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03.22.19

Links 22/3/2019: Libinput 1.13 RC2 and Facebook’s Latest Security Scandal

Posted in Site News at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 12 open source tools for natural language processing

    Natural language processing (NLP), the technology that powers all the chatbots, voice assistants, predictive text, and other speech/text applications that permeate our lives, has evolved significantly in the last few years. There are a wide variety of open source NLP tools out there, so I decided to survey the landscape to help you plan your next voice- or text-based application.

    For this review, I focused on tools that use languages I’m familiar with, even though I’m not familiar with all the tools. (I didn’t find a great selection of tools in the languages I’m not familiar with anyway.) That said, I excluded tools in three languages I am familiar with, for various reasons.

    The most obvious language I didn’t include might be R, but most of the libraries I found hadn’t been updated in over a year. That doesn’t always mean they aren’t being maintained well, but I think they should be getting updates more often to compete with other tools in the same space. I also chose languages and tools that are most likely to be used in production scenarios (rather than academia and research), and I have mostly used R as a research and discovery tool.

  • Events

    • More keynotes hitting the stage at Red Hat Summit 2019

      Red Hat Summit 2019 is the industry’s premier enterprise open source technology conference. A place to come together to share ideas, collaborate with peers, learn from the work of others and celebrate advancements in open source. This year, we encourage you to think beyond your normal day-to-day, beyond the limitations and challenges you face, expand your possibilities to think about AND.

      No longer about having to choose, what if you could scale your technology AND culture to meet your needs to help you not just survive, but thrive in a changing business landscape? Think Linux AND containers. Think public AND private cloud. That’s what you’ll find at Red Hat Summit.

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 session highlights: Hybrid cloud infrastructure

      Cloud computing should not be a world that is dominated by public clouds or on-premises datacenters; instead, it should be a blend of technologies that create the concept of hybrid cloud. The Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook for 2019 further details this point, with only six percent of respondents planning a pure public cloud strategy, while 30 percent have a hybrid cloud strategy.

      So what exactly is the hybrid cloud mix? And how can you handle multiple public clouds plus on-premises resources? What about Kubernetes and containers? How is anyone REALLY doing this?

      At Red Hat Summit 2019, May 7-9 in Boston, Red Hat aims to address these questions and more around hybrid cloud infrastructure and strategies. From Kubernetes and Linux containers to hybrid cloud storage and functions-as-a-service (FaaS), presenters at Red Hat Summit will break these concepts down using real world examples to highlight the power, scale and innovation of hybrid cloud infrastructure in modern computing environments.

    • SUSECON 2019 Sponsors, Keynotes and Breakout Sessions Announced! [Ed: Microsoft a sponsor and thus keynote talk]

      At SUSECON 2019, we will be collaborating with our partners to showcase open source business technologies that transform.

    • LibrePlanet is coming in two days! Here’s how you can participate

      It’s almost time for LibrePlanet — the Free Software Foundation annual conference and associate members’ meeting — and we couldn’t be more excited! There is so much going on at the conference, great events in the evenings, a raffle, an exhibit hall, and an amazing collection of free software enthusiasts from around the world. We hope to see you there! Registration may be closed, but you can still register for the conference on-site, space permitting.

      In the event you can’t make it to LibrePlanet, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, there are ways to get involved! We have three ways to enable remote participation: IRC, mumble, and, of course, the livestream. We provide these resources, along with video streaming, so that free software supporters who are unable to travel to the US for economic and/or political reasons are still able to participate.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 66.0 Released with Sound Auto-Play Blocked

        Mozilla Firefox 66.0 was released two days ago. Now it’s available in main repositories of Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 18.10.

      • A Quick Look At The Firefox 66.0 vs. Chrome 73.0 Performance Benchmarks

        Given the recent releases of Chrome 73 and Firefox 66, here are some fresh tests of these latest browsers on Linux under a variety of popular browser benchmarks.

        This initial round of testing was done on the latest of Intel’s Clear Linux with a Core i9 9900K and Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card. Originally the intent was to look at the performance of Clear Linux’s default Firefox build compared to the upstream Firefox x86_64 Linux binary to see how the performance differed or if any Clear optimizations paid off there. In this particular instance, Clear Linux’s Firefox build and that of the upstream/generic Firefox Linux binary basically came down to the same. As a follow-up though will be tests of Firefox/Chrome running on Clear Linux against the likes of Ubuntu to see if the underlying operating system changes yield any performance difference.

      • Firefox 66 Is Now Available for Ubuntu 18.10, 18.04 LTS, and 16.04 LTS Users

        Released earlier this week, the Mozilla Firefox 66 web browser has landed in Ubuntu’s repositories with a bunch of great improvements, such as the hidden system title bar that respects the GNOME guidelines. Not only Firefox will now look good, but you won’t have two title bars, nor you’ll have to use extensions to get rid of one.

        Apart from the looks for GNOME users, which is now the default desktop environment on Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish), Mozilla Firefox 66 comes with various under the hood improvements, such as freezeless downloading of files and faster web content loading by reducing the crash rates and increasing the processes from 4 to 8.

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n report: March edition

        This is not an action that we take lightly, because it’s demoralizing for the Community and potentially confusing for users, but in some cases we have to remove locales from Firefox builds. As outlined in the document, we try our best to revive the localization effort, and only act when it’s clear that we can’t solve the problem in other ways.

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n report: March edition

        This is not an action that we take lightly, because it’s demoralizing for the Community and potentially confusing for users, but in some cases we have to remove locales from Firefox builds. As outlined in the document, we try our best to revive the localization effort, and only act when it’s clear that we can’t solve the problem in other ways.

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n report: March edition

        This is not an action that we take lightly, because it’s demoralizing for the Community and potentially confusing for users, but in some cases we have to remove locales from Firefox builds. As outlined in the document, we try our best to revive the localization effort, and only act when it’s clear that we can’t solve the problem in other ways.

      • Firefox 67 Will Add Support for Running Different Firefox Installs Side by Side

        With the Firefox 66 release out the door, Mozilla is now concentrating its efforts on the next major release of its open-source and cross-platform web browser used by millions of computer and mobile users worldwide, Firefox 67.
        Firefox 67 continues the “Quantum” series of the web browser with some very nice enhancements, such as the ability to finally run different versions of Firefox side by side by default. Furthermore, Firefox 67 promises to protect users against running older versions of Firefox that may cause stability issues or data corruption.

        To better protect the security and privacy of users, Firefox 67 will let users block known crypto-miners and fingerprinters in the web browser via the Content Blocking preferences or in Custom settings, as well as the ability to manually approve newly installed extensions in Private Windows.

        With Firefox 67 you’ll also be able to pin tabs from the Page Actions menu in the address bar and access the Import Data from Another Browser feature more conveniently from the File menu. For Windows 10 users, Firefox 67 will enable the WebRender feature by default for Firefox 64 installations on computers with Nvidia GPUs.

  • Databases

    • How to save time with TiDB

      Last November, I wrote about key differences between MySQL and TiDB, an open source-compatible, cloud-based database engine, from the perspective of scaling both solutions in the cloud. In this follow-up article, I’ll dive deeper into the ways TiDB streamlines and simplifies administration.

      If you come from a MySQL background, you may be used to doing a lot of manual tasks that are either not required or much simpler with TiDB.

      The inspiration for TiDB came from the founders managing sharded MySQL at scale at some of China’s largest internet companies. Since requirements for operating a large system at scale are a key concern, I’ll look at some typical MySQL database administrator (DBA) tasks and how they translate to TiDB.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2.2 Released, New PocketBeagle SBC, Google Enforcing Permissions Rules on Apps, OpenShot 2.4.4 Now Available and DataPractices.org Has Joined The Linux Foundation

      The Document Foundation announces the release of LibreOffice 6.2.2. This version “provides over 50 bug and regression fixes over the previous version”. You can view the changelog for details, and go here to download. Note that “LibreOffice 6.2.2 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.1.5, which includes some months of back-ported fixes.”

    • SmartArt improvements in LibreOffice, part 4

      I recently dived into the SmartArt support of LibreOffice, which is the component responsible for displaying complex diagrams from PPTX. I focus on the case when only the document model and the layout constraints are given, not a pre-rendered result.

      First, thanks to our partner SUSE for working with Collabora to make this possible.

    • Things to know if you are a new contributor to LibreOffice code

      When I began contributing code to LibreOffice, I faced some issues because I didn’t know several facts that the other active contributors knew. This blog post summarizes some of those facts, and I hope it will be useful for other new contributors!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • New vulnerability reporting platform aims to make open source safer [Ed: Ad disguised as an article for firm that works with Microsoft and never speaks about back doors in proprietary software]
    • Why Open19 Designs Matter for Edge Computing [Ed: Openwashing Microsoft without even any source code]

      On the opening day of this year’s Data Center World in Phoenix, Yuval Bachar, LinkedIn’s principal engineer of data center architecture, was on hand to explain why the social network’s Open19 Project will be an important part of data centers’ move to the edge.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Parallel 20190322 (‘FridayforFuture’) released

      GNU Parallel 20190322 (‘FridayforFuture’) has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/
      The change in signalling makes this release experimental for users that send SIGTERM to GNU Parallel.

    • GNU Parallel 20190322 Released – Wants To Help Speed Up Single-Threaded Linux Commands

      GNU Parallel is a tool for carrying out multiple commands/jobs in parallel on one or more computers. Out today is the GNU Parallel 20190322 release with a few changes over last month’s update.

      The primary change of GNU Parallel 20190322 is using SIGHUP rather than SIGTERM to allow for running jobs to finish and they have also changed their ‘SIGTERM SIGTERM’ behavior for killing of running jobs. Additionally, they have added some “cheat sheet” documentation for helping new users understand this utility.

    • Seven new devices from ThinkPenguin, Inc. now FSF-certified to Respect Your Freedom

      Thursday, March 21st, 2019 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to seven devices from ThinkPenguin, Inc.: The Penguin Wireless G USB Adapter (TPE-G54USB2), the Penguin USB Desktop Microphone for GNU / Linux (TPE-USBMIC), the Penguin Wireless N Dual-Band PCIe Card (TPE-N300PCIED2), the PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Card Dual Port (TPE-1000MPCIE), the PCI Gigabit Ethernet Card (TPE-1000MPCI), the Penguin 10/100 USB Ethernet Network Adapter v1 (TPE-100NET1), and the Penguin 10/100 USB Ethernet Network Adapter v2 (TPE-100NET2). The RYF certification mark means that these products meet the FSF’s standards in regard to users’ freedom, control over the product, and privacy.

      [...]

      “I’ve always believed that the biggest difficulty for users in the free software world has been in obtaining compatible hardware, and so I’m glad to be participating in the expansion of the RYF program” said Christopher Waid, founder and CEO of ThinkPenguin.

      ThinkPenguin, Inc. was one of the first companies to receive RYF certification, gaining their first and second certifications in 2013, and adding several more over the years since.

      “ThinkPenguin has excelled for years in providing users with the tools they need to control their own computing. We are excited by these new additions today, and look forward to what they have in store for the future,” said the FSF’s licensing and compliance manager, Donald Robertson, III.

    • FSF Certifies A USB Microphone For Respecting Your Freedom Plus Some Network Adapters

      The Free Software Foundation has announced the latest batch of hardware it has certified for “Respecting Your Freedom” as part of its RYF program.

      Seven more devices from Linux-focused e-tailer Think Penguin have been certified for respecting your freedoms and privacy in that no binary blobs are required for use nor any other restrictions on the hardware’s use or comprising the user’s privacy.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Course Review: Applied Hardware Attacks: Rapid Prototying & Hardware Implants

        Everyone learns in different ways. While Joe is happy to provide as much help as a student needs, his general approach probably caters most to those who learn by doing. Lecture is light and most of the learning happens during the lab segments. He gives enough space that you will make mistakes and fail, but not so badly that you never accomplish your objective. If you read the lab manual carefully, you will find adequate hints to get you in the right direction.

        On the other hand, if you’re a student that wants to site in a classroom and listen to an instructor lecture for the entire time, you are definitely in the wrong place. If you do not work on the labs, you will get very, very, little out of the course.

        The rapid prototyping course is a good introduction to using the 3D printer and pcb mill for hardware purposes, and would be valuable even for those building hardware instead of breaking it. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of these technologies. On the other hand, I suspect that the hardware implants course has limited application. It’s useful to learn what is possible, but unless you work in secure hardware design or offensive security that would use hardware implants, it’s probably not something directly applicable to your day to day.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python for NLP: Vocabulary and Phrase Matching with SpaCy

      This is the third article in this series of articles on Python for Natural Language Processing. In the previous article, we saw how Python’s NLTK and spaCy libraries can be used to perform simple NLP tasks such as tokenization, stemming and lemmatization. We also saw how to perform parts of speech tagging, named entity recognition and noun-parsing. However, all of these operations are performed on individual words.

    • Small history about QA

      To ensure of the quality of PHP, of no regression is a complex, long and serious work. Thanks to all the actors, developers, QA team and users, this works pretty well.
      So, if you use PHP in a development environment, it is essential to install the RC versions to detect and report us quickly any problem, so we can react before the finale version.
      For users of my repository, the RC versions of PHP and various extensions are nearly always available in the testing repositories.

