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Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue Their Patent War, Including the War on Linux

Posted in Asia, Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 2:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s “truce” as long as Microsoft receives billions of dollars from its rivals for its “Linux patents”

A happy piranha

Summary: Microsoft is still preying on GNU/Linux using patents, notably software patents; it wants billions of dollars served on a silver platter in spite of claims that it reached a “truce” by joining the Open Invention Network and joining the LOT Network

THE parasites and predators are still at it. They’re exploiting software patents wrongly granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and they go after Microsoft’s rivals.

“Microsoft and Bill Gates are culpable as Intellectual Ventures effectively came from them and was bankrolled by them.”Days ago we saw the Intellectual Ventures-armed Dominion Harbor losing yet again. As it turned out, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) helped squash fake patents of this Microsoft-connected patent troll, owing to an inter partes review (IPR) which came from Unified Patents. In their own words (from Friday):

On March 13, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. First Class Monitoring, LLC IPR2017-01932 invalidating claims 1-5, 7, 9, 10 and 16-22 of U.S. Patent 6,014,089 owned and asserted by First Class Monitoring, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and a well-known NPE. The ’089 patent, directed to transmitting data via conventional SMS messages over a control channel of a personal communications system transmission protocol, has been asserted against various financial services companies such as Citigroup, Bank of America, USAA, JP Morgan, and PNC.

Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures, as it turns out yet again, is still engaging in blackmail in Eastern Texas. Even directly (not the likes of Dominion Harbor). As per the media (also Friday):

A jury in a federal district court in Texas has awarded a patent firm $1.5 million in a dispute with an Old Republic International Corp. unit in a patent infringement case.

The Tyler, Texas, jury on Wednesday decided in favor of Bellevue, Washington-based Intellectual Ventures II LLC, which buys, licenses and develops patents, in its dispute with Old Republic unit Sioux City, Nebraska-based Great West Casualty Co. in Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. Great West Casualty Co.

According to the January 2015 complaint in the case, Great West infringed one of Intellectual Ventures’ patents in connection with its online services and other systems.

Microsoft and Bill Gates are culpable as Intellectual Ventures effectively came from them and was bankrolled by them. To whose benefit?

“It seems clear that Microsoft has not changed. It was all PR, just smoke and mirrors for the cameras.”The Eastern District of Texas is also leveraged yet again against Taiwanese companies. Also from Texas: “Taiwanese Manufacturer of Smartphones Subject to Personal Jurisdiction in Texas in Patent Infringement Case Because of its Allegedly Purposeful Efforts to Serve the US Market Even Though all US Distribution was Orchestrated Independently…”

We already noted the other day that Microsoft goes after another Taiwanese company and it’s about a deal they signed 6 years ago, involving patents Microsoft claims Android and Chrome OS (GNU/Linux) to have infringed. It is starting to seem rather clear that Microsoft joined OIN only after extorting the lion’s share of OEMs that ship Linux-powered products. If they stop paying, Microsoft will sue them. Some “truce”, eh? Here is what Bloomberg wrote about this Microsoft patent extortion as recently as yesterday:

A lot has changed at Microsoft Corp. in the five years since Satya Nadella took over as chief executive officer. But sometimes the past comes roaring back, this time in the form of a patent suit that has gotten nasty.

Microsoft last week sued Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. for failing to pay royalties on intellectual property owned by Microsoft as part of a 2013 deal. Microsoft says Hon Hai, which is also known as Foxconn Technology Group, owes it missed payments and interest. In its filing with a California court, Microsoft alleges that for the past three years, Hon Hai hasn’t submitted the royalty reports required by the 2013 agreement and has refused to submit to an independent audit, which the agreement stipulated in the event of a dispute.

Foxconn’s billionaire chairman Terry Gou earlier this week accused Microsoft of a personal attack on him and his company, terming it a “wrongful” attempt to extract royalties on Android mobile operating software. While Hon Hai is the party named in the lawsuit, Hon Hai only makes iOS devices, and it is Foxconn’s Hong Kong-listed unit FIH Mobile Ltd. that makes Android phones for Huawei Technologies Co., Xiaomi Corp. and other vendors, according to Gou and FIH CEO Calvin Chih.

The amount in question is not significant, according to a person familiar with the dispute who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. But neither side wants to back down. Gou doesn’t want to pay and Microsoft wants to make a point that a deal is a deal.

So Satya Nadella is just another Steve Ballmer. His mask keeps falling off. There have been a lot more articles about this (we mentioned only a few of the earlier ones), including “Foxconn CEO: Microsoft’s real target is Huawei” (from the patent trolls’ lobby), “Foxconn lashes out at Microsoft over royalties” (Asian media), “Foxconn rejects Microsoft patent lawsuit” (British media) and “Foxconn rejected patent infringement lawsuit by Microsoft”. Here’s the side of the story which Western media does not like to tell, preceded by Microsoft’s usual nonsense:

Microsoft, in its statement, said that it had signed a contract with the Foxconn’s parent company Hon Hai in 2013 and the lawsuit is relevant to the audit and royalty reporting terms of that contract.

As Microsoft take serious approach towards fulfillment of its contractual obligations, so it also expects other companies to be following their contractual commitments seriously too; and Microsoft is working to resolve the disagreement with Hon Hai because of the importance of relationship with the company, Microsoft said in a statement.

Foxconn was previously operating as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, and got the global attention after starting assembling iPhones for Apple.


At the news conference Gou said that Software companies not to bully the manufacturers, and questioned in a Facebook post earlier on Tuesday, why they would not claim from software using vendors to pay for patent royalties.

This is about software patents and about Linux-based operating systems. It seems clear that Microsoft has not changed. It was all PR, just smoke and mirrors for the cameras.

Director Iancu Generally Viewed as a Lapdog of Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Patents at 2:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A funny dog

Summary: As Director of the Office, Mr. Iancu, a Trump appointee, not only fails to curb patent trolls; he actively defends them and he lowers barriers in order to better equip them with bogus patents that courts would reject (if the targets of extortion could afford a day in court)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is run by a patent maximalist. It’s not entirely new/s and more people/groups speak about it.

Being a patent maximalist, he opposes Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which generally reduce the number of patents and may, in turn, impact confidence in US patents. He also dislikes most Federal Circuit decisions, hence he chooses to ignore these. He does not like 35 U.S.C. § 101 or Alice (SCOTUS), hence he attempts to rewrite the rules.

“Being a patent maximalist, he opposes Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which generally reduce the number of patents and may, in turn, impact confidence in US patents.”As if squashing bad patents (like software patents) is a bad thing, IAM has just published this inane tweet about PTAB and the USPTO amplified the latest nonsense from its Director, Mr. Iancu. Well, Iancu used to work for patent trolls (and his firm had worked for Trump also… before he got this USPTO job from Trump), so why should we not expect this attitude? As quoted/paraphrased here, Iancu said: “We should focus on addressing areas of patent abuse, but it is counterproductive to use pejorative terms like ‘patent troll’ that paint with a broad brush.”

“Yes, we wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of people who extort money with bogus patents that should never have been granted,” Professor James Bessen wrote about patent trolls, alluding to the above. Bessen had spent years of his career conducting studies on the economic impact of trolls before he wrote several high-profile articles on the subject. Bessen is highly regarded and is considered reliable, credible.

“Iancu is, to them, like an insider or a “mole”. He’s also a proponent of software patents (and has been for a long time).”Nothing (none of the above) surprises us. We foresaw this all along, even before Iancu got the job. Patent trolls are loving it. Iancu is, to them, like an insider or a “mole”. He’s also a proponent of software patents (and has been for a long time).

We kindly take note of this new article from Anders Fernstrom and Christopher Hutter (Cooley LLP, representative of many patent trolls), which uses the term “Computer-Related Patents” and says that Iancu’s “USPTO Revised Patent Eligibility Guidelines Significantly Eases Path to Obtaining” them. They’re missing the point, perhaps intentionally, that actual patent courts would reject virtually all of these patents. So the USPTO is handing out duds — worthless patents that only have use outside the courts, e.g. in the hands of trolls who engage in extortion campaigns against small businesses.

“The truth of the matter is, what we saw at the EPO now happens at the USPTO. Judges are being ignored and besieged for the Office to just grant lots of bogus patents that mostly trolls can exploit (outside courts).”Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz’s Caleb Pollack and Nathan D. Renov have also just published “USPTO’S Revised Software Eligibility Guidelines Give Applicants Hope and Examiners More Ability to Allow Applications” (which courts, once again, will reject).

Days ago we noticed this ‘ad’ from Knobbe Martens, a litigation giant, disguised as an ‘article’. It said “Strategies for Obtaining Patents on AI Inventions in the U.S. and Europe” (they’re calling software patents “AI”; they’re bunk, void and invalid both in Europe and the US).

“At the end of the day, the trolls’ lobby seems very much eager to lower patent quality; Iancu is 100% with them.”The truth of the matter is, what we saw at the EPO now happens at the USPTO. Judges are being ignored and besieged for the Office to just grant lots of bogus patents that mostly trolls can exploit (outside courts).

The patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, has just published this article about “new research” (possibly from Koch-funded 'scholars' who push the Koch's patent agenda). Behind IAM’s paywall: “Academic calls for Congress to act on 101 “to restore investor confidence” with private equity and VC players clear that doubts over patentability…”

We can imagine which scholars those are, but the paywall makes it hard to be sure. At the end of the day, the trolls’ lobby seems very much eager to lower patent quality; Iancu is 100% with them.


Links 17/3/2019: Google Console and IBM-Red Hat Merger Delay?

Posted in News Roundup at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Proposing a ‘Declaration of Digital Independence’

    THIS MESSAGE IS mainly for the leaders and enthusiasts of the broad-based movement toward decentralizing content, but especially social media. I’m not trying to start a new project or organization—after all, decentralization is what I am encouraging. I’m partly trying to start a conversation among individuals, to get them thinking and talking—but on a massive scale. But I’m also trying to inspire people to action, to come together and go the last mile to achieving robust and extremely widespread decentralization.

  • How To Get Started on Mastodon and Leave Twitter Behind

    Close your Twitter account, delete your old Tweets, pack your bags, and head over to Mastodon’s wild world of federated microblogging.

  • [SUSE:] Why the future of IT transformation is open source

    For many organisations, undergoing IT transformation means re-investigating and overhauling existing information technology to support various new technological aspects of the organisation such as digital transformation and changes in IT infrastructure. Today, open source technologies are providing viable, cost efficient and leading-edge solutions, with more organisations and businesses adopting open source to support their IT transformation goals.


    Research by SUSE found that 95 percent of IT leaders believe SDI is the future for the data centre. Businesses that are focused on the future of their organisations and transformation strategies
    will need to address a multifaceted IT world which encompasses traditional data centres, SDI and cloud environments.

  • The secret sauce behind smart city efforts

    Why should technology be open source? Why is open source important?

    DP: Open source technology is developed by a community of developers, and benefits from collaborations among highly-skilled talents and professionals to facilitate more, and better ideas. More importantly, open source isn’t a company or a product. It’s a methodology that ensures greater innovation and collaboration.

    Today, open source is the preferred choice for organizations that want to become more agile and flexible. It offers a wide range of benefits, from improved security to freedom from vendor lock-in. Industries across the spectrum in the region – even those traditionally regarded as being very private and guarded such as the public sector and financial services – are now embracing open source approaches to realize innovation and drive transformation. Beyond its positive impacts on business, open source innovation has also led to greater citizen participation and contribution in government initiatives around the world. Open source methodologies have the potential to fundamentally transform how countries are run, and at the same, enrich the lives of citizens in so many ways, technologically and culturally.

  • How PC/GEOS found a 5th life as an open source DOS shell

    For those who cut their teeth on computers like the Apple II and Commodore 64, GEOS brought a Mac-like GUI to comparatively lower-powered, 8-bit home computers. The team behind GEOS developed GeoWorks for PC in 1990. GeoWorks was also the basis of America Online for DOS. Substantial amounts of GeoWorks were written in fine-tuned x86 Assembly, making it decently more performant on Intel 386-based computers than Windows 3.0, which was released the same year. This high performance in constrained environments gave GeoWorks a protracted lifespan.

  • MyEtherWallet launches an open-source blockchain explorer to promote innovation
  • MyEtherWallet (MEW) Launches Open Source ETH Blockchain Explorer on Testnet

    Popular Ethereum wallet service MyEtherWallet (MEW) has launched an open-source blockchain explorer named EthVM (virtual machine) on the Ropsten testnet. EthVM will compete directly with leading Ethereum block explorer Etherscan.io.

    According to a press release published on Monday, March 11th, MEW seeks to offer a comprehensive solution to Ethereum developers while at the same time designed to provide a seamless and simple interface for blockchain users (especially beginners).

  • Launches Open Source Blockchain Explorer for Ethereum
  • MyEtherWallet Launches New Open Source Ethereum Blockchain Explorer
  • Neha Narkhede: Open Source Isn’t A Business Model, It’s A Distribution Strategy [Ed: It's neither. It's about the software licence.]
  • A software market prediction: it’s all about open source

    Over the course of 2019, the big battleground in the software market is going to be around open source and specifically around how it’s used.

    “You’re starting to see the battle lines drawn up between the Mongos, the AWSs and Redis,” confirms Jim Rose, CEO at CircleCI.

    At the moment, you have these open source communities/companies that have built very valuable software that is “being taken off the shelf “and implemented for money by all of the cloud vendors.

  • The Year of Open RAN

    Mobile operators are seeking to transform their networks to keep up with the demands of Industry 4.0 – as wireless connectivity requirements evolve from connected devices to connected everything – people, places, and things. Navigating the open source landscape can be a challenge as there are a number of open ecosystems that have emerged to help define how next-generation networks will be built to support 50+ billion connected devices and new 5G services and applications.

  • Cincinnati Bell division CBTS bows new open source reference architecture


    CBTS is putting elements of the Open Networking Foundation’s SEBA reference design into play with a new reference architecture called COI.


    “One of the things is that R-CORD has been tough for the carriers to do themselves,” said Lee Doyle, principal analyst of Doyle Research, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “They’re (CBTS) trying to jump on a new market opportunity and we’ll see if there’s a substantial market for that or not.

    “The market is extremely nascent right now. There are a lot of people who are trialing R-CORD, but we’ve all seen that before with NFV. Just because you’re trialing it doesn’t mean you’re using it.”

  • Events

    • OpenStack Foundation Announces First Open Infrastructure Summit in…

      The 20th Open Infrastructure Summit—formerly known as the OpenStack Summit—is headed to the Shanghai Expo Center the week of November 4, 2019. China is the one of the largest markets for OpenStack based on the number and scale of users—including China Mobile, China UnionPay, China Railway, the State Grid Corporation of China—and developers who contribute to the open source software project. Contributors and users from 30 open infrastructure projects will attend and speak at the event.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Vivaldi vs. Firefox: A user’s perspective

        However, it has yet to win over the spot as my default browser. For that, I rely on Firefox. But why? I decided to use both browsers side-by-side for a few weeks to find out what it is about Vivaldi that prevents me from making the switch on a permanent basis. The end results, surprisingly, had me even more confused as to which I should be running (I’ll confess what tipped the scales in a moment.).


        At this point, Vivaldi does a good job of mimicking the efficiency of Firefox. There’s little more customization to be done. And yet, Firefox is still my default. Why? What is it about Firefox that makes me select it over Vivaldi? Unfortunately, the answer lies in one particular aspect that is not likely to change.

        You see, as an advocate of open source software, with all things being equal I will always go with the open source option. Now, if Vivaldi had the upper hand over Firefox with a particular feature or usability that I couldn’t get with the open source equivalent, I’d happily set Vivaldi as my default (as I’m not a purist). But until said time, the open-source browser remains as my default.

        What does that say? Simple. With a few quick tweaks, Vivaldi is as efficient and solid a browser as Firefox. Outside of being open source, there is nothing Firefox can do that Vivaldi cannot mimic. Truth be told, if we’re looking at a feature-for-feature comparison, Vivaldi easily comes out on top.

        Now, if Vivaldi were to shift to an open source license, I’d kick Firefox off that “Default” curb and go about my day, humming Spring’s melody. Until then, Vivaldi will only come out to play for testing, or when Firefox Nightly (which is the version I use at the moment) has problems with a particular site.

      • Cameron Kaiser: TenFourFox FPR13 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 13 final is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). I added Olga’s minimp3 patch for correctness; otherwise, there are no additional changes except for several security updates and to refresh the certificate and TLD stores. As usual it will go live Monday evening Pacific time assuming no difficulties.

        I have three main updates in mind for TenFourFox FPR14: expanding FPR13′s new AppleScript support to allow injecting JavaScript into pages (so that you can drive a web page by manipulating the DOM elements within it instead of having to rely on screen coordinates and sending UI events), adding Olga’s ffmpeg framework to enable H.264 video support with a sidecar library (see the previous post for details on the scheme), and a possible solution to allow JavaScript async functions which actually might fix quite a number of presently non-working sites.

  • Databases

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Well, it’s been a while – falling in love with OpenBSD again

      When the Mac laptop came out without an ESC key (it was on this gimmicky little one row display at the top of the keyboard that could be reconfigured based on your application), as a long-time VI user (the commands are programmed into my spinal cord, I really have no choice now) I was disgusted. That forced me to recognize that I wasn’t Apple’s target market. They wanted average computer users who didn’t care if they were on the latest and greatest chipset and they were getting more and more closed and “un-upgradeable” every day.

    • EuroBSDcon 2019: Lillehammer, Norway

      The Call for Talk and presentation proposals for EuroBSDCon 2019 is now

      EuroBSDcon is the European technical conference for users and developers
      of BSD-based systems. The conference will take place September 19-22
      2019 in Lillehammer, Norway. The tutorials will be held on Thursday and
      Friday to registered participants and the talks are presented to
      conference attendees on Saturday and Sunday.

      The Call for Talk and Presentation proposals period will close on May
      26th, 2019. Prospective speakers will be notified of accepteance or
      otherwise by June 3rd, 2019.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Stop Child Abuse Before it Happens with New Open Source Geospatial Machine Learning Tools
    • Orchestra | An Open-Source Robotic Process Automation System

      Orchestra is an open source workflow management system that uses the Robotics Process Automation to support teams and improve how people do analytical and creative work. By having the machines do repetitive parts of a project, developers can spend much more time working on some of the more engaging tasks.

    • Open Data

      • Open data needed to address agriculture’s problems
      • Exclusive: Meet the UK’s ‘Data Diplomat’

        “It’s not about what data can do for diplomacy. It is how diplomacy can possibly remain relevant unless we embrace data.”

        So says Graham Nelson, the founder of the UK Foreign Office’s Open Source Unit (OSU). He is fresh from delivering a seminar on data-driven policymaking at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

        It’s been a long day, but he becomes visibly more animated when talking about his work: helping governments around the world use data to solve their most defining challenges. “I am really excited by the potential for data to do so much good,” says the mathematician-turned-diplomat. He shares how data is an indispensable tool for governments today, and how it can help agencies examine the impact they are really making.


        It certainly helps that governments today “have got much better access to commercial satellite data and meteorological data than we would have had before”. “There are some really easy ways that countries thinking about setting up on this journey of using data can start,” Nelson points out.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Healthcare Design Studio Releases Repo of Free, Open Source Visualizations

        GoInvo, a digital health design consultancy headquartered in Arlington, Massachusetts, today announced the release of a repo featuring over 20 open source health visualizations and graphics (https://www.goinvo.com/vision/health-visualizations) available to all for use or modification, under a Creative Commons Attribution v3 license or MIT license.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • HiFive1 Rev B wireless open source RISC-V development platform

        A new version of the HiFive1 wireless development platform has been rolled out via Crowd Supply this month announcing that the latest HiFive1 Rev B by SiFive is now powered by the FE310-G002 and offers wireless connectivity via the on-board Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. Priced at just $49 the HiFive1 Rev B development board is now available to preorder and will start shipping during the middle of next month April 2019. The price includes free shipping throughout the United States and worldwide shipping is available for an additional $12.

        “The FE310 is the first open source, commercially available RISC-V SoC. SiFive has contributed the FE310 RTL code to the open source community. Now you can see what’s inside the chip. The USB debugger has been upgraded to Segger J-Link, with support for drag & drop code download. In favor of driving GPIO directly from the FE310, the HiFive1 Rev B supports 3.3 V I/O only.”

  • Programming/Development

    • Open source JTAG switcher improves multi-processor designs

      Debug tools supplier Lauterbach has released its JTAG Switcher VHDL source code into the public domain under the MIT Open Source License…

    • 5 Best Open Source IDEs for Java Programming Language

      Whether you are an experienced Java programmer or you are just getting into the game, you will definitely use an Integrated development environment (IDE). A Java IDE is software that houses all the necessary tools, libraries and other resources that are needed for Java programming.

    • 11 Free Resources For Learning C/C++ Programming

      C/C++ has been declared “dead” a million times over the years as Java and Python continue to grow in popularity, but still the language persists. It is one of the most widely used programming languages in most technical fields, powering backend systems that these other languages run on the front end and is also embedded into the programming of just about every machine and electronic device out there. Whether it’s engineering, high-end game programming, or robotics, C/C++ is a must, which is why we compiled 11 free resources for learning C/C++ programming to help you get started.

    • CIDLib C++ dev tool goes open source

      CIDLib, a general-purpose C++ development environment, is now open source. Note that it does use some third-party code, including a version of the Scintilla engine as the CML language source editor and parts of the standard JPEG libraries to provide JPEG file format support.

      CDLib is not based on standard C++/STL libraries but has a far lighter use of templates than what has been commonplace, making it more debuggable, developer Dean Roddey said.

    • SAP Open Sources Java SCA Tool
    • 5 Best Open Source IDEs For Python Developers

      Python is one of the best future-oriented programming languages out there. All thanks to its versatility and large developer community. Python allows you to solve complex problems in fewer lines of code. Either you want to make a career in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or Data Science, you will always see python developers are being preferred over others.

      However, all these things are next to impossible in lack of a good Integrated Development Environment or IDE. If you are from a programming background, you definitely know how important it is to choose the right IDE. It doesn’t only enable you to write code faster but also helps in debugging. Today, I will share some best IDEs for Python developers that you can use to make your job simpler and easier.

    • Further modifying the Bollinger Bands features
    • ut the power bar on the game scene
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxix) stackoverflow python report


  • The German capital wants drivers to stop killing cyclists

    Berlin’s population is growing and the economy is doing well. More workers mean that once-quiet streets are getting congested. Rising rents are pushing residents out of the centre, increasing the number of car-commuters and making trains and buses more crowded. More Berliners would no doubt like to get out and feel the breeze in their hair—if they were less worried about being mown down by motorists.

  • Science

    • Going Dark to Reconnect to the Night Sky

      Light pollution has raised increasing alarm in recent years. Research estimates that 99 percent of Americans live within its glare, and that 80 percent of us no longer experience the once-common view of the Milky Way. Health experts point out that excessive exposure to artificial lighting also disrupts the human circadian rhythm, increasing our susceptibility to obesity, depression, dementia, cancer, and other health problems.

    • Who invented the dishwasher, windshield wiper, caller ID? Women created these 50 inventions.

      On May 5, 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman to receive a patent in the United States. (It was for her technique of weaving straw with silk.)

      Of course, women inventors existed before this time, but the property laws in many states made it illegal for women to own property on their own. This led some women to apply for patents in their husbands’ names if they decided to apply at all.

      As of last year, only 10 percent of U.S. patent holders were women, although women account for half of doctoral degrees in science and engineering. This disparity is due in part to the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office being more likely to reject patents with women as sole applicants.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • U.S. Hospitals And Insurers Might Be Forced To Reveal The True Prices They Negotiate

      Almost 60 percent of people with employer-sponsored health insurance carry plans with deductibles of more than $1,000. That means more people are exposed to high health care charges for hospital visits. In addition, patients complain frequently of surprise bills they receive after a hospital stay. Those surprise bills often arise when a patient is treated by out-of-network doctors who happen to be working in hospitals that do participate in the patient’s insurance network.

      Congress is already considering bills to address such surprise billing practices.

      Nickels, the representative of the hospital association, says consumers have no need to see the prices insurance companies pay hospitals, just as they don’t need to see what a grocery store pays for cases of Coca-Cola.

    • It costs less than $60 to have a baby in Finland. How?

      Finland’s healthcare system has helped give it the lowest maternal death rate in the world — and it’s available to everyone for next to nothing.

    • Finnish Commercial Gardeners seek Legalization of Medicinal Cannabis to make Finland a Leading Cannabis Export Hub

      Finnish gardeners want to tap into this new export opportunity. The executive director at Market Garden Association Jyrki Jalkanen said that the export potential for this growing cannabis industry is worth billions of euros globally. He added that they want to explore whether commercial gardeners can tap into this huge export market.

    • Teen who got vaccinated against parents’ wishes testifying before Congress
    • Millions in Nigeria Lack Access to Clean Water

      According to aid agencies, 60 million Nigerians, or 33 percent of the population, do not have access to clean water.

      But water and environmental experts like Joseph Ibrahim say that figure may have been underestimated.

    • Long-Term Fate of Agent Orange and Dioxin TCDD Contaminated Soils and Sediments in Vietnam Hotspots

      The soils, tropical climate, and network of canals and rivers of southern Vietnam have created one of the most diverse tropical jungles and intensely cultivated landscapes of Southeast Asia. This paradise has a long history of numerous wars, foreign occupations, and most recently the Second Indochina War (aka the Vietnam War 1965-1972) which defoliated rain forests and ancient wetland mangroves and left behind contaminated soil and sediment hotspots. During this war, the United States (US) military sprayed 80 million liters of Agent Orange contaminated with the dioxin TCDD in a guerrilla war against communist insurgents.

    • Monsanto’s Roundup Weed Killer Found In Top Beer And Wind Brands

      PIRG tested five wines, 14 beers and one hard cider for the study. The wine brands were Barefoot, Beringer, Frey (organic), Inkarri Estates (organic), and Sutter Home. The beers tested were from Budweiser, Coors, Corona, Guinness, Heineken, Miller, Peak (organic), Sam Adams, Samuel Smith (organic), Sierra Nevada, Stella Artois, Tsingtao and New Belgium. Ace Perry Hard Cider was also tested.

      The study determined that popular beers like Coors, Budweiser, and Corona Extra contained an average of roughly 28 parts per billion (ppb). Tsingtao, the outlier, contained a whopping 49.7 ppb.

    • Microplastics Have Been Found in Our Deepest Ocean Animals

      Though the trenches ranged in location from Japanese to Chilean waters, all of them were within the “hadal zone,” meaning they were at least 6,000 meters under the sea. The study even includes amphipods collected at Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which is the lowest known point in the seabed at 10,890 meters below the ocean surface.

      Despite such remote habitats, Jamieson’s team found plastic and synthetic fibres such as nylon, polyethylene, and polyvinyl alcohol in the guts of most amphipods they examined. “Of the 90 individual amphipods examined, 65 individuals (approximately 72 percent) contained at least one microfibre or fragment,” the team concluded.


      “Once the microplastics enter the hadal food chain, there is a strong possibility that they will be locked into a perpetual cycle of trophic transfer,” the team cautioned.

    • A New FDA Commissioner Could Be a Disaster for Reproductive Rights

      It isn’t very often that we find ourselves saddened when a member of the Trump administration decides to resign. But when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb leaves his position, it could spell disaster for progressives — especially those who support reproductive rights.

      Unlike many of the government officials serving President Donald Trump, Gottlieb — while by no means a moderate — wasn’t totally unqualified for his job. And, even more importantly, he didn’t appear to be using his office to push forward the policies most important to zealous religious groups or letting his own personal dogma influence his work.

      In a Department of Health and Human Services full of far-right social conservative bigwigs, Gottlieb was surprisingly more interested in public health than pushing Christian dominionist ideology.

    • 5-pound bags of Pillsbury flour recalled

      Hometown Food Company has recalled certain Pillsbury Unbleached All-Purpose flour products which may be contaminated with salmonella.

    • Establishment Democrats Are Undermining Medicare for All

      The Democratic establishment — deep in the pockets of the health industry — wanted to make sure any blue wave election in 2018 would help sink, rather than support, the growing movement for a single-payer health care system. The recent decline in co-sponsors of the House Medicare for All legislation is, in part, a byproduct of this strategy and a reminder of the great obstacles corporate Democrats have put in front of the single-payer movement.

      In 2018, there were 124 cosponsors for the Medicare for All bill in the House (then H.R. 676), representing 66 percent of the Democratic Caucus. This was celebrated widely as a high-water mark for the legislation. So was the release of Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All bill in the Senate, which also got a record 16 co-sponsors, including prominent Democrats who are running for president.

      Given that the Democrats gained 35 seats in the 2018 midterm and Medicare for All has been polling extremely high among Democratic voters — a survey by Reuters from August 2018 showed around 85 percent of Democrats supported the policy — many were hopeful that the number of cosponsors would rise even higher in the current Congress.

      Despite this hope, when Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the new flagship Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384), the amount of co-sponsors decreased considerably to 106, down to 47 percent of the caucus. So why, if Democratic voters are moving left on health care, is this not reflected in Congress? Where did all the co-sponsors go?

    • Unsafe levels of lead found in drinking water around S.C. ‘There’s no accountability’

      Small South Carolina water systems struggle to decrease the amount of lead in locally piped tap water. More than 40 small water systems have exceeded the lead standard since 2011.

    • Michigan’s Lead in Drinking Water Protections Under Attack

      So, it is quite surprising that the Lead and Copper Rule is being challenged in court by Michigan water providers. Think about that: our lead in drinking water protections are being challenged by water system leaders who have seen the horrors of poisoned water in Flint and who know of ongoing lead releases in water systems throughout the state. Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan through the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Mayor Dennis Wright through the City of Livonia, and the southeast Michigan regional body known as the Great Lakes Water Authority have banded together to try to overturn the new rule in court.

      Although NRDC didn’t secure everything we were looking for in the updated Lead and Copper Rule, we strongly supported the new rule. That is why we filed a friend of the court brief challenging key points being put forth in the lawsuit. The full brief is available here but the main takeaways are:

    • New study finds pollution inequity among races

      Hispanics breathe in 63 percent more than the pollution than they make, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For African-Americans the figure is 56 percent. White Americans are exposed to 17 percent less air pollution than they make.

    • Air Pollution Is Killing Millions More People Than We Thought

      Deaths caused by air pollution appear to have overtaken those caused by smoking, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal. In 2015, air pollution was thought to be responsible for 8.79 million deaths, compared with the 7.2 million caused by tobacco smoking, the study—which focused on Europe—found.

      An additional 790,000 deaths in Europe were likely caused by air pollution, with between 40 to 80 percent of those associated with cardiovascular disease, according to the study. Fine particulate matter could be shaving 2.2 years off the life of the average European, likely due to a combination of densely populated areas and poor air quality, the authors of the study warned.

  • Security

    • DARPA Builds Open Source Voting System
    • DARPA Is Building a $10 Million, Open Source, Secure Voting System

      The system will be fully open source and designed with newly developed secure hardware to make the system not only impervious to certain kinds of [intrusion], but also allow voters to verify that their votes were recorded accurately.

    • DARPA Is Building an Open Source Voting Machine
    • DARPA is building a $10 Million open-source voting system
    • DARPA is trying to build an unhackable open source voting system
    • A new rash of highly covert card-skimming malware infects ecommerce sites

      Group-IB has dubbed the JavaScript sniffer GMO after the gmo[.]il domain it uses to send pilfered data from infected sites, all of which run the Magento e-commerce Web platform. The researchers said the domain was registered last May and that the malware has been active since then. To conceal itself, GMO compresses the skimmer into a tiny space that’s highly obfuscated and remains dormant when it detects the Firebug or Google Developer Tools running on a visitor’s computer. GMO was manually injected into all seven sites, an indication that it is still relatively fledgling.

    • Nasty WinRAR bug is being actively exploited to install hard-to-detect malware

      Nasty code-execution bug in WinRAR threatened millions of users for 14 years
      The flaw, disclosed last month by Check Point Research, garnered instant mass attention because it made it possible for attackers to surreptitiously install persistent malicious applications when a target opened a compressed ZIP file using any version of WinRAR released over the past 19 years. The absolute path traversal made it possible for archive files to extract to the Windows startup folder (or any other folder of the archive creator’s choosing) without generating a warning. From there, malicious payloads would automatically be run the next time the computer rebooted.

    • How a wireless keyboard lets [intruders] take full control of connected computers

      The attacks can be carried out by anyone who is within range of an affected keyboard set and takes the time to build the hardware that exploits the replay and injection flaws. Normally, that distance is about 30 feet, but the use of special antennas could extend that range. That leaves open the possibility of attacks from hackers in nearby offices or homes.

      Friday’s SySS advisory said that there is currently no known fix for the vulnerabilities. It said company researchers privately reported the vulnerability to Fujitsu. The disclosure timeline is: [...]

    • Security researchers reveal defects that allow wireless hijacking of giant construction cranes, scrapers and excavators

      Using software-defined radios, researchers from Trend Micro were able to reverse-engineer the commands used to control massive industrial machines, including cranes, excavators and scrapers; most of these commands were unencrypted, but even the encrypted systems were vulnerable to “replay attacks” that allowed the researchers to bypass the encryption.

    • [Older] Attacks Against Industrial Machines via Vulnerable Radio Remote Controllers: Security Analysis and Recommendations

      In our research and vulnerability discoveries, we found that weaknesses in the controllers can be (easily) taken advantage of to move full-sized machines such as cranes used in construction sites and factories. In the different attack classes that we’ve outlined, we were able to perform the attacks quickly and even switch on the controlled machine despite an operator’s having issued an emergency stop (e-stop).

      The core of the problem lies in how, instead of depending on wireless, standard technologies, these industrial remote controllers rely on proprietary RF protocols, which are decades old and are primarily focused on safety at the expense of security. It wasn’t until the arrival of Industry 4.0, as well as the continuing adoption of the industrial internet of things (IIoT), that industries began to acknowledge the pressing need for security.

    • How Ethereum Applications Earn A+ Security Ratings

      More than 1.2 million ethereum applications have used a little-known security tool to help them avoid the costly errors arising from self-executing lines of code known as smart contracts.

      Launched by ethereum technology startup Amberdata back in October, the free tool is available for anyone in the general public to interpret the security of active applications on the ethereum blockchain. Smart contracts with bugs that have been exploited have led to huge losses, even to the tune of hundreds of millions.

      The automated service scans for common vulnerabilities found in smart contract code and generates a letter grade rating (e.g. A, B, or C) for the security of a decentralized application (dapp).

      The feature is one of the many tools encouraging best practice and increased transparency between dapp developers and end-users in the ethereum ecosystem.

    • How to protect your router

      Currently, there are a variety of open source and OpenVPN capable routers to choose from, but the most popular models are the Linksys AC3200 and the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900.

    • Fighting Crypto Hacks: Company Tackles Security Issues in Ethereum Smart Contracts

      A decentralized, open-source crypto platform based on the Ethereum protocol named Callisto Network offers users free-of-charge smart contract security audits. The company wants to support them in the battle against cyber criminals and help developers solve security issues in Ethereum codes.

    • Just Android things: 150m phones, gadgets installed ‘adware-ridden’ mobe simulator games

      Android adware found its way into as many as 150 million devices – after it was stashed inside a large number of those bizarre viral mundane job simulation games, we’re told.

      The so-called Simbad malware was built into mobile gaming titles such as Real Tractor Farming Simulator, Heavy Mountain Bus Simulator 2018, and Snow Heavy Excavator Simulator, according to infosec research biz Check Point today.

    • Google sinks more than 200 Android apps infected with SimBad adware

      The adware campaign made use of malware dubbed SimBad, which sits within a malicious software development kit called ‘RXDrioder’ and can perform actions after an infected Android device is booted. SimBad then connects back to a control and command server where it receives instructions from the malicious actors controlling it.

    • How To Secure Privileged Access In An Organisation
    • Open-source 64-ish-bit serial number gen snafu sparks TLS security cert revoke runaround
    • 25% of software vulnerabilities remain unpatched for more than a year [Ed: How about back doors in proprietary software? These can never be patched, they're there by design and the user cannot change the code ]
    • Shmoocon 2019, Conor Patrick’s ‘Building And Selling Solo: An Open Source Secure Hardware Token’
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Preventing Civil War and US Intervention in Venezuela

      For almost two months now, Venezuela has been caught in a tense stand-off between the incumbent government of Nicolás Maduro and the US-backed right-wing opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president in January and who has since been trying to force Maduro from office with the active support of the Trump administration and various right-wing regional leaders. Over the next weeks, ROAR will be publishing a series of interviews with Venezuelan activists and intellectuals to help share local perspectives on the origins of the current crisis, the risks of an escalation in the conflict, and possible ways out for radical-democratic forces.

      The first interview, published below, is with the Venezuelan sociologist and left-wing intellectual Edgardo Lander, who is a Professor Emeritus at the Central University of Venezuela and a Fellow at the Transnational Institute (TNI). Lander was a critically constructive supporter of former president Hugo Chávez, and served as a consultant to the Venezuelan commission negotiating the Free Trade Area of the Americas. He was one of the organizers of the 2006 World Social Forum, and is currently involved in TNI’s New Politics program. In this interview, he calls on the international left to recognize the complexity of the situation, and not to conflate the need for firm opposition to the ongoing US intervention with unconditional support for the Maduro government.

      As the perceptive reader will notice, Lander’s position differs in several important respects from the reading offered by the Venezuelan sociologist and former government minister Reinaldo Iturriza in our second interview, published here. We offer these different perspectives on the assumption that the critical and intelligent reader will be able to make up their own mind as to which reading they find most persuasive, and which position they are most comfortable to align themselves with. We are currently preparing two more interviews with Venezuelan activists that we hope to publish over the next weeks. We consider these grassroots perspectives particularly important in the present context, given the international media’s systematic inattention to (and active marginalization of) the voices of ordinary Venezuelans.

    • Demands That Trump End Economic War and Attempts at Regime Change at #HandsOffVenezuela March on Capitol Hill

      Denouncing the “strangling” of the Venezuelan economy via sanctions and demanding the Trump administration allow the South American country to determine its own fate, pro-democracy protesters marched through Washington, D.C. on Saturday to demand, “Hands Off Venezuela!”

      The demonstration came seven weeks after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, rebuking President Nicolas Maduro, who won re-election last May.

      U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company followed, on top of the $30 million per day earlier U.S. sanctions have cost the country.

      Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin was among the prominent anti-war advocates who spoke at a rally on Capitol Hill before hundreds of protesters from all over the country began their march through the streets.

    • Lawyer: U.S. Navy Veteran Held in Iran Sentenced to 10 Years

      A U.S. Navy veteran from California has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, his lawyer said Saturday, becoming the first American known to be imprisoned there since President Donald Trump took office.

      Though the case against Michael R. White remains unclear, it comes as Trump has taken a hard-line approach to Iran by pulling the U.S. out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

      Iran, which in the past has used its detention of Westerners and dual nationals as leverage in negotiations, has yet to report on White’s sentence in state-controlled media. Its mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    • On This Day: Hundreds dead in My Lai massacre

      On March 16, 1968, about 300 Vietnamese villagers died at the hands of U.S. troops in what came to be known as the My Lai massacre.

    • Exposure of Another Pro-War Lie Doesn’t Make Media More Skeptical of Pro-War Claims

      Listeners will likely know by now, that the late February story, complete with vivid video footage, about the forces of elected Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro burning trucks that were trying to bring the besieged country food and medicine was false. Weeks later, the New York Times (3/10/19) reported that the humanitarian trucks were not set on fire by Maduro’s forces, but instead by anti-Maduro protestors who threw a Molotov cocktail. The Times outlined how the fake story took root, passing from US officials to media that simply reported their claims as fact with no investigation—and does any of this sound familiar?

      Folks like CNN‘s Marshall Cohen noted the Times debunking as if it were just an interesting development—a “classic example of how misinformation spreads,” Cohen said in a tweet. Except, as The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald pointed out (3/10/19), it was Cohen’s own network, CNN, that led the way in spreading the lie around the world.

    • Isis jihadi ‘returned to Sweden to treat war wounds’

      An Isis jihadi fighter returned to his home in Sweden to have wounds to his shoulder treated for free at a state-run hospital, before returning to the front line in Syria, Sweden’s Expressen newspaper has reported.

    • ‘She said she’d blow herself up first’: Hope dims on Yazidis

      She was sold 17 times. One of her owners, a Swede, would lock her in the home for days without food while he went to fight. Another man, an Albanian, stomped on her hands in his military boots, after she scolded him for buying a 9-year-old slave girl.

