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04.23.19

Links 23/4/2019: Kodi ‘Leia’ 18.2 and DeX Everywhere

Posted in News Roundup at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa 19.1 Adds Workaround For Epic Games Launcher With OpenGL

        The latest change merged for Mesa 19.1 is a workaround so the Epic Games’ game launch correctly renders when using OpenGL.

        It turns out that the Epic Games Launcher, which is Windows-only at least for now, relies upon an OpenGL 4.4 core context but uses deprecated OpenGL functionality. Technically the software shouldn’t be using a core context but rather compatibility context if it needs to use deprecated GL functionality.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At The Intel Cascade Lake Performance For Windows Server 2019 vs. Linux vs. FreeBSD Benchmarks

        Since the Xeon Scalable 2nd Gen launch at the start of April we’ve been running many different benchmarks including the performance on different Linux distributions and tests on FreeBSD 12.0. Now for seeing how Windows Server fits into the mix, here are Windows Server 2019 Build 17763 as well as Ubuntu 18.04 running on WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) from that same Windows Server build.

        The same server was used for all testing that included two Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 processors, GIGABYTE MD61-SC2-00 Storage Server. 12 x 32GB DDR4-2933 memory, and a Samsung 970 PRO 512GB NVMe SSD for storage. Besides Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2019 WSL, this comparison includes CentOS 7, Clear Linux 28660, openSUSE Leap 15.0, Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, and FreeBSD 12.0 (both with its default LLVM Clang compiler and when opting for GCC 8.3). The stock OS packages are used on each platform unless otherwise noted.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Announcing my Contract with Purism for an Adaptive Fractal UI

        Over the past year or so I have been a regular contributor to Fractal, a Matrix chat client for GNOME. My contributions have allowed me to take on a bigger role in the GNOME community, including the maintainership of a few apps. I am pleased to announce that over the next week I will be working to make Fractal’s UI adaptive for the Librem 5’s launch. This contract began last week, and I already have some results to show off.

  • Distributions

    • Strawberry

      There is a new tool available for Sparkers: Strawberry

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

      • Fedora Docs Translations FAD Report

        Last week Jean-Baptiste Holcroft and Adam Šamalík met in Strasbourg for Docs Translations mini-FAD in order to prototype translations support for the Fedora Docs website. And we did a lot of work! This post is a report from the event, a status report, and a brief plan for how to move forward.

        Our goal was to make sure we’re both on the same page about how it’s all going to work, to do some coding and publish a functional prototype, and to write a set of requirements for a potential production deployment.

      • [Some] KDE Applications 19.04 also available in flathub

        The KDE Applications 19.04 release announcement (read it if you haven’t, it’s very complete) mentions some of the applications are available at the snap store, but forgets to mention flathub.

      • Fedora Community Blog: Fedora 30 Upgrade Test Day 2019-04-26

        Friday, 2019-04-26, is the Fedora 30 Upgrade Test Day!
        As part of this planned change for Fedora 30, we need your help to test if everything runs smoothly!

    • Debian Family

      • Sam Hartman is new leader of Debian GNU/Linux project

        After 19 years as a Debian developer, Sam Hartman has become the project leader, winning election to the post of leader and defeating three others in the process.
        A total of 378 developers out of 1003 voted in the election which was held over the last two weeks. Hartman, who is blind, was declared elected based on the Condorcet method which the project uses.

        Hartman’s term began on 21 April and will end on 20 April 2020. He has been a maintainer of the Kerberos software for Debian for many years.

        In his election manifesto, Hartman said he would like to keep the project as a fun place to be a developer.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Galaxy S9, S10, and Galaxy Tab S5e now have Linux on DeX

            Samsung’s latest flagships are so powerful you could almost use them as a portable PC. Actually, you already can if you don’t mind running Android in Samsung’s special DeX mode. But if you really wanted desktop applications, you’re mostly out of luck. Not unless you’re comfortable using Linux via Samsung’s still beta Linux on DeX. Fortunately, the company is now expanding support of that platform to its latest flagship smartphones and, surprisingly, its mid-range tablet as well.

          • Samsung brings Linux on DeX to more devices: Is your phone on the list?

            Samsung’s Linux on DeX is one of the coolest manufacturer initiatives around, bringing full-fledged Linux to the company’s desktop environment. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4 were the first devices to support the initiative, but the Korean manufacturer is expanding support this week.

            According to an official email sent to users, Linux on DeX is now available on the Galaxy S9 series, the Galaxy S10 range (including the Galaxy S10e and 5G model), and the Galaxy Tab S5e.

            This makes for a pretty big expansion, although the Galaxy S8 series, Galaxy Note 8, and the company’s new crop of A-series devices are left in the lurch. Still, you have to give kudos to Samsung for bringing Linux to DeX in the first place, especially when Huawei doesn’t have Linux via its desktop mode.

          • Now you can use more Samsung phones, tablets as Linux desktop PCs

            Samsung’s Linux on DeX software lets you use a Samsung smartphone or tablet as a Linux desktop computer by connecting an external display, mouse, and keyboard and running the app.

            When the software launched last year it was only compatible with two devices — the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4.

            Now Samsung has rolled out an update that brings support for a bunch of additional Samsung devices released over the past few years.

          • Linux Now Available on More Phones with Samsung’s Latest DeX Update

            With this feature, Samsung basically enables Linux to run on its DeX platform, which allows a smartphone to double as a PC when connected to a bigger screen with a dedicated adapter.

            While the standard DeX version is available for all latest-generation Samsung phones, the Linux on DeX project advances slowly, so only a handful of models are supported for now.

          • Linux on DeX now supports the Galaxy S9, Galaxy Tab S5e, and Galaxy Note 8, and hints at upcoming Galaxy Tab S5 support

            Samsung DeX turns flagship Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets into portable PCs. In its first iteration, released alongside the Galaxy S8, DeX required dedicated hardware in the form of the DeX Station. With the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4, DeX no longer required a special dock and instead worked with supported USB Type-C to HDMI dongles. (Dockless DeX later made its way over to the Galaxy S9, Galaxy Note 8, and Galaxy S8 with the One UI/Android Pie update.) Samsung has done a good job improving DeX on supported devices, but one of Samsung DeX’s best features—Linux on DeX—was only officially supported on the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4. Now, the latest Linux on DeX beta update officially adds support for the Galaxy S9/S9+, Galaxy S10/S10+/S10e/S10 5G, and Galaxy Tab S5e.

          • Linux on DeX is now compatible with Galaxy S9, S10, and Tab S5e

            Linux on DeX, announced at a developer conference last year, is a program that lets you run Linux (Ubuntu, in this case) on your Samsung smartphone or tablet, turning it into a full-fledged computer. Initially, it only worked on the Galaxy Note 9 and Tab S4, but with today’s update, both Galaxy S9 and S10 families are now supported (along with, for some reason, the mid-range Tab S5e).

          • 5 Reasons to Upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo”

            On the surface, new versions of Ubuntu aren’t as big as they used to be. Like in the days before Canonical created its own Unity interface, the Ubuntu experience is now functionally similar to what you get in alternatives such as Fedora and openSUSE.

            But there are a few big reasons to be eager for what Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” has to offer, with some additions demonstrating just how nice it is to have Ubuntu desktop developers spending more time working directly on GNOME.

          • Women and Nonbinary People in Information Security: Sophia Sanles-Luksetich

            Sophia Sanles-Luksetich: I am a rookie information security consultant. I currently perform bug bounty triage for companies which I am not allowed to name, but let’s just say most folks have heard of these companies.

            Before I got into information security, I was an IT generalist who dabbled in a bit of programming, Linux and privacy. Ubuntu was actually my first OS. It’s funny to think now that my decision as a 12-year-old could have impacted my career so much ten years later.

            KC: I must admit that it’s unusual that Ubuntu was your first OS. But that’s great! I use Kubuntu on my work desktop. Did that make you delve into Debian a bit?

            SSL: Oh cool! I have dabbled with Debian a bit, but not as much as most folks would expect. I think I learned a lot more soft skills using Ubuntu at a young age. Like when I couldn’t download my favorite game as a kid, I spent hours reading error logs, documentation and forums to figure out how to get the game working on my computer. Open Source Software (OSS) is also very modular compared to a lot of closed source software, so learning how software is built on other software was a big help. Now everything is miles down a supply chain that most people can barely scratch the surface of, at least in my opinion.

            [...]

            KC: Excellent. How did you get into Ubuntu computing initially?

            SSL: We had a family computer that stopped working. Rather than buy a new Windows disk to fix it, I asked around to my friends. Funny enough, one of my friend’s dad worked in information security, and I played board games with him and his son. I asked his son to give me a copy, and he messed it up by downloading it onto the CD rather than doing an image transfer. Lucky for me, I had a bit more a competent IT friend, Rikki, who ripped me a fresh CD. It’s funny, too; she was a lot more like me then, I thought. We both started in theater and ended up getting into computers just because they are resourceful and we were both people who loved the convenience for record keeping. I think what got me into OSS, to begin with, was the idea that I never had to pay for it. I am a cheapskate. I can think of a good chunk of my IT experience that I learned by trying to get something for free. I learned how to torrent, how to not screw up your computer on harmful sites. Always a fun time!

            [...]

            SSL: I think if I could give one piece of advice to new cybersecurity folks, I would tell them all to volunteer at conferences and talk to the attendees. You will learn a lot just by talking to people in the field. Oh, and of course, don’t discount soft skills and the fundamentals.

          • How developers are using Intel’s AI tools to make planet Earth a better place

            Biswas first gathered plant data from Google images, then used TensorFlow (widely-used machine learning framework in the deep learning space) and Open Vino (Intel’s neural network optimisation toolkit) to build an AI model. Once the images and videos of plants were captured the model is used to identify the cause of the disease, possible cures and preventive measures. To run these solutions, Biswas used Intel 7th Gen i5 NUC mini PC.

            [...]