    • PHP version 7.2.17RC1 and 7.3.4RC1
    • Talk Python to Me: #204 StaticFrame, like Pandas but safer
    • Test and Code: 69: The Pragmatic Programmer – Andy Hunt

      Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas wrote the seminal software development book, The Pragmatic Programmer. Together they founded The Pragmatic Programmers and are well known as founders of the agile movement and authors of the Agile Manifesto. They founded the Pragmatic Bookshelf publishing business in 2003.

    • Coding for Time Zones & Daylight Saving Time — Oh, the Horror
    • Deep-dive tutorial series on React, TypeScript, and TDD
    • How to debug code in CodeReady Workspaces
    • Intro to Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) in Python
    • Effective HMI interaction and safety attention monitoring using eye tracking technology: DeepGlance Quick

      Interacting effectively with increasingly widespread and advanced systems is one of the most important challenges of our time. Most modern HMIs are based on mouse, keyboard or touch screen and allow controlling even very complex devices in a simple and intuitive way. However, in certain contexts, the user may be unable to have direct contact with a device, in this case, we are talking about hands-free interactions and often voice commands are used to interact. But controlling a system by voice, however natural, is not effective for all types of operations and in all environments. In fact, every technology has its peculiarities, that’s why the HMI design and the UX are the subject of continuous research and aim to offer increasingly effective and natural interaction methods, also thanks to the combined use of more complementary technologies between them.

    • Seven ways to improve your team’s Python

      If you’re a manager, then you’re always trying to find ways that’ll help your team do more in less time. That’s why you use Python — because it makes your developers more productive. They can spend more time creating new features, and less time debugging or maintaining existing code. It’s no surprise that so many companies are moving to Python.

      After you’ve moved to Python, you can still make your team more effective. That is, your organization can become more productive, combining technology and culture to help your developers improve. In such a scenario, everyone wins: Your company becomes more efficient and effective, and your team members are more satisfied.

    • Rust All Hands 2019: Array iterators, Rayon, and more

      A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Rust All Hands meeting, hosted by Mozilla at their Berlin office. The attendees were a mix of volunteers and corporate employees covering the full range of Rust development, including the compiler, language, libraries, docs, tools, operations, and community. Although I’m sure there will be an official summary of the meeting (like last year’s), in this article, I’ll cover a few things I was directly involved in. First, I’ll look at a feature many developers have wanted for a long time…

    • GCC 9 libstdc++ Lands The C++17 Parallel Algorithms Implementation From Intel

      While the release of GCC 9 (v9.1) is just a few weeks ago, a late addition to this annual compiler collection update is its C++ standard library now having a C++17 parallel algorithms implementation thanks to Intel developers.

      Intel has been working on contributing their C++17 parallel algorithms library code to both GCC and also to the LLVM project. Intel has been working on this Parallel STL implementation the past few years with a focus on contributing the support to the libc++ and libstdc++ C++ standard libraries. The Parallel STL is a portable implementation of threaded/vectorized execution of standard C++ algorithms, which can equate to a performance win on today’s multi-core systems.

    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 14 – Bitwise operators practical examples
    • Tutorial: Introduction to Git and Github

Leftovers

  • Bach-A-Doodle-Doo

    The tinny reveille I heard came not from a Gothic belfry but from a space-grey MacBook Pro a few feet from my right ear. My wife was on the internet and had launched an unlikely wake-up call.

    However feebly delivered, the melody I heard would have been familiar to old Johann, so deeply engraved on his hard drive was this venerable Lutheran chorale. Emanating from the laptop were the hymn’s first two short phrases, rising resolutely step-wise up the minor scale.

    The tune was delivered in electric piano tones, first as a single line, then repeated along with a droning alto, and finally in four parts that were the work of the birthday boy himself. The message conveyed, even without the text being sung, was not exactly one to launch me out of bed to greet the spring day, attack the problems of the world, and be at one with myself and the planet: Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig.

  • The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf

    I came upon a piece of “found art” in the NYT today that was too delicious to pass up. On page D1 of the Style section today (March 21), there was an article on a new book by Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider entitled “Why Does Patriarchy Persist? The article continued on pages D4 and D5 above the advertisement in the attached photo. Priceless.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Will More GMO Foods Be Approved Under FDA’s New Leadership?

      The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

    • Early Pesticide Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

      Environmental exposure to pesticides, both before birth and during the first year of life, has been linked to an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, according to the largest epidemiological study to date on the connection.

      The study, published Wednesday in BMJ, found that pregnant women who lived within 2,000 meters (approximately 1.2 miles) of a highly-sprayed agricultural area in California had children who were 10 to 16 percent more likely to develop autism and 30 percent more likely to develop severe autism that impacted their intellectual ability. If the children were exposed to pesticides during their first year of life, the risk they would develop autism went up to 50 percent.

    • AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF CORPORATE IMPERIALISM

      Traditional narratives of capitalist change often rely on the myth of the willful entrepreneur from the global North who transforms the economy and delivers modernity—for good or ill—to the rest of the world. With Cigarettes, Inc., Nan Enstad upends this story, revealing the myriad cross-cultural encounters that produced corporate life before World War II.

      In this startling account of innovation and expansion, Enstad uncovers a corporate network rooted in Jim Crow segregation that stretched between the United States and China and beyond. Cigarettes, Inc. teems with a global cast—from Egyptian, American, and Chinese entrepreneurs to a multiracial set of farmers, merchants, factory workers, marketers, and even baseball players, jazz musicians, and sex workers. Through their stories, Cigarettes, Inc. accounts for the cigarette’s spectacular rise in popularity and in the process offers nothing less than a sweeping reinterpretation of corporate power itself.

    • Cigarettes Are Central to the History of Corporate Power

      Parker was one of hundreds of young white men who journeyed from the bright leaf tobacco–growing states of Virginia and North Carolina to work for BAT-China from 1905 to 1937, the very years that cigarette consumption skyrocketed worldwide. Southerners filled positions in every department. Richard Henry Gregory from Granville County, North Carolina, ran the agricultural department, where US Southerners introduced bright leaf tobacco and the flue curing system to Chinese farmers. Ivy Riddick, from Raleigh, North Carolina, managed Shanghai’s massive cigarette factories during the 1920s, a decade of dramatic strikes and anti-imperialist protest. James N. Joyner, born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, worked in sales in China from 1912 to 1935, including heading two large sales divisions. And James A. Thomas of Reidsville, North Carolina, was at the helm, steering the China branch of BAT during its years of rapid expansion. For every career man, there were dozens of other, mostly rural white Southerners who worked for BAT-China for one or more four-year terms; hundreds of Southerners went to China over the course of BAT-China’s tenure there.

      These men were part of a network that selected and sorted white men from the Upper South’s bright leaf tobacco region into emerging corporate opportunities in the United States and China. The men who went to China left behind fathers, brothers, and cousins who performed similar work in the cigarette corporations that were emerging simultaneously in the United States. To be part of the transnational network, one had to be white and male and to have some connection to farming, curing, auctioning, or manufacturing bright leaf tobacco. What mattered was not so much what one knew, but who one knew, as those who had a father or brother in the tobacco trade found entrance even without any particular training or experience. This network, then, functioned as a managerial system, coordinating the hire and placement of white-collar managers in both the US and China; it was as foundational to the transnational tobacco corporate structure as the board of directors, and more significant for shaping daily decision-making and corporate culture.

    • Doctors, EMS Leaders Call for Changes to Rhode Island’s 911 System

      As Rhode Island lawmakers consider ways to improve the state’s 911 emergency system, the head of the state police on Thursday pledged to conduct a thorough review of procedures and training provided to 911 call takers.

      The moves follow a report by The Public’s Radio and ProPublica on Wednesday about a 6-month-old baby in Warwick who was the subject of an emergency 911 call last year. The family told 911 that the baby was “unresponsive” and turning purple, but they were never instructed in CPR. The baby died. The investigation also cited serious shortcomings in the way 911 call takers are trained.

      Col. James M. Manni, Rhode Island State Police superintendent, said staff from the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the 911 system, would travel to New Hampshire next week to examine its system. New Hampshire 911 call takers are certified in emergency medical dispatch, which includes training in how to deliver CPR instructions by phone. Emergency medical calls in every other New England state, except Rhode Island, are likewise handled by people certified in emergency medical dispatch, or EMD.

    • EPA Announces 20 Toxic Chemicals It Won’t Protect Us From

      On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as “high priority” for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA’s record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.

      Of the 20 chemicals named, the one that immediately jumps out is formaldehyde. EPA’s program for assessing the hazards of chemicals — known as “IRIS,” the Integrated Risk Information System — completed an assessment of formaldehyde that Trump officials have prevented being publicly released, or even undergoing peer review. This is likely because the conclusions of the IRIS assessment are unfavorable to formaldehyde manufacturers and polluters.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Norwegian firm attack likely through Microsoft Active Directory: claim

      The Windows network at the Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro was probably infiltrated by attackers who planted the LockerGoga ransomware using something like scheduled tasks or services in Microsoft’s Active Directory, a British security expert says.

    • Microsoft starts notifying Windows 7 users about end of support

      Microsoft’s end of support date means that Windows 7 users will no longer receive security updates, and the company wants consumers to upgrade to Windows 10 PCs instead. While the notification doesn’t mention Windows 10, Microsoft links to a new Windows 7 site that encourages consumers to upgrade their PCs.

    • Critical flaw lets [attackers] control lifesaving devices implanted inside patients

      The federal government on Thursday warned of a serious flaw in Medtronic cardio defibrillators that allows attackers to use radio communications to surreptitiously take full control of the lifesaving devices after they are implanted in a patient.

      Defibrillators are small, surgically implanted devices that deliver electrical shocks to treat potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms. In recent decades, doctors have increasingly used radios to monitor and adjust the devices once they’re implanted rather than using older, costlier, and more invasive means. An array of implanted cardio defibrillators made by Medtronic rely on two types of radio-based consoles for initial setup, periodic maintenance, and regular monitoring. Doctors use the company’s CareLink Programmer in clinics, while patients use the MyCareLink Monitor in homes to regularly ensure the defibrillators are working properly.

    • Russian [attackers] are targeting European governments ahead of May election, FireEye says

      FireEye said European government institutions were sent emails with links to websites that appeared to be authentic, luring a person into changing their password and thus sharing their credentials with hackers.

    • How to create good SSH keys

      A couple years back we wrote a guide on how to create good OpenPGP/GnuPG keys and now it is time to write a guide on SSH keys for much of the same reasons: SSH key algorithms have evolved in past years and the keys generated by the default OpenSSH settings a few years ago are no longer considered state-of-the-art. This guide is intended both for those completely new to SSH and to those who have already been using it for years and who want to make sure they are following the latest best practices.

    • Installing Gnuk on FST-01G running NeuG
    • Offline Ed25519 OpenPGP key with subkeys on FST-01G running Gnuk
    • Planning for a new OpenPGP key
    • Simon Josefsson: OpenPGP 2019 Key Transition Statement
    • PewDiePie Ransomware Locks Your Files Until 100M Subscribers Is Reached

      What started as a joke has taken an ugly turn now. PewDiePie fans have begun taking extreme methods to ensure that people “Subscribe to PewDiePie” and the YouTuber reaches 100 million subscribers as soon as possible.

      The latest one involves a ransomware strain which locks away users’ files indefinitely until PewDiePie gains 100 million subscribers.

    • WireGuard Sent Out Again For Review, Might Make It Into Linux 5.2 Kernel

      WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld has sent out the ninth version of the WireGuard secure network tunnel patches for review. If this review goes well and lands in net-next in the weeks ahead, this long-awaited VPN improvement could make it into the mainline Linux 5.2 kernel.

      WireGuard had aimed to be mainlined in the Linux kernel in 2018 but developers having objections to some elements of the new Zinc cryptography implementation had ultimately stalled that work. But now there’s these “v9″ patches that address previous objections and so with a bit of luck we might see Zinc and WireGuard merged for Linux 5.2.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Hidden U.S. Air War in Somalia: Amnesty Accuses U.S. of Possible War Crimes for Civilian Deaths

      Amnesty International is accusing the United States of covering up civilian casualties in its secretive air war in Somalia targeting the militant group al-Shabab. The U.S. has carried out over 100 strikes in Somalia since 2017. For years the Pentagon has claimed no civilians were being killed in the airstrikes, but the new Amnesty report found that at least 14 civilians were killed, and eight more were injured, in just five airstrikes. The overall civilian death toll is likely to be far higher. We speak with Brian Castner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser on arms and military operations. He helped write Amnesty’s report, titled “The Hidden US War in Somalia.”

    • Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs

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

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

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

    • Trump: U.S. Recognizes Israel’s Sovereignty of Golan Heights

      President Donald Trump said Thursday that it’s time for the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, an announcement that signals a shift in U.S. policy and comes ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s planned visit next week to the White House.