    • Warped ISIS brides vow to raise a ‘generation of jihadis’ after fleeing terror group’s last stronghold

      A handful of captive Yazidis have also been released from Baghuz but hundreds more may still be inside as human shields.

    • Moroccan beats wife for living western-style life
    • Words Can Incite And Spread Violence – Asia Bibi Knows It Best

      In recent weeks, and in light of reports that Asia Bibi was to find refuge in Canada, a new phenomenon emerged of calls to violence wherever Asia Bibi is to be found.

    • Saudi Arabia: Women’s Rights Activists Charged

      Human rights organizations began reporting in November that Saudi interrogators tortured at least four of the women, including with electric shocks and whippings, and had sexually harassed and assaulted them.

      “The Saudi prosecution is bringing charges against the women’s rights activists instead of releasing them unconditionally,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Saudi authorities have done nothing to investigate serious allegations of torture, and now, it’s the women’s rights activists, not any torturers, who face criminal charges and trials.”

    • ULMWP Spokesperson: The UN must stop Indonesian military attacks in West Papua

      West Papuans beg for UN intervention as 2,650 Indonesian commandos hunt down freedom-fighters and the Jakarta government blocks emergency food water and medical supplies to highland villagers

    • More Indonesian troops sent to West Papua

      According to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), an additional 650 Indonesian commandos were deployed along with an extra 2000 troops on March 12 to the Central Highlands of West Papua to fight the West Papua National Liberation Army.

      The Indonesian government has been blocking all emergency food, water and medicines supplied by local churches and NGOs to the central highland districts of Nduga, Kenyam, Yigi, Mbua, and Mapunduma for the past three months.

      The ULMWP said the 650 additional commandos have been deployed to “hunt and kill West Papuan freedom fighters” and “eliminate the independence movement”.

    • Humanitarian concerns grow as violent conflict worsens in West Papua

      But even elected Papuan leaders in government pushing for a de-escalation of military operations risk a reprimand or threat of prosecution from Indonesia’s military.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Australian winter will disappear by 2050, ANU team claims

      A tool that analyses climate data, developed by a team from the Australian National University School of Art and Design along with their colleagues from the ANU Climate Change Institute has shown that by 2050 winter, as we now know it, will no longer exist.

    • Trump Administration Shortcuts Science To Give California Farmers More Water

      Farmers will only get more water after federal biologists complete an intricate scientific analysis on how it would affect endangered species. But an investigation by KQED finds that analysis will be done under unprecedented time pressure, with less transparency, less outside scientific scrutiny, and without, say federal scientists, the resources to do it properly.


      The internal emails also show the new environmental rules will receive less outside scientific review than before, which eliminates public involvement. Peer review, in which independent scientists assess other researchers’ work, is a core practice of science, and previous biological rules have received that scrutiny.

    • The US Is Only Decades Away From Widespread Water Shortages, Scientists Warn

      Thanks to advances in dams, tunnelling, and pipelines, stability in water usage has been maintained since then despite a growing population, the team says, but with reservoir construction peaking in the 1960s, those adaptations won’t keep delivering the same way in the future.

    • Norway’s wealth fund to divest from fossil fuels

      Egil Matsen, Deputy Governor said: “This advice is based exclusively on financial arguments and analyses of the government’s total oil and gas exposure and does not reflect any particular view of future movements in oil and gas prices or the profitability or sustainability of the oil and gas sector”.

    • Cambodian Farmers Struggle Against Changing Climate

      In this part of Banteay Meanchey province, farmers remark on the lack of rain, during the wet season as well as the dry season. Cambodian farmers grow rice in both seasons. Cambodia’s rainy season typically arrives in May and ends in October and dry season runs from November until April.

    • Every ninth species in Finland endangered, says new report

      The fifth in a series of assessments, the report determined that conditions are worsening for Finland’s flora and fauna, as 11.9 percent of the species examined can now be determined threatened. This number is an increase from the 10.5 percent that was concluded to be at risk in 2010.

    • New estimate – every ninth species in Finland is threatened

      A new assessment of threatened species indicates an increasing loss of biodiversity in Finnish nature. Of the 22 000 species evaluated, 11.9% were classified as threatened, compared to 10.5% in the previous assessment. All species groups include threatened species, and the highest proportion can be found among birds and bryophytes (mosses). The primary cause of threat is the decline and deterioration of natural habitat. Much can be done to stop this development, but urgent action is needed.

    • Finland Publishes the Most Comprehensive Red List of Ecosystems in the World

      The results of the extensive assessment for the Red List of all of Finland’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems were published in December 2018. The threat status of ecosystem or habitat types in Finland was now evaluated for the second time, using this time the new assessment methodology called IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria.

    • Climate change and population growth are making the world’s water woes more urgent

      The first thing to recognise is that the 70% figure is largely irrelevant to the debate. The sea it represents is salty, accounting for 97.5% of all the water on Earth. A further 1.75% is frozen, at the poles, in glaciers or in permafrost. So the world has to rely on just 0.75% of the planet’s available water, almost all of which is subterranean groundwater, though it is from the 0.3% on the surface that it draws 59% of its needs (see chart). This report will argue that misuse of water may indeed lead to a series of catastrophes. But the means to dodge them are already known, and new technologies are constantly evolving to help.

    • We could have less than 5 years to save the North Atlantic right whale

      The North Atlantic right whale is not only one of the rarest whale species in the world, it is the one most at-risk. While the days of commercial whaling may be over, human activity remains their biggest threat. Once numbering in the tens of thousands, there are fewer than 415 right whales left alive today. Among remaining right whale, fewer than 100 are breeding females. At best, we have only five years to reverse this course before it’s too late. Without committed and immediate action, the species will become functionally extinct in just two decades.

    • Oceans Are ‘Spiking a Fever’ With Record Heat Waves

      Global warming is gradually increasing the average temperature of the oceans, but the new research is the first systematic global analysis of ocean heat waves, when temperatures reach extremes for five days or more.

      The research found heat waves are becoming more frequent, prolonged and severe, with the number of heat wave days tripling in the last couple of years studied. In the longer term, the number of heat wave days jumped by more than 50% in the 30 years to 2016, compared with the period of 1925 to 1954.

    • World Wildlife Day 2019: The 15 Biggest Threats to the World’s Oceans

      The news followed the revelation that over half the world’s oceans are being industrially fished. A 2018 study, published in the journal Science, found that commercial fishing covered a bigger area than global agriculture.

      This massive disruption to ocean ecosystems can be caused by such diverse threats as overfishing, agricultural chemical offspill and global warming driving up sea temperatures. While threats to rainforests and other land environments have long been known, public awareness about the precarious state of the ocean are a more recent revelation, thanks in part to cultural phenomena like the BBC’s Blue Planet series.

    • Zinke fingered in Bears Ears corruption probe over uranium mining interests

      An energy firm linked to ” When the review concluded, Trump shrank the monument by 85%. Some 100 uranium claims that were previously *inside* the monument’s protected boundary were suddenly on the outside.

      Now, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) says Democrats plan hold a hearing on March 13, to look into that shady review.

    • On March 15, the Climate Kids Are Coming

      On March 15, tens of thousands of high-school and middle-school students in more than 30 countries plan to skip school to demand that politicians treat the global climate crisis as the emergency it is. Shakespeare made the Ides of March famous with his soothsayer’s warning in Julius Caesar, but ancient Romans actually saw it as a day for settling debts. What bigger debt is there than the theft of a livable future? At the March 15 School Strike 4 Climate, young people will call in that debt and, in the United States at least, demand real solutions in the form of the Green New Deal championed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    • Bird extinctions ‘driven’ by global food trade

      About 100 bird species are predicted to go extinct based on current farming and forestry practices, according to a new global analysis.

      This number has increased by 7% over the first ten years of this century alone, say scientists.

    • Meet Alexandria Villaseñor, the Teen Activist Who’s Spent 12 Fridays Outside the United Nations Striking for the Climate

      All this work is leading to March 15, when activists around the world are hoping for a global student strike. Youth Climate Strike U.S., an organization Alexandria is affiliated with, has strikes already planned in dozens of states to support Fridays for Future and School Strike for Climate — some states already have multiple strikes in the works, Alexandria says.

    • Last year’s cereal harvest the smallest in 26 years

      The year 2018 was the second consecutive poor harvest year in Finland. Last year, drought reduced the total yield, particularly in Southwest Finland and surrounding areas. In addition to cereals, the broad bean harvest was much smaller than normal. In 2017, heavy rainfall reduced the total yield.

    • ‘Why Go to School When You Have No Future?’: A Q&A With a 13-Year-Old Climate Striker

      Now, Villaseñor is one of the leaders of the New York City climate strike—one of more than 1,000 strikes across at least 70 countries that will take place tomorrow. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who began the #FridaysforFuture in front of the Swedish parliament building last year, children and teens like Villaseñor have started to call on adults to cut fossil-fuel emission in half within the next 10 years. While Villaseñor is often the only climate protester in front of the UN, she’s not not alone in her fight. Through social media, Villaseñor has connected with other student activists in Chile, the United Kingdom, Australia, Uganda, and elsewhere. This—as the March 15 strike will make clear—is a global movement.

    • What are the school climate strikes?

      The strikes signal a shift in green activism, with those who will be particularly affected by climate change taking the lead. The protests take place amid a lawsuit that has been filed by a group of American children against the federal government, arguing that it was violating their constitutional right to life, liberty and property by allowing activities that contribute to climate change. Although some politicians have criticised the school strikes as disruptive, others, including Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, back them. This could be because children’s fears for the future carry a certain moral weight; last month Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator, was roundly criticised after a video of her lecturing a group of young climate activists went viral. For many, Greta Thunberg has become a beacon of hope. But as she told the Davos crowd in January, that was never her plan. “I don’t want you to be hopeful,” she said. “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”

    • Tribes Accuse Corps of Withholding Pipeline Study Records

      Tribes battling the Dakota Access oil pipeline in court are accusing the Army Corps of Engineers of withholding dozens of documents that could bolster their case that the pipeline could unfairly impact them.

      Many of the records that attorneys for the four Sioux tribes allege are missing relate to the pipeline’s crossing beneath the Lake Oahe reservoir on the Missouri River in the Dakotas, which the tribes rely on for drinking water, fishing and religious practices. Fears of a spill into the river sparked prolonged protests in 2016 and early 2017 that drew thousands of pipeline opponents from around the world to southern North Dakota.

    • Climate Change Is Here—and It Looks Like Starvation

      This year, CARE highlighted the fact that almost all of these crises can be traced in large part to climate change. In Sudan, unpredictable rainfall has meant “frequent droughts,” occasional flooding, and “extreme hunger.” In the island nation of Madagascar, “at the frontline of climate change,” cyclones and drought have put 1.3 million people at risk of hunger and, according to UNICEF, a staggering 49 percent of the country’s children have been left stunted by malnutrition. In the Philippines, 2018’s fiercest storm, “super-typhoon” Mangkhut, fed by the heat of the warming oceans, displaced more than a million people. In Niger, desertification has spurred violence and displacement, just as it has in Chad, where nearly half the population is now chronically malnourished. The major source of fresh water in the region, Lake Chad, has shrunk to one-twentieth the area it once covered. In Haiti it was drought again, plus three devastating hurricanes over two consecutive years, leaving nearly 3 million people in need of immediate aid.

    • It’s Happening: Study Confirms Our Oceans Are Already Losing Vast Quantities of Fish

      Data collected from 1930 to 2010 has shown that sustainable fish stock declined 4.1 percent on average over that time period. In some regions, including the East China Sea and the North Sea, the drop was as high as 15-35 percent.

      Both climate change and overfishing are to blame, the team of researchers says. They did also find that a small number of fish populations actually increased – because previously colder waters became more habitable for them.

    • The World Is Losing Fish to Eat as Oceans Warm, Study Finds

      Scientists have warned that global warming will put pressure on the world’s food supplies in coming decades. But the new findings — which separate the effects of warming waters from other factors, like overfishing — suggest that climate change is already having a serious impact on seafood.

      Fish make up 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein, and as much as 70 percent for people living in some coastal and island countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

    • Why We Should Not Be Surprised That Murdoch Tabloid’s Favorite Sydney School Pupil Didn’t Join Climate Strike

      Somewhere in the order of 150,000 students went absent from classes in Australia on Friday afternoon for the global “School Strike 4 Climate” marches.

      In what might be seen as an afternoon practical lesson in democracy, free speech, and civic engagement, students from cities and towns across the country and the world marched, chanted, and held placards aloft.

      One of the biggest marches in Australia saw 25,000 students on the streets of Sydney, the home of the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Daily Telegraph.

      But one student in particular caught eye of The Daily Telegraph — a 17-year-old, Year 12 pupil called Joanne Tran, who wrote an article for the newspaper explaining why she would not be marching.

    • A Future Without Fossil Fuels?

      “Kingsmill Bond” certainly sounds like a proper name for a City of London financial analyst. He looks the part, too: gray hair expertly trimmed, well-cut suit. He’s lived in Moscow and Hong Kong and worked for Deutsche Bank, the Russian financial firm Troika Dialog, and Citibank. He’s currently “new energy strategist” for a small British think tank called Carbon Tracker, and last fall he published a short paper called “2020 Vision: Why You Should See the Fossil Fuel Peak Coming.” It asks an interesting question: At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value?

      This may turn out to be the most important economic and political question of the first half of this century, and the answer might tell us much about our chances of getting through the climate crisis without completely destroying the planet. Based on earlier technological transitions—horses to cars, sails to steam, land lines to cell phones—it seems possible that the fossil fuel industry may begin to weaken much sooner than you’d think. The British-Venezuelan scholar Carlota Perez has observed that over a period of twenty years, trains made redundant a four-thousand-mile network of canals and dredged rivers across the UK: “The canal builders…fought hard and even finished a couple of major canals in the 1830s, but defeat was inevitable,” as it later was for American railroads (and horses) when they were replaced by trucks and cars.

      Major technological transitions often take a while. The Czech-Canadian academic Vaclav Smil has pointed out that although James Watt developed the coal-powered steam engine in 1776, coal supplied less than 5 percent of the planet’s energy until 1840, and it didn’t reach 50 percent until 1900. But the economic effect of those transitions can happen much earlier, Bond writes, as soon as it becomes clear to investors that a new technology is accounting for all the growth in a particular sector.

      Over the last decade, there has been a staggering fall in the price of solar and wind power, and of the lithium-ion batteries used to store energy. This has led to rapid expansion of these technologies, even though they are still used much less than fossil fuels: in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world’s electric supply, but they made up 45 percent of the growth in supply, and the cost of sun and wind power continues to fall by about 20 percent with each doubling of capacity. Bond’s analysis suggests that in the next few years, they will represent all the growth. We will then reach peak use of fossil fuels, not because we’re running out of them but because renewables will have become so cheap that anyone needing a new energy supply will likely turn to solar or wind power.

    • Why Students of Color Are Stepping Up to Lead Climate Strikes

      Kawika Ke Koa Pegram has lived his entire life in island communities and is all too familiar with what sea level rise looks like firsthand. Pegram, a 17-year-old junior in high school, recently moved back to Hawai‘i—where he was born—from the Philippines. Two years later, Hurricane Walaka hit the state.

      “It was one of the worst storms the island has seen in modern history,” he remembers. “It had floods that went up to your knees and legs.” Pegram says he had seen that degree of flooding before, but this storm was different: It actually sunk an entire Hawaiian island.

      Pegram is one of more than 60 student leaders who have stepped up to lead climate strikes in cities and towns across the country on March 15 as part of a global school strike for climate action modeled after the example of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. An estimated 50 percent of U.S. student leaders are students of color. This representative leadership is making the strike relatable and accessible to more students.

      Pegram first began environmental organizing just a few weeks ago. After seeing on Twitter that the global climate strike movement was coming to the United States, he tracked down the U.S. Youth Climate Strike website and emailed its leaders. “They got back within an hour. And within a few hours, I was in it,” he says. Pegram is now heading the state of Hawai‘i in staging school strikes and storming the Capitol in Honolulu on Friday.

    • ‘The Youth Have Spoken:’ Young New Yorkers Join Global Climate Strike (Photo Essay)
    • Organic Farms Are Under Attack From Agribusiness, Weakened Standards

      The certified organic label has helped save many generational farms and enabled people like me, who do not come from agricultural backgrounds, to become successful farmers. Organic farming has brought environmental benefits — healthier soils, freedom from toxic pesticides and herbicides — to 6.5 million acres in the U.S.

      Organic shoppers are willing to pay a little extra for food that is free from chemical residues. But the organic label is in trouble after reports of fraudulently labeled food made national news. On top of that, agribusiness pressures and National Organic Program (NOP) actions have weakened standards. Yet at a time when farms are in distress, family-scale farmers need a label with integrity. They need a label that provides public support from people who understand that small-scale farmers are an endangered species.

      In the 1980s, I was one of the organic farmers who helped launch organic certification. Farming and non-farming members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association worked together to write standards for a label that identified the real organic food that non-farmers wanted to buy — for which they were willing to pay enough to keep the small farms in business.

      In retrospect, it has become clear that we were very naïve. It did not occur to us to consider the many ways our clear, simple statements could be twisted by people who were willing to cut corners to increase their bottom line and steal markets by underselling the farmers who observed the standards faithfully.

    • Trump’s budget follows flurry of lobbying from fossil fuel, charter school and other interests

      Industries and organizations that stand to gain from the budget spend millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government each year.

      From cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education, to a 5 percent increase in the military budget, the Fiscal Year 2020 budget will delight economic conservatives wanting cuts to social spending and dismay liberals aiming to preserve environmental regulation and welfare programs.

      While the budget will likely gain no traction on Capitol Hill, the document unambiguously presents the priorities of the administration. It calls for a 31 percent cut in the EPA, an 11 percent cut at the Department of Energy, and a 12 percent cut at the Department of Education.

      At the Department of Energy, a 70 percent decrease in funds for the department’s office of renewable energy coincides with increased investment in nuclear energy, coal and fossil fuels. The budget for the Office of Fossil Energy Research and Development will increase by $60 million, and the Office of Nuclear Energy’s budget will surge by $67 million.

      The proposed cuts have received condemnation from liberal environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, which spent tens of millions to elect Democrats in 2018

      “This isn’t a budget for a better America, it’s a budget for a sicker, dirtier America,” said Carol M. Browner, board chair of the League of Conservation Voters and a former EPA administrator.

    • Why Unions Must Bargain Over Climate Chang

      Union contract negotiations include mandatory and permissive subjects of bargaining. Employers are required by law to negotiate over mandatory subjects—wages, benefits and working conditions. Permissive subjects, such as decisions about which public services will be provided and how, have historically been the purview of management. We only negotiate over how managerial decisions affect members’ jobs. Employers may voluntarily agree to negotiate permissive subjects, but unions can’t legally strike over them.

      In recent years, some unions have embraced “bargaining for the common good,” which use the union campaign to win broad, righteous public benefits. The best current example of this is the Los Angeles teachers’ strike, which opposed the underfunding, privatization and overcrowding of schools—all of which hurt students. Common good goals often bump against the constraints of what is legally bargainable. For instance, does a demand from teachers’ unions that school districts use district-owned property to fund and build affordable housing for teachers affect working conditions? While shortages of affordable housing affect teachers very directly, how school districts use their land and invest their money is normally considered a managerial prerogative.

      But last fall’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a game-changer. It concludes that humanity has 12 years to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius—and avoid civilization-threatening consequences of climate change. There is a lot of space between projected best- and worst-case future scenarios. It’s the difference between bad and apocalyptic. That space represents hundreds of millions of people dying. Avoiding worst-case scenarios, in strictly scientific terms, requires everyone to do everything, immediately.

    • Native American Church Works to Conserve, Sustain Peyote

      “After Amada’s passing, the peyote distribution system lost heart and seemed to be about monetary compensation,” said Iron Rope, former chairman of the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) and today chairman of the NAC of South Dakota. He is concerned that the remaining three or four peyote dealers in Texas — all non-Native — don’t give “the medicine” the reverence they should.

      “They don’t make prayerful offerings when they harvest,” Iron Rope said. “We’ve heard reports about intoxicated harvesters. Sometimes, the medicine that comes to us was mushy or small, and the harvesting technique was not one that would allow regrowth.”

      Careless and sometimes illegal harvesting, along with increased land and resource development in Texas, has led to a decline in peyote’s quality and availability. Prices have gone up, and church members worry the cactus, now listed as a vulnerable species, could become endangered.

    • FDA allows genetically engineered ‘Frankenfish’ salmon to be imported to US

      The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it is lifting an import alert that stopped genetically engineered salmon from entering the US.

  • Finance

    • Zimbabweans Go for Alternatives as Bread Becomes Unaffordable

      Bread in Zimbabwe now costs $2 a loaf, or higher, making it beyond the reach of many in the poverty-stricken country.

    • A fifth of Americans say they have zero savings

      About 21% of working Americans said they aren’t saving any money at all, Bankrate found in a survey. Among those who are saving, a majority are putting away less than 10% of their income.

      Over the past several decades, household savings in the US have been trending downward. By the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ measure, Americans were saving 7.6% of disposable income in December. Before the 1980s, that rate had mostly been in the double digits.

    • American prosecutors uncover a huge university-admissions scam

      There is also an entirely legal way to corrupt the elite admissions system, which for some reason generates less outrage. Mr Singer grasped this dynamic: There is a front door “which means you get in on your own” and a “back door” secured by multimillion-dollar donations to universities, he explained in a recorded call to a client. What Mr Singer did—for 761 buyers, he claimed—is create a “side door” by bribing university officials and faking test scores that would achieve the same result at one-tenth of the cost. In effect, his scheme granted mere multimillionaires access to the billionaires’ entrance.

    • China recruits Westerners to sell its “democracy”

      Finally, there is the odd experience of meeting supposed colleagues who are in fact complete strangers, meaning foreigners employed by Chinese state media, or by obscure Western news outlets that channel Chinese propaganda. Some ask planted questions at press conferences. Others pop up in the state media lauding China’s political system. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, this year put out a video entitled “Chinese democracy in the eyes of an American”. A fresh-faced young man from Chicago, Colin Linneweber, strolls around Tiananmen Square while opining that “it’s widely acknowledged that a key to China’s success is its system of democracy”, and praising the country’s “stability”. He then presents mini-profiles of delegates with such day jobs as farmer, migrant worker and postman, whose proposals for making China better became law. It is tempting to be quite cross with such Westerners. Ordinary Chinese who start praising democracy on the square, a ghost-haunted, massively policed spot, would be instantly arrested. Stability comes at a price, what is more. China’s one-party rule involves more than the absence of messy things like real elections or a free press. It requires active, unsleeping maintenance by state-security agents tasked with tracking, threatening or jailing any who challenge the Communist monopoly on power.

    • Donald Trump Touts Benefits of Trade Pact That Hasn’t Even Been Agreed Yet

      However, before the deal can go into effect from the U.S. side, it must be approved by Congress. Some representatives have voiced their objections to the international treaty, making its approval less than certain.

    • EU may hit Google with AdSense fine this week: report

      The European Union is likely to announce a third fine on Google this week, this one for alleged abuse of its AdSense advertising service, a fine that had been expected as far back as November 2017.

    • Google faces third EU antitrust fine next week: source

      The European Commission in 2016 opened a third case against the world’s most popular internet search engine by accusing Google of preventing third parties using its AdSense product from displaying search advertisements from Google’s competitors.

      It said that Google, which at that time had held 80 percent of the European market for search advertising intermediation over the previous ten years, had kept its anti-competitive practices for a decade.

    • Manchester council paid doomed Regent Road firm Dawnus almost half a MILLION pounds just days before collapse

      Manchester council paid doomed construction firm Dawnus almost half a million pounds just days before they went bust, the Manchester Evening News can reveal.

      The Welsh company went into administration on Friday owing creditors tens of millions of pounds.

      Dawnus has been the lead contract on the Regent Road project to improve junctions near the city centre and ease congestion.

    • Elite Restaurant Torched, Luxury Shops Smashed in Paris Riots

      French yellow vest protesters set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores and clashed with police Saturday in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron. Large plumes of smoke rose above the rioting on Paris’ landmark Champs-Elysees avenue, and a mother and her child were just barely saved from a building blaze.

      The resurgent violence came as protesters are seeking to breathe new life into a movement that seemed to be fizzling, and get attention from French leaders and media whom they see as underplaying their economic justice cause and favoring the elite.

      Paris police appeared to be caught off guard by the speed and severity of the unrest. French police tried to contain the demonstrators with repeated volleys of tear gas and water cannon, with limited success.

    • Cries of ‘Shame!’ Heard at Arlington County, Va. Hearing As Officials Approve $23M in Incentives for Amazon

      Anti-Amazon protesters in Arlington County, Virginia were outraged Saturday after the county board dismissed outright their concerns over the corporate giant’s decision to build a headquarters in Crystal City—voting unanimously to approve $23 million in tax incentives for the company.

      The 5-0 vote followed hours of testimony by Amazon representatives, supporters, and opponents of the plan, with critics arguing that the trillion-dollar company has no need for financial incentives and that its presence in Crystal City will negatively impact lower-income residents and public services.

      One resident, Chelsea Yu, called attention to Amazon’s actions in its current hometown of Seattle, where in addition to contributing to skyrocketing housing prices, it has actively fought against a corporate tax that would have funded affordable housing.

      “You claim Arlington is a place for all, for immigrants, for equality, [and] clamor for the attention of a company that does the opposite,” said Yu. “Never have I seen a company so reviled by the city it occupies.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Beto O’Rourke outed as Cult of Dead Cow member, phreaker and writer of screeds

      Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman and Senate candidate and recently declared Democratic candidate for president in 2020, has been outed as a former member of what has been described as America’s oldest hacking group—the Cult of the Dead Cow (CDC). O’Rourke admitted to his membership in an interview for an upcoming book, as Reuters reported in an exclusive based on the book.

      O’Rourke’s role in the group, starting in the late 1980s, was more focused on writing screeds for the CDC’s text-file essays than hacking. O’Rourke, like other teens of the time, did find ways to avoid paying for long-distance dial-up phone service time to connect to bulletin board systems (BBSs) of the day across the country with his family’s Apple IIe computer and 300 baud modem, which he often used to search of pirated games.

    • Beto O’Rourke was part of hacking group as a teen where he wrote story about running over children

      The Texas Democrat was a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow, called the CDC, one of the oldest groups of hackers in the United States, according to a Reuters investigation. The CDC is known for coining the phrase “hacktivism,” and releasing tools that allow less tech-savvy users to hack Windows computers.

      O’Rourke, 46, was a member of the group in the 1980s. He’s been involved in tech since: he co-founded the Stanton Street Technology Group, a web design company in El Paso.

    • Trump Cornered

      What does a megalomaniacal president of the United States do when he’s cornered? We’ll soon find out.

    • The Real Irish-American History Not Taught in Schools

      “Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish-American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.

      Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

    • Stop Joe McCarthy-ing the ‘Socialist’ Bogeyman and Fix America’s Broken Capitalism

      President Trump actually almost got something right the other day. Americans should be worried about a return of “McCarthyism,” the kind of list-waving, name-calling, career-destroying mass hysteria that was pioneered in the 1950s by then-Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, over his invented claims that the U.S. government was overrun with “card-carrying Communists.” But needless to say, the 45th president is looking for his “witch hunt” in all the wrong places.

      No, the place where I’m getting the “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” crazed vibe of the old House Un-American Affairs Committee is not from the Bob Mueller probe but by watching our elite (and elitist) Beltway pundits on cable TV or in the editorial pages, determined to rid the 2020 presidential campaign of any scourge of alleged “socialism” that might ruin the utopia that is modern American capitalism.

      It all came to a head recently when one of the 347 announced Democratic presidential candidates — a guy named John Hickenlooper, a former governor of Colorado — turned up for an interview on the Electronic Daily Diary of the American Dream, MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Hickenlooper is beyond a long shot for the White House, but the 10-minute slot on national TV was a great chance to ask him where he stands, or why he was such a fossil-fuel zealot that he once drank fracking fluid.

      But America got none of this. Instead, there was a kind of Spanish Inquisition to ruthlessly pressure Hickenlooper (who got in start in life as a brew-pub owner, with beer striking most people as something very good about capitalism) to look into the camera and declare, “I am a capitalist.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Don’t be fooled: the main beneficiary of Mark Zuckerberg’s apparent embrace of privacy is Facebook, not you

      If that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. Despite the word “privacy” being used 33 times in the piece, what Zuckerberg lays out is not unalloyed good news for privacy or, indeed, for much else – except Facebook itself, which stands to benefit in important ways. The key idea is the following:


      That is, an increased emphasis on private messaging among small groups of people, rather than posting to Facebook for hundreds of people to see. WhatsApp is central to this strategy, but in his essay Zuckerberg also promises to make private messaging work between all of Facebook’s services. He calls that “interoperability”, but in truth it is more like an integration. Bringing together the different parts of Facebook offers some advantages for users, but it gives the company something much more important. It makes any future efforts to break it up – an idea that is steadily gaining ground – much harder, because there will be no separate pieces, just different ways of communicating with Facebook’s common database of users.

      Facebook says it will use end-to-end encryption for its private messaging – certainly good news for people living in countries with repressive governments that spy on their citizens. Encryption might seem a problem for Facebook’s business model, since it will be unable to track what people are writing and sharing.

    • Epic says its Game Store is not spying on you [We: Well, proprietary software is almost always spying on you and its (or its vendor’s) denials are often false; they know you cannot verify these claims because the code is secret.]

      This week, certain corners of the gaming Internet have been abuzz with a bit of self-described “amateur analysis” suggesting some “pretty sketchy,” spyware-like activity on the part of the Epic Game Store and its launcher software. Epic has now stepped in to defend itself from those accusations, while also admitting to an “outdated implementation” that can make unauthorized access to local Steam information.

    • Russia Plans to Block Pirate Sites Without Trial & De-Anonymize Their Operators

      Russia’s Ministry of Culture has tabled new amendments to copyright law that will allow rightsholders to order web hosts to block pirate sites without trial, if they are unresponsive to takedown demands. Site owners will also be forced to publish their names and addresses on their platforms but it’s not yet clear how this can be enforced.

    • Tinder says it no longer uses a ‘desirability’ score to rank people

      Of course, Tinder is also Match Group’s greatest moneymaker, so it gives users the option to fully skip over any of these algorithm rankings with an in-app purchase. That can be in the form of a Super Like, which automatically moves a card toward the top of a person’s profile stack (and visually indicates to him or her that they’ve been Super Liked), or a profile boost, which Tinder says brings a profile closer to the top of many other users’ profile stacks for 30 minutes.

    • Dropbox limits free accounts to three devices

      The company has announced that from now on, free accounts will be limited to just three devices – if you go beyond that, you’ll need to deauthorise a different one.

    • Facebook owes us an explanation

      In light of Facebook’s long list of wrongdoings, a temporary service outage might not seem like a big deal. It’s even good material for jokes about Facebook. But what if we took Facebook seriously? What if, as an experiment, we charitably assumed all of the things Facebook says about itself are true? Here’s a brief list of some of Facebook’s beliefs about itself: [...]

    • Facebook faces criminal probe over its dodgy data-sharing deals

      The investigation was triggered by it coming to light, via another NYT report, that partnerships with the social network allowed some services to access the personal data of Facebook users; for example, the Bing search engine could see the names of Facebook users’ friends without their consent, and Spotify and Netflix could read a Facebook user’s private messages.

      At the time, Facebook said the partnerships with other companies only allowed access to information users had consented to give it.

      But this response didn’t seem to placate federal investigators, and now Facebook is facing a criminal probe.

    • Facebook’s Sloppy Data-Sharing Deals Might Be Criminal

      For the past 15 years, Mark Zuckerberg has pushed Facebook to be the most innovative, influential, fast-growing, and profitable company in the world—to move fast and break things. It worked great, as we all know. It also broke a lot of things Facebook didn’t anticipate. And the cleanup bills are piling up.

      The new investigation, by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, is related to deals with more than 150 partners, including many big tech companies. Those deals allowed the partners to see Facebook user data, sometimes without user consent. The New York Times, which broke the news on Wednesday night, reported on these partnerships in December. While Facebook phased out almost all the deals more than two years ago, it accidentally left some of the data connections open into early 2018, the paper said then.

    • Facebook is reportedly under criminal investigation over deals that gave Apple, Amazon, and other companies access to user data

      According to the New York Times report, a grand jury in New York has already subpoenaed information on these types of deals from at least two smartphone and other device manufacturers involved.

    • Govt data stored by US firms ‘not subject to CLOUD Act’

      Australian Government data stored by American companies who have been certified as Protected cloud providers is not subject to the US CLOUD Act, which allows Washington to obtain data stored overseas by American companies in the event that it is deemed to be needed by law enforcement authorities.

    • Facebook’s Head of Product Leaves After Privacy Pivot

      Just last spring, Chris Cox, the chief product officer of Facebook, was promoted to also oversee WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. It seemed at the time almost like succession planning. If Mark Zuckerberg were to ever leave the company, Cox, his longtime confidante and a represen­tative of the engineering and product side, would be set up to run it.

      But Cox announced today that, after 13 years at the company, he’s leaving. “For over a decade, I’ve been sharing the same message that Mark and I have always believed: Social media’s history is not yet written, and its effects are not neutral. It is tied up in the richness and complexity of social life. As its builders, we must endeavor to understand its impact—all the good, and all the bad—and take up the daily work of bending it towards the positive, and towards the good. This is our greatest responsibility,” he wrote.

    • Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox & WhatsApp VP Chris Daniels are leaving
    • Mark Zuckerberg loses two key Facebook executives

      The departures follow the resignations of Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and WhatsApp’s co-founder Jan Koum last year.

      However, the latest exits are potentially more troubling, as Mr Cox and Mr Daniels were members of Mr Zuckerberg’s tight-knit group of allies.

    • The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google Docs

      Teens told me they use Google Docs to chat just about any time they need to put their phone away but know their friends will be on computers. Sometimes they’ll use the service’s live-chat function, which doesn’t open by default, and which many teachers don’t even know exists. Or they’ll take advantage of the fact that Google allows users to highlight certain phrases or words, then comment on them via a pop-up box on the right side: They’ll clone a teacher’s shared Google document, then chat in the comments, so it appears to the casual viewer that they’re just making notes on the lesson plan. If a teacher approaches to take a closer look, they can click the Resolve button, and the entire thread will disappear.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Death Row Becomes “Life In Prison Row” In California, And I Absolutely Approve
    • Elder says medicine pouch ‘desecrated’ by Halifax airport security despite asking for X-ray scan

      She said that despite requesting twice that the item be X-rayed instead of handled by officers, the supervisor told her to open the pouch or she would be escorted out of the airport.

    • Facing Wrongful Detention and Threats, Afro-Colombian Women Call for Justice

      It was late February, and around 30 Afro-Colombian human rights defenders from around the country had gathered in the western Colombian city of Cali for a conference. They were taking stock of their efforts toward meaningful peace and security, and toward racial and gender justice in a country still experiencing violence despite being in a post-peace accord context.

      The conference was organized by the Black Communities’ Process (PCN), a national network that has advocated for protections and rights for Afro-descendant Colombians for more than 20 years, and my organization, MADRE, an international women’s rights organization.

      At the conference, the human rights defenders strategized how to move forward under the right-wing administration of Iván Duque Márquez, which rose to power last year on promises of undoing key provisions of the government’s 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Afro-descendant regions of Colombia, heavily impacted by conflict, overwhelmingly supported the peace deal. Advocates, including women leaders from those communities, helped secure inclusion of a chapter protecting and promoting Afro-descendant and Indigenous rights, including gender rights.

    • Gallup: More U.S. Catholics questioning whether to stay with church

      There are more U.S. Catholics questioning whether to remain in the church than there were 17 years ago amid a stream of sexual abuse allegations against priests, a new Gallup poll indicates.

      Some 37 percent of Catholics polled said they have personally questioned whether they should remain with the church compared to 22 percent in 2002. The survey, published Wednesday, said 62 percent said they have not questioned changing faith, compared to 76 percent in 2002.

    • Pa. Judge Sentenced To 28 Years In Massive Juvenile Justice Bribery Scandal

      A Pennsylvania judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison in connection to a bribery scandal that roiled the state’s juvenile justice system. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was convicted of taking $1 million in bribes from developers of juvenile detention centers. The judge then presided over cases that would send juveniles to those same centers. The case came to be known as “kids-for-cash.”

    • Community and Family Reacted to No Charges Being Filed Against the Cops Who Shot and Killed Stephon Clark

      On March 18, 2018, 22-year-old Stephon Clark was in his backyard when two police officers responding to a report of someone breaking car windows near his home fired 20 shots at him, killing him. The officers claimed they thought Clark’s cell phone was a gun, but he was unarmed.

      Nearly a year later, on Saturday, March 2, Sacramento County district attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that the officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last year will not be charged.

    • International Women’s Day Rally in Turkey Turns Violent

      They were seeking to draw attention to women’s issues in Turkey, which ranks 77th out of 138 countries on a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) index of gender equality. The government frequently faces criticism for its handling of women’s issues, including the failure to stem high rates of violence and low female participation in the workforce.


      Plainclothes police began shoving members of the group, and many women fled the square when riot police fired rubber bullets into the crowd.

    • Turkey’s Erdogan accuses International Women’s Day marchers of disrespecting Islam

      Several thousand women had gathered in central Istanbul on Friday evening for a march to celebrate International Women’s Day but police fired tear gas to disperse them.

    • No more foreign money for mosques in Denmark

      A new law proposal from the government and Dansk Folkeparti would make it illegal for foreign governments and authorities to give money to religious bodies in Denmark.

      The law would come into play if it is decided that the purpose of the donation is to undermine the fundamental rights of freedom and democracy in Denmark, reports Kristeligt Dagblad.

    • ‘Everyone is Worried’: Asia Bibi ‘Very Unwell’ in Pakistani Safe House, Being Denied Medical Care

      Asia Bibi, the mother of five who spent almost a decade on death row for a crime she did not commit, is reported to be in dire physical condition as she continues to be held in a safe house in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Bibi, 53, was acquitted of blasphemy last October after the Supreme Court ruled that the accusations had no evidential basis. Since then, Bibi has been granted asylum in Canada, but as yet has not been released from her home country.

    • Asia Bibi’s Daughter Pleads for Reunion With Mother in Canada – Reports

      Despite the total acquittal having been granted to the Christian woman, now aged 53, and the across-the-board rejection of all appeals issued by Muslim hardliners, the family fears that the risk of her being attacked right in the street is hardly on the wane.

    • El Salvador Kills Women as the U.S. Shrugs

      The United States shares blame for the violence against women in El Salvador. It was the U.S.-supported civil war in the late 1970s and ’80s, in which rape was weaponized as a war tactic by militaries, that has left a legacy of violence against women. What began as the Salvadoran civil war expanded into a proxy war between the United States and Russia, in which Washington was fueling government-led militias and death squads with up to $2 million a day in aid and weapons.

    • Nasrin Sotoudeh: Iran human rights lawyer jailed for 38 years, say family

      Ms Sotoudeh is known for representing women who have protested having to wear the headscarf.

    • The false equivalence of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism

      I have been traveling in the Middle East for the last few weeks and slightly regret returning to the maelstrom of ancient animosities and unbridgeable sectarianism that is modern Britain. But in my absence I see that one of the worst tropes of our time has been stalking unhindered across the land. That is, of course, the latest push to make an equivalence between anti-Semitism and the crock term ‘Islamophobia’.

      It is not just in the UK that this play has been made. In America over recent days people have been able to follow the progress of the new Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who has decided to deflect attention from her weekly expressions of anti-Semitism by claiming ‘Islamophobia’. Where this would once have been a fringe play, this time it has been adopted by the Democratic party itself. So we are no longer talking about a harmless misunderstanding here. This is an equivalence that has developed legs.

    • Dutch Prof Warns No Western Society Has Managed to Fully Integrate Muslims

      According to Koopmans’ data, around 65 percent of the Turkish and Moroccan Muslims in six European countries consider religious rules to be more important than the secular law of the country in which they live. Muslims consider themselves separate from other non-Muslim groups, and refrain from broader interaction with those outside their religion. For instance, almost 60 percent of the Muslims surveyed rejected the idea of maintaining friendships with homosexuals, and 45 percent said the same thing about Jews.