            Ma took a digital microscope and connected it to a modestly powerful Ubuntu based laptop with Intel’s Neural Compute Stick connected to it. The entire system cost less than $500. The neural network at the heart of the system was able to successfully determine the shape, colour, density, and edges of the Escherichia coli (E. coli) and the bacteria that causes cholera.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 575
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 575
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Kubuntu 19.04 Ships with KDE Plasma 5.15 Desktop, Experimental Wayland Session

              Featuring the same internal changes as Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), the Kubuntu 19.04 operating system is here to offers users an updated KDE experience powered by the KDE Plasma 5.15.4 desktop environment and KDE Applications 18.12.3 software suite, built against the Qt 5.12.2 application framework.

              Of course, several of the pre-installed applications have received updated versions as part of the Kubuntu 19.04 release, including Mozilla Firefox 66.0 as default web browser and LibreOffice 6.2.2 as default office suite. The Latte Dock 0.8.8, KDevelop 5.3.2, and Krita 4.1.7 apps are also available.

            • Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 Final Now Available for Download!

              In April 19th, 2019, We are glad to announce the official release of opensource operating system Ubuntu Kylin 19.04(Disco Dingo). In this version, OS stability is our first goal to obtain. In order to provide a better experience for users, a series of improvements are made on system kernel, basic service, desktop environment and specialized apps. In addition, other opensource distribution such as Ubuntu 19.04、Lubuntu 19.04 and Ubuntu Mate 19.04 are released in the same time.

            • Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 Adds a New Visual Experience, Latest WPS Office Suite

              Featuring the same internal improvements as the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system, Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 shops with a fresh and all-new visual experience through a unified style that revamps the boot animation, login and lock screens, adds a transparency effect to the applications menu, notification area, and taskbar, as well as other smaller enhancements.

              “We are bringing a whole new visual experience in this distribution, from system choice, boot up animation, log in program to system desktop, a unified style is presented. Amazing transparency effect is utilized on start menu, taskbar and notification area, give your desktop a sense of technology,” reads the release announcement.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Hydroelectricity and transmission planning in Chile use open source geospatial tools

    From 2014 and 2017, I had the good fortune of working with a multidisciplinary team in Chile, building decision support tools to facilitate the planning of hydroelectric capacity as an alternative to fossil-fuel based thermoelectric capacity. Our job was also to aid in the design of transmission line corridors. Transmission lines carry “bulk electricity” from where the electricity is generated to where it is consumed. Those lines are strung from towers that are placed within transmission corridors, where vegetation and access are managed for safety. In many countries, the location of these corridors is carefully planned in order to take into account engineering feasibility as well as social, cultural, environmental and other economic factors.

    Earlier, I wrote about the hydroelectric capacity planning exercise, but the transmission corridor planning projects came along later, and in the context of those projects, we learned more about the valuation framework we used and about how open source software provided great solutions for scenario generation and testing and general trade-off analysis. I’ll revisit those details here.

  • The State of Neural Machine Translation for Asian Languages

    Open source for Asian language NLP is getting more and more active, but it would be useful to have more projects that are both frequently updated and popular. Sometimes, code licensing plays a negative role, because many old projects are GPL (General Public License). Jieba, Rakuten MA, KoNLPy are some frequently-used libraries for CJK (Chinese-Japanese-Korean) NLP. (Lucy Park is a KoNLPy developer.)

  • Will your organization change itself to death?

    Organizations, open or otherwise, cannot spend every moment changing themselves. For one thing, doing so would mean abandoning whatever mission they purport to have. As the saying goes, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” That adage, while most common in the context of political beliefs, is applicable here too.

  • Open source may be the future, but very few are writing it

    Open source may dominate the software we use to power the cloud, AI, and more, but a small percentage of developers do most of the coding. While it has long been true that for any given open source project, the vast majority of core contributions come from a cabal of committed developers, it seemed like the popularity of using open source would bleed into writing open source. Nope.

  • Events

    • Richard Stallman – “Free Software and Your Freedom” (Zurich, Switzerland)
    • SUSE CaaS Platform at Open Infrastructure Summit

      If you’re attending Open Infrastructure Summit this year and have in previous years as well, you might be noticing something a bit different; this year it’s not called OpenStack Summit. While we expect much of the talk will still be about OpenStack, we thought it might be a good idea to include other related technologies as well, like SUSE CaaS Platform, SUSE Cloud Application Platform – the two offerings that combine to form SUSE’s Application Delivery solution – and SUSE Enterprise Storage

    • Gearing Up for Linux Fest Northwest 2019!

      This next weekend (April 26-28th, 2019) I will be in Bellingham at Bellingham Technical College for Linux Fest Northwest to help at the Ubuntu table! I will be demonstrating Ubuntu Studio and my au…

    • Ubuntu Studio at Linux Fest Northwest 2019

      Council Chair Erich Eickmeyer will be in Bellingham, WA, USA this weekend for Linux Fest Northwest 2019, and will be bringing his audio setup to demonstrate Ubuntu Studio at the Ubuntu table. Check out the post on his personal blog!

  • Web Browsers

    • viewport and iphone reflow

      Something that’s annoyed me for some years is that all the web sites I build don’t work quite right with my iphone. Scroll down a page, visit a link, go back, and safari jumps back to the top of the page. Very annoying. Pretty much no other site I visit seems to have this problem, yet I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong since I’m barely doing anything at all. There are some support forum complaints about similar bugs, but mostly from several years ago, and mostly “solved: it works now” without explanation.

      Finally, figured out what seems to be the problem. The iphone introduces its own viewport meta tag, to define the screen dimensions, and control whether the user can zoom or not. A lot of sites abuse this to the point of unusability, so I very determinedly stayed clear. But without a viewport tag, safari is really dumb.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla VR Blog: VoxelJS: Chunking Magic

        A couple of weeks ago I relaunched VoxelJS with modern ThreeJS and modules support. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about how VoxelJS works internally, specifically how voxels are represented and drawn. This is the key magic part of a voxel engine and I owe a tremendous debt to Max Ogden, James Halliday and Mikola Lysenko

        Voxels are represented by numbers in a large three dimensional array. Each number says what type of block goes in that block slot, with 0 representing empty. The challenge is how to represent a potentially infinite set of voxels without slowing the computer to a crawl. The only way to do this is to load just a portion of the world at a time.

      • AiC: Collaborative summary documents

        One of my goals was that we could, at least for a moment, disconnect people from their particular position and turn their attention towards the goal of achieving a shared and complete summary. I didn’t feel that we were very succesful in this goal.

        For one thing, most participants simply left comments on parts they disagreed with; they didn’t themselves suggest alternate wording. That meant that I personally had to take their complaint and try to find some “middle ground” that accommodated the concern but preserved the original point. This was stressful for me and a lot of work. More importantly, it meant that most people continued to interact with the document as advocates for their point-of-view, rather than trying to step back and advocate for the completeness of the summary.

        In other words: when you see a sentence you disagree with, it is easy to say that you disagree with it. It is much harder to rephrase it in a way that you do agree with – but which still preserves (what you believe to be) the original intent. Doing so requires you to think about what the other person likely meant, and how you can preserve that.

        However, one possible reason that people may have been reluctant to offer suggestions is that, often, it was hard to make “small edits” that addressed people’s concerns. Especially early on, I found that, in order to address some comment, I would have to make larger restructurings. For example, taking a small sentence and expanding it to a bullet point of its own.

        Finally, some people who were active on the thread didn’t participate in the doc. Or, if they did, they did so by leaving comments on the original GitHub thread. This is not surprising: I was asking people to do something new and unfamiliar. Also, this whole process played out relatively quickly, and I suspect some people just didn’t even see the document before it was done.

        If I were to do this again, I would want to start it earlier in the process. I would also want to consider synchronous meetings, where we could go try to process edits as a group (but I think it would take some thought to figure out how to run such a meeting).

        In terms of functioning asynchronously, I would probably change to use a Google Doc instead of a Dropbox Paper. Google Docs have a better workflow for suggesting edits, I believe, as well, as a richer permissions model.

        Finally, I would try to draw a harder line in trying to get people to “own” the document and suggest edits of their own. I think the challenge of trying to neutrally represent someone else’s point of view is pretty powerful.

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!

        Bugfixes + enabling the new security feature for API keys.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Fauxpen source is bad for business

      Open source software is amazing. This emergent phenomenon of human collaboration, enabled by the internet, makes it possible for organizations of every size—including for-profit businesses—to get more done, faster, with less friction and with more predictability. It’s the foundation of our digital economy.

      Proprietary software is fine. It is what it is. Sure, it lacks the collaborative advantages of open source software, but at least it does what it says on the tin. Pay me this, I’ll give you that, and you can use it according to this specific license we negotiate.

  • BSD

    • Categorizing OpenBSD Bugs

      I thought it would be interesting to see if something similar were true of OpenBSD bugs. I went through two years of OpenBSD errata for the most recent four releases (6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4) and categorized each bug.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Apple Sued By New York Teen For $1 Billion For False Theft Charges

    Apple Sued” is a headline that made the rounds recently with the ongoing tussle between the iPhone maker and Qualcomm. However, this time an 18-year old teenager named Ousmane Bah has sued Apple for $1 billion over false theft charges.

    Ousmane Bah’s lawyer is taking the tech giant to court for continuous harassment from Apple, which allegedly wasn’t able to look at the photo and identify the person involved in a series of thefts in different Apple stores.

  • Apple Face-Recognition Blamed by New York Teen for False Arrest

    A New York student sued Apple Inc. for $1 billion, claiming the company’s facial-recognition software falsely linked him to a series of thefts from Apple stores.

    Ousmane Bah, 18, said he was arrested at his home in New York in November and charged with stealing from an Apple store. The arrest warrant included a photo that didn’t resemble Bah, he said in a lawsuit filed Monday. One of the thefts he was charged with, in Boston, took place on the day in June he was attending his senior prom in Manhattan, he said.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Most Horrifying Look at Monsanto Yet

      “Fear is the best weapon to awaken the reader,” says Samanta Schweblin, the acclaimed Argentine author of “Fever Dream.” “Fear is what makes you drop a book and run to your computer to Google what is happening, and think, ‘Can this happen to me? Is this really happening?’”

