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Links 13/12/2018: IRS Migration, GNOME 3.31.3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Watchdog: IRS botched Linux migration

    Poor IT governance prevented the IRS from making progress on a long-term effort to migrate 141 legacy applications from proprietary vendor software to open source Linux operating systems, according to an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

    Under a migration plan developed in 2014, two-thirds of targeted applications and databases were supposed to have been successfully migrated by December 2016.

    However, only eight of the 141 applications targeted have successfully transitioned to Linux as of February 2018. More than one third have not even started.

  • Inadequate Governance Leads to Linux Migration Delays at IRS

    The IRS hosts 190 applications on the Solaris Sun Sparc system, with 141 of those targeted for migration to the open-sourced Linux operating system. The audit found that the project staff lacked the technical skills and training required to carry out the migration.

    In 2013, an IRS analysis found that migrating their E-file system to Linux would save costs on paying $12 million in licensing fees over five years with Solaris. The plan was to migrate 33 percent of the target applications to Linux by the end of the 2015 fiscal year, and 66 percent by the end of the 2016 fiscal year.

  • Desktop

    • Linux on the Desktop: Are We Nearly There Yet?

      The numbers are pretty stark: Linux might be the backbone of everything from embedded devices to mainframes and super computers. But it has just a 2% share of desktops and laptops.

      It seems the only way to get most people to even touch it is to rip away everything you recognise as Linux to rebuild it as Android.

      Until recently, I was in the 98%. I honestly wasn’t even conflicted. I used Linux most days both for work and for hobbies – but always in the cloud or on one of those handy little project boards that are everywhere now. For my daily driver, it was Windows all the way.

      I guess what’s kept me with Windows so long is really that it’s just been good enough as a default option that I haven’t been prompted to even think about it. Which, to be fair, is a great quality in an operating system.

      The last time I tried a dual boot Linux/Windows setup was about 15 years ago. I was using Unix at university, and was quite attracted to the idea of free and open source software, so I decided to give it a go.

      This was back when, if you wanted to install Linux, you went to the newsagent and bought a magazine that had a CD-ROM on the front cover. I don’t exactly remember what distro it was – probably something like Slackware or Red Hat.

    • Windows 10 is still sending data to Microsoft, even if you don’t want it to

      When Microsoft first launched Windows 10 a few years ago, users quickly discovered that the operating system would collect and send data about them back to Microsoft unless explicitly told not to.

      In the years that followed, Microsoft created a Privacy Dashboard that would let all Windows 10 users better manage their privacy settings and prevent data from being sent to Microsoft’s servers. A new report now reveals that Microsoft may still be collecting some data from your Windows 10 device, even if you thought it wasn’t.

  • Server

    • Instaclustr Releases Three Open Source Projects That Facilitate Cassandra-Kubernetes Integration and LDAP/Kerberos Authentication
    • Instaclustr Announces Three Open Source Projects That Facilitate Cassandra-Kubernetes Integration and LDAP/Kerberos Authentication

      Instaclustr, the leading provider of completely managed solutions for scalable open source technologies, today announced the availability of three open source projects purpose-built to expand developers’ capabilities using Apache Cassandra and address pain points. These projects include an open source Cassandra operator for more seamlessly running and operating Cassandra within Kubernetes, and open source LDAP and Kerberos authenticator plug-ins for Cassandra.

    • Instaclustr expands Apache Cassandra with new open-source software

      Instaclustr Pty Ltd., which sells hosted and managed versions of popular open-source software Apache Cassandra, Spark and Kafka, is giving back to the community with three projects of its own.

      The company says it’s open-sourcing three “purpose-built” projects aimed at addressing pain points and expanding the capabilities of the Apache Cassandra database. Apache Cassandra is a distributed database that’s used to manage large amounts of structured data while providing continuous availability with no single point of failure.

    • Kubernetes open-source project matures as commercialization accelerates

      This week, the annual KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 event taking place in Seattle will give the cloud computing industry a chance to take stock of how far Kubernetes has come.

      On the flip side, the show also will work through the issues that may be preventing this open-source container orchestration platform from achieving its full potential.

      Kubernetes has been a banner story in high tech throughout 2018, and the technology looks like it will continue its momentum toward ubiquitous adoption in coming years. The Kubernetes ecosystem has become amazingly vibrant, though that’s a double-edged sword.

    • Kubernetes caretaker auditions for Hoarders; takes in another open source project

      At the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 meetup on Tuesday, the CNCF revealed it will adopt, shelter and nourish an itinerant jumble of letters known on the street as “etcd.”

      Pronounced “et-cee-dee” among those who dare speak its name, etcd is a distributed key-value store. It hails from the Linux /etc/ directory, which lives in the root folder and stores configuration files and related subdirectories.

    • Kubernetes and serverless are getting chummy in open source

      But the Cloud Native Computing Foundation — home to Kubernetes, the popular open-source container orchestration platform — wants everyone to know it’s not partial to either containers or serverless, and there’s room for both, and others, in next-generation enterprise technology.

      “We love serverless in CNCF,” said Chris Aniszczyk (pictured), chief technology officer and chief operating officer of CNCF. “We just view it as another kind of programmatic model that eventually runs on some type of containerized stack.”

    • Atomist Announces Delivery to Kubernetes With Its Open Source SDM, adds GitLab Support

      Atomist, the software delivery automation company, today announced the ability for developers to now deliver to Kubernetes using the open source Software Delivery Machine (SDM) in local mode. SDM local is completely open source and now supports delivery to Kubernetes, whether a single-node cluster on a laptop using minikube or a fully-managed Kubernetes service.

    • Why Kubernetes Is Successful and Boring

      Google has had a common message throughout 2018 about Kubernetes, and the message is simple: Kubernetes is boring.

      At the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA 2018 event here, Google engineer and conference co-chair Janet Kuo echoed comments made by her peer Aparna Sinha, group product manager at Google, at the Kubecon and CloudNativecon Europe 2018 keynotes in May, which is simply that Kubernetes is boring, and boring is good.

      Kuo said in the early days of Kubernetes the focus was on building fast and adding new features. By 2015, a focus was added to make it easier for users and administrators to build, deploy and use Kubernetes. At this point in the maturity cycle of Kubernetes, Kuo commented that adoption has moved from the early stage of adopters to more mainstream deployments.

      “Kubernetes is now getting so solid and so mature and so great, that it is very, very boring,” Kuo said during her keynote. “Boring is good; it means that lots of companies are already using it, and it just works.”

      Kuo added that being boring means organizations can just focus on delivering business value, rather than spending time on making Kubernetes usable.

    • Kubernetes Federation Evolution

      Deploying applications to a kubernetes cluster is well defined and can in some cases be as simple as kubectl create -f app.yaml. The user’s story to deploy apps across multiple clusters has not been that simple. How should an app workload be distributed? Should the app resources be replicated into all clusters, or replicated into selected clusters or partitioned into clusters? How is the access to clusters managed? What happens if some of the resources, which user wants to distribute pre-exist in all or fewer clusters in some form.

      In SIG multicluster, our journey has revealed that there are multiple possible models to solve these problems and there probably is no single best fit all scenario solution. Federation however is the single biggest kubernetes open source sub project which has seen maximum interest and contribution from the community in this problem space. The project initially reused the k8s API to do away with any added usage complexity for an existing k8s user. This became non-viable because of problems best discussed in this community update.

    • [Red Hat] Men: Step out of your bubble to champion gender diversity

      According to Catalyst Canada, men represent more than 95 per cent of the CEO positions in Canada’s 100 largest publicly traded companies. With such a big divide, those who are leaders must help define the role those with power and privilege play. Many men want to get more involved, but we must go about it the right way. We want to respect the successful work that has already been done, find the right fit for our skills and learn from our female leaders who have the deep knowledge of this issue. As Tanya van Biesen, executive director of Catalyst Canada, has said: “The path to gender equity is a journey. There is no silver bullet – only commitment and action.”

      As leaders, our self-worth is often measured by meeting hard targets and achieving financial goals. Stepping forward to become an advocate for gender diversity is uncharted territory for many of us. Yet, it is a business imperative with a body of evidence demonstrating a positive effect on the bottom line.

    • IBM’s $34 billion Red Hat acquisition came after deal talks with Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, sources say

      When IBM announced its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat on October 28, the tech word was struck by the huge price tag, as well as its potential to revive IBM’s struggling cloud business. But as it turns out, things could have gone a lot differently.

      Microsoft, Google, and Amazon all engaged in deal discussions with Red Hat and looked closely into an acquisition in the months and weeks before Red Hat struck a deal with IBM, according to sources familiar with the deal.

      As an open-source software company, Red Hat is strategic because of its popularity with developers. It’s also is the largest commercial maker of the Linux operating system. IBM wanted the technology to enhance its hybrid-cloud project and to give its portfolio an edge.

      Red Hat indicated in a public filing on November 30 that three unnamed companies considered making bids in addition to IBM. CNBC reported in October that Google had looked into buying Red Hat. But Microsoft and Amazon’s deal talks with Red Hat have not been previously reported.

    • IBM goes hard in open source so enterprises can take it easy

      IBM’s investment in open source goes back years. Big Blue went all-in on Kubernetes, the popular open-source container orchestration platform about two years ago, according to Chris Rosen (pictured), program director, offering management, IBM Container Service and IBM Container Registry. The company contributes to the open-source Cloud Native Computing Foundation upstream and then simplifies the technology for end users.

    • Arista EOS containers integrated with Red Hat, Tigera products

      Arista has integrated the containerized version of its network operating system with Red Hat and Tigera software to support containers running on public, private and hybrid clouds.

      Arista released this week a technology preview of the integration of containerized Arista EOS with Tigera Calico, the open source control plane the company developed to distribute security policy rules across containers and virtual machines running on cloud environments. Arista plans to make the integration generally available in 2019 within the Tigera Secure Enterprise Edition product.

    • Contrail, Red Hat treat multicloud-network headache with Kubernetes

      A number of computing customers lately are asking for a smarter network. This might mean programmability, transparency, multiple lanes for prioritized web traffic, etc. The question is, will software developers and administrators need to get smarter in order to use such networks? Don’t they have their hands full already refactoring applications and managing distributed cloud environments?

      Developers these days simply want to consume the network in the same way they consume compute and storage. They don’t want the job of configuring it — at least not if that entails plunging deep below the application layer.

      “The app is the thing that’s going to consume these things, and the app developer doesn’t necessarily want to worry about IP address and port numbers and firewall rules and things like that,” said Scott Sneddon (pictured, left), senior director and chief evangelist of cloud at Juniper Networks Inc.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Keeping up with Kubernetes | TechSNAP 392

      A security vulnerability in Kubernetes causes a big stir, but we’ll break it all down and explain what went wrong.

      Plus the biggest stories out of Kubecon, and serverless gets serious.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 787
    • FLOSS Weekly 510: YottaDB

      A lifelong hacker and geek, K.S. Bhaskar has been programming for almost half a century, and as a consequence of the technology gap between India and the US when he was an undergraduate, has programmed computers designed in the 1950s. He spent many years in the electronic test and measurement, and scientific computing worlds before moving to databases and the predecessor of YottaDB. He led GT.M, the predecessor of YottaDB from 1995 to 2017, before founding YottaDB in 2017 to take that code base – which by then felt to him like one of his children – to new markets and applications.

      Christopher is a true geek, and from a young start always wondered how the world works. He knew from a young age the computer field is where he was going to wind up working due to the infinite ways they could be used and cool things they could be made to do. Christopher has spent time in the healthcare industry working with YottaDB/GT.M/M and applying modern software development techniques to it. He also is a maker with more Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, other development boards, along with a 3d printer to keep himself busy.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.19.9
    • Linux 4.14.88
    • Linux 4.9.145
    • Linux 4.4.167
    • Linux 3.18.129
    • Bounded loops in BPF programs

      The BPF verifier is charged with ensuring that any given BPF program is safe for the kernel to load and run. Programs that fail to terminate are clearly unsafe, as they present an opportunity for denial-of-service attacks. In current kernels, the verifier uses a heavy-handed technique to block such programs: it disallows any program containing loops. This works, but at the cost of disallowing a wide range of useful programs; if the verifier could determine whether any given loop would terminate within a bounded time, this restriction could be lifted. John Fastabend presented a plan for doing so during the BPF microconference at the 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference.

      Fastabend started by noting that the lack of loops hurts; BPF developers are doing “crazy things” to work around their absence. He is working to enable the use of simple loops that can be modeled by the verifier. There is academic work on ways to verify more complex loops, but that is a problem for later. For now, the objective is to detect simple loops and verify that they will terminate; naturally, it’s important that the verifier, too, is able to terminate in a reasonable amount of time.

    • Binary portability for BPF programs

      The BPF virtual machine is the same on all architectures where it is supported; architecture-specific code takes care of translating BPF to something the local processor can understand. So one might be tempted to think that BPF programs would be portable across architectures but, in many cases, that turns out not to be true. During the BPF microconference at the Linux Plumbers Conference, Alexei Starovoitov (assisted by Yonghong Song, who has done much of the work described) explained the problem and the work that has been done toward “compile once, run everywhere” BPF.

      Many BPF programs are indeed portable, in that they will load and execute properly on any type of processor. Packet-filtering programs, in particular, usually just work. But there is a significant class of exceptions in the form of tracing programs, which are one of the biggest growth areas for BPF. Most tracing tools have two components: a user-space program invoked by the user, and a BPF program that is loaded into the kernel to filter, acquire, and possibly boil down the needed data. Both programs are normally written in C.

    • Taming STIBP

      The Spectre class of hardware vulnerabilities was apparently so-named because it can be expected to haunt us for some time. One aspect of that haunting can be seen in the fact that, nearly one year after Spectre was disclosed, the kernel is still unable to prevent one user-space process from attacking another in some situations. An attempt to provide that protection using a new x86 microcode feature called STIBP has run into trouble once its performance impact was understood; now a more nuanced approach may succeed in providing protection where it is needed without slowing down everybody else.

      The Spectre variant 2 vulnerability works by polluting the CPU’s branch-prediction buffer (BPB), which is used during speculative execution to make a guess about which branch(es) the code will take; see this article for a refresher on the Spectre vulnerabilities if needed. Closing this hole requires changes at a number of levels, but a fundamental part of the problem is preventing any code that may be targeted from running with a BPB that has been trained by an attacker.

    • The x32 subarchitecture may be removed

      The x32 subarchitecture is a software variant of x86-64; it runs the processor in the 64-bit mode, but uses 32-bit pointers and arithmetic. The idea is to get the advantages of x86-64 without the extra memory usage that goes along with it. It seems, though, that x32 is not much appreciated; few distributions support it and the number of users appears to be small.

    • Get notifications for your patches

      We are trialing out a new feature that can send you a notification when the patches you send to the LKML are applied to linux-next or to the mainline git trees.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Verizon joins O-RAN Alliance board

        After announcing earlier this year that the xRAN Forum and C-RAN Alliance were merging, the O-RAN Alliance announced new board members—including Verizon—and a collaboration with the Linux Foundation on open source software.

        Verizon’s participation in the O-RAN Alliance isn’t a surprise given its work on Open RAN initiatives and its earlier involvement in the xRAN Forum—it was a contributor to the xRAN fronthaul specification that was released in April. That specification defines open interfaces between the remote radio unit/head (RRU/RRH) and the baseband unit (BBU) to simplify interoperability between suppliers.


        O-RAN also said it has started collaboration arrangements with The Linux Foundation to establish an open source software community for the creation of open source RAN software. Collaboration with The Linux Foundation will enable the creation of open source software supporting the O-RAN architecture and interfaces.

      • O-RAN Alliance and Linux to create an open source software community

        The O-RAN Alliance announced that Reliance Jio, TIM, and Verizon have joined the O-RAN board.

        AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch says, “It’s encouraging to see the O-RAN Alliance off to such a strong start and gaining momentum as we welcome three new board members.

        “It’s important that the wireless industry continues to come together to drive forward O-RAN’s goals for open networking, software, and virtualisation in global wireless networks especially as 5G is closer than ever.”

      • Hyperledger Onboards 12 New Members Including Alibaba Cloud, Deutsche Telekom and Citi

        Hyperledger has onboarded 12 new members, including such major firms as Alibaba Cloud, Citi, and Deutsche Telekom, according to an announcement published on Dec. 11.
        Launched in 2016, Hyperledger is an open source project created by the Linux Foundation and created to support the development of blockchain-based distributed ledgers.
        The new members were announced at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland. The latest general members that joined the initiative include Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of the e-commerce giant; financial services firm Citigroup, Deutsche Telekom, one of the largest telecoms providers in Europe; and European blockchain trading platform we.trade, among others.

      • Open Source Compliance in the Enterprise

        Open Source Compliance in the Enterprise, 2nd edition, by Ibrahim Haddad outlines best practices for organizations to adopt and use open source code in products and services, as well as participate in open source communities in a legal and responsible way.

      • Linux Foundation Brings the Year to a Close with 21 New Members Making the Commitment to Open Source

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced the addition of 18 Silver members and 3 Associate members. Linux Foundation members help support development of shared technology resources, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation in some of the world’s most successful open source projects including Hyperledger, Kubernetes, Linux, Node.js and ONAP. Linux Foundation member contributions help provide the infrastructure and resources that enable the world’s largest open collaboration communities.

        Since the start of 2018, on average a new organization has joined The Linux Foundation every day.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Wayland’s Weston Switching Over To The Meson Build System

        Complementing the Meson build system support for Wayland itself, the Weston reference compositor now has been Meson-ized.

        Pekka Paalanen and Daniel Stone, both of Collabora, have landed the Meson build system support for the Weston compositor. At this stage the new build system should be fully working and correct.

      • AMDGPU DC Gets Polaris Corruption Fix, Some Code Refactoring

        AMD has published their latest batch of “DC” Display Core patches for the AMDGPU Linux kernel driver.

        This batch of 45 patches against this display code for the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager driver has some code cleanups and refactoring, changes some error messages to just warnings, and has a display corruption fix affecting some Polaris hardware.

      • Investigating GitLab

        The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) kernel subsystem is a fairly small part of the kernel, he said. It is also a fairly small part of the open-source graphics stack, which is under the X.Org umbrella. DRM sits in the middle between the two, so the project has learned development tools and workflows from both of the larger projects.

        The kernel brought DRM into the Git world in 2006, which was just a year after Git came about; it was a “rough ride” back then, Vetter said. With Git came “proper commit messages”. Prior to that, the X.org commit messages might just be a single, unhelpful line; now those messages explain why the change is being made and what it does. The idea of iterating on a patch series on the mailing list came from the kernel side as did the “benevolent dictator” model of maintainership. DRM, the X server, Wayland, and others all followed that model along the way.

        From the X.Org side came things like the committer model; in Mesa, every contributor had commit rights. That model has swept through the graphics community, so now DRM, the X server, and Wayland are all run using that scheme. Testing and continuous integration (CI) is something that DRM has adopted from X.Org; the kernel also does this, but DRM has adopted the X.Org approach, tooling, and test suites. For historical reasons, “almost everything” is under the MIT license, which comes from X.Org projects as well.

        There has been a lot of movement of tools and development strategies in both directions via the DRM subsystem. He thinks that using GitLab may be “the next big wave of changes” coming from the user-space side to kernel graphics, and maybe to the kernel itself eventually. This won’t happen this year or next year, Vetter predicted, but over the next few years we will see GitLab being used more extensively.

      • AMDGPU For Linux 4.20 Gets The Final Radeon RX 590 Fix, Adds The New Vega PCI IDs

        With just over one week to go until the expected Linux 4.20 kernel release, Alex Deucher of AMD today sent in the latest batch of fixes to the DRM tree for landing at the end of this cycle.

        Notable about this latest set of “fixes” for the AMDGPU kernel graphics driver are:

        - The final Radeon RX 590 fix so this newer Polaris GPU no longer hangs under load. So once this Linux 4.20 material is merged to mainline, this month-old Polaris graphics card should now be happily running on Linux — assuming you also have the latest Polaris firmware files and a recent version of Mesa. See our Radeon RX 590 benchmarks article for more details.

      • AMDVLK 2018.Q4.4 Driver Update Brings Performance Improvements, New Vulkan Bits

        AMD developers today outed their latest “AMDVLK” open-source Vulkan driver code drop dubbed AMDVLK 2018.Q4.4.

      • NVIDIA 415.23 Driver Fixes Build Issues Against Linux 4.20 Kernel

        The NVIDIA 415.23 driver was issued just to fix a build issue against the near-final Linux 4.20 kernels. In particular, there has been a build failure around the vm_insert_pfn function that is now worked around when building the NVIDIA proprietary driver’s shim against the Linux 4.20 release candidates.

      • NVIDIA Now Shipping The Jetson AGX Xavier Module

        NVIDIA has been shipping the Jetson AGX Xavier Developer Kit the past few months while now they are beginning to ship the AGX Xavier Module intended for use in next-generation autonomous machines.

    • Benchmarks

      • Radeon ROCm 1.9.1 vs. NVIDIA OpenCL Linux Plus RTX 2080 TensorFlow Benchmarks

        Following the GeForce RTX 2080 Linux gaming benchmarks last week with now having that non-Ti variant, I carried out some fresh GPU compute benchmarks of the higher-end NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards. Here’s a look at the OpenCL performance between the competing vendors plus some fresh CUDA benchmarks as well as NVIDIA GPU Cloud TensorFlow Docker benchmarks.

        This article provides a fresh look at the Linux GPU compute performance for NVIDIA and AMD. On the AMD side was the Linux 4.19 kernel paired with the ROCm 1.9.1 binary packages for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. ROCm continues happily running well on the mainline kernel with the latest releases, compared to previously relying upon the out-of-tree/DKMS kernel modules for compute support on the discrete Radeon GPUS. ROCm 2.0 is still supposed to be released before year’s end so there will be some fresh benchmarks coming up with that OpenCL 2.0+ implementation when the time comes. The Radeon CPUs tested were the RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 as well as tossing in the R9 Fury for some historical context.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications 18.12 Are Waiting for You

        It’s that time of the year again. Everyone is in a festive mood and excited about all the new things they’re going to get. It’s only natural, since it’s the season of the last KDE Applications release for this year!

        With more than 140 issues resolved and dozens of feature improvements, KDE Applications 18.12 are now on its way to your operating system of choice. We’ve highlighted some changes you can look forward to.

      • KDE Applications 18.12 Released With File Manager Improvements, Konsole Emoji
      • A simple blank makes the difference

        OFX is the Open Financial eXchange protocol used by various financial institutions in a few countries. KMyMoney provides an OFX client implementation using the open source LibOFX library allowing users to import transactions directly from the bank’s server without using the detour through a web-browser and a downloaded file into the ledger of the application.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.31.3 released

        GNOME 3.31.3 is now available.

        This will be our last snapshop before the year is over. Try it out,
        test it, improve it.

        If you want to compile GNOME 3.31.3, you can use the official
        BuildStream project snapshot.

      • GNOME 3.31.3 Released As Another Step Towards GNOME 3.32
      • Fractal December’18 Hackfest (part 1)

        The Tuesday 11th started the second Fractal Hackfest. I’ve organized this hackfest in Seville, the city where I studied computer science and here I’ve a lot of friends in the University so is a good place to do it here.

        The weather was important too for the hackfest selection, in December Seville is a good choice because the weather is not too cold, we’re having sunny days.

        The first day was a good day, thinking about some relevant issues and planning what we want to do. We talked about the work needed for the interface split, about the E2EE support, new features and the need for a new release.

        We’re having some problems with the internet connection, because the University has a restricted network policy and we ask for the guess internet connection the Monday, but we’re still waiting.

  • Distributions

    • Pantheon Desktop Makes Linux Elementary

      The more I use the multitasking feature, the more I like its click-and-go navigational style. Getting rid of workspaces or running apps is simple. Hover the mouse pointer over the multitasking bar and click the icon’s circled X.

      Elementary OS is a very solid Linux distro. Its uncluttered design is encouraged by not being able to place app icons on the desktop. There are no desklet programs to create distractions.

      So far, the only real obstacle I’ve encountered in using Elementary OS is the need to adapt to having fewer power-user features. While basic installation was smooth and event free, not having preinstalled text editors, word processors or an alternative Web browser was an inconvenience.

      New users who do not know what software they need to fill this void are at a big disadvantage. Want to Suggest a Review? Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro 18.0 Released – What’s New in Manjaro Illyria?

        Manjaro is an Arch Linux-based Operating System developed in Austria, Germany, and France with a focus on providing a beautiful user-friendly OS with the full power of Arch Linux to beginner computer users and experts at the same time.

        If you are not already familiar with Manjaro Linux then the developers have recently given more reasons for you to by dropping its latest release, Manjaro 18.0, codenamed “Illyria“. This update brings both major and minor updates to the OS and makes its overall experience more pleasant.

        It is fulfilling to see how well an OS that began as a hobby project has come this far with several UI scripts, support for NVIDIA’s Optimus technology, etc. right out of the box – features that come together to enhance its user experience.