    • Pakistan: 13-y-o Christian girl abducted, forced to convert to Islam and marry captor

      ICC notes that abductions and forced conversions to Islam are common for religious minorities in Pakistan, as an estimated 1,000 women from Pakistan’s Christian and Hindu communities are abducted, raped, and forcefully converted to Islam each year. Pakistan ranks as the fifth worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List.

    • Sharia law horror: Women unable to walk after public whipping in Indonesia

      Four received seven lashes after being simply being found in a room with a member of the opposite sex who was not a relative.

    • Muslim activist guilty of assaulting pro-Israel activist in Australia

      “This is someone who has come to Australia to build a better life and spends most of his days taking high-profile Australians to human rights commission for offending Islam,” said Yemini.

      “He’s found a way to manipulate the Australian judicial system to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws.”

    • Heroic British Transport Police officer slammed for not being ‘proper Muslim’ – because she wears uniform

      In a post, uploaded to the BTP London account last night, the force wrote: “Yesterday one of my officers was accused of not being a ‘proper’ Muslim because she wears the uniform.

    • Selangor Sultan dismayed by insults against Prophet Muhammad, Islam

      According to Hanafisah, despite the fact that insulting Prophet Muhammad and tarnishing the sanctity of Islam were offences under the law and the legal action and punishment had been imposed on those who committed them, the irresponsible act still occurred, as if the legal punishment bore no effect on the group.

    • Outrage as Swedish Greens Blame Swedes for Migrants’ Crime, Failure to Integrate

      The Green Youth members reminded the public that there had been a total of 100 shootings in Stockholm in 2018 alone, a record high. Of them, 11 ended with fatalities. From this, the duo drew the conclusion that the problem rests with the Swedes themselves.

    • Man shot to death at busy Stockholm train station

      A man in his 20s was shot and killed at Stockholm’s Älvsjö commuter train station on Saturday evening.

    • Sharia-compliant deal includes Amherst student-housing complex

      What’s unusual is that the joint venture between Vie Management of Miami and the foreign asset manager is structured to comply with Islamic laws governing finance, which prohibits payment of traditional interest. That’s a growing but still lesser-known area of specialty in the United States that has become increasingly important as Muslim investors become more active around the world.

    • Police arrest man for murdering wife, daughter

      He revealed that the accused strangled the victims to death over ‘honour’.

    • Saudi Arabia sisters pass Hong Kong deportation deadline

      The women, aged 18 and 20, say they do not want to return home because they fear punishment or even death on their return.

      Speaking to the BBC’s Chinese service, the sisters said they had hatched a plot to flee because they had “no dignity” in their lives in Saudi Arabia.

    • Socialism and the Self-Made Woman

      O.K., this was world-class lack of self-awareness: It doesn’t get much better than being lectured on self-reliance by an heiress whose business strategy involves trading on her father’s name. But let’s go beyond the personal here. We know a lot about upward mobility in different countries, and the facts are not what Republicans want to hear.

      The key observation, based on a growing body of research, is that when it comes to upward social mobility, the U.S. is truly exceptional — that is, it performs exceptionally badly. Americans whose parents have low incomes are more likely to have low incomes themselves, and less likely to make it into the middle or upper class, than their counterparts in other advanced countries. And those who are born affluent are, correspondingly, more likely to keep their status.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Some Democrats Are Ready to Water Down Their Own Net Neutrality Bill

      During Tuesday hearings on the proposal in the House Communications Subcommittee, some Democrats, like Florida Rep. Darren Soto, stated the bill was simply an “opening offer” and that Democrats would be open to amendments for the bill. Others, like Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, insisted that additional “compromise” would be needed to ensure passage.

      Normally, compromise is a healthy part of the legislative process. But activists at consumer groups like Fight For the Future told Motherboard that at this juncture in the net neutrality fight, they’re only likely to weaken the popular proposal.

    • Inventor of World Wide Web Has Mixed Feelings About It Today

      Tim Berners-Lee said on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web that the internet is a “mirror of humanity”

    • The responsibility for a sustainable digital future

      In just 30 years, this flagship application of the internet has forever changed our lives, our habits, our way of thinking and seeing the world. Yet, this anniversary leaves a bittersweet taste in our mouth: the initial decentralized and open version of the Web, which was meant to allow users to connect with each other, has gradually evolved to a very different version, centralized in the hands of giants who capture our data and impose their standards.

    • WWWorries? Inventor of Web laments coming-of-age woes
  • DRM

    • Corporations Are Co-Opting Right-to-Repair

      As an advocate, organizer, and campaigner for preschool access, tax fairness, plastic pollution and other causes for the last 14 years, I’ve heard this saying many times. You tell it to your volunteers when it looks like your movement has hit a wall or when it looks like your opposition has the upper hand, and you want to show your teammates that many people have faced obstacles before, and overcome them.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • With USPTO Denial, Perfect’s Lawsuit Against Drop Moves to Trial

      At its center, the dispute is over patents around the use of smart scales for weighing ingredients that communicate with apps for guided cooking. Perfect Company products include: Perfect Drink app-controlled bartending system, Perfect Bake app-controlled baking system and Perfect Kitchen PRO app-controlled smart kitchen system. The company also licenses out its technology for products include the Vitamix Perfect Blend and the NutriBullet Balance.

    • Copyrights

      • Supreme Court Denies Kim Dotcom Permission to Appeal

        In 2016, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom filed an eight-point statement of claim for judicial review in an effort to attack the underpinnings of the extradition process. A year later, the High Court struck out the first seven and a subsequent appeal by Dotcom failed. In a judgment handed down today, Dotcom was denied permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

      • Scammers Use Fake Copyright Notices to Steal Instagram Accounts

        Scammers are using fake copyright notices to obtain login credentials from Instagram users, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky reveals. The recipients are told that their account will be suspended for copyright infringement within 24 hours. They can, however, “verify” their account if they believe it’s a mistake.

      • Spotify just painted a big target on Apple’s back, and the iPhone maker should worry if antitrust regulators start aiming at it

        If history is any guide, Spotify’s complaint could lead to a similarly large fine against the iPhone maker. It might also lead to restrictions that could hamper Apple’s services business, which the electronics giant has been touting as its future. And the complaint could spur a parallel antitrust investigation here in the US.

To Team UPC the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Has Become a Joke and the European Patent Office (EPO) Never Mentions It Anymore

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This means that another shallow attempt to nail software patents onto Europe (through courts, not patent offices) may have failed for good


Summary: The EPO’s frantic rally to the very bottom of patent quality may be celebrated by obedient media and patent law firms; to people who actually produce innovative things, however, this should be a worrisome trend and thankfully courts are getting in the way of this nefarious agenda; one of these courts is the FCC in Germany

THE PAST few days have been rather quiet at the European Patent Office (EPO) and its staff union, SUEPO, which posted no updates for nearly a fortnight. There are still some documents being passed around, but nothing particularly interesting. We’ve been keeping an eye on those.

“The EPO likes disguising software patents, dubbing them “blockchain”, “AI”, “ML”, “4IR”, “SDV, “MedTech”, “FinTech, “EdTech”, “ICT”, “CII”, IoT”, “Industry 4.0″ and so on.”Very much as expected, a flood of puff pieces about so-called 'results' (in respective countries and sectors) are being ‘reported’ on; we saw several dozens of puff pieces in the UK, Germany, Poland and so on (even composed in English in countries that don’t speak English). Many articles made it seem like it’s a corporate competition, e.g. “Siemens is the leader in European patent applications” and “Huawei drops to 2nd place in European patent filings in 2018″. We don’t wish to waste time on these because we responded on the same day these 'results' came out and promised to move on to other matters. A lot of these ‘new’ patents are software patents. The EPO likes disguising software patents, dubbing them “blockchain”, “AI”, “ML”, “4IR”, “SDV, “MedTech”, “FinTech, “EdTech”, “ICT”, “CII”, IoT”, “Industry 4.0″ and so on. Sounds innovative, right? And also vague enough to mislead already-overburdened examiners.

“The backlash isn’t just European but international. Ethiopians, for instance, feel robbed.”IP Kat cited Watchtroll as a source about EPO ‘results’ in this morning’s post which, as usual, lacks any criticism of the EPO. “The Kluwer Patent Blog reports on the results of the EPO’s online user consultation concerning a procedural option for postponing examination of a European patent application,” it said, ignoring all the negative posts from the same author. António Campinos is in charge now, so IP Kat must act as though everything is perfect (and even delete all comments sceptical of Campinos because that’s just “rude”). These people may find it acceptable that the EPO ignores the rules, ignores the courts, ignores its founding document and routinely ignores international law. It might also find the corruption, abuses and suicides acceptable. What do they care as long as there are patent applications and lawsuits? That, after all, is their business. But the sinister ongoing affairs come at a great cost, not just to the UPC but to the EPO itself. Already, as we’ve routinely noted here, there is more backlash against fake patents (c/f Teffgate). The backlash isn’t just European but international. Ethiopians, for instance, feel robbed.

Just before the weekend we saw this press release about intent to grant; pay attention to the fact that there was an opposition, the number of which soared in recent years. To quote:

Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX) said the European Patent Office (EPO) has decided in favour of the company in relation to a patent for its lead product Feracru, an iron deficiency treatment.

The AIM-listed firm said that the decision, made by the EPO’s opposition division, related to patent #2 668 175, which covers a “Process for preparing an iron hydroxypyrone”.

Are examiners feeling independent enough to reject a lot of patent applications without facing ‘production’-related consequences? “Professional incompetence,” as the Office likes to call it? The problem is that many software patents are also being granted; these just aren’t being called that as words like “AI” better disguise the real nature.

Days ago José Santacroce (Moeller IP Advisors, Argentina) wrote in Mondaq about the Enlarged Board Of Appeal's case that can put an end to software patents, but can the Board rule on it independently, as per the EPC alone rather than fear? Santacroce wrote:

The invention disclosed in European patent application No. 03793825.5 (IPC: G06F17/50) relates to a computer-implemented method, computer program and apparatus for simulating the movement of a pedestrian crowd through an environment.

The main purpose of the simulation is its use in a process for designing a venue such as a railway station or a stadium. The application is based on the insight that human interaction can be expressed and simulated in the same way as interactions of physical objects.

It’s about much more than this single case. “Simulation” is the word they keep using, but by extension this may cover more or less all computer programs/algorithms. Even patent maximalists have publicly admitted this. They worry.

“It’s about much more than this single case. “Simulation” is the word they keep using, but by extension this may cover more or less all computer programs/algorithms.”And speaking of public admissions, Managing IP, a key proponent/advocate of the UPC (setting up pro-UPC events for the EPO and Team UPC), has just touched the subject of UPC and it’s all humour. Charlotte Kilpatrick wrote about yet another UPC ‘debate’ and it went like this:

The speculation was mostly humorous with panellists and audience members doubting whether or not the UPC will ever come to fruition as a complaint against it is currently stuck in the German court system. Some on the panel speculated that the courts might be waiting for the fallout from Brexit before making any ruling.

Away from the UPC, Stephane Drouin, chief IP counsel at UCB, commented on how IP is vital to industrial strategy and that UCB is committed to staying in the UK even after Brexit. Clemens Heusch, head of European IP litigation at Nokia, said in a separate talk that how you litigate a patent dispute depends on the patent and the product. He commented that for a pharmaceutical product, companies would ideally fight in every jurisdiction. If you’re dealing with mobile phones with a portfolio of 20,000 families, however, you need to pick and choose your battles carefully.

They changed subject rather fast. There’s not much to say about the UPC (it’s hardly being mentioned anymore, even in new articles like “Brexit: Bracing for IP Changes”). The EPO never mentions it.

We have meanwhile taken note of today’s ads from Patent Docs, with the usual propagandistic headlines/titles.

“If the US software patent proponents can be forced to admit their loss (a diplomatic challenge to say the least) then it will provide leverage against the EPO’s illegal activities, if only in the name of “harmonization”.”
Here’s one titled “JMLS Program on Oil States v. Greene’s Energy and Patents as Property Rights”; No, technically and legally patents are neither property nor rights.

How about patents on life disguised as “life science”, as in this ad?

In relation to the EPO they posted this some time in the morning. Notice how American patent lawyers (the litigation ‘industry’) speak as though they ‘own’ Europe and the UPC gets mentioned only once:

The Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) International Patent Committee will be presenting a program entitled “Practical and Strategic Guide to the European Patent System: From Filing to Grant, Validation, Unitary Patent and Other Options to Obtain Protection in Europe” on March 21, 2019 from 11:45 am to 1:00 pm (CT) at DePaul College of Law in Chicago, IL. The program will provide an overview of the patenting options available in Europe (national vs. regional), the grant stage of a European Patent — future options after grant (Unitary Patent or EP validation?), and efficient ways to obtain patent protection in Europe.

3 more lame “webinars” were advertised today — ads that nowadays account for the majority of posts there. We used to tackle/debunk these more exhaustively/thoroughly, but it is no longer a priority.

“UPC was all along a plot to accomplish many bad things, the least of which bypassing European courts to impose or legitimise software patents in Europe.”The matter of fact is that “[s]oftware patents are almost completely dead in the US,” as one reader told us this morning. “I think a metaphorical stake and garlic are still needed to ensure they stay that way for the foreseeable future.

“If the US software patent proponents can be forced to admit their loss (a diplomatic challenge to say the least) then it will provide leverage against the EPO’s illegal activities, if only in the name of “harmonization”.”

UPC was all along a plot to accomplish many bad things, the least of which bypassing European courts to impose or legitimise software patents in Europe. That certainly has not worked.


Links 16/3/2019: Knoppix Release and SUSE Independence

Posted in News Roundup at 4:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Linux Desktop Usage 2019

    If I look back now, it must be more than 20 years since I got fascinated with GNU/Linux ecosystem and started using it.

    Back then, it was more curiosity of a young teenager and the excitement to learn something. There’s one thing that I have always admired/respected about Free Software’s values, is: Access for everyone to learn. This is something I never forget and still try to do my bit.

    It was perfect timing and I was lucky to be part of it. Free Software was (and still is) a great platform to learn upon, if you have the willingness and desire for it.

    Over the years, a lot lot lot has changed, evolved and improved. From the days of writing down the XF86Config configuration file to get the X server running, to a new world where now everything is almost dynamic, is a great milestone that we have achieved.

    All through these years, I always used GNU/Linux platform as my primary computing platform. The CLI, Shell and Tools, have all been a great source of learning. Most of the stuff was (and to an extent, still is) standardized and focus was usually on a single project.

    There was less competition on that front, rather there was more collaboration. For example, standard tools like: sed, awk, grep etc were single tools. Like you didn’t have 2 variants of it. So, enhancements to these tools was timely and consistent and learning these tools was an incremental task.

  • Desktop

    • Linux: It was just a matter of time…..

      Now to their credit, Xtra-PC makes it clear from the beginning that the operating system they will soon cherish as their broken-a**ed computer’s savior is Linux. It doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Linux but I suppose they know as much as I… don’t confuse the new customer. Give them just enough reason to purchase your product and let the details become available upon use.

      And by golly, slick marketing that it is, I am sure that they will do well with Xtra-PC. They are pouring copious amounts of money into the promotion of their product, and in this age of computer paranoia, they’re probably right on time.

    • Octavo Systems Shows Off With Deadbug Linux Computer

      Once upon a time, small Linux-capable single board computers were novelties, but not anymore. Today we have a wide selection of them, many built around modules we could buy for our own projects. Some of the chipset suppliers behind these boards compete on cost, others find a niche to differentiate their product. Octavo Systems is one of the latter offering system-in-package (SiP) modules that are specifically designed for easy integration. They described how simple it would be to build a minimal computer using their SC335x C-SiP, and to drive the point home they brought a deadbug implementation to Embedded World 2019. [Short video after the break.]

    • Intel Comet Lake Processors To Feature Up To 10 Cores, Confirmed in Linux Support List – Will Also Have 8 Core and 6 Core Variants
    • Vnopn K1 is a small, cheap fanless PC with an AMD processor

      There’s no shortage of tiny, fanless computers capable of running Windows or LInux software these days. But the Vnopn K1 is a bit unusual since it has a low-power AMD processor rather than an Intel chip.

      As spotted by AndroidPC.es, the Vnopn K1 is available from Chinese marketplace AliExpress with prices starting at $134 for a barebones model.

  • Server

    • Unprivileged container builds using stacker

      One of the primary goals of user namespaces was to provide the ability for unprivileged users to have their own range of uids over which they would have privilege, with minimal need for setuid programs and no risk (barring bugs in the OS) of their privilege having effect on uids which are not “their own”.

      We’ve had user namespaces for awhile now. While there are some actions which cannot be done in a user namespace, such as mounting a loopback filesystem, there are many things, such as setting up a build environment with custom package installs, which used to be a challenge without privilege but are now simple.

    • Red Hat eyes cloud-native Java future with Quarkus

      Red Hat’s latest initiative, Quarkus, aims to usher in a cloud-native Java future — and shift the core of innovation in enterprise Java.

      Numerous efforts over the years have attempted to make Java more cloud-native, such as Google’s Dalvik virtual machine used in Android. None has demonstrated as much promise as Red Hat Quarkus, which is based on two Oracle-led projects, GraalVM and Substrate VM, to build cloud-native Java applications that are much faster and smaller, in a Linux container as part of a Kubernetes deployment.

      GraalVM is a universal virtual machine that is used to run applications written in JavaScript, Python, Ruby, R, and Java Virtual Machine (JVM) based languages, including Java, Scala, Clojure, Kotlin, as well as low-level virtual machine-based languages, such as C and C++. Graal enables aggressive ahead-of time (AOT) compilation, so developers can compile their apps into native binary images and avoid the limitations of the JVM.

      Substrate VM, a subsystem of Graal, focuses on AOT compilation to collect Java to a native binary image, said Mark Little, vice president of engineering and CTO of JBoss Middleware at Red Hat.

    • OpenShift All-in-One (AIO) for Labs and Fun

      A common request from customers is how to run the actual Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP) bits in a single node. This request often comes from customers that need to support training environments, dedicated single-user development environments or from technical architects wanting to validate concepts without deploying a full multi-node cluster. There are many options available for developers, from Minishift to CodeReady Workspaces. These are supported options which are a great solution for application developers that want to deploy to the platform. The use cases not addressed with these solutions are more platform and infrastructure related.

    • 7 pieces of contrarian Kubernetes advice

      You can find many great resources for getting smarter about Kubernetes out there. (Ahem, we’ve written a few ourselves.)

      That’s good news for IT teams and professionals looking to boost their knowledge and consider how Kubernetes might solve problems in their organization. The excited chatter about Kubernetes has gotten so loud, however, that it can become difficult to make sense of it all. Moreover, it can be challenging to sort the actual business and technical benefits from the sales pitches.

    • SwiftStack Announces World’s First Multi-Cloud AI/ML Data Management Solution

      “The SwiftStack solution accelerates data pipelines, eliminates storage silos, and enables multi-cloud workflows, thus delivering faster business outcomes,” said Jason Blum, CTO at GPL Technologies, an NVIDIA and SwiftStack elite partner. “SwiftStack provides us with the flexibility, technology leadership and breakthrough economics to build tailored solutions for our customers.” GPL Technologies has created multiple ways to implement the solution, with NVIDIA DGX-1 GPU server(s), NVIDIA GPU Cloud, and other leading system hardware.

    • Tetrate Aims To Make Service Mesh Accessible And Enterprise Ready

      After Kubernetes, open source projects such as Istio, Envoy and Linkerd get the maximum attention from the users and cloud native community. Google backs Istio while Envoy and Linkerd are a part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Since the current service mesh technologies are available only as stock open source projects, implementing and integrating them with the rest of the microservices infrastructure is complex.

    • Facebook debuts Minipack, an open modular switch for datacenters

      During a keynote at the 2019 Open Compute Project (OCP) Global Summit in San Jose, Facebook today debuted Minipack, a modular whitebox network switch platform it claims is the first of its kind with an “open” design.

      “We are excited to work with the community to develop an ecosystem around Minipack,” said director of engineering at Facebook Hans-Juergen Schmidtke in a statement. “[It’s] the next generation of open, modular switch platforms that is more flexible, scalable and efficient for modern data centers.”

    • Cumulus’ Linux OS first to support Facebook’s modular Minipack

      Cumulus Linux will be the first network operating system to fully support Minipack, Facebook’s modular switch platform.

      Minipack is half the height of its Facebook-designed big brother, Backpack, and uses half the power. It was developed by hardware maker Edgecore Networks.

      Cumulus’ support for Minipack was announced at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Global Summit in San Jose this week.. The company also said that its Linux based OS will be available pre-installed on Minipack directly from the vendor or through Edgecore.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode #121: python2 becomes self-aware, enters fifth stage of grief
    • LHS Episode #275: The Weekender XXV

      You have tuned into the 275th episode of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this, the 25th Weekender episode, the hosts discuss upcoming amateur radio special event stations and worldwide contests, upcoming open source conferences, Linux distributions to try, challenges to try for yourselves, meatloaf that might just be murderous, an Imperial IPA and a port-finished bourbon along with many other topics. Hope you have a fun and inspired fortnight.

  • Kernel Space

    • ZRAM Will See Greater Performance On Linux 5.1 – It Changed Its Default Compressor

      For those relying upon ZRAM to provide a compressed block device in RAM for cases like using it for SWAP or /tmp, with Linux 5.1 you might find it performing better than earlier kernels.

      With Linux 5.1, the ZRAM block driver has changed its default compressor from “lzo” to “lzo-rle.”

    • Linux Foundation

      • Chasing Linux Kernel Archives

        Kernel development is truly impossible to keep track of. The main mailing list alone is vast beyond belief. Then there are all the side lists and IRC channels, not to mention all the corporate mailing lists dedicated to kernel development that never see the light of day. In some ways, kernel development has become fundamentally mysterious.

        Once in a while, some lunatic decides to try to reach back into the past and study as much of the corpus of kernel discussion as he or she can find. One such person is Joey Pabalinas, who recently wanted to gather everything together in Maildir format, so he could do searches, calculate statistics, generate pseudo-hacker AI bots and whatnot.

    • Graphics Stack

      • libinput and location-based touch arbitration

        One of the features in the soon-to-be-released libinput 1.13 is location-based touch arbitration. Touch arbitration is the process of discarding touch input on a tablet device while a pen is in proximity. Historically, this was provided by the kernel wacom driver but libinput has had userspace touch arbitration for quite a while now, allowing for touch arbitration where the tablet and the touchscreen part are handled by different kernel drivers.

      • Wayland 1.17 & Weston 6.0 Gear Up To Release Next Week

        If all goes well, the first stable updates to Wayland and the Weston compositor for 2019 will be released in just a few days.

        Wayland release manager Derek Foreman has issued the release candidates for the upcoming Wayland 1.17 and Weston 6.0 reference compositor. Being past the feature freeze, these releases are mundane themselves with just a few maintenance updates on the Wayland side while Weston has just a Meson build system change and a minor DRM compositor fix.

      • GeForce GTX 1660 Is NVIDIA’s Cheapest Turing-based Graphics Card
      • AMDVLK 2019.Q1.8 Enables Six More Vulkan Extensions, Fixes Bugs

        The AMD driver developers maintaining the AMDVLK open-source Vulkan Linux driver did a “Pi day” driver update that is quite exciting as it enables six new extensions, with the most notable being that transform feedback appears to be officially advertised.

        This new AMDVLK update is version 2019.Q1.8 and incorporates their latest driver sources for roughly the past two weeks. The six new Vulkan extensions now being advertised as enabled are VK_KHR_vulkan_memory_model, VK_EXT_depth_clip_enable, VK_KHR_depth_stencil_resolve, VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8, VK_EXT_debug_utils extension, and VK_EXT_transform_feedback. Those are some big additions notably with the Vulkan Memory Model, float16_int8, EXT_debug_utils being useful for debugging, and transform feedback. Previous AMDVLK drivers have mentioned VK_EXT_transform_feedback while now it appears in this AMDVLK 2019.Q1.8 release it’s now officially ready, which is great news particularly for Linux gamers using Steam Play with DXVK.

      • The Lima Gallium3D Driver Is Aiming To Be Merged In Mesa

        While there is the Panfrost Gallium3D driver that has been advancing rapidly within mainline Mesa for Arm’s Mali newer Midgard/Bifrost architectures, the Lima driver might finally see the light of day in mainline Mesa for Mali’s older 400/450 series graphics engine.

        Lima is the open-source driver effort originally started seven years ago Luc Verhaegen but then the project ceased and more recently Qiang Yu has been working on resurrecting and advancing this original open-source, reverse-engineered Arm Mali graphics driver effort.

    • Benchmarks

      • Scaleway’s EPYC Powered Cloud Is Delivering Competitive Performance & Incredible Value

        Scaleway, the European cloud company we previously have talked about on Phoronix for their usage of Coreboot on servers, this week announced new “general purpose” VMs powered by AMD EPYC processors. Curious about the performance, I fired up some benchmarks.

        Scaleway’s new general purpose virtual instances are powered by AMD EPYC CPUs with NVMe SSD storage and range from the petite “GP1-XS” with just four AMD EPYC cores / 16GB RAM / 150GB NVMe storage / 400 MBits/s bandwidth at €0.078/hr to the “GP1-XL” with 48 EPYC cores / 256GB RAM / 600GB NVMe / 2 Gbit/s bandwidth at €1.138/hr. The pricing for these EPYC instances is quite competitive compared to the Intel/AMD VM pricing at other cloud providers, notably Amazon EC2, as will be shown by some performance-per-dollar tests in this article.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • All new Okteta features of version 0.26 in a picture

        Okteta, a simple editor for the raw data of files, has been released in version 0.26.0. The 0.26 series mainly brings a clean-up of the public API of the provided shared libraries. The UI & features of the Okteta program have been kept stable, next to one added new feature: there is now a context menu in the byte array viewer/editor available.

        Since the port to Qt5 & KF5 Okteta has not seen work on new features. Instead some rework of the internal architecture has been started, and is still on-going.

        Though this release there is a small feature added again, and thus the chance to pick up on the good tradition of the series of all-new-features-in-a-picture, like done for 0.9, 0.7, 0.4, 0.3, and 0.2. See in one quick glance what is new since 0.9 (sic):

      • KDE Itinerary – Using Public Transport Data

        Now that we have a way to access realtime public transport data this needs to be integrated into KDE Itinerary. There’s three use-cases being looked at so far, described below.

        Realtime information

        The first obvious use-case is displaying delays, platform changes, etc in the timeline and reservation details views, and notifying about such changes. This is already implemented for trains based on KPublicTransport, and to a very limited extend (gate changes) for flights using KPkPass for Apple Wallet boarding passes containing a working update API endpoint.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • NetworkManager 1.16 released, adding WPA3-Personal and WireGuard support

        NetworkManager needs no introduction. In fifteen years since its initial release, it has reached the status of the standard Linux network configuration daemon of choice of all major Linux distributions. What, on the other hand, may need some introduction, are the features of its 28th major release.

        Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome: NetworkManager-1.16.

      • NetworkManager 1.16 Brings WireGuard Support, WiFi Direct/P2P

        NetworkManager 1.16 is now available as the newest feature release for this widely used Linux networking configuration component.

        NetworkManager 1.16 is a big feature release bringing support for WireGuard VPN tunnels, WiFi direction connections (WiFi P2P), SAE authentication, AP and ad-hoc support for the Intel IWD back-end, improved handling of DHCP router options, enhancements around network boot, and a lot of other enhancements.

      • WireGuard in NetworkManager

        NetworkManager 1.16 got native support for WireGuard VPN tunnels (NEWS). WireGuard is a novel VPN tunnel protocol and implementation that spawned a lot of interest. Here I will not explain how WireGuard itself works. You can find very good documentation and introduction at wireguard.com.

      • Haller: WireGuard in NetworkManager

        Thomas Haller writes about the WireGuard integration in NetworkManager 1.16.

      • The JS Foundation and Node.js Foundation Have Merged to Form the Open JS Foundation, GNOME 3.32 Now Available, Qt 5.12.2 Patch Release, Kernel Update for Ubuntu 14.04, Debian GNU/Linux Project Leader Nominations

        GNOME 3.32 Taipei was released this week. This version represents 6 months of work by the GNOME Community and includes many improvements and new features. The visual style has been refreshed with an brand-new set of app icons. It also “introduces an experimental feature for Wayland desktop sessions that enables fractional scaling”. And, data structure improvements in the GNOME desktop have caused a ” faster, snappier feel to the animations, icons and top ‘shell’ panel”. See the release notes for more details on all the changes and enhancements.

      • GNOME 3.32 and other ramblings

        The most promoted improvement in this release is the improved performance. Having worked or reviewed some these improvements myself, I found it a bit weird that some people were reporting enormous changes on performance. Of course, you should notice that GNOME Shell is smoother, and applications as well (when the compositor reliably sends frame ticks to applications, they also draw on time, and feel smoother as well.)

        But people were telling me that these changes were game changing.

        There is a grey line between the actual improvements, and people just happy and overly excited about it. And I thought the latter was the case.

        But then I installed the non-debug packages from Arch repositories and this is actually a game changer release. I probably got used to using Mutter and GNOME Shell manually compiled with all the debug and development junk, and didn’t really notice how better it became.

      • Maps and GNOME 3.32

        So, a couple of days ago the GNOME 3.32 release came out and I thought I should share something about the news on the Maps side of things, although I think most of this has been covered in previous posts.

        First up we have gotten a new application icon as part of the major overhaul of the icon style.

        Furthermore the application menu has been moved into a “hamburger menu” inside the main window, in-line with the other applications in the desktop. This goes hand-in-hand with the gnome-shell top bar application menu not showing this application-specified menu anymore, since it was considered not too intuitive and also few third-party apps utilized it. But I’m pleased to see that the icon of the currently focused app is still shown in the topbar, as I think this is a good visual cue there.

  • Distributions

    • Mageia Linux Is a Modern Throwback to the Underdog Days

      I’ve been using Linux long enough to remember Linux Mandrake. I recall, at one of my first-ever Linux conventions, hanging out with the MandrakeSoft crew and being starstruck to think that they were creating a Linux distribution that was sure to bring about world domination for the open source platform.

      Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, Linux Mandrake didn’t even stand the test of time. It was renamed Mandriva and rebranded. Mandriva retained popularity but eventually came to a halt in 2011. The company disbanded, sending all those star developers to other projects. Of course, rising from the ashes of Mandrake Linux came the likes of OpenMandriva, as well as another distribution called Mageia Linux.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • HexagonOS 1.0 overview | DISCOVER A NEW WAY

        In this video, I am going to show an overview of HexagonOS 1.0 and some of the applications pre-installed.

      • AcroLinuxB 19.03 Deepin

        Today we are looking at ArcoLinuxB 19.03 Deepin. AcroLinux 19.03 has been released on the 12th of March and it’s default environment in XFCE and we had a few looks at in the past but I thought I will look at one of the community editions to celebrate the point release of this rolling Arch distro with stunning icon themes and neat features in it, with Linux Kernel 5 and all the latest of Linux. Enjoy!

        ArcoLinux is available with the following desktop environments: AcroLinux – XFCE, Openbox and i3. AcroLinuxD – no Desktop. AcroLinuxB – Awesome, Bspwm, Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, Gnome, Openbox, i3, Mate, Plasma, Xfce and Xmonad.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • KDE Plasma 5.15.3 update

        The KDE Plasma packages were updated to 5.15.3. This is a bug fix update including additional translations for the KDE Plasma desktop. The full announcement can be found here.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Suse is once again an independent company

        Open-source infrastructure and application delivery vendor Suse — the company behind one of the oldest Linux distributions — today announced that it is once again an independent company. The company today finalized its $2.5 billion acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus, which itself had acquired it back in 2014.

        Few companies have changed hands as often as Suse and yet remained strong players in their business. Suse was first acquired by Novell in 2004. Novell was then acquired by Attachmate in 2010, which Micro Focus acquired in 2014. The company then turned Suse into an independent division, only to then announce its sale to EQT in the middle of 2018.

        It took a while for Micro Focus and EQT to finalize the acquisition, though, but now, for the first time since 2004, Suse stands on its own.

      • The Future of SUSE: A Home for Truly Open Open Source Solutions

        While this might look like a big change for SUSE, the fact is that for myself and the rest of the leadership team here, it’s a fulfillment of a path we’ve been following for a long time.
        In fact, there are no changes to the essence of our mission, vision and strategy. We will continue our focus on the success of our customers and our commitments to our partners and open source communities and projects.
        Events and trends in IT make it clear that open source has become more important for enterprises than ever. We believe this makes our position as the largest independent open source company more important than ever. SUSE’s independence is aligned with a single-minded focus on delivering what is best for our customers and partners, coupled with full control over our own destiny.

      • SUSE Completes Move to Independence, Reaffirms Commitment to Customers, Partners and Open Source Communities as Industry’s Largest Independent Open Source Company

        SUSE® today announced the creation of the largest independent open source company following the completion of SUSE’s acquisition by growth investor EQT from Micro Focus. With its ongoing momentum, portfolio expansion and successful execution in the marketplace, as a standalone business SUSE is now even better positioned to focus on the needs of customers and partners as a leading provider of enterprise-grade, open source software-defined infrastructure and application delivery solutions that enable customer workloads anywhere – on premise, hybrid and multi-cloud – with exceptional service, value and flexibility.
        The newly independent SUSE has expanded its executive team, adding new leadership roles and experience to foster its continued momentum into this next stage of corporate development. Enrica Angelone has been named to the new post of chief financial officer, and Sander Huyts is SUSE’s new chief operations officer. Thomas Di Giacomo, formerly chief technology officer for SUSE, is now president of Engineering, Product and Innovation. All three report to SUSE CEO Nils Brauckmann.

      • SUSE completes its management transition

        Here’s a SUSE press release hyping its transition to being “the largest independent open-source company”.

      • SUSE Marks Its New Independence Under EQT Ownership

        It was in July of last year that Swedish private equity firm EQT Partners acquired SUSE from Micro Focus. That deal is now closed and SUSE is marking its independence today while proclaiming to be the largest independent open-source company.

      • SUSE, The First Enterprise Linux Company, Is Again Independent

        SUSE was the world’s first company to market Linux for the enterprise customers; it also drives the development of the popular openSUSE Linux distribution.

        Over the years, the company’s ownership has changed quite a few times. Just yesterday, the company announced that once again it’s an independent open source company.

    • Fedora

      • The 10 Best Reasons to Use Fedora Linux

        Fedora needs no introduction because it is one of the most popular Linux distribution alongside big names like Ubuntu, Debian, and Red Hat. But just in case you are coming across the distro for the first time, you should know that it is a professional, customizable Red Hat-backed Linux distro famous for giving its users the latest features while remaining true to the open source community.

      • GNOME 3.32 released & coming to Fedora 30
      • FPgM report: 2019-11

        I?ve set up weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else. The Fedora 30 Beta Go/No-Go and Release Readiness meetings are next week.

      • Two new policy proposals

        In addition, we realized that we don’t have an explicit policy about issuing bans in channels for persistent off-topic conversation. We want to give teams within Fedora autonomy to act on their own within the boundaries of our Four Foundations and community norms.

      • Internationalization (i18n) features for Fedora 30
      • GNU Tools Cauldron 2019

        Simon Marchi just announced that the next GNU Tools Cauldron will be in Montreal, Canada from Thursday September 12 till Sunday September 15.

      • Yum vs. DNF Is Still Causing Headaches For Fedora Logistics

        While the DNF package manager as the “next-generation Yum” has been in development for over a half-decade and has been the default over traditional Yum for a number of Fedora releases, it’s still causing headaches for some and a subset of users still desiring that DNF be renamed to Yum.

        On newer Fedora installations, yum does already point to dnf and the experience these days at least from my personal perspective has been quite good with DNF being the default now since Fedora 22… I haven’t had any real DNF troubles now in years, though with RHEL8 Beta even still calling it “yum”, there are some oddities from being so ingrained to Yum for the past two decades especially for system administrators.

    • Debian Family

      • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, February 2019

        I was assigned 19.5 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and carried over 1 hour from January. I worked only 4 hours and so will carry over 16.5 hours.

      • Hideki Yamane: pbuilder hack with new debootstrap option

        Suddenly I noticed that maybe I can use –cache-dir option that I’ve added to debootstrap some time ago for pbuilder, too. Then hacked it.

      • Finally, one dev puts hand up for Debian leader post

        The Debian GNU/Linux project has extended the last date for nominations for the post of leader to be received, a couple of days before the last date for nominations. One nomination has come in, with developer Joerg Jaspert, who is part of the Debian Account Managers team, putting his hand up.
        Nominations were initially slated to close on 16 March, after opening on the 3rd. The project, which puts out what is arguably the best GNU/Linux distribution, caters to a large number of architectures as well. It is the base for many other distributions, including Ubuntu.

        Jaspert sponsors those who are not yet developers so they can maintain their own packages, according to his own website. He also helps people who are maintainers to transition to developer.

        The campaigning period for the Debian election is from 17 March to 6 April, though that may now be pushed out by a week as well. Voting was originally scheduled to take place from 7 April to 20 April.

      • Debian project leader candidates emerge

        When Leaderless Debian was written, it seemed entirely plausible that there would still be no candidates for the project leader office even after the extended nomination deadline passed. It is now clear that there will be no need to extend the deadline further, since three candidates (Joerg Jaspert, Jonathan Carter, and Sam Hartman) have stepped forward. It seems likely that the wider discussion on the role of the Debian project leader will continue but, in the meantime, the office will not sit empty.

      • Romain Perier: Hello planet !

        My name is Romain, I have been nominated to the status of Debian Maintainer recently. I am part of the debian-kernel team (still a padawan) since few months, and, as a DM, I will co-maintain the package raspi3-firmware with Gunnar Wolf.


        I will try my best to get an excellent support for all Raspberry PI in Debian (with unofficial images at the beginning). Including kernel support, kernel bugs fixes or improvements, debos and/or vmdb2 recipes for generating buster images easily, and even graphical stack hacks :) . I will continue my work in the kernel-team, because there are a tons of things to do, and of courses as co-maintainer, maintain raspi3-firmware (that will be probably renamed to something more generic, *spoil*).

      • Derivatives

        • Deepin 15.9.2 Beta – The Repository Migrates to Debian Stable

          deepin is an open source GNU/Linux operating system, based on Linux kernel and mainly on desktop applications, supporting laptops, desktops and all-in-ones. It preinstalls Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE) and nearly 30 deepin native applications, as well as several applications from the open source community to meet users’ daily learning and work needs. In addition, about a thousand of applications are offered in Deepin Store to meet users’ various needs.

          deepin 15.9.2 Beta is rebuilt and released based on the stable repository instead of previous Debian unstable. Several deepin applications have been migrated there too. By migration, deepin software repository will be more stable and reliability.

          What is the difference between deepin 15.9.2 Beta ISO and deepin 15.9 ISO?

          The main difference is that deepin software repository migrates from Debian unstable to Debian stable. Compared with 15.9 ISO, deepin 15.9.2 Beta ISO integrates the latest deepin 15.9.2 and has been adjusted and optimized accordingly.

          Why migrate to Debian stable from unstable?

        • KNOPPIX 8.5.0 released

          Remember the KNOPPIX distribution? KNOPPIX 8.5.0 has been released. It includes a 4.20 kernel, several desktop environments, the ADRIANE audio desktop, UEFI secure boot support, and more.

        • KNOPPIX 8.5.0 Linux Magazin Release
        • Knoppix 8.5 Live Linux Distro Released, Based On Linux 4.20, Adds Adriane Audio Desktop

          Knoppix, one of the first “live” Linux distributions that dates back to the year 2000 and still continues to see occasional updates, is out today with Knoppix version 8.5 in celebration of the latest Chemnitzer Linux Days event.

          Knoppix 8.5 is built from Debian Buster and Sid packages while providing various updates, utilizing the Linux 4.20 stable kernel, shipping both KDE 5 and GNOME 3 and LXDE options, adds in the ADRIANE audio desktop that can be used with vision-oriented output devices for desktop engagement via audio, and has a plethora of package upgrades.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Debian vs Ubuntu – Their Differences and Similarities

            Debian vs Ubuntu, their differences and similarities. While Ubuntu is based on Debian, there are some areas where the two distros differ. In this video I’ll discuss Debian and Ubuntu, how they differ from one another and how despite these differences the two Linux distros manage to do amazing things.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio to Remain Officially Recognized Ubuntu Flavor

              During a meeting of the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board on March 11, 2019, two Ubuntu Studio developers, Council Chair Erich Eickmeyer and Council Member Ross Gammon, successfully applied for and received upload rights to Ubuntu Studio’s core packages, fulfilling the requirements prescribed in https://wiki.ubuntu.com/RecognizedFlavors.