      “Fever Dream” certainly terrified readers across the globe after it was translated from Spanish into more than a dozen languages over the past few years. It was first published in English in 2017 and received ample critical acclaim, in part due to her considerable talent as a writer, but also due to the timeliness of the subject at hand: the horrors companies such as agrochemical giant Monsanto have inflicted on the planet and us all.

      In her novella, however, Schweblin never names Monsanto, but rather tells the spine-chilling tale of Amanda, a city-dweller, mysteriously dying during a vacation to the countryside. Where does this horror story take place? you may ask. The answer is anywhere, given the multinational company’s harrowing reach. On her deathbed, Amanda is visited by a child who attempts to lead her and, perhaps more importantly, Schweblin’s readers, toward the realization that is likely on the tip of many readers’ tongues as the seemingly fictional ailments and occurrences start to form a familiar pattern. Wake up, the ghostly David seems to tell us as we all lie on our laurels during the planet’s death throes. “That’s the story we need to understand […] Don’t get distracted,” the child repeats over and over.

      It is precisely as the global public begins to wake up, in large part thanks to young activists such as the courageous Greta Thunberg, to the barbarous damage done to the planet in the name of boundless greed that stories such as Schweblin’s can become an important tool in the fight against climate inaction. But this fever dream that feels inescapable currently is not just about climate change. According to writer Patricia Stuelke, “the recent resurgence of horror in feminist literary fiction in Argentina [and] the United States,” of which she considers Schweblin’s “Fever Dream” a prime example, is also undeniably a product of capitalism. Schweblin’s work,

    • The Coming Ebola Epidemic

      The Ebola epidemic in West Africa from 2013 to 2016 left more than 11,000 dead and panicked the American public when a few isolated cases turned up on U.S. soil. By the time the outbreak was contained, the international community had learned valuable lessons about how to combat the virus.

      Now, a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is testing that knowledge — and the political will of the global community to mount a robust response.

      With more than 830 deaths since August 2018, the epidemic in northeastern DRC is the second-largest recorded, behind the multi-country epidemic in West Africa. The DRC outbreak has not yet crossed international borders. Moreover, responders are applying new solutions, including a vaccine that has proved effective.

      But many health experts argue that the threat is underestimated, leading to a dangerously inadequate global response.

    • The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order

      In November 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry declared: “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” The reality of Obama administration policy did not entirely support this assertion; there was the executive order against Venezuela in 2015, support for the coup in Honduras in 2009, and ominously close ties with right-wing governments across the region. But with other more encouraging steps such as the normalization of relations with Cuba and the (belated) show of support for the Colombian Peace Process, there were at least some modest steps towards greater mutual respect for national sovereignty in the Hemisphere. Then came the unexpected election of Donald Trump. Though throughout his election campaign he expressed a preference for US isolationism and opposition to senseless war, once in office he appointed the very neoconservative war hawks he had earlier criticized for engineering such foreign debacles as the disastrous invasion of Iraq. His appointments to hemispheric policy posts have been the least encouraging, with figures such as the convicted criminal Elliot Abrams reemerging from obscurity to saber-rattle against traditional Latin American foes. Ever since Trump entered the White House, there has been a growing sense that the Monroe Doctrine is back. Now, that suspicion has been confirmed. On April 17, National Security Advisor John Bolton said: “Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.”

  • Security

    • Daniel Stenberg: curl + hackerone = TRUE

      There seems to be no end to updated posts about bug bounties in the curl project these days. Not long ago I mentioned the then new program that sadly enough was cancelled only a few months after its birth.

      Now we are back with a new and refreshed bug bounty program! The curl bug bounty program reborn.

    • Liz Fong-Jones on how to secure SSH with Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

      Liz mentions that by adding passphrase encryption, the private keys become resistant to theft when at rest. However, when they are in use, the usability challenges of re-entering the passphrase on every connection means that “engineers began caching keys unencrypted in memory of their workstations, and worse yet, forwarding the agent to allow remote hosts to use the cached keys without further confirmation”.

      The Matrix breach, which took place on April 11 showcases an example of what happens when authenticated sessions are allowed to propagate without a middle-man. The intruder in the Matrix breach had access to the production databases, potentially giving them access to unencrypted message data, password hashes, and access tokens.

    • Hacking With Kali Linux

      Before I talk about the series that I am going to start, let us briefly talk about who should follow this series.

      I know there are so many people out there who are very curious to learn hacking just to hack their partner’s social media account. Well, if you are such a person, please listen to me. Hacking is not about getting into somebody’s personal life and steal their information. It is illegal.

      Somebody well said – “We need to have a talk on the subject of what’s yours and what’s mine.”

      So you should not hack information that is not yours.

      ​But if you are a tech enthusiast who wants to make a career as a penetration tester or white hat hacker, this series can be really a good way to start. So for such enthusiasts, I am creating a page where you can follow the series. You can also follow our social media pages so you get a notification when a new informative article comes out.

    • Bug in French government’s WhatsApp replacement let anyone join Élysée chats

      Tchap is not intended to be a classified communications system—it runs on regular Android phones and uses the public Internet. But as the DINSIC, the French inter-ministry directorate for information systems that runs Tchap put it, Tchap “is an instant messenger allowing government employees to exchange real-time information on everyday professional issues, ensuring that the conversations remain hosted on the national territory.” In other words, it’s to keep official government business off of Facebook’s and Telegram’s servers outside France.

      Based on the Riot.im chat application from the open source project Matrix, Tchap is officially still in “beta,” according to DINSIC. And that beta test is getting off to a rough start. Within two days, French security researcher Baptiste Robert—who goes by the Twitter handle @fs0c131y (aka Elliot Alderson)—had tapped into Tchap and subsequently viewed all of the internal “public” discussion channels hosted by the service.

    • Reset Email Account Passwords After a Website Malware Infection
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-Supported Coup

      Calling ourselves the Embassy Protection Collective, we have been working in the embassy during the day, holding educational events every evening, making banners and signs, and sleeping on couches at night. The evening events have included seminars on Julian Assange, US foreign policy in Africa, the history of Venezuela, and update on Honduras and El Salvador. The night before we expect the embassy takeover to occur, April 24, we will have a talk by former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, who will give an insider’s view of US regime change operations.

      The Embassy Protectors also decorated the Embassy with signs and banners that are giving the Georgetown neighbors a good education. A large banner right above the Venezuelan flag says “End the Deadly Sanctions.” Two placards are bolted on the wall next to the stately building columns: One is an “imperial checklist” about how to orchestrate a coup, another shows the consequences of some of the past US interventions. Thirty-two signs are in the windows, giving a chronology of the attempted Venezuelan coup. The banner that evokes the most curiosity from passersby is the iconic “Eyes of Chavez” – a design representing Hugo Chavez’s piercing eyes that is painted on murals all over Venezuela.

      The Collective has good reason to believe the embassy is under attack. On March 18, representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took over the military attaché building on 2409 California St. in Washington DC, with the help of the DC Police and Secret Service. On that same day, they also took over the Venezuelan Consulate in New York City.

    • To Reassert Congressional War Authority, Sanders Demands Vote to Override Trump Veto on Yemen

      Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday called on his fellow members of Congress to come together and override President Donald Trump’s veto of the historic Yemen War Powers resolution.

      “The president’s action is a very serious challenge to congressional authority that demands a response,” the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential contender said in a dear colleague letter.

      The Yemen resolution aims to end U.S. complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe. Its passage of the House and Senate marked the first time Congress has invoked the 1973 War Powers Act.

    • Lessons of the past

      As a history student years ago I remember our teacher explaining how past events are linked to what happens in the future. He told us human behaviour always dictates that events will repeat in a similar way as before. I remember we studied 20th century history and discussed World War I and the links to World War II.

      At this time, we were in the middle of the Cold War and in unchartered waters and I couldn’t really link past events to what was likely to happen next.

      Back then I guess like many I considered US presidents more as statesman. They talked tough on the Soviet Union but they talked peace too. So, the threat to humanity was very different then to now. Dangerous but perhaps a stable kind of dangerous.

    • North Korea Leader Kim to Meet With Putin in Russia

      North Korea on Tuesday confirmed that leader Kim Jong Un will soon visit Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. The summit would come at a crucial moment for tenuous diplomacy meant to rid the North of its nuclear arsenal, following a recent North Korean weapons test that likely signals Kim’s growing frustration with deadlocked negotiations with Washington.

      The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency released a terse, two-sentence statement that announced Kim “will soon pay a visit to the Russian Federation,” and that he and Putin “will have talks.” A date for the meeting was not immediately released, and it wasn’t clear if Kim would fly or take his armored train. There are some indications that the meeting will be held in the far-eastern port of Vladivostok, not too far from Russia’s border with the North.

      The Kremlin said in a brief statement last week that Kim will visit Russia “in the second half of April,” but gave no further details.

      Russia is interested in gaining broader access to North Korea’s mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang covets Russia’s electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernize its dilapidated industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.

    • Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found

      The possibility exists that the Pentagon is being as honest here as it was about Iraqi WMDs, and that recruiters’ difficulties in recent years are not due to schools’ policies, but rather to the low unemployment rate and the unpopularity of participating in endless brutal wars that serve no clear purpose, increase hostility toward the United States, and leave participants at heightened risk of death, physical injury, brain damage, PTSD, moral injury, violent crime, homelessness, and suicide.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Appeals court turns down Manning appeal over contempt in WikiLeaks probe

      A federal appeals court has turned down former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s bid to overturn a contempt order that led to her jailing for refusing to answer questions from a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

      Manning’s lawyers said a district court judge ignored her claims that she was subjected to illegal electronic surveillance after her conviction at a court-martial in 2013 for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military reports to WikiLeaks.

    • In Rejecting Chelsea Manning’s Appeal, Court Essentially Ignores All Arguments For Release From Jail

      The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal from Chelsea Manning, which challenged a district court’s order that found her in civil contempt.

      On March 8, a federal district court jailed Manning for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks. She was held in prolonged solitary confinement for around 27 days before authorities at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center moved her to general population.

      Judges for the appeals court offered no explanation [PDF] as to why they believed a lower court committed no error in finding Manning in civil contempt. They also provided no reasons for why it was justified to keep Manning in jail.