        For an overview of its features, check out the 10 Reasons to Use Manjaro Linux.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • 2018-2019 Elections Underway with Calls for Candidates and New Members

        Earlier this week, on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, the Elections Committee posted the Schedule for the 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections, along with the announcement of a Membership Drive and a call for nominations and applications for Candidates to fill three vacant seats on the openSUSE Board.

        The annual Board Elections are normally expected to run in November and December, with ballots cast and results published in time for the newly-elected Board Members to take their seats on the Board at the beginning of January. However, some additional work needed to be completed for this election, and the elections were delayed in part to accommodate the additional work.

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 4 is Generally Available

        SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 4 is now generally available. Service Pack 4 marks the fourth generation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, a major code stream and product foundation with a lifecycle from 2014 to 2024 plus Long Term Support (10+3 years).
        This release consolidates all fixes and updates introduced since SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 3.

      • Making the Selection

        You’ve likely read or heard a lot about today’s data explosion and how it’s affecting enterprises. After combing through all the overexcited rhetoric about how quickly data is multiplying or how

        many petabytes you’ll soon have to handle, one thing remains clear: You need to find a new way to store and manage your data or you’ll get left behind.

        While that mandate puts pressure on your organization to act quickly, it’s also the catalyst to a whole new world of exciting opportunities. More data can mean deeper, more accurate insights into your operations and customer needs, which empowers you to streamline processes and personalize experiences like never before. More data can also lead to greater innovation and new sources of revenue.

    • Debian Family

      • Unexpected fallout from /usr merge in Debian

        Back in 2011, Harald Hoyer and Kay Sievers came up with a proposal for Fedora to merge much of the operating system into /usr; former top-level directories, /bin, /lib, and /sbin, would then become symbolic links pointing into the corresponding subdirectories of /usr. Left out of the merge would be things like configuration files in /etc, data in /var, and user home directories. This change was aimed at features like atomic upgrades and easy snapshots. The switch to a merged /usr was successful for Fedora 17; many other distributions (Arch, OpenSUSE, Mageia, just to name a few) have followed suit. More recently, Debian has been working toward a merged /usr, but it ran into some surprising problems that are unique to the distribution.

        Debian and its derivatives are definitely late to the /usr merge party. Systems running Debian testing that were initially installed before June 2018 still have /bin, /sbin, and /lib as normal directories, not as symbolic links. The same applies to Ubuntu 18.10. But both Debian and Ubuntu want to make the switch to a merged /usr. Debian tried, but it hit something completely unexpected.

        The Debian /usr merge history started in 2016, when Marco d’Itri got the usrmerge package into Debian unstable. This package contains a Perl script that converts an existing system into the state with a merged /usr. Also, a change was made to the debootstrap program (which installs a Debian system into a chroot), so that it could create the needed symbolic links by itself before installing any packages. The end result is the same in both cases.


        The Debian package sed also has /bin/sed, not /usr/bin/sed. In the bug report, the problem is treated like a one-off issue, to be solved by a rebuild. However, on the debian-devel mailing list, Ian Jackson quickly pointed out that the problem is, in fact, due to /usr merge on the build daemons. He suggested that the change should be reverted. Dirk Eddelbuettel seconded that suggestion, and noted that he expects “much more breakage to follow”. Indeed, similar problems were triggered in sympow, pari, and monitoring-plugins. Other bugs of this nature can be found by searching the Debian bug tracking system for a special tag (but this search also finds other kinds of issues).


        The discussion is still in progress, though; no consensus has been reached. A bug was filed against debootstrap by Jackson to revert the change to merge by default for the next release of Debian. Due to the disagreement of the debootstrap maintainer to the proposed change, Jackson reassigned the bug to the Debian Technical Committee, which is the ultimate authority for resolving otherwise unresolvable technical disputes within Debian. There is also a request from the Debian backports FTP master that the default should be the same in Debian stable backports and in Debian testing. Emilio Pozuelo Monfort, a member of the release team, also spoke in favor of reverting to non-merged /usr in new installations.

        It is impossible to predict now how the Technical Committee will rule. In the worst case for /usr-merge proponents, proper introduction of a merged /usr into Debian may be delayed by a few more years. But, if it votes for keeping the status quo, new end-user systems in the next stable release of Debian will have merged /usr, old but upgraded ones won’t, and the build daemons will reliably build packages suitable for both cases, just like what’s planned for Ubuntu 19.04. No flag day is needed in this scenario, so it would follow the best Debian traditions of not forcing transitions onto users.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Mozilla Firefox 64 Is Now Available for All Supported Ubuntu Linux Releases

            Mozilla Firefox 64.0 continues the “Quantum” series with new features and improvements, including better recommendations for US users by showing suggestions about new and relevant Firefox features, services, and extensions based on their browsing habbits, enhanced tab management by allowing you to more easily and quickly close, move, pin, or bookmark tabs.

            This release also makes it easier to manage performance via a new “Task Manager” accessible from the about:performance page, allowing users to view which tabs consume more CPU time so you can close them to conserve power, adds link time optimization (Clang LTO) for Linux and Mac users, as well as a new toolbar context menu option to remove add-ons.

          • Compiz: Ubuntu Desktop’s little known best friend

            The best part is that it takes no time at all to get up and running! I’ll show you how to transform Ubuntu into a desktop that is functionally similar to Mac.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • JFrog Empowers Millions of Open Source Go Developers, Announces Community’s First Public Go Repository

    JFrog, the Universal DevOps technology leader known for enabling liquid software via continuous software update flows, is announcing the coming availability of JFrog GoCenter, the first-ever central repository for software modules developed in the popular Go programming language. GoCenter is a free, open source and public service that will be provided for the broad Go community in early 2019, and is being showcased at KubeCon Seattle.

  • Open Sesame

    Although it’s free for users, people invest time in making the technology better or creating it in the first place.


    When a project is open-source, it means that the software, hardware or data are open for users to use, access, change or distribute for free. An open-source project can also make it easier to bring a team together to develop a project, Davis says.

  • ‘This is not a big boys club’: FINOS seeks to open up open source

    Attend an event about open source development and collaboration in financial technology, and you will see developers and executives from Capital One, Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock and perhaps a handful of other financial institutions, along with open-source-focused vendors like Red Hat (now part of IBM).

  • The Autoware Foundation – An Open Alliance for Autonomous Driving Technology
  • What is Open Source & Why Should You Care?

    The term ‘open source’ is used with excitement throughout multiple industries, yet folks are still asking a lot of questions, chief among them: What is open source & why should I care? Well, for industrial and process manufacturing, open source is rapidly becoming a fundamental for the digitalization of these industries. Industrial automation users, system integrators, machine builders, and automation suppliers that understand how to embrace and leverage open source are dramatically improving their odds of being effective competitors in their respective industries.

  • QLC Chain to open source WinQ server router, focuses on multi-sig smart contracts

    QLC Chain has released its bi-weekly report, which highlights development progress of the public blockchain and VPN routers, adjustment of QLC Chain’s development plan, and updates to WinQ 2.0. Recently, an incentive program was announced for VPN operators and active community members to test the platform.

  • Fuchsia SDK and ‘device’ now included in Android Open Source Project

    Fuchsia, Google’s future OS project, is getting more connected to Android. The search giant has added two Fuchsia items to its Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code.

    A new commit posted to the AOSP Gerrit — an online code collaboration and management tool — added two Fuchsia ‘repos’ to the primary ‘manifest’ of AOSP.

    In other words, developers added two Fuchsia files to the instructions that tell Google’s download tool ‘Repo’ what to include when a user downloads AOSP. Further, for those unfamiliar with AOSP, it’s a compilation of Android made available for anyone to use.

  • Fuchsia SDK & Test Device Appear In Android Open Source Project

    Google has taken substantial new steps toward the release of its long-awaited new operating system Fuchsia, based on recently noticed changes to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) codebase. Although AOSP is most often connected to Android OS and development on that platform, Fuchsia OS has now appeared as both an SDK and test device in the repository. According to comments on the commits, the OS’s repositories being included in the Android master manifest equates to an added 760MB. The Gerrit UI also shows changes to approximately 977 files in total with the addition of the Fuchsia software development kit (SDK) and a related test device. Interestingly, the test device SDK seems to be based on or at least tested with the configuration for ‘Walleye’ — Google’s codename for one of the Pixel 2 handsets.

  • Events

    • Linux group plans show and tell

      The Linux Users’ Group of Davis presents Open Source Computing “Show and Tell” event, an informal open night to talk about and demonstrate programs, computer projects or tricks and tips.

      Feel free to bring something to show or tell for 10 minutes, from a Raspberry Pi project to tools or utilities that you find handy. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun, whether you’re a hobbyist, coder, enthusiast or sysadmin.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Licensing/Legal

    • FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab: 2018 and the future

      I am the current licensing and compliance manager for the FSF, though I’ve had several roles in my time here. The Lab handles all the free software licensing work for the FSF. Copyleft is the best legal tool we have for protecting the rights of users, and the Lab makes sure that tool is at full power by providing fundamental licensing education. From publishing articles and resources on free software licensing, to doing license compliance work for the GNU Project, to handling our certification programs like Respects Your Freedom, if there is a license involved, the Lab is on the case.

      When I started working at the FSF part-time in 2008, the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3) was only a year old. Our Respects Your Freedom certification program didn’t yet exist. The Free Software Directory wasn’t yet a wiki that could be updated by the community at large. Things have changed a lot over the years, as has our ability to help users to understand and share freely licensed works. I’d like to take just a moment as 2018 draws to a close to look back on some of the great work we accomplished.

  • Programming/Development

    • One developer’s road: Programming and mental illness

      The next year, I went to college and learned about SUSE Linux 6.1 and the Java SE 1.2 programming language. Another student introduced me to free software and the GNU GPL License and helped me install SuSE 7.1 on my new Compaq Evo N160c notebook.

      There was no more Microsoft software on my computer. The GNU/Linux operating system was exactly what I wanted, offering editors, compilers, and a command line that did auto-completion.

      Six months later, I installed Debian GNU/Linux. Since YaST2 was just a front end to configuration files, I had to use Debian Potato. My bootloader of choice was LILO, and the Second Extended File System was reliable—not buggy, like ReiserFS.

      In spring 2002, I read a book about the C programming language. I wanted to learn to do UIs like javax.swing, and a friend recommended Gtk+ 2.0, which was about to be released. At this point, I stopped using the KDE Desktop Environment. Gnome 2 was different and provided anti-aliased fonts with hinting. I used it to play Chromium B.S.U., and KNOPPIX did the magic.

    • newt

      I’ve been helping teach robotics programming to students in grades 5 and 6 for a number of years. The class uses Lego models for the mechanical bits, and a variety of development environments, including Robolab and Lego Logo on both Apple ][ and older Macintosh systems. Those environments are quite good, but when the Apple ][ equipment died, I decided to try exposing the students to an Arduino environment so that they could get another view of programming languages.

      The Arduino environment has produced mixed results. The general nature of a full C++ compiler and the standard Arduino libraries means that building even simple robots requires a considerable typing, including a lot of punctuation and upper case letters. Further, the edit/compile/test process is quite long making fixing errors slow. On the positive side, many of the students have gone on to use Arduinos in science research projects for middle and upper school (grades 7-12).

      In other environments, I’ve seen Python used as an effective teaching language; the direct interactive nature invites exploration and provides rapid feedback for the students. It seems like a pretty good language to consider for early education — “real” enough to be useful in other projects, but simpler than C++/Arduino has been. However, I haven’t found a version of Python that seems suitable for the smaller microcontrollers I’m comfortable building hardware with.

    • Preventing “Revenge of the Ancillaries” in DevOps
    • Wing Python IDE Version 7 Early Access
    • What’s the future of the pandas library?
    • C Programming Tutorial Part 2 – Preprocessors

      In the first part of our ongoing C programming tutorial series, we briefly touched on the preprocessing stage. In this tutorial, we will discuss it in a little more detail so that you have a basic idea about it before learning other C programming aspects.


  • Science

    • NSW to ban mobiles in govt primary schools from 2019

      The New South Wales Government will ban the use of mobile phones in government primary schools from next year, in an effort to reduce the incidence of online bullying and also to remove a major source of distraction.

    • How a Dubious Forensic Science Spread Like a Virus

      THE PROSECUTION’S star witness — a forensics specialist named Herbert MacDonell — set out an array of props before the jury: a medicine dropper, a mirror hastily yanked from the wall of the courthouse bathroom and a vial of his own blood, drawn that day at a nearby hospital.

      It was a strange sight in the 1985 Texas courtroom, and the jurors, the judge and even the defense attorneys watched, rapt, as MacDonell laid the mirror flat and then climbed up on a chair, holding the vial and dropper.

      MacDonell’s expertise lay in an obscure discipline known as bloodstain-pattern analysis. He claimed he could reconstruct the events of a crime by reading the bloodstains left behind.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Health Care Sign-Ups Lag as Saturday Deadline Looms

      With just days left to enroll, fewer people are signing up for the Affordable Care Act, even though premiums are stable, more plans are available and millions of uninsured people can still get financial help.

      Barring an enrollment surge, the nation’s uninsured rate could edge up again after a yearslong coverage expansion that has seen about 20 million people obtain health insurance.

      A status report Wednesday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed nearly 20 percent fewer new people signed up than at about the same time last year. New sign-ups drive the growth of the HealthCare.gov marketplaces, helping keep premiums in check.

    • Arkansas Is Attempting to Ban a Safe and Effective Abortion Method

      Banning D&Es is part of a national campaign to push abortion out of reach.
      The ACLU is in a federal appeals court on Thursday, challenging a slate of Arkansas laws intended to prevent women from being able to get abortions. One of the four laws we are challenging is a ban on the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, a safe and effective abortion method. If enforced, the ban would prevent women from being able to obtain an abortion at all.

      Arkansas’ ban is part of an anti-abortion campaign being orchestrated by states across the country. Already, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Kentucky have passed similar bans. But so far, every court to examine these laws has seen them for what they are — blatant attempts to ban abortion and prohibit physicians from using their best judgment in caring for their patients.

      The motivation behind these restrictions is not grounded in medicine or science. Major medical groups like the American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have long spoken out against D&E bans. And, this year, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that D&E is the “superior method” of abortion after the earliest weeks of the second trimester.

    • Doctors Defending Convicted Child Abuser “Exceed the Limits of Credulity,” Judge Rules

      A Florida state court judge rejected a new trial for a man convicted of physically abusing his son, and harshly criticized the testimony offered on his behalf by two doctors who have served as expert witnesses for hundreds of people accused of child abuse.

      In denying James Duncan’s bid for another trial, Circuit Judge Michael Andrews found that the doctors — David Ayoub and Marvin Miller — promoted a “fringe opinion,” offered theories that were not believable and have never in hundreds of cases attributed a child’s injuries to abuse.

    • Lawsuit Targets Illinois’ Child Welfare Agency Over Children Languishing in Psychiatric Hospitals

      The Acting Cook County Public Guardian filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday on behalf of hundreds of children and teenagers in state care who have been held in psychiatric hospitals after they had been cleared by doctors for release, calling the practice inhumane and unconstitutional.

      The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that children in the department’s care, whose lives are already marked by trauma, are not unnecessarily held in psychiatric hospitals, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Chicago.

      “The effects of holding children (beyond medical necessity) are heartbreaking at an individual level and staggering when multiplied among all the children who have been subjected to the practice,” the lawsuit claims.

      The lawsuit follows a ProPublica Illinois investigation in June that found nearly 30 percent of children in DCFS care who were sent to psychiatric hospitals between 2015 and 2017 were held there after doctors had cleared them for discharge. The children were hospitalized for a collective total of more than 27,000 days, or nearly 75 years.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Paul Ryan’s One Parliamentary Trick To Block Congress From Challenging Saudi Arabia’s War In Yemen

      As the United States Senate was about to advance a war powers resolution against the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives sabotaged any further votes against the war in the House.

      Representative Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders in the House took the unconventional route of tucking language into a rule that applied to the farm bill. The rule passed by a very narrow vote of 206-203.

      The language said provisions of the war powers resolution process “shall not apply during the remainder of the One Hundred Fifteenth Congress to a concurrent resolution introduced…with respect to Yemen.”

      Nearly all Democrats in the House voted against the rule except for five Democrats—Representative Jim Costa, Representative Al Lawson, Representative Collin Peterson, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, and Representative David Scott.

      Peterson claimed he didn’t know a “damn thing” about the provision before it was added, but he clearly did not understand the seriousness of his vote. “All it did say was that they couldn’t have a vote or something.”

      In November, the GOP engaged in a similar maneuver. While the Yemen war powers resolution picked up momentum in the Senate, they stuck a provision to block votes against the war in a bill involving wolves.

      Perhaps, this is how the outgoing Speaker of the House expresses his gratitude for a Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Public Service that was bestowed upon him on November 28.

      Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat who has been one of the principal sponsors of an anti-war resolution in the House, reacted, “Americans around this country are wondering what does a farm bill have to do with the war in Yemen, and the answer is absolutely nothing.”

    • ‘What a Despicable Sham’: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Denounces Five House Democrats as ‘Cowards’ for Helping GOP to Block Yemen Vote

      While a vote in the U.S. Senate to push forward a War Powers Resolution on Wednesday resulted in applause from peace advocates and critics of the U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen, five Democrats in the U.S. House stirred outrage as they helped Republicans in the chamber pass a rule—attached to massive Farm Bill legislation—that effectively killed the hopes of voting on its version of the resolution for the remainder of the congressional session.


      The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reported that after the vote it was the “angriest at leadership I’ve seen progressive House aides and members in a long time.” And with the final vote 206-203—a margin where the Democratic votes made the crucial difference—one of those aides told him that was “not a coincidence.”

    • Then They Came – Senselessly and Truly Friggin’ Unbelievably – For the Vietnamese

      What fresh hell is this. In yet another mindlessly cruel, deeply racist, utterly pointless move aimed at – what?! distracting the masses from the dumpster fire engulfing him? flexing his psychotic muscle by trying to find more people of color he can traumatize? – the Trump administration (sic) wants to deport certain Vietnamese immigrants who may or may not have committed any crimes but they’re not quite white so really does it matter? According to The Atlantic, Trump et al – many suspect Nazi ghoul Stephen Miller – have unilaterally reinterpreted a 2008 agreement between Vietnam and the Bush-era U.S. that barred the deportation of any Vietnamese arriving here before 1995, when both sides reestablished diplomatic relations. Having once considered reversing the agreement, already deported a few people and then backing off, Trump now argues those Vietnamese are subject to immigration laws and eligible for deportation because what other havoc can he wreak?

      We’re talking maybe 350,000 people, many of whom worked with/for – and often died with/for – U.S. troops as they razed the country, torched homes and ravaged families in the name of fighting Communism like we urged them to, after which they fled in terror to come here, allegedly to be safe. We’re talking hard-working – and often Republican-voting – people who’ve lived and raised families here for decades; who, now in their 60s and 70s, like to grow lemongrass and coriander in plastic kiddie pools in their tiny, immaculate backyards; who remain so staunchly conservative that, when our Vietnamese daughter decorated a donation box for her Vietnamese language teacher with the current, commie, red and yellow flag, he gently advised her that Vietnamese parents picking up their kids would take offense. They are now the enemy?!? Online, many are struggling to find new words for “evil,” “monster” and the kind of sick that daily invents a new hell for another group of vulnerable brown people. So are we.

    • Everyday Americans Can Put an End to the War in Yemen

      US tax dollars are supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has already claimed the lives of some 85,000 children, and 12 million more people are likely on the brink of starvation. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, “the starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it.”

      The United States has long been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, and both the Obama and Trump administrations have provided considerable military support to the Saudi war in Yemen.

      But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has finally spurred both Democrats and Republicans to take steps to end US military involvement in Yemen.

      On November 28, the Senate voted 63-to-37 to advance a resolution that would direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen. However, S. J. Res. 54 carves out an exception for continued US-supported military measures against “al Qaeda or associated forces” that could be twisted to rationalize nearly any military assistance Donald Trump provides to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

    • ‘We See You Stephen Miller’: White House Reportedly Considering ‘Despicable’ and ‘Racist’ Plan to Deport Vietnam War Refugees

      First reported by The Atlantic on Wednesday, the White House plan seeks to reinterpret a long-standing agreement with Hanoi that protects from deportation all Vietnamese people who arrived in the U.S. before July 12, 1995—the date the two nations officially reestablished diplomatic relations after the Vietnam War, in which the U.S. killed millions of people and inflicted damage that lives on to this day.

      “In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation,” The Atlantic noted.

      Winnie Wong, progressive organizer and founder of People for Bernie, offered a succinct translation of the proposed policy change: “Trump wants to deport Vietnamese grannies who have been living here for more than 40 years.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange Appeals New Embassy ‘House Rules’

      This week Julian Assange appealed court-mandated “house rules” he must follow while living at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

    • The Australian Labor Party and the persecution of Julian Assange

      The Australian Labor Party is holding its national conference starting this weekend, at which it will be touting itself as the alternative to the current Liberal-National Party Coalition government headed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
      Under a section headlined “Assisting Australians abroad,” Labor’s draft program asserts: “Australia should protect the safety of Australians overseas. Labor will deliver a high standard of travel advice and consular assistance to all Australians overseas.”
      It continues: “To the extent receiving governments permit, Labor will ensure consular representatives promptly visit Australians who have been arrested and maintain effective communication between legal representatives and the families of those who have been detained.”
      These words are exposed as shameless hypocrisy by Labor’s refusal, for over eight years, to do anything to defend Australian citizen and WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
      Labor held government when, in 2010, Assange made available a vast amount of information that exposed the scale of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well the sordid diplomatic intrigues and conspiracies conducted by American embassies and consulates around the globe.

    • Reader’s View: Assange only holding warmongers accountable

      Watch out for that Julian Assange guy from WikiLeaks. He’s real dangerous. He’s trouble. He goes around exposing crimes against humanity committed by superpowers who use murderous violence masqueraded as “wars” — “wars” upon defenseless countries like Iraq.

    • Wikileaks’ Assange undergoes medical tests at Ecuador’s urging

      Assange first took asylum in the embassy in 2012, but his relationship with Ecuador has grown increasingly tense, with President Lenin Moreno saying he does not like his presence in the embassy.

      The government in October imposed new rules requiring him to receive routine medical exams, following concerns he was not getting the medical attention he needed. The rules also ordered Assange to pay his medical and phone bills and clean up after his pet cat.

    • Assange medical tests at Ecuador’s urging

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has received a series of medical exams, Ecuador’s top lawyer says, in line with a new set of rules for his asylum at the Andean country’s London embassy that prompted him to sue the government.

    • Watchdog Raises Alarm About ‘New Normal’ as Hundreds of Journalists Worldwide Jailed for Doing Their Jobs

      “The past three years have recorded the highest number of jailed journalists since CPJ began keeping track, with consecutive records set in 2016 and 2017,” the report explains. While the total figure dropped slightly this year, concerns over global crackdowns on press freedom remain high.

      “The terrible global assault on journalists that has intensified in the past few years shows no sign of abating. It is unacceptable that 251 journalists are in jail around the world just for covering the news,” CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in a statement. “The broader cost is being borne by all those who care about the flow of news and information. The tyrants who use imprisonment to impose censorship cannot be allowed to get away with it.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump Administration’s Getting Sued for Failing to Protect Giraffes

      Animal advocacy and conservation organizations are taking the Trump administration to court for failing to protect giraffes who are suffering from what’s been dubbed a “silent extinction.”

      Although they might be one of the most easily recognizable and beloved animals on earth, giraffes have been quietly disappearing at an alarming rate. Since the mid-1980s, their population has declined by a startling 40 percent, leaving only an estimated 97,560 individuals in the wild.

      Last year, concerns about the threat of extinction prompted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to change their status from a species of Least Concern – skipping right over Near Threatened – to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

      Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse since then with the latest update this November that highlighted how much trouble they’re in.

    • We Must Challenge Capitalist Attempts at “Solutions” to Climate Change

      Climate activists have described this month’s Conference of the Parties on climate change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, as a make-or-break opportunity to avert disastrous climate change.

      The COP21 in Paris was similarly cast as a make-or-break moment in 2015, as well as the 2009 COP15 in Copenhagen. Since 1995, when the states that are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Berlin, Germany, there have been COPs every year. As the COP is the treaty’s supreme decision-making body of the treaty, it has final decision-making authority over how the treaty will be interpreted and implemented.

      However, this year’s summit garnered exceptional attention because just two months before its opening, it was preceded by the release of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounding the alarm on climate change. Thus, we were told, the effects and costs of warming up the planet by 2.7° Fahrenheit (1.5° Celsius) will be much greater than the ultra-cautious, fossil-fuel-friendly IPCC has led us to expect up until now. Worse, we may reach this point in 10 to 12 years.

      The report’s urgent tone was highly gratifying to those who had for years been trying, to no avail, to convey just such urgency, and the document elicited a substantial response everywhere, even in the mainstream media.

      However, there is no cause for rejoicing; on the contrary, for behind the urgent tone of the October report, barring a popular revolt, COP24 portends business as usual. In short, it is old Kool-Aid in new bottles, and we are being asked to drink, copiously.