      The administration has been considering recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Last week, in its annual human rights report, the State Department dropped the phrase “Israeli-occupied” from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it “Israeli-controlled.”

    • No, Critics Declare in Response to Trump, Now Is Time to Give Occupied Golan Heights Back to Syria

      Critics on Thursday swiftly condemned an announcement by President Donald Trump that he believes the U.S. should recognize Israel’s claim over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory Israel has illegally occupied for over half a century.

      “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the president said on Twitter, “which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

    • Thom Hartmann: America Has Forgotten the Warnings of FDR

      America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We’d be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.

      The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they’re on the streets.

      While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a “free” society.

      “Poverty, lack of education, no access to health care, poor-paying jobs, and barriers to voting are all proof of a free society, they tell us, which is why America’s lowest life expectancy, highest maternal and childhood death rates, lowest levels of education, and lowest pay are almost all in GOP-controlled states.”

    • Trump Threatens to Unleash Paramilitary Violence in the US

      This has been one of those whiplash weeks where so many particularly monstrous words have emanated from Donald Trump’s mouth and Twitter-fingers that it becomes almost dizzying.

      Where to focus my outrage? Should I be most concerned about the fact that the supposed “leader of the free world” stumbled through a series of non-answers when asked about the growing threat of white nationalism in the wake of the grotesque massacre of scores of Muslims in New Zealand? Or the fact that last weekend, instead of tweeting sympathy to the victims of that massacre, Trump chose instead to tweet out insults and lies about a dead senator? Or the fact that he threatened to sic the Federal Communications Commission onto a comedy show he didn’t like, while at the same time stepping into the editorial fray to urge Fox News to stand behind two particularly noxious commentators whom he does like?

      All these are bad, but none is as bloody awful as his musings on unleashing paramilitary violence if things go too wrong for him in the political arena. In his trademark “I didn’t say it” way, Trump talked in a March 13 Breitbart interview about how he had the police, the military and the biker gangs in his corner — and how wonderful it was that they weren’t violent … for now; the clear nudge, nudge, wink, wink, subtext being that all he would have to do is give a signal, and his armed proxies would go after his enemies. A few days later, white nationalist Rep. Steve King, one of Trump’s closest ideological soulmates on Capitol Hill, forwarded to his followers a cartoon about the possibility of a modern-day U.S. civil war, and how gun-toting conservatives would have a field day shooting down wishy-washy liberals who couldn’t even work out what public bathrooms they wanted to use.

      None of this stuff is remotely funny, and it has no place in a functioning democracy. Of course, many U.S. politicians in the past have called out the hard-hat brigade when it suited them; segregationist Southern governors during the civil rights struggle routinely stoked white mob violence in an effort to block reforms. In 1968, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley unleashed the police against anti-war protesters with the intent of busting open as many heads as possible. In the Tammany Hall days, machine politicians weren’t averse to making unholy alliances with street gangs. More recently, demagogues from Louisiana politician Huey Long to Red Scare architect Joe McCarthy have all-too-well understood the power of the crowd and the potency of the threat of political violence in an already combustible situation.

    • Trump’s Secrecy Insulates U.S. Public from CIA Drone War
    • America Is Exceptional—in All the Wrong Ways

      I was born and raised in an America far more Orwellian than many now remember. Matters have gone so far off the rails since 9/11 that few seem to recall the madness of the 1980s. The U.S. had a celebrity actor for president, who railed about America’s ostensibly existential adversary—the Soviet “evil empire.” Back then, Ronald Reagan nearly started a nuclear war during the all-too-real Able Archer war game. He also secretly sold missiles to Iran, and then laundered the windfall to the Contras’ Central American hit squads, resulting in some 100,000 dead.

      Looking back from 2019, at least as the contemporary media tell it, those were the good old days. Heck, even Barack Obama—faux liberal that he was—proudly and publicly admired Reagan. Oh, and one of Reagan’s favorite campaign slogans: “Make America Great Again.”

      Today, matters seem to be coming farcically full circle, what with Elliott Abrams—convicted in the aforementioned Iran-Contra scandal—being appointed special envoy to Venezuela, and Uncle Sam again bullying a Latin American country. Welcome to America’s own grisly ’80s foreign affairs theme party! Which all got me thinking, again, about the whole notion of American exceptionalism. Only a country that truly, deeply believes in its own special mission could repeat the hideous policies of the 1980s and hardly notice.

      Perhaps one expects this absurd messianism from the likes of The Donald, but the real proof is that America’s supposed progressives—like Obama—also obediently pray at the temple of exceptionalism. “Orwellian” is the only word for a nation whose leaders and commentariat were absolutely aghast when candidate Obama was seen without (gasp!) an American flag pin on his lapel. Even more disturbing was how quickly he folded and dutifully adorned his mandatory flair. This sort of nonsense is dangerous, folks: It’s hypernationalism—the very philosophy that brought us World War I.

      So it was this week, while sitting on a plane reading my oh-so-bourgeois Economist, and getting infuriated about seeing Elliott Abrams’ war-criminal face, that my thoughts again turned to good old American exceptionalism. My opinions on the topic have waxed and waned over the course of a career spent waging illegal war. First, as a young cadet at West Point, I bought it hook, line and sinker; then, as an Iraq War vet and dissenter, I rejected the entire notion. Only now, observing the world as it is, have I begun to think that America really is exceptional after all—only in all the wrong ways.

    • Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story

      Why is Donald Trump deliberately picking a fight with the ghost of John McCain? It might seem he has nothing to gain and much to lose from this battle. Therefore many believe this is just more evidence of his narcissism, impulsiveness, and thoroughly nasty personality. Beware of underestimating Trump’s skillful and devious political acumen. As often, the president is speaking in coded language to his base, which regards McCain as the Judas who betrayed all those thousands of American POWs left behind in Vietnam.

      In public culture, especially in the corporate media and on the national political stage, John McCain is almost universally acclaimed as a great “American hero.” Why? Traditional American heroes in our wars engaged in some heroic combat action. Sergeant Alvin York, the most celebrated American of the First World War, saved his squad from German machine gunners, personally killing twenty enemy soldiers, including six he shot with his .45 pistol when they charged with bayonets. The most decorated American of the Second World War was Audie Murphy, who at the age of 19 single-handedly held off an entire company of Nazi soldiers for an hour and led a counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition. Growing up in World War II, I knew the names of these heroes. Do you know the name of any authentic American hero of the Vietnam War? How about Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, who landed his helicopter in My Lai, ordered his gunners to shoot any American soldiers who continued to fire, and personally saved a number of Vietnamese jumbled with the mass of dead villagers in a ditch?

      As for John McCain, he was shot down by a missile while bombing the thermal power plant responsible for providing electricity to the Hanoi civilian neighborhood in which it was located. McCain was and is hailed as a great hero not for any of his actions in combat but for what he claimed he endured during his captivity as a prisoner of war. There are two groups of American heretics who do not revere McCain. One remembers him as the senator who never saw a war he did not favor. The other despises him for pretending that America did not abandon many POWs in Vietnam after the war.

    • A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”

      Is it disgusting and pathetic that the mentally deranged President of the United States wakes up early in the morning to engage in hours of adolescent Twitter warfare with his personal and political enemies?

      Is it ridiculous and pitiful that the tangerine-tinted Twitter-addict continues to attack the late United States Senator John McCain and McCain’s family months after McCain has been buried?

      Is it sickening that the primary McCain sin Bad Grandpa Trump can’t seem to forgive is the former Senator’s failure to join Trump and the Republicans in kicking millions of ordinary Americans off the health insurance rolls?

      Is it true that, as, George Conway – one of Trump’s recent Twitter enemies – tweets, Trump is a textbook case of malignant narcissism?

      Is it creepy that Trump calls Kellyanne Conway, George’s wife and a top Trump counselor, “honey” and that Mrs. Conway sides with her demented boss over her husband in the Trump-Conway Twitter feud?

      Is it distressing that the man with his fingers on the nuclear codes feels compelled to call George Conway “Mr. Kellyanne” and a “husband from Hell” – and to Tweet this about Conway: “I barely know him but just take a look, a stone-cold LOSER.”

      The answer to each of these questions is yes, of course. It’s all totally contemptible and yet darkly risible.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange lawyer says he’s declined to cooperate with Nadler’s document requests

      Assange is one of the 81 individuals and entities who were hit with the House Judiciary Committee’s document requests, and he is one of several who have publicly stated they will not cooperate with the panel.

    • Attorney for WikiLeaks witness tells Nadler his panel can get documents from Mueller

      Credico has clashed with Roger Stone, the longtime GOP operative and self-described political “dirty trickster,” over who had contact with WikiLeaks.

      Stone has said Credico served as a conduit between him and Wikileaks, something Credico repeatedly denied.

    • Chelsea Manning Believes Grand Jury May Be ‘Perjury Trap,’ According To Unsealed Documents

      Documents related to Chelsea Manning’s effort to quash a federal grand jury subpoena show her attorneys are concerned the grand jury investigation against WikiLeaks may be trying to draw her into a “perjury trap.”

      Manning is in jail at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, which is also where the grand jury is empaneled. She was charged with contempt on March 8 for refusing to answer questions before the grand jury.

      The government offered her some form of immunity for her testimony, and the United States military has offered a “parallel” form of immunity to assuage concerns that her testimony would open her up to further military prosecution.

      Government prosecutors seem interested in a lengthy statement Manning offered during her military court-martial for Espionage Act-related offenses, where she outlined her role in disclosing over a half million documents. She meticulously described each set of information, why she was drawn to releasing the documents to the public, and how she downloaded, prepared, and electronically transferred the documents to WikiLeaks.

      Moira Meltzer-Cohen, an attorney for Manning, suggested during a hearing on March 5 [PDF], if the government intended to question her about her statement, “She’s sort of faced with the choice of reiterating her previous answers, which the government appears not to accept, or being untruthful, which she refuses to do.”

      “Since her prior testimony made clear that she acted alone and since we have been advised that she is herself not a target in this investigation, it would appear that the government may harbor an interest in undermining her previous testimony, since it doesn’t inculpate anyone else who might be a target,” Meltzer-Cohen added.

    • PACER, Or Your First Amendment Right To Go Fuck Yourself For $0.10/Page

      Anyone who’s used the US Court system’s PACER system has complained about it. Some of those complaints have formed the basis of lawsuits. The multitude of complaints has moved legislators to make periodic runs at eliminating PACER’s paywall. So far, PACER — which looks and feels like it’s still 2001 — has managed to outlast these efforts. The only change over the last nineteen years has been an increase in access fees.

      Many have complained, but few have complained as eloquently as Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. His op-ed for Politico is definitely worth reading. It highlights everything wrong with the PACER system, including its amazing profitability.

    • Information Is Never Neutral: The Editor Of Wikileaks Breaks His Silence

      “If you’re not a radical journalist, you’re not a journalist,” Kristinn tells us near the beginning of our interview. “You’re basically part of the problem. You’re in PR. Not to say that these reporters are necessarily being paid directly by the powers that be; they could also be avoiding conflict or shielding themselves from criticism. It can be difficult to take on power, and some people are just averse to conflict.”

      Kristinn is not one of these people. His entire journalistic career, from his early days at public broadcasting to his current job managing Wikileaks, is a reflection of this notion that journalism is about speaking truth to power. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he cites his early influences as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who broke the Watergate story based on material leaked to them by a whistleblower, along with films such as ‘All The President’s Men’ and ‘China Syndrome’. “Films that depict journalists as a force for good in society.”

      As the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Kristinn certainly has his plate full. Chelsea Manning’s re-arrest, the Cohen testimony, the Mueller investigation as a whole—all of these things involve Wikileaks in some fashion or another, justifiably or not. No matter what Kristinn has to deal with, his convictions on the role of Wikileaks and journalism in general remain strong.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • After Earlier Assurances Over Air Quality, Benzene From Petrochemical Fire Triggers ‘Shelter in Place’ Order for Texas City

      The fire started last weekend at an oil refinery plant for Royal Dutch Shell at the Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park, a city of just over 32,000 that’s 21 miles east of Houston.

      Since Sunday, a plume of black smoke has been omnipresent in Deer Park skies and air quality has gone from bad to worse, despite assurances from local officials.

      On Tuesday, Harris County Public Health appeared to downplay the risks posed by the fire in a statement.

      “Based on current air monitoring reports, there continues to be a low risk to the community because the smoke is several thousand feet above the ground,” said the county.

      That prompted frustration from observers, who feel the city isn’t doing enough for its people during the chemical fire crisis.

    • Fight Climate Change — by Loving Carbon?

      Albert Bates and Kathleen Draper have done the unthinkable: They’ve written a love story to carbon. At a time when much of the world is working on strategies to rid ourselves of carbon to combat the climate crisis, they posit in a new book that we should be embracing it. Or at least some of it.

      “Right now carbon is getting a bad rap. Carbon creates dirty energy. Carbon creates grit, grime and gunk,” they write in Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth. “Carbon should be global-warming enemy number one. But in truth, carbon is something we should all love and cherish. Carbon is life. In the right balance, carbon gives life.”

      [...]