      “Appellant Manning argues on appeal that the district court improperly denied her motion concerning electronic surveillance, failed to properly address the issue of grand jury abuse, and improperly sealed the courtroom during substantial portions of the hearing,” the appeals court acknowledged.

      “Upon consideration of the memorandum filed on appeal and the record of proceedings in the district court, the court finds no error in the district court’s rulings and affirms its finding of civil contempt,” the appeals court added. “The court also denies the appellant’s motion for release on bail.”

      Manning alleged the government engaged in “intrusive surveillance” against her “including surveillance vans parked outside her apartment, federal agents following her, and strangers attempting to goad her into an absurdly contrived conversation about selling dual-use technologies to foreign actors.”

    • “I Will Not Give Up”: Appeals Court Rejects Chelsea Manning’s Bid for Release

      Chelsea Manning remained in jail on Monday after a federal appeals court rejected her bid to be released and affirmed a lower court’s finding of contempt.

      The whistleblower was sent to jail March 8, and has spent part of the detention in solitary confinement for contempt due to her refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

      “Appellant Manning argues on appeal that the district court improperly denied her motion concerning electronic surveillance, failed to properly address the issue of grand jury abuse, and improperly sealed the courtroom during substantial portions of the hearing,” the order from three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stated.

      “Upon consideration of the memorandum briefs filed on appeal and the record of proceedings in the district court, the court finds no error in the district court’s rulings and affirms its finding of civil contempt. The court also denies appellant’s motion for release on bail,” it stated.

      The court order comes less than two weeks after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was forcibly removed from the Ecuadoran embassy in London and arrested by British police. As The Hill reported, the two cases are intertwined.

    • Appeals Court Rejects Chelsea Manning’s Effort to Leave Jail

      A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a bid by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to be released from jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.

      The three-paragraph, unanimous decision from a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rejects both Manning’s argument that she was erroneously found in civil contempt of court and her request for bail while the contempt decision is litigated.

      Manning has been jailed at the Alexandria Detention Center since March 8 after refusing to testify to the Wikileaks grand jury.

      Since her incarceration, criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have been unsealed and U.S. officials have requested his extradition . Manning’s lawyers argued that her testimony is unnecessary in part because Assange has already been charged.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Way We Talk About Geoengineering Matters

      Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don’t yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.

      Models are representations of complex phenomena that are used to approximate outcomes. While they have limitations, they are an important tool to help scientists and decision makers understand potential futures based on scientific, technological and policy changes. With both potential and profound risks and uncertainties, we need more expansive modeling research on solar geoengineering techniques — not only to understand possible environmental impacts and risks, but political and social consequences as well.

    • 1,000+ Arrested as Extinction Rebellion Protests in London Enter Second Week

      Extinction Rebellion, the climate protest that has blocked major London thoroughfares since Monday April 15, was cleared from three key areas over Easter weekend, The Guardian reported.

      Police removed protesters from Oxford Circus Saturday, and from the roads Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge Sunday. The last person to be arrested clearing the bridge was a 70-year-old woman who had been arrested once before during the protests at Oxford Circus.

    • Dallas Goldtooth: Hold Banks Accountable for Financing Climate Chaos & Violating Indigenous Rights

      As millions celebrate Earth Day around the globe, we speak with organizer Dallas Goldtooth about indigenous-led anti-pipeline activism in the United States. President Trump signed two executive orders earlier this month to facilitate the approval of pipeline projects at a federal level, limiting states’ ability to regulate such projects. The move is intended in part to clear the way for permitting on the northeastern Constitution pipeline, which has stalled after New York invoked the Clean Water Act to reject the project on environmental grounds. This comes as climate activists have filed a federal lawsuit with the ACLU challenging three South Dakota laws that they say violate the First Amendment rights of anti-pipeline organizers. Dallas Goldtooth is one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit and an organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network.

    • Earth Day 2019: Our Planet in Peril

      Today marks the 49th anniversary of the first Earth Day. This comes 50 years after the Santa Barbara oil spills which were instrumental in the declaration of the first Earth Day. The fate of our planet remains threatened by two inextricably connected threats, that of climate change and nuclear war. We cannot pretend to be concerned about our environment if we are not simultaneously concerned about the destruction of the planet by nuclear war.

      Fortunately, on this anniversary there are two bold initiatives attempting to deal with these simultaneous climate threats. These are the “Green New Deal” and “Back from the Brink” movements. Realizing the connection, what is necessary is the political will and courage to deal with these real and present dangers we face.

    • ‘Increase the Protests, Expand the Civil Disobedience’: The New Urgency of Earth Day

      It’s been nearly 50 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States, but the increasing urgency now at the heart of the global climate justice movement is making the once radical environmental holiday seem nearly quaint by comparison.

      The environmental movement has grown in recent years, driven by an urgency fueled by scientific warnings and a generation of inaction.

      In a Los Angeles Times op-ed Monday, Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the lessons of the past can help the modern environmental movement make a difference in more dire circumstances.

      “The effort Earth Day kicked off relied on grassroots citizen activism forged in the 1960s movements for civil rights, women’s rights and opposition to the Vietnam War,” said Suh. “It was about empowering people who’d not been heard to stand up, speak out and work for change.”

      “A half-century later,” Suh said, “we must listen again to the voices that have been silenced too long, from people of color, low-income communities, indigenous people and others who often pay the highest price for environmental hazard and harm.”

    • To Save Humanity and Planet, Says Climate Activist, ‘We Must Go Straight to the Heart of Capitalism and Overthrow It’

      While comedian and television host James Corden described the clip as “brilliant” when it first surfaced earlier this month, the salient message from author and activist George Monbiot about the need to radically upend and intensify the response to the climate crisis remains central to those around the world who have long recognized how the rapacious drive of capitalism has been a key accelerator of human-caused global warming.

      “What we have to do is big structural, political economic stuff,” Monbiot answered during his recent appearance on “Frankie Boyle’s New World Order,” a humorous news show in the UK, when asked what must be done to address the problem of a rapidly warming planet.

      According to Monbiot—who has recently championed the idea of harnessing nature’s power to not only stop but reverse the impacts of carbon pollution—ideas like getting consumers to change their light bulbs or end use of certain kinds of ear cleaners is not going to cut it.

      “We have to overthrow this system which is eating the planet with perpetual growth,” Monbiot explained. “I mean since when was GDP a sensible measure of human welfare?”

      In conclusion, he says, there is simply no longer room for half measures or weak-kneed responses to the existential crisis of the climate emergency.

      “We’ve got to start ramping down all fossil fuel production and leave fossil fuels in the ground,” he declared. “There’s time, but we can’t do it by just pissing around at the margins. We’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it.”

    • Earth Day Under Trump: Nearly 50 Years Later, an Environment Movement Under Attack

      Current talk of the Green New Deal or the GOP alternative Green Real Deal notwithstanding, the political contrast between the first Earth Day in 1970 and this year’s Earth Day is stark. While some still debate Nixon’s environmental record, there is no ambiguity in president Trump’s. He is sounding the retreat, not leading the charge.

      When the first Earth Day was proclaimed in April of 1970, Nixon was working on the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and before the year was over, Nixon would sign the landmark Clean Air Act of 1970 into law. The Trump administration’s environmental outlook, however, is the mirror image opposite of Nixon’s.

      Last month, the UN’s sixth Global Environment Outlook report, or GEO-6 for short, warned that environmental degradation is “endangering the ecological foundations of society,” and called for “bold, urgent, sustainable and inclusive action.”

      At the White House, GEO-6 was dead on arrival, as the Trump administration was busy unveiling a budget proposal that would slash funds for fighting climate change and other environmental hazards.

    • Three Earth Day Lessons for Green New Deal Activists

      In April 1970, about 20 million Americans turned out for the first Earth Day, attending speeches, demonstrations and other community-based events in what the New York Times called “among the most participatory political actions in the nation’s history.”
      Nearly 50 years on, the movement spawned by that historic gathering is rallying around calls for a Green New Deal to embody the aggressive action required to fight global climate change, create good-paying jobs and advance a more just and equitable society.

      As Congress begins crafting legislation to turn those bold aspirations into law, the original Earth Day provides three key lessons.

      First, national movements are born of local concerns.

      In the year before the first Earth Day, industrial pollution was so bad in Ohio that the Cuyahoga River caught fire. An estimated 3.3 million gallons of oil spilled along the Santa Barbara coast killing thousands of birds, fish and sea mammals. Acid rain was taking out Adirondack forests. Every car in America was spewing lead into the air we breathed.

    • Extinction Aversion

      Man made climate change has appeared to me for three decades to be sufficiently proven, and it has that cardinal virtue of a scientific hypothesis, you can see the things which it predicts will happen, come to pass before your eyes, like being uncomfortably hot in your Edinburgh flat on Easter Monday.

      Direct action of the illegal kind is a very important weapon in the arsenal of protest. It represents a challenge to the state’s monopoly of force. While it may appear non-violent, in fact by imposing your body into a space and blocking it off, that is an assertion of physical force. What the Extinction Rebellion protests showed this week was the reticence of the Metropolitan Police in dealing with nice, middle class and largely white protestors. That reticence is to be welcomed; the fact that it is not extended to other groups is what is to be deplored. The alternative is to argue for everyone to get beaten up by Plod equally, which is not a sensible line to take.

      I broadly support the Extinction Rebellion protest. In terms of gatecrashing climate change on to the political agenda, they have had a good and entirely necessary effect. Their use of what was in effect force, certainly did some harm in restricting the movement of people around London, and in some cases will have impacted the ability of struggling people to earn their living. It also disrupted public transport systems which are a good thing. But these are minor items if you accept that climate change is whirling its way to becoming an existential threat – and that is a premise which I do accept. The disruption is outweighed by the intent to do a much greater good, in terms of the justification of the people doing the protesting. Whether it succeeds in prompting real action by government and achieving a balance of good, is a different question. I fear we have to get rid of the Tories first.

    • Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too

      As conceived so far, adaptive management implies adaptation by land management agencies such as the USDA Forest Service. By now, it’s clear as clear can be that, among others, the Forest Service simply must adapt to the new conditions of heat and drought driven by emissions from consumer and industrial combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas. Taken down to cases, the agency must adapt by recognizing which species are unlikely to persist under increasing emissions, and by shifting its management emphasis to species that might hang in there.