    • After 30 Years Studying Climate, Scientist Declares: “I’ve Never Been as Worried as I Am Today”

      “Global heating is technically more correct because we are talking about changes in the energy balance of the planet,” Betts said. “The risks are compounding all the time. It stands to reason that the sooner we can take action, the quicker we can rein them in.”

      But Betts went on to express dismay at the suicidally slow pace at which world leaders are working to confront the crisis that—if immediate and bold action is not taken—threatens to render the planet uninhabitable for future generations.

      “Things are obviously proceeding very slowly,” Betts said. “As a scientist, it’s frustrating to see we’re still at the point when temperatures are going up and emissions are going up. I’ve been in this for 25 years. I hoped we’d be beyond here by now.”

      As world leaders refuse to ditch fossil fuels or—in the case of the Trump administration—attempt to increase production, people around the world are mobilizing around ambitious solutions like a Green New Deal, which is rapidly gaining support in the U.S. Congress.

    • Senators Press for Expanded Probe of FEMA Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico Relief Efforts

      By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

      Senators Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Bernie Sanders, and Dick Durbin last week sent a letter to John Kelly, acting inspector general (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security, asking him to expand the ongoing investigation into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) contracting in Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

    • As U.N. Calls for Urgent Action on Climate Change, U.S. Seeks to Dilute Pact to Cut Carbon Emissions

      U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres issued a dire warning Wednesday that nations must act now to save humanity from devastating climate change. Despite this call to action, talks here in Katowice have been hindered by the United States and the world’s other biggest polluters, who are promoting fossil fuels and focusing on reducing emissions in developing countries but not their own. Talks are supposed to conclude Friday, but negotiators have expressed little hope in meeting the deadline. “It’s really hypocritical that the United States is here, negotiating in what I would characterize as bad faith,” says Meena Raman, of the U.S. role in climate talks at COP24. “[The U.S.] is seeking to dilute further what was a very delicate treaty that was concluded.” Raman is coordinator of the climate change program at Third World Network.

    • Fossil-Free Costa Rica: How One Country Is Pursuing Decarbonization Despite Global Inaction

      As world leaders struggle to agree on a plan to curb global emissions at the U.N. climate talks in Katowice, Poland, we look at Costa Rica’s plan to go fossil-free beginning next year. It will be the first country in the world to decarbonize its economy. Costa Rica generates more than 90 percent of its electricity using renewable energy. Costa Rican officials have announced they want to host U.N. climate talks in 2019, since Brazil rescinded its offer to host the summit following the election of right-wing climate change denier President-elect Jair Bolsonaro. We speak with Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican climate activist who works with the president of Costa Rica on sustainability issues. She is the director of Costa Rica Limpia, an NGO that promotes carbon neutrality and clean energy.

    • Coal in, activists kept out at Katowice climate talks

      All progress made during the first week of climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland was overshadowed by the deportation of at least 12 civil society representatives and the no-holds-barred promotion of the coal industry at the official conference venue. This seems not only ironic and distasteful but a violation of the principles of climate justice, human rights and transparency for a conference supposedly bringing the world together to further climate action.

      Hours before the climate march, a peaceful non-violent action organized by civil society representatives, organizations like 350.org received disturbing messages from colleagues informing them of being held by authorities at the airport. “People are detained for long periods in ill-fitted rooms, searched and interrogated. Then they are deported,” says Svitlana Romanko, regional coordinator of 350 in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.

      The representatives, deemed as “threats to national security,” are now safe and demanding accountability from both Polish leaders, as host of the COP, and world leaders, as they supposedly also represent interests of non-party stakeholders, such as observer organizations.
      Nugzar Kokhreidze, whose passport was taken away at passport control upon his arrival at the Katowice International Airport last week, says that one of the key values of the UN democratic process is participation. “Climate change is a challenge for all. That’s why participation of all sectors into the negotiation process is important and must be provided by the UN and the country where the conferences happen.” As of this writing, Kokhreidze is still at the Katowice airport, demanding an explanation from the Polish government on why he is deemed a threat to safety.

    • Climate Activists Must Organize Like It’s 2099

      Though Donald Trump’s Black Friday release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (FNCA) completely backfired–the media relentlessly covered the report, and with devastating detail–Trump nevertheless managed to escape being held to account for what is (arguably) the Assessment’s most damning observation:

      “Current trends in annual greenhouse gas emissions, globally, are consistent with RCP8.5.”

    • If Democrats Want a ‘Green New Deal,’ These Congressional Investigations Need to Happen

      A startling new report on climate change from the Trump administration makes clear that if the U.S. government and other major polluters don’t do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting climate impacts will be dramatic and costly, both to the U.S. economy and the long-term livability of the planet.

      These dire warnings are nothing new, but they come at a time when the Democratic party appears potentially willing to invest serious political capital on the issue of climate change. A new generation of Democrats, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshly elected New York representative, are pushing the old guard towards a “Green New Deal.”

    • ‘Whoever You Are, Wherever You Are, We Need You’: 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Calls for Global Climate Strike

      Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish activist, on Wednesday called for a global climate strike. The day of action is set for Friday at “your school” or “anywhere you feel called.”

      Thunberg, who’s made headlines for her now-weekly school strikes to urge her home country to take bold climate action, made the call from Katowice, Poland, where she’s attending the COP24 climate talks, now in their second week.

      Unfortunately, she said in her video announcing the strike, “as of now, there are no signs of commitment to climate action.”

      “Our emissions are still increasing. At the same time… the science has clearly told us that we need to act now to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming,” she continued. “Whoever you are, wherever you are, we need you now to stand outside your parliament or local government office to let them know that we demand climate action.”

    • Inside the Tent: Big Polluters Work to Shape Paris Agreement Rules at the UN Climate Talks

      Should fossil fuel companies that knew their products contributed to climate change for nearly 40 years and did nothing about it now be allowed to have they say inside the UN climate talks?

      For the International Trade Emissions Associations (IETA), a business lobby comprised of some of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers and greenhouse gas emitters such as BP, Chevron, Rio Tinto, Eni, Total and Shell, the answer is yes.

      “Fundamentally,” the IETA writes, “we believe that our businesses should be part of the climate negotiations — because we intend to be part of the solution”.

      IETA has already wielded much influence on the UN climate talks. This year’s climate conference — known as COP24 — is widely considered to be the most important climate meeting of the last three years, with countries aiming to finalise the rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement.

      And the business lobby is determined to have its voice heard on how its members should be involved in implementing the Paris accord.

    • Young Activists School the U.N. at Climate Summit

      Close to 15,000 people have descended on Katowice, in the heart of Poland’s coal country, for the annual U.N. climate change summit. This meeting is dubbed “COP24,” for the 24th “Conference of the Parties” to the climate negotiations. The efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming have been ongoing since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Among those gathered are two young women, from the global North and South, who have decided to devote their lives to reversing humanity’s destructive addiction to fossil fuels, hopefully before it is too late.

      “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago,” said Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old climate activist from Sweden, addressing U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres here last week.

    • For the Future of Our Communities, Labor Support for The Green New Deal

      Four years ago, the New York climate march brought 300,000 people to the streets of Manhattan to demand action from national and world leaders. Marching in New York City with my family, we witnessed how thousands of people from all walks of life filled the streets with energy, passion, and hope for a better future for our children and grandchildren. 32BJ SEIU, the labor union I am honored to lead, played a vital part in the People’s Climate March because our members live and work in communities that are affected by climate change.

      We reside in coastal cities that have been flooded by storms like Hurricane Sandy. Our urban areas suffer with skyrocketing asthma rates. Many of us have families in the global south that have been devastated by climate change. We march and organize to bring attention to this existential crisis and demand action now. And we know that solutions can be found that both generate jobs and deliver sustainable energy.

      As the new crop of progressive legislators in Congress is showing us all, the time to be bold on issues like climate change, the economy, and immigration is now. Last week Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced the introduction of the Green New Deal, a plan to make climate change, clean air, clean water, and reductions in pollution a priority for the new Congress when its members take office in January.

    • Can China Save the Planet?: Review

      Lack of foresight isn’t new in politics. As John F. Kennedy wrote in Why England Slept (1940), that country had snoozed through the rise of, and German rearmament under, Adolf Hitler. Until the European war began, the British government, ill prepared to fight, hoped desperately for peace. (Kennedy’s father was U.S. ambassador there.) Following the Nazi blitz against London, the United Kingdom was rescued after the U.S. got into the war, prompted by the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

      The illusions entertained by the British government after Munich were minor compared with the behavior of leaders today, leaders who are neglecting and even denying the warning of climate scientists. So far, the fossil fuel purveyors and their allies in government have prevailed with propaganda about a claimed lack of scientific consensus and about such irrelevancies as cold weather in winter.

      Part of the problem is that nearly all of the public doesn’t understand the difference between the usual exaggeration of politicians and the normal professional caution of scientists. Part is that many adults assume climate change will be tolerable in their own lifetime, not understanding the 25-50 year lag between emission of greenhouse gas and its full effects. And part is the widespread investment by individuals in petroleum-powered vehicles, furnaces, and the fossil-fuel-powered electricity reliably supplied to appliances in homes, offices, factories, schools, and stores.

      However understandable the lack of foresight is, however, the consequences are unprecedented: never in recorded history has the entire planet been threatened as it is now by the accumulating blanket of invisible greenhouse gases.

    • Global Divestment Movement Celebrates Vow of 1,000 Institutions, With Nearly $8 Trillion in Assets, to Ditch Fossil Fuels

      While the COP24 climate talks are at risk of ending without a concrete plan of action thanks in large part to the Trump administration’s commitment to a dirty energy agenda, environmental groups on Thursday celebrated a major milestone in the global movement to take down the fossil fuel industry after the number of public and private institutions that have vowed to divest from oil, gas, and coal companies surpassed 1,000.

      “When this movement started in 2012, we aimed to catalyze a truly global shift in public attitudes to the fossil fuel industry, and people’s willingness to challenge the institutions that financially support it,” May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement. “While diplomats at the U.N. climate talks are having a hard time making progress, our movement has changed how society perceives the role of fossil fuel corporations and is actively keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

      According to 350, the institutions that have committed to divesting from fossil fuels hold nearly $8 trillion USD in combined assets. The 1,000th institution to vow to divest was Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC), which manages France’s public sector savings, pensions, and investments.

    • How We Stop the World From “Burning Up”

      One way or another, society will move away from fossil-fuel-dominated systems. There are dystopian scenarios in which natural phenomena – the climate changes arising from global warming, resource constraints and so on – compel a collectively paralysed society to change. It is much more likely, though, that society will react, somehow, to the crisis it faces. This discussion of how it might do so starts from two questions. First, what is meant by ‘transition’ away from fossil fuels: a move to new technological systems, within existing social and economic ones – or the transformation, too, of those social and economic systems? Second, given what we know about global warming and other changes in natural systems, how long might, and/or should, the transition take?

      Climate scientists have drawn parameters within which to discuss this second question: there is a consensus among them that humanity collectively has, in the period starting in 1870, a ‘carbon budget’ of about 3200 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to work with, if the most dangerous effects of global warming are to be avoided. At the current rate at which greenhouse gases are being emitted, this budget would be used up entirely, well before the middle of this century. Beyond that, global warming effects (in particular, sea level rise, higher temperatures and weather volatility) could play havoc with humans’ living conditions on an unprecedentedly destructive scale. These forecasts suggest the need for a transition away from fossil fuels within two or three decades – over a much shorter period than is usually envisaged. One damaging aspect of the public discourse around the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process is that this contradiction is constantly ignored, downplayed or, worse, normalised.

  • Finance

    • Dell is going public again, once it grabs back VMWare stock

      But that’s looking likely to change again as Dell shareholders voted 61 per cent in favour of buying back VMWare tracking stock – Dell owns 80 per cent of the company – for $23.9bn, to take the company public again on 28 December.

    • Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade

      Donald Trump was right when he said that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for the United States and promised to renegotiate it when he became president. However, the renegotiated NAFTA-2 is worse than the original NAFTA and should be rejected.

      On December 1, NAFTA-2 was signed by President Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nietos. This started the process of approval by the legislatures of each country.

      Our movement for trade that puts people and planet first now has two synergistic opportunities: We can stop NAFTA II and replace corporate trade with a new model that raises working conditions and protects the environment.

    • Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement through Basic Color Theory

      With the rise of the gilets jaunes, the yellow vests movement sweeping France (and spreading to Belgium, the Netherlands and elsewhere), it has become apparent that the color of anti-neoliberalism is yellow. Despite much confusion, this much is clear. The people rising up in France did not take to the streets to protest a particular fuel or carbon tax; they are protesting inequality, the inequality of tax cuts for the rich coupled with tax increases and austerity for everyone else — inequalities and inequities inseparable from neoliberalism.

      Of course, neoliberalism can be attacked in a progressive as well as in a regressive way. It can be criticized in radical and reactionary and moderate ways. Donald Trump, for instance, rode to power by, among other things, attacking the decline in most people’s quality of life — a decline that is inseparable from the neoliberal organization of the world. In addition to considerable help from the anachronistic electoral college, Trump won the presidency by attacking NAFTA and other so-called free trade deals (arrangements central to neoliberal capitalism). He also promised to fix the crumbling infrastructure that accompanies the neoliberal austerity programs championed by financial elites. But he did all of this in a racist, nationalistic, ultra-reactionary way, scapegoating immigrants, Muslims, and others. And it is a curious fact that when blended with reactionary Republican red, anti-neoliberalism yellow creates orange — the color of Trump.

    • “You’re Worth $1 Trillion. Why Do You Need Our $3 Billion?” Angry New Yorkers Confront Amazon Execs at City Council Meeting

      After being kept in the dark about New York’s $3 billion deal with Amazon, allowing the trillion-dollar corporation to build its new headquarters—complete with helicopter landing pad for CEO Jeff Bezos—in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, concerned New York City Council members and scores of angry New Yorkers on Wednesday angrily confronted company representatives over the plan.

      At the first City Council meeting on Amazon’s so-called “HQ2,” about 150 protesters joined the mostly-Democratic lawmakers in slamming the closed-door process through which the city and state finalized the deal and the effect the corporation’s arrival will likely have on affordable housing and community development in Queens and the entire city, as New York pours much-needed funds into the new one million square foot campus.


      The councilman also called on Amazon, whose CEO is the richest person on the planet, to simply build the headquarters with its own money and redirect the funds to public housing developments in the neighborhood.

    • I’m a Postal Worker. If You Get Mail in a Small Town or Suburb, Listen Up!

      I’ve been a postal clerk for 23 years, serving my customers in a public post office in Gresham, Oregon.
      As you might imagine, with the holidays fast approaching, it’s a busy time of year for us. Every day, I help my customers mail letters, cards, and packages across town and across the county. Even when we’re busy, it’s a joy to share a small part in spreading holiday cheer.
      Because the Postal Service charges uniform rates across the country, I don’t need to ask you if a package is being sent to a home or a business, or whether the recipient lives in a big city or a distant rural area.
      You can select a flat rate box that goes anywhere for one price, no matter what’s inside. Or if you pack your own gift, we price it based on weight and distance. The post office never charges you more to send your gift just because your grandma happens to live out in the country.
      If you took your packages to a private delivery firm, on the other hand, you might be hit with extra charges because of where your grandma lives.

    • The GOP Tax Bill Is Creating Jobs—Just Not in the U.S.

      We should have told them to be more specific. When President Trump and his fellow Republicans in Congress called their massive tax overhaul last year the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” most of us assumed the jobs would be in the United States.

      Now we know better.

      Yes, unemployment in this country is low, but there’s no evidence it’s because of last year’s GOP tax cuts. More likely it’s simply a continuation of an eight-year trend of steady job growth that began under President Obama.

      On the other hand, we can reasonably connect specific losses in U.S. employment to the Trump-GOP tax law. For instance, last summer General Motors decided to build its Chevrolet Blazer in Mexico rather than the United States.

      Then this November, it announced plans to close five North American assembly plants and lay off nearly 15,000 workers in states like Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland.

      The Republican tax law encourages that kind outsourcing because it charges corporations just half the tax rate on foreign profits that it charges on domestic earnings. It’s hard to imagine a stronger lure for corporations to pack up their plant and equipment and ship them offshore.

    • A World That Is the Property of the 1%

      This year, I simply couldn’t get one fact out of my head: according to a 2017 report from the Institute for Policy Studies, three billionaires — Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates — have amassed as much wealth as the bottom half of American society. That’s 160 million people! (And unlike our president, I don’t use exclamation points lightly or often.) Or as Oxfam reported in January of this year, the wealth of eight men — and yes, they were men (including the three mentioned above) — was equal to that of half the people on this planet in 2017. Yikes! And just to give you a sense of where we’ve been heading at supersonic speed, an Oxfam report a year earlier had 62 billionaires owning half the planet’s wealth. Imagine that: 62 to eight in a single year.

      Then consider what we know about the rise of the billionaire class. Again, according to Oxfam, a new billionaire appeared every two days in 2017, while 82% of the wealth being created on this planet already went to the top 1% and the bottom half of the global population saw no wealth gains at all. In 2017 (the last year for which we have such figures), the total wealth of the globe’s billionaire class ballooned by almost 20%. (And I want you to know that, unlike our president, I’m fighting hard to restrain the urge to put one or more exclamation points after every one of those sentences.)

      Oxfam released its figures this January to coincide with the annual meeting of the world’s top dogs at Davos in Switzerland. Assumedly, it will do so again in January 2019 and I shudder to think what the next set of stats are likely to be. In the meantime, consider what TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author most recently of Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, has to say about a planet on which the actual economic situation of most people bears remarkably little relationship to what’s generally advertised and why, if you think stability is already a thing of the past in a Trumpian world, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

    • Yellow Vest Uprising Exposes Urgent Need for Rapid Energy Transition That Stiffs Elites, Lifts the Working Class

      President Donald Trump looked on approvingly at the chaos that engulfed Paris last weekend as more than 1,000 “Yellow Vest” protesters were arrested in one of their largest demonstrations yet—claiming that 100,000 French people had taken to the streets to protest policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions.

      But organizers unequivocally denied that the Yellow Vest movement is anti-climate policy, while analysts have pointed to the demonstrations as an urgent illustration of the fact that world governments, including French President Emmanuel Macron’s, must take active steps to transition to a green economy while ensuring that low- and middle-income households don’t bear the burden of that transition.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘They Are a Terrible Company’: Fact-Checkers Speak Out About Facebook’s Faux Effort to Fight ‘Fake News’

      “They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” said Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of the fact-checking site Snopes, one of over 40 outlets that have partnered with Facebook for the project. “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care.”

      While Facebook’s effort to quell fears of “fake news” initially were praised by a wide range of media professionals, many have grown increasingly concerned about the consequences of the social media giant serving as the arbiter of what is and isn’t trustworthy. Now, Binkowski and others have added their voices.

      As an example of her frustration, Binkowski pointed to “bringing up Myanmar over and over and over,” as hate speech and propaganda flooded social media sites while the Myanmar military committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against Rohingya Muslims, forcing more than half a million refugees to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

      Facebook not only ignored her concerns, said Binkowski—who has reported on immigration and refugees—”they were absolutely resistant.” Binkowski left Snopes this year and now runs her own site.

    • Facebook grew so big that it destabilised the world. What now?
    • How WhatsApp Fuels Fake News and Violence in India

      The photos are not fake, but they don’t show the victims of a murderous Indian kidnapping ring either. The pictures are of children who were killed in Syria during a chemical attack on the town of Ghouta in August 2013, five years earlier and thousands of miles away.

    • ‘Americans Should Know Their Government Had a Hand in the Return to Fascism’ – CounterSpin interview with Brian Mier on Brazil’s election

      This week on CounterSpin: Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has said he supports dictatorship and torture, that religious and ethnic “minorities must fit in or simply disappear,” that his political opponents should “leave or go to jail,” that the only problem with Brazil’s military dictatorship is that they didn’t kill enough people, that police should have “carte blanche” to kill whoever they like, and that he’d rather his own son be dead than be gay. The analysis offered by a Washington Post headline, then, that “Bolsonaro’s Victory May Mean Further Shifts in Tolerance and Moderation,” might seem to be a bad joke, were it not that such pieces are all some US media consumers may encounter.

      Migrants at the southern border seeking asylum from violence fomented by US policy underscore that we really are one world, interrelated. So how are US readers to understand what’s happening in Brazil, and its American flag-saluting, rape joke-making, Hitler-admiring president?

      We talked this week with Brian Mier. He’s an editor at Brasil Wire, as well as a freelance writer and producer. He also edited the book Voices of the Brazilian Left, a collection of interviews. He’ll join us from Brazil, where he’s lived for more than two decades.

    • Unequal Justice: Will the Supreme Court Change the Rules of Double Jeopardy to Benefit Trump and Manafort?

      In all likelihood, Terance Martez Gamble never thought he’d become a party in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, let alone one on “double jeopardy”—the principle, inscribed in the Fifth Amendment, that prohibits criminal defendants from being tried and convicted twice for the same offense.

      Yet that’s exactly what has happened to Gamble, a twenty-nine-year-old Alabama man with an eleventh-grade education, who is doing time in federal prison after being separately prosecuted by state and federal authorities for the same 2015 gun-possession crime. He is the petitioner in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court called, Gamble vs. The United States of America.

      Gamble’s lawyers maintain that his dual prosecutions run afoul of double jeopardy and the Fifth Amendment. The high court on December 6 heard oral argument on his appeal in an eighty-minute session, a sign of the heightened importance of the issues raised. Normally, the court devotes only an hour to oral argument.

      The case, which has divided civil rights lawyers and civil liberties groups, could impact Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and affect President Donald Trump’s ability to pardon such targets of the probe as Paul Manafort, who are potentially exposed to both federal and state criminal liability.

    • ‘Stand Up, Fight Back!’ Protestors Storm Capitol as Michigan GOP Moves Ahead With Lame-Duck Coup

      As Michigan Republicans move ahead with a raft of legislation that would dramatically weaken the authority of the state’s newly elected Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, hundreds of outraged protestors flooded the capitol building in Lansing on Wednesday to denounce the GOP’s anti-democratic power grab.

      “The people, united, will never be defeated!” demonstrators chanted as they condemned the Republican bills, which closely mirror “outrageous” measures that sailed through the Wisconsin legislature last month despite a wave of grassroots opposition.

    • The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working

      Good news for humanity: the NRA is weakening. The gun-lobbying group is in “deep financial trouble,” Fortune Magazine reported, and warns that the NRA may not be able to keep going. “The group says it is under such financial distress because New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has convinced a number of financial service providers, banks, and insurance providers against doing business with the gun-advocacy group. As a result, the NRA claims that it will be forced to end its magazine publishing and television services, and will be forced to curtail rallies and potentially shutter some of its offices.”

      Governor Cuomo got a lot of credit for what, in reality, took an entire movement comprising hundreds of organizations. (For many reasons, business magazines tend to downplay the powerful role of social movements in economic shifts.) The reality is clear to those who have been following the Parkland students and movement groups like #NotOneMore and Everytown for Gun Safety: their strategies are working and the governor is a welcome ally.

      Symbolic protests work best when they are used to galvanize acts of economic noncooperation like boycotts, divestments, and severing business ties. The strength of such protests lies in their ability to raise the stakes of inaction for power holders. By compelling power holders to rise out of complacency, silence, and avoidance of the issues, movements can pressure power holders to use their leverage for tangible social justice changes. When people like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo throw their clout into getting businesses and organizations to withdraw economic and social support from the NRA, the impact is immediate. By highlighting that the choice is between kids (and others) lives and the greed of the NRA and gun industry, the youth-led protests, marches, speeches, and rallies have led to increasing numbers of people and businesses cutting ties with the NRA.

      Many companies have dumped the NRA over the years: the National Teachers Union dumped Wells Fargo over NRA ties. Enterprise, Avis, Budget car rentals, Delta and United airlines, and Wyndham and Best Western hotels have all stopped offering NRA discounts. The NRA claims that losing “perks” will not deter their members from pushing for their constitutional rights and civil liberties. Many people involved in the movement to end gun violence, however, feel it is important that NRA members aren’t being rewarded by corporations. In their minds, those who actively block legislation for gun control of automatic assault weapons shouldn’t enjoy special privileges while our children are being massacred.

    • Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule

      As Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan are using lame-duck sessions to overturn the outcome of last month’s elections, throwing aside long-standing procedures and basic democratic principles, House Democrats seem determined to throw up roadblocks to limit what they can do with their new majority

      Specifically, likely Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is proposing the House adopt pay-as-you-go (paygo) rules that require all new spending be offset with either budget cuts or tax increases.

      These rules would also prohibit any new taxes on the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution. Overturning the rules would require a 60 percent supermajority, which means that a substantial number of Republicans would have to be pulled along to get passage.

      To see why this is such a poor idea, it’s only necessary to think of many of the proposals that Democrats floated in the recent election.

      There is considerable support among Democrats for “Medicare for All,” extending the Medicare program to the whole population. While many do not interpret this as meaning an immediate extension of Medicare to everyone, even lowering the qualifying age to 55 or 60 will mean additional spending.

