fact that beta-alanine occurs in nature and is very longstanding part of the human diet. In the end, however, the court found that the law “expressly permits patenting a new use of an existing product.” Here, the patentee argues that “the quantities being administered” do not exist in nature.

      At this point in the analysis, claim construction became important. At the pleadings stage, the district court agreed to follow the patentee’s proposed construction that would require that the dosage “elevate beta-alanine above natural levels to cause an increase in the synthesis of beta-alanylhistidine in the tissue.”

    • Supreme Court Shows its Interest in New Eligibility Case

      In this case, the Supreme Court has requested input from the U.S. Government — requesting the views of the U.S. Solicitor General (CVSG). The SG’s office will likely submit its brief in December 2019 — so we have a nice wait on this question presented:

      The question presented is whether patents that claim a method of medically treating a patient automatically satisfy Section 101 of the Patent Act, even if they apply a natural law using only routine and conventional steps.

      Although Hikma did not declare all method-of-treatment claims automatically patent eligible. It appears that the court has doubled-down in Natural Alternatives Int’l. Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019) (“These are treatment claims and as such they are patent eligible.”).

    • WIPO Election: Who Will Run To Be The Next DG?

      WIPO did not respond to a request by press time, but it does not appear that there is a timeline set up yet for the 2020 election. Based on the past, it seems likely that candidates will start being made official in fall of 2019, with the election in spring of 2020. Note that none of the people listed in this article confirmed their intention to run for director general.

      [...]

      Meanwhile, a seemingly new arrival on the whisper circuit is Dámaso Pardo of Argentina. Pardo is the head of Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de la Propiedad Industrial (INPI) and current chair of the important WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP).

      It might possibly be considered that Argentina also has the head of a UN agency in Geneva. Lelio Marmora has been Executive Director of UNITAID since 2014.

    • Drawings cannot be used to limit scope of protection

      On 12 February 2019, the Barcelona Court of Appeal (Section 15) issued an interesting judgment clarifying the role played by “drawings” for the purpose of interpreting the scope of protection of a patent. This judgment has reversed a judgment of 12 December 2017 from Barcelona Commercial Court number 1 which, according to the Court of Appeal, unduly relied on a drawing illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention to limit the scope of protection of the claims. In particular, in paragraph 12 of this recent judgment, the Court of Appeal concluded that:

      “12. We cannot accept that conclusion, since it is based on an interpretation – incorrect, in our view – of the purpose of a patent’s drawing. The defendant claims that, according to the drawings, the plug stem or closure cannot be inserted through the upper part because there is simply no room; therefore, it can only by inserted through the lower part of the inlet channel (or central valve).

    • Trademarks

      • Apple Objects To Norway Political Party’s Logo Claiming Potential Customer Confusion Over Trademark

        Apple has a long and storied history of playing make believe that only it can, in any way, use the image of an apple in any sort of branding. Despite trademark laws around the world generally being built on the notion that branding must be used in commerce, must be in a related industry, and must cause or have the potential to cause confusion in the public, Apple’s lawyers have generally demurred on the subtle aspects of these laws. This has led to disputes with small German cafes, with Chinese food manufacturers, and with pharmacies. It can be said without question that such disputes initiated by Apple are specious at best, but it can at least be said in Apple’s defense that each of those cases involve a foe that was a private, commercial business.

    • Copyrights

      • Trying to understand Article 13

        As IPKat readers know, next week the European Parliament will vote on the draft Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market.

        This blog is happy to host the following analysis of one of the most debated provisions in that draft legislative instrument, ie Article 13, as offered by Katfriend Prof Dirk Visser (Leiden University). The text of the full analysis is available here.

        [...]

        Following that, the OCSSPs must allow either the uploader or the rightholder to complain, and have a human make a decision. That decision can then be appealed through an ‘out-of-court redress mechanism’, to be provided by the Member-States. And that decision can then be contested in a regular court.

        Furthermore, it is imaginable that start-ups might try to remain below the thresholds of an annual turnover of EUR 10 million and the number of monthly unique visitors of 5 million, in order to avoid being considered an OCSSP.

        It is quite certain that OCSSPs, and the rightholders involved, should not wait until the date of entry into force of the Directive before organising ‘stakeholder dialogues to discuss best practices for the cooperation’ between them.

      • 9 Best Pirate Bay Alternatives Working When TPB Is Down [March 2019]

        What do the fans do when The Pirate Bay is down due to an error or federal action? They have to accept the hard truth and look for some alternatives to The Pirate Bay or ripoffs like thepiratebay3.org.

        Commonly known as TPB, the popular torrent site has been around for almost 15 years currently running on thepiratebay.org domain. When its founders were arrested back in 2013, The Pirate Bay was outperformed by KickAss Torrents which itself had to bite the dust later (here are some KAT alternatives). Eventually, TPB was able to regain its throne and currently tops the list of the best torrent sites for 2019.

      • The best torrent clients

        As much as streaming platforms are fantastic for watching all forms of media and cloud providers make transferring files between people relatively quick and simple, many people still rely on torrents for sharing content with friends and fans all over the world.

        We’ve trimmed the wheat from the digital chaff and have picked out a few of our favorite torrent clients to give you the best sharing experience. Before you go any further, it should be noted that torrents are sometimes used for illegal piracy, and Digital Trends does not condone that use in any guise. For help on getting started with torrents, check out our beginner’s guide.

      • How an Anti-Piracy Crusading Movie Studio is Keeping Piracy ‘Alive’

        Aussie movie studio Village Roadshow has a reputation of being a staunch anti-piracy advocate. However, the company is also known for delaying local movie releases for weeks, knowing that this may trigger pirates. That may also be the case with the “The LEGO Movie 2″ as a high-quality copy leaked onto various pirate sites before the Australian theatrical release.

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