              We would like to thank the community for staying with us through this uncertain time, and thank the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board for approving Erich and Ross’s applications.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Sweet Home 3D: An open source tool to help you decide on your dream home

    recently accepted a new job in Virginia. Since my wife was working and watching our house in New York until it sold, it was my responsibility to go out and find a new house for us and our cat. A house that she would not see until we moved into it!

    I contracted with a real estate agent and looked at a few houses, taking many pictures and writing down illegible notes. At night, I would upload the photos into a Google Drive folder, and my wife and I would review them simultaneously over the phone while I tried to remember whether the room was on the right or the left, whether it had a fan, etc.

  • GNU licensed KLog Logbook software v.0.9.7 released

    Jaime, EA4TV, released KLog v.0.9.7, a multiplatform free hamradio logging program which is able to run in Linux, Windows and macOS.

    The latest release allows the user to add, remove or edit satel- lites to the KLog DB allowing import or export of satellites data.
    KLog supports ADIF as a default file format.

    Additional features of KLog include QSO management, QSL management, a DX-Cluster client, DXCC management, ClubLog integration, WSJT-X, and DX-Marathon support. Several languages are supported including Catalan, Croatian, Danish, English, Finish, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla statement on the Christchurch terror attack

        Like millions of people around the world, the Mozilla team has been deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attack against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand.

        The news of dozens of people killed and injured while praying in their place of worship is truly upsetting and absolutely abhorrent.

      • VP search update — and Europe

        A year ago, Mozilla Foundation started a search for a VP, Leadership Programs. The upshot of the job: work with people from around the world to build a movement to ensure our digital world stays open, healthy and humane. Over a year later, we’re in the second round of this search — finding the person to drive this work isn’t easy. However, we’re getting closer, so it’s time for an update.

        At a nuts and bolts level, the person in this role will support teams at Mozilla that drive our thought leadership, fellowships and events programs. This is a great deal of work, but fairly straightforward. The tricky part is helping all the people we touch through these programs connect up with each other and work like a movement — driving to real outcomes that make digital life better.

        While the position is global in scope, it will be based in Europe. This is in part because we want to work more globally, which means shifting our attention out of North America and towards African, European, Middle Eastern and South Asian time zones. Increasingly, it is also because we want to put a significant focus on Europe itself.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 55
      • AFS For Linux 5.1 Would Have Pleased Firefox/SQLite But Was Rejected As Untested Crap

        The Andrew File-System (AFS) continues to evolve as a distributed file-system. Over the past year and a half there’s been a lot of activity to AFS in the mainline Linux kernel, including material slated for the in-development Linux 5.1 kernel but then Linus Torvalds ended up having to un-pull the changes.

        Should you be wanting to run the Mozilla Firefox web browser from this distributed file-system or other applications relying upon the SQLite embedded database, the process should be smoother once this new file-system driver code lands. AFS in the material for Linux 5.1 was going to have fine-grained locking that satisfies the likes of Firefox and SQLite. There’s also other work to “improve the life of desktop applications” with other file locking fixes, silly-rename support, and other changes.

  • CMS

    • One-third of the web!

      WordPress now powers over 1/3rd of the top 10 million sites on the web according to W3Techs. Our market share has been growing steadily over the last few years, going from 29.9% just one year ago to 33.4% now. We are, of course, quite proud of these numbers!

      The path here has been very exciting. In 2005, we were celebrating 50,000 downloads. Six years later, in January 2011, WordPress was powering 13.1% of websites. And now, early in 2019, we are powering 33.4% of sites. Our latest release has already been downloaded close to 14 million times, and it was only released on the 21st of February.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • GNU Guix: Documentation video creation

      Over the last few months, I have been working as an Outreachy intern with the GNU Guix crowd to develop videos presenting and documenting the project. My goal in this round as an Outreachy intern for the December 2018 to March 2019 period consists of creating introductory documentation videos about different topics for people who would like to use GNU Guix, admins and/or those who would like to join Guix community and don’t know where to start. Even interested or having a clear documentation, they might feel overwhelmed by it. I experienced this issue in the past with people in another context.

      My main tasks consist of creating a workflow for automating as much as possible the process of creating the videos, as well as, of course, creating the videos themselves. Creating the videos is not that easy as it might seem, I have to design them (I cannot automate that part), let the audio match the video, and matching the exact timing is quite difficult. Something very important that I should mention is that the workflow currently allows translations to other languages.

      It is a work in progress for too many reasons, specially because it keeps being improved all the time.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Unesco calls on governments to preserve source code

      Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is calling on governments to help preserve source code. The appeal is gaining support from researchers, universities and archives across the world. “The role of software development in all fields of innovation is still largely underrated,” Unesco says.

    • Launch of the 2019 Digital Government Factsheets’ data-collection

      The European Commission, Directorate-General for Informatics, Interoperability Unit launched on 1st March 2019 the data-collection activities for the yearly update of the eGovernment factsheets (from now on Digital government factsheets). This will constitute the eleventh edition of this exercise. The factsheets are published as part of the National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) project of the ISA2 programme, and constitute a vital step in the process of monitoring the development in Digital Government in Europe, covering more than 34 European States.

      A novelty in this year’s factsheets is the new scope of the factsheets, providing streamlined information concerning the legal frameworks, strategies and infrastructure in place to support the Digital Government activities in each country. This has been done to reflect the ongoing paradigm shift from the concept of eGovernment to the broader one of Digital Government, covering also back-office processes and new digital policies, domains and technologies.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The Cloud and Open Source Powder Keg

      The idea that the adoption of open source by developers within enterprises at scale had transformed the nature of procurement was consistent with RedMonk’s own views, of course. To some degree, it has been a core belief all along, and has been surfaced explicitly over the years with pieces such as this one from 2011 entitled “Bottom Up Adoption: The End of Procurement as We’ve Known It.” What was interesting about the proposed model wasn’t what it told us about the present, however, but rather what it failed to tell us about the future.

      Conspicuously unmentioned at this event was the cloud. The cited competition for both investor and commercial OSS supplier was proprietary software; no special attention or even explicit mention was made of Amazon or other hyperscale cloud providers. A question on the subject was brushed off, politely.

      Which was interesting, because RedMonk had by that point been judging commercial open source leadership teams based on their answer to the simple question of “who is your competition?” If the answer was a proprietary incumbent, this suggested that the company was looking backwards at the market. If the answer was instead the cloud, it was safe to assume they were more forward-looking.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Norway Joins List of Countries Canceling Elsevier Contracts

        Norway has become latest country to cancel its contracts with Elsevier following a dispute over access to research papers. In a statement published yesterday (March 12), the Norwegian Directorate for ICT and Joint Services in Higher Education and Research (UNIT), which represents a consortium of research institutions in the country, rejected Elsevier’s offer to lower some of its costs for Norwegian institutions because it didn’t go far enough to promote free access to published research.

  • Programming/Development

    • libinput’s internal building blocks

      Ho ho ho, let’s write libinput. No, of course I’m not serious, because no-one in their right mind would utter “ho ho ho” without a sufficient backdrop of reindeers to keep them sane. So what this post is instead is me writing a nonworking fake libinput in Python, for the sole purpose of explaining roughly how libinput’s architecture looks like. It’ll be to the libinput what a Duplo car is to a Maserati. Four wheels and something to entertain the kids with but the queue outside the nightclub won’t be impressed.

      The target audience are those that need to hack on libinput and where the balance of understanding vs total confusion is still shifted towards the latter. So in order to make it easier to associate various bits, here’s a description of the main building blocks.

      libinput uses something resembling OOP except that in C you can’t have nice things unless what you want is a buffer overflow\n\80xb1001af81a2b1101. Instead, we use opaque structs, each with accessor methods and an unhealthy amount of verbosity. Because Python does have classes, those structs are represented as classes below. This all won’t be actual working Python code, I’m just using the syntax.

    • Dependencies. Now with badges!

      Welcome to post number twenty in the randomly redundant R rant series of posts, or R4 for short. It has been a little quiet since the previous post last June as we’ve been busy with other things but a few posts (or ideas at least) are queued.

      Dependencies. We wrote about this a good year ago in post #17 which was (in part) tickled by the experience of installing one package … and getting a boatload of others pulled in. The topic and question of dependencies has seen a few posts over the year, and I won’t be able to do them all justice. Josh and I have been added a few links to the tinyverse.org page. The (currently) last one by Russ Cox titled Our Software Dependency Problem is particularly trenchant.

    • Online Game Manual and Sound On Off
    • 5 Examples to Jumpstart Object Oriented Programming in Python
    • Plot the technical data for a stock
    • Count the number of audiences around you in the theater
    • Python Testing 101 with pytest
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 12 – Assignment Operators and Conditional Expressions

      In this ongoing C programming tutorial series, we have already discussed some of the basic stuff like arithmetic, logical, and relational operators as well as conditional loops like ‘if’ and ‘while’. Adding upon that, this tutorial will focus on assignment operators (other than =) and conditional expressions.

    • Set up JDK Mission Control with Red Hat Build of OpenJDK

      JDK Mission Control is now the newest member of the Red Hat Software Collections (RHSCL). JDK Mission Control is a powerful profiler for HotSpot Java virtual machines (JVMs) and has an advanced set of tools that enable efficient and detailed analysis of the extensive data collected by JDK Flight Recorder. The toolchain enables developers and administrators to collect and analyze data from Java applications running locally or deployed in production environments.

      In this article, I will go through a primary example of setting up JDK Mission Control. For Linux, JDK Mission Control is part of the RHSCL and, for Windows, it is available as part of the OpenJDK zip distribution on the Red Hat Customer Portal. For Linux, these instructions assume that Red Hat Build of OpenJDK 11 is already installed. I will show how to set up the system to install software from RHSCL, which provides the latest development technologies for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Then, I will install the JDK Mission Control and run a simple sample application. The whole tutorial should take fewer than 10 minutes to complete.

    • A Big Patch Could Yield Big Performance Benefits For GPU Offloading With LLVM

      The researchers at Saarland University in Germany continue doing interesting things with LLVM and a new patch for at least some benchmarks can yield big performance benefits for GPU offloading.

      Johannes Doerfert of Saarland University published code this week on the OpenMP GPU code “SPMD-zation”. The code builds upon their earlier proposal from months ago to allow for more code targeting the GPU to be executed in SPMD (Single Program, Multiple Data) mode and lightweight “guarded” modes where appropriate in order to overcome some bottlenecks in LLVM’s existing OpenMP GPU offloading code.

    • Qt 5.12.2 Released

      am pleased to announce that the second patch release of Qt 5.12 LTS, the Qt 5.12.2 is released today. While not adding new features, the Qt 5.12.2 release provides a number of bug fixes and other improvements.

      Compared to Qt 5.12.1, the new Qt 5.12.2 contains more than 250 bug fixes. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.12.2.

    • Entries in GTK 4

      One of the larger refactorings that recently landed in GTK master is re-doing the entry hierarchy. This post is summarizing what has changed, and why we think things are better this way.

    • GTK4 Seeing Text Entry Improvements, Easier To Create Custom Entry Widgets

      Adding to the big list of changes to find with the yet-to-be-released GTK4 toolkit is some refactoring around the entry widgets to improve the text entry experience as well as making it easier to create custom entry widgets outside of GTK.


      This comes on top of many other GTK4 changes ranging from Wayland improvements to a big GDK rework, a Vulkan renderer, CSS improvements, exclusively relies upon the Meson build system, the introduction of the GTK Scene Kit (GSK), and many other changes building up over the past roughly three years. After failing to materialize in 2018, it’s expected GTK 4.0.0 will make it out this year.

    • JS Foundation and Node.js Foundation join forces

      People like to make fun of JavaScript. “It’s not a real language! Who, in their right mind, would use it on a server?” The replies are: It’s a real language and JavaScript is one of the most popular languages of all. For years, the enterprise server side had been divided into two camps: JS Foundation and Node.js Foundation. This was a bit, well, silly. Now, the two are coming together to form one organization: OpenJS Foundation.

      At the Open Source Leadership Summit in Half Moon Bay, CA, the Linux Foundation announced the long anticipated news that the two JavaScript powers were merging. The newly formed OpenJS Foundation mission is to support the growth of JavaScript and related web technologies by providing a neutral organization to host and sustain projects, and fund development activities. It’s made up of 31 open-source JavaScript projects including Appium, Dojo, jQuery, Node.js, and webpack.

    • Cookie – A Template-Based File Generator for Projects

      Cookie is similar to cookiecutter, a command-line utility that creates projects from project templates (stylistically referred to as “cookiecutters“) in any markup format or programming language. But unlike cookiecutter, Cookie creates pages from file templates.

      The templates are stored in the ~/.cookiecutters directory or the directory specified by $COOKIE_DIR. You can see examples of the main developer’s templates here.

    • Federico Mena-Quintero: A Rust API for librsv

      After the librsvg team finished the rustification of librsvg’s main library, I wanted to start porting the high-level test suite to Rust. This is mainly to be able to run tests in parallel, which cargo test does automatically in order to reduce test times. However, this meant that librsvg needed a Rust API that would exercise the same code paths as the C entry points.

    • Template meta-functions for detecting template instantiation
    • Guido van Rossum: Why operators are useful

      This is something I posted on python-ideas, but I think it’s interesting to a wider audience.

      There’s been a lot of discussion recently about an operator to merge two dicts.

      It prompted me to think about the reason (some) people like operators, and a discussion I had with my mentor Lambert Meertens over 30 years ago came to mind.

      For mathematicians, operators are essential to how they think. Take a simple operation like adding two numbers, and try exploring some of its behavior.

    • Django Authentication — Login, Logout and Password Change/Reset
    • list all files in a git commit
    • Plot the sector performance graph
    • Create a new Python Project with Visual Studio 2019 RC IDE
    • Remove exclamation mark from a string with python
    • Return a reverse order list for a number with python
    • The final adjustment of the main menu page buttons
    • Codementor: How and why I built BlueThroat – An open source cloud migration tool
    • Codementor: Platforms, Python Practice Projects, and Picking Up Flask: A Blog Story
    • Why to DIY chatbots
    • littler 0.3.7: Small tweaks

      The eight release of littler as a CRAN package is now available, following in the thirteen-ish year history as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later.

      littler is the first command-line interface for R and predates Rscript. And it is (in my very biased eyes) better as it allows for piping as well shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript converted to rather recently.

      littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default where a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet – the build system could be extended – see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!).

    • AWS Careers: On the Road to All 9 AWS Certifications
    • Certifications Aren’t as Big a Deal as You Think [Ed: usually 'prove' you've trained for a particular corporation's product]

      For some reason, security certifications get discussed a lot, particularly in forums catering to those newer to the industry. (See, for example, /r/asknetsec.) Now I’m not talking about business certifications (ISO, etc.) but personal certifications that allegedly demonstrate some kind of skill on behalf of the individual. There seems to be a lot of focus on certifications that you “need” or that will land you your dream security job.

      I’m going to make the claim that you should stop worrying about certifications and instead spend your time learning things that will help you in the real world – or better yet, actually applying your skills in the real world. There are likely some people who will strongly disagree with me, and that’s good, but I want it to be a discussion that people think about, instead of just assuming certifications are some kind of magic wand.

      I don’t think certifications are bad – in fact, I’ve got a few myself. I’m a current holder of both the OSCP and OSCE from Offensive Security (back when you could get an OSCP and take the exam naked if you wanted) and I’ve formerly held RHCE, LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 and a handful of other minor certifications. In fact, I’m damn proud of all of them.

      I’ve been employed in the tech industry for over a decade, more than half of which has been doing security work. I’ve had the privilege (and responsibility) of interviewing a couple hundred people for tech roles in that time. I write this not for the ego boost, but in order to provide context for my viewpoint. One important note is that more than 7 years of that experience is with a single employer, which will obviously influence my thinking on this subject. It’s also important to note that this post (like others on my blog) is written in my personal capacity and does not necessarily represent the viewpoint or hiring practices of any employer, past, present, or future.

      Most roles in infosec require a wide range of knowledge and the understanding of how to apply that knowledge. There are many skillsets necessary beyond what can be taught in a short class for a certification. For example, none of the technical certifications spend any significant time on soft skills, but the good practitioners in our industry are excellent communicators and can at least understand the business priorities, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them.

    • What does “x = a + b” mean?

      Guido van Rossum recently put together an excellent post talking about the value of infix binary operators in making certain kinds of operations easier to reason about correctly.


  • A new online project collects the memories of thousands of ordinary Russians

    Linor Goralik, a writer and journalist already known for her online innovations, has released a new media platform called PostPost.Media. The project, which has no external investors or sponsors, publishes ordinary people’s stories on subjects as various as children’s horror books, odd family eating habits, and Soviet government leaders: it highlights both the most memorable events in Russian history and Russian memories of familiar, everyday situations. The website also announces that a series of books based on PostPostMedia’s collected memories will be published beginning in the summer of 2019. Meduza journalist Dmitry Kartsev spoke with Goralik about how her project fact-checks the stories it receives and what can make nonfictional stories shock readers as much as fiction.

  • Science

    • Grieving in the Anthropocene

      Our brains are flooded with carefully programmed and meticulously marketed algorithms that condition us to respond to screens rather than each other and the living planet

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘Medieval’ Diseases Flare As Unsanitary Living Conditions Proliferate

      Jennifer Millar keeps trash bags and hand sanitizer near her tent, and she regularly pours water mixed with hydrogen peroxide on the sidewalk nearby. Keeping herself and the patch of concrete she calls home clean is a top priority.

      But this homeless encampment off a Hollywood freeway ramp is often littered with needles and trash, and soaked in urine. Rats occasionally scamper through, and Millar fears the consequences.

      “I worry about all those diseases,” said Millar, 43, who said she has been homeless most of her life.

      Infectious diseases — some that ravaged populations in the Middle Ages — are resurging in California and around the country, and are hitting homeless populations especially hard.

      Los Angeles recently experienced an outbreak of typhus — a disease spread by infected fleas on rats and other animals — in downtown streets. Officials briefly closed part of City Hall after reporting that rodents had invaded the building.

    • Trump’s Methylene Chloride Rule Leaves Workers Exposed to Deadly Chemical

      Today, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule that leaves workers across the United States exposed to methylene chloride, a lethal chemical used in paint strippers that has already caused dozens of worker deaths. Breaking EPA’s repeated promises to ban commercial and consumer uses of methylene chloride paint strippers, the Trump Administration instead finalized a ban solely on consumer uses, opening a loophole that leaves thousands of workers at risk of illness and death.

    • Kentucky Just Banned Abortion

      Two new laws passed this week are part of coordinated effort to ban abortion nationwide.
      The Kentucky Legislature passed two bills on this week, and unless a court blocks them, abortion will effectively be banned in the state.

      One bill, passed on Thursday night, prohibits abortion after six weeks in pregnancy before most women even know that they are pregnant. The other, passed late Wednesday night, bans abortion if a woman is seeking it because of a fetal diagnosis. The ACLU is challenging both laws, asking a judge to block them immediately to ensure that the only abortion provider in Kentucky, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, does not have to turn patients away.

      This is not a hard legal case. Banning abortion has been unconstitutional under more than 40 years of Supreme Court precedent, starting with Roe v. Wade. The politicians who passed these laws know that, but they are hoping that these laws will be the means the Supreme Court will use to reconsider Roe. They are emboldened by changes on the Supreme Court, where there may be enough votes to overrule or weaken the constitutional right to abortion.

      This is just the most recent effort by Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky and other politicians to push abortion out of reach. Bevin has forced two other clinics to stop providing abortion, resulting in EMW in Louisville being the last remaining abortion facility in the state.

    • Politicians Are Finally Catching Up on Marijuana

      Usually I don’t look to sitcoms for wisdom, but the new season of One Day at a Time has a real gem (or many, actually, but here is one). The family lives in California, where marijuana is legal, both recreationally and medicinally. The mother catches the teenage son vaping, and he complains that she’s being too harsh on him because it’s legal now.

      Her response? So is alcohol and so are cigarettes, and none of them are legal for you. And all three are bad for a teenager’s developing brain.

      Our longstanding national policy of criminalizing marijuana at a federal level and in many states is often justified by calling marijuana a “gateway drug.”

      But the other two so-called gateway drugs — tobacco and alcohol — were already legal. And none were legal for minors. So why is marijuana so uniquely bad it must be criminalized for adults?

      You should not drive a car while high, but you also should not drive while drunk. Somehow we’ve managed to allow alcohol while restricting people from using it in ways that endanger others.

    • 78,000+ Pounds of Ground Turkey Recalled Over Possible Salmonella Contamination

      Butterball, LLC is recalling approximately 78,164 pounds of ground turkey due to possible Salmonella Schwarzengrund contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Wednesday.

    • The Mental Health Crisis Afflicting America’s Youth Is All Too Real

      The first signs of a problem started to emerge around 2014: More young people said they felt overwhelmed and depressed. College counseling centers reported sharp increases in the number of students seeking treatment for mental health issues.

      Even as studies were showing increases in symptoms of depression and in suicide among adolescents since 2010, some researchers called the concerns overblown and claimed there simply isn’t enough good data to reach that conclusion.

      The idea that there’s an epidemic in anxiety or depression among youth “is simply a myth,” psychiatrist Richard Friedman wrote in The New York Times last year. Others suggested young people were simply more willing to get help when they needed it. Or perhaps counseling centers’ outreach efforts were becoming more effective.

      But a new analysis of a large representative survey reinforces what I – and others – have been saying: The epidemic is all too real. In fact, the increase in mental health issues among teens and young adults is nothing short of staggering.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • MITRE names The Document Foundation as a CVE Numbering Authority (CNA)

      MITRE announced that The Document Foundation, the home of LibreOffice, has been approved as CVE Numbering Authttps://blog.documentfoundation.org/blog/2019/03/15/mitre-names-the-document-foundation-as-a-cve-numbering-authority-cna/hority (CNA). The Document Foundation is at the center of one of the largest free open source software ecosystems, where enterprise sponsored developers and contributors work side by side with volunteers coming from every continent. The nomination is the result of significant investments in security provided by the LibreOffice Red Hat team under Caolán McNamara leadership.

    • Update now! Microsoft’s March 2019 Patch Tuesday is here

      If you were among the millions of users who updated Chrome last week to dodge a zero-day exploit, Microsoft has something for you in this month’s Patch Tuesday – a fix for a separate flaw targeting Windows 7 that is being used as part of the same attacks.

      To recap, the Chrome flaw (CVE-2019-5786) was first advised on 1 March with a ‘hurry up and apply the update’ follow-up a few days later when news of exploits emerged. The patch for that took Chrome to 72.0.3626.121.

    • DARPA Is Working On An Open Source And Hack-Proof Voting System

      Voting machines are vulnerable, and lawmakers are pushing hard to come up with a system that is impervious to hacks for fair results. Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a project to develop a $10 million open source and highly secure voting system. The new system will not only prevent hackers from hacking the machines but will also allow voters to verify that their vote has been recorded correctly.

      The open source voting system will be designed by Galois, an Oregon-based company and a government contractor. The company has previous experience in designing secure systems.


      The new machines will not have barcodes. After submitting the paper ballot in the optical-scan system, a cryptographic representation of votes will be printed on a receipt. After the elections would get concluded, the cryptographic representations will be uploaded on a website where voters can verify their choice.

      This process will bring transparency in the voting system which heavily relies on election officials currently.

    • Cryptojacking Takes a New Turn in CryptoSink Campaign

      Researchers from F5 Labs reported on March 14 that they have discovered a new cryptojacking campaign that is abusing unpatched Elasticsearch servers.

      Unauthorized cryptocurrency mining, commonly referred to as “cryptojacking,” is an attack trend that started in 2017 and hit a peak in mid-2018. With a cryptojacking attack, a hacker makes use of a system or server resources to help mine cryptocurrency. F5 Labs is dubbing the cryptojacking campaign it discovered “CryptoSink” as the attackers are identifying systems that have already been compromised by cryptojacking and are “sinkholing” or redirecting the competitive mining effort. When the competitive cryptojacking effort is sinkholed, it is effectively shut down in favor of the new CryptoSink effort.

    • New cryptominer targets Elasticsearch on Windows, Linux

      A new cryptomining campaign that targets both Windows and Linux systems running the Elasticsearch search and analytics engine has been detailed by researchers from F5 Networks.
      Andrey Shalnev and Maxim Zavodchik said in a blog post that the campaign, which they have named Cryptosink, was using a five-year-old vulnerability in Elasticsearch to gain entry to the servers.

      The initial infection vector was a malicious HTTP request that targeted Elasticsearch.


      The malware was also able to backdoor the server by adding the SSH keys of the person who was carrying out the attack.

      And it used several command and control servers, with the current live one being in China.

      Shalnev and Zavodchik said the rise of cryptomining botnets and the decline in crypto currency value meant there was tough competition among the various currencies.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence

      There is a saying in the worlds of politics and business that most people who come to prominence are those who in defeat bear malice and in victory seek revenge. It is therefore unsurprising that President Donald Trump displays both characteristics in international as well as domestic affairs, although his targets vary erratically between friend and foe. His near-psychotic concentration on achieving the destruction of Iran is understandably malicious and revengeful, given the nature of the man, but his latest exhibitions of would-be superiority involve allies, which even for Trump is dramatically misguided.

      The Trumpian United States has few friends, mainly because in his two years in the White House Trump has gone out of his way to belittle, demean and insult long-standing partners and antagonise those who may have been considering seeking closer ties with Washington.

      His announcement last December that “America is respected again” was wide of the mark, because, unfortunately, America has become a global joke — but a dangerous joke whose president may be a raving booby, but is still powerful and appears intent on upsetting what little tranquillity remains in this turmoil-stricken world.

      One recent diatribe was unprecedented in length, vulgarity and volatility. When he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2 he set a new low for absurdity in what the commentator Stephen Colbert described as being an “epically weird” harangue which The Atlantic said was the longest presidential oration in history. Moving on from this bizarre performance, Trump turned to international affairs and, as Politico reported on March 5, “kicked India and Turkey out of a decades-old US program that allows developing countries to export thousands of goods to the United States without paying duties,” in a scheme known as the Generalized System of Preferences or GSP.

    • Boeing Insists Its Planes Are Safe. So Why Is the FAA Ordering Fixes?

      Some pilots and aviation experts—even those who believe the plane is safe to fly—say Boeing and the FAA have not been fully forthcoming in addressing persistent problems with complex automatic adjustment software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, and that the aircraft builder didn’t even tell pilots about MCAS until after last October’s Lion Air disaster in Indonesia killed 189 people. The software kicks in on its own during takeoff emergencies, and various reports have indicated that some pilots have not understood how it functions.

    • ‘One of New Zealand’s Darkest Days’: Dozens Reportedly Slain in Terror Attack on Two Mosques

      Witnesses are depicting horrifying scenes from the city of Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday following mass shootings by one or more gunman that occurred at two mosques in the city.

      While these figures are sure to change, as of this writing there are indications that “many people” are dead with one local outlet putting the initial confirmed number of victims at nine while more recent but unconfirmed reports indicicate the deathtoll is likely to be dozens or higher. One suspect in the slayings is reported by police to be in custody, but law enforcement has said they are still looking for other assailants and are treated it as an active shooter situation.


      A witness who lived next door to the mosque and went to the help after the shooter fled, told the Associated Press: “I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque.” He added, “It’s unbelievable nutty. I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”

      A separate shooting was also reported at the Linwood, several kilometers away.

    • Multiple Deaths in Shootings at 2 New Zealand Mosques

      Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved.

      Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and said the events in the city of Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

      One person was taken into custody but it was unclear if there were other people involved, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. He said anybody who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand on Friday should stay put.

      Authorities have not said who they have in custody. But a man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions. He said he considered it a terrorist attack.

    • ‘Don’t Do It. Don’t Share the #Christchurch Footage’: Demand Goes Out for Blackout of Gunman’s Horrific Video

      “Don’t do it. Don’t watch it. It is a nightmare. Hearts are with New Zealand & muslim friends. What a horrible day. Numb.”

    • U.S. Iran Policy: What is Great?

      I returned last week from Iran as part of a 28-person peace delegation organized by Code Pink, a women-led peace and human rights organization. We went to Iran to learn of the impact of the U.S. sanctions on the Iranian people and to let them know that there are Americans who support the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) signed by the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Germany, European Union, and Iran—the agreement that is working, according to all parties except Donald Trump, who has broken the US government’s word and unilaterally left the treaty and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran instead. Our delegation met with a variety of people, from people in the street to dignitaries, including the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.

      News sources reported Friday that Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater and brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, had participated in an Aug. 3, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower regarding Iran policy. The New York Times reported on May 19, 2018 that the meeting set up by Prince included princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as an Israeli; Saudi Arabia and Israel being two of the most hostile countries toward Iran. These attendees were offering to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. Did Trump supporters like Prince promise that Trump would abandon the nuclear deal?

      Our trip and the news of Erik Prince’s meeting made me think of the word ‘Great’. On our trip we learned of Cyrus the Great, credited for human rights and freeing the Jews in Babylon. Cyrus’s vast empire respected the religions and customs of the peoples over which he ruled. He even had inscriptions on his palace in three languages. The gardens of his palace at Pasargadae were called ‘paradaiza’, from which we get the word ‘paradise’. He ruled in such a way that he did not need walls around his palace.

      But what made me think about the word ‘great’ was how Iranians object to the name Alexander the Great. They call him Alexander the Macedonian. Alexander came through in 330 BCE, looted Persepolis’s treasures and burned the beautiful palace and nearby city to the ground. Is that great?

    • Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F

      Justice delayed is justice denied but there may yet be a sense, however flawed, that it can be done.The decision of the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland to charge just one former British soldier with murder, arising from the events of Bloody Sunday in January 1972, which left 14 people dead has been met with disappointment and it must be stated, great dignity by the relatives of those killed. The decision on Thursday to prosecute Soldier F for two murders and four attempted murders has been met with a disappointment that is understandable. That massacre fueled a cycle of violence that blighted the lives of so many people.

      On that bitterly cold Sunday night, like thousands of other families in Ireland, my family was sitting by the fire, watching the 9 o’clock news, waiting for the film, about the struggle for Indian independence, at 9.30. Some people in Dublin had erected ungainly TV aerials to catch the weak signal from Britain but in Limerick, 120 miles southwest of the capital, we got our signal from the single national TV station. There had been a march in Derry that afternoon and word was filtering in of casualties. The phone rang. Dad answered it and came back to the room 10 minutes later to say the news from Derry was bad, at least four marchers had been killed by the British army. Then the first of at least three newsflashes during the film as the confirmed death toll mounted. Six, eight, ten. The film on India’s struggle for independence, and the interrupting newsflashes seemed to play into a narrative that history was inescapable and the past was firmly rooted in the here and now. When the tumult ceased a special news program, close to midnight, gave the toll as 13 dead. The British army’s parachute regiment had shot dead 13 innocent people protesting against the internment of people without trial introduced in August. Another injured marcher died some months later. January 30, 1972. Bloody Sunday. Three days after the shootings, the British embassy in Dublin was burnt to the ground.

    • Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?

      Barrett Brown is an award-winning journalist and author who spent time in federal prison for work he did exposing various elements of the military-industrial complex, including publicizing the hacked emails of private intelligence company Stratfor. Since being released from prison, Brown has worked to establish the Pursuance Project, an initiative aimed at developing a new model of journalism based on crowdsourcing and diverse networks of collaboration using an internet-based platform.

      In November 2018, Brown was the subject of a terrorist threat made against his publisher, Dallas-based D Magazine. However, unlike most such terrorist threats against journalists/media outlets elsewhere in the country, this threat was not handled in the normal manner. You might even say that Dallas PD, in collaboration with the Dallas Morning News, moved to cover it up. Was this a case of gross incompetence by the police? Hatred of a well-known local muckraking journalist seen as an enemy of Dallas police and corporate media? Or was it something else?

    • Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America

      Our nation is being preyed upon by a military industrial complex that is propped up by war profiteers, corrupt politicians and foreign governments.

      America has so much to offer—creativity, ingenuity, vast natural resources, a rich heritage, a beautifully diverse populace, a freedom foundation unrivaled anywhere in the world, and opportunities galore—and yet our birthright is being sold out from under us so that power-hungry politicians, greedy military contractors, and bloodthirsty war hawks can make a hefty profit at our expense.

      Don’t be fooled into thinking that your hard-earned tax dollars are being used for national security and urgent military needs.

      It’s all a ruse.

      You know what happens to tax dollars that are left over at the end of the government’s fiscal year? Government agencies—including the Department of Defense—go on a “use it or lose it” spending spree so they can justify asking for money in the next fiscal year.

      We’re not talking chump change, either.

    • The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It

      A great nation becomes disillusioned with the promises of free competition, free trade, economic liberalization, and greater integration into the world market, policies that seem to benefit only a few at the expense of the many. In an election that shocks the liberal and educated elements in the society, and international opinion, the people elect a strongman – an individual who is already famous, and who promises to return the country to greatness. Widely popular with working people, but linked to a more troubling group of militant supporters who his opponents might reasonably consider to be “deplorables”, he wins the election by promising public works to create employment. Yet, he also promises to business to safeguard its interests. Once in power, he quickly begins to violate recent norms of policy, standard governmental practice and traditional diplomacy.

      Sound familiar? Around the world the 21stcentury has seen leaders fitting most of this description come into power in one democratic country after another: Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, Jakob Zuma in South Africa, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Victor Orbàn in Hungary, and of course Donald Trump in the United States. We might add to this list China’s President Xi Jinping, even if he was only elected by the governing body of China, not the people themselves. And we might also, though with some caution, add Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to the list, as at least having gained a degree of personal authority while undermining the previously existing structures. As we will see, we can include these Latin American leaders only if we recognize some important differences. Then there are those who have come close but not yet won power, such as Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front. Looking over the worldwide panorama of power, we have to admit that a major form of government – one either based on, tending toward or favorable to one-person rule has spread around the world.

    • Trump’s Nightmare Budget

      Two things can be said with certainty about Trump’s 2020 budget request: It is DOA, dead on arrival, in the House; and it is a political document, catering to his loyal supporters, rather than a serious fiscal statement. What the budget request reveals is that Trump, left to his own devices, would further skewer the middle class and low-income groups, downgrade diplomacy and environmental protection, give the military more than it really wants or needs, and fulfill his obsession with a border wall. To say the budget is revolting and immoral would be a vast understatement. But it may (and should) give Democrats additional evidence of Trump’s unfitness to lead.

    • Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb

      This week Trump released his latest budget for 2019-20 fiscal year. It calls for $2.7 trillion in various social spending cuts over the decade, including $872 billion in reductions in Medicare, Social Security, Disability spending; another $327 billion in food stamps, housing support, and Medicaid; a further $200 billion in student loan cuts; and hundreds of billions more in cuts to education, government workers’ pensions, and funds to operate the EPA and other government agencies.

      Not surprising, the $2.7 trillion in social program spending cuts will finance spending for the military and defense related programs like Homeland Security, Border walls, veterans, police, and programs like school vouchers.

      Of course, the budget proposal is ‘dead on arrival’ with the US House of Representatives, which must approve all spending bills, according to the US Constitution. But don’t hold your breath. Trump may now have a back door to this Constitutional obstacle and eventually get his way on the budget, at least in part, to fund his military spending plans.

    • America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó

      Juan Guaidó is a useful pawn for U.S. interests in Venezuela, but is he expendable?

      On January 15th, the White House reported that VP Mike Pence spoke by phone “today” with Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly. It claimed the call was made “to recognize his courageous leadership following his arrest and intimidation this weekend, and to express the United States’ resolute support for the National Assembly of Venezuela as the only legitimate democratic body in the country.” On the 23rd, Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela.

      In its brief statement about the call between Pence and Guaidó, the White House failed to report that the VP “pledged” that the Trump administration would support him “if he seized the reins of government from [elected President] Nicolas Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution.”

      This was revealed by The Wall Street Journal and sheds light on what actually was said during the conversation. “That late-night call set in motion a plan that had been developed in secret over the preceding several weeks, accompanied by talks between U.S. officials, allies, lawmakers, and key Venezuelan opposition figures, including Mr. Guaido himself,” it reported. Citing an anonymous administration official, it noted, “Almost instantly, just as Mr. Pence had promised, President Trump issued a statement recognizing Mr. Guaido as the country’s rightful leader.” On the 23rd, Trump twitted, “President @realDonaldTrump has officially recognised the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.”

      The Journal went further, pointing out, “Other officials who met that day at the White House included… [Sec. of State] Pompeo and [National Security Advisor] Bolton, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who presented Mr. Trump with options for recognizing Mr. Guaido.” It added, “Mr. Trump decided to do it. Mr. Pence, who wasn’t at that meeting, placed his phone call to Mr. Guaido to tell him, ‘If the National Assembly invoked Article 233 the following day, the president would back him.’”

    • Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela

      Poet Derek Walcott’s “A Far Cry from Africa” provides a stirring glimpse into the perspectives and policies of British colonialists in the 20th century. Of course, the perspectives it reveals are temporally confined to British colonialism in Walcott’s poem: he was a native of Saint Lucia, a British colony or “possession” in the Caribbean; and he was writing about Kenya, a British colony or “possession” in Africa. But the mindset he reveals could easily be applied to the modern neocolonialists of the American empire, which succeeded the British empire after World War Two.

      It was the British from whom the Americans inherited the imperial mandate. Imperialist enthusiast Sir Cecil Rhodes, the infamous South African magnate, understood the mutual interests of capitalism and imperialism, and how the latter was in fact a species of the former. Rhodes passionately believed expansionism was everything in capitalism and in nations. He once remarked, with a disarming frankness, “I would annex the stars if I could.”

      Contrast this with a quote from Derek Walcott, who spoke of his native region with a different kind of enthusiasm, “Visual surprise is natural in the Caribbean; it comes with the landscape, and faced with its beauty, the sigh of History dissolves.” How curious a contrast—the native of a country with an embarrassment of natural riches, star-struck by its beauty, who understood it to be a palliative for the individual suffering under the ravages of colonialism. It acted like a physic on the soul; like a balm on the body. Walcott sensed the same visual medicine existed in Africa. In A Far Cry, he notes the “tawny pelt” and a “white dust of ibises” and the “…bloodstreams of the veldt” that mar this “paradise.”

    • Grounding Boeing

      Lobbies, powerful interests and financial matters are usually the first things that come to mind when the aircraft industry is considered. Safety, while deemed of foremost importance, is a superficial formality, sometimes observed in the breach. To see the camera footage of the wreckage from the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 was to be shocked by a certain irony: cameras was found lingering over an inflight safety cards on what to do in the event of an emergency. For those on board that doomed flight, it was irrelevant.

      The deaths of all 157 individuals on board the flight en route to Nairobi from Addis Ababa on Sunday might have caused a flurry of panicked responses. There had been a similar disaster in Indonesia last year when Lion Air’s flight JT610 crashed killing 189 people. Two is too many, but the response to the disasters was initially lethargic.

    • Displacement and Ethnic Conflict in New Ethiopia

      Fundamental political reforms are underway in Ethiopia, but as the new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed and his government work to bring about change in the country, historic ethnic divisions have erupted. Dozens of people have been killed, many more injured and over a million people displaced since April 2018 due to rising ethnic violence. The total number of internally displaced persons, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) exceeds two million, this is a major test for the government, and to date little has been done for people driven from their homes.

      While other groups have been involved in the clashes, much of the violence has been attributed to men from Oromia. Young men who, Al Jazeera report, have also been accused of looting and destroying property, as well as taking new homes in the capital which had been allocated to other citizens by dint of a ballot

    • ‘Blatant Effort to Intimidate and Retaliate’: Pompeo Imposes Visa Ban on ICC Staff Probing US War Crimes

      The move, Pompeo confirmed to reporters Friday morning, is a direct response to ongoing efforts by the ICC to probe allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity tied to the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan.

      Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, was among those who spoke out against the decision. The ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud, who were all detained and tortured in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008.

      “This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day,” Dakwar said. “It reeks of the very totalitarian practices that are characteristic of the worst human rights abusers, and is a blatant effort to intimidate and retaliate against judges, prosecutors, and advocates seeking justice for victims of serious human rights abuses.”

      Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called it “an outrageous effort to bully the court and deter scrutiny of U.S. conduct.” He encouraged ICC member countries to “publicly make clear that they will remain undaunted in their support for the ICC and will not tolerate U.S. obstruction.”

      Daniel Balson, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, noted that this is just “the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.”