    • Donald Trump Is Under the Bus

      Just after noon on Wednesday, the personal lawyer to the president of the United States was sentenced in federal court to 36 months in prison.

      Think about that.

      “Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s long-time consigliere and Man Who Knows All Secrets had his world turned inside out like a laundered sock on Monday morning,” I wrote on April 11 of this year, “when the FBI basically raided every place he’s ever spent more than five minutes. Cohen’s home, office and hotel all got the treatment courtesy of the office of the United States attorney for the southern district of New York, operating off a tip from special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigative team.”

      Eight months and a day later, here we are.

      The day of reckoning finally arrived for Donald Trump’s long-time attorney, fixer and bagman. Cohen, who once walked the streets of New York with the strut of a man who thought he could knock over buildings, finally had the building fall on him. Everyone whose arm Cohen ever twisted on behalf of Trump likely watched the network coverage of his sentencing as if it were the last 10 seconds of the Super Bowl and their team was on top.

    • British Security Service Infiltration, the Integrity Initiative and the Institute for Statecraft

      The British state can maintain its spies’ cover stories for centuries. Look up Eldred Pottinger, who for 180 years appears in scores of British history books – right up to and including William Dalrymple’s Return of the King – as a British officer who chanced to be passing Herat on holiday when it came under siege from a partly Russian-officered Persian army, and helped to organise the defences. In researching Sikunder Burnes, I discovered and published from the British Library incontrovertible and detailed documentary evidence that Pottinger’s entire journey was under the direct instructions of, and reporting to, British spymaster Alexander Burnes. The first historian to publish the untrue “holiday” cover story, Sir John Kaye, knew both Burnes and Pottinger and undoubtedly knew he was publishing lying propaganda. Every other British historian of the First Afghan War (except me and latterly Farrukh Husain) has just followed Kaye’s official propaganda.

      Some things don’t change. I was irresistibly reminded of Eldred Pottinger just passing Herat on holiday, when I learnt how highly improbable left wing firebrand Simon Bracey-Lane just happened to be on holiday in the United States with available cash to fund himself, when he stumbled into the Bernie Sanders campaign.

    • ‘Sore Loser Loses Again’: Federal Judge Rejects GOP Lawsuit, Defends Mainers’ Right to Ranked Choice Voting

      In the latest rebuke to Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s (R-Maine) repeated attempts to hold onto his seat in Maine’s 2nd congressional district after losing the midterm election, a federal judge threw out his lawsuit in which the two-term congressman claimed the state’s use of ranked choice voting (RCV) was unconstitutional and unfair to voters.

      Local advocacy groups applauded as U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker rejected Poliquin’s claim that the use of RCV, which has been endorsed repeatedly by Maine voters, violates Mainers’ First Amendment rights and the Voting Rights Act, as well as his argument that the system is confusing to voters.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • EFF To U.S. Supreme Court: Rule Carefully In Free Speech Case About Private Operators, State Actors, and the First Amendment

      Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide an opportunity for everyone to have a voice on the Internet, to communicate with friends, post their views, and comment on movies or the president. However, the fact that they provide a broad, open platform for speech doesn’t automatically mean they are “public forums” in the sense your town’s official Facebook page or @realDonaldTrump are. Those are run by the government or its officials, who, when it comes to the First Amendment, are “state actors” and can’t block people from the forum without complying with First Amendment standards. Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, are platforms created and run by corporations, which are private entities that can curate and edit content.

      The distinction between private entities and state actors providing forums for communication is crucial for the free speech rights of Internet users and the platforms they use. In a brief filed yesterday in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, we explained that private entities do not become state actors simply by providing their own platforms for use by other speakers.

      The case before the court, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, doesn’t actually involve social media platforms—it’s about whether a public access television station is a state actor that violated the First Amendment rights of two producers by taking down their videos that criticized the station. But the court’s decision could have a profound impact on online speech. Here’s why: the television station is operated by a privately owned nonprofit. The State of New York has no control over or say in the station’s content. It does appoint two of the nonprofit’s 13-member board of directors. A lower court ruled that the station was an arm of the state actor and couldn’t block the videos.

    • What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us

      There are many things wrong with ideologues. Here I mean those who see the world through a narrow dogma. It is as if they wear figurative blinders, like those real ones placed on draft horses, so as to prevent their gaze from wondering away from a designated path. As a consequence ideologues can sometimes be embarrassing—making gross general pronouncements based on the narrowest sets of beliefs and expecting the world to go along. Often they are just boring. However, give them a modicum of power and they can become downright dangerous.

      For instance, take the recent dustup at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It started when Marc Lamont Hill, a tenured professor holding an endowed chair in the School of Media and Communications, gave a speech at the United Nations. The occasion was the U.N.’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Hill, who is a longstanding critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, summarized the official discrimination practiced by Israel against the Palestinians—that is he laid out examples of Zionist Israel’s racist nature and practice—and then “endorsed a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

    • If You’re Worried About Bad EU Internet Regulation, Just Wait Until You See The New Terrorist Regulation

      This seems to be the year for awful internet regulation by the EU. At least there were some redeeming qualities in the GDPR, but they were few and far between, and much of the GDPR is terrible and is creating real problems for free speech online, while simultaneously, undermining privacy and giving repressive governments a new tool to go after critics. Oh, and in the process, it has only made Google that much more dominant in Europe, harming competition.

      And, then, of course, there’s the still ongoing debate about the EU Copyright Directive, which will also be hellish on free speech. The entire point of Article 13 in that Directive is to wipe away the intermediary liability protections that enable websites to host your content. Without such protections, it is not difficult to see how it will lead to a widespread stifling of ideas, not to mention many smaller platforms for hosting content exiting the market entirely.

      But here’s the thing: both of those EU regulations are absolutely nothing compared to the upcoming EU Terrorist Regulation. We mentioned this a bit back in August, with the EU Commission pushing for the rule that all terrorist content must be taken down in an hour or face massive fines and possible criminal liability. Earlier this year, Joan Barata at Stanford wrote a compelling paper detailing just how extreme parts of the proposed regulation will go.

      Among the many questionable bits of the Terrorist Regulation are that it will apply no matter how small a platform is and even if they’re not in the EU, so long as the EU claims they have a “significant number” of EU users. Also, if a platform isn’t even based in the EU, part of the proposal would require the companies to hire a “representative” in the EU to respond to these takedown demands. If the government orders a platform to take down “terrorist” content, a platform has to take it down within an hour and then set up “proactive measures” to stop the same content from ever being uploaded (i.e., mandatory filters).

    • Arkansas Politician Introduces Bill To Make It Illegal For Social Media Companies To Block Content He Likes

      Arkansas state rep Johnny Rye is in galaxy mind mode. He’s introduced a bill that aims to stop “censorship” by social media platforms by allowing the government to compel speech. I’m sure the irony is lost on Rye. But it’s probably not the only thing sailing over Rep. Rye’s head. (h/t Sarah McLaughlin)

      What Rye is trying to stop is social media companies moderating their own platforms. He appears to feel conservatives are being “censored” by Facebook, Twitter, etc. and thinks rolling over the First Amendment and Section 230 immunity is going to cure this perceived ill.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Privacy Coalition to Congress: Don’t Dismantle Stronger State Data Privacy Laws 18:55

      After years of claiming self-regulation would keep them in line, big tech companies spooked by new state data privacy safeguards are now calling for a national privacy law—one that would roll back these vital state protections.

      We are one of sixteen consumer privacy and civil rights groups to remind Congress that while we support federal baseline data privacy legislation that provides basic protection for all Americans, such a law must not come at the price of dismantling (or as lawyers say, “preempting”) the legal rights of people who live in states with stronger data privacy protections.

      State governments across the country have stepped up in the fight to strengthen privacy, with laws that grant their citizens important protections—such as a right to know what personal information companies collect about them (California), the right to decide whether to share biometric information with companies (Illinois), and protection from fraudulent collection of their data (Vermont).

    • How HTTPS Everywhere Keeps Protecting Users On An Increasingly Encrypted Web

      Way back in 2010, we launched our popular browser extension HTTPS Everywhere as part of our effort to encrypt the web. At the time, the need for HTTPS Everywhere to protect browsing sessions was as obvious as the threats were ever-present. The threats may not be as clear now, but HTTPS Everywhere is still as important to users as ever.

      In 2010, HTTPS Everywhere was a novel extension. It allowed users to automatically use the secure version of websites that offered both insecure HTTP and secure, encrypted HTTPS. Sites such as Google had only recently exposed to users the option to search using HTTPS. Facebook had not yet allowed users to browse the site securely. The dangers of insecure browsing were demonstrated by the powerful browser extension Firesheep, which intercepted HTTP packets and allowed attackers on the same WiFi network as their victims to hijack browsing sessions when logged in to popular sites. Firesheep provided a simple point-and-click interface to perform this “session hijacking” attack – no need for terminal screens or complicated command-line tools. Tools with similar functionality had existed for a while, but anyone could install Firesheep with minimal effort.

      Fast forward to 2018. HTTPS is more prevalent than ever, and continuing to take big strides. On July 24, Google announced that users of its Chrome browser would see HTTP sites labeled as “not secure.” And a Google transparency report shows that between 71% and 90% of page loads are over HTTPS as of December 2018. The vast majority of the top sites not only offer HTTPS, but automatically redirect to the HTTPS version of the site when you connect over HTTP. This has led a lot of people to ask a very good question: what’s the point of using HTTPS Everywhere anymore? Why should we use it when sites are already forwarding us to the secure version?

    • A Heartbroken Mom’s Letter To Tech Companies Criticizes Their ‘Smart’ Algorithms

      A devastated mom, via an open letter to tech companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Experian has criticized their flawed algorithms for displaying incessant baby related adverts, even though she gave birth to a stillborn child.

      The open letter, via a tweet, expressed the sorrow of the heartbroken Gillian Brockell (a Washington Post journalist) and further threw light on her ‘always-online’ presence on social media and how the tech companies tracked her pregnancy.

    • Research Writeup: Deanonymization and Proximity Detection Using Wi-Fi

      If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that I did research at Colgate University over the summers. My research was on Wi-Fi and how I can do some interesting stuff using it. The university just published its annual catalogue of all the research projects which happened over the summer. My research was done under the mentorship of Aaron Gember-Jacobson. I could not have asked for a better advisor. Here is the writeup of my project:

      According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), 23.1% of female and 5.4% of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault, with only a minute percentage reporting their assault to law enforcement1. In certain cases, survivors can forget who the perpetrator was due to trauma and/or intoxication. I want to use technology to counter this problem. My hope is to reduce the number of potential culprits when such an incident occurs to make it easier for the survivor to identify the perpetrator.

      This can be made possible by using a device that most people carry at all times – a smartphone. The idea is to save the device identifier and the distance between your phone and that of each person who comes near you in a searchable database. This allows you, the user, to search for which device was near you at a particular time. The research is further divided into two parts. The first involved finding a way to effectively calculate the relative distance between two smartphones and the second involved information storage and querying. I focused mainly on the first part, which turned out to be more difficult and involved than I anticipated.

    • GCHQ to expand bulk device hacking practices

      Intelligence agencies in the UK are gearing up to significantly expand their large-scale data hacking operations in an effort to more effectively identify potential national security threats.

      Civil liberties groups and digital privacy advocates are raising concerns over what such an expansion of the “bulk equipment interference regime” (EI) would mean for the personal privacy of ordinary citizens.

      The bulk EI regime is the framework which allows for GCHQ agents to hack into individual phones, computers, USB sticks, and even entire communication networks. The expansion of EI has privacy experts worried that this would allow government agencies in the UK free reign to run mass snooping operations unchecked and unrestricted.

    • Supermicro says independent investigation found no spy chips on its motherboards

      San Jose-based server manufacturer Supermicro has written to its customers to tell them that an independent audit has found no evidence that malicious chips were planted on its motherboards.

      The claims that Supermicro’s servers, used by the likes of Apple and Amazon, had been interfered with by the Chinese somewhere along its supply chain first surfaced in October in an extraordinary report from Bloomberg Business Week.

      The claim, which Bloomberg claimed had been confirmed by umpteen unnamed current and former senior national security officials, as well as insiders at Apple and Amazon, was treated with caution by many members of the security community.

    • Amazon’s Disturbing Plan to Add Face Surveillance to Your Front Door

      Amazon’s patent application for doorbell cameras provides a roadmap for the company’s vision of a surveillance-heavy future.
      Recently, a patent application from Amazon became public that would pair face surveillance — like Rekognition, the product that the company is aggressively marketing to police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — with Ring, a doorbell camera company that Amazon bought earlier this year.

      While the details are sketchy, the application describes a system that the police can use to match the faces of people walking by a doorbell camera with a photo database of persons they deem “suspicious.” Likewise, homeowners can also add photos of “suspicious” people into the system and then the doorbell’s facial recognition program will scan anyone passing their home. In either case, if a match occurs, the person’s face can be automatically sent to law enforcement, and the police could arrive in minutes.

      As a former patent litigator, I’ve spent a lot of time reading patents. It’s rare for patent applications to lay out, in such nightmarish detail, the world a company wants to bring about. Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future, with its technology at the center of a massive decentralized surveillance network, running real-time facial recognition on members of the public using cameras installed in people’s doorbells.

    • Taylor Swift tracked stalkers with facial recognition tech at her concert

      US artists haven’t previously been publicized for using facial recognition tech at their concerts. However, the legality of doing so is on the artist’s side: a concert is technically a private event, therefore event organizers can subject concert-goers to almost any kind of surveillance.

    • Taylor Swift used facial recognition tech at concerts to spy on stalkers

      Taylor Swift used facial recognition technology at her live performances so that technicians running the system could then check those face scans against a private database of her stalkers.

    • The Future of Entertainment

      Taylor Swift fans mesmerized by rehearsal clips on a kiosk at her May 18th Rose Bowl show were unaware of one crucial detail: A facial-recognition camera inside the display was taking their photos. The images were being transferred to a Nashville “command post,” where they were cross-referenced with a database of hundreds of the pop star’s known stalkers, according to Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group, an advisory board for concert venues including Madison Square Garden and the Forum in L.A. “Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” says Downing, who attended the concert to witness a demo of the system as a guest of the company that manufactures the kiosks. (Swift’s reps did not respond to requests for comment.) Despite the obvious privacy concerns — for starters, who owns those pictures of concertgoers and how long can they be kept on file? — the use of facial-recognition technology is on the rise at stadiums and arenas, and security is not the only goal. Earlier this year, Ticketmaster invested in Blink Identity, a startup that claims its sensors can identify people walking past at full speed in about half a second. The ticketing giant hopes the technology will help fans move through turnstiles more efficiently, a privilege that may be offered to high rollers and VIP guests before it reaches the masses. “It holds a lot of promise,” says Justin Burleigh, Ticketmaster’s chief product officer, adding that the company plans to beta-test the tech at venues early next year. “We’re just being very careful about where and how we implement it.” — Steve Knopper

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Activist Zeros In on Canada’s Indigenous Women

      Cherry Smiley, born in Kamloops, British Columbia, is an artist, feminist activist, survivor of male abuse and aspiring politician from an indigenous background. Her mother’s side of the family is Nlaka’pamux and her father’s is Diné. “My maternal grandmother is a huge influence on my life. She’s 96, hilarious, and says what she thinks,” Smiley says.

      Smiley also is a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University in Montreal. Her research aims to help end male violence against women and girls in Canada, with a focus on indigenous women and girls. She is critical of Canada’s response to the number indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing in recent decades.

      I first met Smiley in 2015. She told me a story about speaking on a panel about the sex trade in Vancouver, which a number of indigenous women had attended. This topic is painfully relevant to them.

      Smiley told me, “The women in the audience were asking questions and they were great, but they were [furious], of course. The organizers were threatening to call the police on the aboriginal women in the room because we were too savage and out of control, and [they worried that] these ‘angry Indians’ [were] going to storm the panel.

    • The Use of Civil Asset Forfeiture in New Jersey Is Broken

      Claimants challenge forfeitures in just 3 percent of cases, allowing the state to seize millions’ worth of people’s property in a rigged process.
      I’ve spent the last year representing people in civil asset forfeiture cases across New Jersey. It looks nothing like justice.

      In theory, civil asset forfeiture empowers law enforcement authorities to deprive individuals of the ill-gotten gains associated with criminal activity. In reality, civil asset forfeiture grants law enforcement authorities effective impunity to steal from the public to enrich their departments.

      The ACLU of New Jersey recently issued a report on the use of civil asset forfeiture in our state, and the findings are alarming. The forfeiture system is failing all New Jerseyans — especially those in low-income communities and communities of color. In most cases I’ve seen this year, claimants won their money or property back. But they are the exceptions — not for having winning cases but for coming forward to make the government prove its claims.

    • Elkhart’s Acting Police Chief Has Previously Been Demoted, Reprimanded and Suspended

      When Ed Windbigler was suspended last month as the police chief in Elkhart, Indiana, his No. 2, Todd Thayer, became the Police Department’s public face, appearing at a town hall meeting, before a civilian oversight commission and on the radio.

      In each setting, Thayer defended the department — the “thin blue line” protecting law-abiding citizens from “predators” and “all the other garbage” — and attacked the media, with references to “tabloid” journalism and “ambush reporting.”

      On Monday, Windbigler resigned under pressure from Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese, who said he wants “new leadership” after reports by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica about how Windbigler minimized the beating of a handcuffed man. The news organizations have also reported that Windbigler repeatedly promoted officers with disciplinary histories. Efforts to reach Windbigler for comment have been unsuccessful.

    • Chicago Organizers Have Message For Next Mayor: Support People’s Agenda Or Face Resistance

      “The West Side is the heartbeat of Chicago,” said Janice Peters. “You can get to anywhere from this place anywhere in Chicago.”

      Peters, an organizer with the group Action Now, was with about 50 people, who boarded a bus on a cold, windy November morning to tour several Chicago neighborhoods. They heard from community leaders and talked with each other about what they want the next mayor of Chicago to support.

      The bus tour was organized by the Grassroots Collaborative, a Chicago-based coalition of community groups that organizes around issues of homelessness, immigration, economics, and education. It began at Lincoln Yards, an area along the north branch of the Chicago River slated for massive development by real estate company Sterling Bay.

      From there, the tour made five stops: Jackson Park, the site chosen for the Barack Obama Presidential Library; a public school on the south side; a pair of homes in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood; Roseland Hospital; a “safety net” hospital on the south side, and the site of a proposed new $95 million police academy on the west side.

    • This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants

      This holiday season — a time so often associated with bringing family together — my thoughts keep turning to the families in the migrant caravans making their way to the U.S. southern border.
      I had the privilege of spending four days in Mexico last month with my organization, the American Friends Service Committee, to assess the needs of participants in the caravan and expand human rights monitoring.
      As I crept into my children’s bedrooms to give them a kiss when I got back, resisting the urge to wake them up for cuddling and conversation, I thought about what would make me pick up with them and flee, with little notice and even less information about what would lie ahead.
      Over and over again, our delegation heard of the need for more strollers for the migrant caravan. Could I even imagine dropping everything to walk 3,000 difficult miles with my children in my arms — without even a stroller?

    • Government Reverses Course, Sending 4-Year-Old Boy Back to His Father

      It looked like a happy holiday reunion: A 4-year-old boy wearing a Spider-Man baseball shirt sprinted across an airport baggage claim area in Austin, Texas, late Tuesday night and flung himself into his father’s arms, then immediately pulled toys out of his bag as if trying to catch his father up on all that was new in his life.

      He had a Woody doll from “Toy Story,” a coloring book and stickers. There were a lot more toys in his suitcase, the boy squealed, between hugs and kisses. And, he announced, his eyes widening at the sight of a couple of fake reindeer displayed on baggage carousel 1, he’d seen reindeer for real. “Some of them have horns,” the boy giggled, poking his index fingers from each side of his head.

      This reunion wasn’t about the holidays, however. It was the bittersweet homecoming of a father and son from El Salvador who’d been separated for more than 11 weeks and 1,800 miles for reasons the United States government still has not made entirely clear. Brayan and his father, Julio, are among a small, new wave of family separations that immigration lawyers and advocates say signal an unofficial continuation of the Trump administration’s controversial zero-tolerance policy.

      Brayan, with striking reddish-blond hair, and his 27-year-old father came to the U.S. seeking refuge from gang violence in September but were separated at a border detention facility in Texas. Brayan was sent to temporary foster care in New York, Julio to an immigration detention facility outside San Antonio. ProPublica is not using their last name because the family is worried that Julio’s wife and stepson could face gang threats in El Salvador.

    • To End Fear and Protect Justice, Dozens of Retired Judges Call on ICE to End Courthouse Arrests

      The letter says a January directive (pdf) from ICE, which instructed authorities to only target certain undocumented people—”aliens with criminal convictions, gang members, national security or public safety threats, aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States but have failed to depart, and aliens who have re-entered the country illegally after being removed”—in court and refrain from arresting family members or witnesses, was a step in the right direction.

      However, it charges, “interrupting criminal proceedings with civil immigration arrests undermines the justice system.” Thus, the judges are calling on ICE acting director Ronald Vitiello to extend the “sensitive location” designation—which applies to schools, hospitals, places of worship, and public demonstrations—to local, state, and federal courthouses.

      The need for such action appears especially significant under the Trump administration. As the letter notes, “Federal immigration arrests of individuals appearing in state and local courthouses are not unique to the current administration, but reports suggest there has been a dramatic increase in ICE presence in courthouses over the last two years.”

    • What World Do We Seek?

      If David Attenborough (the British Natural Historian, narrator of the video series, Planet Earth and a national treasure in the U.K.), gives a speech to the UN proclaiming the end of civilization and few hear it, does our world still collapse? If the President releases the Congressional report on climate change on Black Friday and no one heeds it, does it have an impact? If Trump tweets his denial of the substance of the report (which strongly affirms the reality of global warming) – does that mean anything at all? And, if the U.N. releases a chatbot designed to empower the people of the planet (at least, those with access to Facebook) to act in reducing carbon emissions, does that signal a democratization of the process or a profound cynicism as to the likelihood of an organized, intra-government, legislative solution to the climate catastrophe?

      We are being stress-tested on our ability to survive in the multiverse, the fractured continuum of space, time, matter and energy thatmanifests in parallel worlds wherefactual and counterfactual narratives co-exist.

      We are being asked, by our political circumstances, to believe in both truth and untruth, the fake and the real, and yet retain our equanimity. We are being asked to hold two opposed ideas in our mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function – a feat that F. Scott Fitzgerald considered “was the test of a first-rate intelligence”. We are being asked to consume and to conserve; to change and to sustain; to believe in progress – time’s arrow, and in the everlastingness of a regenerative natural world – time’s cycle.

      We are being asked to believe in the possibility of continued fossil-fueled economic growth while that phenomenon’s miasmic specter of global warming threatens to destroy the productivity and habitability of vast swathes of the planet. And, we are being asked, now, to believe that the server farms that support Facebook run on fairy dust.

    • Federal Court Says Massachusetts’ Wiretap Law Can’t Be Used To Arrest People For Recording Public Officials

      Seven years ago, the First Circuit Court of Appeals released its Glik decision. This decision found that recording public officials was protected by the First Amendment, overriding Massachusetts state law. The state wiretap law says recordings must have consent of everyone captured on the recording. The Appeals Court said recording police officers while they performed their duties in public was clearly covered by the First Amendment. The opinion also dealt with some ancillary Fourth Amendment issues, but seemingly made it clear these recordings were protected activity.

      The law remained on the books unaltered. Thanks to legislative inaction, the law is still capable of being abused. Since the Appeals Court didn’t declare the law unconstitutional, or even this application of it, it has taken another federal court decision nearly a decade later to straighten this out. (h/t Courthouse News Service)

      The ruling [PDF] deals with two First Amendment cases. One deals with activists recording cops. The other deals with another set of activists — James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas — and its secret recording of Democratic politicians. The specifics might be a bit different, but the outcome is the same: recording public officials is protected by the First Amendment. The state law is unconstitutional.

    • The Supreme Court Judgement and Scotland’s Colonial Status

      London’s Supreme Court, sitting in judgement on its Scottish colony, has ruled that parts of the Scottish Government’s UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill exceed the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

      The judgement is absolutely specific that the Scottish Bill breaches both the Scotland Act, the original devolution settlement, and the Tory/DUP government’s recent European Union (Withdrawal) Act, which rolled back devolution, grabbed powers from the Scottish Parliament over previously devolved areas and wrenched them back to Westminster. The Tory/DUP European Union (Withdrawal) Act Schedule 4 specified that it overruled the Scotland Act devolution settlement.

      If you carefully read the judgement, especially paras 47 to 65, the Supreme Court has gone still further than ever before in saying that neither the Scotland Act nor the Sewell Convention in any way limits the power of the UK Parliament to legislate for Scotland, even in devolved areas, without any need for consent from Scottish ministers or parliament. They even go so far as to specifically state that London ministers have an untrammelled power under the Scotland Act, without needing consent from Scotland or specific further endorsement from the Westminster parliament, to impose secondary legislation on Scotland.