      At least some in the Forest Service “get it.” For example, consider this November 1, 2016 assessment by Randy Johnson, U.S. Forest Service Research and Development Program: “Forests are changing in ways they’ve never experienced before because today’s growing conditions are different from anything in the past. The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate.” Johnson thus asks, “When replanting a forest after disturbances, does it make sense to try to reestablish what was there before? Or, should we find re-plant material that might be more appropriate to current and future conditions of a changing environment?”

  • Finance

    • Things Didn’t Go Well When Betsy DeVos Was Confronted With Her Department’s Charter School Fraud

      During a series of recent congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had to respond to a recent report finding the U.S. Department of Education has been scammed for hundreds of millions of dollars by fraudulent or mismanaged charter schools. Her responses reveal not only her inability to counter legitimate concerns over the spread of charter schools but also the charter school industry’s resistance to honestly address a chronic problem with its schools.

      The report, which I co-authored with Network for Public Education Executive Director Carol Burris, found that up to $1 billion awarded by the federal government’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) went to charter schools that never opened or opened for only brief periods before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, and fraud. Our calculation was that a least a third of the $4.1 billion spent by the CSP was wasted.

      Members of Congress repeatedly referred to these findings when questioning the secretary’s management of charter school grants and her proposal to increase funding for the program to $500 million annually. In response, DeVos first attempted to deny the problem, saying, “You are always going to have schools that don’t make it.”

      When Democratic representatives continued their questions, DeVos then tried to distract attention from the problem, arguing there was a need for “more” charters, “not less.”

      In the most recent exchange, DeVos pivoted to attacking the report authors personally rather than disproving their findings, saying, “The study was really funded by and promoted by those who have a political agenda against charter schools.”

      That final exchange in particular raised the hackles of my coauthor Burris, who quickly delved deeper into the data to find that incidents of financial fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the charter school grant program are likely worse than our first estimate.

    • Academia, Grassroots Organizations, and Debt

      What if the president of the United States, along with Congress, cancelled student debt and made public college tuition free? Just a few years ago, these goals would have seemed like the pie-in-the sky dreams of a marginal sect. Today, free public college is supported by major presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The idea of canceling student debt is also gaining traction, as several members of Congress have publicized their support for reducing or even eliminating a burden shared by more than 40 million people who are disproportionately black, brown, and poor.

      How did such a sea change occur in just a few years? While nominating and voting for candidates who support structural changes in the way we pay for and distribute public goods is important, organizing from the bottom up is critical to transformative change. Such work is a force that often goes unseen and undervalued until ideas generated in grassroots spaces emerge into mainstream discourse which has the effect of effacing their roots in a one-time radical fringe. In this piece, I want to focus on how activists and academics can come together to develop the capacities of grassroots organizing and thus bring such a vision closer to reality.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Social-Media Silence in Sri Lanka

      In the United States, a social-media blackout would be impossible and illegal. It would also be morally indefensible. In Sri Lanka—as in other places where speech is abridged—the standard defense is a threat to public order. Sri Lanka concluded its civil war, which killed one out of every 200 citizens, less than a decade ago, and the intercommunal violence could resume if the Bad Idea Factory of Facebook is allowed to ramp up production. When there is mass violence in the United States, we too risk stunning acts of retaliatory violence—torched churches, mass shootings. But the risks to Sri Lanka are much greater. You have not been stunned until you have been stunned by genocide.

    • The view from headquarters: How Zelenskiy’s and Poroshenko’s teams reacted on election night

      On April 21, several days before the official results of Ukraine’s presidential election are set to be announced, incumbent Petro Poroshenko admitted defeat and congratulated his rival, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on his victory. Now, the outgoing president is promising to build a powerful opposition for his successor while Zelenskiy’s supporters are divvying up cabinet posts to which they do not yet have a right. Meduza special correspondent Ilya Zhegulev reported from both campaigns’ headquarters on election day.

    • Face It, Repubs, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Way Smarter Than You Guys

      Memo to the Republican Party:

      You might want to stop messing with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

      She’s a freshman congresswoman with no significant legislative achievements, so it makes little sense that you spend so much time and energy on her. Besides, every time you do, you end up getting pantsed.

      You’d think you’d learn. Yet, like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football, you keep coming back for more.

      The latest example began when one of your rank-and-file, Rep. Sean Duffy, took aim at the Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez’s wish list of social, economic and policy goals to stem the impact of climate change. He called it “elitist.”

      She responded forcefully. “You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist?” she said. “Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx, which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint, whose kids have their blood ascending in lead levels. … Call them elitist.”
      That speech prompted another of your members, Rep. Andy Barr, to issue a dare disguised as an invitation: “Come to Eastern Kentucky where thousands of coal miners no longer have paychecks,” he said. “… Go underground with me and meet the men and women who do heroic work to empower the American economy.”

    • The ‘Russiagate’ Conspiracy Theorists Just Can’t Let Go

      In the latest episode of “On Contact,” host and Truthdig contributor Chris Hedges sits down with Aaron Maté of The Nation to discuss the release of the Mueller report. Together, they explore how the liberal fixation on Russiagate has handed Donald Trump a massive gift ahead of the 2020 election, and how the Democratic Party has failed more broadly to offer a meaningful alternative to his political movement. Hedges also explains why Mueller’s findings “should end one of the most shameful periods in modern American journalism—one that rivals the mindless cheerleading for the Iraq War by most of the press.” Watch a video of their conversation above.
      COMMENTS

    • What the Mueller Report Tells Us About Campaign Finance Law and Foreign Interference

      Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election exposed vulnerabilities in our campaign finance system that extend beyond Russia. Neither foreign governments nor domestic billionaires are going to stop looking for ways to influence U.S. politics, and it is about time that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Congress step up.

      So what does the report tell us about our campaign finance laws, and how can these issues be addressed to protect the integrity of our elections?

      [...]

      Under current law, outside groups only have to report spending on digital ads when they expressly advocate for or against candidates. Most of Russia’s ads didn’t meet that standard. Even those ads that Mueller characterized as “overtly oppos[ing] the Clinton Campaign”—like one that pictured Clinton and read “If one day God lets this liar enter the White House as a president, that day would be a real national tragedy”—may not be considered express advocacy by the FEC.

      If ads like this one had been run on TV, however, they would have been subject to legal disclosure requirements because they would have qualified as “electioneering communications.” Electioneering communications are currently defined by the FEC as broadcast—but not digital —ads run near an election that name a candidate, and are targeted to that candidate’s voters, even if they don’t expressly tell viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

      Russia was not alone in exploiting these digital ad disclosure loopholes. According to a peer-reviewed study by University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Young Mie Kim, 25 percent of Facebook political ads that ran in the final weeks of the 2016 election mentioned candidates and would have been subject to disclosure as electioneering communications if aired on TV.

      Congress and the FEC failed to close these loopholes in the wake of 2016, so our system maintained the same vulnerabilities going into the 2018 midterms. And, indeed, groups looked for new ways to exploit them: Campaign Legal Center identified that the Democratic dark money group Majority Forward ran an online ad campaign targeted at voters in states with competitive Senate seats, but did so without reporting that spending to the FEC and without telling viewers that the ads were paid for by Majority Forward.

    • Mueller Went Looking for a Conspiracy, What He Found Was Conflict and a Cover-Up — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      The Mueller report puts the terms of Trump’s most infamous Trump Tower deal side by side with a failed prior deal with the family of Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. In doing so, it proposes an answer to why Trump chose to move forward with Rozov: he offered Trump a much better deal.

      In fact, Cohen said the tower overall “was potentially a $1 billion deal.” Under the terms of the agreement, the Trump Organization would get an upfront fee, a share of sales and rental revenue, and an additional 20% of the operating profit. The deal offered by the well-known Agalarov developers, in contrast, would have brought in a flat 3.5%. We’d tried to reach Rozov to talk about the deal for our earlier reporting. He never responded.

      For Trump, this agreement promised to be the deal of a lifetime.

    • GOP Donors Who Scorned Trump in 2016 Are Giving Him Big Bucks in 2020

      The Never Trumpers, those Republicans who pledged never to align themselves with the President, are jumping ship. An early April edition of a Gallup tracking poll found 89% of Republican respondents support Donald Trump. The trend continued this week, as Politico reported that a number of wealthy Republicans who declined to support Trump in the 2016 election “are going all in for him in 2020, throwing their weight behind a newly created fundraising drive that’s expected to dump tens of millions into his reelection coffers.”

      This fundraising effort, Politico writer Alex Isenstadt continued, involves former donors to George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney. It is also modeled after the Pioneers network that helped lead Bush to victory in 2000, and will be formally announced on May 7, when, Isenstadt writes, “well-connected Republican fundraisers from around the country descend on Washington for a closed-door event with Trump 2020 aides.”

      The fundraising push, Isenstadt observes, “illustrates how Trump, who once took a sledgehammer to rivals for their supposed fealty to big donors, has come to rely on a GOP establishment he once repudiated.” In addition, it also shows how much the top levels of the Republican fundraising world “has come to accept and accommodate a president it once scorned.”

      One prominent Republican fundraiser, Roy Bailey, told Politico that over 150 people have signed to the Trump Victory program, including funders who had previously, even vehemently, rejected Trump in 2016: “I’ve had a couple of people that in 2016, they just weren’t on board with candidate Trump at all and they said, ‘Look, Roy, he has won me over. I’m all in,’” Bailey added.

    • America Has Already Fired Trump!

      The question on everyone’s mind is whether Trump will be impeached. In other words, will America fire Trump?

      Well, I have news for you. America has already fired him.

      When the public fires a president before election day – as it did with Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover– they don’t send him a letter telling him he’s fired. They just make him irrelevant. Politics happens around him, despite him. He’s not literally gone, but he might as well be.

      [...]

      Even America’s adversaries just humor him. Kim Jong Unand Xi Jinping give him tidbits to share with the American public, and then do whatever they want.