      Visa bans, as Balson pointed out, are “powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers.”

    • North Korea Warns ‘Gangster-Like’ Tactics of Bolton and Pompeo Undermining Nuclear Talks

      Two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un cut short their second summit with no agreement or clear path forward, a top North Korean official said on Friday the “gangster-like” behavior of Trump’s hawkish top officials helped derail the denuclearization negotiations.

      At a gathering of diplomats and foreign media in Pyongyang, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed disappointment that the summit ended without a deal and threatened to suspend talks.

    • ‘Washington Doesn’t Like Countries to Have Influence if They Can’t Control Them’ – CounterSpin interviews on Venezuela with Chesa Boudin, Dan Beeton, Laura Carlsen, Mark Weisbrot, Miguel Tinker Salas and Alfredo Lopez

      Welcome to CounterSpin, your weekly look behind the headlines. I’m Janine Jackson. This week on CounterSpin: International opinion largely opposes Donald Trump’s current and threatened intervention in Venezuela. But that’s not the impression you get from US corporate news media, who appear to be all-in with Trump’s push for the ouster of democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro. (As far as we know, these media still firmly oppose any election-meddling in this country, especially by Donald Trump.)

      In reality, 75 percent of the world’s countries reject the US anointing of Juan Guaidó—whom most Venezuelans hadn’t heard of when Trump declared him their leader. And the UN has formally condemned US sanctions on Venezuela, which a special rapporteur compared to a “medieval siege.”

      Corporate media’s fealty to the idea that the United States has the right, if not the duty, to overthrow other countries’ leaders to suit our—or some of our—interests doesn’t begin and end with Venezuela. But the history of coverage of the country is especially illustrative of what it looks like when elite media work strenuously to maintain the storyline on an official enemy.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Rightward, Establishment Bias of Lazy Journalism

      I remember clearly the moment I’d had enough of NPR for the day. It was early morning January 25 of this year, still pretty dark outside. An NPR anchor was interviewing an NPR reporter — they seem to do that a lot these days — and asked the following simple but important question:

      “So if we know that Roger Stone was in communications with WikiLeaks and we know U.S. intelligence agencies have said WikiLeaks was operating at the behest of Russia, does that mean that Roger Stone has been now connected directly to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. election?”

      The factual answer, based on both data and logic, would have been “yes”. NPR, in fact, had spent much airtime covering this; for instance, a June 2018 story goes into detail about Stone’s interactions with WikiLeaks, and less than a week before Stone’s arrest, NPR referred to “internal emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted to Wikileaks.” In November of 2018, The Atlantic wrote, “Russia used WikiLeaks as a conduit — witting or unwitting — and WikiLeaks, in turn, appears to have been in touch with Trump allies.”

      Why, then, did the NPR reporter begin her answer with “well,” proceed to hedge, repeat denials from Stone and WikiLeaks, and then wind up saying “authorities seem to have some evidence” without directly answering the question? And what does this mean for bias in the media?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Disasters Don’t Discriminate, But Disaster Recovery Does

      Recently, I was driving home up highway 169 in Lee County, Alabama. Ten minutes after we passed a roadside business, it was destroyed by 170 mile-per-hour winds. Trees turned into missiles, and 23 lives were lost.

      This monster storm tracked through Beauregard and Smith’s Station, destroying nearly every home along a 24-mile path. Victims included three small children, 10 members of one African-American family, and Maggie Robinson, a nurse at the East Alabama Medical Center for 40 years.

      As the climate changes, deadly storms like the one that killed Maggie are more frequent. Rural areas suffer the most. When a storm hits a community like Beauregard, where many people live in mobile homes and at or below the poverty line, dozens can die in seconds.

      I’ve helped rural communities recover from natural disasters for two decades, and spent two years on the Gulf Coast helping rebuild from Hurricane Katrina.

      Once news cameras leave, rural people are left on their own. Drug abuse goes up, and so does domestic violence. We lost many people to suicide after Katrina. In Florida and Georgia, where Hurricane Michael did even more inland damage, people are still living in tents.

      Natural disasters don’t discriminate: they kill everyone. But disaster recovery, sadly, does discriminate: poor and rural communities quickly get forgotten.

      Big relief groups come in and take donations after disasters, leaving grassroots groups to do the hard work of recovery after they’re gone. In Hackleburg, Alabama, where an EF-5 tornado destroyed most of the town in 2011, a local youth ranch stepped up to the task.

    • US and Saudi Arabia Vote to Block UN Efforts at Climate Geoengineering Governance

      At the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this week, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blocked a push to gather information on potentially regulating climate geoengineering technologies. Switzerland, along with 11 other countries, including Micronesia, Senegal, and New Zealand, had submitted a draft resolution mandating a report on the state of research, risks, and possible governance options related to geoengineering efforts.

    • Global Climate Strike in Pictures: Millions of Students Walk Out to Demand Planetary Transformation

      All over the planet on Friday, millions of children and young adults walked out of their classrooms in an unprecedented collective action to demand a radical and urgent shift in society’s energy and economic systems in order to avert the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and climate change.

      With demonstrations in more than 100 countries and tens of thousands of schools, the worldwide Climate Strike is the largest since 16-year-old Greta Thunberg sparked a wave of increasingly huge marches and walkouts with her one-person strike outside the Swedish Parliament last year.

      Since then, Thunberg has admonished and appealed to world leaders at COP24 and Davos, successfully securing a commitment from the European Union to fight the climate crisis while inspiring strikes all over the world. European students began holding weekly walkouts in Brussels in December, while Australian, and German young people are among those who have organized strikes as well.

    • ‘No Grey Area When It Comes to Survival’: Youth-Led Global Climate Strikes Kick Off in 120+ Nations

      That was the message of the youth-led School Strike for Climate movement on Friday as hundreds of thousands of students across the globe walked out of class and flooded the streets to demand immediate action against the ecological crisis, which threatens to render the planet uninhabitable for future generations.

    • Keeping Civilian Drone Deaths Secret Keeps Them Going

      What’s behind Trump’s order reversing a transparency requirement to release information on civilian deaths?


      Some in Congress reacted with alarm to Trump’s order, and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) announced that he will seek to reimpose the transparency requirement with legislation. This is a necessary step but only an initial one, because this country desperately needs to reckon with and seek an end to the president’s claimed unilateral authority to kill terrorism suspects in parts of the world where we are not at war.

      Proponents argue that these airstrikes reduce risk to U.S. forces and keep the United States from being drawn into actual or worsening wars. But without public accountability about the costs and consequences of the program, we can’t take that at face value. Nor can we accept an equation that minimizes the deaths of civilians or ignores perspectives from people in affected countries.

      It’s encouraging that some former government officials and policymakers of both parties recognize that the U.S. lethal program is morally and legally fraught. Yet virtually all policy proposals to fix it start with a desire to maintain the president’s authority to order the killings, and they are always defined by counterterrorism, even though what’s happening on the ground is often domestic or regional conflicts unrelated to terrorism against the United States.

      When the U.S. drone program began with a 2002 strike in Yemen, it was supposed to be exceptional and limited, with “kill lists” targeting alleged high-level militants. But as lethal strikes expanded in intensity and geographic scope, so, too, did the categories of people who could be killed. Our government’s desire to maintain the option of lethal force resulted in more killings based on suspicion and without any judicial process. And the CIA essentially morphed into a paramilitary killing organization, without even the imperfect oversight that is in place for the military.

    • Geoffrey Cox’s New “Legal Advice” on Brexit Incentivises Unionist Violence

      Brexit has revealed further the rottenness of the British political Establishment, but I am still truly shocked now to see the Government of the United Kingdom negotiating a major international treaty on the acknowledged, discussed and now published basis that it has every intention of breaking that treaty once it is in force. Officially published by the Attorney General, no less.

      The Westminster Government’s contempt for international law was fully demonstrated just two weeks ago when it repudiated the International Court of Justice – an act which is the ultimate disavowal of the rule of international law – over the decolonisation of the Chagos Islands. So in one sense it is no shock that they are prepared to sign a treaty with no intention of honoring it.

      But what is quite astonishing is that the discussions with the DUP and ERG on how to sign up to the backstop and then dishonour it, have been carried out fully in public, and with the potential other party to the treaty looking on.

      I simply do not see how the EU can now sign the Withdrawal Agreement which was negotiated with May, when they have been given firm evidence that the UK intends to cheat on that Agreement.

    • On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028

      Guantanamo detainee number ISN 10028, Haji Naseem (aka “Inayatullah”), resident of Cell E110 at Camp 6, was hearing “noises” in his head. It was his 18th month at the U.S. Navy-based prison in southeastern Cuba.

      Naseem had arrived at Guantanamo after three months imprisonment at Bagram Detention Center in Afghanistan. The date was a good one for propaganda purposes: September 11, 2007, the sixth anniversary of 9/11.

      By October he had been placed in one of Guantanamo’s more obscure settings, Camp Echo. The small complex of buildings was separate from the much larger Camp Delta, and held at most two dozen prisoners. It was known for harsh solitary confinement, and was said to consist of high-value prisoners headed for prosecution at the Bush Administration’s new Military Commissions. It may also have housed at one time a CIA black site.

      At the start, Guantanamo interrogators found their new prisoner “somewhat cooperative.” But within a few months, Naseem told interrogators that all the information he previously had provided had been a “lie.” Later, he would tell a psychiatrist provided by his defense attorney that he was coerced to cooperate with interrogators by threats to himself and his family, and because at Bagram he had been kept in a dark prison cell and subjected to sleep deprivation.

      Nonplussed, the interrogators told him, “cooperation was the only thing that is going to get [you] out of GTMO.”

    • With Today’s #ClimateStrike, Young Activists Seize the Narrative

      Thousands of students across the United States and world are expected to walk out of school today and demand that politicians take immediate action to thwart climate disruption and secure a livable future for younger generations.

      “We strike to bring attention to the millions of our generation who will most suffer the consequences of increased global temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather,” organizers of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike wrote in a recent statement.

      The protest follows in the footsteps of a teenage climate activist from Sweden named Greta Thunberg and a mass walkout in the United Kingdom last month, when an estimated 10,000 students took to the streets with support from scientists, advocates and some politicians. With deadlines to avert the worst impacts of climate change looming, youth activists are using the wave of school strikes to seize the climate narrative from the fossil fuel industry and sparring adult politicians.

      Aditi Narayanan, a 16-year-old U.S. Youth Climate Strike organizer in Phoenix, Arizona, said a mass school strike is necessary to counter powerful interests promoting climate denialism and rally public support behind political agendas that are necessary for the survival of the planet.

    • Senate Votes to Overturn Trump’s Emergency Declaration to Fund Wildlife-Harming Border Wall

      The U.S. Senate voted 59 to 41 Thursday to overturn President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a border wall that would threaten 93 endangered species and devastate the environment and communities of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

      The Senate vote comes a little over two weeks after a similar vote by the House of Representatives. Trump announced his intention to “VETO!” the resolution on Twitter Thursday, and Congress needs a two-thirds majority to override a veto, which is seen as unlikely. Nevertheless, the Senate vote will be seen as an embarrassment for the president, BBC News reported.

    • Our Green New Deal

      On Friday, February 22, 2019, Sunrise Bay Area, Youth Vs. Apocalypse and Earth Guardians Bay Area Crew gathered together for a rally held outside of Senator Feinstein’s office in San Francisco in an attempt to persuade her to vote yes on the Green New Deal.

      We attended the rally at Feinstein’s to show support and help in whatever ways we could as this movement is one that matters to us and our future– we hadn’t planned to talk with Feinstein directly. In spite of this, when the opportunity presented itself YVA and Earth Guardians accepted gladly and were more than excited when we learned that we would actually be allowed into her office to speak to her personally. For us at least, this excitement turned quickly into fear as our peers and Senator Feinstein began to converse.

      This fear was not because we felt that we were being “Taught a lesson” or “Told off”. It was because we could see ourselves talking to our future grandchildren about what breathable air used to be like. We could see workers in impoverished communities whose children’s lives depended on risking their own. We were afraid because, at that moment, we could see the world around us shrinking – becoming something small and unimportant, and with it so did we.

    • Green Party supports Youth Strike for Climate

      Hundreds of school children are set to gather in Parliament Square on Friday 15 March [1] as part of the global Youth Strike for the Climate movement, which will see children walk out of school across the world.

      Green co-leader Jonathan Bartley and London Assembly member Caroline Russell will join the strike.

      The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who went on school strike last August. Tens of thousands of children have since walked out of school in similar protests across the world.

      The Green Party has called on the Government to listen to the young people on strike and act on their demands – and has urged parents and teachers to support and celebrate children and young people who want to take civic action as part of the strike.

    • Students Globally Protest Warming, Pleading for Their Future

      Students across a warming globe pleaded for their lives, future and planet Friday, demanding tough action on climate change.

      From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, angry students in more than 100 countries walked out of classes to protest what they see as the failures by their governments.

      Well more than 150,000 students and adults who were mobilized by word of mouth and social media protested in Europe, according to police estimates. But the initial turnout in the United States did not look quite as high.

      “Borders, languages and religions do not separate us,” eight-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards, who calls herself the tiny diplomat, told hundreds of protesters at the U.S. Capitol. “Today we are telling the truth and we do not take no for an answer.”

      The coordinated “school strikes” were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

    • “Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story

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

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

    • Who’s Behind Trump’s Claim the Green New Deal Will Cost $100 Trillion?

      President Trump’s claim that the Green New Deal would cost $100 trillion can be traced back to the Manhattan Institute, a think tank backed by fossil fuel investor Paul Singer and companies like ExxonMobil.

      Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey made waves at a press conference in February when they rolled out a Green New Deal resolution that called for the nation to transition to 100 percent clean energy in ten years.

      Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the New York-based Manhattan Institute, attempted to “cost out the Green New Deal” in a Twitter thread the next day. Riedl admitted he had “No idea” how much things like “Installing renewable energy everywhere” would cost.

    • Trump Taps Climate Denier to Lead a Secret White House Climate Panel

      Emeritus Professor of Physics at Princeton University and well-known climate science denier William Happer will lead the Presidential Committee on Climate Security, the Washington Post has reported. Happer, a National Security Council senior director since last September, and his panel will “assess whether climate change poses a national security threat,” according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

      Happer is a well-regarded researcher in the field of atomic physics and adaptive optics, but has no formal training in climate science. Happer’s name is notorious among climate scientists and environmentalists for his staunch denial of climate change and the science supporting it.

    • Midwest Flooding Closes Stretches of Major River, Interstate

      Flooding in the central U.S. on Friday forced some residents along waterways to evacuate, threatened to temporarily close a nuclear power plant and closed stretches of a major river and an interstate highway, foreshadowing a difficult spring flooding season.

      The high water prompted by a massive late-winter storm, pushed some waterways to record levels in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. The flooding was the worst in nearly a decade in places, though the situation was expected to improve quickly over the weekend, according to Mike Gillispie, National Weather Service hydrologist in Sioux Falls.

      Flooding remained a big concern in the lower Missouri River region — which is a major source for the Mississippi River — with the weather service issuing warnings of high water along the river and its tributaries from southeastern South Dakota to St. Louis in Missouri.

    • Dahr Jamail: Climate Change Has Already Happened
    • How to Inspire a Renaissance in Natural History and the Science of Conservation

      Naturalists are quintessential parts of the countryside. With interests ranging from fossils to fungi, birds to buttercups, they’re the custodians of the living world. If a threatened plant declines or an invasive insect appears, more often than not it’s a humble naturalist who’s the first to sound a warning. In many ways they’re the front line in our battle to protect the natural world.

      So what would happen if the naturalists themselves became an endangered species?

      Sadly it’s already happening. In today’s world a large percentage of elderly naturalists are retiring and quickly vanishing from our wild places. Many academic biologists have lamented the decline of naturalists and taxonomists, with warnings from as far back as 20 years about the need to encourage future naturalists to enter the profession.

      Their heirs apparent are a younger generation, many of whom are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. A striking study in the journal Science found that school-age children could identify 80 percent of the Pokémon shown to them, while they only recognized 50 percent of local wildlife species.

    • Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power

      The violence and hatred of WWII fueled and speeded the development of the atomic bomb. But why drop such a hideous weapon over Japan and, just as bad, create another giant monstrosity dubbed nuclear bomb?

      Nuclear experts say any nuclear war would doomed humanity. Exploding nuclear weapons would darkened the Sun, triggering global winter and famine. Humans, and probably most other life forms, would become extinct.

      There are thousands of nuclear weapons in the world — the vast majority in the armories of the United States, Russia and China, lesser amounts in the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

      But why arming for apocalypse? Have world leaders and their advisers become barbarians?

      And why do we need to use nuclear fuel to boil water for steam for the production of electricity? Those nuclear bomb-like factories go by the deceptive name of nuclear power plants.

      Accidents bedevil both nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants. We have been extremely lucky so far. But with nuclear electricity factories, our luck seems to be less tenuous than that with the original monster of the nuclear bombs.

    • In Era of Aging Reactors, Nuclear Industry’s Push for Deregulation Sparks Warning of ‘Collision Course’ With Disaster

      Independent watchdogs are raising alarm about the nuclear power industry’s ongoing efforts to convince federal regulators to scale back safety inspections and limit what “lower-level” issues are reported to the public.

      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—an agency dominated by President Donald Trump’s appointees—is currently reviewing its enforcement policies and is set to put forth recommendations for updating the nationwide rules in June. As part of that process, it sought input from plant operators and industry groups.

      In September, one of those groups, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), outlined the industry’s wish list in a letter (pdf). Requests include shifting to more “self-assessments,” cutting back on public disclosures for problems at plants, and reducing the “burden of radiation-protection and emergency-preparedness inspections.”

    • New Orleans Student on Global Climate Strike: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’

      On March 15 droves of students around the world walked out of school to protest politicians’ inaction on climate change, with approximately one million people participating in the strikes, according to organizers. From Sydney to Stockholm, students had planned more than 1,600 school strikes in over 100 countries, inspired by the weekly Friday climate protests of Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

      And in New Orleans, Louisiana, a small but resolute group of students and supporters gathered a few blocks from Lusher Middle and High School, on St. Charles Avenue, one of the city’s most famous thoroughfares, to confront their state’s heightened urgency to stop climate change or face losing the land they are standing on.

    • Uncertain futures warn world to act as one

      US scientists have peered ahead in more than five million ways, and they do not like the uncertain futures they see there. Unless the world collectively and in concert takes drastic steps to slow or halt global warming, generations to come face an intolerable prospect.

      And even if humans do switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, economise on resources and restore the world’s forests and grasslands, there is still no guarantee that disaster will not happen.

      That is because the outcome depends not just on the steps humans take now, but on one of the great, unresolved scientific questions: just how sensitive is climate to shifts in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

      If sensitivity is low, and humankind acts effectively and immediately, the future could be tolerable. But in a total of 5,200,000 computer-generated scenarios involving population growth, economic development, the role of carbon in the economy and the levels of climate sensitivity, this happens only relatively infrequently.

    • Thank you, Climate Strikers. Your Action Matters and Your Power Will Be Felt

      I want to say to all the climate strikers today: thank you so much for being unreasonable. That is, if reasonable means playing by the rules, and the rules are presumed to be guidelines for what is and is not possible, then you may be told that what you are asking for is impossible or unreasonable. Don’t listen. Don’t stop. Don’t let your dreams shrink by one inch. Don’t forget that this might be the day and the pivotal year when you rewrite what is possible.

      What climate activists are asking for is a profound change in all our energy systems, for leaving fossil fuel in the ground, for taking action adequate to the planet-scale crisis of climate change. And the rules we are so often reminded of by those who aren’t ready for change are not the real rules. Because one day last summer a 15-year-old girl sat down to stage a one-person climate strike, and a lot of adults would like to tell you that the rules say a 15-year-old girl cannot come out of nowhere, alone, and change the world.

      Sweden’s Greta Thunberg already has.

      They will tell you the rules are that those we see in the news and the parliaments and boardrooms hold all the power and you must be nice to them and perhaps they will give you crumbs, or the time of day, or just a door slammed in your face. They will tell you that things can only change in tiny increments by predictable means. They’re wrong. Sometimes you don’t have to ask for permission or for anything because you hold the power and you yourselves decide which way the door swings. Nothing is possible without action; almost anything is when we rise up together, as you are doing today.

    • SUNY Uses Taxpayer Dollars to Torture Kittens in Useless Experiments

      Documents reviewed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund show that since 2002, researchers at the State University of New York’s (SUNY) College of Optometry have been performing invasive, painful and expensive experiments on young cats and kittens. These experiments appear to be of little to no scientific value, and taxpayers have been footing the bill.

      What we have learned about these experiments, through public records and published research, is shocking. As Barbara Stagno, the president and executive director of Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research and Experimentation (CAARE), explained in testimony given to the House of Representatives in April 2018, cats and kittens between the ages of 4 and 12 months old are anesthetized, before having their heads secured into frames. Their eyes are forced open with contact lenses so their eye movements can be tracked. While the cats are still alive, parts of their skulls are removed and electrodes are inserted into their brains. The experiments can take hours or even days to complete.

      The stated purpose of these experiments is to learn about a cat’s visual cortex — the part of the cat’s brain that controls vision — with a goal of better understanding human vision disorders, particularly amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” Cats are often used in these types of experiments because they are relatively easy to keep in labs and their neurology has similarity to humans’, but cats receive less protection than some other animals used in experimentation, such as primates.

      However, our examination of available documents and published results leads us to the observation that the research has not yet produced much, if any, information useful for human medicine. In fact, the lead researcher said in a 2017 grant application that 30 years of research has only “started to reveal the principles underlying visual cortical topography and their possible functional implications.” In our view, this statement suggests that after three decades, the lead researcher believes these cat experiments are still in their early stages — which could mean many more cats being harmed, and taxpayers paying many millions more dollars.

    • Oceans Do Us a ‘Huge Service’ by Absorbing Nearly a Third of Global CO2 Emissions, but at What Cost?

      From wildfires to more extreme storms, the effects of climate change are already devastating communities around the globe. But the effects would be even worse if it weren’t for the oceans, new research has confirmed.

    • Think We Should Be at School? Today’s Climate Strike Is the Biggest Lesson of All

      It started in front of the Swedish parliament, on 20 August – a regular school day. Greta Thunberg sat with her painted sign and some homemade flyers. This was the first school climate strike. Fridays wouldn’t be regular schooldays any longer. The rest of us, and many more alongside us, picked it up in Australia, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Uganda. Today the climate strike will take place all around the world.

      This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. We knew there was a climate crisis. Not just because forests in Sweden or in the US had been on fire; because of alternating floods and drought in Germany and Australia; because of the collapse of alpine faces due to melting permafrost and other climate changes. We knew, because everything we read and watched screamed out to us that something was very wrong.

      That first day of refusing to go to school was spent alone, but since then a movement of climate strikers has swept the globe. Today young people in more than 100 countries will walk out of class to demand action on the greatest threat humankind has ever faced.

      These strikes are happening today – from Washington DC to Moscow, Tromsø to Invercargill, Beirut to Jerusalem, and Shanghai to Mumbai – because politicians have failed us. We’ve seen years of negotiations, pathetic deals on climate change, fossil fuel companies being given free rein to carve open our lands, drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit. We’ve seen fracking, deep sea drilling and coalmining continue. Politicians have known the truth about climate change and they’ve willingly handed over our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence.

      This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. Last year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on global warming could not have been clearer about the extreme dangers of going beyond 1.5C of global warming. To have any chance of avoiding that extreme danger emissions must drop rapidly – so that by the time we will be in our mid- and late-20s we are living in a transformed world.

    • New Study Calls for ‘Immediate Action’ on Climate Crisis

      US scientists have peered ahead in more than five million ways, and they do not like the uncertain futures they see there. Unless the world collectively and in concert takes drastic steps to slow or halt global warming, generations to come face an intolerable prospect.

      And even if humans do switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, economise on resources and restore the world’s forests and grasslands, there is still no guarantee that disaster will not happen.

      That is because the outcome depends not just on the steps humans take now, but on one of the great, unresolved scientific questions: just how sensitive is climate to shifts in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

      If sensitivity is low, and humankind acts effectively and immediately, the future could be tolerable. But in a total of 5,200,000 computer-generated scenarios involving population growth, economic development, the role of carbon in the economy and the levels of climate sensitivity, this happens only relatively infrequently.

  • Finance

    • Who’s Afraid of Public Schools?

      Public schools are the bogeymen of American life.

      We so often hear the bedtime story of “Failing Schools” that it’s no wonder some folks will do anything to ensure their kids get in elsewhere.

      And let’s be honest. It’s the same impulse behind the latest college admissions cheating scandal.

      A group of wealthy – though not too wealthy – parents thought their children should be able to enroll in the most prestigious schools.

      So they bribed college admissions officers, cheated on standardized tests or paid coaches or other officials to accept their children as college athletes even if their kids had never played the sport.

      We see the same kind of thing everyday in public schools – a confederacy of white parents terrified that their kids might have to go to class with black kids. So they dip into their stock portfolios to pay for enrollment at a private or parochial school.

    • Unions Can Take on International Fights—and Win

      After nine days of picketing in below freezing temperatures, striking workers in Erie, Pennsylvania returned to work recently under a 90-day agreement.

      The 1,700 strong United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) strike quickly drew national attention. Senator Bernie Sanders declared his support for the union and even invited the president of the local to speak at his campaign rally. As “the first major U.S. manufacturing strike of the Trump era,” according to The Nation, Erie brought renewed focus to the struggles of American industrial workers who have faced job loss, wage stagnation, and weakened bargaining power as a result of corporate globalization.

      But Erie isn’t just a reminder of the problem. It also points us toward the solution.

      For decades, UE has been a leading example of global labor solidarity. The union’s commitment to internationalism offers our greatest hope for an alternative to the existing global system.

      Since the 1980s, policymakers and the corporate interests that they represent have designed a globalized world that places profit before people and planet. This “neoliberal” global system allows capital, but not people, to move freely across borders. Because corporations can shop around for the most exploitable labor and environmental conditions, countries desperate for investment are pitted against one another in a global “race to the bottom.”

    • Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?

      Ever wonder how dangerous nincompoops like Donald Trump and George W. Bush were admitted to, and graduated from, so-called good schools? Forget the legacy shtick and pay close attention to the latest celebrity and wealthy individuals’ scheme that involved about 50 people (of whom 33 were parents of students) who allegedly encouraged and facilitated the most nefarious and fraudulent means to get kids into schools like Stanford and Yale.

    • [Old] Microsoft Corp Lobbying by Industry

      A special interest’s lobbying activity may go up or down over time, depending on how much attention the federal government is giving their issues. Particularly active clients often retain multiple lobbying firms, each with a team of lobbyists, to press their case for them.

    • Outdated technology frustrates Australian workers: report

      Australian employees grow increasingly frustrated with workplaces that expect them to work with outdated, slow and complex technology, according to one analyst firm which says organisations must find a way to address the needs of modern workers.

    • Leaked email reveals Elon Musk must approve every person Tesla hires

      Tesla has undergone multiple rounds of layoffs in the past year. The automaker followed a 9% workforce reduction in June with a 7% cut in January and what CNBC reported was an 8% layoff in March. (A Tesla representative told Business Insider the figure reported by CNBC was incorrect, but it did not specify the size of the reduction.) Electrek reported on Tuesday that Tesla made cuts to its recruiting division.

      Musk suggested in a June email to employees that the automaker would never again have to initiate another round of layoffs.

    • India’s Agrarian Crisis: Dismantling ‘Development’

      In his 1978 book ‘India Mortgaged’, T.N. Reddy predicted the country would one day open all sectors to foreign direct investment and surrender economic sovereignty to imperialist powers.

      Today, the US and Europe cling to a moribund form of capitalism and have used various mechanisms to bolster the system in the face of economic stagnation and massive inequalities: the raiding of public budgets, the expansion of credit to consumers and governments to sustain spending and consumption, financial speculation and increased militarism. Via ‘globalisation’, Western powers have also been on an unrelenting drive to plunder what they regard as ‘untapped markets’ in other areas of the globe.

      Agricapital has been moving in on Indian food and agriculture for some time. But India is an agrarian-based country underpinned by smallholder agriculture and decentralised food processing. Foreign capital therefore first needs to displace the current model before bringing India’s food and agriculture sector under its control. And this is precisely what is happening.

      Western agribusiness is shaping the ‘development’ agenda in India. Over 300,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GMO) cash crops and economic liberalisation.

    • Why Are We Still Sycophants?

      Bill Hicks had a joke. He said he hates how bosses tell him to look busy. -You make more than I do, why can’t you pretend I’m working?


      It makes sense, ‘pretending’ is basic to capitalism. Marx explains it within the first pages of Kapital, and I’ve yet to hear a disproof. Pretend and you have a commodity. Pretend enough and you have a regime. But as with all regimes, coalescing power and retaining it beg very different legitimizations.

      Thus, all manner of bosses, from enlightened billionaires to ‘resistance’ Democrats still demand the same submissive leap of faith as Hick’s front-desk manager. But now, instead of us miming away the hours, we’re to pretend they and it are working.

      Think, China lends to us with the tacit condition that we’ll waste it on non-durable goods, instead of repaying our debt. Towns bear their throat to Amazon and Walmart, to create a few hundred jobs, knowing full-well it will cost more than it nets. Industries are consumed by mergers and acquisitions that reduce jobs, output, and typically cost more than they earn. There are reasons, you need a minimum 3% growth per year for a stable economy, so say economists. And I suppose pretending is one way to get it. But it’s just for the sake of -more capitalism.

    • Millions of Farmers Could Turn the Tide Against India’s Right-Wing Regime

      Rural farmers in India, since the early 1990s, have had very limited access to credit from the country’s banks, a major problem for a livelihood that is cyclical and prone to a range of environmental setbacks. Without public-sector bank loans to depend on, small farmers were forced to turn to predatory informal lenders who charge annual interests of up to 60 percent.

      Under the BJP government, economic conditions for Indian farmers have worsened due to rising input prices, weak government support systems, climate change–induced crop failures, declining commodity prices and stagnant farm incomes, forcing ma

    • In Praise of Budget Deficits

      Even better, we could have used to money to promote clean energy, retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, and subsidizing mass transit. Our children have much more to fear from a wrecked environment than government debt.

      In any case, the debt/deficit whiners should acknowledge the substantial economic gains from stimulating the economy with a larger deficit. It is a really big deal for a large number of people at the middle and bottom of the income distribution.

    • Banking, Wells Fargo-Style

      Herewith an update on the arcane world of banking as practiced by Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the United States.

      The update is prompted by a story about the bank in the New York Times on March 9, 2019, and by an appearance by Timothy Sloan, the bank’s president, before the House Financial Services Committee, on March 12, 2019.

      The unfavorable publicity is not new, nor are the bank practices that are, to its critics, like honey to flies. Its previous bad practices have been widely reported. Their continued practices, although transmogrified, continue to be bad practices.

      In 2016, we learned that the bank had opened more than 3.4 million fake accounts for customers, in order to meet sales goals. We learned that individuals who received car loans from the bank, were sold car insurance when the loans were made, whether or not it was needed by the borrower. The Wall Street Journal reported that the bank’s employees had overcharged customers for foreign exchange fees transactions.

      The bad practices did not go unrewarded, although the bad practices were on a two-way street. On the positive side, from the bank’s perspective, the bank and the complicit employees, generated lots of revenue from the fraudulent practices. On the negative side the bank paid state and federal fines and penalties of $1.5 billion. In addition, it paid $620 million to settle the claims made against it by defrauded customers. It also apologized for the fact that it had charged 570,000 customers who took out auto loans with the bank, for auto insurance they didn’t need.

    • A President for Nationalizing Major Industries? Please Can We Have ‘76 Bernie for 2020

      On the same day moderate Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke declared his candidacy for president, CNN published an exclusive report: Bernie Sanders in the 1970s urged nationalization of most major industries.

      “I favor the public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries,” Sen. Sanders told the Burlington Free Press in 1976, according to CNN. “We need public control over capital; and the capital must be put to use for public need, not for the advancement of those who made the investments.”

    • Diane Archer on Medicare for All

      This week on CounterSpin: As a report from the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website noted recently, pharmaceutical manufacturers and health insurance companies have a lot of points of disagreement these days—about who’s mainly to blame for high drug prices, for instance. But they agree on something: Medicare for All cannot become law.

      Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), a coalition of drugmakers, insurance companies and private hospitals, is lobbying hard to sink the popular proposal, recently introduced in the House by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D.-Wash.). The coalition has such powerhouses as the AMA and Blue Cross/Blue Shield on its side, and spent some $143 million in lobbying in 2018 alone. On the other side: the growing majority of Americans who think a wealthy country can do better than forcing people to choose between buying insulin and paying rent.

    • All the Livelong Day

      1894 was a wild year in the United States. Robber barons and the sycophantic politicians they controlled worked overtime to maintain and expand their empires of capital. Their practices and greed had helped create a recession that left millions of working people struggling to keep shelter and food for their families. The response of most of the capitalist class was to reduce workers’ wages. Labor organizers were afraid to push back too hard for fear of losing the few gains they had achieved when the economy was more flush.

      One industry stood above the rest. One industry wielded more power than any of the others. That industry was the railroads. Congress passed legislation granting them land and right of way through territories already settled by the white man and territories still being stolen from the original inhabitants. Laws were passed to facilitate the railroads’ profit margin and to lessen competition. Corruption, greed and blood defined the industry. Capitalists in other associated and non-associated enterprises took cues from the captains of the rails.

      One man in particular understood the nature of the business. His name was George W. Pullman. His business made sleeping cars. Luxurious to travel in, the cars were the standard to attain in passenger rail travel. Extra springs assured a smoother ride and a comfortable sleep. Porters were specially trained to serve the needs of passengers in these cars. Virtually every train line used Pullman’s cars. His monopoly was almost complete.

    • After Week-Long Strike, Oakland Teachers’ Contract Falls Short

      Facing a pro-charter school board intent on closing or consolidating 24 schools in the next five years, presumably to replace some with private for-profit charters, 3000 teachers represented by the Oakland Education Association (OEA) began a district-wide strike on Feb. 21. On the seventh day of the strike, March 1, a tentative agreement was reached, which teachers ratified at a March 3 meeting.

      Poor-mouthing Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) officials insisted during the months of futile negotiations and fact-finding before the strike that their proposed one percent pay increase over four years was all that the district could afford.

      Soon after the strike began, however, the board upped its offer to 8.5 percent over four years. OEA negotiators still said, “No!”

      Teachers won an 11 percent across-the-board salary raise over four years plus an additional three percent one-time bonus upon ratification. But the 11 percent is to be staggered in annual and semi-annual increments over the course of the contract—3 percent the first year, followed by 2 percent the second, and 2.5 and 3.5 percent added to the salary schedule in the middle of and at the end of the final year.

    • In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria

      Nearly a year and a half after Hurricane Maria, about three-fourths of the houses in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico stand battered and empty.

      Some families left because their homes were rendered uninhabitable and they had no money to fix them. Others left because they lost their jobs. In responding to Maria, federal agencies had hired some local people, but just for a few months; meanwhile, many other jobs disappeared and have not come back.

      Sierra Brava lies low along the south side of PR Route 3 in the shadow of Salinas City Hall. Go for a walk through its now largely silent streets, and one residence in particular will catch your eye. On a corner along Calle Abraham Peña, the neighborhood’s four-block-long main avenue, stands a small grey house trimmed in bright blue and topped by a blue plastic tarp. It is in even worse shape than some of the abandoned houses. But Wilma Miranda Ramos still calls it home.

      The hurricane shifted Wilma’s ramshackle little box on its foundation, separating the front and rear halves and giving it a distinct sideways tilt. Thanks to waters that flooded down the nearby Río Nigua from the mountains on the day of the storm, the floors now undulate wildly and give underfoot. Large portions of the ceiling are gone, and blue light streams in through the tarp above. Water pours in with every rainfall.

      Wilma explained that she’d been living there six years, but because the house was not hers, she could get no help with repairs. “Now I have a stitched-together roof,” she said, “but as I have nowhere to go I’m still here. Staying here in these conditions is not easy. But since I have my daughter and grandson of four years here with me, living here and not in the street is worth gold.”

    • Debunking Billionaire Claims of Heroic Capitalism

      In the future, people will probably continue to marvel at how creatures with tiny brains once stalked the Earth unchallenged.

      For now, however, billionaires reign supreme, with only a small stirring of dissent, led by the impressive U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC.

      Still, that small stirring is noteworthy. It could catch on.

      The notion that it is somehow legitimate for a tiny group of humans to cordon off the bulk of the world’s bounty for themselves — leaving billions of people begging on the street or scrounging through garbage dumps — is fairly astonishing, on the face of it.

      The unfairness is compounded by the fact there’s no evidence billionaires are particularly smart or talented, given that some 60 to 70 per cent of them inherited their wealth, according to the French economist Thomas Piketty.

      Today’s extreme concentration of wealth is so palpably unfair — the richest 26 individuals have as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity — that it cries out for a powerful justification.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How Google Influences the Conversation in Washington

      Still, the email offers insight into how Google, a shrewd Washington player, has shifted into overdrive and adapted its approach as calls to regulate Big Tech have grown louder.

    • Kentucky Legislature Passes Bill Stripping Grimes of Authority Over State Board of Elections

      The Kentucky legislature passed a bill on Thursday that strips Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of her authority over the State Board of Elections, restructures the SBE and makes misusing the voter registration system a misdemeanor crime.

      The bill takes multiple steps to scale back the level of control Grimes has asserted over the SBE in recent years, including removing the secretary of state as the chair of the board. The secretary will become a nonvoting member of the board, and the board will now include two former county clerks — one from each party.

      The bill now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

      ProPublica and the Lexington Herald-Leader published stories this year detailing the secretary of state’s office’s use of the voter registration system to look up information on political rivals, as well as the range of misconduct allegations against Grimes being explored by state investigators.

    • The Media-Created Front Runners

      This writer makes it a habit to review CNN daily. Not because he expects responsible news reporting there, but because that particular outlet seems to provide a good overview of what the corporate-owned, government-supporting media wants the general public to know and care about. This past week, he saw the news that former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are leading in public opinion polls in the (bizarrely) crucial state of Iowa, whose caucuses will actually occur in less than one year (February 3, 2020).

      Has it really come to this? Are the Democrats in the Hawkeye state really excited about two, old (76 and 77, respectively), white men? With all the talk about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and other progressive or pseudo-progressive candidates taking center stage, are Sanders and Biden really seen as dynamic agents of change?

      There seems to be a belief within the Democratic hierarchy that as long as a living, breathing, sentient being is nominated, the current occupant of the White House, the clown-like but very dangerous Donald Trump, will be sent back to reality TV-land from whence he came. This is the same thinking that brought Hillary Clinton to the party’s nomination in 2016: a fairly popular (don’t get this writer started on that topic) Democratic president was leaving office, and a repugnant, ignorant, ill-informed, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, egotistical, narcissistic blowhard was to be the GOP standard-bearer. Surely, anyone could defeat him. Of course, that upstart Bernie Sanders had to be thwarted, along with millions of idealistic younger people who had piles of enthusiasm but not of cash, and in the world of electoral politics, the latter is all that matters. So, the party sabotaged him through the use of the ‘Super Delegates’ rule (there is little that is less democratic than that rule), and through Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s dishonest machinations.

    • Worry About the Old, Not the Rich, HuffPost Tells Readers

      The piece is more than a bit confused, but its headline explicitly gives the intention: “America’s Defining Divide Is Not Left vs. Right. It’s Old vs. Young.” Beyond this basic point—as in, worry about age, not class—it is difficult to figure out what the article is talking about.

      The subhead tells readers, “voters over retirement age will continue to dominate US politics until at least 2060.” This might lead us to believe that the piece is talking older voters generically, as in people over age 65 or age 62, but then much of the discussion focuses on the baby boomers. By 2060, the youngest baby boomer will be age 96 and the oldest will be 114. It doesn’t seem plausible that the survivors among this group will be dominating politics. Most of the baby boomers will have died off by 2040, and their influence will be radically diminished by 2030.

    • On Our Knees

      I have been wrong at CounterPunch 26.5 times. One example: writing that Hillary Clinton would win in 2016. After the election of Donald Trump, plenty of you emailed, chastising me for the mistake. Occasionally, and for a split second only, I wish Clinton had won. More on this later.

      Recall another Donald now: Rumsfeld. Then remember when this particular D famously said, “You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might wish to have or want.”

      Well, you go to the voting booth with the candidate you have, not the candidate you might wish to have or want.