    • Facing Pressure, McConnell Agrees to Criminal Justice Vote

      Under pressure from President Donald Trump and many of his Republican colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he will bring legislation to the floor to overhaul the nation’s federal sentencing laws.

      McConnell’s decision comes after more than three years of overtures from a large, bipartisan group of senators who support the criminal justice bill. Trump announced his support for the legislation last month, but McConnell treaded cautiously as a handful of members in his caucus voiced concerns that it would be too soft on violent criminals.

      Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican, said Trump’s push for the legislation was “critical to the outcome.”

    • FBI Files Show Agents Tracked Non-Violent 350.org Climate Activists as Part of ‘Domestic Terrorism Case’

      When the U.S.-based 350.org launched its ‘Break Free From Fossil Fuels’ campaign in May of 2106, the global climate justice group called the multi-week set of coordinated actions “largest civil disobedience in the history of the environmental movement.”

      With hundreds of actions taking place on six continents, the whole world was watching—and, according to newly-released documents, was the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

      Obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Guardian published previously unseen FBI files on Thursday showing the agency tracking peaceful protesters in the U.S. who participated in some of the ‘Break Free’ demonstrations.

    • The Phrase “Border Security” Freezes My Soul Every Time

      “This is a national emergency,” Donald Trump said. “Drugs are pouring into our country. People with tremendous medical difficulty and medical problems are pouring in, and in many cases it’s contagious. They’re pouring into our country. We have to have border security. We have to have a wall as part of border security.”

      Seal up that border, with rifles and tear gas and concertina wire . . . and The Wall. The alternative, apparently, is an insecure border, wide open and unprotected. This seems to be the entirety of the “debate” over on this side of the border. Trump’s opponents may be horrified by the border patrol’s cruel treatment of asylum seekers — the tear-gassing of toddlers, for God’s sake — but surely everyone understands that the border has to be protected and secured. Right?


      This question leads us directly to the present flow of immigrants from the south — particularly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, Central America’s Northern Triangle.

    • Can Socialism Save Democracy?

      A consensus is emerging on the left that capitalism produces inequality, which leads to oligarchy, which undermines democracy, and paves the way to fascism; and only socialism can save democracy, because it can break the oligarchy, which will restore equality, so democracy can function effectively.

      It is a simple argument that is easily over applied, for modern democracy has always come coupled with markets. But it is an important argument that needs to be taken seriously, for inequality has threatened democracy, by fracturing the citizenry and producing oligarchy, since at least the time of Aristotle.

      Economic equality produces the shared basis of experience through which citizens might arrive at a national consensus. Shared experiences facilitate the social integration of autonomous individuals and ethnic minorities alike and produce the middle classes that might keep the wealthy in check.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The FBI Is Now Looking Into Those Bogus Net Neutrality Comments

      According to the NY AG’s office, about 9.5 million of the more than 22 million comments filed with the FCC during the repeal’s open comment period were filed using peoples’ names without their consent (including my own and those of two Senators). Last October, the New York AG announced they had expanded their probe, issuing subpoenas to both numerous ISP-linked lobbying and policy organizations (like the industry’s dubious Broadband for America policy vessel) as well as a few pro net neutrality consumer groups.

      Last week, numerous outlets falsely reported that “Russia” was behind these comments. There’s no actual evidence of that (500,000 Russian email addresses were used, but that doesn’t mean Russia itself was involved). As we’ve seen during the similar bogus comments plaguing other US government proceedings in recent years, the usual culprit is almost always the companies that stand to benefit from the regulatory efforts in question, since there’s several DC policy shops that apparently sell these kinds of services (read: bogus support for terrible policies) as a value added service.

      And while it’s pretty clear that the Ajit Pai FCC doesn’t want anybody knowing which firm tried to stuff the ballot box and who was funding the initiative, the involvement of the DOJ and several additional AG offices means hiding the truth just got immeasurably more difficult. And depending what investigators find, that could seriously complicate next February’s opening arguments in the net neutrality lawsuit against the FCC, which, if the FCC and its ISP allies lose, could end with the restoration of the FCC’s 2015 rules, bringing us fill circle.

    • The FCC Has Made the Same Mistake for Text Messaging That It Did for Net Neutrality

      Almost exactly a year ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to strip net neutrality protections from the Internet and reclassify Internet Service Providers as an “information service” rather than a “common carrier” telecommunications one. This year, the FCC has voted to classify text messaging the same way.

      This classification is not just a minor legal technicality. It can have real effects on our ability to use text messaging for political speech and supporting charities. This is why EFF joined 19 other groups in signing a letter urging FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to either classify SMS and short codes as a common carrier or, at the least, wait to make a decision until the effects of classifying text messaging as an information service could be studied under today’s circumstances.

    • New FCC Data Indicates Future Broadband Access for Most Americans Will Be a Monopoly

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) produced its first Communications Marketplace Report, a biannual report recently required by Congress, to comprehensively assess the status of America’s communications and media market. And here’s the good news: if what you want is a choice of slow, outdated Internet, then the United States market looks great.

      The major takeaway of this report, which provides policymakers in D.C. and the states a wide-ranging view of available data to see trends in the Internet, is that competition for broadband only looks good at slow speeds while a vast majority of Americans (EFF estimates at least 68 million) are facing monopoly or no access to high-speed broadband. In comparison to our international counterparts, the FCC currently ranks the U.S. in fifth place globally (an improvement from our 11th place showing last year) for fixed broadband speeds and 23rd place for mobile broadband speeds (yet curiously found that we have universal access to 4G LTE networks).

      In short, we still do not have an accurate picture of how bad the broadband monopoly problem is. The methodology the FCC relies on for collecting information is flawed. Namely, if one household in a census block has broadband, the data reports that an entire census block has access to the same service. The agency acknowledges that this risks overcounting deployment, but does not describe its plan to improve data collection.

    • Big Telecom Claims Oversight & Accountability Violates Its First Amendment Rights

      The Ajit Pai FCC’s attacks on net neutrality have received ample attention. Less talked about is the fact that the attack on net neutrality was just one part of a much broader effort to eliminate what was already pretty tepid oversight of one of the least liked and least competitive tech sectors in America.

      The Pai FCC’s Orwellian-named “Restoring Internet Freedom” order not only killed net neutrality rules, it dramatically rolled back FCC authority over big ISPs like Comcast, shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC ISP lobbyists know full well lacks the authority or attention span for telecom oversight. In addition to that, the FCC (again at big telecom’s behest) has set about trying to claim states can’t protect consumers either. With neither competition nor state or federal oversight keeping natural monopolies in line, it shouldn’t take a degree in genetics to ferret out the potential pitfalls.

    • FCC Says It Will Finally Investigate Nation’s Bullshit Broadband Availability Maps. Maybe.

      For years we’ve noted how the FCC’s broadband availability maps are just comically bad. If you’d like to confirm that take, you can just plug your home address into the agency’s $350 million broadband availability map and watch as entire ISPs and speed availability are largely hallucinated. This is a problem that never gets fixed, largely because the nation’s entrenched broadband providers (and the politicians paid to love them) have a vested interest in pretending that the US broadband industry isn’t just an aggressive hodge-podge of broken monopolies and duopolies nickel-and-diming the hell out of captive customers.
      Senators have been bitching about the maps a little more lately as states vie for FCC Mobility Fund Phase II Auction subsidies, which will dole out $4.5 billion to under-connected states over the next decade. Back in August, Montana Senator Jon Tester went so far as to suggest that said maps “stink” and that somebody should have their “ass kicked” for the terrible data the FCC uses for both subsidies and policy.
      Last Friday the Sisyphean quest to stop our maps from sucking turned an interesting corner, when the FCC announced (pdf) it was finally launching an investigation into whether “one or more” mobile carriers submitted false coverage data to the FCC. The FCC appears to be responding to a complaint (pdf) filed earlier this year by the Rural Wireless Association (RWA), which stated that Verizon was “grossly overstating” the company’s 4G LTE broadband coverage in its filings with the FCC.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Value of Patent Applications in Valuing Firms

      These are all good questions that are difficult to measure, and so scholars try to use natural experiments or other empirical methods to divine the answer. In a recent draft, Deepak Hegde, Baruch Lev, and Chenqi Zhu (all NYU Stern Business) use the AIPA to provide some useful answers. For those unaware, the AIPA mandated that patent applications be published after 18 months by default, rather than held secretly until patent grant. The AIPA is the law that keeps on giving; there have been several studies that use the “shock” of the AIPA to measure what effect patent publications had on a variety of dependent variables.


      They find that price discovery is faster after the AIPA. Interestingly, they also find that the effect is more pronounced in high-tech and fast moving fields — that is, industries where new R&D information is critically important.

    • Patent case: Judgment no. 550/2018, Spain

      In a Judgment dated 26 July 2018, the influential Barcelona Court of Appeal (Section 15) rejected an overly narrow, “literalistic” interpretation of a patent claim. A claim’s terms must be interpreted according to the meaning that a person skilled in the art would give them – even if it is not the most scientifically “puristic” interpretation – also taking account of the patent’s description.

    • Qualcomm says a Chinese court has banned sales of older iPhones nationwide

      Qualcomm says it has scored an important victory in its long-running global patent battle with Apple over patent rights. According to Qualcomm, a Chinese court ruled that several recent iPhone models infringe multiple Qualcomm software patents and has ordered a nationwide ban on iPhone sales. Apple says it has already appealed the ruling.

      The ruling occurred on November 30, but Qualcomm announced the ruling today.

      Apple has downplayed the ruling’s significance, telling media outlets that the ban has not yet taken effect and that it only applies to older versions of iOS software, not to the current version, iOS 12. The ruling also only applies to older iPhone models—including the iPhone 8 and iPhone X—but not to the iPhone XS and XR.

    • Pemetrexed: Italian Court reversed the first instance decision ordering a PI on the basis of Eli Lilly’s patent
    • Novartis AG v. Ezra Ventures LLC (Fed. Cir. 2018)

      In Novartis AG v. Ezra Ventures LLC, the Federal Circuit addressed a narrow but important question regarding its jurisprudence on the issue of obviousness-type double patenting (OTPD). That question was whether its decision in Gilead Sciences Inc. v. Natco Pharma Ltd., which established that a first patent filed earlier than a second patent but that issued later, could be used to invalidate the second patent on OTDP grounds, if the reason the later-expiring patent was later-expiring was due to Patent Term Extension under 35 U.S.C. § 156.


      The Federal Circuit affirmed, in an opinion by Judge Chen joined by Judges Moore and Hughes. The panel first addressed Ezra Venture’s argument that extension of the ’229 patent by Patent Term Extension also (improperly) extended the term of the ’565 patent. As an initial matter, the opinion notes that “nothing in the statute restricts the patent owner’s choice for patent term extension among those patents whose terms have been partially consumed by the regulatory review process,” despite it not being uncommon for a patented drug to also be the subject of patents on “a product, a method of using that product, and/or a method of manufacturing the product.” The panel agreed with the District Court that Congress did not choose language that would preclude extension of a patent on a drug product because it also “effectively” extends the patent, for example, on a method of using that drug product. Here, only one patent term was extended — the ’229 patent — and this satisfies the statutory mandate and does not violate § 156(c)(4).

    • Facebook and ZeniMax settle legal battle over Oculus VR and stolen secrets

      Among those hires was John Carmack, the well-known co-founder of id Software (which ZeniMax owns) who joined Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, and the rest of the Oculus VR team in 2013 before Facebook bought the VR company for $2 billion. Variety and CNBC reported news of the settlement.

    • Trademarks

      • Russia: Analysing the case of Lunos v Linos

        Despite the seemingly unlimited choice of words and the vast imagination of people, collision between similar words, real or coined, is not infrequent. In normal life these words are homonyms or homophones and do not pose any problems in everyday activities. It is a different story in the world of intellectual property. Same or similar words may mean different things but in the eyes of the consumer they are the same and for businesses they may mean loss.

        Long ago, there was an international registration No 754940 covering in Russia and other countries the trade mark LINOS with priority of the year 2000 for goods in Class 10. Later, another international trade mark No 1279699 LUNOS was extended to Russia for the goods in Classes 3, 5, 21 and 10. The patent office recognised registration in all classes except 10. The reason for rejection was the confusing similarity of the trade marks.

      • Under Armour Can’t Help But Issue A Cease And Desist For Tiny Clothier Cascade Armory

        Athletic clothing maker Under Armour has graced our fair pages a few times in the past, always for being on exactly the wrong side of the trademark equation. Between trying to torpedo tiny Christian companies like Armor & Glory, and ensuring that every member of the public is aware that its own executives don’t have a sense of humor that they are aware of by suing Ass Armor, the mega-company has been quite busy making sure the entire world knows that only it is allowed to use the word “Armour.” Notably important in all of this is that the company is exactly wrong in this claim, as trademark law nearly always comes down to whether customers will be confused by the use of words and trade dress, and it is not a platform for a single company being able to lock up a fairly common word.

    • Copyrights

      • Canal+ commits copyfraud, gets Banksy’s painting-shredding video removed from Youtube

        In October, a delightful prank by the artist Banksy involved a painting of his shredding itself shortly after a Sotheby’s bidder committed to spending £1.04m to buy it.

        Banksy shot his own video of the stunt and posted it to Youtube. The video was widely reused by news networks in their coverage of the prank, including by the French giant Canal+.

        Canal+ didn’t just make a fair use of Banksy’s video, though: they also fraudulently claimed copyright over his footage with Youtube’s ContentID filter, resulting in his video being censored.

      • School Boots Professor Off Campus After He Exposes Its Complicity In Predatory Publishing Schemes

        Predatory publishing — the pay-for-play practice that allows anyone to have their research published as soon as the check clears — may end up costing a professor his job. Derek Pyne, associate professor of economics at British Columbia’s Thompson Rivers University, has managed to turn his own campus against him simply for telling the uncomfortable truth.
        His 2017 paper, The Rewards of Predatory Publication at a Small Business School, exposed the ugly side effects of the constant pressure on researchers and academics to be published. “Publish or perish,” the saying goes. And if you can’t get published by someone who thinks your research is worth publishing, get published by someone who thinks everyone with enough cash on hand deserves to be published.
        What Pyne found was schools rewarding publication, whether or not the publication was bought and paid for.

      • TV, Sports & Movie Companies Still Freaking Out That EU Copyright Directive Might Include A Safe Harbor For Internet Platforms

        Last week, as the last round of “trilogue” negotiations were getting underway in the EU on the EU Copyright Directive, we noted a strange thing. While tech companies and public interest groups have been speaking out loudly against Article 13, a strange “ally” also started complaining about it: a bunch of TV, movie and sports organizations started complaining that Article 13 was a bad idea. But… for very different reasons. Their concerns were that regulators had actually finally begun to understand the ridiculousness of Article 13 and had been trying to add in some “safe harbors” into the law. Specifically, the safe harbors would make it clear that if platforms followed certain specific steps to try to stop infringing works from their platform, they would avoid liability. But, according to these organizations, safe harbors of any kind are a non-starter.

        Those same groups are back with a new letter that’s even more unhinged and more explicit about this. The real issue is that they recently got a ruling out of a German court that basically said platforms are already liable for any infringement, and they’re now afraid that Article 13 will “soften” that ruling by enabling safe harbors.

      • Tech Giants Warn US Govt. Against EU’s ‘Article 13’ Plans

        The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Cloudflare, Google, and Facebook, is warning the U.S. Government against the EU’s copyright reform plans. According to the tech giants, Article 13 could result in significant economic consequences for the U.S. digital economy, with a possible ripple effect on the rest of the world.

      • Google Gets a Slap on the Wrist For Site-Blocking Failures

        Under Russian law, search engine operators are required to censor their search results to ensure that permanently blocked sites do not appear in their indexes. After failing to comply by interfacing its systems with the national FGIS blacklist database, Google has now been fined 500,000 rubles (US$7,545), the lowest amount that can be levied under existing laws.

      • Clash of the corporate titans: Who’s spending what in Europe’s Copyright Directive battle

        There’s been a lot of money thrown around to determine the future of the Internet in the EU, but despite the frequent assertion that every opponent of the new Copyright Directive is a paid puppet for Google, the numbers tell a different story: according to the watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the entertainment industry are the biggest spenders by far, and they have obscured that fact by using dodgy accounting to make it look like Google is buying out the European Parliament.

Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Decisions Still Uncontroversial Unless One Asks the Patent Maximalists

Posted in America, Patents at 3:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…As Andrei Iancu does

Andrei IancuSummary: Contrary to what the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (on the left) has claimed, PTAB is liked by companies that actually create things and opposition to PTAB comes from power brokers of the Koch brothers, law firms, and trolls (including those who foolishly repeat them)

“On December 12, 2018,” Mr. Jain wrote on the same day (yesterday), “Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 6,697,730, owned and asserted by RideApp, Inc., an NPE. The ‘730 patent, directed to a transit system based on cellular communication, GPS locating technology, and digital computers, has been asserted in district court litigation against Lyft and Juno.”

IPRs filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) are very powerful means by which to invalidate software patents, usually by citing 35 U.S.C. § 101. Appeals to the Federal Circuit then put growing pressure on the USPTO to no longer grant such patents. RideApp, the patent troll, might soon have nothing at all. It’s not a business, it’s a litigation pipeline that might soon have no patents left.

It’s not difficult to see who opposes PTAB and why. Consider what happened earlier this year in Oil States (SCOTUS). We must express disappointment at Camilla Alexandra Hrdy, who has just ignorantly promoted Koch-funded lies (‘scholars’ funded by Big Oil) that call patents “rights” (that's a lie). The misleading term ‘Public Rights’ is even used in her title and perhaps she fails to realise that the person she’s boosting has put these words in Gorsuch's mouth (and even bragged about it in public). Here is what she said:

I greatly enjoyed Professor Adam Mossoff’s new article, Statutes, Common-Law Rights, and the Mistaken Classification of Patents as Public Rights, forthcoming in the Iowa Law Review. Mossoff’s article is written in the wake of Oil States Energy Services v. Green’s Energy Group, where the Supreme Court held it is not unconstitutional for the Patent Trial & Appeals Board (PTAB), an agency in the Department of Commerce, to hear post-issuance challenges to patents, without the process and protections of an Article III court. Justice Thomas’ opinion concluded that patents are “public rights” for purposes of Article III; therefore, unlike, say, property rights in land, patents can be retracted without going through an Article III court.

So the Koch brothers must be happy. The University of Akron School of Law scholar (whom we mentioned here before, even earlier this year [1, 2]) has just amplified deception or lobbying if not AstroTurfing.

PTAB is very difficult for these people to stop; they have tried just about everything, even scams (like piping patents through shells into the hands of tribes in exchange for bribes). They sent me threatening letters for pointing this out.

Earlier this week Donald Zuhn brought up a very old case (mentioned here several times in the past, especially back in January) because a decision got vacated and remanded, not overturned. In Zuhn’s words:

Today, in In re Tropp, the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirming the Examiner’s rejection of claims 29-53 of U.S. Application No. 13/412,233 for lack of sufficient written description under 35 U.S.C. § 112. In vacating the Board’s determination, the Court found that the Board had erred in its analysis.

The claims of the ’233 application are directed to a set of locks for securing luggage and methods of using that set of locks, wherein the locks have two components: a combination lock portion for use by travelers, and a master key portion for use by a luggage-screening entity, and wherein the set of locks has at least two subsets with a different number of dials on the combination lock portion.

This case deals with 35 U.S.C. § 112, which isn’t particularly relevant to is. But again it comes to show that they aren’t quite finding cases that suit their anti-PTAB agenda. Will Watchtroll and other patent maximalists soon try to make a ‘scandal’ out of it? Maybe. But their blogs are barely active anymore, Watchtroll’s founder is stepping down after 2 decades, and as we noted 2 days ago, PTAB is still reaching some record levels. It is not going away.

Latest Talk From IBM’s Manny Schecter Shows That IBM Hasn’t Changed and After the Red Hat Takeover It’ll Continue to Promote Software Patents

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 3:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And don’t forget what David Kappos is doing

Manny Schecter
Photo credit: Esteban Minero

Summary: IBM’s hardheaded attitude and patent aggression unaffected by its strategic acquisition of a company that at least claimed to oppose software patents (whilst at the same time pursuing them)

THE SO-CALLED ‘champion’ of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was, for a number of decades, IBM, based on the number of granted patents.

As IBM takes over Red Hat (not finalised yet) Red Hat could use a reminder that IBM is hostile to software freedom, free software, sharing etc. because it's a propagandist for software patents and it's aligned with 'IP' extremists' front groups. It’s funding them and it’s leading them.

Less than a day ago this article from a site of patent propagandists (pro-patent trolls, pro-UPC, pro-software patents and so on) was published with this summary: “IBM’s Manny Schecter believes public awareness of intellectual property has increased but there has not been a corresponding increase in understanding” (patents are not property).

He mentioned patents specifically:

On the patent side, people often get confused about various aspects of patents, such as the difference between filing and grant date. “All understandable,” noted Schecter.

Those who are intimately familiar with IP do not necessarily help the situation: a second area of confusion, according to Schecter, comes from the public debate around IP. “We argue vigorously for positions in the intellectual property world, and we have a tendency to use a lot of rhetoric and take a lot of extreme positions in trying to make our point,” said Schecter. “Sometimes we actually want that extreme position and sometimes we are just trying to get our point across.”

Schecter urged the audience to close the gap between awareness and understanding by increasing the level of understanding. “We have to figure out how to optimise the benefit of intellectual property,” he said.

Schecter believes that people who say that intellectual property is somehow hurting innovation are really saying is it is not achieving its optimum promotion of innovation.

“If we are actually going to get people understanding intellectual property we have to overcome confusion, we have to overcome misinformation, we have to overcome our own rhetoric and we have to overcome pressure from our clients. Just speak honestly and respectfully. Our innovation economy, our national security, frankly our everyday creature comforts may depend on it,” he said.

Earlier this week the IBM-led (still IBM-centric) Open Invention Network, which is also a booster of software patents, added Alibaba and Ant Financial as members. But rather than add members shouldn’t these people work to abolish software patents? They’re ridiculous! There are, as it turns out, even patent on numbers. At first we thought this was merely satirical, maybe parody. But as this new tweet shows (there’s a picture there): “In 1994, Roger Schlafly, trying to showcase the flaws of US Patents, patented two primes. These primes were used to improve modular division thus saving a lot of time in the Diffie-Hellman method for public-key encryption – critical to secure lots of Internet services at the time…”

Just pay the fee and the monopoly is yours.

The Open Invention Network’s CEO said he was “looking to bring in more Chinese companies,” even if membership is of no use against patent trolls and it merely legitimises software patents. To quote this short new report:

OIN is the largest patent non-aggression community in history. It supports the freedom of action in Linux as a key element of open source software. It is funded by Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, Sony, SUSE and Toyota.

In a recent interview with IPPro, OIN CEO Keith Bergelt said the organisation was looking to bring in more Chinese companies and that in 2018, the total number of OIN licensees “has eclipsed the total number of Japanese licensees”.

According to OIN, as a global leader in ecommerce and cloud computing and a global leader in financial technology, respectively, Alibaba and Ant Financial are “demonstrating their commitment to open source software as an enabler of their platforms and systems”.

They are demonstrating their commitment to patents; there are much better solutions than OIN (more on that in our next post), but large members of OIN aren’t interested in these. Companies like IBM and Microsoft try to shield their software patents or cross-license these under the ‘umbrella’ which is OIN. But such patents should not at all exist in the first place. Moreover, being a member of OIN did not prevent IBM from feeding Microsoft-funded patent trolls.

The European Patent Troll Wants as Much Litigation as Possible

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…And as many granted European Patents as it can get away with

António Campinos FTI

Summary: Patent quality is a concept no longer recognisable at the European Patent Office; all that the management understands is speed and PACE, which it conflates with quality in order to register as much cash as possible before the whole thing comes crashing down (bubbles always implode at the end)

THE European Patent Office (EPO) does not intend to improve patent quality. It does not even acknowledge such an issue. António Campinos is happy enough to personally promote software patents in Europe (even in his blog) and tell concerned stakeholders such as law firms that he just wants to remove the cause/source of criticism rather than properly tackle the issue. Kluwer Patent Blog wrote about it last month and commenters were understandably upset. Who does today’s EPO serve? As we put it some weeks ago, "António Campinos is Working for Patent Trolls at the Expense of Science and Technology" (the original purpose of the Office was to advance science).

Just more than a day ago the EPO was retweeting epi as saying: “Visit us at the EPO Vienna, 5 Feb 19 for the “Opposition & Appeal” seminar supported by the EPO. You get an intensive and practical overview of all relevant legal & practical issues concerning opposition and appeal proceedings before the @EPOorg. https://patentepi.com/r/Opposition_Appeal_seminar …”

As a reminder to our readers, epi very belatedly protested EPO abuses and the same goes for EPLAW [1, 2], whose latest think tank was boosted by IP Kat yesterday. Annsley Merelle Ward from Bristows was boosting this event of patent maximalists looking to sue anyone they can (for profit, for ‘sport’); she quotes colleagues, as usual, which makes the blog look like it has been reduced to ‘mouthpiece’ status of litigators (Team UPC and others). “EPLAW was formed in 2001 to strengthen the network of experienced patent litigators in Europe and to work towards a more harmonized European patent litigation system,” it says. This is what the bullies from Team UPC want. And watch what it says towards the end: “The afternoon concluded with a report from Kevin Mooney (Simmons & Simmons, UK) and Pierre Véron (FR) on the latest progress and recent developments for the UPC and a report from Daan de Lange (Brinkhof, NL) on the highlights of the Judges Conference in Venice.”