      Action and excitement have shifted elsewhere – to Democratic challengers, even to a 29-year-old freshman congresswoman too young to run for president.

      Energy is now coming from the grassroots – from people all over the country who are determined to reclaim our democracy and create an economy that works for all.

      According to polls, most Americans want Medicare-for-All and higher taxes on the wealthy. And they don’t want a wall along the southern border.

    • Stomach-Churning and Not Welcome: Telling It Like It Is

      Even in the wake of the (albeit Barr-scrubbed) Mueller report documenting multifarious crimes, lies, scams, cons, hustles and acts of obstruction, an astonishing number of Democrats and media outlets continue to hem and haw and hedge on just how God-awful/ impeachable the Great Impostor’s offenses are/aren’t. Long after publications finally got around to deeming thousands of in-your-face lies not “falsehoods” or “misstatements” but, duh, lies, many have continued dancing around the brute truth that there’s no legal, moral or civil low he won’t go – and no malfeasance Republicans will lift an odious finger to stop. There have been brave exceptions, like Elizabeth Warren’s unequivocal call for a Constitution-mandated impeachment and the L.A. Times’ take-no-prisoners, use-no-euphemisms Mueller coverage; their latest headline, “Report Exposes All the President’s Liars” – cousin to Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” – prompted one fan to note, “That’s how you report the news.”

    • The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice

      The Mueller report is out and if we learned anything from it, three things are clear. One, the Report changed few minds. Two, there was never a chance that Mueller would indict Trump. Three, Trump is so inept he cannot even effectively obstruct justice.

      The Mueller report came out Thursday morning–all 458 pages, single-spaced. It is a dense, detailed study rich in facts and explanations of law. But within less than one hour the media was already reporting on its contents or, better, asking experts or partisans what they thought. Often reporting was pulling out one line here or there and discussing it. For the most part, all this reporting and reaction was useless. To comment on a report when you have not read it is irresponsible, and even simply reading the executive summaries–as mostly were reported on–was similarly bad journalism or commentary.

      But equally, the early evidence on the reaction to the Mueller report has been that it changed the minds of no one. If the narrative before the Report was that Trump and his associates were guilty or they were not, the Report’s findings have not changed anyone’s mind. Perhaps t his is related to the fact that almost no one will read the report and judge it themselves. It is not a total vindication of Trump, and it is not a total condemnation of his administration. It is more nuanced.

      But in reading the Report, it is also clear that there was never a chance the president. When Mueller began his investigation, he started with the legal premise that a sitting president cannot be indicted for a crime. This belief was based on several Justice Department and Office of Legal Counsel memoranda from the Nixon to the Clinton era investigations holding this position. The Muller Report, volume II, page one states: “[T]his Office accepts the OLC’s legal conclusion for the purposes of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction.” This is a major point largely missed by everyone.

      The opening pages of part II of the Mueller report explains its legal reasoning. It notes the heavy burden placed upon a sitting president were he to be indicted for a crime. Second, the Report noted also ( page 2) it wanted to avoid the Nixon situation where a report concluded the president committed a crime but could not be indicted, resulting in him being named an “unindicted co-conspirator” as Nixon had been labeled. There is, according to the Report, no way the President could clear his name, again leaving a cloud over the presidency that could not be cleared. Better to indict and let the adversarial process render a verdict, or not indict than leave it in limbo.

    • Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats

      I have a suggestion for PPMB, the right-wing consulting firm whose CEO is running for president–and also Crazy Uncle Joe, who is apparently going to announce his run next week.

      You nitwits think you can run on the “I’ll bring everyone together. We’re not blue states or red states– we’re the UNITED states” message?

      Good luck with that. The Rock has been trying to do that for nearly three months. He’s getting crushed.

      “Right now what this country needs is not people having a race to the gutter, not a party that’s going to show the worst of who they are, not when they go low we go lower, not fighting fire with fire,” he said.

      What voters are looking for is someone who lives by the rules Sean Connery lays down in THE UNTOUCHABLES.

      After eight years watching Bill Clinton hand Republicans what they wanted most (shredding regulations and the safety net) and then watching Barack Obama roll over on his back and expose his tummy– hoping Republicans would scratch it– nobody is in the mood for saying “We’re all in this together.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Denmark’s Blaspheming Mother

      “This is a nightmare. We’re in shock,” Jaleh Tavakoli says. Last month, the 36-year-old Iranian-Danish critic of Islam received notification from Danish social services that she is no longer fit to care for the 8-year-old child she’s fostered since birth. Why? Tavakoli, a columnist and author, says it is because of her politically incorrect views on Islam. Social services maintains it is looking out for the best interest of a potentially vulnerable child. Tavakoli lives under security precautions, has been threatened on the streets of Copenhagen, and even survived a jihadist attack in 2015. As she prepares for the most difficult challenge of her life, Danish society must contend with the unprecedented challenge of where to draw the line when radical Islam intersects with free speech and children’s rights.

    • Twitter Permanently Suspends (Then Unsuspends) Lawyer For Telling NRA Supporters To ‘Fuck Off’ And ‘Own The Death’

      For all the talk of how Twitter supposedly is banning conservatives left and right (it’s not), the company is actually dealing with the impossibility of handling content moderation at scale. Adequately determining which content is “good” and which is “bad” is an impossible task.

      Let’s take an example case, which — at the very least — should show that Twitter isn’t just banning conservatives. The pseudonymous defense lawyer known as “bmaz” is probably known to many readers here. He’s been a long-time co-author of the Empty Wheel blog with Marcy Wheeler. He’s also a prolific and emotional tweeter. Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I do not. When I do not, he doesn’t shy away from letting me hear about it, often expressing his opinions strongly — which is something I’ve always appreciated about bmaz. He may not be polite, but he’s direct and doesn’t hide his true feelings.

      And as of last week he was gone from Twitter. According to Scott Greenfield, bmaz has been “permanently” banned from Twitter. Why? Because he told a bunch of NRA supporters his general feelings towards their position, with two of them being “Own the death you piece of crap” and “You too are a fucking idiot asshole. As are your whole 62 followers. Fuck off.”

    • Scribd’s Takedown Of The Public Domain Mueller Report Is A Preview Of The EU’s Future Under The Copyright Directive

      For years now, people who understand this stuff have been screaming from the rooftops that automated filtering leads to all sorts of legitimate content being taken down — and yet, the EU went ahead and approved the EU Copyright Directive and its mandatory filters anyway (and, if you’re still repeating the lie that it does not require filters, a quick reminder that multiple politicians who supported the Directive have now admitted that of course it requires filters, so don’t even bother).

      And it didn’t take long for a new example of why demanding filters for copyright purposes is incredibly stupid. Last Thursday, the DOJ finally released the redacted version of the Mueller Report. The document is obviously in the public domain as a work of the federal government — and tons of publishers rushed to get book versions on store shelves as they do with every big government report, often turning them into best sellers, despite their availability for free.

      Among the many places that the digital version of the report was made available was Scribd, the sort of Youtube-for-PDFs that remains annoying but very popular. And what happened? Well, of course, Scribd took the report down claiming it violated someone’s copyright.

    • Episode 24: Janice Domingo interviews Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III and Dr. Nolan Higdon

      On this very special episode of Along the Line, host Janice Domingo interviews here co-hosts Dr. Dreadlocks Nicholas Baham III and Dr. Nolan Higdon about a litany of issues social media; Venezuela; Education; Journalism; Iraq War; September 11, 2001; Corporate Media; Post-truth; Orwell; Race Relations; and Media Consumption.

    • ‘Knock Down the House’: Netflix Drops Trailer Featuring Rise of Ocasio-Cortez

      An “inspiring” new documentary offers an inside look into the grassroots congressional campaigns of four progressive women who attempted to topple corporate-friendly Democrats in the 2018 primary elections.

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was the only candidate featured in “Knock Down the House” who won her race despite long odds, defeating Wall Street favorite Joe Crowley in a landslide.

      Amy Vilela of Nevada, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia each came up short, but their campaigns offer compelling examples of working-class women taking on the status quo and fighting for progressive change, said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of advocacy group Justice Democrats.

      “The film does an amazing job portraying the blood, sweat, and tears involved in running a grassroots primary challenge when all the odds are stacked against you,” added Rojas. “I hope the footage from the early days of these campaigns encourages other leaders, especially progressive working-class women and women of color, to consider running for Congress. Even if it means taking on the machine.”

    • How anti-Putin graffiti triggered the first enforcement of Russia’s new ban on insulting the government online — and the ethical mess that followed

      For several days in April, Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, blocked two of the most popular local media outlets in Yaroslavl: Yarcube and 76.ru. Both outlets’ editors had refused to comply with the agency’s unofficial request to delete a news story describing a police search for unknown individuals who painted the words “Putin is a fag” on the front of the region’s Internal Affairs Ministry building. The journalists believe that they were a kind of test case for Russia’s new law penalizing “disrespect toward the government,” which took effect less than one month ago. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev learned that the government agencies who blocked Yarcube and 76.ru made up their own wording to justify their demands as legal requests and that the editors-in-chief who rejected those requests thought at first that the entire thing was an April Fool’s prank.

      [...]

      It soon became clear that similar calls had been made to editors-in-chief of other Yaroslavl outlet that had posted stories about the graffiti case or photographs of the graffiti itself. 76.ru editor Olga Prokhorova recalled that on March 31, several regional Roskomnadzor employees called her within a short stretch of time. “The head of the branch called himself, and I could tell he was surprised and confused. I understood that this initiative was coming from higher up. We have a good relationship with the local RKN [Roskomnadzor]. I speak regularly with the official who’s responsible for media outlets, and she gives us advice. After the call, I met with Yevgeny Ofitserov and talked to him. You never know who might call you from an unknown number and ask you to take something down. I gave him the number, and he confirmed that it was his,” Prokhorova said. She added that during the phone conversation and during her in-person meeting with Ofitserov, which took place in mid-April, she was repeatedly asked to delete the story, but “they couldn’t clearly explain the reason why.” “There were hints: you know, the law on insulting the government is taking effect, the Prosecutor General’s office could get involved,” she said.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • California’s Assembly Will Consider Only Industry Bills Meant to Strip Our Privacy Rights

      We are disappointed the California Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee will not hear A.B. 1760, which would have substantially strengthened the California Consumer Privacy Act.