      Sequestration of carbon is crucial in helping to address the dangers of the climate crisis, where scientists say we have to not only reduce our current greenhouse gas emissions but also create “negative emissions” by removing carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases from the atmosphere. How we do that with appropriate technology is a hotly debated topic.

      Bates and Draper say that biochar could play a role in reducing our carbon footprint, but they stop short of selling biochar as a silver bullet to fix the climate crisis. It’s presented as just one tool in the toolbox. Most research on biochar’s potential to aid in climate mitigation has looked at its use to sequester carbon in soil: Add it to soil, and it won’t break down for years, preventing the carbon from returning to the atmosphere. The authors say biochar can lock away carbon for hundreds or thousands of years, which is true under certain conditions. But not everyone is convinced: Studies have found that period can range from less than 10 years to hundreds or thousands of years, depending on soil type, the biomass used, the temperature at which the biochar was produced and other environmental conditions. And scientists have cautioned that not enough field research has been done to understand all those variables.

    • Historic Midwest Flooding Has Devastating Consequences for Farmers

      The record flooding in the Midwest that has now been blamed for four deaths could also have lasting consequences for the region’s many farmers.

    • Jim Crow in our Climate Crisis

      Critics of House Resolution 109 (H. RES. 109)—the “Green New Deal” (GND) introduced in Congress by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)—have condemned this nonbinding resolution for its inclusion of aspirations which, in their view, have nothing to do with climate change. In particular, what they find irrelevant are the aspirations that address social and economic inequalities, such as providing “high quality health care” and “affordable, safe and adequate housing” for all.

      As objectionable as they find these goals, many critics are more disturbed by the aspirations that address the harms suffered specifically by communities of color as a result of historic and present day systemic discrimination. Though they are willing to acknowledge that communities of color are more vulnerable than whites to the impacts of climate change, Resolution critics—including those who are for the passage of some green new deal (just not this one)—are unwilling to accept that these communities’ past and present experiences of discrimination might have something to do with our climate crisis. Consequently, they reject any attempt to redress these harms through climate change legislation, and suggest that mention of these in H. RES. 109 is good enough reason to reject altogether the resolution.

      In response, supporters of H. RES. 109 and of more radical GNDs have noted that the communities most vulnerable to and affected by climate change are the least responsible for creating the climate crisis. Moreover, these same communities (supporters argue) are disproportionately subjected to environmental harms produced by fossil fuel and other toxic industries due to politicians’ discriminatory and industry-friendly industrial zoning decisions, such as those that have produced Louisiana’s infamous–and deadly–Cancer Alley.

    • More Than 500 Dead in Flooding in Southern Africa

      A week after Cyclone Idai lashed southern Africa, flooding still raged Thursday as torrential rains caused a dam to overflow in Zimbabwe, threatening riverside populations. The confirmed death toll in Zimbabwe, neighboring Mozambique and Malawi surpassed 500, with hundreds more feared dead in towns and villages that were completely submerged.

      Aid agencies and several governments continued to step up their deployments, with helicopters in short supply for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the cyclone.

      Spokesman Herve Verhoosel of the World Food Program told reporters in Geneva of the “alarming news” that the Marowanyati dam in Zimbabwe was hit by heavy rains overnight, putting populations in the region at risk.

      Zimbabwe’s defense minister said more than 120 bodies had been washed into neighboring Mozambique, where residents there buried them, and more bodies were still being recovered in rivers, raising the official death toll in the country to 259.

      “Most of the bodies were washed into Mozambique and because they were in a really bad state, they could not keep the bodies,” Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri said, speaking in the eastern city of Mutare. “So they ended up burying them.”

      Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll in Mozambique rose to 217, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported, and in Malawi, at least 56 people were killed. But that was sure to rise. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has estimated that 1,000 people could have been killed in his country alone. Zimbabwean officials have said some 350 people may have died in their country.

    • ‘Potentially Historic’ Flooding Threatens Southern States

      Scientists are warning that historic flooding could soon deluge parts of several Southern states along the lower Mississippi River, where floodwaters could persist for several weeks.

      Major flooding now occurring in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and other Midwestern states is a preview of what forecasters expect the rest of the spring, said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service.

      “We expect the flooding will get worse and become more widespread,” Erickson said, referring to conditions nationwide.

      “The flooding this year could be worse than anything we’ve seen in recent years, even worse than the historic floods of 1993 and 2011,” she said.

      The flood threat was discussed in a conference call Thursday, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2019 spring outlook.

    • Ocean heatwaves drive more fish north

      With a little help from ocean heatwaves, the world’s seas are changing. Researchers in California can now name 37 species that have shifted their range further north than ever before in response to unusually hot summers in the eastern Pacific.

      In the years 2014-2016, the pelagic red crab Pleuroncodes planipes was spotted off Agate Beach, Oregon, a full 595 kilometres further north than ever before. A deepwater invertebrate called the black-tipped spiny dorid Acanthodoris rhodoceras also made it to Oregon, 620 kilometres from what had previously been its most northerly range.

      Both were joined by an assortment of snails, sea butterflies, pteropods, nudibranchs, red algae, sea anemones, siphonophores, fish, dolphins, sea turtles and other citizens of the sub-tropical seas in making the great trek north to what had once been cooler waters, the researchers record in the journal Scientific Reports.

    • ExxonMobil Could Be Banned From EU Parliament After Failing to Show at Climate Hearing

      ExxonMobil could be the second company after Monsanto to lose lobbying access to members of European Parliament after it failed to turn up to a hearing Thursday into whether or not the oil giant knowingly spread false information about climate change.

      The call to ban the company was submitted by Green Member of European Parliament (MEP) Molly Scott Cato and should be decided in a vote in late April, The Guardian reported.

    • Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal

      Since January 2017, the Trump Administration has been in negotiations to allow a sale of two nuclear reactors designed by American companies to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is troubling for at least two reasons. First, nuclear reactors may provide the Saudis with a backdoor to a nuclear bomb. Second, a February 19 interim report from the new Democratic majority on the House Oversight and Reform Committee alleges that the sale may involve conflicts of interest and other violations of federal law by Trump cronies inside and outside the Administration.

      Reckless, corrupt, and illegal: the transaction is the quintessence of Trump. Only a super-salesman can convince Americans that the proposed deal is a good idea and not just a means to enrich Trump associates. Fortunately, the negotiations with the Saudis are being led by a man who describes himself as “America’s number one energy salesman”: US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

      “Of all the recent secretaries of energy, Perry knows the least about nuclear energy [and] nonproliferation policy,” observes Joe Cirincione, President of the nuclear watchdog Ploughshares Fund. Before he became secretary of energy, Perry didn’t even know that the Department of Energy (DOE) is in charge of the US nuclear stockpile. Perry forgot the name of the DOE during the 2016 Republican presidential primary debates while he was trying to list the three cabinet departments he would eliminate as president. Who cares? Perry’s job is selling. To a super-salesman like Perry, whathe’s selling—used cars or nuclear bombs—doesn’t matter.

      Secretary Perry was in Houston last week at the CERAWeek energy conference. (The acronym stands for Cambridge Energy Research Associates.) CERAWeek is an annual gathering of energy industry bigwigs and the politicians who love them (and who hope one day to become energy lobbyists, much as the lowly caterpillar aspires to become a beautiful butterfly).

  • Finance

    • Google’s EU antitrust battle: A timeline of the major milestones

      The European Commission has slapped Google with three massive fines as part of a wide-ranging antitrust investigation.

      In June 2017, Google was fined €2.4 billion (£2.1 billion) for abusing its market share to illegally provide an advantage to its own Shopping service. The next year it was hit with an even bigger penalty: a record €4.34 billion (£3.9 billion) fine for abusing the market dominance of its Android operating system to extend the reach of Google’s search engine.

      A third followed in March 2019, when EU regulators hit the company with a $1.7 billion (£1.28 billion) fine for blocking advertising rivals, and more could be on the way.

      We look at the major milestones in the EU’s case against Google.

    • No Deal Brexit

      No deal Brexit will mean shutting off most of the supply capacity from the EU to Great Britain, as the government says this will be chaotic. Many of the effects are unknown but in the days and weeks that follow food supplies and medicine supplies will start to fail. The rules on moving money about and even making a phone call will be largely undefined. International travel will get unknown new bureaucracies. EU and WTO law means there also needs to be a hard border in Ireland again, restarting terrorist warfare. Inflation will kick in, unemployment will sky rocket and people will die.

      Although the UK government has dropped the dangerous saying of “no deal is better than a bad deal” it is astonishing they were allowed to get away with saying that for so long without challenge. There are still many members of the UK government who are perfectly happy with a chaotic no deal Brexit and the Prime Minister, unwilling to change any tactics, is using more and more Populist language to say how everyone should support her and threaten the whole UK society in the greatest game of chicken since the cold war. It would be trivial to revoke the Article 50 process but unless that is chosen a no deal Brexit will happen.

    • Millennials Are the Most Indebted Generation. They Can Thank Joe Biden.

      Joe Biden is trying to appeal to younger voters as he is expected to launch his bid for the presidency. However, for years, Biden made it his mission to block student debt forgiveness, leaving many young people facing a lifetime of debt.

      Biden’s potential candidacy comes at a time when the U.S. debt crisis is reaching unprecedented levels across all consumer sectors.

      Student debt broke $1.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2018 according to the Federal Reserve, outstripping auto loan ($1.1 trillion) and credit card debt ($977 billion) significantly, with 1.1 million people owing over $100,000 for their educational expenses. Twenty percent of student borrowers default on their loan payments.

      Similarly, almost one in five Americans’ credit reports feature delinquent medical debt. Bankruptcy from growing insurance and prescription costs is also affecting Americans at a precipitous rate. Studies vary widely, but generally between 26 to even 62 percent of bankruptcies cited medical debt as a contributing or even primary factor. A harrowing figure from the October 2018 American Journal of Medicine showed that 42 percent of new cancer patients exhaust their life savings within two years of treatment, with an average loss of $92,098.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Maybe Wall Street Bankers ‘Not the Best Authority’ on Wellbeing of People and Planet

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon of his bank’s massive investments in oil and gas development projects after Dimon suggested the Green New Deal is not an “intelligent” solution to the climate crisis.

      “JP Morgan agreed to pay out $13 billion over its massive role in mortgage schemes with the ’08 recession,” Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman Democratic congresswoman from New York, said in a tweet Wednesday. “They also finance major fossil fuel pipelines. It’s big money.”

      “So maybe they aren’t the best authority on prioritizing economic wellbeing of everyday people and the planet,” she added.

      According to a report card released Wednesday by a coalition of environmental groups, JP Morgan invested $195.66 billion in oil and gas companies between 2016 and 2018, making the Wall Street bank “the world’s top funder of fossil fuels by a wide margin.”

    • ‘Florida Man’ Jokes Are an Excuse to Laugh at the Poor

      “Another tedious, liberal, PC scold,” you may think as you read the headline for this piece. “Why can’t we just have fun and enjoy a hilarious meme in peace?” Well, you can enjoy “Florida man” all you want, but by any objective metric, it’s worth noting that “Florida man” memes—just like all “dumb criminal” or “weird crime” stories—are little more than a socially acceptable way of gawking at and belittling the dispossessed and indigent.

      At the very least, it’s a possibility worth examining—if you would indulge me. The general premise behind “Florida man” memes and jokes is that Florida, for whatever reason, produces uniquely wacky news stories. It’s an online bit that goes back more than a decade, leading to a popular twitter account, @_floridaman, and thousands of glib internet cracks. Everyone’s in on the joke, especially people from Florida. A recent tweet by @g_pratimaaa, making a game out of the name by typing in one’s birthday, has reignited the meme on Twitter, resulting in write-ups in Time magazine, Tampa Bay Times, NBC Palm Beach, USA Today.

    • American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China

      The US government is fighting with all it has to keep China behind in technology. In his State of the Union Address, President Trump claimed this is to stop “the theft of American jobs.” But in reality this war on technological advancement in China destroys American jobs and hurts American consumers and entrepreneurs.

      The first indication that this is not a normal trade dispute was the criminal indictment of a Chinese corporation and three individuals for stealing technology from the “American” Micron corporation. Everything about this indictment is curious. The technology that was allegedly stolen was neither developed in the US nor ever put into production in the US. Micron acquired the technology in 2012 when it acquired Elpida, a corporation that developed the technology in Japan and then produced it in Japan and Taiwan. After Micron acquired Elpida, it did not move it to the US. On the contrary. Its strategy, its spokesman explained, was “to be a global leader…For this reason, Micron is establishing manufacturing, technology and business centers of excellence that will…optimize our global footprint”; to implement this strategy, itthen fired hundreds of employees in Boise, Idaho,and opened an additional manufacturing plant in mainland China.

      The technology that was allegedly stolen was developed and produced overseas and the workers who allegedly stole it were two of Micron’s former foreign workers who worked in one of those overseas plants–in Taiwan. Under these circumstances the US government should not have intervened, and if it hadn’t Micron and other corporations might have had reason to rethink their strategy of producing overseas. Instead, the indictment demonstrated to them that whenthe safety of moving jobs to foreign countries deteriorates, the US government will step in to restore it. Doing so in the name of the American worker is a sham.