So it’s that ‘obligatory’ UPC promotion. Mooney keeps telling lies about the prospects of the UPC in the UK, so we have mentioned him a lot lately.

An article by Abhai Pandey and Joginder Singh (proponents of software patents at LexOrbis, India [1, 2]) has also just been published to promote PPH, a litigation ‘highway’. It mentions the EPO. Lawyers love it when patent quality gets abandoned for the sake of their biggest ‘product’: litigation. “Hurry up,” they say, “you lazy examiners need to issue us patents to sue with! To hell with prior art search and all that ‘nuisance’!”

We have also just noticed this new article by Shelston IP Pty Ltd’s Gareth Dixon. These people are aggressive proponents of software patents and they’re constantly attacking/discrediting anyone in NZ whom they don't like, irrespective of the underlying facts. This article too mentions the EPO. All they want is to sue, sue, sue… that’s where the “Big Money” is.

Speaking of litigation and the EPO, IAM (the patent trolls’ mouthpiece) has just published this piece about a “decision in Monsanto’s appeal against the revocation of a key patent” in India. An article that was supposed to be about India suddenly turned into this (all about EPO):

In view of the absence of any definition for the terms “parts of plants or animals” or “essentially biological process” in the Patents Act, there is no clear statutory guidance for the same. While the DHC relied on the decisions of the European Patent Office (EPO) Enlarged Board of Appeals striking down the so-called “Tomato” and the “Broccoli” patents, it failed to consider that the new varieties of tomato and broccoli were not transgenic and that there was no recombinant construct being introgressed to prepare these varieties with improved traits.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) and Directive 98/44/EC (the Biotech Directive) also exclude “essentially biological processes” from being patented. Article 2(2) of the Biotech Directive, as well as Rule 26(5) of the EPC, state that “a process for the production of plants or animals is essentially biological if it consists entirely of natural phenomenon such as crossing or selection”.

Further, Article 4(1)(b) of the Biotech Directive excludes from patentability essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals. Article 4(3), however, clarifies that Article 4(1)(b) will be without prejudice to the patentability of inventions which concern a microbiological or other technical process or a product obtained by means of such a process. Article 53(b) of the EPC echoes the same.

Thus, methods of making transgenic plants using novel recombinant DNA constructs and even transgenic plants are patentable in Europe. Interestingly, the Board of Appeal of the EPO has just ruled that Rule 28(2) EPC as amended by the Administrative Council in July 2017 is void as it is in conflict with Art 53(b) EPC as interpreted by the Enlarged Board in G 2/12. Thus, as per this latest ruling, even the plants produced by essentially biological processes are now patentable in Europe. We hope that these new developments are brought to the attention of the Supreme Court for the European perspective.

Suffice to say, litigation firms love it. Managing Intellectual Property (another trolls-friendly blog) has just written about it (yet again, this time Patrick Wingrove) and said:

In-house counsel say the EPO Technical Board of Appeal’s conclusion that plants made from essentially biological processes are patentable could usher in another decade of protection uncertainty in the industry

In-house counsel reveal that uncertainty has grown in the agricultural industry after a controversial decision on plant patents from the European Patent Office (EPO) last week.

This tragedy at the EPO is actually a threat to the EPO's reputation (which is already severely damaged for many other reasons), but patent lawyers focused on litigation certainly like it; more lawsuits, more monopolies to feud over…

As some people are rightly point out (not the patent maximalists), one must wonder how much degree of freedom the judges really had. Ellie Purnell (HGF Ltd) echoes the patent maximalists’ line, whereas this insider’s blog (EPO) noted again that “dismissal of a DG3 member [Judge Crocoran] was also political in nature. President Battistelli simply could not accept that they were independent of him, as everybody understood from his later actions.”

Here’s the full post: (we’re assuming not many of our readers are subscribed to Märpel as well)

The December council meeting is upon us and Märpel heard that there was little progress on the disciplinary cases. Remember: Laurent Prunier, Elisabeth Hardon and Patrick Corcoran.

Laurent Prunier and Elisabeth Hardon were dismissed together with other prominent union representatives. Even if the official word is that the disciplinary measures were only grouped on prominent union representatives because of “mere coincidence”, everybody working in the office knows that President Battistelli wanted to bring staff representation to their knees. Apparently, this is what they teach in France at the ENA and the recent events show the results of that policy.

The dismissals were political in nature. It comes therefore at a surprise that President Campinos was able to stall the procedure concerning Mrs Hardon and convince the office internal “independent” disciplinary court to wait for him to negotiate. How convenient that he can tell the Council tomorrow that he is “negotiating”, with full powers to stall the proceedings for as long as he wishes. And is there anything to negotiate when your sole offense was that you were head of the staff union?

The dismissal of a DG3 member was also political in nature. President Battistelli simply could not accept that they were independent of him, as everybody understood from his later actions. Yet, Mr Corcoran was reintegrated to DG3 for a week and has not been seen in the office since that time. Rumour is that he is seriously ill. The council washed their collective hands, satisfied that “justice was done”. Whether the Federal constitutional court shall come to the same opinion remains to be seen.

It is already being suggested that the attack on Corcoran was a warning sign (to judges); so was the attack on staff representatives, which reminded everyone that purely political ‘cases’ can be made up (out of thin air) to punish anyone — especially a staff representative — who ‘rocks the boat’ a little, e.g. by pointing out corruption.

SUEPO has not spoken about patent quality for a long time. It’s not improving, but the gag on SUEPO seems to have improved. The Office sends threatening letters not only to SUEPO but also the CSC when publications get issued. As we noted at the very start, Campinos is working on gagging critical stakeholders as well. In just a couple of months Campinos became what took 2 years (or 3 years) for Battistelli to become. Not a good sign, right?

Here is the EPO promoting software patents in defiance of the EPC — its very founding document (de facto ‘constitution’). Yesterday it wrote: “If innovation is for the benefit of society, there should be as much incentive as possible for innovators to disclose AI innovations. That’s one conclusion from our recent conference on patenting #artificialintelligence: http://bit.ly/AIpatents” (“AIpatents” are just a kind of software patents). It was then followed by: “Steep rise in patent applications for self-driving vehicles at the EPO.” (many of these are computer vision, i.e. a kind of software patents).

Steven M. Shape, Malte Köllner and Cary Levitt (Dennemeyer Group) have also just published this buzzwords salad: “Examiners have to cope with the emergence of multidisciplinary, new and potentially disruptive technologies (eg, internet of things, artificial intelligence, connectivity, big data and blockchain technologies).”

These are just kinds of software patents, ‘dressed up’ in buzzwords. They said this in relation to the EPO.

We certainly hope that EPO examiners realise/understand the underlying concepts and who came up with them. In some cases marketing departments are responsible for these terms.

Addressing the subject of litigation system fragmentation (which UPC would only make worse, e.g. legal/court proceedings in a foreign language), Renate Rieder (Maiwald Patentanwalts und Rechtsanwalts GmbH) explains why, once the EPO granted false patents, it’s incredibly hard and expensive to show they’re void and invalid. In her own words:

In contrast to the numerous infringement proceedings, national court decisions regarding the validity of European patent EP 1 313 508 B1 – which was maintained as granted in the opposition proceedings before the European Patent Office – are rare. In the UK and Swiss proceedings mentioned above, validity was not challenged. Validity was challenged in Germany, but not in the above-mentioned proceedings. Due to the so-called bifurcated system, validity of a patent and patent infringement cannot be dealt with in the same proceedings in Germany. Lack of validity has to be raised in separate proceedings before the German Federal Patent Court (FPC). In July 2018, the FPC revoked the German part of EP 1 313 508 B1 (case no. 3 Ni 23/16 (EP), judgment of July 17 2018). The reasons for this decision were published in November 2018. According to the FPC, the combined use of pemetrexed disodium and vitamin B12 for inhibiting tumour growth is obvious in view of the prior art.

Just think what that means to granted software patents and how terrible things would get if litigation got ‘unified’ in the UPC sense, with an EPO-centric court where judges are pressured to accept abstract patents. There’s a discussion related to this. One person wrote some hours ago:

Proof of the Pudding, I completely agree with everything you have written, but I would also point out the broader set of events that happened. The Enlarged Board ruled that products of essentially biological processes were patentable. The EU Commission disagreed. The EPC rules were changed to comply with the Commission’s view. This is power politics at play, and a reflection of the hard reality. The EU is an ongoing project which is ever-expanding and patents are something it has an interest in. The EU will ultimately not allow the EPO to dissent in any substantial way. Whilst ‘legally’ speaking you are correct, I fear that ultimately the EPO will end up being an EU institution at some point because it does not have the power to resist. The EU has recently proposed changes to SPC rights (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-3907_en.htm). At some point or other it is bound to review patent protection and perhaps how validity is determined, and that will inevitably require the EPO to comply with whatever the EU wants.

“I also agree that the EPO will continue to ensure that, as much as is possible, it acts in accordance with EU law,” said the next comments, but the EPO breaks many laws and then brags that it’s immune from prosecution. Here’s that comment in full:

If by “power politics” you mean a breach of democratic norms (including the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches), then I agree that this is what is currently in play.

I also agree that the EPO will continue to ensure that, as much as is possible, it acts in accordance with EU law. However, I believe that their compliance on this point will be motivated by self-interest, namely avoiding a situation arising where the CJEU holds the EPC to contravene EU law.

From this perspective, I continue to believe that it is extremely unlikely that the EPO will be converted into an EU institution, as the circumstances are unlikely to arise where the pain caused by such a change (which would almost certainly include restricting membership of the EPO to EU states only) wold be seen as “worth it” by all stakeholders.

The comparison to SPCs is inappropriate. EU-wide SPC protection was created for the first time under EU law. The same is not true for (more or less “harmonised”) EU-wide patent protection. We have a well-established (and largely well-functioning) system that exists under international law. The consequences of the EU creating an entire patent system under EU law would therefore be far more profound and unsettling (as well as potentially unpleasant).

The above was said in relation to disagreements over patentability of plants/seeds; the same could be said about software patents. Even though the EU objects to such patents, to the EPO it’s only “as such” (so it keep granting such patents anyway, even when national courts repeatedly reject such patents).

António Campinos Turns His ‘Boss’ Into His Lapdog, Just Like Battistelli and Kongstad

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And the ‘brand new’ management is still a censorship operation

Battistelli and Kongstad

Summary: The European Patent Organisation expects us to believe that Josef Kratochvíl will keep the Office honest while his predecessor, the German who failed to do anything about Battistelli’s abuses, becomes officially subservient to António Campinos

EARLIER THIS week the European Patent Organisation (EPO) made the decision to choose a particular new Chairman of the Administrative Council, seeing that in a matter of weeks António Campinos turns his 'boss' into his assistant. It’s just as ludicrous as that sounds and it says a lot about the lack of oversight at the EPO.

“Suffice to say, the European Patent Office won’t be bossed by him but will boss him, as usual, as it’s a rogue institution where Campinos, according to insiders, seeks to have even greater powers than Battistelli.”They wrote in Twitter that “Josef Kratochví [is] elected Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation,” pointing to a page from the prior day (warning: epo.org link).

Suffice to say, the European Patent Office won’t be bossed by him but will boss him, as usual, as it’s a rogue institution where Campinos, according to insiders, seeks to have even greater powers than Battistelli. Look no further than the fact that his former ‘boss’ will be bossed by him very shortly; but there are other aspects to this power grab, other than this uttertly gross reversal of roles.

“Next month we’ll have a lot to say about the Croat who made corruption at the EPO not only banal; it encouraged the Office to aggressively block and punish anything and anyone who dared bring up the subject.”To quote the EPO: “The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation today elected Josef Kratochvíl (CZ) as its Chairman. Mr Kratochvíl succeeds Christoph Ernst (DE) who, in October, was appointed Vice-President for Directorate General Legal and International Affairs of the European Patent Office. Mr. Kratochvíl is currently Deputy Chairman of the Council and is also the President of the Industrial Property Office of the Czech Republic.”

Separately, the EPO wrote about (warning: epo.org link) and later cited an item about a week-long office closure. One week’s closure sounds like loss of ‘productivity’, no? Isn’t it the only major holiday Battistelli did not shorten or altogether cancel? “Please note that our offices will be closed over the holiday period from 24 December 2018 to 1 January 2019 inclusive,” the EPO said.

We’ll be migrating our site to a new server around that time. Suffice to say, we’ll still be blocked by the EPO, under Kratochví and Campinos. Censorship policies at the Office have not changed; virtually nothing has changed other than PR. Next month we’ll have a lot to say about the Croat who made corruption at the EPO not only banal; it encouraged the Office to aggressively block and punish anything and anyone who dared bring up the subject.


Links 12/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.1 Released, CNCF Takes Control of etcd

Posted in News Roundup at 7:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Dell’s 2018 XPS 13 DE—The best “out of the box” Linux laptop gets the best OS

      It has been six years since Dell first introduced its XPS Developer Edition moniker, which refers specifically to the company’s XPS laptop models that ship with Ubuntu Linux (and not Windows) pre-installed. Ever since, Dell has been producing some of the best Linux “ultrabooks” in recent memory.

      Ars has already put the Windows-boasting XPS 13 through its paces earlier this year since the device received a serious overhaul in 2018. Dell bumped up the hardware specs, revamped the thermal system, and introduced a new rose and white version, for instance. But how is latest edition of the premier “just works” Linux laptop doing with the added muscle?

    • Microsoft Keeps Track Of Your Activity Even If You Forbid It

      At first, it was just speculation doing rounds on the Reddit, but when Chris Hoffman from How-To-Geek looked further, it was confirmed that Microsoft does keep “Activity History” even when we tell it not to.

      Rather than telling you how the story unfolded, I will instead show you because it’s not just me or Chris, it’s affecting everyone who has a Windows 10 PC.

    • Microsoft Admits Normal Windows 10 Users Are ‘Testing’ Unstable Updates
    • What is the preferred developer operating system?

      If you compare traditional OSes, the differences shouldn’t be that significant for developers.

      We deploy most apps in the cloud now, where you can choose to host them on whichever developer operating system you want — well, maybe not on macOS, but certainly Windows or Linux. And, even if you deploy your application locally, virtual machines (VMs) make it easy to set up whichever type of OS environment you need.

      Cross-platform portability is an explicit goal for most popular programming languages today, such as C, Java and Python. C was born in the early 1970s as a way to make Unix portable across different hardware platforms. The Java virtual machine greatly simplified cross-OS portability. And Python applications can run on virtually any OS.

      Modern programming languages still aren’t entirely OS-agnostic, of course. Developers often have to address OS-specific dependencies when they write an application, and the installation process for most applications differs from one OS to the next.

      Still, by and large, the modern programmer doesn’t have to think about the differences between various developer operating systems nearly as much as she did a decade ago. In some cases, you can drag and drop the same application from one OS to another without requiring any configuration changes at all.

  • Server

    • Open Source Is the Future, So Where Does IBM i Fit In?

      The IBM i server reached a milestone this year when it turned 30 years old, an amazing feat for a remarkable system that continues to provide computational value to tens of thousands of organizations around the world. But another birthday was celebrated this year that the IBM i community should take note of: The 20th anniversary of the beginning of the open source movement.

      Now, this birthday is a little bit questionable because open source software existed before 1998, of course. But the time is worth marking because an important meeting took place in Palo Alto, California, where the phrase “open source” was deliberately created by a group of industry leaders.

      That meeting, which was spurred by the release of the source code to the Netscape Web browser, would set into motion a movement that would change the entire IT industry. The concept of freely sharing the guts of software, rather than treating it as private property, started slowly, but it would eventually build into an insurmountable force.


      There’s no reason why both approaches can’t co-exist. IBM can bring machine learning tools like Scikit-Learn and Numpy to the platform via PASE, while others in the IBM i community can develop native open source software, including an ERP package. There will be tradeoffs in performance and usability, of course, but having choices is part of the joy of having a healthy, robust community – and there’s even a place for proprietary software too.

      In the end, the momentum behind the open source software movement is just too great to ignore. Where IBM i sits in 2028, when it celebrates its 40th birthday, will largely depend on how welcoming IBM and the IBM i community are to open source software and modern software development methodologies. The future literally depends on it.

    • Oracle shows up at KubeCon bearing ‘comprehensive cloud native framework’

      Oracle crashed the party at KubeCon today, promising to free developers from vendor lock-in with what it claims is the “most comprehensive cloud native framework”.

      The veteran enterprise software vendor said its Oracle Cloud Native Framework “arms” developers with “a cloud native solution that spans public cloud, on premises and hybrid cloud deployments.”

    • Everything that was announced at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon

      KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2018 is being held this week in Seattle, and naturally a long list of companies and organizations are using the event to update the public on their projects related Kubernetes and Cloud Native Computing.

      The event is hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. The foundation oversees Kubernetes and other open source projects related to microservices.

    • Google’s rent-a-cloud biz revs Istio for its Kubernetes service

      As a gathering of DevOps types at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 gets under way in Seattle, Washington, Google plans to tell anyone who will listen that its managed Kubernetes service, GKE, now can be ordered with Istio on the side, though you’ll have to ladle it on yourself.

      Here’s how the Chocolate Factory described the open source software:

      “Istio is a service mesh that lets you manage and visualize your applications as services, rather than individual infrastructure components,” said Chen Goldberg, director of engineering at Google Cloud and Jennifer Lin, director of Google Cloud management, in a blog post provided in advance to The Register.

    • Exploring Kubernetes’ impact in hybrid cloud at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018

      In a computing market constantly chasing more agile methods of deploying data, portable container technologies have become the lynchpin in enterprise multicloud strategy with the Kubernetes container orchestration at the helm. Boasting historic growth and popularity among leading cloud vendors, the relatively young technology is proving fundamental within a market transforming as a result of the freedom and experimentation it has enabled.

      As a shift in favor of hybrid cloud computing prompts cloud leaders to prioritize Kubernetes and, more directly, leverage its capabilities, how will its standardization and widening adoption transform the open-source tool? Moreso, how will Kubernetes continue to transform the market at large?

      Looking to answer these and other questions, SiliconANGLE is at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018, currently underway in Seattle, Washington, with exclusive commentary and interviews from our roving news desk, theCUBE. TheCUBE coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. PST Tuesday, Dec. 11, and end at 3:30 pm. Thursday, Dec. 13.

    • CNCF Takes Control of Open Source etcd Data Store Project

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which oversees the development of Kubernetes, announced today that the open source etcd distributed key value store has now been accepted as a complementary incubation project. The announcement was made at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 conference today.

      etcd was developed by CoreOS to provide a reliable way to store data across a cluster of machines. CoreOS was subsequently acquired by Red Hat. At its base level, etcd is written in Go and relies on the Raft consensus algorithm to manage a highly available replicated log to manage everything from recovering from hardware failures to portioning networks.

    • Red Hat donates a key open-source Kubernetes tool to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation
    • The Cloud Native Computing Foundation adds etcd to its open-source stable

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), the open-source home of projects like Kubernetes and Vitess, today announced that its technical committee has voted to bring a new project on board. That project is etcd, the distributed key-value store that was first developed by CoreOS (now owned by Red Hat, which in turn will soon be owned by IBM). Red Hat has now contributed this project to the CNCF.

      Etcd, which is written in Go, is already a major component of many Kubernetes deployments, where it functions as a source of truth for coordinating clusters and managing the state of the system. Other open-source projects that use etcd include Cloud Foundry, and companies that use it in production include Alibaba, ING, Pinterest, Uber, The New York Times and Nordstrom.

    • ​Bitnami Kubernetes Production Runtime released

      If you want to use a safe third-party container, smart people know they should turn to Bitnami. This company packages, deploys, and maintains applications in virtually any format for any platform. Now, at KubeCon in Seattle, Bitnami announced its Kubernetes release: Bitnami Kubernetes Production Runtime (BKPR) 1.0, a production-ready open source project.

      So, with everyone and their cloud provider offering Kubernetes, why should you care? Well, first, BKPR provides built-in monitoring, alerting, and metrics automatically, thereby enabling developers to avoid reinventing the wheel when they rollout a Kubernetes application.

    • Why the Cloud-Native Market Is Expanding at KubeCon

      The KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America event is a beacon for news, with vendors showcasing their wares and making multiple announcements.

      KubeCon + CloudNativeCon runs here from Dec. 11-13 and has brought 8,000 attendees and more than 187 vendors into the exhibit hall. Kubernetes itself is part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which is also the home now to 31 open-source cloud projects.

      In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at the major areas of innovation and new services announced at the conference.

    • Add It Up: Enterprise Adoption of Kubernetes Is Growing

      A recently updated user survey from monitoring software provider Datadog confirms an increase in Kubernetes adoption. We believe this is the result of three factors: 1) more organizations using containers in production; 2) Kubernetes has emerged as the leading orchestration platform; 3) organizations are choosing to adopt Kubernetes earlier in cloud native voyage. There is also some evidence that Kubernetes adoption is more likely among organizations with more containers being deployed. This article highlights findings from several studies released in conjunction with KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America, a Kubernetes user conference being held this week in Seattle.

      Cloud Foundry’s most recent survey of IT decision makers shows container production usage jumping from 22 percent in early 2016 to 38 percent in late 2018, with these deployments increasingly being described as “broad.” The Cloud Foundry report also found an increase in the number of containers being deployed — in 2016, only 37 percent of cont

    • Oracle Q&A: A Refresher on Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel

      Oracle caused quite a stir in 2010 when it announced its Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Oracle Linux. We’ve checked in with Sergio Leunissen, Vice President, Linux and VM Development at Oracle, for an update on the ABCs of this important introduction as well as the company’s latest take on Linux.

    • Get the Skills You Need to Monitor Systems and Services with Prometheus

      Open source software isn’t just transforming technology infrastructure around the world, it is also creating profound opportunities for people with relevant skills. From Linux to OpenStack to Kubernetes, employers have called out significant skills gaps that make it hard for them to find people fluent with cutting-edge tools and platforms. The Linux Foundation not only offers self-paced training options for widely known tools and platforms, such as Linux and Git, but also offers options specifically targeting the rapidly growing cloud computing ecosystem. The latest offering in this area is Monitoring Systems and Services with Prometheus (LFS241).

      Prometheus is an open source monitoring system and time series database that is especially well suited for monitoring dynamic cloud environments. It contains a powerful query language and data model in addition to integrated alerting and service discovery support. The new course is specifically designed for software engineers and systems administrators wanting to learn how to use Prometheus to gain better insights into their systems and services.

    • Red Hat Container Development Kit 3.7 now available
    • CodeReady Workspaces for OpenShift (Beta) – It works on their machines too

      “It works on my machine.” If you write code with, for, or near anybody else, you’ve said those words at least once. Months ago I set up a library or package or environment variable or something on my machine and I haven’t thought about it since. So the code works for me, but it may take a long time to figure out what’s missing on your machine.

    • OpenShift & Kubernetes: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going Part 2

      The growth and innovation in the Kubernetes project, since it first launched just over four years ago, has been tremendous to see. In part 1 of my blog, I talked about how Red Hat has been a key contributor to Kubernetes since the launch of the project, detailed where we invested our resources and what drove those decisions. Today, that innovation continues and we are just as excited for what comes next. In this blog, I’d like to talk about where we are going and what we’re focused on, as we continue driving innovation in Kubernetes and the broader cloud native ecosystem and building the next generation of OpenShift.

    • Red Hat OpenStack Platform and making it easier to manage bare metal

      Bare metal is making a comeback. At Red Hat we have been observing an increase of the use of bare metal in general. And we aren’t the only ones. In 2017’s OpenStack User Survey there had been a growth of bare metal in production environments from 9% to 20% of the production deployments. The 2018 survey says that adoption of Ironic is being driven by Kubernetes, with 37% of respondents who use Kubernetes on OpenStack using the bare metal provisioner.

      And there are many reasons for this growth. A great blog post about Kubernetes on metal with OpenShift by Joe Fernandes described this growth in the context of containers on bare metal with Kubernetes as a driver for this growth. But, it doesn’t stop there – High-Performance Compute (HPC), access to hardware devices or scientific workloads such as AI/ML or data lake management are also contributing to this increase.

    • etcd finds new home at CNCF

      CoreOS has moved to secure the independence of etcd by donating the distributed key-value store to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

      The project was started by Core OS – now part of Red Hat – in 2013 to handle coordination between container instances so that a system reboot was possible without affecting the uptime of applications running on top. Its name can be seen as an hint to the management of configuration files, which over the years have grown to be stored in /etc directory in Unix systems.