      Tomorrow, the Privacy Committee will instead vote on several bills backed by Big Tech interests that will erode the CCPA and the promises this law made to give all Californians the privacy rights they want and deserve. California’s legislators must stop bills that erode our privacy and we will not stop fighting for strong privacy legislation.

      In coming weeks, we will work to pass S.B. 561, which will improve the enforcement of the CCPA by ensuring that people can sue the companies that violate their privacy rights, and strengthening the powers of the California Attorney General.

    • ‘So Overboard It Should Be Illegal’: Use of Facial Recognition in Airports Draws Anger

      A boarding technology for travelers using JetBlue is causing controversy due to a social media thread on the airline’s use of facial recognition.

      Last week, traveler MacKenzie Fegan described her experience with the biometric technology in a social media post that got the attention of JetBlue’s official Twitter account.

    • ‘Is that even legal?’: Companies may be sharing new credit or debit card information without you knowing

      Visa — and other major credit cards — have “updater” programs, that automatically provide updated customer credit card information to subscribing merchants, including account numbers and expiry dates.

      Companies automatically opt-in their customers to the service, whether they realize it or not.

    • Chinese courts have put on social-credit punishment list about 13.5 million people deemed untrustworthy

      By the end of March, people deemed untrustworthy had been blocked from buying 20.47 million air tickets and another 5.71 million high-speed rail tickets, the government said.

      The release of statistics comes as China works to set in place a social-credit system intended to assess citizens’ reliability and ultimately to govern their ability to participate in a wide range of activities, such as exporting goods, accessing government contracts, converting currency and receiving Communist Party promotions. That system is intended to govern “19 key areas of dishonesty,” including spreading online rumours and false information, committing financial fraud, delivering unlicensed medical treatment, evading taxes, cheating on tests and fixing sports matches.

    • Facebook has hired the Patriot Act’s co-author and “day-to-day manager” to be its new general counsel

      Jennifer Newstead helped craft the Patriot Act, a cowardly work of treasonous legislation foisted on the American people in the wake of the 9/11 attacks; later, she served as the Patriot Act’s “day-to-day manager” in Congress; today, she is Facebook’s general counsel.

    • Facebook taps lawyer who helped write Patriot Act as new general counsel

      Facebook has tapped a top State Department lawyer who was credited with helping to write the controversial 2001 Patriot Act as its new general counsel, beefing up its legal team as the company faces increasing regulatory and political pressure in the U.S. and around the world.

      Facebook announced in a press release on Monday that Jennifer Newstead, currently the legal adviser to the State Department, will be taking over for the departing Colin Stretch.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Google Walkout Organizers Say They’re Facing Retaliation
    • Reverse Warrant For Cell Site Location Info Results In Wrong Man Being Jailed

      Reverse warrants are the new regular warrants. Ever since law enforcement discovered most Americans carry tracking devices with them 24/7, they’ve been approaching cellphone providers with warrants targeting geographic areas rather than people.

      When a crime has been committed but cops don’t have any suspects, they ask Google and others to canvass the area for them. Officers hand providers a geofence and ask for everyone who wandered into the selected area during a certain timeframe. Once cops have everyone, they start looking for someone.

      It seems weird but it’s really not all that different than sending officers out to areas around crime scenes to ask anyone if they’ve seen anything. The difference here is cops are getting info about people’s movements in an area when they’re not suspected of any criminal activity. In addition, the areas covered by warrants often include high-traffic areas like businesses and multi-family housing, increasing the chance cops are going to zero in on the wrong suspect simply because someone lives or works near a crime scene.

      That’s exactly what happened in Phoenix, Arizona. Detectives investigating a shooting handed a reverse warrant to Google. This data was used to arrest the wrong person, as Jennifer Valentino-DeVries reports for the New York Times.

    • ‘Her Work Will Live On’: Climate Movement Mourns Loss of Ecocide Campaigner Polly Higgins

      Lawyer and visionary thinker Polly Higgins, who campaigned for ecocide to be internationally recognized as a crime on par with genocide and war crimes, died Sunday at the age of 50.

      She had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last month and given just weeks to live.

      “There’s a growing recognition that a lot of campaigning is not getting us where we need to go, and just saying fossil fuel extraction should stop is not enough. It has to be criminalized,” Higgins said to DeSmogBlog last month.

      Climate mobilization 350.org mourned her passing, writing, “Her legacy lives on in all those who continue the fight for #ClimateJustice.”

    • Russian senator argues that civil rights actually restrict freedom

      Notoriously conservative Russian Senator Elena Mizulina has offered her latest defense of the federal prohibitions adopted by the State Duma in recent years. Speaking at an Internet security forum, Mizulina argued that freedom is actually restricted by civil rights. The senator then explained that rights “are when you can act, but only according to the way it’s written in the law.” “The more rights you have, the less freedom,” she concluded.

    • Key Themes from the Citizenship Question Amicus Briefs

      When the Supreme Court sits for oral argument on April 23 in Department of Commerce v. New York, the Justices will have the benefit of three dozen amicus (or friend-of-the-court) briefs that have been filed in support of the plaintiffs challenging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

    • The Government Shouldn’t Keep the Public in the Dark Just Because Private Companies Ask It to

      While it may be a private entity’s prerogative to keep certain information secret, it can’t be the government’s.
      The government often relies on private entities to carry out its work. It has them running private prisons, designing location tracking technologies, and developing artificial intelligence (AI) systems that automate government decisions, such as determining our Medicaid benefits, bail, and even which children are purportedly at risk of abuse or neglect. Today the Supreme Court heard a case, FMI v. Argus Media, about whether working with private companies changes the government’s transparency and accountability obligations to the public. As we and several other organizations argued in a friend-of-the-court brief, it should not.

      The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the law at the center of the case, requires the government to disclose information to the public upon request unless such information falls within one of nine narrow exemptions. The exemption on the table, Exemption 4, allows the government to withhold “trade secrets” and “commercial or financial information” that is “privileged or confidential” and was not generated by the government.

      Under existing law, to successfully invoke Exemption 4, the government must show that public disclosure of that information would likely cause substantial competitive harm to a private entity. A business association, the Food Marketing Institute, is arguing that the court need only rely on a private party’s word that something is “confidential” in order to keep the requested information secret.

      That is the opposite of how FOIA is supposed to work.

    • City Of Marathon Hand-Waves Stupid Cease And Desist Sent By Councilman Over City Seal

      Earlier this month, we were discussing the odd (read: stupid) campaign by a City Councilman for the City of Marathon in Florida to get his city to trademark the city seal. The whole thing was frustratingly stupid for all kinds of reasons. For starters, trademark law is very clear that municipal governments can’t trademark their seals, full stop. Councilman Mark Senmartin wanted his own government to do something it couldn’t legally do. Cool. The city seemed mostly unaware of this at the time, instead refusing to bow to Senmartin’s demands since there had been virtually zero issues with people using the seal inappropriately elsewhere, with one minor issue during a local political campaign notwithstanding. And, to wrap the absurdity of it all in a nice little dumb bow, Senmartin proceeded to apply for the trademark himself and send his own city a cease and desist notice, apparently in an attempt to prove a point.

    • State Investigator Granted Immunity For Hours-Long Detention Of Doctor At Gunpoint During A Search For Medical Records

      How far can a law enforcement officer go to ensure an administrative search — one looking for records, rather than contraband — is carried out without interference? Pretty damn far, it appears.

      A case before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals alleges Fourth Amendment violations during a search for medical records. Dr. Ikechukwu Okorie was on the receiving end of a search due to the state licensing board’s suspicion he was over-prescribing opioids. Okorie wasn’t facing criminal charges. The state board of licensing had suspended his license while it investigated. Okorie sought recertification. The board agreed to meet with him but also sought an administrative warrant to search his medical office for evidence it needed to make a determination on his recertification.

    • What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring

      Two very different political waves are sweeping through the Middle East and north Africa. Popular protests are overthrowing the leaders of military regimes for the first time since the failed Arab Spring of 2011. At the same time, dictators are seeking to further monopolise power by killing, jailing or intimidating opponents who want personal and national liberty.

      Dictators in Sudan and Algeria, who between them had held power for 50 years, were driven from office in the space of a single month in April, though the regimes they headed are still there. The ousting of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, now under arrest, came after 16 weeks of protests. Hundreds of thousands continue to demonstrate, chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule” and “we will remain in the street until power is handed over to civilian authority”.

      The protesters are conscious of one of the “what not to do” lessons of 2011, when mass demonstrations in Egypt got rid of President Hosni Mubarak, only to see him replaced two years later by an even more authoritarian dictatorship led by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. A referendum is to be held over three days from this Saturday on constitutional amendments that will enable el-Sisi to stay in power until 2030.

      Given that he was re-elected president last year by 97 per cent of the vote – the remaining 3 per cent going to a last-minute candidate who did not campaign and enthusiastically supported el-Sisi – there is no doubt about the outcome of the poll.

      Fortunately, even hypocritical respect for democratic forms can backfire, as shown by recent events in Algeria. In February, it was announced that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, nominally in power for 20 years but apparently in a coma since 2014, would stand for a fifth term. This, like the Egyptian referendum, was an expression of contempt for any real popular mandate.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Millimeter-wave 5G will never scale beyond dense urban areas, T-Mobile says

      5G networks will use both low and high frequencies, but they’re supposed to offer their highest speeds on millimeter waves. Millimeter-wave spectrum is usually defined to include frequencies between 30GHz and 300GHz. But in the context of 5G, carriers and regulators have generally targeted frequencies between 24GHz and 90GHz. T-Mobile’s high-frequency spectrum includes licenses in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands.

      Millimeter waves generally haven’t been used in cellular networks because they don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls and other obstacles. This has led us to wonder how extensive higher-speed 5G deployments will be outside major cities, and now T-Mobile’s top technology official is saying explicitly that millimeter-wave 5G deployments will just be for “small pockets” of highly populated areas.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Texas cancer center ousts 3 over Chinese data theft concerns [iophk: "fails to mention patents, trademarks, or copyright by name"]

      The dismissals come amid heightened concern in Washington, D.C., that foreign governments including China have been using students and visiting scholars to pilfer intellectual property [sic] from confidential grant applications.