    • As mayor of London, I’m clear we need to revoke Article 50 and end this Brexit disaster

      Our government has deliberately brought Britain to within days of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit – something that would cause irreparable damage to jobs and communities. It has to stop, right now.

      Theresa May must listen to the thousands of people that are taking to the streets of London in protest tomorrow, and to those others making their voices heard around the country.

      She must revoke Article 50 – stopping the clock on Brexit to give us time to sort out her mess – and the British public must get the final say on what happens next.

      It has been blindingly obvious that Theresa May’s chaotic Brexit strategy would lead us to this disastrous point ever since she set out her wrongheaded “red lines” for the negotiations and invoked Article 50 long before she needed to and with no plan whatsoever.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Of Red Lines and Red Herring: The EPP’s Delusions about Restraining Orbán

      With the European People’s Party (EPP) considering the possibility of finally expelling Orbán and his Fidesz party, it is worth considering why the EPP has tolerated Fidesz as a member party for so long, and what impact the EPP and Fidesz have had on one another. There is ample evidence that the EPP has protected Orbán and his Fidesz party from EU censure for years as a quid pro quo for their partisan loyalty.

      However, those trying to justify the EPP’s failure to expel Fidesz long ago have offered a more sympathetic interpretation of the EPP’s motivations: they suggest that EPP leaders believed that by keeping Fidesz in their block they would have a restraining effect on the Orbán regime. By encouraging close dialogue with the Orbán government, so this argument goes, EPP membership would moderate the Orbán government and keep it on the side of pro-European forces.

      The flaw in this self-justification is that there is no evidence that the EPP has had a restraining effect on Orbán. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, membership in the respected, democratic center-right EPP has legitimated and sanitized Orbán’s rule, even as it descended into autocracy. And in the crucial early years of his rule, the political protection of the EPP shielded the Orbán government from EU sanctions that it might have faced had his party been part of a weaker, far-right Europarty.

      This post will offer an overview of the main EPP’s ‘red lines’ since the EPP leadership first demanded from Prime Minister Orbán that he immediately comply with EU laws and EPP values nearly two years ago, in April 2017. We will show that, contrary to Weber’s claims about EPP values being non-negotiable, Orbán has repeatedly crossed the EPP’s supposed red-lines with impunity. And rather than being restrained by the EPP, Orbán has sought to transform it.

      This post will end with a brief analysis of the EPP leadership’s latest edition of its regularly redefined ‘red lines’ courtesy of Manfred Weber, the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat, who, rather than joining the mounting calls for the expulsion of Orbán’s party, declared that he hoped he could keep Orbán in the EPP provided that Orbán ends the propaganda campaign accusing Juncker of encouraging mass migration; apologises to other EPP members and allows the Central European University to continue operating and issuing US degrees in Budapest.

    • Bernie Sanders Becomes First 2020 Primary Candidate to Promise Carbon Neutral Campaign

      Bernie Sanders has become the first contender in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field to pledge to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions released by campaign travel, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.

    • Beto O’Rourke Owes His Career to the GOP

      To understand Beto O’Rourke as a candidate, it’s vital to go beneath the surface of his political backstory. News watchers are already well aware of the former Texas congressman’s good looks, charisma, youthful energy and fundraising prowess. But most remain unaware of an inconvenient truth that could undermine the O’Rourke campaign among the people who matter most — the ones who’ll be voting to choose the Democratic presidential nominee next year.

      O’Rourke is hardly eager for those upcoming voters to realize that the growth of his political career is rooted in an alliance with powerful Republicans that began 15 years ago. Or that he supported raising the minimum age for Social Security in 2012. Or that — during six years in Congress, through the end of 2018 — he often aligned himself with Republican positions.

      If facts matter, such weighty facts could sink the “Beto for America” presidential campaign. Since his announcement, information gaining traction nationwide runs directly counter to the Beto brand.

      “Before becoming a rising star in the Democratic Party,” the Wall Street Journal reported a week ago, “Beto O’Rourke relied on a core group of business-minded Republicans in his Texas hometown to launch and sustain his political career. To win their backing, Mr. O’Rourke opposed Obamacare, voted against Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader and called for a raise in the Social Security eligibility age.”

      Meanwhile, a Washington Post news article — under the headline “Beto O’Rourke’s Political Career Drew on Donations From the Pro-Republican Business Establishment” — also foreshadowed a bumpy ride on the campaign trail. In the eyes of most people who don’t like the GOP, key points in the Post’s reporting are apt to be concerning.

    • Decrying ‘War Being Waged Against Working People,’ Sanders Joins Striking Union Members at UCLA

      “What we are seeing all across this country is a war being waged against working people,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday.

      The Independent senator from Vermont spoke at a rally in Los Angeles, standing in solidarity with about 40,000 University of California (UC) workers who staged a one-day statewide strike after months of failed contract negotiations for pay raises and better benefits.

      “I am here today, I should tell you, not as a candidate for president, but as somebody who has spent the last 40 years of his life walking on picket lines with unionized workers,” Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, told the crowd in a 10-minute speech.

    • Dems’ Decline of Corporate Money Could Put a Hurt on PACs

      “The one thing Democratic candidates for president can agree on” writes Politico’s Zach Montellaro, is that “they’re not taking money from corporate PACs.” A new article from Roll Call suggests that political action committees are getting nervous that anti-big money fervor means their influence is declining in the Democratic Party.

      Beto O’Rourke, who raised more money in the first 24 hours after his campaign announcement than any other Democratic presidential candidate, told supporters that this feat proves that his is “a campaign by all of us for all of us that answers not to the PACs, corporations and special interests but to the people,” as Vox reported Monday. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., says he “won’t take a dime from corporate PACs,” a pledge shared by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and former San Antonio mayor and presidential candidate Julian Castro.

      Roll Call’s Kate Ackley reports that attendees at a Florida conference for corporate PACs came “seeking clues about the future of their beleaguered enterprises.” They “run the political action committees of corporations and business associations just when a growing contingent of lawmakers is rejecting their donations,” Ackley writes, noting that one session offered at the conference was titled “Under Siege.”

    • Despite his Swiss bank accounts, Pavel Grudinin was allowed to participate in Vladimir Putin’s reelection last year, but now he’s being kept from the parliament. Here’s why.

      On March 18, 2018, Pavel Grudnin took part in Russia’s presidential election. He lost the race, obviously, but he took second place with 11.77 percent of the vote. During the campaign, the public learned that Grudinin had failed to close his Swiss bank accounts before submitting his candidacy registration documents on December 28, 2017, as required by the law.

      According to Russia’s laws, presidential candidates with foreign bank accounts are permitted to compete, only if they manage to close the accounts before the Central Election Commission finishes reviewing their registration documents. In February 2018, a month after they formally registered Grudinin’s presidential candidacy, Russian election officials learned about his bank accounts in Switzerland.

      With records from Russia’s Federal Tax Service about the foreign accounts, election officials say they declined to remove Grudinin from the race because they trusted him when he said he’d closed these accounts before his candidacy was registered on January 12, 2018. “We take him at his word,” Deputy Election Commissioner Nikolai Bulaev said at the time.

    • Elizabeth Warren versus Joe Biden

      Joe Biden’s almost-certain decision to jump into the 2020 presidential race means that the top three candidates for the White House in 2020 are all white men over the age of 75—Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump.

      There’s something wrong with this picture in a political era defined by #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and a massive backlash against the White Man’s Last Stand presidency of Donald Trump.

      And the problem is bigger than the optics of race and gender.

      Biden’s coziness with the financial industry—especially his support for a 2005 bankruptcy bill that made it harder for ordinary people to get out of crushing debt and easier for big banks to profit from predatory lending—puts him on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      Biden told a group of supporters in Delaware that “I have the most progressive record of anybody running.” But Biden’s not-very-progressive record is actually a huge mismatch for the current political moment.

      A lot of the ghosts in Biden’s past are the consequence of a long, long career in politics: his eulogy for Southern segregationist Strom Thurmond; his warning, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, about “predators on our streets” who were “beyond the pale,” taking credit for a crime law that exacerbated mass incarceration; his dismissive treatment of Anita Hill; his support for the Iraq War.

    • Fox News’ Self-Fulfilling Propaganda on Ocasio-Cortez

      Over the weekend, Fox News published a story (3/17/19) on a recent Gallup poll that asked the public about their opinions on Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The headline claimed that her unfavorable rating had “skyrocketed”—rising 15 points since last September—and that “most people” now viewed her negatively.

      In doing so, the network committed two notable journalistic sins—one of commission and one of omission. First, the headline itself was a sloppy falsehood, as the Gallup poll from February only found a plurality of the public (41 percent vs. 31 percent)—and not a majority, or “most people”—rating Ocasio-Cortez unfavorable rather than favorable.

      But second—and more importantly—the story conveniently left out the key role that Fox News itself has played in damaging the public reputation of the congressmember, thanks to a relentless propaganda campaign over the past six months. It’s a chilling case study in the self-fulfilling nature of the right-wing messaging machine.

      Ever since her shocking primary upset of Democratic Party fixture Rep. Joe Crowley last fall in New York’s 14th District, Ocasio-Cortez has drawn the white-hot spotlight of the press. Young, outspoken, and, at times, unfiltered or imprecise, the representative has quickly built a national presence after only a few months in office, thanks in part to her push for unapologetically big and uncompromisingly progressive platforms, like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. In addition, she’s become a media phenomenon thanks to her massive social media following, which has in turn spawned numerous ham-handed attempts by conservatives to attack her online, which consistently backfire.

    • Gillum’s Drive Aims to Register One Million New Florida Voters to Help Serve Trump ‘Eviction Notice’ in 2020

      Months after garnering national attention with his campaign for governor of Florida, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum unveiled his next political campaign Wednesday—one focused on his state and the future of the Democratic Party as a whole.

      With his “Bring It Home Florida” initiative, Gillum plans to register at least one million voters across his state before the 2020 election, increasing the chances that Democrats will be able to take the White House from President Donald Trump.

    • Kushner, Inc.: Vicky Ward on How Jared and Ivanka’s Greed & Ambition Compromise U.S. Foreign Policy

      House Democrats are continuing to probe how President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner received a top-secret security clearance despite concerns from the CIA. The New York Times recently reported Trump ordered then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant Kushner the clearance despite the judgment of intelligence officials. Kushner failed to report over 100 foreign contacts on his initial application for clearance, which was denied by the FBI after a background check into his financial history and contacts with foreign investors. Kushner later revised his application three times, and was ultimately granted permanent security clearance last May. We speak with Vicky Ward, the author of a new book uncovering details about how Kushner has continued to let the financial dealings of his family impact the policy decisions he promoted overseas. In one case, this almost led to a war in the Middle East between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The book is called “Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.”

    • Judge Blocks Lame-Duck Power Grab by Wisconsin GOP

      Democrats and progressives in Wisconsin are celebrating a ruling by a state judge on Thursday that will halt a backdoor attempt last year by the lame-duck Republicans to hamstring the incoming Democratic state government.

      Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess imposed the temporary stay and injunction on a slate of laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the GOP lost their majorities and the governor’s mansion in the 2018 election.

      The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of left-leaning groups in the state who charged the laws rushed through after the election were a direct effort by Republicans to undermine the will of the voters.

    • The Supreme Court and Dual Citizenship

      As AIPAC preps for its annual policy conference entitled “Connected for Good” with an expected attendance of 20,000 committed Zionists, its most zealous Zionist Congressional supporters will also likely be in attendance; that is, those who have signed the loyalty oath as well as those who retain dual citizenship to Israel and are thereby entitled to AIPAC campaign support.

      There is always more to the story when it comes to AIPAC and how it has been allowed to circumvent and or manipulate US law as it continues to function unfettered by legal requirements that every other foreign country must adhere to. To take a critical eye to AIPAC should not be construed as anti-semetic as AIPAC can take credit for motivating and finagling the US into wars in the Middle East at a cost of $4 trillion from the American taxpayer.

      With allegedly hundreds of members of Congress and Federal government employees with dual US-Israel citizenship, what has been missing since the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision is scrutiny of the unintended consequences of that decision as it has affected American foreign policy.

      To date, there may be no way to confirm which, if any, Members of Congress have dual citizenship with Israel although the informed rumor mill claims that to be the case. In a 2015 interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Diane Rehm, claiming to have a list, unequivocally stated that “you have dual citizenship with Israel” to which Sanders responded just as unequivocally “No. I am an American.” It is essential for Members to be forthcoming about their citizenship since real or imagined conflicts of interest can only result in misguided speculation and further alienation.

    • More Than One Million Crash UK Petition Site With Demand to Cancel Brexit

      The British Parliament’s petitions website crashed Thursday morning as over a million of Britons attempted to make their opposition to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan known.

      Hours after May chastised members of Parliament for rejecting her Brexit plan a second time, an anti-Brexit petition was gathering about 1,500 signatures per minute when it crashed the website for 40 minutes. The site then briefly went up before failing again.