      As business types and politicians announce their aspirations, I don’t see anyone… Wait, what’s that word so many used to describe Obama? Transformational. No, there is no one who would transform foreign and domestic policy enough to remove us from the brink of many precipices—the most urgent of which is extinction.

      Did you believe in Obama? Did you think he’d address climate change in any meaningful way to heal our oceans, our soil, our atmosphere? Did you believe he’d hold George W Bush accountable for war crimes? Or like me, did you know as soon as he said he was opposed only to dumb and rash wars and when he tapped Joe Biden as his running mate, that same Joe Biden who said you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, that an Obama presidency would continue the craven Bush agenda?

      That same Joe Biden who’s polling higher than anyone else who’s inflicted himself/herself on our consciousness and conscience. Dear God, I shake my head with no, no, no, no, and at the risk of being accused of ageism, I say, “Biden is too old.” So is Sanders, so is Trump, and so is Hillary Clinton—and yes, she has threatened to enter the field if the Democrats move too far to the left.

    • A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat

      The Northern Rockies are surely near the top of the list of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Its ranges contain one of the last great expanses of biodiversity left in the continental United States, including most of the species that were there when Lewis and Clark first passed through in 1805 on their journey of discovery.

      These attributes alone would be reason enough to protect this region. Instead, the Trump administration has been pushing oil, gas, mining, and logging projects, and removing legal protections from threatened species. To be fair, the Obama administration also pursued some of those actions. But the current administration’s zealotry threatens the region’s wild landscape and rich biodiversity. It’s up to all of us who care about the environment, science and preserving wild places for our children to resist such efforts.

      Legislation recently introduced in the House would protect a vast swath of this region. But until that law is enacted, we’ll have to rely on the judiciary. Along with other organizations and Indian tribes in the Northern Rockies, our group, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, has been fighting threats to the region in court. Fortunately, this past year has brought some encouraging news. But the court system alone will not provide the protection this area needs and deserves.

    • The Democratrepublican’s Carnivorial Tent

      There is one political party which is allowed to operate in the ever-moving, privately owned, carnivorial tent known as the “republic” of the United States of America. This operation has no allegiance to any geographic or spiritual location. Any and all locations are seen primarily as possible sources of monetary income and incoming money is the justifier (sic) and instigator of any deception which is deemed necessary at any given time. Yes, the chief method employed has always involved getting the suckers to fall for the pretense that there is something especially “exceptional” about each and every physical location or supposed spiritual intent where the numerous barkers in the carnivorial tent position themselves to distract the suckers from the fact that the predatory drive for pilfering private profits will leave every location more debased and more toxic when the barkers and their enthused crowds “move on.”

      The chief barker within the tent today is Donald Trump. It is widely and wildly insisted that he is the most “exceptional” example of every trait of barkerisms. To a large portion of the population, he is the personification of everything “exceptional”ly bad and to another massive number of the population he is the personification of “exceptional” human possibilities under the shared democratrepublican capitalist carnivorial tent.

      The tent which covers operations is maintained through mandatory fees which are imposed globally. It is the desire to get under the cover of the tent which unites the crowds. Everyone pays extra to be within the tent. The tent provide a restrictive cover for the intense feelings of insecurity and is designed to keep everyone’s attention focussed of the possibility of making a private monetary killing. Making a killing is believed to be the highest form of liberty. Whoops of joy at winning and accusations of fraudulent scheming in a rigged game erupt consistently from within the tent as the tent shifts and swaggers over the rotting bodies of the inevitable victims who fall under the manipulated movements of the crowded suckers who are desperately maneuvering to be in close proximity to the manipulative power of the barkers. Optimism is mandatory while doubts and suspicions are grounds for removal.

    • Southern Progressives Focus on Electoral Justice, Not Democratic Party

      For more than 85 years, the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee has been leading the fight for social, racial and economic justice. Co-executive directors of the Highlander Center, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson and Reverend Allyn Maxfield-Steele, recently appeared on my show to discuss Southern organizing efforts around the 2018 midterms, why Black women were so integral to what the media termed a “blue wave,” and the importance of rural ownership of internet infrastructure.

    • Don’t Let Mueller Restore Your Faith in the FBI

      The FBI has been under non-stop assault since the election of 2016 — first by Democrats who decried its eleventh-hour decision to restart the Clinton email investigation, then by Donald Trump with his firing of James Comey. The Bureau is currently portrayed in the mainstream media as a friend of justice, suggesting an image rehabilitation after its lawlessness was exposed in the mid-1970s. Already, we have witnessed Comey and Andrew McCabe — who oversaw the FBI in the critical period of 9/11 to 2018 — painted as brave truth-tellers, instead of the repressive law enforcement agents they were. One can anticipate more of this, especially with the prospect of release of Robert Mueller’s report.

      Who are these people presented to us as heroes? And who will a re-legitimating of the FBI benefit?

    • Lots of F’s for These D’s: Report Card Shows Majority of Senate Democrats Aiding Trump’s Right-Wing Court Takeover

      According to Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy group that focuses on the federal judiciary, a majority of Senate Democrats voted to confirm Trump’s judges 60 percent of the time or more in 2017 and 2018.

      As a result, more than a third of Senate Democrats received either a D or an F grade in the new report card, which examined votes on Trump’s Supreme Court, district court, and circuit court nominees.

      “Senators can condemn Trump until they’re blue in the face, but actions speak louder than words, and when it comes to judges, too many Democrats vote too often with Trump,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, said in a statement. “A disappointing number of Democrats have buried their heads in the sand and helped Trump and Mitch McConnell to pack the courts with judges representing the far-right fringe of the country.”

      The report card graded Democrats using several metrics, including votes to confirm Trump’s nominees and votes to advance judges by invoking cloture. Senators were also penalized if they returned a “blue slip”—an expression of approval—for judges in their home states.

      Due to their frequent votes to advance and confirm Trump’s nominees, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Michael Bennet (Colo.) all received F grades from Demand Justice.

    • In ‘Breakthrough’ for Labor Rights, Sanders Campaign Becomes First Presidential Campaign to Formally Unionize

      Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday that his support for his 2020 campaign staff’s decision to unionize demonstrated his commitment to fighting for workers’ rights. Sanders’ Friday announcement made his presidential campaign the first in history to recognize a unionized workforce.

      The progressive senator has been a vocal supporter of the Fight for $15 movement; teachers in cities across the country who have staged walkouts to demand fair pay; and other labor campaigns. His support for a unionized campaign staff was presented as an extension of that work as well as a signal of the policies he will promote should he win the presidency.

      “We cannot just support unions with words, we must back it up with actions,” Sanders said. “On this campaign and when we are in the White House, we are going to make it easier for people to join unions, not harder.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • People Are Getting Busted For Committing Freedom Of Speech, Which Is Not A Good Sign

      For the first time, Capitol Police have arrested an activist for the crime of projecting a political message on a Congressional Building, one of many defiant dispatches over the years by Robin Bell of Bell Visuals. Since Trump’s election, Bell has flung fighting words and images at a range of high-profile D.C. buildings, often working in partnership with non-profits advocating for the same causes: “BRETT KAVANAUGH IS A SEXUAL PREDATOR” with UltraViolet, “I STAND WITH PUERTO RICO” with Amnesty International, “END FAMILY DETENTION” with MoveOn, “TRANSGENDER PEOPLE WON’T BE ERASED” with trans rights groups, and at Trump’s D.C. Hotel with Global Witness, “U.S. FOREIGN POLICY BOUGHT AND SOLD HERE,” complete with helpful arrow at the entrance. The hotel is Bell’s most frequent target: He’s graced it with “FELONS WORK HERE,” “PAY TRUMP BRIBES HERE,” “EXPERTS AGREE: TRUMP IS A PIG,” and “THIS PLACE IS A SHITHOLE.” He’s also projected an image of Jamal Khashoggi atop the First Amendment at D.C.’s Newseum, and at the Helsinki summit, “BRING THE PERPETRATORS TO JUSTICE.”

    • Valve making steps to address ‘off-topic review bombs’ on Steam

      In a blog post today, Valve announced a pretty simple change to the way Steam games get a review score, to help with review bombing.

      What is Review Bombing? To put it simply, tons of users going to a Steam page and leaving a negative review that’s not always to do with the actual game in question. It’s been something of a hot topic, since it became a tool for users to show their feelings about various things, most of the time something directed at the developer or publisher.

      A recent example, would be how the Metro games on Steam got waves of negative reviews when Metro Exodus was announced as a timed-exclusive on the Epic Store.

    • Anti-terrorism Censorship : Second Setback at the European Parliament

      In the European Parliament, the two committees that were asked for an opinion on the terrorist content Regulation have now both published their proposition of amendments. Sadly, just like the opinion of the IMCO Committee last week, the opinion of the CULT Committee brings no real progress from the freedom-destroying proposal of the EU Commission.

      Read our dossier on this Regulation.

      Yet, the rapporteure for the CULT Committee, Julie Ward (UK, S&D), begins the opinion by explaining the threats of this text, which we have been stressing for months now: the one-hour delay in which the police can impose any service provider to remove a content it considered as “terrorist”, the elimination of the role of the judicial authority, the possibility for the police to impose proactive measures to hosting service providers (in particular automatic filters), the huge financial penalties for all the actors of the Internet that will not respect these obligations…

      But almost none of these concerns are materialised in the final text adopted on Monday by the Committee. On the contrary.

    • Ninth Circuit Tells Online Services: Section 230 Isn’t For You

      Last year we wrote about Homeaway and Airbnb’s challenge to an ordinance in Santa Monica that would force them to monitor their Santa Monica listings to ensure they were legally compliant. The Santa Monica ordinance, like an increasing number of ordinances around the country, requires landlords wanting to list their properties on these services to register with the city and meet various other requirements. That part of the ordinance is not what causes concern, however. It may or may not be good local policy, but it in no way undermines Section 230′s crucial statutory protection for platforms for Santa Monica officials to attempt to hold their landlord users liable if they go online to say they have a non-compliant rental listing.

      The problem with the ordinance is that it does not just impose liability on landlords. It also imposes liability on the platforms hosting their listings. The only way for them to avoid that liability is to engage in the onerous, if not outright impossible, task of scrutinizing whether or not the listings on their platforms are legal. Which is exactly what Section 230 exists to prevent: forcing platforms to monitor their users’ speech for legality, because if they had to police them, they would end up facilitating a lot less legitimate speech.

    • Anonymous Telegram channel apologizes for insulting mayor in Ingushetia after he vows to ‘find and punish’ them

      The anonymous Telegram channel 338 has issued a public apology to Magas Mayor Beslan Tsechoev, who recently vowed to “find and punish” the channel’s authors for a post that he deems insulting.

      In a post on Friday, 338 said its March 13 comments about Tsechoev were “unfounded” and expressed irresponsibly. The individual who wrote the offending post is apparently no longer an administrator for the channel.

      “We deeply regret that our team permitted this, insulting someone, his colleagues, friends, and family. We failed to review this situation in a timely manner, lost track, and didn’t catch it,” 338 said in a statement.

    • Local official in Krasnodar is charged with breaking the law because he shared a picture created by Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s news outlet

      State prosecutors in the Krasnodar region have opened an administrative case against a district council member in Yeysk over an image he shared on Facebook. Alexander Korovainy is accused of “carrying out the activities of an outlawed undesirable organization” because he reposted an image created by the website MBKh Media, a news project launched by former oil tycoon, now self-styled dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

      According to the website Golos Kubani, Korovainy shared an image based on the “10-Year Challenge” (a fad that recently swept the Internet, where individuals shared photos of themselves in 2009 and 2019, typically to showcase how well or poorly they’ve endured the last decade). MBKh Media’s spin on the meme highlights how Russia’s currency has depreciated and consumer goods have become more expensive.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Appeals Court: Stored Communications Act Privacy Protections Cover Opened And Read Emails

      The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down an important decision [PDF] bolstering privacy protections for stored email. As we’re painfully aware, unopened email older than 180 days is granted zero privacy protections, treated like unopened snail mail left at the post office. Opened email, on the other hand, would seem to carry an expectation of privacy, but a district court ruling came to exactly the opposite conclusion, prompting this appeal.

    • Why the Debate Over Privacy Can’t Rely on Tech Giants

      Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal last summer, consumer data privacy has been a hot topic in Congress. The witness table has been dominated by the biggest platforms, with those in lockstep with the tech giants earning the vast majority of attention. However, this week marked the first time that opposing views had a chance to fight back. The Senate Judiciary committee held a hearing called GDPR & CCPA: Opt-ins, Consumer Control, and the Impact on Competition and Innovation, and unlike previous hearings, this hearing featured two groups of panelists with contradictory viewpoints.

      While we still call for a panel that puts consumer advocates and tech giants at the same table to discuss consumer privacy, we appreciate that Judiciary Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham included representatives from DuckDuckGo and Mapbox to discuss how they are able to run successful businesses while also respecting user privacy. It’s clear after this hearing that companies who deliberately over-collect data and sidestep user privacy are making a business choice, and they could choose to operate differently.

    • 3 reasons data hoarding may not pay off

      Most CIOs can tell you exactly how many years their organizations have been storing data. Get a group of CIOs talking, and they’ll start swapping the years their data stores go back just like a baseball players might trade their batting averages.

      For many, the logic goes, if data is the new gold, then your IT organization should gather and store as much as it can in hopes that someday artificial intelligence and machine learning can glean profitable findings.

    • Federal prosecutors probing Facebook’s data deals: report

      According to the Times, a grand jury in New York subpoenaed records from at least two smartphone and device manufacturers.

      Unnamed sources familiar with the matter told the paper that both companies had partnered with Facebook, giving them access to personal data from hundreds of millions of Facebook users.

    • Federal prosecutors are investigating Facebook’s data deals with phonemakers

      The deals were first reported last June, after the Times had discovered that Facebook was sharing user data with manufacturers like Apple, Samsung and Blackberry. The deals were made in order to help Facebook build apps for companies’s respective devices. The move was meant to help both Facebook and the companies building the devices people used to access Facebook products. It’s unclear if these companies are the ones currently under investigation by the prosecutors.

    • Facebook U.S. Criminal Probe Extends to Grand Jury

      A federal grand jury in New York subpoenaed records from at least two makers of smartphones and other electronic devices that had entered into partnerships with Facebook, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with the requests. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York, declined to comment. Facebook said in July it had received questions from U.S. agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, and was cooperating.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Fearing for His Life

      Orta believed the video would guarantee justice for his friend. He would be wrong. The officer who choked Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, would not be indicted by a grand jury. But in the weeks to come, the footage of Garner’s killing would travel far and wide, and the haunting echoes of “I Can’t Breathe” would become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, a phrase emblazoned across the chest of LeBron James, a lasting reminder of a plea for help ignored.

    • A History of Blackface
    • Hollywood on Drugs

      Given the enormity of the drug crisis in the USA, particularly centered on opioid overdoses that are the largest cause of death of people under the age of 50, it was inevitable that Hollywood would begin to produce “problem” movies such as “Ben is Back” and “Beautiful Boy”. It also just as inevitable that such films would be based on the suffering of well-to-do families and suffused with clichés.

      “Ben is Back” stars Julia Roberts as Holly Burns, the matriarch of a generally happy family eagerly awaiting Christmas day, the happiest time of the year, especially if you live in the suburbs and have lots of money to lavish on presents. Pulling into her driveway with a carload of gifts to place under the Christmas tree, she sees the ghost of Christmas past, namely her college-aged son Ben (Lucas Hedges) who has cut short his stay in a drug rehabilitation facility to return home from the holidays.

      The entire family treats Ben as if he was the scariest ghost showing up in Scrooge’s bedroom. He is there not to remind them of their lifetime of sins but the pain he has visited on them in the past as an opioid addict. Hoping to enjoy a happy time with the family, he is put on the defensive by his mom’s insistence that he take a drug test in the upstairs bathroom right off the bat. As he pees into a bottle, she stands behind him with her arms folded to make sure he is not turning in a fake sample.

      While the family holds him at arm’s length, a mother’s love naturally makes Holly susceptible to her son’s charms. Bit by bit, she tries to convince her other kids and her husband that maybe his AWOL trip back home was a sign that he was trying to return to a normal life. As it happens, everything conspires to make them wish he would just go away. When they are in church, someone busts into the house and not only steals all the Christmas presents but their beloved pet dog Ponce.

      The remainder of the film consists of Holly and Ben trying to regain the stolen goods, especially Ponce, in a series of fraught confrontations with the town’s drug dealers who all have it in for Ben for one transgression or another. Since their voyage takes place at night, the film aspires to a noir quality that is in sharp distinction to the film’s true calling, which is to make the kind of film the Lifetime Cable channel specializes in, the “problem” drama that generally has a female lead.

    • Jonas Mekas: In Conversation

      Mekas: Well, technology is still moving. I think we are both caught in civilization and within a technology of which we have lost control. Like we want to perfect more and more and more and more, which creates more technology, more dependence on technology. And then to continue to develop it, we must destroy the planet more and more. So I think at this point I think we are going towards a dead end, the way I see it. It’s strange that, we had an election in states and you know, nobody discussed these issues. Everybody think that everything is the economy, the economy. What will happen to that economy? They are talking about plans for 20 years, 30 years ahead. You know, all the crisis 10 years ahead, but that, they forget that in 10 years we may run out of water, we may run out of water and that the oceans will be higher and there will be completely different problems and different needs. The economy may become a secondary matter. Nobody discussed this during the election. It’s strange.

    • ICE’s ‘Bait and Switch’ Policies Tear Apart Families for Following the Rules

      Wanrong Lin went to his green card marriage interview and proved he was married to a U.S. citizen. ICE deported him anyway.

      On Nov. 20, 2018, Wanrong Lin was stranded at an airport in Shanghai, China, almost 7,000 miles away from his wife, kids, and home in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. He found himself wandering China — with no money, no cell phone, and no goodbyes exchanged — after Immigration and Customs Enforcement illegally arrested and deported him when he and his wife showed up for his “marriage interview.” Alone back at home for weeks, Lin’s wife, Hui Fang Dong, tended to their three children, while running their Chinese restaurant alone.

      The Lins are victims of ICE’s “bait and switch” practice, in which the agency separates immigrant couples who are applying for legal status in the U.S. based on their marriage after they show up for their required interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This deportation strategy has occurred across the country with reported cases in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, leaving families like Mr. Lin’s fighting to stay together in their homes for merely following government protocol.

      But their separation — and this practice — is unlawful and unconstitutional, which is why the Lins are challenging it with the help of the ACLU.

    • Hollywood’s Love Affair With Racism

      At a time when American society is increasingly diverse, it is necessary that our entertainment products reflect those changes in meaningful and nuanced ways, for reasons that extend beyond representation. At UCLA, Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences, and Ana-Christina Ramon, director of research and civic engagement for the social sciences division, have found another incentive for Hollywood to get its act together when it comes to diversity, both on screen and off: It’s profitable.

      Hunt and Ramon have collaborated on an annual report, “Old Start, New Beginning,” for the past six years. In it, they focus on matters of representation in the nation’s entertainment capital. According to their research, since their project began in 2014, “Hollywood’s getting better; it’s getting worse.”

      “We found that people really do want to see the real world reflected on screen,” Ramon tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer in the latest edition of “Scheer Intelligence.” “On a per capita basis, people of color really are a driving force, in terms of the purchasing power that they have in the industry. And I think for a long time, Hollywood has ignored that.”

    • FSB agents got this ‘Internet extremism’ suspect drunk and filmed him. A court says the footage is legitimate case evidence.

      Oral arguments are done in the case against Dmitry Tretyakov, the Primorsky Krai lawyer charged with inciting extremism online. He is the first Telegram user to be tried in Russia for the felony offense; all previous cases in Russia involving criminal charges and social-media reposts have been against VKontakte users. Tretyakov’s current arrest expires on April 4.

      Sergey Valiulin, Tretyakov’s lawyer and an attorney at Open Russia’s Human Rights project, told Meduza that he tried to stop the court from admitting footage recorded by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents as case evidence. The four-hour-long video from April 2018 shows Tretyakov and another arrested man named Andrey Ternopolsky drinking alcohol that was provided by the FSB. Valiulin says this was a ploy by federal agents to induce his client to confess to the felony charges. The Primorsky court overruled Valiulin’s objection, however, agreeing with prosecutors that the footage was obtained legitimately in a covert operation.

    • Colleagues Defend Tucker Carlson’s ‘Ideas’—That Iraqis Are ‘Monkeys,’ Child Rape Is ‘Commitment to Love’

      A tweet (3/12/19) from New York Times columnist Bret Stephens approvingly quoted—calling it “astute as usual”—a statement from the National Review‘s David French (3/11/19): “Our nation cannot maintain its culture of free speech if we continue to reward those who seek to destroy careers rather than rebut ideas.”

      Were French and Stephens defending Ilhan Omar? Julian Assange? Ha ha, of course not; they were speaking in support of Fox host Tucker Carlson, who is facing some pressure from advertisers after the group Media Matters released audio of him on shock radio from a few years back, saying things like Iraq is a “crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys.”

    • 5 Things You Need to Know About the Closing of Immigrant Youth Shelters in Illinois

      Since last summer, we’ve done a lot of reporting on a secretive network of shelters in Illinois that houses thousands of immigrant children each year. We started looking into the network after the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy; we were part of a broader ProPublica effort to report on the issue. That led us to the nine facilities run by the nonprofit Heartland Human Care Services, where 99 children who’d been separated from their parents were sheltered.

      Our reporting, based on dozens of interviews, reports to state child welfare officials and police, and a review of thousands of confidential records, found instances of inadequate supervision, including cases involving children having sex in a common area, an employee in an alleged inappropriate relationship with a detained teen and more than a dozen runaways.

      Well, some news: We obtained an internal memo Heartland sent last week to inform staff of plans to close four of those shelters in the Chicago area.

    • We Won’t Let Our Pensions Build Prisons

      About a month ago, I received a call from Basma Eid of Freedom to Thrive in New York City. She had gotten my contact information from a mutual friend and comrade and was looking for teachers in upstate New York to discuss an important issue.

      This phone call happened to fall during the exact time I was trying to start a social justice caucus of rank-and-file teachers after growing increasingly impatient and frustrated by the lack of union leadership’s tangible support of striking educators across the country.

      I had learned from some of the greatest leaders of educational social movements during panels at the Socialism conference in Chicago and the Marxism Day School in New York City over the course of the past two years. Every single one of them stressed the importance of creating one’s own group to gauge where co-workers were at and to begin building even the smallest coalition for even the smallest campaign.

      That was my plan. Gather a few fellow teachers and try to rally around wearing “Red for Ed” once a week and post solidarity photos on social media to support striking teachers in other states — maybe encourage others to support the GoFundMe pages that helped to feed the workers on the picket lines.

      This was the plan until Basma called me. She informed me that the organization she helped found, Freedom to Thrive, recently helped New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) members make sure their pension funds divest 100 percent from for-profit corrections corporations GEO Group and CoreCivic, and she was looking to spread this throughout New York state.

    • ‘The Case Is Finally Over’: Charges Dropped Against All Remaining J20 Defendants

      Charges against the remaining J20 protesters with no plea deals who were awaiting trial were dropped Friday with prejudice—meaning proscecutors can’t try them again for the 2017 protest.

      Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters were arrested on Jan. 20, 2017, for protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The prosecution of the group—using felony charges against protesters and journalists—has been criticized by rights groups and failed miserably in court. Friday’s ruling by D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin, which ordered the charges dropped with prejudice, shuts the door completely on the case.

    • Expanding Supreme Court May Be Only Way to Protect Democracy

      Mitch McConnell has achieved his lifelong political dream: packing the Federal Courts, and especially The Supreme Court, with right-wing extremists, who thanks to him, now hold lifetime appointments.

      The result: Even if the Democrats manage to win the Presidency, the House, and the Senate simultaneously, a Supreme Court with a young 5-4 right-wing majority could undermine voting rights, environmental regulation , a woman’s right to choose, and many other areas for decades to come.

      McConnell subscribes to the premise that “the easiest way to change the law is to change the judges.” As a result of refusal to consider Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, his subsequent success in installing young right-wing ideologues like Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land, as well as his packing Federal District and Appeals Courts with other right-wing ideologues, McConnell may have insured that his dead hand will continue to govern the nation’s laws, long after he’s gone from the Senate and even the planet.

    • CBP Still Arresting Immigrants Trying To Stay In The Country By Furthering Their Education

      To be clear, most of the students detained or arrested were doing exactly what the law allows them to do: stay in US while continuing their education. A (manufactured) shortage of H1-B visas made this the only legal option for many of these students. According to the lawyers representing the students, a majority of those arrested were enrolled in master’s degree programs at the fake school. They had paid tuition and were fully expecting to be able to attend school while waiting for H1-B slots to open up.

      It was ICE that arbitrarily decided attempting to follow the law was the equivalent of illegally overstaying their visas. The students thought they were dealing with a legit operation, which is exactly what ICE wanted them to think. It even secured accreditation for its fake school to better sell the false promise of students being able to do exactly what immigration law allowed them to do.

      And for that, they’re being arrested and deported. While ICE may have rounded up a few scammers selling students access to something they already rightfully had access to, the biggest scam was run by the government. The government created a fake school, took students’ real money, and arrested them for trying to extend their stays legally.

    • Woman, Jew, Mother, Justice

      Any book about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be notable simply because she is remarkable.

      Antonia Felix, a biographer, and Mimi Leder, a film and television producer, authors of “The Unstoppable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, American Icon,” have created a wonderful opportunity for readers to get to know Ginsburg through her own reflections on her life.

      These authors drew upon and compiled a variety of Ginsburg’s presentations, arguments and other materials not normally published, to give the reader a unique insight into the mind of this extraordinary justice.

      Born Ruth Joan Bader on March 15, 1933, the second daughter of Russian immigrants Nathan and Celia Bader, she grew up in a low-income, working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn.

    • The Supreme Court Didn’t Put the Nail in Civil Asset Forfeiture’s Coffin

      News of the death of the unjust law enforcement tactic has been greatly exaggerated.
      The 84 percent of Americans who oppose civil asset forfeiture can be forgiven for having the impression that the U.S. Supreme Court ended abusive use of this practice last month in Timbs v. Indiana when it ruled that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment applies to the states. Some media hailed it as a huge victory. But the celebration is premature.

      So what really happened?

      The Timbs opinion recognizes that the Constitution guarantees freedom from excessive monetary sanctions as a fundamental right. But crucial questions remain about what practical difference the Supreme Court’s decision will make in ordinary people’s lives, particularly in the context of civil asset forfeiture.

      The question of whether the Excessive Fines Clause should apply to the states wasn’t a difficult one to answer. Indeed, at the oral argument, Justice Gorsuch made fun of Indiana’s Solicitor General, saying: “I mean, most … of the incorporation cases took place in like the 1940s.” Yet, he noted, that we’re “still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Really?”

      The oft-divided court was able to rule unanimously in favor of the plaintiff, Tyson Timbs, partly because the narrow issue of whether the clause is “incorporated” and therefore binding on the states was the only question before it. So while the court said that the Excessive Fines Clause applies to Timbs’ civil asset forfeiture case, it didn’t say that Timbs’ forfeiture case violates the Excessive Fines Clause.

    • Yekaterinburg court refuses to place sitting Duma deputy in jail, following detention by federal agents

      A court in Yekaterinburg has refused to sanction the arrest of Vadim Belousov, a State Duma deputy detained this Friday on suspicion of receiving more than 3 billion rubles in bribes between 2010 and 2014. The ruling takes effect in three days, if officials don’t challenge the decision in appellate court.

    • Ocasio-Cortez Demands to Know Why Wilbur Ross is ‘Violating the Law’ to Include Citizenship Question on Census

      Ross’s discussions with Kobach, which continued past the July 2017 email exchange, were notable because of Kobach’s long history of voter suppression. During his time on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Kobach was charged with proving Trump’s false claim that “millions and millions” of undocumented immigrants had voted in the 2016 election and erecting barriers to voting as a result.

      Voting and immigrant rights advocates have long railed against the proposed citizenship question because it would likely prevent Latinx and other immigrant households from filling out the census—resulting in less federal funding and redistricting that would be skewed in Republicans’ favor.

      The New York Immigration Coalition praised the committee and condemned Ross for his attempts to mislead Congress in order to discriminate against immigrant communities.

      “Secretary Wilbur Ross spent his entire testimony deflecting questions to conceal the truth—that he engineered the citizenship question with notorious white supremacists Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach, and has been caught red-handed in a web of nefarious lies,” said executive director Steven Choi.

    • Unions Must Again Fight for Immigrant Amnesty

      In February 2000, the AFL-CIO Executive Council passed a unanimous resolution calling for an immediate amnesty for undocumented workers and an end to employer sanctions that had primarily been used to undermine labor organizing, “thus denying labor rights for all workers.”

      The resolution called for enforcement against employers who violated the labor rights of their undocumented workers and demanded protected status for undocumented worker who reported their employers for labor violations.

      This was a dramatic shift for the U.S.’s main labor federation, which for decades had primarily viewed undocumented workers as competitors who unfairly undercut wages and job prospects for U.S.-born workers. In 1986, the AFL-CIO had supported the employer-based sanctions that were allegedly put in place to punish employers who exploited undocumented workers.

      However, for the next decade and a half, labor activists saw how these same employers used these new enforcement tools in their favor to intimidate immigrant workers, bust up unionizing drives and keep wages low.

      By the late 1990s, immigrant workers and rights activists, both within and outside the AFL-CIO, built mounting pressure to push the federation to recognize this fact. The 2000 resolution was a recognition that undocumented workers and their families were part and parcel of the American working class and that attacks on their rights were an attack on all of labor.

    • We Need a New Declaration of Rights for Black Americans

      Once upon a time, there was the lower-case “negro.” But in 1914, Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, and called its first convention in New York City in August 1920 to mobilize its membership. The International Convention of Negroes of the World adopted the “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World,” demanding that “the word ‘Negro’ be written with a capital ‘N.’”

      But the Declaration didn’t stop at semantics. Its 12 complaints and 54 declarations comprehend Black philosophy of right. They spell out the “Black Magna Carta.” The Declaration frames a new world order in terms of “Africa for the Africans” at “home and abroad.” Declaration 41, for instance, describes the true condition of Africans then and now: “We believe that any limited liberty which deprives one of the complete rights and prerogatives of full citizenship is but a modified form of slavery.”

      As we approach the Declaration’s centennial in 2020, we must rediscover it as frame of reference for the lived realities of Black people in the U.S.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The WebAIM Million: An accessibility analysis of the top 1,000,000 home pages

      In February 2019, WebAIM conducted an evaluation of the home pages for the top 1,000,000 web sites using the WAVE stand-alone API (with additional tools to collect site technology parameters). While this research focuses only on automatically detectable issues, the results paint a rather dismal picture of the current state of web accessibility.

    • Fighting uphill

      As someone with a good deal of interest in the digital accessibility space, I follow WebAIM’s work closely. Their survey results are priceless insights into how disabled people actually use the web, so when the organization speaks with authority on a subject, I listen.

      WebAIM’s accessibility analysis of the top 1,000,000 homepages was released to the public on February 27, 2019. I’ve had a few days to process it, and frankly, it’s left me feeling pretty depressed. In a sea of already demoralizing findings, probably the most notable one is that pages containing ARIA—a specialized language intended to aid accessibility—are actually more likely to have accessibility issues.

      I don’t think this is intentional malice on the part of authors, but it is worth saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. These failures via omission and ignorance actively separate people from their civil rights.

      I view the issue largely as an education problem, and that education is tied into what the market demands.

    • Hearing On New Net Neutrality Law Once Again Conjures Up A Greatest Hits Of Nonsense

      As we previously noted, Democratic lawmakers recently just proposed a very simple, three page law. The Save The Internet Act would simply reverse the Ajit Pai repeal of net neutrality, and restore the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules. It would again classify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Telecom Act, but, as an act of Congress, couldn’t be repealed by the whims of future FCCs. It also locks the “forbearance” part of the original rules (which prevented the FCC from using Title II to regulate broadband rates) into permanent law.


      One problem is that the FCC’s 2015 rules, crafted over the better part of two decades, are the compromise. The other problem is that Walden’s and others’ preferred alternative “compromise” legislation has proven to be anything but. Most of these alternative proposed bills have been little more than bad faith gambits; net neutrality in name only. More often then not, these alternative bills have been industry-supported efforts packed with countless loopholes designed specifically to do one thing: prevent tougher, better state and federal laws from being passed.

      As it stands, the Save the Internet Act has a solid chance of passing the House. It has an uphill climb in the Senate however, and would still need to somehow avoid a veto by Donald “Net neutrality is the fairness doctrine” (for the record it’s not) Trump. Even if it fails to pass, it will serve another function: provide a handy scorecard ahead of the 2020 elections clearly highlighting lawmakers who think AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon’s quest to behave anti-competitively is more important than the will of the public or the health of the internet.

  • DRM

    • $900 Robot Commits Adorable Seppuku, Showing Again How In The Modern Era You Don’t Own What You Buy

      Here at Techdirt we’ve talked a lot about how in the modern, internet-connected era, you don’t really own the things you buy. For over a decade we’ve shown how your digital books, music, or films can simply and quickly disappear without much recourse. The game console you’ve bought can be suddenly and mysteriously downgraded via firmware update, leaving you with a product that actually does less than the one you bought. And more and more frequently, companies are going further and completely bricking products they no longer want to support, leaving consumers with a pricey paperweight.

      The latest case in point: many consumers shelled out upwards of $900 for a twelve-inch tall “social” robot by the name of Jibo. Started as a research project at MIT, Jibo was crowdfunded then marketed as the “the first social robot for the home.” First sold in 2017, the robot offered some basic interactive functionality much like similar products, promising to offer a digital home assistant with a little more personality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • USPTO Announces Pilot Program Related to Motions to Amend in PTAB Trials

      The Notice will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, March 15th (with the preliminary final notice being available today). Pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, the public was given the opportunity to provide comments, and the Office reports that it received 49 such comments, from individuals, organizations, and corporations, and adopted some directed to the amount of time a patent owner will have “for certain filings or evidence.”

      The pilot program applies to all AIA trials instituted on or after March 15, 2019, and the Office intends to reassess the program within about a year (and of course the notice states that the Office can terminate the program at any time, modify it or continue it with or without modifications depending on feedback (presumably from both APJs and the public) and effectiveness (however that will be assessed).

    • San Diego jury decides Qualcomm v. Apple patent case in Qualcomm’s favor: verdict is grossly inconsistent with outcome in the ITC

      “You win some, you lose some.” The same week that Apple won a multi-billion-dollar decision against Qualcomm (incorrectly portrayed by various media as a $1 billion matter), Qualcomm won a $31 million consolation prize (so we’re talking about roughly 1% of what was at stake in the other context), with a San Diego jury having deemed Apple to infringe all three Qualcomm patents still in play (one had been thrown out by the court and two had been withdrawn by Qualcomm) and agreeing 100% with Qualcomm’s damages claim.

      This means it worked out for Qualcomm to make its case to a jury of laypersons–a case that had underwhelmed a professional judge (in fact, one of the most experienced patent judges in America, Administrative Law Judge Thomas Be. Pender). The discrepancies between the ITC’s findings (which are final except for only one patent that Apple has already worked around anyway) and the verdict rendered by Qualcomm’s hometown jury without a great deal of deliberation time could hardly be more extreme. The ITC case went nowhere, while the San Diego verdict sides with Qualcomm all the way, even with respect to the question of whether Qualcomm filed a patent application on an invention actually made by a then-Apple employee.

      Jury verdicts enjoy a fair amount of deference, but as some other smartphone-related patent infringement cases have shown, there often are major differences between a verdict and the final result (after all appeals have been exhausted). Without a doubt, Apple, like any other party in the same situation, is now going to try to convince Judge Dana M. Sabraw that the verdict should be overturned or at least vacated. Some adjustments to the verdict may still happen in the Southern District of California, and then it’s on to the Federal Circuit, which will also hear any appeal from the ITC case.

    • Qualcomm can’t leverage Chinese bogeyman or allege misuse of its trade secrets by Apple in upcoming antitrust and contract trial: pretrial rulings

      Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel just entered a minute order summarizing various rulings on Apple’s, its contract manufacturers’, and Qualcomm’s motions in limine (pretrial motions to exclude testimony, evidence, or argument). The rulings came down orally at yesterday’s motion hearing as the order indicates.

      While those decisions can have major impact on what the parties to a dispute can say or show at trial time, rulings on motions in limine are typically much less important than summary judgment orders, and a very important summary judgment was published yesterday but dated March 12 (Tuesday): under that one, Qualcomm has lost the opportunity (barring a successful appeal) to claw back billions of dollars from Apple, and it’s now apparently a foregone conclusion that Apple is entitled to an extra $1 billion in payments under a Business Cooperation and Patent Agreement (BCPA). And in other news today a jury verdict (in Qualcomm’s favor) came down in a sideshow case involving a very small amount of money compared to what’s really at stake between the parties.

      But there are tens of billions of dollars at stake in the trial that will start on April 15 (with Apple placing the emphasis on antitrust and FRAND arguments, while Qualcomm puts certain contracts front and center), so even the decisions on various motions in limine are worth looking at (even if not in great detail because there’s so many of them). Relatively speaking, even those “MILs” are strategically more important than today’s verdict in a case that is not even about a tenth of a percent of the big antitrust/FRAND/contract case.

      It’s important to consider that even if a motion in limine is denied, counsel may still successfully object (at trial time) to some of the related testimony, evidence, or argument.

    • Copyrights

      • Japan fails to amend copyright law against piracy yet again

        The problem is that the consensus-building process was not appropriate in this case. The government just paid attention to the interest of publishing companies, but not enough to that of creators. We have seen the similar situation in the process for the amendment of the patent law. It was a crack in the relationship between industry and the government. (Please read “Slowly changing Japan’s IP dispute resolution system” on this.) Apparently, there is a problem in the government’s policy-making process.

      • Danladi v Tiwalope Savage and another – (Nigerian) “Blurred Line” or “Shape of You”?

        The case continues. The defendants have 30 days from the date of service of the writ and statement of claim to respond by filing a defence. While this case has the makings of resulting in a landmark copyright judgement in the Nigerian music industry, it is also possible for Danny Young to unilaterally withdraw the suit or for parties to decide to settle out of court.

        The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) recently reiterated its commitment to set up an alternative dispute resolution centre for copyright disputes. While such centre will not replace the courts, it may offer an avenue for disputes and claims of infringement relating to similarities, to be resolved.

      • Merkel’s party proposes upload-filter-free national implementation of Article 13: constructive, but EU Parliament should postpone copyright vote

        Late on Friday by local time, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany–Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel’s party–and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), provided by far the most compelling argument to date for a postponement of the European Parliament’s copyright reform vote, which would normally take place right after the plenary debate envisioned for March 26.

        Further to an initiative taken by the party’s secretary-general Paul Ziemiak, who is 33 years young and likely better-placed than some others to understand the commercial and legal realities facing digital platforms, a group of CDU and CSU politicians focusing on policies for the digital economy unveiled a position paper on the future implementation of the contemplated EU directive into national law. You’ll find my translation (unofficial unless and until one of the authors would approve it) of that paper further below (or just click here). Its main thrust is that a directive based on the recent interinstitutional compromise resulting from trilateral talks (“trilogue” in EU lingo) between EU Council (= Member States), EU Commission (= EU executive government and initiator of legislation) and EU Parliament could allegedly be transposed (= incorporated, implemented) into national law in a way that would render upload filters unnecessary.

        Upload filters can result in overblocking, which even the EU Parliament’s rapporteur Axel Voss MEP (CDU, state of North Rhine-Westphalia) conceded in an interview. In Germany, upload filters are as sensitive an issue as they are divisive. The written agreement based on which the CDU and CSU formed another government coalition about a year ago with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) explicitly rules out upload filters, but an EU-level compromise between the German and French governments resulted in a qualified majority in the EU Council for Article 13 of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (“EU Copyright Directive”). The CDU has consistently and vehemently denied–all the way up to the Chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Seibert–that Article 13 in its post-trilogue form would entail upload filters.