    • MD Anderson ousts 3 scientists over concerns about Chinese conflicts of interest

      The departures are the first to become known since Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, told a Senate panel earlier this month to expect related firings at institutions across the country soon. The panel and others in Congress have raised concerns about foreign theft of intellectual property [sic] at academic institutions.

    • Three Researchers Ousted from MD Anderson

      The NIH sent the letters to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in August 2018, reports the Chronicle. This was in parallel with a larger effort by NIH’s director, Francis Collins, who sent letters to over 10,000 institutions to warn against foreign nationals stealing intellectual property [sic] in “systematic” efforts, according to Science. Documents revealed that MD Anderson has been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate security issues for several years.

    • New PatentlyO Law Journal Essay: Is There Any Need to Resort to a § 101 Exception for Prior Art Ideas?

      In the wake of Alice, many observers have suggested that the implicit judicial exception to 35 U.S.C. § 101 for abstract ideas is now sometimes being used as a judicial or administrative shortcut to invalidate or reject claims that should properly be addressed under 35 U.S.C. § 103. This article notes that “the concern that drives this exclusionary principle [is] one of pre-emption,” and queries whether, given the Supreme Court’s “standard approach of construing a statutory exception narrowly to preserve the primary operation of the general rule,” the implicit statutory exception to 35 U.S.C. § 101 for abstract ideas should be narrowly construed to not apply for prior art ideas because 35 U.S.C. § 103 already ensures that claims do not “’disproportionately t[ie] up the use of [] underlying’ [prior art] ideas.”

    • The Cost of Novelty

      Patent law tries to spur the development of new, better, innovative technology. But it focuses much more on “new” than “better” — and it turns out that “new” carries real social costs. I argue that patent law promotes innovation that diverges from existing technology, either a little (what I call “differentiating innovation”) or a lot (“exploring innovation”), at the expense of innovation that tells us more about existing technology (“deepening innovation”). Patent law’s focus on newness is unsurprising, and fits within a well-told narrative of innovative diversity accompanied by market selection of the best technologies. Unfortunately, innovative diversity brings not only the potential benefits of technological advances, but also costs: incompatibility between different technologies; a spread-out, shallow pool of knowledge; and the underlying costs of developing parallel technologies that aren’t actually better. These costs matter.

      Biomedical innovation illustrates the high costs of divergence. Although pharmaceuticals are touted as a poster child for patents, the world is rife with me-too drugs that drive up costs with little to show. Biomedical innovation often suffers from a particular trap: Patent incentives push innovators toward “new,” but incentives from Food and Drug Administration approval and insurer reimbursement push innovators toward “not too new,” because products that are very different are harder to get approved and reimbursed. And in this space, artificially constricted markets do a poor job of selecting better technologies. The result is a proliferation of technologies that are “new for the sake of new,” giving us the costs of divergence without much in the way of benefits.

    • In-Text Patent Citations: A User’s Guide

      We introduce, validate, and provide a public database of a new measure of the knowledge inventors draw on: scientific references in patent specifications. These references are common and algorithmically extractable. Critically, they are very different from the “front page” prior art commonly used to proxy for inventor knowledge. Only 24% of front page citations to academic articles are in the patent text, and 31% of in-text citations are on the front page. We explain these differences by describing the legal rules and practice governing citation. Empirical validations suggest that in-text citations appear to more accurately measure real knowledge flows, consistent with their legal role.

    • AI & IP: Innovation & Creativity in an Age of Accelerated Change

      From a glimmer in the eye of a Victorian woman ahead of her time, AI has become a cornerstone of innovation that will be the defining technology of our time. Around 2016, the convergence of computing power, funding, data, and open-source platforms tipped us into an AI-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution. AI can make a difference in accelerating disruptive innovation by bringing a data-driven approach to invention and creation. To do so, the law must embrace change and innovation as an imperative in a journey towards an ever-shifting horizon. AI both enables and challenges how we reward individuals whose ingenuity, industry, and determination overcame the frailty of the human condition to offer us inventions that make our lives more efficient and pleasurable. It will take a clear-eyed view to ensure that copyright and patent laws do not impede the very progress they were designed to promote.

    • Intellectual Property Disputes Threaten To Spread To New Venue

      The overwhelming majority of patents end up being literally worthless– creative dead ends or slight improvements on an existing patent that end up not worth commercializing. Most of these quietly wither away, unseen by anyone else.

    • IP plays a role in decolonising cultural heritage: over 100 experts warn France

      The Report’s absence of discussion on intellectual property rights is particularly problematic, because its authors recommend the systematic digitization of all objects returned and a “radical practice of sharing” allowing the free and open access of these images. Over 100 heritage and intellectual property specialists warned the French Government of this problem, in a written response to the Restitution Report submitted to the Ministry of Culture on 25 March 2019.

      Co-written by this Kat and Dr Andrea Wallace (University of Exeter), the response challenges the Restitution Report for its recommendation on systematic digitization, open access requirements and intellectual property rights. Put simply, the response stresses that if the French government recognizes that African cultural heritage is not theirs to keep, it should not be theirs to digitize and make available in open access either. Those decisions rest with the communities of origin, otherwise restitution and decolonisation cannot be fully achieved.

    • United Cannabis Corp. v. Pure Hemp Collective Inc. (D. Colo. 2019)

      Last week, in United Cannabis Corp. v. Pure Hemp Collective Inc., District Judge William J. Martinez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado issued an order denying a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Defendant Pure Hemp Collective Inc., finding that Pure Hemp was not entitled to summary judgment on the record. Pure Hemp had filed an Early Motion for Partial Summary Judgement, arguing that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 9,730,911, which is owned by United Cannabis Corp. (“UCANN”), were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 (claims 10, 12, 14, 20–22, 25, 27, 28, 31, and 33 of the ’911 patent) or 35 U.S.C. § 112(e) (claim 31).

      UCANN had initiated the dispute between the parties by filing a complaint against Pure Hemp for infringement of claims 10, 12, 14, 20–22, 25, 27, 28, 31, and 33 of the ’911 patent. Pure Hemp responded by filing its motion for partial summary judgment, contending that all of the asserted claims were invalid.

    • Trademarks

      • The boot is on the other foot: French Supreme Court reconsiders the notion of informed user

        This dispute was all about shoes! It included both design infringement and unfair competition but this post focuses on the design issues only.

        The case was brought by Einstein Shoes BV, the holder of three Community designs covering footwear soles and Ferro Footwear BV, its exclusive licensee against Chaussea, a French shoe retailer. Chaussea added its supplier to the proceedings and brought a counterclaim arguing that the Community designs should be cancelled due to lack of novelty and individual character.

    • Copyrights

      • Werner Herzog: ‘Piracy Has Been The Most Successful Form of Distribution Worldwide’

        Always tuned-in to the true nature and potential of technology, the influential film director Werner Herzog supports cinephiles who want to pirate his films.

        Herzog shared his thoughts about piracy on Tuesday during the Visions in Nyon film festival in Switzerland. According to the Independent, after Ukraine producer Illia Gladshtein told Herzog he could only find the director’s film on illegal torrent sites, Herzog responded saying, “Piracy has been the most successful form of distribution worldwide.”

        The German director, who was at the festival to receive the Maitre du Réel lifetime achievement said he preferred when people paid him for his films but if someone can’t find his work on “Netflix or state-sponsored television, then you go and access it as a pirate.”

        Herzog, who has directed more than 60 films added, “If someone like you steals my films through the internet or whatever, fine, you have my blessing.”

        Research suggests that piracy may not be an issue for film sales. In 2015, a Dutch firm submitted a 304-page report to the European Commission that found there is no evidence that piracy hurts sales (the EU seemed to suppress the results of the study, despite paying about $428,000 for it). And another study by the University of Houston and Western University published in January even suggests that piracy can be beneficial for artists. It found that movies that are leaked online when the movie is still showing in theaters can stir buzz and increase box-office revenue.

      • Werner Herzog Joins Plenty Of Other Artists In Recognizing Piracy Isn’t The Problem

        It’s getting a bit silly to have to keep pointing this out, but contrary to the popular narrative, there are tons of artists who not only recognize that the narrative that “piracy is the problem” is false, but many who recognize that piracy actually has its advantages. And, now, apparently, we can add esteemed film director Werner Herzog to that list.

      • ACE Sees “Piracy Reduction” Efforts Pay Off, But Work is Not Done Yet

        The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the global anti-piracy coalition which includes the major Hollywood studios, plus Netflix, Amazon and others, is keeping the pressure on. The group recently managed to shut down another group of Kodi add-ons and builds. According to ACE, this is part of a broader “piracy reduction plan,” which is starting to pay off.

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    A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi



  18. EPO Had a Leakage Problem and Privacy of Stakeholders Was Compromised, Affecting at Least 100 Cases

    The confidentiality principle was compromised at the EPO and stakeholders weren't told about it (there was a coverup)



  19. Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

    Links for the day



  20. False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

    Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions



  21. The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

    The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)



  22. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

    An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO



  23. Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

    Links for the day



  24. Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

    Links for the day



  25. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 1: Urgent Shitstorm Alert

    Experts at the European Patent Office's (EPO) weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon



  26. Patents That Were Gleefully Granted by the EPO Continue to Perish in Courts

    The decreasing quality of granted European Patents already becomes a growing problem if not a crisis of uncertainty



  27. Links 13/5/2019: ExTiX 19.5 and GNU Radio Conference 2019

    Links for the day



  28. The Microsoft Guide to the Open Source Galaxy

    Thou shalt not...



  29. Microsoft Would Kill the Goose for Money

    Microsoft is just 'monetising' Open Source by using it as 'bait' for Microsoft's proprietary software; those who we might expect to antagonise this have effectively been bribed by Microsoft



  30. Links 13/5/2019: Nanonote 1.2.0, OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 RC, and GNUnet 0.11.4

    Links for the day


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