      As of this writing, more than one million people had signed the petition demanding that May’s invocation of Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, which allows a country to formally withdraw from the EU, be revoked.

    • Why Not Impeach?

      What sensate, morally decent human being could fail to appreciate newly elected Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s call “to impeach the motherfucker!” She was referring of course, to Donald Trump.

      What her words, taken literally, call for is a formal indictment, rendered by the House of Representatives that would lead to a trial in the United States Senate. Conviction at trial, not impeachment by itself, would make Trump’s removal from office legally mandatory.

      Tlaib surely knows this and so, most likely, do most of the tens of millions of Americans who agree with her and support the stand she took.

      Therefore, when they call for impeachment, what they are really calling for is not impeachment per se, but the initiation of a process that, if successful, would cause the Donald to be gone in the way that the Constitution prescribes.

      This assumes that Trump, his minions, and his supporters, a third or more of the population, don’t resort to extra-Constitutional means to hold onto power; or that, if they do, that their efforts fail.

      Before Trump, the idea that an American president might defy the Constitution by seeking to hold onto power by force was unthinkable. Most people nowadays still think it is; and they are probably right. With Trump, however, anything, no matter how perfidious, is possible.

    • Tatiana Stanovaya explains why Putin won’t go like Nazarbayev

      In an article for the Carnegie Moscow Center, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya says Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation won’t likely affect Vladimir Putin’s transition-of-power calculus in the way that many observers have speculated. She argues that Kazakhstan’s unique political traditions, elite structure, and society, not to mention the country’s fundamentally different geopolitical conditions, mean that Nazarbayev’s exit doesn’t work as a model for Putin, though the Kremlin will pay close attention to the response from local elites. Meduza summarizes Stanovaya’s text below.

    • Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests

      Violence is a spectacular weapon deployed by the ruling class to discredit movements from below and justify their repression. It is spectacular in the sense of being a great and powerful political tool for governing the masses, and keeping them in their place. In order to do this, however, the weapon of violence is spectacularin a second sense: it creates a carefully orchestrated mise en scène that seeks to render ruling class violence invisible, while simultaneously transforming acts of resistance into prodigious spectacles of criminal violence.

      This is how Act 18 of the Yellow Vests is currently being presented by the mass media: at the precise moment at which the government was concluding its democratic consultation of the people via Emmanuel Macron’s “Grand Débat,” the Yellow Vests have unleashed an inordinate amount of violence that now needs to be repressed in the strongest possible terms. The president of the Champs-Elysées Committee, Jean-Noël Reinhardt, declared in an interview in which he is surrounded by the microphones of many of the major press outlets, that the movement is no longer one of the Yellow Vests, but rather of Black Vests that simply “express hatred and the will to destroy.” Proclaiming that this situation cannot be allowed to continue because of its impact on commercial and tourist activity, as well as its defamation of the global symbol of the Champs-Élysées, his statement bleeds seamlessly into the declaration made by the Prime Minster, Édouard Philippe: new measures will be put in place to prohibit protests in certain locations and allow for even more aggressive police crackdowns.

    • Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left

      Many self-identified liberals are far more than “ten degrees to the right of center” with regard to psychiatry. With the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, and then even more so following 9/11 in 2001, the United States has swung so far to the right that many self-identified liberals embrace, often unwittingly, a right-wing view in many aspects of society, including psychiatry.

      Establishment psychiatry has historically been supported by the ruling elite in return for meeting the elite’s needs to maintain the societal hierarchy and political status quo. Psychiatry has met the elite’s needs by its various attributions—repeatedly proven to be scientifically unfounded—that emotional suffering and odd or frightening behaviors are caused by defects in individual biochemistry and genetics, rather than by trauma and societal defects created by the ruling elite.

      In the past, right-wing psychiatry’s individual defect view—in combination with extreme nationalism that requires an entire population to efficiently meet the needs of its state-corporatist rulers—has resulted in policies of sterilization in the United States and, as was the case in Nazi Germany, euthanasia/murder.

    • Wisconsin GOP’s Lame-Duck Power Grab Ruled Unconstitutional

      A Wisconsin judge ruled on Thursday that laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in December to limit the powers of newly elected Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul were unconstitutional.

      The lame-duck bills limited early voting, stopped the newly elected governor from expanding Medicaid coverage to more citizens, prevented him from withdrawing the state from a lawsuit attacking the Affordable Care Act, prevented the attorney general from representing the legislature in lawsuits, and further curtailed the administrative powers of the new government.

      The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of plaintiffs, including three citizen’s groups, the League of Women Voters, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. It argues that three bills passed last December in the lame-duck session as well as the confirmation of 82 nominees to various boards “are unenforceable” on the basis that “executive session” during which the laws were enacted “was not convened in accord with the Wisconsin Constitution.”

    • Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal

      Donald Trump’s consensual extra-marital affairs with two adult sex workers – along with his repeated denials, his “fixer’s” accusations and his contempt for popular indignation – has turned what once would have been a sex scandal into just another pathetic media story.

      However, the recent revelations about the sexual exploits of entertainer R. Kelley and investment banker Jeffrey Epstein pose a more profound question: Is there a difference between “consensual,” adult sex work and sex trafficking with under-age girls?

      A couple of weeks ago, the news media had fun reporting on the latest sex scandal involving an all-American 1 percenter. No, this one didn’t involve Trump or Stormy Daniels but rather Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots football franchise. He reported visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, FL, on January 19thand 20th, mere hours before the Patriots’ AFC Championship game. Most tantalizing, the local police released videos of the alleged sexual engagements between Kraft and women working at the spa.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube has shut down a popular channel after the mother was accused of abusing her children

      Hackney punished the kids with starvation, beatings, and restricted access to the bathroom when they didn’t follow directions or forgot their lines during filming for YouTube videos, according to records from police in Maricopa, Arizona, who had performed a wellness check on the family at their home.

      YouTube terminated the account on Wednesday afternoon for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.” All details of the channel, and its videos, have been removed from the video-sharing platform.

    • Devin Nunes Has a Cow, and Free Speech Is Endangered

      California Rep. Devin Nunes opened himself up to widespread ridicule across the internet yesterday after he reportedly filed a lawsuit against Twitter, a conservative strategist, and two parody accounts — including one called “Devin Nunes’ cow,” which purports to be, well, an online manifestation of the Republican congressman’s livestock.
      Speaking about the lawsuit with Fox News later that day, Nunes claimed that critical comments posted online were part of “an orchestrated effort” to smear his name. He is suing Twitter and the individual critics for “negligence,” “libel,” and “insulting words.”
      Paradoxically, at various points in the complaint, Nunes accuses Twitter of censoring conservatives, then demands that the platform censor his critics’ speech.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Nokia Phones Allegedly Sent User Information To Chinese Servers

      Data breaches seem to have become a trend in the tech world as various tech companies appear to be involved in some (everyone knows about Facebook!). Now, a new report suggests that HMD Global-owned Nokia could also be a part of the league, as some Nokia phones have reportedly sent user information to Chinese servers.

      According to a report by NRK, a Nokia 7 Plus user claimed that his smartphone contacted a server in China and sent data packages in unencrypted form.

    • Wizard Kit: How I Protect Myself from Surveillance

      The popular apps that many humans use continue to track then even if they are logged out, and they also track users who never created an account in the first place (see Facebook tracks both non-users and logged out users). And Google tracks users’ locations even if they turned off location and denied permissions to apps (see Google Tracks Location Even When Users Turn Service Off). Even good apps that never intended to track users may actually be doing so because the SDKs (software development kits) with which they were built may be tracking users and sending data off to others’ servers without their knowledge. Remember the story about the low cost bathroom scale that didn’t work if location was turned off on the smartphone and there was no internet connection? It turns out that the scale was sending data to bare IP addresses that could be traced back to China.

      Given the state of surveillance, indeed a surveillance state, in which we live today, most consumers are not aware and don’t know how to protect themselves. They find it impossible to wean themselves off the free drugs that have been provided by big tech—free email (Gmail), free videos (YouTube), free social media (Facebook), free maps (Google Maps) and so on. All of these services, and the privacy policies they force users to agree to, are designed to help big tech collect data from users to make money and limit their liability if anything goes wrong, as in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal (see What Is “Surveillance Capitalism?” And How Did It Hijack the Internet?).

    • The FBI Won’t Hand Over Its Surveillance Records on ‘Black Identity Extremists,’ so We’re Suing

      The ACLU and the Center for Media Justice are suing the FBI for records about the surveillance of Black activists—a tactic with a long, sordid history
      At a time when violence by white supremacists is on the rise, the FBI appears to be targeting Black people in a secret intelligence program concerning so-called “Black Identity Extremists”— an inflammatory term for a group that doesn’t even exist. The bureau’s practice echoes earlier, shameful government surveillance programs that sought to discredit civil rights and Black power activists who were critical to advancing racial equality — and it echoes modern-day spying that impacts immigrants and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities.

      That’s probably why the government doesn’t want us to get information about this program. It is also why the ACLU and the Center for Media Justice are taking the FBI to court.

      In August 2017, the FBI issued an intelligence assessment that designated “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers” a new domestic terror threat. Disseminated to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, the intelligence assessment claims, without evidence, that Black people involved in unrelated police killings shared an ideology that motivated their actions. It also focuses on Black people who, in the bureau’s own words, “perceive[] racism and injustice in American society.”

      The intelligence assessment is built on anti-Black racial stereotypes. It is so deeply flawed and of such “poor analytic quality” that even some law enforcement acknowledge that no group of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” even exists.

    • Illinois Appeals Court Says Fifth Amendment Protections Apply To Cellphone Passwords

      The key to determining Fifth Amendment protections against compelled production of passwords appears to be a court’s definition of the term “foregone conclusion.” In many cases, courts have decided the government only has to clear a very low bar to meet this demand. In those cases, the only “foregone conclusion” the government needs to prove is that the person being compelled to provide a password knows the password. Once the government has linked the person to the locked device, it can get on with the compelling.

      If a court decides to raise the bar, it gets far more difficult for the government. In a few cases, the government has been asked to show it knows the evidence it seeks can be found in the locked device. Even if it meets this requirement, it can’t just start throwing court orders at the criminal suspect. This “foregone conclusion” directly implicates the Fifth Amendment. The government is no longer simply asking someone to unlock a device. It’s asking them to directly provide them with evidence that could be used against them.

      An Illinois state appeals court has decided the Fifth Amendment protects defendants from producing evidence to be used against them. (via FourthAmendment.com) In this case, the defendant was a passenger in a car stopped by law enforcement. A drug dog alerted on a leather bag belonging to the defendant. The ensuing search uncovered a prescription pill bottle containing cocaine, resulting in a charge of possession with intent to distribute.

    • Facebook Exposed Millions of Passwords to Employees

      Facebook said Thursday that it stored millions of its users’ passwords in plain text for years.

      The acknowledgement from the social media giant came after a security researcher posted about the issue online.

      “Security rule 101 dictates that under no circumstances passwords should be stored in plain text, and at all times must be encrypted,” said cybersecurity expert Andrei Barysevich of Recorded Future. “There is no valid reason why anyone in an organization, especially the size of Facebook, needs to have access to users’ passwords in plain text.”

    • Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years

      Hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees — in some cases going back to 2012, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. Facebook says an ongoing investigation has so far found no indication that employees have abused access to this data.

    • CodeWeavers Announces CrossOver 18.5.0, RaspEX Kodi Build 190321 Released, Seven Devices from ThinkPenguin Receive the FSF’s Respects Your Freedom Certification, GNU Parallel 20190322 Is Out and Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in Plain Text

      And if you haven’t already heard, Facebook stored hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text for years. KrebsonSecurity reports that “Hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees—in some cases going back to 2012. Facebook says an ongoing investigation has so far found no indication that employees have abused access to this data.” Facebook has posted a statement about this here.

    • Facebook Screws Up Again

      Still, given Facebook’s resources and the volume of security talent they have on staff, the fact that it happened at all is grossly embarrassing. The scandal comes right on the heels of Facebook’s other recent scandals — like its cavalier sharing of user health and real estate data — and is only compounding a scandal-ridden 2018 for the company. Krebs stated that as many as 600 million of the company’s 2.7 billion users could be affected by the company’s latest screw up, though, thus far, Facebook has yet to notify any of the impacted users.

    • Facebook stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text
    • Facebook apps logged users’ passwords in plaintext, because why not

      Facebook Lite is a version of the mobile Facebook application “predominantly used by people in regions with lower connectivity,” as Canahuati put it. The Android app is most popular in Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as other countries in South Asia with older 2G and 3G GSM networks—markets where Facebook has experienced much of its recent growth. Lite uses a proxy architecture, with an application server running most of the application code and minimizing the amount of data that needs to be sent to the user’s phone. And apparently because it was acting as a proxy, the server was acting on behalf of users and logging their credentials for use in connecting to other Facebook services.

    • Facebook has been storing ‘hundreds of millions’ of user passwords in plaintext

      The inquiry, which began this year after an engineer noticed the security screw-up, so far suggests that between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plaintext, making them searchable by more than 20,000 Facebook employees.