    • Kubernetes etcd data project joins CNCF

      How do you store data across a Kubernetes container cluster? With etcd. This essential part of Kubernetes has been managed by CoreOS/Red Hat. No longer. Now, the open-source etcd project has been moved from Red Hat to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

      What is etcd? No, it’s not what happens when a cat tries to type a three-letter acronyms. Etcd (pronounced et-see-dee) was created by the CoreOS team in 2013. It’s an open-source, distributed, consistent key-value database for shared configuration, service discovery, and scheduler coordination. It’s built on the Raft consensus algorithm for replicated logs.

    • Welcome etcd to CNCF

      Etcd has been written for distributed systems like Kubernetes as a fault-tolerant and reliable data base. Clients can easily watch certain keys and get notified when their values change which allows scaling to a large number of clients that can reconfigure themselves when a value changes.

    • etcd: Current status and future roadmap

      etcd is a distributed key value store that provides a reliable way to manage the coordination state of distributed systems. etcd was first announced in June 2013 by CoreOS (part of Red Hat as of 2018). Since its adoption in Kubernetes in 2014, etcd has become a fundamental part of the Kubernetes cluster management software design, and the etcd community has grown exponentially. etcd is now being used in production environments of multiple companies, including large cloud provider environments such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Azure, and other on-premises Kubernetes implementations. CNCF currently has 32 conformant Kubernetes platforms and distributions, all of which use etcd as the datastore.

      In this blog post, we’ll review some of the milestones achieved in latest etcd releases, and go over the future roadmap for etcd. Share your thoughts and feedback on features you consider important on the mailing list: etcd-dev@googlegroups.com.

    • Red Hat contributes etcd, the cornerstone of Kubernetes, to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

      Today Red Hat is thrilled to announce our contribution of etcd, an open source project that is a key component of Kubernetes, and its acceptance into the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), a vendor-neutral foundation housed under The Linux Foundation to drive the adoption of cloud native systems.

      The etcd project’s focus is safely storing critical data of a distributed system and it demonstrated its quality early on. It is most notably the primary datastore of Kubernetes, the de facto standard system for container orchestration. Today we’re excited to transfer stewardship of etcd to the same body that cares for the growth and maintenance of Kubernetes. Given that etcd powers every Kubernetes cluster, this move brings etcd to the community that relies on it most at the CNCF.

    • Banks take next steps to digital refinement

      The financial services industry (FSI) has gotten the message: customer expectations have changed radically. They want to experience banking services through multiple digital channels, and they want those services to go well beyond the generic products that traditional banks typically offer. Customers are looking for personalization, are comfortable with service automation, and are eager to get what they need quickly and easily.

      As the value chain for financial institutions’ services expands along with the need to deliver new and relevant customer offerings, their dexterity is being put to the test, according to an article by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). To enable the flexibility and agility they need to support a dynamic environment, they’ve begun to create a culture of continuous delivery (CD). This allows for continuous cross-channel development, may allow deployment of features in hours rather than months, and lends support for performing system upgrades with zero downtime and without disturbing the customer experience.

    • CentOS 7-1810 “Gnome” overview | The community enterprise operating system
    • How to prepare for digital transformation with Red Hat Virtualization and Veeam

      Red Hat has a history of helping organizations reduce the cost of IT, from infrastructure to applications, while also helping to lay the foundation for open source digital transformation. More recently, Red Hat has sought to help organizations reduce the cost of virtualization, aiming to make it easier to accelerate their digital transformation journey through innovative technologies such as Red Hat Ansible Automation or Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat’s comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes Platform.

    • Red Hat schedules stockholder meeting to vote on $34B IBM deal
    • INVESTIGATION NOTICE: Kaskela Law LLC Announces Shareholder Investigation of Red Hat, Inc.
    • Red Hat sets date for stockholders to vote on the merger with IBM
    • Arista Works With Red Hat and Tigera on Container Environments for Enterprises

      Arista Networks is working with Red Hat and Tigera to help enterprises adopt containers in both private and public clouds. The three companies are demonstrating a preview of their upcoming offering this week at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 in Seattle.

      The integrated product will include Arista’s containerized Extensible Operating System (cEOS) and CloudVision software along with Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform and Tigera’s Secure Enterprise Edition.

    • Knative Meshes Kubernetes with Serverless Workloads

      Google Cloud’s Knative initiative launched in July is expanding to include an updated version of Google’s first commercial Knative offering along with a batch of new distributions based on serverless computing framework.

      Knative is a Kubernetes-based platform for building and managing serverless workloads in which cloud infrastructure acts as a server for managing the allocation of computing and storage resources. It is being offered as an add-on to Kubernetes Engine used to orchestrate application containers.

    • Red Hat Steps Up with HPC Software Solutions at SC18

      In this video from SC18 in Dallas, Yan Fisher and Dan McGuan from Red Hat describe the company’s powerful software solutions for HPC and Ai workloads.

    • RedHat contributes etcd, a distributed key-value store project, to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon
  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel Developers Discuss Dropping x32 Support

      It was just several years ago that the open-source ecosystem began supporting the x32 ABI, but already kernel developers are talking of potentially deprecating the support and for it to be ultimately removed.

      The Linux x32 ABI as a reminder requires x86_64 processors and is engineered to support the modern x86_64 features but with using 32-bit pointers rather than 64-bit pointers. The x32 ABI allows for making use of the additional registers and other features of x86_64 but with just 32-bit pointers in order to provide faster performance when 64-bit pointers are unnecessary.

    • Linux I/O Schedulers

      The Linux kernel I/O schedulers attempt to balance the need to get the best possible I/O performance while also trying to ensure the I/O requests are “fairly” shared among the I/O consumers. There are several I/O schedulers in Linux, each try to solve the I/O scheduling issues using different mechanisms/heuristics and each has their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

      For traditional spinning media it makes sense to try and order I/O operations so that they are close together to reduce read/write head movement and hence decrease latency. However, this reordering means that some I/O requests may get delayed, and the usual solution is to schedule these delayed requests after a specific time. Faster non-volatile memory devices can generally handle random I/O requests very easily and hence do not require reordering.

    • Btrfs Restoring Support For Swap Files With Linux 4.21

      The Btrfs file-system hasn’t supported Swap files on it in early a decade, but that support will be restored again with the upcoming Linux 4.21 kernel.

      Btrfs hasn’t supported Swap files on it since 2009 thus making swap partitions necessary unless having a mix of file-systems on your box (or not caring about any swap capabilities), but now with Linux 4.21 that support will be restored for allowing swap files to be reside on Btrfs.

    • Intel’s IWD Linux Wireless Daemon 0.13 Adds Opportunistic Wireless Encryption

      Intel’s promising IWD open-source wireless daemon continues picking up additional functionality in its trek towards potentially replacing wpa_supplicant. Out this week is IWD 0.13.

      With the IWD 0.13 release there are fixes as well as support for Opportunistic Wireless Encryption and support for the common EAP-TLS framework.

    • Intel Developing “oneAPI” For Optimized Code Across CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs & More

      Intel’s 2018 Architecture Day was primarily focused on the company’s hardware architecture road-map, but one of the software (pre)announcements was their oneAPI software stack.

    • Intel Working On Open-Sourcing The FSP – Would Be Huge Win For Coreboot & Security

      Intel’s Architecture Day on Tuesday was delightfully filled with an overwhelming amount of valuable hardware information, but Intel’s software efforts were also briefly touched on too. In fact, Raja Koduri reinforced how software is a big part of Intel technology and goes in-hand with their security, interconnect, memory, architecture, and process pillars and that’s where their new oneAPI initiative will fit in. But what learning afterwards was most exciting on the software front.

    • Linux Foundation

      • New Ebook Offers Comprehensive Guide to Open Source Compliance

        The Linux Foundation has released the second edition of Open Source Compliance in the Enterprise by Ibrahim Haddad, which offers organizations a practical guide to using open source code and participating in open source communities while complying with both the spirit and the letter of open source licensing.

        This fully updated ebook — with new contributions from Shane Coughlan and Kate Stewart — provides detailed information on issues related to the licensing, development, and reuse of open source software. The new edition also includes all new chapters on OpenChain, which focuses on increasing open source compliance in the supply chain, and SPDX, which is a set of standard formats for communicating the components, licenses, and copyrights of software packages.

        “Open source compliance is the process by which users, integrators, and developers of open source observe copyright notices and satisfy license obligations for their open source software components,” Haddad states in the book.

      • Inaugural Hyperledger Global Forum Showcases Strong Community Momentum

        Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, today kicked off the first day of its Hyperledger Global Forum. The event has drawn more than 650 attendees from as far as Australia and Argentina for an extended conversation about the state of open source enterprise blockchain and vision for the Hyperledger community and technologies.

        Headlined by keynotes like Leanne Kemp, CEO of Everledger, Hyperledger Global Forum addresses a wide range of business and technical topics. Key topics include use cases, production blockchain deployments and live demos of Hyperledger in a range of new systems. Hands-on workshops and technical talks will serve as fuel for the community development at the core of Hyperledger.

      • Hyperledger Adds Alibaba Cloud, Citi, Deutsche Telekom, we.trade and 12 more New Members at Hyperledger Global Forum

        Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, today announced Alibaba Cloud, Citi, Deutsche Telekom, we.trade and 12 more organizations have joined the project. This news came during day one of the inaugural Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland.

        “We are starting Global Forum off with a bang with this impressive line-up of new members,” said Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, Hyperledger. “The growing Hyperledger community reflects the increasing importance of open source efforts to build enterprise blockchain technologies across industries and markets. The latest members showcase the widening interest in and impact of DLT and Hyperledger.”

      • Firefox 64 Now Available, SoftMaker Office Announces “Load and Help” Fundraising Campaign, the Joint Development Foundation Has Joined The Linux Foundation, Google+ to End in April 2019 and Valve Releases Proton 3.16 (Beta)

        The Joint Development Foundation has joined The Linux Foundation family to “make it easier to collaborate through both open source and standards development”. The press release quotes Executive Director of The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin: “Leveraging the capabilities of the Joint Development Foundation will enable us to provide open source projects with another path to standardization, driving greater industry adoption of standards and specifications to speed adoption.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Linux Is Already In Good Shape For The New Features Of Intel Gen11 Graphics & Icelake

        Besides seeing Icelake demos at the Intel Architecture Day that were running on Ubuntu, with closely tracking the Linux kernel’s development most of the new features presented for Sunny Cove and Gen11 graphics have already been merged or at least available in patch form for some months within the Linux ecosystem. Here’s a look at the features talked about yesterday and their state on Linux.

      • Intel Details Gen11 Graphics & Sunny Cove For Icelake

        At Intel’s architecture day, the company finally detailed their “Gen 11″ graphics that we’ve been seeing open-source Linux graphics driver patches for many months (Intel OTC posted their initial open-source display driver code in early January and has continued the enablement work since) albeit elusive in substantive user details and hardware until Icelake. But today at least we can share more about the significant improvements with Gen11 graphics.

      • mesa 18.3.1

        This version disables the VK_EXT_pci_bus_info extension due to last minute issues spotted in the specification.

      • Mesa 18.3.1 Released To Disable Botched Vulkan Extension

        Mesa 18.3 was released less than a week ago while today Mesa 18.3.1 was issued due to an error in the Vulkan specification.

        The motivating factor for this quick Mesa 18.3.1 release was to disable the VK_EXT_pci_bus_info extension that had just been introduced weeks ago. The Vulkan working group mistakenly assumed that PCI domains are 16-bit even though they could potentially be 32-bit values. The next Vulkan spec update will change the relevant structure to be 32-bit, which is a backwards-incompatible change.

      • High resolution wheel scrolling on Linux v4.21

        Most wheel mice have a physical feature to stop the wheel from spinning freely. That feature is called detents, notches, wheel clicks, stops, or something like that. On your average mouse that is 24 wheel clicks per full rotation, resulting in the wheel rotating by 15 degrees before its motion is arrested. On some other mice that angle is 18 degrees, so you get 20 clicks per full rotation.

        Of course, the world wouldn’t be complete without fancy hardware features. Over the last 10 or so years devices have added free-wheeling scroll wheels or scroll wheels without distinct stops. In many cases wheel behaviour can be configured on the device, e.g. with Logitech’s HID++ protocol. A few weeks back, Harry Cutts from the chromium team sent patches to enable Logitech high-resolution wheel scrolling in the kernel. Succinctly, these patches added another axis next to the existing REL_WHEEL named REL_WHEEL_HI_RES. Where available, the latter axis would provide finer-grained scroll information than the click-by-click REL_WHEEL. At the same time I accidentally stumbled across the documentation for the HID Resolution Multiplier Feature. A few patch revisions later and we now have everything queued up for v4.21. Below is a summary of the new behaviour.

        The kernel will continue to provide REL_WHEEL as axis for “wheel clicks”, just as before. This axis provides the logical wheel clicks, (almost) nothing changes here. In addition, a REL_WHEEL_HI_RES axis is available which allows for finer-grained resolution. On this axis, the magic value 120 represents one logical traditional wheel click but a device may send a fraction of 120 for a smaller motion. Userspace can either accumulate the values until it hits a full 120 for one wheel click or it can scroll by a few pixels on each event for a smoother experience. The same principle is applied to REL_HWHEEL and REL_HWHEEL_HI_RES for horizontal scroll wheels (which these days is just tilting the wheel). The REL_WHEEL axis is now emulated by the kernel and simply sent out whenever we have accumulated 120.

      • Nouveau Lands Initial Open-Source NVIDIA Turing Support – But No GPU Acceleration

        Just in time for the upcoming Linux 4.21 kernel, the developers working on the reverse-engineered, open-source support for NVIDIA GeForce RTX “Turing” GPUs have published their preliminary code. But before getting too excited, there isn’t GPU hardware acceleration working yet.

        Ben Skeggs of Red Hat spearheaded this enablement work. He’s got the initial support working right now for the TU104 and TU106 chipsets, but not yet TU102 due to hardware access. The TU106 is the RTX 2060/2070 series while the TU104 is the GeForce RTX 2080 and the TU102 is the RTX 2080 Ti and TITAN RTX. Back on launch day the Nouveau community crew started their Turing reverse-engineering work. NVIDIA doesn’t support nor hinder the Nouveau driver work, though these days do sample hardware to the developers and are occasionally able to answer technical questions for them.

    • Benchmarks

      • ODROID-XU4: Much Better Performance Than The Raspberry Pi Plus USB3 & Gigabit Ethernet @ $60

        Hardkernel recently sent over the ODROUD-XU4 for benchmarking. This ARM SBC that just measures in at about 82 x 58 x 22 mm offers much better performance than many of the sub-$100 ARM SBCs while also featuring dual USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, eMMC storage, and is software compatible with the older XU3 ARM SBCs. Here’s a look at the performance of the ODROID-XU4 compared to a variety of other single board computers.

        This ~$60+ ARM single board computer is built around a Samsung Exynos5422 SoC that features four Cortex-A15 cores at 2.0GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores at 1.3GHz while the graphics are provided by a Mali-T628.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Calamares seeking translators

        Calamares, the Linux system installer for boutique distro’s, is translated into 50 or so languages. It’s not a KDE project, but uses a bunch of KDE technology like the KDE Frameworks and KPMCore. It doesn’t use the KDE translation infrastructure, either, but Transifex.

      • ROOT histograms

        In one of the previous blogs we introduced the new capability of LabPlot to calculate and to draw histograms. Given a data set, the user can calculate the histogram using different binning methods and to visualize the calculated histogram in the new plot type “histogram”. A different workflow is given when the histogram was already calculated in another application and the application like LabPlot is just used to visualize the result of such a calculation and to adjust the final appearance of the plot.

        Couple of weeks ago Christoph Roick contributed a new input filter for ROOT histograms. ROOT is a computational environment developed at CERN that is used for data processing, statistical analysis and data visualization, mainly for purposes in the high energy physics community.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Christmas Maps

        It´s been ages since I last shared any Maps news, so it´s probably about time…
        Some things have happened since the stable 3.30.0 release in September.

        First off we have a new application icon, courtesy of Jakub Steiner using the icon style for the upcoming GNOME 3.32

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Bosch Group expands Digital Services with SAP HANA on SUSE

        SUSE has just published a new success story with Bosch Group, a global supplier of technology and services.
        Bosch Group is an innovation leader with expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, offers customers connected and cross-domain solutions. Taking advantage of the digital transformation happening across all industries, Bosch wants to build on its high-quality solutions and expand its offerings with new, digital services.

      • SUSE Cloud Application Platform v1.3 released

        SUSE Cloud Application Platform v1.3 is now available! If you’re in Seattle for Kubecon this week, be sure to stop by our booth for a new pair of socks, a demo, or to learn more. The new version focuses on our continuing effort to provide a cloud native developer experience to Kubernetes users, an improved UI, additional services brokers, and more.

        You can now graphically track metrics and see into the underlying Kubernetes infrastructure with an updated version of Stratos UI. Stratos is a UI web console that manages Cloud Foundry clusters, and the workloads running on them, and is adding additional Kubernetes integration with each release. In this newest version, application and Kubernetes pod attributes such as CPU and memory usage are tracked in a graph over time, and the status of the underlying Kubernetes cluster is now available.

      • Tis the Season for My Top 10 Predictions for 2019

        Tis the season for spending time with loved ones, reminiscing about the past year and of course, technology forecasts and predictions. Whether we like it or not, nothing ever stays the same, in life and in business.


        10. Open source software will continue to thrive and play a pivotal role in all of these predictions

        Why? Because open source communities have become the vanguard of innovation. Open source software plays a pivotal role in all the dominant technology trends and is increasingly relied on by enterprise businesses around the globe.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 29, second test – Old laptop & Nvidia graphics

        Fedora 29 fresh installation was a completely different experience from the in-vivo upgrade. The latter builds on months of work, tuning, tweaking and making everything behave well, so all of that didn’t come to bear in my first review. But it did here, making the overall impression much, much less than before. Networking, media, performance, graphics drivers, none of these were good. The last two are action killers.

        I also had to invest a lot of effort making the distro look and behave, and this can be a fun exercise, but it’s ultimately a futile one, because there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be sane, simple defaults that work well for ordinary folks. There were some nice points, but they can’t offset the overall negative feeling. I mean, I have a box that hardly copes with workload, I can’t use the graphics card, and it takes effort making it do the basics.

        Alas, Fedora is still a distro for hardcore veterans, most of whom will never care or see the stuff I’m testing, because they will have been upgrading since about Fedora 2, and won’t find anything in their daily routines to relate to the 99% of people out there – nor will they relate to Fedora. I am still happy with my first attempt, and I’ll show you how to customize the distro to perfection, but in general, this ain’t the distro for you. Or me. Shame. Because it started nice, and then just went nowhere. Here comes the rain again.

      • Fedora’s Strategic Direction: An Update from the Council
    • Debian Family

      • Montreal Bug Squashing Party – Jan 19th & 20th 2019

        We are organising a BSP in Montréal in January! Unlike the one we organised for the Stretch release, this one will be over a whole weekend so hopefully folks from other provinces in Canada and from the USA can come.

      • Debian Cloud Sprint 2018

        Recently we have made progress supporting cloud usage cases; grub and kernel optimised for cloud images help with reducing boot time and required memory footprint. There is also growing interest in non-x86 images, and FAI can now build such images.

        Discussion of support for LTS images, which started at the sprint, has now moved to the debian-cloud mailing list). We also discussed providing many image variants, which requires a more advanced and automated workflow, especially regarding testing. Further discussion touched upon providing newer kernels and software like cloud-init from backports. As interest in using secure boot is increasing, we might cooperate with other team and use work on UEFI to provide images signed boot loader and kernel.

      • Derivatives

        • Third Point Release of Univention Corporate Server 4.3-3

          With UCS 4.3-3 the third point release for Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.3 is now available, which includes a number of important updates and various new features.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Everything You Need to Know About Using PPA in Ubuntu

            An in-depth article that covers almost all the questions around using PPA in Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.

          • Canonical Launches MicroK8s

            Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, has announced MicroK8s, a snap package of Kubernetes that supports more than 42 flavors of Linux.

            MicroK8s further simplifies the deployment of Kubernetes with its small disk and memory footprint. Users can deploy Kubernetes in a few seconds. It can run on the desktop, the server, an edge cloud, or an IoT device.

            Snap is a self-contained app package solution created by Canonical that competes with Flatpak, which is backed by Red Hat and Fedora. Snap offers macOS and Windows-like packages with all dependencies bundled with it. A snap package of Kubernetes means any Linux distribution that supports Snap can benefit from MicroK8s

          • Compiz: Ubuntu Desktop’s little known best friend
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 resolutions for open source project maintainers

    I’m generally not big on New Year’s resolutions. I have no problem with self-improvement, of course, but I tend to anchor around other parts of the calendar. Even so, there’s something about taking down this year’s free calendar and replacing it with next year’s that inspires some introspection.

    In 2017, I resolved to not share articles on social media until I’d read them. I’ve kept to that pretty well, and I’d like to think it has made me a better citizen of the internet. For 2019, I’m thinking about resolutions to make me a better open source software maintainer.

  • Lessons in Vendor Lock-in: Shaving

    The power of open standards extends beyond today into the future. When my son gets old enough to shave, I can pass down one of my all-metal, decades-old antique razors to him, and it will still work. While everyone else in a decade will have to shave with some $20-per-blade disposable razor with three aloe strips, seven blades, and some weird vibrating and rotating motor, he will be able to pick any razor from my collection and find affordable replacement blades. This is the power of open standards and the freedom to avoid vendor lock-in.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 64 Released With Multi-Tab Management & Smart Suggestions

        The latest version of Mozilla Firefox for desktop and Android, version 64 just got released, and it brings a handful of useful features along.

        The biggest change here is the new tab management features. Press CTRL+Shift+click to select multiple tabs from the tab bar and you can move them around, close, bookmark, or pin very quickly.

      • Firefox 64.0 Released

        Firefox 64.0 is available today as the last major feature update to Mozilla’s web browser for 2018.

      • Firefox 64 Released

        Firefox 64 is available today! Our new browser has a wealth of exciting developer additions both in terms of interface features and web platform features, and we can’t wait to tell you about them. You can find out all the news in the sections below — please check them out, have a play around, and let us know your feedback in the comment section below.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Help us to make document compatibility even better

      The Document Liberation Project (DLP) is a sister project to LibreOffice, and provides many software libraries for reading and writing a large range of file formats – such as files created by other productivity tools. Thanks to the DLP, LibreOffice (and other programs) can open many legacy, proprietary documents, but there’s always room for improvement! Check out this short video to learn more:

  • CMS

    • What’s New in WordPress 5.0 “Bebo” (Features and Screenshots)

      WordPress is a free and open source Content Management System for creating beautiful websites, blogs, and apps. It powers 32% of the web and boasts a community of developers, site owners, and content creators in their thousands who meet up monthly in 436 cities worldwide.

      WordPress is always getting updated but it recently received its biggest update in the form of version 5.0 (codenamed “Bebo”) with changes that make it a lot easier to use and powerful to work with. The most important changes are its new editor and default theme.

      Let’s talk a look at what’s cool about them.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12.0 Officially Released

      FreeBSD 12.0 has made its debut as the latest stable version of this popular BSD operating system.

      FreeBSD 12.0 brings its compiler toolchain updated against LLVM 6.0.1, switches to OpenSSL 1.1.1a, the NUMA option is flipped on by default for AMD64 generic, significant VT driver improvements, various graphics driver improvements, NVMe device emulation for the Bhyve hypervisor, and a variety of other hardware support improvements.

    • FreeBSD 12 released: Here is how to upgrade FreeBSD 11 to 12

      The FreeBSD project announces the availability of FreeBSD 12.0-RELEASE. It is the first release of the stable/12 branch. The new version comes with updated software and features for a wild variety of architectures. The latest release provides performance improvements and better support for FreeBSD jails and more. One can benefit greatly using an upgraded version of FreeBSD.

      FreeBSD 12.0 supports amd64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, powerpcspe, sparc64, armv6, armv7, and aarch64 architectures. One can run it on a standalone server or desktop system. Another option is to run it on Raspberry PI computer. FreeBSD 12 also runs on popular cloud service providers such as AWS EC2/Lightsail or Google compute VM.

    • FreeBSD 12.0 is now out!

      12.0, which marks the first release of the stable/12 branch. This version is available for the amd64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, powerpcspe, sparc64, armv6, armv7, and aarch64 architectures.


    • GNU Guix: Back from SeaGL 2018

      SeaGL 2018 has concluded. Thank you to everyone in the local Seattle community who came to participate!

      As previously announced, Chris Marusich gave a talk introducing GNU Guix to people of all experience levels. Some very Guixy swag was handed out, including printed copies of this handy Guix reference card. The room was packed, the audience asked great questions, and overall it was tons of fun!

      If you weren’t able to come to SeaGL this year, that’s OK! You can watch a video of the talk below.

  • Programming/Development


  • Science

    • Blockchain: What’s Not To Like?