      • The 2012 Web Blackout Helped Stop SOPA/PIPA And Then ACTA; Here Comes The 2019 Version To Stop Article 13

        Remember SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act)? Back in 2012, they threatened to cause widespread damage to the online world by bringing in yet more extreme and unbalanced measures against alleged copyright infringement. Things looked pretty bad until a day of massive online protest was organized on January 18, 2012, with thousands of sites partially or totally blacked out. Politicians were taken aback by the unexpected scale of the anger, and their support for SOPA and PIPA crumbled quickly. That success fuelled protests in Europe against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which also sought to bring in harsh measures against online infringement. After tens of thousands of people took part in street demonstrations across Europe, many politicians wanted nothing to do with the by-now toxic proposal, and it was voted down in the European Parliament in July 2012.

      • News Organization Like Reuters Supporting The EU Copyright Directive Is A Shameful Support For Censorship

        Of course, we’ve explained multiple times why none of this makes much sense. Nothing in the EU Copyright Directive is about creating a “level playing field” or “giving citizens better access to a wider array of content.” Indeed, as written, it will do the exact opposite. It will heavily weight the playing field towards large organizations (both tech and copyright) and massively limit availability to content through mass mandatory filtering.

        Anyway, I’m not surprised at all the collection societies signing on to this — as they know that they’ll be in the best position to demand more money from platforms should this become law. What I find most troubling, however, is to see a bunch of news organizations — including behemoths like Reuters — signed on. I know that many large news publishers (stupidly) support Article 11, in the false belief that it will magically create a new stream of revenue for them from Google News having to pay to link to them (even though that hasn’t worked in Germany or Spain when similar laws passed in both places).

      • Online ‘Reputation Management’ Company Brags About Abusing Copyright Law To Take Down Bad Reviews

        This is, as one copyright lawyer I asked about it noted, “utter nonsense.” Almost nothing in that is accurate, though I do wonder how many people fall for it. We have, of course, seen lots of people try (laughably) to abuse DMCA notices to try to delist pages from Google and it rarely works. Google actually is pretty good at ignoring those nonsense DMCA claims.

        Indeed, in researching a bit more about “Reputation Defenders” I discovered that we actually wrote about them about a year ago, noting that they appeared to have struck out on every single attempt to use bogus DMCA notices sent to Google to remove reviews on Ripoff Report. Back then, Tim Cushing’s story also noticed that they made bizarre claims about owning the copyright on company names (not a thing) and referencing the Berne Convention (irrelevant). It appears that they have not learned that (1) these are legal nonsense, and (2) they don’t work. I sent in some questions to Reputation Defenders to see if they have any actual copyright lawyers on staff or if a copyright lawyer has ever reviewed their page, but so far the company has not responded.

        The company does appear to keep on filing DMCA notices with Google. While it’s a bit sporadic, there were three such DMCA notices filed in February. They all follow the same nonsense formula. Two of them are attempts to delete negative reviews on Ripoff Report. The most recent was filed on February 4th, and is an attempt to delete a negative review from Google’s index. If you actually go to the Ripoff Report page, you actually see that the individual in question posted a detailed “rebuttal” to the negative review, including documentation (though the original poster also returns to post more details of the original claims as well). Either way, Google did not remove the review. The same situation plays out for a DMCA notice sent on February 1st, which, from reading through the Ripoff Report, you discover quite the soap opera that may have occurred with an attempt at create a drug treatment facility.

      • YouTube is Not Liable for Copyright Infringing Videos, Appeal Court Rules

        The Higher Regional Court of Vienna, Austria, has ruled that YouTube can’t be held liable for infringing videos uploaded by users. The Court overturned a previous verdict which held that YouTube takes an “active role,” which disqualifies it from safe harbor protection. Rightsholder Puls 4 is disappointed with the outcome and will take the case to the Supreme Court.

      • Japan Abandons Tough Anti-Downloading Copyright Law

        Japan’s government has decided to not to proceed with its controversial anti-piracy law. The proposals would have rendered the downloading of all copyrighted content illegal while criminalizing offenders with jail sentences of up to two years. The reforms will now go back to the drawing board.

      • Japanese Government Puts Restrictive Copyright Amendments On Hold Over ‘Internet Atrophy’ Worries

        Call me surprised. We have been recently discussing a proposal in Japan to alter copyright law in the country to criminalize every single instance of copyright infringement, rather than saving any of that for the civil courts. The bonkers proposal would take the current law, in which all instances of copyright infringement on movies and music carry criminal penalties and expand that to essentially all copyright infringement everywhere. This would include screenshots, posting lyrics to songs, and the like. Shortly after all of this was announced, a large group of Japanese academics wrote an open statement to the government indicating their concern that allowing the new law to move forward would result in an extreme chilling effect on internet usage in the country. At the time, I said it was a litmus test for whether the government would take any objection to the law seriously, tame as it was. It was also likely clear that I wasn’t optimistic.

        Well, surprise, the government has actually put the proposal on hold out of a concern for the very chilling effects those academics raised.


Stopping António Campinos and His Software Patents Agenda (Not Legal in Europe) Would Require Independent Courts

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 12:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Giving the “red card” to judges with “unfavourable” (to the Office) opinions?

EPO red card

Summary: Software patents continue to be granted (new tricks, loopholes and buzzwords) and judges who can put an end to that are being actively assaulted by those who aren’t supposed to have any authority whatsoever over them (for decisions to be impartially delivered)

NEARLY nine months have passed since António Campinos took charge; he has birthed no fixes, no reforms, nothing. SUEPO already compares him to Battistelli, who gave him this job. Battistelli himself probably belongs in prison, but the way the justice system works in France, it can take up to a decade for things to move (see Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sárközy de Nagy-Bocsa, a close ally of Battistelli).

Campinos TurkeyCorrupt European Patent Office (EPO) officials, in violation — a gross violation too we must stress — of Office rules and its very constitution, the EPC, attacked a judge and then sent all of his colleagues away (to exile in Haar). Even patent maximalists are unable to ignore that. This was covered by Dr. Bausch earlier this month and now comes this article titled “Is The Location Of The Boards Of Appeal In Haar Contrary To The EPC?” (almost a rhetorical question)

What can the case entail when judges are not independent? It is a cyclical problem.

To quote:

The facts of this case are rather unusual, in that the appeal in question was filed by a “third party” against a decision to grant a European patent. The appellant sought to argue that its appeal was admissible on the basis that (a) the patent was granted despite clarity objections raised in third party observations during pre-grant examination, (b) clarity is not available as a ground of post-grant opposition, and so (c) the only available remedy for the third party was to appeal against the decision to grant.

The Board of Appeal summoned the appellant to oral proceedings in Haar (where the Boards of Appeal are located). In response, the appellant requested that the oral proceedings were relocated to Munich, on the basis that Haar is not specified in the EPC as a location of the EPO. The Board of Appeal then cancelled the hearing and referred the above questions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal. Specifically, the Board of Appeal considered that input from the Enlarged Board of Appeal was needed concerning the right to oral proceedings in the case of prima facie inadmissible appeals (question 1) and whether the appeal was in fact prima facie inadmissible (question 2). If the answer to either of questions 1 and 2 is no, the Enlarged Board of Appeal will then consider whether Munich encompasses Haar.

Question 3 is perhaps of more general interest than the questions 1 and 2. Article 6(2) EPC states that “The European Patent Office shall be located in Munich. It shall have a branch at the Hague.” The Protocol on Centralisation provides for a sub-office in Berlin. The Boards of Appeal moved from a central Munich location to Haar (which is suburb of Munich) in 2017. If Haar is not considered to be in Munich, then the current location of the Boards of Appeal could be found to be contrary to the EPC.

The Boards of Appeal’s move to Haar was not universally popular, and indeed it happened against a backdrop of tension between the then-President of the EPO and Boards of Appeal. It will therefore be interesting to see how the Enlarged Board of Appeal responds to question 3 (assuming it answers “no” to one of questions 1 and 2). Of course, the Enlarged Board of Appeal will be able to avoid answering question 3 if it answers yes to both questions 1 and 2.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has moved in a similar direction; the Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) was moved to another (less important) position and inter partes reviews (IPRs) are under attack from the Office, not the courts (the Federal Circuit and SCOTUS fully support IPRs and 35 U.S.C. § 101). Josh Landau of CCIA has just explained the importance of a CAFC case about PTAB and the Trump-appointed Iancu at the USPTO (who dislikes patent quality) as follows:

Today, the Federal Circuit will hear oral argument in the BTG v. Amneal Pharmaceuticals case. In addition to standard disputes over whether the patent-in-suit was obvious and whether it was infringed, this case presents a novel issue regarding estoppel for IPR petitioners.

Essentially, the question is whether a petitioner who successfully challenges a claim at the PTAB is barred from arguing invalidity of that claim in district court. BTG—and the USPTO, in an amicus brief—argues that if you win at the USPTO, you thereby have to lose at district court, at least until all rehearings and appeals are exhausted.

Appeals are a process that can take years—years during which you might be barred from putting your product on the market, even though the USPTO already said that there was no valid patent blocking your path.

We duly note that Watchtroll published a couple of anti-PTAB posts last night, along with “Don’t Give Up: Section 101 Allowances Are Up at USPTO” (so writes the new editor of Watchtroll and the term “don’t give up” gives away who she really lobbies for). There’s this new response to a subcommittee that calls itself “Intellectual Property” [sic], but staying focused on Europe at the moment, let’s just say that there’s a growing parallel here because the Office generally ignores court cases, insists on granting patents that it knows court would reject, and generally adopts a justice-hostile atmosphere focused on patent maximalism. The methods are similar too. In our daily links we’ve included news about new PTAB leadership.

Bearing in mind that software patents are not allowed in Europe, the EPO and USPTO both render “AI” the “open Sesame!” for patents on algorithms. The EPO has in fact just formalised yet another open door for applications that really ought to be rejected outright. Call databases or linked lists “blockchain” and voila! Patent granted.

“EPO publishes blockchain conference report,” said yesterday’s headline (warning: epo.org link), having composed a report on a software patents advocacy event it organised along with patent trolls from another continent. Here they go again:

As a follow-up to its “Patenting Blockchain” conference, the European Patent Office (EPO) has published a conference report entitled “Talking about a new revolution: blockchain” to provide insight into the impact of this technology on the patent system. Held at the EPO in The Hague in December last year – the conference was the first event organised by an IP5 office on this topic.

Notice the mention of IP5, which includes USPTO.

We have meanwhile also found KIPA serving toxic agenda, having just hired a man whose “main technical expertise lies in signal processing and software patents…”

He comes from France:

Prior to joining SFK, Burö worked in Volvo’s patent department and was responsible for IP at Renault Trucks in Lyon and creating an IP function in the US.

Will he help call software patents “SDV” or similar? How about “AI”? There’s no software anymore; it's all just "AI" nowadays. For patenting purposes, overcoming the bans for the most part, this is what they call everything with if-else statements. Published this week was this article titled “Keys To Successful AI Patents In The US And Europe,” which in turn cites WIPO:

On Jan. 31, 2019, the World Intellectual Property Organization, released its first publication in a series of “Technology Trends” studies.[1] This study concerned inventions based on artificial intelligence. Unsurprisingly, WIPO found…

This WIPO agenda was covered here before. Should WIPO or courts be in charge of policy? WIPO is about as rogue as the EPO.

Also see this new article titled “Turkey’s national strategy on AI: Where to next?”

“Campinos passively it not actively perpetuates injustice.”Citing WIPO’s propaganda on “AI”, it mentions patents. Imagine making a country’s strategy a mere buzzword like “AI” in relation to patents. From the article: “It is said that China is ahead of other countries when including in AI in their national strategy. AI as an agenda topic of international institutions reveals objective data as far as possible to the question “Which country is leading the AI sector?” A key report that the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published helps keep a finger on the pulse of the world in terms of country, company and sector categories.”

Shouldn’t the Boards of Appeal put an end to this whole “AI” nonsense? Can they? As it stands at the moment, by their very own admission, they still lack independence. 9 months later Campinos did absolutely nothing about it. Campinos passively it not actively perpetuates injustice.


The Linux Foundation Needs to Speak Out Against Microsoft’s Ongoing (Continued) Patent Shakedown of OEMs That Ship Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 10:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An influence group, not a Linux advocacy group


Summary: Zemlin actively thanks Microsoft while taking Microsoft money; he meanwhile ignores how Microsoft viciously attacks Linux using patents, revealing the degree to which his foundation, the “Linux Foundation” (not about Linux anymore, better described as Zemlin’s PAC), has been compromised

WE HAVE, by now, seen about a dozen articles about Microsoft’s patent lawsuit/complaint against Foxconn. A lot of these articles are similar, some are behind paywall, but the message is clear. Microsoft not only shows that it doesn’t “love Linux”; it shows its hatred and intolerance.

A decade ago Jim Zemlin wrote a strongly-worded blog post about Microsoft’s lawsuit against TomTom, but where is he now? Microsoft continues Linux extortion, but the Microsoft-bribed Linux Foundation isn't saying a thing, it is just taking yet more Microsoft hush money.

See the second item here (press from Taipei, Taiwan):

Acer Inc (宏碁) chairman and CEO Jason Chen (陳俊聖) on Tuesday said that the PC maker’s royalty payments to Microsoft Inc are governed by contracts with the US software giant and are not paid by partner original design manufacturers and electronics manufacturing services providers. Chen’s comments came amid a patent dispute between Microsoft and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海) that prompted personal rebukes by Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) earlier that day. Acer pays Microsoft directly to fulfill the conditions of the licensing contracts, Chen said.

So the extortion racket carries on and maybe Microsoft joined OIN only after it had secured such cash flow with all the major OEMs that ship Android and other systems with Linux in them. Either way, the Linux Foundation linked to this article last night. It says: “Following up on those announcements, Microsoft-owned GitHub said it would donate $100,000 to CommunityBridge and invited maintainers of CommunityBridge projects to take part in GitHub’s maintainer program. “We greatly appreciate GitHub’s donation and support of CommunityBridge and are happy to match it—all in the name of the maintainers we both aim to serve,” said Zemlin, in a prepared statement. “We invite other organizations to engage in our grant program, and help us solve critical challenges to better support long-term sustainability for open source projects.””

So Zemlin actively thanks Microsoft. Yes, he thanks them while they do the above. What a difference some “campaign contributions” can make… the Zemlin PAC knows where the money comes from. In fact, one might joke that his salary comes (in part) from patent extortion of Linux. Later he signals to regulators that it’s absolutely OK for Microsoft to take over GitHub and the Linux Foundation puts code and projects in this Microsoft/NSA (PRISM) platform.

Links 15/3/2019: Linux 5.0.2, Sublime Text 3.2

Posted in News Roundup at 10:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • US red lines for digital trade with the UK cause alarm

    The US government has published its negotiating objectives for a trade deal with the UK, which include some worrying proposals on digital trade, including a ban on the disclosure of source code and algorithms, and potential restrictions on data protection.


    The US wants to stop the UK government from “mandating the disclosure of computer source code or algorithms”. This is one of the most concerning aspects of the new digital trade agenda, already found in other recent trade agreements, and criticised by groups such as Third World Network. Restricting source code and algorithms is problematic for various reasons. In particular, the UK government has been pioneering open source software, despite some setbacks, and these clauses could be used to challenge any public procurement perceived to give preference to open source.

  • New service mesh emerges from the creators of gRPC and Istio

    The creators of gRPC and Istio have created a new enterprise-grade service mesh that is launching today. Tetrate is built on top of Istio and Envoy, and adds enterprise-grade scalability, performance, and ecosystem adapters. Envoy is a network load balancer for microservices, while Istio is a service mesh that acts as a control plane layer over Istio.

  • Tetrate Launched, Google Chrome 73 Released, Godot 3.1 Is Now Available, Enroll to Try Android Q Beta, and Pi Day Live Stream Event and Contest

    Tetrate, a new enterprise-grade service mesh from the creators of gRPC and Istio, launched yesterday. Varun Talwar, CEO of Tetrate and formerly co-creator of Istio at Google, says “Tetrate’s mission is to create a secure and flexible application networking layer to help enterprises transition from their decades-old rigid networking stack. Our tools and technologies will help customers with availability and manageability of their applications as they undergo this transformation.” In addition, “Tetrate is launching with $12.5 million in funding from Dell Technologies Capital, as well as from participating investors 8VC, Intel Capital, Rain Capital, and Samsung NEXT.” It also plans to use the funding to “extend its open-source leadership and further contribute to the open-source community”. See this ITOps Times article for more information.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla releases Iodide, an open source browser tool for publishing dynamic data science

        Mozilla wants to make it easier to create, view, and replicate data visualizations on the web, and toward that end, it today unveiled Iodide, an “experimental tool” meant to help scientists and engineers write and share interactive documents using an iterative workflow. It’s currently in alpha, and available from GitHub in open source.

        “In the last ten years, there has been an explosion of interest in ‘scientific computing’ and ‘data science’: that is, the application of computation to answer questions and analyze data in the natural and social sciences,” Brendan Colloran, staff data scientist at Mozilla, wrote in a blog post. “To address these needs, we’ve seen a renaissance in programming languages, tools, and techniques that help scientists and researchers explore and understand data and scientific concepts, and to communicate their findings. But to date, very few tools have focused on helping scientists gain unfiltered access to the full communication potential of modern web browsers.”

      • Rep of the Month – February 2019

        Please join us in congratulating Edoardo Viola, our Rep of the Month for February 2019!

        Edoardo is a long-time Mozillian from Italy and has been a Rep for almost two years. He’s a Resource Rep and has been on the Reps Council until January. When he’s not busy with Reps work, Edoardo is a Mentor in the Open Leadership Training Program. In the past he has contributed to Campus Clubs as well as MozFest, where he was a Space Wrangler for the Web Literacy Track.

      • Firefox Send is a Free, Encrypted File Sharing Service

        It just got easier (and more secure) to share files with your friends and family online — all thanks to Mozilla, makers of Firefox.

        The free-web advocating non-profit has announced that its ‘Firefox Send‘ feature has graduated from (the now axed) test pilot programme to fully fledged service in its own right.

        And the best bit? You don’t even need Firefox to use it.

      • Thank you, Denelle Dixon

        I want to take this opportunity to thank Denelle Dixon for her partnership, leadership and significant contributions to Mozilla over the last six years.

        Denelle joined Mozilla Corporation in September 2012 as an Associate General Counsel and rose through the ranks to lead our global business and operations as our Chief Operating Officer. Next month, after an incredible tour of duty at Mozilla, she will step down as a full-time Mozillian to join the Stellar Development Foundation as their Executive Director and CEO.

  • BSD

    • Microkernel Failure | BSD Now 289

      A kernel of failure, IPv6 fragmentation vulnerability in OpenBSD’s pf, a guide to the terminal, using a Yubikey for SSH public key authentication, FreeBSD desktop series, and more.


    • Activists and experts gather in Cambridge for ethical tech conference to celebrate software freedom on March 23-24

      Next weekend, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) presents the eleventh annual LibrePlanet free software conference in Cambridge, March 23-24, 2019, at the Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. LibrePlanet is an annual conference for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and tackle challenges facing the free software movement, including 3D printing, cryptography, medical devices, privacy, security, and current issues in software licensing. LibrePlanet 2019 will focus on the exploration of software freedom and how to bring to life trailblazing, principled new technologies.

      LibrePlanet 2019 will include four keynotes. Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician, will talk about his work on making medical devices accessible through free designs that meet medical industry standards. Micky Metts, a member of the Agaric Design Collective, will talk about your collective and individual roles in maintaining your freedoms, with free software as the foundation. Bdale Garbee, longtime free software contributor and former Debian Project Leader, will tell us about the fun in free software, using personal anecdotes as examples. Richard Stallman, founder of the FSF and president of the board of directors, will discuss current issues facing user freedom, and announce the winners of the 2018 Free Software Foundation awards.

    • Software Freedom Conservancy Becomes an Open Source Initiative Affiliate Member
    • Conservancy Becomes an Open Source Initiative Affiliate Member

      Conservancy joins a long list of Open Source Initiative Affiliate Members. We believe that the non-profits serving free and open source software communities should seek out ways to support each other. There are certainly many different strategies that help us build and maintain a robust commons and a solid consistent understanding of the licenses that enable collaborative development is critical. The Open Source Initiative’s role as steward of the Open Source Definition is extremely compatible with our own work to provide a fiscal home for community-driven free software projects and our ongoing work to enforce the General Public License (GPL).

      “We’re excited to participate in the Open Source Initiative’s ongoing work to educate users and decision-makers about how licensing and cooperation go hand in hand. By joining as an affiliate member, we affirm our support of collaboration to promote the ideals of software freedom.” says Karen Sandler, Software Freedom Conservancy’s Executive Director.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Norway’s new health archive is being built on open source

      The new Norwegian Health Archives (Norsk helsearkiv, NHA) is being built using open source software, including operating system Linux, relational database management system MariaDB, search engine Elasticsearch, and digital preservation system Archivematica.

  • Programming/Development

    • Tutorial: Why Functions Modify Lists and Dictionaries in Python

      Python’s functions (both the built-in ones and custom functions we write ourselves) are crucial tools for working with data. But what they do with our data can be a little confusing, and if we’re not aware of what’s going on, it could cause serious errors in our analysis.

      In this tutorial, we’re going to take a close look at how Python treats different data types when they’re being manipulated inside of functions, and learn how to ensure that our data is being changed only when we want it to be changed.

    • Introduction to Python FTP

      In this tutorial, we will explore how to use FTP with Python to send and receive files from a server over TCP/IP connections.

      To make things easier and more abstract, we will be using Python’s ftplib library which provides a range of functionalities that make it easier to work with FTP. We’ll see the implementation for uploading and downloading files from the server, as well as some other cool things that “ftplib” allows us to do.

    • Emmanuele Bassi: A little testing

      Years ago I started writing Graphene as a small library of 3D transformation-related math types to be used by GTK (and possibly Clutter, even if that didn’t pan out until Georges started working on the Clutter fork inside Mutter).

      Graphene’s only requirement is a C99 compiler and a decent toolchain capable of either taking SSE builtins or support vectorization on appropriately aligned types. This means that, unless you decide to enable the GObject types for each Graphene type, Graphene doesn’t really need GLib types or API—except that’s a bit of a lie.

      As I wanted to test what I was doing, Graphene has an optional build time dependency on GLib for its test suite; the library itself may not use anything from GLib, but if you want to build and run the test suite then you need to have GLib installed.

    • Fair Resource Distribution Algorithm v1

      Imagine a finite resource that you want to distribute amongst peers in a fair manner. If you know the number of peers to be n, the problem becomes trivial and you can assign every peer 1/n-th of the total. This way every peer gets the same amount, while no part of the resource stays unused. But what if the number of peers is only known retrospectively? That is, how many resources do you grant a peer if you do not know whether there are more peers or not? How do you define “fairness”? And how do you make sure as little of the resource as possible stays unused?

    • Fast, Bump-Allocated Virtual DOMs with Rust and Wasm

      Dodrio is a virtual DOM library written in Rust and WebAssembly. It takes advantage of both Wasm’s linear memory and Rust’s low-level control by designing virtual DOM rendering around bump allocation. Preliminary benchmark results suggest it has best-in-class performance.

    • Step-by-step how-to guide to use uWSGI with Python 3.7 for Ubuntu 18.04 and 18.10.
    • Using Pipfile in Binder


  • Science

    • π day

      Pi Day is celebrated everywhere on March 14th (3/14), since π is the mathematical symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter – numerically, approximately 3.14159.


      So let’s celebrate. Recite as many of the infinite digits of Pi as you can remember, memorizing is good for the brain anyway. Organize π-reciting contests. Eat pie. Eat pizza, it counts as pie. Eat anything round (and edible, please). Eat cake with friends (it’s also Einstein’s birthday, if you need a reason); eat donuts, eat cookies. Walk around in circles, have circular thoughts, throw pies at your colleagues, appreciate the casual relation between the ratio of the circumference of a circle and the English word for pastries filled with sweet goodness.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Judge in Second Roundup Cancer Trial Worked for Firm that Defended Monsanto

      On March 12, both sides in the Edwin Hardeman vs. Monsanto case delivered their closing arguments in San Francisco Federal Court. Hardeman sued Monsanto (now owned by Bayer), alleging that his longtime use of Roundup weedkiller caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer.

      The jury could return its verdict any day now. The six-juror panel must return a unanimous decision, or a mistrial will be called. A new trial would likely take place in May. If the jury returns a guilty verdict, the case will enter the second phase, where Monsanto’s liability will be determined and damages may be awarded to the plaintiff.

      This week’s closing arguments followed a recent favorable ruling for the plaintiff—this despite new revelations about Chhabria’s past ties to Monsanto.

    • How Much Difference Will Eli Lilly’s Half-Price Insulin Make?

      When Erin Gilmer filled her insulin prescription at a Denver-area Walgreens in January, she paid $8.50. U.S. taxpayers paid another $280.51.

      “It eats at me to know that taxpayer money is being wasted,” said Gilmer, who has Medicare and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while a sophomore at the University of Colorado in 2002.

      The diagnosis meant that for the rest of her life she’d require daily insulin shots to stay alive. But the price of that insulin is skyrocketing.

      Between 2009 and 2017 the wholesale price of a single vial of Humalog, the Eli Lilly and Co.-manufactured insulin Gilmer uses, nearly tripled — rising from $92.70 to $274.70, according to data from IBM Watson Health.

    • The FDA Should Protect Consumers, Not a Dying Dairy Industry

      Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that’s what it’s telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

      For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like “milk” on their labels, citing consumer confusion.

      The National Milk Producers Federation even helped get the “Dairy Pride Act” introduced, as part of its war on plant-based products. My organization, Compassion Over Killing (COK) and more than 10,000 petition signers suggest a better option: If the dairy industry has “pride” in its own product, why not clearly label it “cow’s milk”?

      Last fall, COK, Animal Legal Defense Fund and the University of California Los Angeles’s Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy submitted joint comments urging the FDA not to back the dairy industry’s anti-competitive efforts by restricting plant-based dairy products from being labeled with terms like “milk,” along with thousands of public comments submitted.

      Now, the agency has received thousands of responses to its call for public comments on other terms, such as “yogurt” and “cheese.” Though it’s doubtful that consumers who are not confused by almond milk would suddenly become confused by almond cheese.

    • Beating the Big Pharma Shell Game

      A trillion-dollar industry is in trouble. And it is fighting back.

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

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

      In this case, the shiny object we are supposed to pay attention to is the so-called ‘middleman’ of the drug pricing process. Sometimes, the pharma industry tries to point our attention toward pharmacies or hospitals or insurance companies. But the usual target is pharmacy benefit managers, (PBMs), who act as buying networks for insurers and employers.

      As the Wall Street Journal has recently reported, this ‘hey, look over there’ approach by Big Pharma is the foundation of a thoroughly-planned, carefully-executed corporate disinformation strategy:

    • Clean Water at Risk as Trump Administration Ignores Science

      When lawmakers passed the Clean Water Act of 1972, they agreed the federal government needed stronger regulations to protect the waterways that we rely on for drinking, fishing, recreation and supporting a healthy environment.

      But our watersheds are more than just major rivers — there are wetlands, ponds and small streams, some of which only contain water part of the year. And it’s in these waterways that an ongoing, unseen conversation happens between surface and groundwater.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • 25 Most Common IoT Security Threats in an Increasingly Connected World

      The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly. IoT is the connectivity of devices over the internet. It’s like a social network or an email service, but instead of connecting people, IoT actually connects smart devices which include, but not limited to your computers, smartphones, smart home appliances, automation tools, and more.

      However, similar to all types of technologies out there, IoT is a double-edged sword as well. It has its upsides, but there are serious threats that accompany this technology. As manufacturers are racing against each other to bring the latest device in the market, not many of them are thinking about the security issues associated with their IoT devices.

    • Facebook Suffers Global Outage, Claims DDoS Not the Cause

      Facebook users around the world had a singular question for much of March 13: Is Facebook down?

      As it turns out, the global social media giant and its related Instagram and WhatsApp services were in fact unavailable and down for much of the day. Some service was restored by March 14, though full global availability across all Facebook services is still intermittent. With Facebook down, the company ironically had to resort to using rival social media service Twitter to keep many of its users informed.

      “We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps,” Facebook wrote in a Twitter message. “We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

      Facebook also provided minimal updates via its platform status dashboard for developers, with the first indication of trouble reported at 10:32 a.m. PT on March 13.

      “We are currently experiencing issues that may cause some API requests to take longer or fail unexpectedly,” the status page reports. “We are investigating the issue and working on a resolution.”

    • Kali Linux Forensics Tools

      Kali Linux is a powerful Operating system especially designed for Penetration Tester and Security Professionals. Most of its features and tools are made for security researchers and pentesters but it has a separate “Forensics” tab and a separate “Forensics” mode for Forensics Investigators.
      Forensics is becoming very important in Cyber Security to detect and backtrack Black Hat Criminals. It is essential to remove Hackers’ malicious backdoors/malwares and trace them back to avoid any possible future incidents. In Kali’s Forensics mode, Operating System doesn’t mount any partition from System’s hard drive and doesn’t leave any changes or fingerprints on host’s system.

      Kali Linux comes with pre-installed popular forensics applications and toolkits. Here we’ll review some famous open source tools present in Kali Linux.

    • What is SSH (Secure shell protocol)?

      SSH stands for Secure Shell which is a security protocol based on the application layer. We use the SSH to securely access the remote servers and Desktops to execute various commands. In short, we can control the complete system remotely, if we have login information and SSH server access. Because The Secure Shell (SSH) is a cryptographic network protocol designed to replace the Telnet and access the remote system even on the unsecured remote shell by encrypting data before sending.

    • Security Researcher Discovers Flaws In Yelp-For-MAGAs App, Developer Threatens To Report Him To The Deep State

      Even a cursory look at past stories we’ve done about how companies treat security researchers who point out the trash-state of their products would reveal that entirely too many people and companies seem to think shooting the messenger is the best response. I have never understood the impulse to take people who are essentially stress-testing your software for free, ultimately pointing out how the product could be safer than it is, and then threatening those people with legal action or law enforcement. But, then, much of the world makes little sense to me.

      Such as why a Yelp-for-MAGA people should ever be a thing. But it absolutely is a thing, with conservative news site 63red.com releasing a mobile app that is essentially a Yelp-clone, but with the twist that its chief purpose is to let other Trump supporters know how likely they are to be derided when visiting a restaurant. This is an understandable impulse, I suppose, given the nature of politics in 2019 America, though the need for an app seems like overkill. Regardless, the app was released and a security researcher found roughly all the security holes in it.

    • “Yelp, but for MAGA” turns red over security disclosure, threatens researcher

      But the safe space for 63red founder Scott Wallace was violated quickly when French security researcher Elliot Alderson discovered some fundamental security flaws in Safe’s architecture—making it not so safe.

      Because the application is build in React Native, a JavaScript- and JSX-based scripting language that basically turns Web apps into “native” Apple iOS and Android applications, the entire architecture of the application is available to anyone who downloads and unpacks it. And in that code, Alderson discovered a few things: [...]

    • SMB Exploited

      Server Message Block (SMB) is the transport protocol used by Windows machines for a wide variety of purposes such as file sharing, printer sharing, and access to remote Windows services. SMB operates over TCP ports 139 and 445. In April 2017, Shadow Brokers released an SMB vulnerability named “EternalBlue,” which was part of the Microsoft security bulletin MS17-010.

      The recent WannaCry ransomware takes advantage of this vulnerability to compromise Windows machines, load malware, and propagate to other machines in a network. The attack uses SMB version 1 and TCP port 445 to propagate.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Boeing to Update Planes’ Software After Two Deadly Crashes

      The company noted on Tuesday that a flight control software enhancement for the aircraft model has been in the works for several months, following last year’s Lion Air Flight 610 crash of the same model that killed 189 people flying out of Indonesia.

    • Tribunal Declares Trump and Duterte Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his government committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, aided and abetted by US President Donald Trump and his administration, according to a recent ruling from the International Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines.

      The tribunal, which was held in Brussels, Belgium, on September 18 and 19, 2018, rendered its 84-page decision on these crimes on March 8. Conveners of the tribunal included the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. A panel of eight jurors from Egypt, France, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands and the United States heard testimony from 31 witnesses, including me.

      These jurors ordered the defendants to make reparations; to provide compensation or indemnification, restitution and rehabilitation; and to be subjected to possible prosecution and sanctions for their crimes. Although the tribunal does not have the power to enforce those measures, its findings of facts and conclusions of law could be used to bolster the preliminary examination of crimes by the Duterte regime currently pending in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    • Reputed Gambino Crime Boss Shot to Death in New York City

      The reputed boss of New York’s Gambino crime family was gunned down outside his home, dying a virtual unknown compared with his swaggering 1980s-era predecessor, the custom-tailored tabloid regular John Gotti.

      Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali, 53, was found with multiple gunshot wounds at his red-brick colonial-style house on Staten Island on Wednesday night and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

      Witnesses reported seeing a blue pickup truck speeding away, police said. No immediate arrests were made.

      Federal prosecutors had referred to Cali in court filings in recent years as the underboss of the Gambino organization. News accounts since 2015 said he had ascended to the top spot.

    • State Supreme Court Allows Lawsuit Against Gun Maker to Move Forward in ‘Massive Victory’ For Sandy Hook Families

      The maker of the semi-automatic assault rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 can potentially be held liable for the 26 killings the gun was used to commit, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

      The decision represents a major victory for the families of the 20 first-grade children and six educators who were killed in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, which inflamed outrage among gun control advocates who demanded lawmakers work to prevent mass shooting.

      “I am thrilled and tremendously grateful,” Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook, told the New York Times. “No one has blanket immunity. There are consequences.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Laura Poitras ‘Sickened’ By Layoffs at The Intercept

      “I am also sickened by your joint decision to shut down the Snowden archive, which I was informed of only yesterday—a decision made without consulting me or the board of directors.”

    • Met Police collaborated with US prosecutors in WikiLeaks investigation

      The Metropolitan Police shared information about WikiLeaks journalists with US prosecutors for at least four years as the US Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted secret investigations into the whistleblowing website and its founder Julian Assange.

      The Met has disclosed that it has shared correspondence with the US since at least 2013 on WikiLeaks’ UK staff, which include former investigations editor Sarah Harrison, editor in chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and section editor Joseph Farrell.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Despite Risks, Canada’s Tar Sands Industry Is Betting Big on Oil Trains

      Last year, Canada exported a record amount of tar sands oil to the U.S., despite low oil prices leading to major losses once again for the struggling tar sands industry. That achievement required a big bump in hauling oil by rail, with those daily volumes in late 2018 more than double the previous record in 2014 during the first oil-by-rail boom.

      Canada’s oil industry essentially has reached its limit for exporting oil into the U.S. through pipelines. That’s why it’s turning to rail to export more and more oil, but as an ever-increasing number of oil trains hit the tracks of North America, expect more accidents and oil spills to follow.

    • Enough Inaction: Green Groups Sue to Make France Act Boldly on Climate Crisis

      Four advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against France on Thursday for failing to take necessary action to tackle the climate crisis.

      The French groups—Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme (FNH), Greenpeace France, Notre Affaire à Tous, and Oxfam France—filed their case, which they’ve dubbed “l’Affaire du siècle” or the case of the century, in the administrative court of Paris.

    • ACLU Offers Legal Guidance for US Students Joining Friday’s Global Climate Strike

      That’s the message from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which reminded students of their rights Thursday by linking to a comprehensive overview of Constitutional protections on school grounds the group created last year.

      “If you’re a public school student, you don’t check your constitutional rights at the schoolhouse doors,” the ACLU document says. “But whether schools can punish you for speaking out depends on when, where, and how you decide to express yourself.”

      While students might face some school punishment for taking part in the strike, the ACLU notes that the punishment cannot exceed that of similar actions.

      “Because the law in most places requires students to go to school, schools can discipline you for missing class,” according to the ACLU. “But what they can’t do is discipline you more harshly because of the political nature of or the message behind your action.”

    • Brazil to open indigenous reserves to mining without indigenous consent

      For many years, international and Brazilian mining companies have dreamed of getting access to the mineral wealth lying beneath indigenous lands. And finally, the government of Jair Bolsonaro seems determined to give them that opportunity. On 4 March, while Brazilians were distracted by Carnival celebrations, the new Minister of Mines and Energy Admiral Bento Albuquerque announced plans to permit mining on indigenous land.

      Speaking at the annual convention of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), a major event in the mining world that attracts tens-of-thousands of attendees, the Minister said that Brazil’s indigenous people would be given a voice but not a veto in the matter. The opening of indigenous ancestral territories to mining, he predicted, would “bring benefits to these communities and to the country.”

      He also said that he intends to allow mining right up to Brazil’s borders, abolishing the current 150-kilometer (93-mile) wide mining buffer zone at the frontier.

      The minister said that current mining restrictions are outdated. The long-restricted indigenous and border areas “have become centers of conflict and illegal activities, that in no way contribute to sustainable development or to sovereignty and national security.” The administration will shortly be holding a nationwide consultation to discuss how the changes should be made, he concluded.

    • Only 10 Vaquita Porpoises Remain in the World, Scientists Announce

      Scientists announced Thursday that only 10 vaquita porpoises likely remain in the world and that the animal’s extinction is virtually assured without bold and immediate action.

      The vaquita, the world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean, is found only in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. The release of the new vaquita estimate comes just two days after reports of the possible first vaquita mortality of 2019. More details are expected in the coming days.

    • Beto O’Rourke Becomes Latest 2020 Contender to Pledge Climate Action

      “This is a defining moment of truth for this country and for every single one of us,” O’Rourke said in a video announcing his campaign. “The challenges that we face right now, the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy and our climate have never been greater. And they will either consume us, or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America.”

    • Transformative Climate Action Is Possible — If Polluters Stay Away

      2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in “the number of Americans who say they worry ‘a great deal’ about climate change.”

      That was before the release of two reports in the fall by scientists commissioned by the United Nations and the U.S. federal government. Both reports painted a dire picture of the coming climate catastrophe and a clear timeline. They warned that if we don’t take drastic action to cut emissions globally, we will face global catastrophic effects of climate change. According to the U.N, we have about a decade. That’s no time at all.

      So it makes sense that at the very end of 2018, even as global greenhouse gas emissions rose alarmingly, two bold plans for climate action took hold of the public imagination: the international People’s Demands for Climate Justice, and in the U.S., the Green New Deal. But in order to move these plans from visions to actual policies that are just and effective, we must address the largest obstacle that lies between today’s status quo and a livable future for all: the influence of the fossil fuel industry on climate policy.

    • Fiat Chrysler Recalls 900,000+ Cars in U.S. and Canada for Excessive Nitrogen Oxide Emissions

      Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) is recalling around 965,000 gas-powered cars in the U.S. and Canada after they failed in-use emissions tests conducted by the company and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Reuters reported Wednesday.

      The company will need to replace the vehicles’ catalytic converters, which were shown to deteriorate during driving tests, leading to nitrogen oxide emissions above U.S. limits. Nitrogen oxide is associated with ozone and particulate matter pollution, which has serious health impacts.

    • Investigation Finds Southern California Edison Power Lines Sparked Massive, Deadly Thomas Fire

      Another California utility has been found responsible for sparking a deadly wildfire, according to the results of an investigation announced Wednesday.

      The massive Thomas Fire, which burned through 281,893 acres of Southern California in 2017, was sparked when two Southern California Edison (SCE) power lines slapped together on the night of Dec. 4, 2017, the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) said.

    • To Clean Up the Planet, Clean Up Washington

      For decades, majorities of Americans have favored swift, meaningful action on climate change. They understand that we must transition away from dirty fuels and toward clean, renewable energy. Yet despite this overwhelming support, Congress has repeatedly failed to act.
      This jarring disconnect between what the public wants to see and what Washington is prepared to deliver doesn’t just threaten the health and safety of everyone in our country — it undermines the very principle of representative democracy.
      The reason that Congress hasn’t acted is an open secret.
      Follow the trail of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from corporate polluters over the years, and you’ll find countless lawmakers who’ve worked to block action on climate change. The special interests that are hostile to our environment have designed a sophisticated toolkit for furthering their narrow agenda, while avoiding accountability.
      This assault on our democracy must end.
      That’s why the new House majority passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act — a bold suite of reforms that will transform our government and our political system for the better.
      Every provision of the bill is guided by one overarching imperative: restore the power and the voice of Americans who for too long have felt locked out of their own democracy.
      First, H.R. 1 will push back hard against the influence of big money in our politics. That means bringing more transparency to the world of campaign finance so that polluters can no longer use shadowy organizations to hide their political spending.
      In addition, by building a new system of citizen-owned elections that amplifies the power of small donors, H.R. 1 will reduce the financial influence of PACs and big corporations. The result will be environmental policy made for the public interest, not the interests of the fossil fuel industry.
      Second, H.R. 1 will make sure that public officials serve the public, not themselves or some hidden group of industry patrons.
      The bill extends conflict of interest rules to presidents and vice presidents and requires the release of their tax returns. It will prohibit members of Congress from serving on corporate boards and establish a code of ethics for the justices of the Supreme Court. And it will end the practice of corporations giving giant bonuses to employees who join the regulatory agencies overseeing them.