    • ‘Hundreds of millions’ of user passwords exposed within Facebook

      According to Krebs, Facebook believes that some of the passwords had been stored in plain text as early as 2012.

    • Facebook passwords for hundreds of millions of users were exposed to Facebook employees

      Krebs paints a different story. Though Krebs stressed that he had no information that Facebook employees had abused their ability to read user passwords, a source told him that employees built applications that logged unencrypted password data for Facebook users and stored it in plain text on internal company servers.

    • Facebook Stored Millions of Passwords in Plaintext—Change Yours Now
    • Facebook stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text

      Social media giant Facebook has admitted that it has been storing user passwords in plain text, with the company saying the numbers ran into hundreds of millions.

    • Facebook Exposed Millions Of User Passwords In Plain Text To Employees

      Adding on to the list of goof-ups by Facebook, a new report has surfaced which states that hundreds of millions of users’ passwords were stored in plain text for years. What’s even worse is that Facebook employees had unfettered access to this data.

      This security blunder dates back to 2012 and after cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs published a report on Thursday, Facebook rushed to publish a blog post claiming that the flaw was discovered in January.

    • Congress Has a Chance to Finally End the NSA’s Mass Telephone Records Program

      Earlier this month, the New York Times published a major story reporting that the NSA has stopped using the authority to run its massive, ongoing surveillance of Americans’ telephone records. After years of fighting mass surveillance of telephone records, the story may make our jobs easier: NSA has consistently claimed this surveillance was critical to national security. But now it appears that the agency couldn’t properly use the authority Congress granted it in the 2015 USA Freedom Act, so it has simply given up.

      Coincidentally, EFF had organized a briefing of congressional staff the day after the Times report on the controversial surveillance law used to conduct telephone record surveillance: Section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we told Congress, it is long past time to end the telephone records program for good. Now, we’ve signed a letter to House Judiciary Committee leadership repeating that demand, along with a list of other important reforms we’d like to see before Section 215 and two other Patriot Act provisions expire in December.

      The Times story only added to a feeling of unfinished business from the last time Section 215 was set to sunset, in 2015. When Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s use of Section 215 to conduct its telephone records program, EFF, the ACLU, and others sued to stop it. The courts, Congress, and public opinion seemed to be on our side: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government’s reliance on the law was “unprecedented and unwarranted,” and shortly afterward, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which was intended to stop this mass surveillance.

      But USA Freedom was incomplete: it still allowed the government to conduct suspicionless, ongoing collection of Americans’ telephone records, although under tighter, more specific controls than the program revealed by Snowden. But as information has emerged about how Section 215 has been used (or not used) since the passage of USA Freedom, we have to question even those modest reforms. First, we learned that a law that was supposed to end mass surveillance still allowed the NSA to collect over 500 million telephone records in 2017 alone—a number that sounds a lot like mass surveillance.

    • Kushner accused of using WhatsApp, personal email to conduct official business: report
    • Facebook and Google Are Guilty of a Failure to Take Ownership

      Getting from AI’s idealistic intentions “to understanding the context of a video is like a frog understanding a grocery store,” Turek says.

    • Hundreds of couples livestreamed in South Korean motel spycam porn

      According to police, four men installed tiny cameras – all of them with a lens just one millimetre wide – in 42 rooms in 30 motels, hidden inside hairdryer holders, wall sockets and digital TV boxes.

      They then livestreamed the footage 24 hours a day to a subscription website with some 4,000 members, hosted on a server overseas. Some viewers also paid a 50,000 won (S$59) monthly supplement for access to “exclusive” content – edited highlights available on repeat.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Survey: Some taxi customers feel less safe since deregulation

      Members of special groups who frequently use taxis, such as people with disabilities and others with limited mobility, said that both the feeling of safety in taxis and their availability had diminished. They also felt that drivers had less know-how about customer needs than before.

    • Appeals Court Overturns 47-Year-Old Murder Conviction Predicated On Faulty FBI Hair Analysis Evidence

      For years, FBI forensic experts have been overstating their certainty about… well, everything. Every piece of forensic evidence — the stuff eventually proven to be junk science bolstered by junk stats — was given the official “Thumbs Up of Absolute Certainty” during testimony.

      Eventually (very eventually), it was exposed for the courtroom snake oil it actually was. The FBI, duly chastened, promised to keep doing the same damn thing in perpetuity no matter what actual scientists using actual scientific methods had to say.

      For decades, this was standard operating procedure. A study by The Innocence Project found FBI forensic experts had been overstating their findings in court, resulting in a large number of potentially bogus convictions. The DOJ also admitted this error, but chose only to inform prosecutors of its findings, leaving it up to them to erase their own wins from the board.

      One of these dubious “hair match” cases has finally made its way to the appellate level. John Ausby, convicted of rape and murder in 1972, is challenging his conviction based on the prosecution’s reliance on FBI experts’ overstatements. Thanks to the DOJ’s admission this expert testimony was likely flawed, Ausby can actually pursue this so long after the fact.

      Unfortunately, the lower court claimed the hair match testimony wasn’t instrumental to the guilty verdict. It maintained the verdict would have been reached without the FBI forensic expert’s assertions of certainty and the prosecution’s reliance on this key — but ultimately bogus — piece of evidence.

    • El Salvador Considers Amnesty for Those Accused of Crimes During Its Civil War

      Legislators in El Salvador are considering granting amnesty to those accused of crimes committed during the country’s brutal civil war in the 1980s. The legislation would drop all ordinary criminal charges arising from the war, and it would shield anyone convicted of war crimes from imprisonment.

      The move by conservatives in El Salvador’s Parliament comes as 20 former senior military officers have been charged with an array of crimes, including murder, rape and kidnapping. In December, a judge cleared the way for the men to also be tried on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

      Lawmakers succeeded once before in adopting legislation granting wide amnesty to those accused of often ghastly crimes during the war. In 1993, the Parliament voted to block prosecution of crimes committed during the war, a law that remained in place until the country’s top court ruled it unconstitutional in 2016.

    • What America can learn from the world’s happiest countries

      Item: The life expectancy of the United States was recently found to have declined for the third straight year, something typically associated with all-out war, economic crises, or political collapse. According to the CIA, as of 2017 the U.S. ranks 42nd among nations for life expectancy, behind Malta and Greece.

      Item: The annual United Nations report on the world’s happiest nations was released Wednesday, where the U.S. fell from 18th to 19th place. Meanwhile, the happiest country for the second straight year was Finland. Filling out the rest of the top 5 were Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Netherlands.

      This raises the question: What might the U.S. learn from the world happiness grandmasters? A good place to start would be copy-pasting their economic and social welfare institutions.

    • The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era

      We do not live in a post-truth world and never have. On the contrary, we live in a pre-truth world where the truth has yet to arrive. As one of the primary currencies of politics, lies have a long history in the United States. For instance, state sponsored lies played a crucial ideological role in pushing the US into wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, legitimated the use of Torture under the Bush administration, and covered up the crimes of the financial elite in producing the economic crisis of 2008. Under Trump, lying has become a rhetorical gimmick in which everything that matters politically is denied, reason loses its power for informed judgments, and language serves to infantilize and depoliticize as it offers no room for individuals to translate private troubles into broader systemic considerations. While questions about truth have always been problematic among politicians and the wider public, both groups gave lip service to the assumption that the search for truth and respect for its diverse methods of validation were based on the shared belief that “truth is distinct from falsehood; and that, in the end, we can tell the difference and that difference matters.”[1] It certainly appeared to matter in democracy, particularly when it became imperative to be able to distinguish, however difficult, between facts and fiction, reliable knowledge and falsehoods, and good and evil. That however no longer appears to be the case.

      In the current historical moment, the boundaries between truth and fiction are disappearing, giving way to a culture of lies, immediacy, consumerism, falsehoods, and the demonization of those considered disposable. Under such circumstances, civic culture withers and politics collapses into the personal. At the same time, pleasure is harnessed to a culture of corruption and cruelty, language operates in the service of violence, and the boundaries of the unthinkable become normalized. How else to explain President Trump’s strategy of separating babies and young children from their undocumented immigrant parents in order to incarcerate in Texas in what some reporters have called cages. Trump’s misleading rhetoric is used not only to cover up the brutality of oppressive political and economic policies, but also to resurrect the mobilizing passions of fascism that have emerged in an unceasing stream of hate, bigotry and militarism. Trump’s indifference to the boundaries between truth and falsehoods reflects not only a deep-seated anti-intellectualism, it also his willingness to judge any appeal to the truth as inseparable from an unquestioned individual and group loyalty on the part of his followers. As self-defined sole bearer of truth, Trump disdains reasoned judgment and evidence, relying instead on instinct and emotional frankness to determine what is right or wrong and who can be considered a friend or enemy. In this instance, Truth becomes a performance strategy designed to test his followers’ loyalty and willingness to believe whatever he says. Truth now becomes synonymous with a regressive tribalism that rejects shared norms and standards while promoting a culture of corruption and what former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg called an “epidemic of dishonesty.” Truth is now part of a web or relations and world view that draws its elements from a fascist politics that can be found in all the commanding political institutions and media landscapes. Truth is no longer merely fragile or problematic, it has become toxic and dysfunction in an media ecosystem largely controlled by right wing conservatives and a financial elite who invest heavily in right-wing media apparatuses such Fox News and white nationalist social media platforms such as Breitbart News.

    • ‘Outrageous. Unacceptable.’: Indiana Teachers Shot ‘Execution-Style’ With Pellets in School Shooting Drill

      Reacting with horror to Indiana teachers’ testimony, gun control advocates characterized the state’s active shooter drill as an “outrageous” example of what America’s educators are being forced to accept as one school shooting after another takes place without any action from Congress.

      “Active-shooter training has become a macabre ritual for educators in America’s public school system,” noted Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson.

      “We don’t have to live like this,” Moms Demand Action declared, calling for “sensible solutions to the gun violence crisis.”

    • Putting Our Better Angels to Work

      Nationalists — white or otherwise — need “invasions” on a regular basis in order to stay revved up and equal to the cause.

      [...]

      The world is organized the way it is right now thanks to Europe’s nearly 500 years of invasion, conquest and colonization. Blain Snipstal, writing at Why Hunger, puts it about as bluntly as possible:

      “The plantation system was the first major system used by the colonial forces in their violent transformation of the Earth into land, people into property, and nature into a commodity — all to be sold on the ‘fair’ market. This transformation was long, crafted and violent, and supported by the state. Land was stolen from the Indigenous and people were stolen from Africa. Race and White Supremacy were then created to give the cultural and psychological basis to support the rationale, organization and logic of capital.”

      This wraps a terrifying context around the most recent mass shooting: 50 people killed, another 50 injured last week at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The killer was a white nationalist who felt his manhood slipping away because the country was diversifying, ethnically and culturally; and the symbolic sanctity of “the border” — separating white, European culture from whatever else is out there on Planet Earth — was breaking down.

      “Diversity is not a strength,” the killer explained in his manifesto. “Unity, purpose, trust, traditions, nationalism and racial nationalism is what provides strength.”

      Not so long ago, this was simply accepted reality. We don’t have to dig too deeply to start realizing that the racist infrastructure of our world is still in place, even in socially progressive countries like New Zealand.

      “The contagion of white supremacy has been here a long time,” writes New Zealander Kennedy Warne at the National Geographic. “We are part of Britain’s imperial project, premised on the superiority of the white race. The history of colonization in my country is a history of dispossession and cultural destruction for the indigenous Maori. . . .

    • Hate Endures in America, and With It Our Effort to Document the Damage

      Since the start of 2019, in places across the United States, there have been no fewer than five killings in which victims’ race, ethnicity or national origin appears to have been a factor.

      Arthur Martunovich allegedly walked into a Chinese restaurant in New York City in January and killed three men with a hammer. Police said he later explained his motive: “Chinese men are awful.”

      On Feb. 23, José Muñoz, 25, was shot and killed in the lobby of an Olive Garden in Louisville, Kentucky. The suspect in the killing allegedly used racial slurs when a child in Muñoz’s party at the restaurant bumped into him twice. Muñoz’s family insists he was targeted because of his ethnicity as a Mexican immigrant.

      On March 6, scores of mourners gathered on the campus of Indiana University to protest the killing of Mustafa Ayoubi, a 32-year-old graduate of the school.

      He’d been shot and killed in February in Indianapolis, following a road rage incident. Witnesses told police the suspect yelled slurs about Islam and told Ayoubi to “go back to your country.”

      Ayoubi’s family wants police to investigate the murder as a hate crime, but Indiana has no hate crime law.

      Two months into 2018, there had been at least five killings that might qualify as hate crimes. In 2017, according to the FBI, 15 people died in suspected hate crimes.

    • Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther

      Donald Cox was the Black Panther Party’s Field Marshal. He trained party members in the use and care of weapons. During the time he was involved with the Party in the United States, he served as a primary strategist for various operations. After he left the US, he went to Algeria where he was a guard for the Panther compound in Algiers. He left the compound and the Party in 1971. He moved to France where he spent the rest of his life. Cox died in 2011.

      His memoir of that time was recently published. Titled Just Another N*gger: My Life in the Black Panther Party, Cox’s volume is a narrative of a time when revolution was a possibility seriously considered. Men and women gave up their previous lives to commit themselves to creating a world where liberation and socialism would become reality. From Oakland, CA to Hanoi, from Paris to Palestine and all around the world, millions of people were actively involved in a struggle against capitalism and US imperialism. In the United States, the Black Panther Party was considered by many to be at the front of that struggle. The reasons for this were numerous, but the essential one was the Party’s militancy in the face of police and the system the police defended.

    • The University of Illinois Withheld Public Records for Months. Guess What They Showed?

      I’d hoped to share these details last year, but the university withheld the records. It all began last February. Using the Freedom of Information Act, we requested numerous records related to the research misconduct of a UIC child psychiatrist who had overseen a federally funded study testing the effects of lithium on bipolar children and adolescents. The failures by Dr. Mani Pavuluri and university officials eventually led the National Institute of Mental Health to demand the unprecedented return of $3.1 million that had funded the research.

      While the university provided many documents, officials withheld or redacted some related to the university’s oversight failures, saying they were protected by state and federal privacy laws. Since the university continues to deny failures of oversight related to this research, we felt these records were particularly important. We appealed to the Illinois attorney general’s public access counselor, who decides public records disputes.

      After more than eight months, we recently got a ruling. The public access counselor determined that the university should have provided all or parts of the documents — specifically letters from UIC officials to the federal government concerning shortcomings of the university’s Institutional Review Board, the faculty panel that is supposed to protect human research subjects.

      The university then provided the records, and we published a follow-up story this week with some of the details we would have liked to have shared a year ago.

    • Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA

      On a number of different levels, John Levin and Earl Silbar’s “You Say You Want a Revolution: SDS, PL, and Adventures in Building a Worker-Student Alliance” is a must-read book. To start with, it represents an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle known as SDS. For many, SDS meant either the New Left of the Port Huron Statement or the organization that imploded in 1970, leaving behind the wreckage strewn behind it, including the Weathermen and the various Maoist sects such as Bob Avakian’s Revolutionary Communist Party that came out of RYM and RYM2. Missing until now from this puzzle was arguably SDS’s most disciplined and serious component, the Worker-Student Alliance (WSA) that was well-represented in the landmark student strikes at San Francisco State and Harvard University.

      In addition, it is a close look at the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), a group that was the backbone of the WSA as well as the group that had the official blessing of Beijing in the 1960s until the party leadership broke with China over its “revisionism”.

      While being essential for professional historians and those simply trying to understand what was happening on the left 50 years ago, it is also a breathtakingly dramatic story of how people from my generation burned their bridges in order to become revolutionaries. As someone who has read and written about a number of Trotskyist memoirs, none of them comes close to the story-telling power of the 23 people included in this 362-page collection that you will find impossible to put down.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Next month, Russia’s parliament will vote again on sweeping ‘Internet isolation’ legislation. Here’s how one lawmaker justifies the initiative.

      Next month, the State Duma will likely vote on a second reading of legislation drafted by Senator Andrey Klishas that would guard against and simultaneously facilitate the isolation of the Russian Internet. In mid-February, the bill’s first reading passed with support from 334 of the Duma’s 450 deputies; 69 lawmakers didn’t vote at all, and just 47 voted against the legislation. Meduza recently attended a town hall meeting with Nikolai Gonchar, one of the deputies who voted for the bill. When we asked him about Internet isolation, Gonchar offered several questionable justifications for the legislation. Here’s how they hold up against fact checking.

    • To Prevent Big Telecom From Gutting Net Neutrality Bill, ‘Whole Internet’ Urged to Watch Key Hearing

      On Monday, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee is expected to begin marking up Democrats’ net neutrality legislation, which has been hailed as the best plan to restore the open internet.

      To stop telecom-friendly lawmakers from using the amendment process to eviscerate the Save the Internet Act, Fight for the Future is attempting to make the livestream of the committee hearing go viral.

      The goal, said Fight for the Future, is to send lawmakers a simple warning: “The whole internet is watching.”

      “Politicians seem to still be under the false impression that they [can] put the interests of giant telecom companies ahead of the basic rights of their constituents and get away with it,” Evan Greer, deputy director of the advocacy group Fight for the Future, said in a statement. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

      In an effort to “plaster the livestream everywhere on the internet,” Fight for the Future is calling on websites, online communities, and individual internet users to spread the hearing using its embeddable widget.

    • “The Whole Internet Is Watching.” Internet Protest Planned Ahead of Key Net Neutrality Vote Next Week

      Internet activists plan to make livestream of committee markup go viral to stop telecom lobbyists from gutting the Save the Internet Act with bad amendments

    • How The Chaos Of Studying Subatomic Particles Inspired The Creation Of The Web

      30 years ago this month, Tim Berners-Lee penned his original proposal for what would become the World Wide Web.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Heizkessel, Germany

      A nullity action is still admissible after expiration of the patent if it provides the nullity plaintiff, who had been unsuccessful as defendant in infringement proceedings, the possibility of bringing an action for restitution against his conviction and if the nullity plaintiff declares that he intends to make use of this possibility (xref. X ZR 17/02).


    • CJEU bids farewell to SPCs for new formulations of old drugs

      The eagerly-awaited judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the SPC referral Abraxis Bioscience (C-443/17) has been handed down today.

      In the case underlying this referral, the UK IPO had refused an SPC application filed by Abraxis Bioscience for the product “paclitaxel formulated as albumin-bound nanoparticles” (nab-paclitaxel; marketed as Abraxane®) for lack of compliance with Article 3(d) of the SPC Regulation (EC) 469/2009, given that the marketing authorization relied upon by Abraxis was not the first authorization of the active ingredient paclitaxel.

    • Stada Arz to launch generic Exforge in Europe

      Germany’s Stada Arzneimittel group says it will be one of the first manufacturers to launch generic…

    • Unauthorized Practice of Patent Law and State Regulators

      A recent decision by the Colorado Supreme Court has ordered Mr. Dak Steiert (and his company Intelligent Patent Services) to cease unauthorized practice of law in Colorado.

    • Trademarks

      • Fifth Circuit Affirms Springboards To Education’s Loss Against Houston School In Trademark Case Appeal

        Way back in 2016, we discussed one company’s quest to sue a bunch of librararies and schools for infringing on its program to promote reading to young schoolchildren. If that seems positively evil, then, yes, you indeed have a soul, so congratulations. If you’re wondering how such a thing could have legal standing, it all centers around Springboards to Education having created the reading program with rewards that included children entering the “Millionaire Reading Club” for getting through a certain amount of books, the handing out of fake reward money, and other prizes. A bunch of libraries and schools independently setup their own reading clubs with similarly named rewards, thus leading to Springboards filing suit.

    • Copyrights

      • You Wouldn’t Steal a Meme: The Threat from Article 13

        The computer experts are unanimous. The only way to implement Article 13‘s requirements is through a general filter of every user upload. The fact that the word “filter” is studiously avoided in the Copyright Directive’s text makes no difference to this unavoidable fact of digital life. After all, how would it be possible to make sure that no uploaded file contains copyright material unless every one were checked beforehand? The volume of uploads for major platforms is such that manual inspection is out of the question, which means filtering has to be automated. Since that is now clear to (almost) everyone, the argument around Article 13 has moved on to the practical implications of requiring top sites to install censorship machines for user-uploaded content.

        One class of material particularly at risk involves memes. These are often topical ideas that take pre-existing texts, music, images, and videos, and use them with varying degrees of cleverness to make a witty comment or a political point. The vast majority of memes are likely to be blocked by Article 13’s upload filters, since a key feature of them is the use and subversion of other copyright material.

        Few would argue that annihilating the Internet’s meme culture would be a good thing – memes may vary in their tastefulness, but they are undeniably a powerful and characteristic expression of 21st-century creativity. As a result, defenders of Article 13’s blanket filters have been forced to take another tack. Now, the argument is that memes won’t be caught by upload filters, because they are covered by exceptions to copyright that allow precisely this kind of parodic use. But there are a number of serious flaws in this line of reasoning.

      • A Century Ago We Killed The Radio Commons; Don’t Let The EU Do That To The Internet

        Admittedly, as that article notes, this created some amount of chaos, mainly because the spectrum got too crowded, and there was widespread interference between different signals that made the whole space a mess. Over time, laws were put in place to “regulate” the wild west, but what happened was we turned what had been an open commons into a locked up space where only giant media companies could prevail. The US, at the very least, decided that the way to deal with this wild west was to treat spectrum as a property right that could be “licensed.” And in doing so it set things up such that large broadcasters could collect many licenses and dominate markets.

        What had been the open spaces of the public to use for a variety of creative endeavors turned into a locked down space for giant corporations.

        While there are some notable differences, the attempt by the EU to pass Article 13 is truly an attempt to replay this unfortunate scenario nearly a century later. There was a good rationale for radio regulations in the past — dealing with all of the interference that made using radio difficult — and as one 1927 academic so succinctly put it: “highly annoying and almost destructive.”

      • Seal the deal: Canadian court waxes off copyright infringement in Pyrrha Design Inc. v. Plum and Posey Inc.

        The Federal Court of Canada [2019 C 29] recently saw a battle between two wax seal jewellery manufacturers: Pyrrha Design, and Plum & Posey. Pyrrha Design sued Plum & Posey for copyright infringement of the design of nine of its pieces of wax seal jewellery.

        The Federal Court of Canada, Phelan J., dismissed the claim of copyright infringement, stating that even if Pyrrha Design owned the copyright in the designs, Plum & Posey did not infringe it.

      • 130 EU businesses sign open letter against Copyright directive Art. 11 & 13

        The companies signing this letter to the European Parliament are urging you to vote against Articles 11 and 13 of the proposed copyright directive. The text of the trilogue agreement would harm the European economy and seriously undermine the ability of European businesses to compete with big Internet giants like Google.
        We support the goal of the legislation to protect the rights of creators and publishers, but the proposed measures are inadequate to reap these benefits and also fail to strike a fair balance between creators and all other parts of society. The success of our business enterprises will be seriously jeopardized by these heavy-handed EU regulations.

      • Major EU Websites Go Dark With #Blackout21 Protest Ahead of Vote to Create Internet ‘Censorship Machine’

        Free speech and digital rights advocates across Europe blacked out websites on Thursday to protest the controversial Copyright Directive the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on next Tuesday.

        Activists are also planning #SaveYourInternet protests, which are set to take place across Europe on Saturday.

        For the past few years, members of the European Union’s (EU) legislative assembly have negotiated updates to continent-wide copyright rules that are nearly two decades old. Digital experts and activists warn that two particular provisions in the final text of the directive (pdf) collectively would be a “catastrophe for free expression.”

        “Although there are important wins for the open community in the current text, the inclusion of Articles 11 and 13 will harm the way people find and share information online,” the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes free knowledge, said in a policy statement.

        (Note: As part of the legislative process, Article 13 has been renumbered as Article 17.)

      • EU Internet Companies Warn EU Parliament Not To Vote For Articles 11 & 13; Say It Will Hand The Internet To Google

        One hopes that the EU Parliament will actually listen — though I can’t wait to hear Axel Voss and friends explain how this letter from Google’s competitors who are warning about how the bill will entrench Google and limit competition is really “Google shilling.”

        It remains truly disappointing to me how few Article 13 supporters have actually been willing to engage on the specific concerns and criticisms of the bill. No matter what anyone says — even those who explain how it will lock Google into a dominant position, are dismissed as promoting Google’s message. The lack of intellectual honesty displayed by supporters of Article 13 is truly a shame.

      • Anti Article 13 Petition Signed by Five Million People

        The popular “Save The Internet!” petition, which urges lawmakers to vote against Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive, reached a new milestone of five million signatories today. The petition is part of an intensifying campaign which also features offline demonstrations and Wikipedia blackouts. Meanwhile, supporters of Article 13 are not sitting still either.

      • The MPAA says streaming video has surpassed cable subscriptions worldwide

        The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reported today that the world’s entertainment market — encompassing both theatrical and home releases — grew to a new high in 2018: $96.8 billion, 9 percent over 2017. In particular, it highlighted the rapid growth of streaming video, which grew to 613 million subscriptions worldwide, an increase of 27 percent over 2017.

        The report lays out the health of the entire motion picture entertainment industry, and it reports that consumers spent $96.8 billion on entertainment around the world. The international theatrical box office grew to $41.1 billion (spending in the US and Canada grew to $11.9 billion), while home entertainment hit $55.7 billion internationally.

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    Restrictions on speech are said to have been spread and reached some of the most liberal circles, according to a credible veteran who opposes illiberal censorship



  30. Corporate Media Will Never Cover the EPO's Violations of the Law With Respect to Patent Scope

    The greed-driven gold rush for patents has resulted in a large pool of European Patents that have no legitimacy and are nowadays associated with low legal certainty; the media isn't interested in covering such a monumental disaster that poses a threat to the whole of Europe


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