    • Ahead of Global #ClimateStrike She Inspired, 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

      “We have nominated Greta because the climate threat may be one of the most important causes of war and conflict,” Freddy Andre Oevstegaard, a parliamentary representative in Norway, told Norwegian newspaper VG.

    • UN Report Warns ‘Locked In’ Arctic Temperature Spikes Will Unleash Global Sea Level Rise

      The report was prepared by U.N. Environment (UNEP) and the Norwegian foundation GRID-Arendal, in close consultation with the Arctic Council. It is a product of the UNEP’s Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), a comprehensive assessment released Wednesday, as U.N. Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) is held in Nairobi, Kenya.

      Both Global Linkages and the GEO-6 underscore the vital importance of policymakers pursuing a coordinated global effort to drive down greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). As the report points out, “even if we stopped all emissions overnight, winter temperatures in the Arctic will still increase by 4 to 5°C compared to the late twentieth century.”

      While human-generated GHGs boost temperatures on a global scale, warming occurs faster in the Arctic. That’s because of a phenomenon called Arctic or polar amplification—which, the report explains, “causes higher temperatures near the poles compared to the planetary average because of a combination of feedback processes.”

    • The Arctic’s ticking ‘carbon bomb’ could blow up the Paris Agreement

      Even in a dream-come-true scenario where we manage to stop all the world’s carbon emissions overnight, the Arctic would inevitably get hotter and hotter. That’s according to a new report by U.N. Environment, which says the the region is already “locked in” to wintertime warming of 4 to 5 degrees C (7.2 to 9 degrees F) over temperatures of the late 1900s.

      The report, released at the U.N. Environment conference in Kenya on Wednesday, says that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the planetary average, and models show that it’s on track to become ice-free during the summer as soon as 2030.

      That’s the bad news. So here’s even worse news. The Arctic contains much of the world’s permafrost, which holds what the report calls a “sleeping giant” made of greenhouse gases. As the ground warms, the microbes in the soil wake up and start belching greenhouse gases. Estimates vary, but the report says 1.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide lurk beneath the Earth’s permafrost. That’s more than 40 times as much CO2 as humans released into the atmosphere last year, and double the amount of the gas in the atmosphere today.

    • UN report finds temperature rise is ‘locked in’ for Arctic

      The Arctic is now “locked in” to experiencing unnatural levels of temperature rise by as early as 2050, according to a new United Nations environmental report out Wednesday.

      Dramatic temperature increases in the globe’s northernmost region, which is typically covered by permafrost, is unavoidable, according to the report released at the United Nations Environment Assembly.

      Even if countries were to meet the original goals of the Paris climate agreement, it would do nothing to stop Arctic winter temperatures from increasing 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and 5 to 9 degrees Celsius by 2080, according to the report.

    • A Mother Swept Away by Climate Change

      Yes, it’s happening. It really is. And I’m not just thinking about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and the support it’s getting from Democratic presidential candidates or the controversy it’s generating. I’m also thinking about Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s entry into the 2020 presidential race on a platform that boils down to a climate-change crusade. I’m thinking about the way Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — not your usual definition of a radical thinker or activist — is now planning to make global warming a key issue in the 2020 elections. I’m thinking about the fact that some Democrats suddenly are convinced the subject will be a winner on the campaign trail. I’m thinking about the fact that a book on climate change, David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, has just hit the bestseller list. I’m thinking about the strike-for-the-future movement, all those Generation Z kids that TomDispatch regular Frida Berrigan writes about today who have started a wave of global protests about the increasingly degraded world they’re likely to inherit.

      And I’m also thinking about the fact that every new study of climate change seems to offer worse news about the fate of the planet — greater potential temperature rises; more drought and famine; larger population displacements; faster-melting Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets leading to radically rising sea levels; more unexpected climate feedback loops that will only heighten the ravages of global warming; record levels of greenhouse gases still entering the atmosphere; and, most recently, the unexpected phenomena of heat waves not on land (yes, they’re coming, too, and they’re likely to be devastating) but in the planet’s oceans that could, among other things, significantly reduce fish populations and so humanity’s food supplies yet more.

      In other words, don’t think of the recent rise in climate-change attentiveness and concern among Americans as a passing thing. It’s not for the simplest of reasons: climate change itself isn’t passing. Human-caused it may be, but it’s not faintly part of human history in terms of its potential time scale, and whatever effects we’re already feeling are essentially nothing compared to what’s likely to come. So in a country that, in 2016, elected history’s greatest crew of climate-change aiders and abettors, men who may one day be seen as the worst criminals in history, something’s finally starting to happen, even if just what it is still isn’t exactly clear. Under the circumstances, parents like Frida Berrigan have a tough job ahead. They’re going to have to explain to their children just how we adults have so royally screwed up this planet, the one that should have been their birthright. And that, as she makes clear today, is the necessary conversation from hell.

    • Trump Uses ‘Art of Distraction’ to Push Through Dangerous Policies Like Offshore Drilling, Interior Official Admits

      Confirming what a number of Trump critics have pointed out about the president’s ability to pass some of his most dangerous policies while stoking public outrage about unrelated matters, a top Interior Department official shared with fossil fuel executives recently how this strategy has been beneficial to corporate polluters.

      According to the Guardian, at a meeting of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) in February, assistant secretary for land and minerals management Joe Balash told the crowd that Trump’s ability to distract the public has made it possible for the administration to forge ahead with a plan to open up the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas drilling, likely beginning in the coming weeks.

  • Finance

    • Of Course College Admissions Rigged for the Rich. The Whole Economic System Is

      The children of working stiffs learned a brutal lesson this week as federal prosecutors criminally charged rich people with buying admission to elite universities for their less-than-stellar children.

      The lesson is that no matter how hard you work, no matter how smart or talented you are, a dumb, lazy rich kid is going to beat you.

      It’s crucial that everyone who is not a wealthy movie star, hedge fund executive, or corporate CEO—that is, 99 percent of all Americans—sees this college admissions scandal for what it really is: a microcosm of the larger, corrupt system that works against working people, squashing their chances for advancement.

      This system is the reason that rich people and corporations got massive tax breaks last year while the 99 percent got paltry ones. It is the reason the federal minimum wage and the overtime threshold are stuck at poverty levels. It is the reason labor unions have dwindled over the past four decades.

    • Breaking up Big Tech: Advocates spar over how to trim sails of technology giants at SXSW [iophk: Liz Warren "already in Microsoft's pocket"]
    • A Wall Street Mini-Tax Could Benefit the Poor and Reduce Public Debt

      With great fanfare, politicians on the left are thinking big on tax reform: a 70 percent rate on incomes over $10 million, a wealth tax on the super-rich, estate taxes as high as 77 percent. With no fanfare at all, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has made the case for thinking small. According to the CBO, a mini-tax on sales of stocks, bonds and other holdings could boost revenues by scores of billions a year.

      The estimate came in December 2018 when the CBO released its list of options for cutting the federal deficit. For the period 2019-2028, a Wall Street tax of 0.1 percent would bring an extra $777 billion into the Treasury. Market declines were predicted early on, along with lower capital gains and lower trading volumes. Even so, after factoring in all the headwinds, the tax still produced average annual revenue increases of almost $78 billion. The numbers rose as the years went by: the inflow totaled $534.5 billion in the closing half-decade, compared to $242.2 billion from 2019-2023.

      The tax is called a financial transactions tax, “FTT” for short. The United States had one from 1914 until 1965; it could be coming around again as lawmakers try to cope with “the defining challenge of our time,” income inequality.

      Such a levy would instantly become the single biggest non-income tax on wealth in America. Five days a week and after-hours, the financial markets execute millions of trades involving billions of shares. The huge majority belongs to taxpayers in the upper rungs. Given the volume and the value of the trades, even a tiny tax would generate giant revenues. The Institute for Policy Studies, in a Q&A on the tax, said the burden “would fall overwhelmingly on short-term speculators. For most pension funds and traditional stock-and-bond-holders, the cost would be negligible—in fact less than typical portfolio management fees.”

    • We Will Not Rest Until Housing Justice Is Done

      I have been homeless myself, and experienced housing instability my whole life. Together with other People’s Action members from around the country who are directly affected by our nation’s housing emergency, I met with Senator Warren’s team on Capitol Hill last December to discuss this bill. We liked what we heard, but there were certain parts of the legislation we definitely wanted to improve.

      We shared our stories, gave feedback to the Senator’s team, and have worked with them for three months to improve this bill, which she first introduced last Fall. The version Senator Warren introduced yesterday includes important changes, and is revitalized with the support of Congressional Black Caucus and the outspoken progressives who took the House back for Democrats in November’s elections.

      This new version reflects what’s possible when grassroots leaders like us get to be at the table, and participate in the creation of policy that impacts our lives.

      I live in Los Angeles, and was homeless for two years as a child, starting at age six, when my mom sought to escape domestic violence. We lived out of a car, because my mom and I had nowhere to go. We had nobody to help us, and we didn’t know about resources that might have been available.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • George Conway Urges ‘Serious Inquiry’ Into Trump’s Mental Health After Latest Lie

      The husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway slams the “brazen, pathological mendacity” of the president.

    • Beto O’Rourke Is Running for President

      After a campaign in which he came tantalizingly close to winning a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas has announced that he’s running for president, joining an ever-growing field of Democratic candidates looking to deny President Donald Trump a second term.

    • Beto O’Rourke Announces 2020 Democratic Presidential Bid

      Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced Thursday that he’ll seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, ending months of intense speculation over whether he’d try to translate his newfound political celebrity into a White House bid.

      Until he challenged Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last year, O’Rourke was little known outside his hometown of El Paso. But the Spanish-speaking 46-year-old former punk rocker became a sensation during a campaign that used grassroots organizing and social media savvy to mobilize young voters and minorities. He got within 3 percentage points of upsetting Cruz in the nation’s largest red state — and shattered fundraising records in the process — immediately fueling chatter that he could have higher ambitions.

    • Good-Bye Electoral College? Popular Vote Movement Gaining Steam

      There’s new momentum around the National Popular Vote movement, where states will award Electoral College votes to elect the president based on which candidate has won the most votes nationwide—instead of today’s state-by-state winner-take-all system.

      “It does have new momentum, because there was a [recent] period starting with the second Obama election when Democrats bought into this blue-wall theory” that their political party had a lock on the White House, said John Koza, a former Stanford University scientist who co-founded the National Popular Vote project in 2006.

      The reform is based on states joining an interstate compact, a legally binding vehicle where states make agreements among themselves despite a national federal government. In this case, states, which the U.S. Constitution empowers to oversee its Electoral College process, agree to award their presidential votes to the national popular vote winner. As of early 2019, the project was two-thirds of the way toward reaching the threshold needed for a 270-vote Electoral College majority, but more states are poised to join.

      Last week, Delaware’s Senate passed legislation to join the compact, and sent that bill to its House where it has passed twice before. In Colorado, where one legislative chamber was first to pass National Popular Vote (NPV) legislation in 2006, a compact bill recently passed both chambers and is heading to a governor ready to sign it. New Mexico’s Senate just passed the bill and sent it to its House. A bill currently has bipartisan support in Michigan and Oregon.

    • Born to Run? As Beto Enters 2020 Race, Progressives Still Unclear Where Texas Democrat Stands on Key Priorities

      As the New York Times put it, “in a primary so far defined by big-ticket policy ideas, like the economic agendas of Senators Bernie Sanders [I-Vt.] and Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.], Mr. O’Rourke enters without a signature proposal that might serve as the ideological anchor of his bid.”

      On Twitter, the Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson pointed out that O’Rourke does not yet have policy positions listed on his official campaign website. The Post’s Jeff Stein asked O’Rourke’s team about “his key policy priorites,” and has yet to hear back.

    • Impeaching Trump: Pelosi Says It’s “Not Worth It,” But Progressive Democrats Push Ahead

      Democratic lawmakers are continuing to push for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking out against impeachment in an interview earlier this week. Impeachment rumors have been swirling since the Democrats regained control of the House in January. Congressmember Rashida Tlaib of Michigan said last week that she will formally introduce articles of impeachment this month. We speak with John Bonifaz, an attorney and political activist specializing in constitutional law and voting rights. He is the co-founder and president of Free Speech for People, one of the organizations calling for Trump’s impeachment.

    • When a Bill to Revive Democracy Is Called an Ode to Socialism

      The New York Times’ editorialists last week called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the only “roadblock” preventing a vote on the For the People Act, the sweeping voting, ethics, and election rights legislation House Democrats passed on Friday. That’s true. But the fight is broader than that. The early Republican response to the popular bill suggests the GOP sees it as an existential threat to white supremacy in an era of changing demographics. This helps explain why they would so eagerly oppose a measure that would make it easier for American citizens to vote and harder for their elected officials to hoard power.

      For now, McConnell and company are trying to frame the debate over the bill as an ordinary partisan battle over a piece of traditional legislation. But that’s not what the bill is. Yes, it raises legitimate constitutional questions of campaign finance and election law. But it’s a form of meta legislation that would affect the way all subsequent federal legislation is debated and enacted. And, if enacted, the For the People Act would force Republicans to compete for votes on the merits of their ideas: Republican policy choices like opposing background checks on gun sales or opposing the fight against climate change that are historically unpopular.

      The GOP’s initial line of attack won’t last long beyond the corridors of the White House and Fox News. It can’t. It’s just not strong enough and it insults the intelligence of the American people. I mean, for example, there is no rational policy argument at this point not to make Election Day a federal holiday. And so, sometime soon, I bet we start seeing darker attacks on this legislation. Attacks aimed at the white Republican base; one that explicitly seeks to frame the bill as an attempt to transfer power from white Americans to Americans of color. That’s precisely the “power” McConnell has in mind when he calls the bill a “power grab.”

    • Marie Antoinette Stages a Comeback on Capitol Hill

      More than 225 years after losing her head to a guillotine, Marie Antoinette has made a grand re-entrance into the halls of power.

      With her reattached head holding up a frothy mound of white curls, she descended on Capitol Hill on March 14 to attend a House Oversight Committee hearing. The star witness: billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

      Ross is just one of numerous Trump administration officials who’ve distinguished themselves with statements so cluelessly elitist as to make comparisons with the French Queen unavoidable.

    • ‘Marie Antoinette’ Comes to House Hearing So Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Has a Partner in Arms

      Marie Antoinette traveled over two centuries into the future to express solidarity with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a House hearing Thursday.

      “Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and several other members of Trump World had #LetThemEatCake moments during the government shutdown,” said progressive advocacy group American Family Voices in a tweet, referencing the famous quote attributed to the 18th century French queen. “We decided they should meet their inspiration in person.”

      Among the “let them eat cake” moments noted by the group was when Ross expressed confusion as to why some federal workers were forced to rely on food banks and homeless shelters for basic necessities during the recent partial government shutdown.

      “I felt I must meet this man who clearly draws so much inspiration from me,” Antoinette said in a spoof interview.

    • DHS’s Own Statistics Show That It Is Lying About a Border-Security Crisis

      Last week, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security and Kevin K. McAleenan, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, testified at the same time in different congressional hearings. They seemed to be in a competition to see who could be more misleading about border realities.

      Nielsen claimed that she lacked “context” to address what Politifact has determined to be false: President Trump’s claim in January that a border wall is justified since there were “never so many apprehensions ever in our history.” McAleenan continued to defend the administration’s obsession with preventing Central American families and children from applying for asylum, asking Congress to lengthen their detention and end the fair process they are due under U.S. and international law.

      What dominated both hearings – one before the House Homeland Security Committee, and the other before the Senate Judiciary Committee — was newly released data by CBP showing an increase in the number of people arriving at the southwest border. As the Trump administration uses these vulnerable migrants to justify its racist attacks on asylum seekers, there are three key points that you won’t hear in the administration’s propaganda.

      First, the demographics of border arrivals have shifted. Those crossing the border are increasingly families and unaccompanied children — they make up 61 percent in the new data. The number of apprehensions of individuals who are not juveniles continues to fall. This new reality makes Border Patrol agents’ mission different from what it had been because the majority of apprehensions now are not people evading detection. Instead, they are vulnerable families and children turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents so that they can seek asylum protection.

    • Senate Rejects Trump Border Emergency as Republicans Defect

      The Republican-run Senate rejected President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwest border on Thursday, setting up a veto fight and dealing him a conspicuous rebuke as he tested how boldly he could ignore Congress in pursuit of his highest-profile goal.

      The Senate voted 59-41 to cancel Trump’s February proclamation of a border emergency, which he invoked to spend $3.6 billion more for border barriers than Congress had approved. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in defying Trump in a showdown many GOP senators had hoped to avoid because he commands die-hard loyalty from millions of conservative voters who could punish defecting lawmakers in next year’s elections.

      With the Democratic-controlled House’s approval of the same resolution last month, Senate passage sends it to Trump. He has shown no reluctance to casting his first veto to advance his campaign exhortation to “Build the Wall,” and it seems certain Congress will lack the two-thirds majorities that would be needed to override him.

    • ‘Major Rebuke of Trump’s Authoritarianism’: Senate Votes to Terminate National Emergency

      Rights groups celebrated a “historic rebuke” of an unconstitutional power grab Thursday after the Senate voted to terminate President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration by an overwhelming bipartisan margin.

      “Today’s vote is a major blow to President Donald Trump’s autocratic ambitions,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The American people don’t want a racist border wall, and by overwhelming numbers they oppose Trump’s emergency declaration. They rose up and made their voices clear.”

      The final vote count was 59-41, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to pass the resolution of disapproval.

    • BBC scores first interview with one of 13 ‘Russian trolls’ indicted by Robert Mueller last year

      It’s been more than a year since the U.S. Justice Department indicted 13 “Russian trolls” for interfering in America’s 2016 presidential election. Despite this publicity and the passage of time, the entrepreneurs, translators, analysts, and office managers whom Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation linked to the “Internet Research Agency” (IRA) have remained largely out of reach to journalists in Russia. With the publication of Mueller’s long-awaited report now imminent, one of the “trolls” has suddenly agreed to an interview with the BBC Russian Service. Meduza summarizes what he said.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Down the Rabbit Hole of Political Intolerance in Silicon Valley

      Absolutely. As I said above, I spent several years on this book, and that’s largely because the final two were spent going down this rabbit hole of political intolerance in Silicon Valley. The deeper I delved into this topic and the more people I spoke with, it became very clear to me that what happened with Palmer—from the inaccurate reporting, to the online mob, to the professional discrimination—was not an isolated instance; in fact, part of the reason I focused so heavily on this was because his situation seemed to so perfectly personify Life Circa 2016. And the other reason I focused so heavily on this was because Facebook is one of the most powerful companies in the world—a company built on an ethos of “openness” and transparency”; who literally hangs up posters on campus with the slogans “Always Assume Positive Intent” and “Bring Your Authentic Self to Work”—and, well, given that Facebook has ambitions of owning virtual reality, I think their actions in actual reality are incredibly important to assess and evaluate.

    • As Russians protested ‘Internet isolation’ last weekend, hackers launched DNS attacks against Yandex, exploiting flaws in the government’s censorship system

      Several major Russian Internet companies, including Yandex and the news outlet RBC, suffered massive network attacks this week that were made possible by vulnerabilities in the system the federal government uses to block websites. Sources told RBC that the perpetrators carried out DNS attacks, hijacking domain name system servers and domain registrars to direct traffic away from legal websites, like Yandex, to IP addresses that have been blacklisted by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state censor.

      During the attacks, several small Internet service providers blocked access to a few of Yandex’s IP addresses, sources told RBC. Major ISPs utilized more sophisticated censorship methods, filtering the traffic to Yandex’s servers using deep packet inspection, which caused the website to load more slowly than normal.

      Yandex told Meduza that it doesn’t consider the DNS hijacking to constitute a cyberattack. “This isn’t an attack, but an exploitation of existing flaws in the mechanism for administering the block list,” spokespeople said, pointing out that any website could fall victim to these defects in Roskomnadzor’s procedures.

    • Texas Senator Who’s Experienced Some Press Criticism Introduces Bill To Gut State’s Anti-SLAPP Law

      Everything’s bigger in Texas. Even the free speech protections. Texas has one of the strongest anti-SLAPP laws in the nation. These protections against bogus, speech-chilling lawsuits are so big they even covered a US President who complained libel laws in America were too restrictive, resulting in a swift dismissal of a defamation lawsuit brought against him over a fairly innocuous, if invective-loaded, tweet.

      Some Texas legislators like the bigness of their home state, but not so much the anti-SLAPP law that deters bogus lawsuits filed to silence critics. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press brings news that a bill that would gut a substantial amount of Texas’ anti-SLAPP protections has been introduced into the state Senate.

    • Critical Free Speech Protections Are Under Attack in Texas

      EFF has long been concerned about these types of lawsuits, called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs, as they use legal claims as a pretext to punish individuals exercising their First Amendment rights. That’s why EFF supports efforts to limit or prevent SLAPPs.

      28 states have so-called “anti-SLAPP” laws, which provide invaluable protections to speakers exercising their First Amendment rights, both online and off. While the laws vary, they typically allow the target of the SLAPP suit to quickly get a court to decide whether the case can go forward, and often require the party bringing the claims to demonstrate they have legitimate legal claims. Anti-SLAPP laws also often allow a victorious target of a SLAPP suit to recover attorneys’ fees from the party who brought the meritless claims.

      Without anti-SLAPP laws, plaintiffs could bring a meritless claim against speakers that they have no intention of winning—just to stop the speech or inflict financial stress by forcing those targeted by the suits to pay for attorneys to defend against meritless claims.

      Texas has one of the premier anti-SLAPP laws in the country: the Texas Citizens Participation Act, or TCPA. The law currently applies to a broad range of protected First Amendment activity, including discussing matters of public importance or speaking at a government proceeding. A bill introduced earlier this month, H.B. 2730, would gut these and other important protections.

      The attempt to substantially weaken and narrow the TCPA is particularly concerning because, since its passage in 2011, the law has disposed of numerous lawsuits filed against Texans who were exercising their free speech rights.

    • Thai Government Uses Fake News Law To Lock Up Opposing Party Leaders

      Thailand’s government continues to make life miserable for its citizens. Pretending mass censorship and broken encryption are just the price citizens have to pay for a “secure” nation, the government has turned the internet into a minefield for critics and political opponents. This is all on top of a lese majeste law that criminalizes badmouthing the king, which would be horrible enough on its own.

      Thanks to the leader of the free world, the term “fake news” is now being deployed to put people in real jails for sharing content of dubious origin or not in alignment with the official narrative. Shutting down criticism by deploying anti-fake news laws is a horrendous abuse of government power. But even legitimate uses of these laws are still troubling. Should the sharing of actually fake news be a criminal offense? The Thai government says yes.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Facing Criminal Probe Over Data Sharing

      Last October, Mark Zuckerberg was still optimistic. “We have great products here that people love,” the Facebook founder said during an earnings call. The social network’s year, however, hasn’t been so rosy. As Vox explained in December, Facebook “has found itself at the center of a growing storm over a wide array of issues, ranging from data privacy to Russian meddling to fake news,” and despite multiple apologies, “the scandals keep coming.”

      In June, The New York Times reported that Facebook entered into data-sharing partnerships with such smartphone makers as Apple and Samsung, selling access to Facebook users’ data, often without their knowledge or consent. This week, the Times reports, those partnerships are under criminal investigation, as a New York grand jury subpoenaed records from at least two of the 150 companies with whom Facebook had agreements, according to sources who requested anonymity.

    • ‘Zoink’: Facebook Facing Criminal Charges Over Data Sharing Deals

      The New York Times reported Wednesday evening that a federal grand jury in New York issued subpoenas to the company at some point over the last few months, though, as the Times pointed out, it was unclear exactly when.

      What is clear, however, is that Facebook’s data sharing deals violated users’ privacy and that the activity may rise to the standard of criminality. It’s possible that the deals violated the terms of a 2011 consent decree the company made with the Federal Trade Commission.

    • Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation

      A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential legal matters. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users.

      The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world’s dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users’ friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent. Facebook has phased out most of the partnerships over the past two years.

    • Facebook Is Under Criminal Investigation Over Data Sharing Deals: Report

      Facebook has gained a lot of negative spotlights for all the data breach scandals it has got its head into. Adding more to the scrutiny, the social networking site is now under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors, as per a report by The New York Times.

      It is suggested that a New York jury has summoned records from two of the major smartphone makers, according to two unnamed sources. These two companies stand in the list of around 150 tech companies which have been involved with Facebook to access millions of users’ data. Following this, Facebook ended most of the collaborations over the past two years.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Ontario wants to ban phones in the classroom. Critics wonder how that will be enforced

      The province, according to information released Tuesday by Education Minister Lisa Thompson, will ban the use of phones during instructional time across Ontario by the start of the coming school year.

    • Artificial Morality

      With this contract, the letter goes on, Microsoft has “crossed the line into weapons development. . . . The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game,’ further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.”

      This revolt was what Smith was responding to when he said he believed in a “strong defense,” implying that moral clichés rather than money are what drive the decisions of large corporations, or at least this particular large corporation. Somehow his words, which he attempted to convey as reflective and deeply considered, are not convincing — not when juxtaposed with a defense contract worth nearly half a billion dollars.

    • Rights Group Charges Trump’s Prolonged Detention of Children ‘Completely Illegal’

      An immigrant rights group on Wednesday filed a civil rights complaint against the Department of Homeland Security, arguing that the Trump administration is blatantly flouting the Flores agreement—the law that dictates how long the U.S. government can keep children in custody.

      The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) says that five children have been held at a detention center in Karnes City, Texas for at least 41 days, with at least one held for nearly three months. The prolonged detention is a clear violation of Flores, which prohibits the government from holding children for longer than 20 days, the group argued.

    • Until We Reckon: Mass Incarceration, Violence & the Radical Possibilities of Restorative Justice

      A staggering 2.2 million people are locked up in America’s sprawling prison system, and more than half of those currently confined in state prisons have been convicted of violent crime. In order to radically reduce the prison population and transform criminal justice in this country, author and community organizer Danielle Sered argues that reformers must reckon with violent crime and come up with radically new ways to address it. She lays out a path for this transformation in her new unflinching book, “Until We Reckon.” Sered has spent nearly a decade working directly with people that have committed violent acts and survivors of violence as the executive director of Common Justice, a Brooklyn-based organization that offers alternatives to incarceration for people charged with violent felonies. Her experience anchors her book as she calls for a complete overhaul of the way we’ve been taught to think about crime, punishment and justice. We speak with Sered about restorative justice and how incarceration perpetuates the very violence it is meant to curb.

    • Stop Making Women Apologize

      It’s something we’re taught at an early age — to be nice and polite as all young girls should be, reinforcing gender norms that began at this country’s inception.

      Our culture is one that silences women in order to uphold patriarchy. “I’m sorry” has become a filler in the English language. Whether asking for what we need, or stating our opinion, women often begin with an apology for having the audacity to speak at all.

      A study done in 2010 confirmed that women apologize more than men. The research speculated that women were “more concerned with the emotional experiences of others” — no doubt a symptom of our socialization.

      In 2014, Pantene put out an ad campaign entitled “Not Sorry,” which highlighted the various ways women issue apologies almost immediately in most settings — at work, at home, even with strangers.

      It seems no matter how far we’ve come in the era of #MeToo, women are expected to deflect, give excuse, and provide explanation with just two simple words: “I’m sorry.”

      Holding oneself accountable for genuine wrongdoing should be the norm. For women, however, our “wrongdoing” is often simply our attempts to take up space and have a seat at the table.

      To remain “collegial,” for example, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was apologetic throughout her entire testimony against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. She was testifying about a sexual assault against her, yet she was the one apologizing.

    • Saudi Women’s Rights Activists Receive ‘Freedom to Write’ Award as They Stand Trial in Riyadh

      PEN America, which works to defend free expression globally through the advancement of literature and human rights, announced Thursday that imprisoned writers Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan will be honored with the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award at the PEN America Literary Gala in May.

      “These gutsy women have challenged one of the world’s most notoriously misogynist governments,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement, “inspiring the world with their demand to drive, to govern their own lives, and to liberate all Saudi women from a form of medieval bondage that has no place in the 21st century.”

      “We are proud to honor these drivers of change,” Nossel added, “for their fearless words and actions, and to send a strong signal that international pressure on the Saudi Kingdom to respect dissent and adhere to international norms of free expression will not relent.”

    • Head of Rhode Island’s 911 System Is Removed From Post

      Col. James Manni, who took over as superintendent of the agency last month, said in a statement released Wednesday night that Scungio’s certification from the Red Cross to teach basic first aid and CPR and to operate an automated external defibrillator, also known as an AED, expired in February 2016. Any employees Scungio trained since then do not have valid certification.

      A spokesperson for the state police said the agency plans to properly certify all 32 of the center’s call takers and eight managers by next Wednesday.

      Rhode Island State Police Lt. Michael McGlynn will take over as acting director of 911.

    • Saudi Arabia: Women Activists Persecuted Under Bogus Charges

      The prosecution of 11 women activists before a Criminal Court in Riyadh for their human rights work and contact with international organizations is an appalling escalation of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown on peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.

      Some of the women were charged with promoting women’s rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system. The women were also charged with contacting international organizations, foreign media and other activists, including their contact with Amnesty International

    • Stop and Frisks Plummeted Under New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, but Racial Disparities Haven’t Budged

      Stops dropped a reported 98 percent under New York’s current mayor, but people of color are still disproportionately targeted by police.
      We’ve come a long way since 2011.

      That year, New York Police Department officers made nearly 700,000 stops as part of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s aggressive and controversial stop-and-frisk program. Six years later in 2017, under current-Mayor Bill de Blasio, the NYPD reported 11,629 stops, a 98 percent decrease from 2011.

      Though the NYCLU believes the actual number of stops is considerably higher because officers are failing to document many stops, current stop activity undoubtedly is a small fraction of what was occurring during the Bloomberg years.

      One of the keys to this dramatic decline was transparency. In 2007, the New York Civil Liberties Union successfully sued to get access to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk database, which contained information about the stops that were taking place and who was being stopped. Then in 2012, we released a report analyzing NYPD stop-and-frisk activity in 2011 with a level of detail never before available to the public.

    • SA must take the lead in legalising euthanasia

      Human dignity is the essence of what defines us as individuals and as members of our respective societies and communities.

      There is no us or me without dignity, or botho or ubuntu, as referred to in the Sesotho and Nguni language groups in South Africa.

    • Death Penalty Debate Takes a Turn Toward Sanity

      When news broke Tuesday night that California Gov. Gavin Newsom had decided to sign an executive order imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in the Golden State, I was staggered. My heart pounded, and my mind raced back to all the years I spent as a young attorney representing defendants in capital cases—a physically exhausting and emotionally draining task, and one that, at times, seemed utterly futile.

      Now that the order has been signed and I’ve had an opportunity to review it, I’m stunned by the scope and honesty of the governor’s action. Not only does it grant reprieves to the state’s 737 death row inmates, it repeals the state’s lethal-injection protocol and will close the infamous execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

      The reasoning Newsom offered for his decision is especially compelling. “The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as Governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” he said in a press release issued by his office. “Our death penalty system has been, by all measures, a failure. It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Most of all, the death penalty is absolute. It’s irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error.”

    • At 89, Would-Be Ford Assassin Sara Jane Moore Back Behind Bars

      Sara Jane Moore, the woman who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 and missed him by six inches, is back in prison after 12 years of freedom.

      According to officials, the 89-year-old violated her lifetime parole by leaving the country without permission, even though she had been granted a passport. Her name was placed on a list of parole violators and she was arrested at Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 23, after returning from Israel.

      She has a long history of not letting rules get in the way of what she wants to do. Her failure to follow her parole conditions fits with her behavior in prison, where she continually butted heads with prison authorities and spent many days in solitary confinement.

    • Arkansas Senate Unanimously Approves A Conviction Requirement For Asset Forfeiture

      Some more good news about asset forfeiture comes our way, courtesy of Lauren Krisai. It appears the Arkansas senate overwhelmingly agrees the abusive state of forfeiture it oversees cannot continue. The state senate unanimously passed an asset forfeiture reform bill that would institute a conviction requirement for seized assets, preventing law enforcement from policing for profit.

      The bill would basically outlaw civil asset forfeiture in its current form, replacing it with criminal asset forfeiture. And it would prevent cops from using rinky-dink criminal charges to take property away from state residents.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The web we broke.

      If you’re not familiar, WebAIM is a non-profit that’s worked for years to make the web more accessible. They’ve written software and disability simulators, shared in-depth surveys of users with disabilities, and generally published more articles and resources than you can shake a stick at—all to help us do our job a bit better, and to help more people access the web.

      At the end of February, WebAIM published an accessibility analysis of the top one million home pages. The results are, in a word, abysmal. Eric Bailey covered this last week, far better than I will, but here were a few highlights for me: [...]

    • Why, Exactly, Do We Still Trust Telecom Megamerger ‘Synergy’ Promises?

      America has a very Charlie Brown and Lucy football approach to its relationship with megamergers, especially in telecom. Time after time, major tech and telecom companies promise consumers and employees the earth, sea, and sky if they’re allowed to become bigger and more powerful. And time after time these promised “synergies,” jobs, and expanded investment promises wind up being empty. In merger after merger (especially in telecom), it’s been made repeatedly clear these megadeals only really benefit investors and executives. For everybody else, they’re an expensive shitshow.

      The primary culprit continues to be the country’s waning interest in meaningful antitrust enforcement, Luddite Judges, and the steady lobbyist erosion of antitrust itself. That was proven loudly when the DOJ recently tried to prove the obvious when it challenged AT&T’s $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The government repeatedly provided economic models showcasing that the megadeal would immediately result in higher prices for consumers and competitors alike. But a lobbyist-dictated narrowing of what constitutes a competitive threat often leaves government lawyers trapped within narrow corridors of economic theory to prove painfully obvious points.

    • ‘Don’t Sell Out to Big Cable’: Internet Defenders Warn Democrats Against Watering Down Net Neutrality Bill

      Internet defenders are raising alarm and warning against telecom-backed sabotage after several Democratic lawmakers signaled they would be willing to water down their party’s net neutrality legislation in order to appease Republican objections.

      “The message from net neutrality supporters and the grassroots has been simple: pass a clean bill out of committee to keep this a simple up or down vote on restoring strong net neutrality rules,” Josh Tabish, a tech fellow at the digital rights group Fight for the Future, told Motherboard. “There’s really no excuse. They have the votes to do this.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Finland: Supreme Court Rules on Information Disclosures in Patent Litigations

      The Finnish Supreme Court resolved in February 2019 on the matter of whether or not the preconditions for precautionary measures were at hand in a patent law infringement case.


      The Finnish Code of Judicial Procedure (4/1734) stipulates that a person may refuse to testify regarding a commercial or professional secret, unless very important reasons, taking into consideration the nature of the case, the significance of the evidence in respect of deciding the case, and the consequences of presenting it as well as the other circumstances require such testimony. This meant that the Court had to make an interpretation on the content of the term “very important reason”. The Court concluded that since the requested documents are specified and related to a product group directly infringing on the patent rights of the applicant, there is a very important reason to present the information. The Court (partly) approved the precautionary measure and granted the applicant the right to become acquainted with the material related to the precautionary measure with the bailiff. The presented ruling can perhaps best be seen as an indication of slow movement towards recognising more open document disclosure requests in connection with patent litigations. It will further be interesting to see how these various specific conditions such as the very important reason in this case are interpreted in the future so we will continue to monitor the developments.

    • Claims are Invalid (not Patents)

      The two paragraph decision in this case is designed to serve as a reminder that patent validity/infringement is considered on a claim-by-claim basis.

      RPost sued Sophos alleging infringement its U.S. Patent No. 8,504,628. However, during the litigation RPost filed infringement contentions that focused only on claims 14, 19, 24, 26, 27 and 30. In its invalidity argument, Sophos directed its attention only to these asserted claims. However, the district court wrote more broadly “that the ‘628 patent is invalid.”

      On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the summary judgment of invalidity with the caveat that the district court’s opinion should be limited only to the asserted claims.

    • Boalick and Bonilla appointed as PTAB Chief and Deputy Chief

      Congratulations to Scott Boalick and Jacqueline Bonilla for their appointments as Chief Judge and Deputy Chief Judge for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Judges Boalick and Bonilla have already been doing the work since September 2018 in their roles as Acting Chief and Deputy Chief. Earlier this year, Dir. Iancu also appointed Thomas Krause as USPTO Solicitor. These three individuals are each highly qualified with deep intellectual property and government experience.

    • Apple obtains summary judgment against Qualcomm, can keep billions of dollars: no breach of contract by responding to antitrust regulators

      Qualcomm now has to digest a summary judgment order adverse to its interests in the Southern District of California, where Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel has determined that Qualcomm cannot claw back incentive payments made to Apple under a Business Cooperation and Patent Agreement (BCPA) based on allegations of Apple being responsible for some of Qualcomm’s antitrust worries in the U.S., the EU, and South Korea, or based on Apple allegedly having induced its contract manufacturers to underreport royalties.

      Considering that $1 billion out of the roughly $30 billion Apple and its contract manufacturers are seeking from Qualcomm in that San Diego action relates to Qualcomm having stopped such payments at some point, the amount at stake in this summary judgment context must be multiple billions of dollars as the BCPA took effect at the beginning of the 2013, so the period with respect to which Qualcomm was trying to claw back money must be a lot longer than the one during which Apple believes it should have received another billion dollars that Qualcomm withheld–simply because there were no signs of a dispute during most of that period. Apple’s original 2017 complaint said in its § 160 that “Qualcomm conditioned billions of dollars on Apple’s silence before courts and regulators about Qualcomm’s business practices” (emphasis added).

    • Copyrights

      • Paris Tribunal strikes again and guts Google’s T&C’s…including its copyright clauses for user-generated content

        Readers will recall the decision of the Paris Tribunal, which nullified a significant portion of Twitter’s terms and conditions on the basis of French privacy data protection and copyright law (see here and for previous post see here). Last month, it was the terms and conditions of Google that were subjected to judicial scrutiny, in a decision handed by the same Tribunal on 12 February 2019 (decision: Paris Tribunal (Tribunal de Grande Instance), UFC-Que Choisir v Google Inc (12 February 2019), see here for the decision in French).

        As in the Twitter case, the instant proceedings were brought by the French consumer association “UFC Que Choisir?” (UFC). UFC applied to the Paris Tribunal that Google’s terms be declared unlawful in light of French contract and privacy law and data protection regulation.

      • SaReGaMa Pa-rdon Me, You Have the Wrong Address: On the Perils and Pitfalls of Notice and Takedown

        The universe surely has a strange sense of humour.

        Imagine our surprise when we received a notice from Google Inc., that they had de-indexed one of blogs after a complaint was filed against it by Saregama India Pvt. Ltd. On December 13, 2018, Google informed us that:

        “Google has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that some of the material found on your site allegedly infringes upon the copyrights of others. Although some of these URLs may not be available in our search results now, we are retaining these notices and will act on them if at some point in the future we do crawl these pages for inclusion in search results.”

        For further information, we turned to the Lumen database, a wonderful and necessary third-party takedown notice database maintained by the folks at the Berkman-Klein Centre. Here, we saw that Saregama, on November 28, had sent Google a list of 99 problematic URLs, of which ours was one. In particular, Saregama (in its notice to Google) claimed that:

      • Bogus DMCA Takedown Targeting Indian Copyright Blog Demonstrates The Problems Of Notice And Takedown

        The blog further points out that this problem is likely to get worse, not better. We’ve already been talking about how Article 13 could soon require automated takedowns and content monitoring, India is exploring a very similar law to put more liability on the platforms to not allow any infringement at all. In such cases, the problem becomes much, much worse, and some content may never be allowed to be uploaded at all, even if it’s perfectly legal.

      • Rebuilding the ARC: America’s Largest Music Collection Needs Your Help

        The day the music died is a lie. Music never dies. It’s the one thing our minds protect at all costs. If only our wallets were so loyal. Now they have a chance to be: This week, the largest popular music collection in America (3 million recordings!) is, for the first time, asking the public for financial help. Is New York’s legacy as a music town worth $100,000? That’s the question the Archive of Contemporary Music is asking.

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