      I gave a talk at the Fall CNI meeting entitled Blockchain: What’s Not To Like? The abstract was:

      We’re in a period when blockchain or “Distributed Ledger Technology” is the Solution to Everything™, so it is inevitable that it will be proposed as the solution to the problems of academic communication and digital preservation. These proposals typically assume, despite the evidence, that real-world blockchain implementations actually deliver the theoretical attributes of decentralization, immutability, anonymity, security, scalability, sustainability, lack of trust, etc. The proposers appear to believe that Satoshi Nakamoto revealed the infallible Bitcoin protocol to the world on golden tablets; they typically don’t appreciate or cite the nearly three decades of research and implementation that led up to it. This talk will discuss the mis-match between theory and practice in blockchain technology, and how it applies to various proposed applications of interest to the CNI audience.

  • Hardware

    • Amazon’s Homegrown Chips Threaten Silicon Valley Giant Intel

      Amazon does not plan to sell this chip directly to customers, but the decision by one of the world’s biggest buyers of computer processors to go the do-it-yourself route is likely to have a major impact on Intel, the iconic Silicon Valley chip maker.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • PETA and the ‘S’-Word

      Those “disturbing” and “offensive” maniacs over at PETA are back at it, this time with an “extreme” suggestion that people stop using expressions which, in the organization’s view, “trivialize cruelty to animals.” Substitute other expressions, PETA proposes.

      Instead of “kill two birds with one stone,” say “feed two birds with one scone”; instead of “beat a dead horse,” say “feed a fed horse”; and so on. PETA is clearly being waggish here, as is their wont, but the underlying point is the same one they’ve been making for almost forty years: harming animals is wrong and we shouldn’t do it.

      The alternative idioms were presented in a computer-generated chart via Twitter, along with the following statement: “Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations.”

      In a follow-up statement PETA wrote: “Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are.”

      Within hours the headlines proliferated, all to the same effect. USA Today titled their story: “PETA ridiculed, criticized for comparing ‘speciesism’ with racism, homophobia and ableism.”

    • Illinois Regulators Are Investigating a Psychiatrist Whose Research With Children Was Marred by Misconduct

      Illinois regulators have launched an investigation into a prominent former University of Illinois at Chicago psychiatrist whose research into children with bipolar disorder was shut down because of her misconduct.

      The state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has issued three subpoenas to UIC seeking records related to Dr. Mani Pavuluri, who resigned from the university in June amid controversy. She has since opened her own medical practice, the Brain and Wellness Institute, in Lincoln Park.

      The subpoenas were issued by the IDFPR division that evaluates and grants doctors’ licenses. One was from the state’s medical disciplinary board, which reviews complaints about Illinois doctors and decides if discipline is appropriate. The board approved issuing the subpoena at a September meeting; it ordered UIC to provide records related to a clinical trial that Pavuluri oversaw studying the effects of the powerful drug lithium on children and teenagers.

      ProPublica Illinois revealed in April that, in a rare rebuke, the National Institute of Mental Health ordered the university to repay $3.1 million in grant money it had received for the study.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned

      On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered the Second World War. A war of horrors, it normalized the intensive, barbaric bombing of civilian populations. If the Spanish Civil War gave us Guernica and Picasso’s wrenching painting, WW2 offered up worse: London, Berlin, Dresden to name a few, the latter eloquently described in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five.” Against Japan, the firebombing of Tokyo, and above all the revulsion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki radiated a foretaste of ending life on the planet.

      Reparations demanded from Germany had led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and a thirst for revenge. Thus Hitler demanded France’s 1940 surrender in the same railway carriage where the humiliating armistice was signed in 1918.

      If the war to end all wars — its centenary remembrance a month ago — killed 20 million plus, the successor tripled the score. Disrupted agriculture, severed supply chains, fleeing civilians, starvation and misery; civilian deaths constituting an inordinate majority in our supposedly civilized world.

      One of the young men baling out of a burning bomber was George H. W. Bush. He was rescued but his crew who also baled out were never found, a thought that is said to have haunted him for the rest of his life. He went on to serve eight years as vice-president under Ronald Reagan and then four more as president. Last week he passed away and was honored with a state funeral service in Washington National Cathedral.

    • Why Green New Deal Advocates Must Address Militarism

      In the spirit of a new year and a new Congress, 2019 may well be our best and last opportunity to steer our ship of state away from the twin planetary perils of environmental chaos and militarism, charting a course towards an earth-affirming 21st century.

      The environmental crisis was laid bare by the sobering December report of the UN Climate panel: If the world fails to mobilize within the next 12 years on the level of a moon shot, and gear up to change our energy usage from toxic fossil, nuclear and industrial biomass fuels to the already known solutions for employing solar, wind, hydro, geothermal energy and efficiency, we will destroy all life on earth as we know it. The existential question is whether our elected officials, with the reins of power, are going to sit by helplessly as our planet experiences more devastating fires, floods, droughts, and rising seas or will they seize this moment and take monumental action as we did when the United States abolished slavery, gave women the vote, ended the great depression, and eliminated legal segregation.

      Some members of Congress are already showing their historic mettle by supporting a Green New Deal. This would not only start to reverse the damage we have inflicted on our collective home, but it would create hundreds of thousands of good jobs that cannot be shipped overseas to low wage countries.

    • Stand with Okinawa

      “Don’t cry here,” an 86-year-old Okinawan grandmother I had never met before told me. She stood next to me and took my hand. I had been visiting my family in Okinawa with my four children early in August and had traveled to Henoko, in the northeastern region of our main island, to join the protest against the U.S. military’s relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station from Futenma, located in the center of an urban district, to Camp Schwab, in a more remote coastal region. My teenage daughter, Kaiya, and I had spent the day with a crowd of elders holding protest signs in front of the gates of Camp Schwab. Rows and rows of more than 400 trucks hauling large rocks passed by, ready to outline an ocean area for the new base, equivalent to the size of 383 football fields. Our beautiful, tropical ecosystem with all of its internationally proclaimed and protected biodiversity was to soon be crushed, destroying coral and marine life. This, despite the overwhelming opposition of Indigenous island people. I began to cry as I held up my protest sign.

      “Grandma is going to cry when I get home tonight so I will be crying with you,” she said squeezing my hand. “Here, we fight together.” We watched as trucks flooded through the gate of the military base where Japanese police had pushed us away moments before. With tears in her eyes she said, “It wouldn’t be strange if we all jumped in front of every one of those trucks, because this is our ocean. This is our island.”

    • Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?

      The Harry Truman Show double-tapped the “Japs” in ‘45, not to end World War 2 ASAP, but to flourish the Yankee saber before the Ruskies at Potsdam and ensure they knew who the sheriff was in the new world order that followed, according to some accounts. Like two ancient warrior tribes, the Anglos and the Vikings, say, the Americans have been rattling words and swords ever since, from Sputnik to Stuxnet, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Edward Snowden. They are inextricably linked in modern history and, like the synthetic product of a Hegelian dialectical struggle, have revolutionized the world together.

      You could draw a straight line from Sputnik to Stuxnet, from the early battle to control outer-space to the World War Cyber we are currently in. Sputnik, the world’s first man-made satellite, was seen as a Russian warning shot across the bow of the growing American talk-soft-Exceptionalism-and-carry-a-big-nuclear-stick empire. Out of the ensuing reactionary panic, the Pentagon developed the first internet (ARPANET), which was designed, in part, to be a Doomsday communication system to ensure that American ICBM missiles could retaliate, should the Cold War get hot in a hurry.

      It was a long time in coming, but Stuxnet, like Sputnik, is a firing-across-the-bow, an American warning to the world, but especially to the Russkies, that it’s game on in cyber-space. Stuxnet was the first virus designed to take out not code but hardware: Iranian nuclear centrifuges overheated with a resulting system catastrophe. Imagine a virus that targeted the fan of your laptop, resulting an overheating that destroyed the motherboard. Now imagine the world of industry — electric grids, oil wells, and yes, military hardware, etc. — targeted by tailored viruses. That’s the world we live in now.

    • Ahead of Historic War Powers Vote to End US Complicity in Yemen, ‘Tell Your Senators You’ll Be Watching’

      With the humanitarian crisis in Yemen getting worse by the day as Saudi Arabia continues to bombard the impoverished nation with the enthusiastic backing of the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday will have a historic opportunity to end America’s “participation in this horror” by voting on a War Powers resolution that would cut off military assistance the Saudi kingdom.

      “Tell your senators you’ll be watching their vote today on our bill to end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who is sponsoring the resolution alongside Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah.), declared in a series of tweets. “The bombs dropped on children. The shrapnel left behind. The planes in the sky. All of this is made in America, sold to the Saudis, and used to perpetrate war crimes against the people of Yemen.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Court in Ecuador to consider appeal of Wikileaks founder Assange,says lawyer

      An Ecuadorian court will consider the appeal submitted by the defense of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange against the demand of the country’s government to comply with a protocol containing rules specially developed for him, Assange’s lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda said.

      The whistleblower has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.

      Assange has repeatedly suggested he might be apprehended outside the embassy and extradited to the United States,reported Sputnik.

    • Ecuador court to hear appeals of Julian Assange on Wednesday
    • Ecuador court to hear appeals of Julian Assange on Wednesday
    • Court In Ecuador To Consider Appeal Of Wikileaks Founder Assange On Wednesday – Lawyer
    • Ecuador court to hear appeals of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday

      An Ecuadorian court will consider on Wednesday the appeal submitted by the defense of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is living in the country’s embassy in London, against the demand of the country’s government to comply with a protocol containing rules specially developed for him, Assange’s lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda, told Sputnik.

      The whistleblower has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012. Assange has repeatedly suggested he might be apprehended outside the embassy and extradited to the United States. Over the past months, the Ecuadorian authorities have been putting various restrictions on the conditions of Assange’s stay in the embassy, which the whistleblower’s defense called the violation of human rights.

      “We hope that the court will adequately analyze our petition and accept 15 facts of evidence that were requested in order to leave the protocol and restrictions on visits in place,” Poveda said.

      According to the lawyer, these arguments include letters from individuals and organizations that were not allowed access to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

    • 4 Journalists and a Newspaper Are Time’s Person of the Year

      Time magazine on Tuesday recognized journalists, including the slain Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as its 2018 Person of the Year in what it said was an effort to emphasize the importance of reporters’ work in an increasingly hostile world.

      The designation wasn’t intended as a specific message to the magazine’s runner-up choice, President Donald Trump, who has denounced “fake news” and called some reporters enemies of the people, said Ben Goldberger, executive editor.

      Time cited four figures it called “the guardians.” Besides Khashoggi, they are the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were shot to death in June; Philippine journalist Maria Ressa; and Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for a year.

    • Dems demand Pompeo brief Congress on whether he discussed Assange with Ecuadorian official

      A group of top Democrats is requesting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brief Congress on his meeting last month with Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, specifically demanding he provide details on whether WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange’s future in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was discussed.

      In the letter, sent Tuesday, the Democrats — including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) — wrote that they “remain deeply interested” in whether Pompeo discussed Assange with Valencia.

      “As you are aware, in January 2017, the unclassified report by the U.S. Intelligence Community assessed with high confidence that Russian military intelligence used proxies to transfer hacked data obtained in cyber operations to WikiLeaks,” the letter reads. “These activities were explicitly intended to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

      The lawmakers asked Pompeo to inform Congress next week if he asked Valencia to confirm a report that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, as well as for logs and other information tracking Assange’s visitors.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Controversial Australian Climate Science Denier Cardinal George Pell Removed from Vatican Advisory Group

      Australian Cardinal George Pell has been removed from his role as one of the Vatican’s key advisors as Pope Francis moves to distance himself from the controversial figure.

      Pell last year took an indefinite leave of absence from his job as the Vatican’s economy minister to defend himself from prosecution for historical child sexual offences.

      Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile – also the subject of allegations related to sexual abuse,- has also been removed from C-9, a prominent advisory group, Reuters reports.

      Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the world to be facing trial over historical sexual offence allegations. In June, Pell was charged with historical sexual assault offences by Australian police in the state of Victoria. Pell denies all the allegations.

      Pope Francis and Cardinal Pell, described by some as number three in the church’s hierarchy have divergent views on climate channge. Whilse Pope Francis has been widely praised for his “encyclical”, in which he described climate change as “one of the principal challenges facing humanity, Cardinal Pell has conaistently promoted climate science denial.

      In Laudato Si’ – On Care For Our Common Home, the Pope set out the strong moral case for action. He wrote: “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”

    • Concluding #COP24 Without Bold Climate Action Plan ‘Would Be Suicidal,’ UN Chief Warns

      “To waste this opportunity in Katowice would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change,” he declared. “It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”

      “In my opening statement to this conference one week ago,” Guterres said, “I warned that climate change is running faster than we are and that Katowice must—in no uncertain terms—be a success, as a necessary platform to reverse this trend.”

    • Petrochemical Booster Rick Perry Rides to the Rescue of the Fracking Industry

      When he took the job, Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn’t seem to know what the Department of Energy actually did. But since then, he has committed himself to one mission: promoting fossil fuels and petrochemicals.

      Specifically, Perry is pushing a massive petrochemical buildout in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, which would turn the Tri-State area into a new epicenter of highly polluting petrochemical manufacturing to rival the Gulf Coast. Last week, the Energy Department released a Report to Congress boasting the erroneous benefits of a key piece of infrastructure called the Appalachian Storage Hub. Secretary Perry also gushed about the storage hub on the op-ed page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

      The Trump administration’s push for petrochemicals is perfectly in sync with what major corporate powers are proposing. Right now, investors are pouring billions of dollars into Appalachia to create a cluster of gas infrastructure and plastics and petrochemical factories. An alliance of industry players, government officials and regional universities have also been promoting this substantial investment.

      Two of the facilities are petrochemical crackers that turn the natural gas liquid ethane into a chemical used to make plastic (one in Pennsylvania is under construction, while the other is proposed in Ohio). The third piece is the Appalachian Storage Hub in Ohio, which received partial approval early this year for a $1.9 billion Department of Energy loan. The Storage Hub would hold natural gas liquids like ethane underground and connect with a web of pipeline infrastructure to supply regional petrochemical and plastics facilities.

    • Typhoon Haiyan Survivor: Fossil Fuel Companies Killed My Family by Hastening Climate Change

      As we broadcast from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, world leaders and officials from nearly 200 countries are here to negotiate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. But three years after Paris, they appear no closer to curbing global emissions and halting catastrophic climate change. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much as 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. As the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe, we speak with Joanna Sustento, who has already felt the harrowing effects of climate change and has dedicated her life to climate activism as a result. Her life was turned upside down in 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones in recorded history, devastated the Philippines, killing five members of her family and thousands of others.

    • Trump’s Energy Adviser Runs Away When Questioned by Democracy Now! at U.N. Climate Talks

      The Trump administration is promoting fossil fuels at the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, despite outcry from climate activists and world leaders concerned about the devastating threat of climate change. Chief among Trump’s representatives at the climate summit is Wells Griffith, special assistant to the president for international energy and environment. He is a longtime Republican operative who served as deputy chief of staff to Reince Priebus when Priebus was chair of the Republican National Committee. Amy Goodman attempted to question Wells Griffith about the Trump administration’s climate policy at the U.N. summit Tuesday. Griffith refused to answer questions and ran from our camera team for about a quarter-mile, retreating to the U.S. delegation office.

    • Countries that Blocked ‘Welcoming’ of Major Climate Science Report at UN Talks have Dozens of Delegates with Ties to Oil, Gas, and Mining

      Dozens of delegates from four countries that forced the UN climate negotiations to weaken language around the acceptance of a major climate science report have ties to the oil, gas and mining industries.

      At least 35 delegates from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the US are either currently employed or used to work for companies and organisations involved in the petrochemical and mining industries or lobbying on behalf of those industries.

      On Saturday, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “noted” the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark 1.5 degrees report at the annual talks in Katowice, Poland. Poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study, Climate Home reported.

      The IPCC’s report, released in October 2018, warned that the world has 12 years to radically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. The report was commissioned by countries at the annual climate talks in Paris in 2015.

      Of the 35 delegates DeSmog UK has identified with ties to the fossil fuel and mining industries, 12 are representing Saudi Arabia, and nine are representing Russia. NGO Climate Tracker previously identified 13 delegates representing Kuwait that worked for the fossil fuel industry.

    • In Early Holiday ‘Gift to Polluters,’ Trump Guts Protections for 60 Percent of Nation’s Streams, Wetlands, and Waterways

      Sixty percent of U.S. waterways will be at risk for pollution from corporate giants, critics say, following the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday that it will roll back an Obama-era water rule meant to protect Americans’ drinking water and all the waterways that flow into it.

      The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Obama administration’s 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) rule would be redefined and no longer protect many of the nation’s streams and wetlands.

      “This is an early Christmas gift to polluters and a lump of coal for everyone else,” said Bob Irvin, president of the national advocacy group American Rivers. “Too many people are living with unsafe drinking water. Low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and communities of color are hit hardest by pollution and river degradation.”

    • Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son

      In February 2019, I will become a Father. One thing I am learning about the capitalist marketing of parenthood is the endless list of items one “needs” for their infant. Cribs, changing pads, clothes, boopies, bottles, bassinets, rockers, car seats, lotions, oils, and then what do you need when your little one soils his or herself?

      Then there’s classes to take to prepare for your upcoming project of parenthood like birthing and new born classes. Don’t get me wrong these things are supposed to make a parent’s life easier and knowing what is happening inside your partner’s body and how to take care of the infant once it hits the outside world is vital, but it all becomes overwhelming and some of items marketed for infants taps into our excessive culture of consumption for temporary fulfillment and usage.

      It’s as if becoming a parent is being marketed as going to war. And in a capitalist economy war is a racket, this war on newfound parenthood is a racket on your bank account, and the capitalists wouldn’t have any other way. One would think the human species would have never reached 7.6 billion people and counting without various forms of plastic equipment to guide your children through infancy.

      Figuring out how a diaper genie works is not what keeps my mind racing and thoughts popping into my head late into the evening. Wishing that I could rub the diaper genie to have an actual genie appear before me to grant me three wishes is what I think about.

    • Sport, Fashion, and Tourism: Corporate Greenwash’s New Frontiers at the UN Climate Talks

      What do Adidas, Hilton hotels, and the World Surfing League all have in common?

      They’re all climate champions, apparently.

      They also have a lot of customers and fans. Much more than most climate activists – just take a look at their Twitter followings – which could explain why this year’s annual UN climate talks welcomed them with open arms.

      But are the industries serious about addressing the problem, or are they simply following a greenwash playbook rolled out by the fossil fuel industry each year at the talks?

    • Calling Promotion Betrayal of Planet, Groups Denounce Schumer for Giving ‘Fossil Fuel Servant’ Joe Manchin Top Spot on Energy Committee

      “Appointing Senator Manchin as ranking member of the Energy Committee is completely at odds with any plan for real climate action,” May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement. “Manchin has taken every opportunity to put Big Oil before the health and safety of communities and our climate.”

      Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, argued that the appointment of the pro-coal West Virginia senator to a top Energy Committee slot is a “stark failure of Chuck Schumer’s leadership” in the midst of dire scientific warnings that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2040 to avert planetary catastrophe.

    • Democratizing Money

      The Green New Deal has been in the air lately. In a recent piece on this website, Rob Urie writes that the Green New Deal is “the last, best hope for environmental and social resolution outside of rapid dissolution toward dystopian hell.”

      Quite a claim. Let’s take a closer look.

      The Green New Deal, first articulated by the Green Party but now supported by many progressive Democrats, calls for “real financial reform” to address the twin problems of climate change and economic insecurity.

      Included are some of the standard proposals we regularly hear, such as restoring the Glass-Steagell Act (separating commercial and investment banking), breaking up the big banks, ending bank bailouts, reducing debt burdens, regulating derivatives, and taxing bank bonuses.

    • ‘Gas is Not a Solution to Climate Change’: Activists Interrupt Fossil Fuel Lobby Group Event at UN Climate Talks

      Activists interrupted a keynote address by a gas industry lobbyist to demand the European Union do more to prove itself as a climate leader, and stem the flow of gas across the continent.

      Around 30 activists conducted a “symbolic walk out” during a talk by Marco Alvera, president of lobby group GasNaturally. The campaigners rose from their seats as Alvera declared that the industry “fully supports the Paris Agreement” and said there was an opportunity for the gas industry to “capitalise” as other fossil fuels are phased out.

      Gas emits less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels such as coal and oil when burned. But scientists say that use of natural gas could have to reduce “by more than 50 percent” by 2050 if the world is going to prevent warming of 1.5 degrees, or unless new technology to capture and store the fuel’s emissions is developed.

      Simon Roscoe Blevins, an anti-fracking campaigner from the UK who was part of the action, told the media “natural gas is not the solution to climate change. There is no place for it, now or in the future”.

    • Canadian Government Declares Oil Trains Safe and Plans to Get Into the Oil Train Business

      As Canadian oil-by-rail numbers reach record new volumes (and expected to rise), Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) announced recently that it would no longer list shipping the hazardous material by rail as a top safety concern.

      Just a month later, the Alberta provincial government — where the majority of tar sands oil is produced — announced plans to bail out the tar sands industry by getting into the oil-by-rail business.

      Here’s why that’s bad news for the communities in both Canada and the U.S. where this influx of oil train traffic will pass.

    • Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections

      Last week the Trump administration announced it was slashing the area dedicated to protecting imperiled sage grouse populations from 10.7 million acres to 1.8 million acres and opening the rest to drilling and mining. For the faux conservation collaborators who were crowing about their great victory in keeping sage grouse from being protected by the Endangered Species Act, it’s another huge loss for collaboration and a win for industry and developers.

      Sage grouse are native ground-dwelling birds about the size of chickens that only a century ago numbered 16 million across 13 Western states and three Canadian provinces. Latest estimates put their decimated population at somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000, primarily due to habitat destruction through sagebrush eradication, industrial impacts and development.

      Sage grouse have been candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act since 2002, but in 2015 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was congressionally prohibited from listing the birds as threatened for 10 years. That should have been a wake-up call to those who profess to being advocates for sage grouse protection and restoration that politics, not science, would call the shots in the future. Unfortunately, instead of putting up a fight for giving the birds the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, various groups and agencies opted for collaboration to halt the precipitous population decline.

    • How Regenerative Agriculture Could Be Key to the Green New Deal

      With the 2018 mid-term election and the prospect of 2020, people are finally beginning electing more climate realists over fossil fuel apologists. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her band of newly elected progressive congresswomen, and Bernie Sanders, the most popular politician and likely presidential candidate, have proposed a Green New Deal. This paln would put the government’s economic resources behind a definitive move to renewable energy and an end to fossil fuel dominance. With the recent IPCC report predicting that the earth will reach critical thresholds as early as 2030, there’s not a moment to waste.

  • Finance

    • Tencent Music Sets $1.1 Billion IPO at Bottom as Markets Gyrate

      Tencent Music will debut at a valuation of about $21.3 billion, falling short of the $23.3 billion of Spotify Technology SA, the Swedish peer that’s also an investor in the Chinese company. Its less-than-optimal IPO pricing doesn’t bode well for mainland companies considering their own coming-out parties, and follows recent lackluster debuts by the likes of Mogu Inc.

    • China bans sale of most iPhone models after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple

      The ban does not cover the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XR, which were not yet available when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit. The phones covered by the ban make up about 10% to 15% of current iPhone sales in China, according to Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities.

      The court granted a pair of preliminary injunctions requested by Qualcomm, an American microchip maker. Qualcomm claims that Apple violates two of its patents in the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The patents allow people to edit and resize photos on a phone and to manage apps by using a touchscreen, according to Qualcomm.

    • Charter School Teachers in Chicago Organize to Strike

      Noting that “the conflict between educators, the two corporate controlled political parties, and the unions that falsely claim to represent teachers has now reached a new stage,” in November 2018, Kristina Betinis reported for the World Socialist Web Site that teachers at four charter school operators in Chicago had voted overwhelmingly to strike. Teachers at Acero Schools and Chicago International Charter Schools, which together operate 19 schools, approved a strike with above 95% support of teachers from all schools. Subsequently teachers at two more Chicago charter school operators, Civitas Education Partners and Quest Management, authorized walkouts.

      As Betinis reported, Chicago charter school teachers sought to organize strikes and walkouts to demand better pay, smaller class sizes, longer parental leave, and increased resources and wages for special education and paraprofessionals.

      Charter schools have grown rapidly in Chicago. In 2010, charter school approximately 35,000 students in Chicago attended charter schools. By 2017, that figure had risen to an estimated 65,000 students. Increases in charter school enrollments reduce attendance at—and funding for—the city’s public schools.

    • Teacher Strikes and the Shortcomings of Establishment Reporting

      In August 2018, Los Angeles public school teachers voted to strike, following high-profile teacher walkouts in other states across the country, including West Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma, as Michael Sainato reported for the Guardian. A study by Frederick Hess and RJ Martin found that, although the increase in strikes by teachers has been covered by corporate media, these reports consistently marginalized the voices of the major parties affected—parents and students—and neglected to give a clear understanding of teacher compensation (including health care benefits, pensions and salaries).

      Teachers across the country have gone on strike to focus public attention on their concerns, but corporate coverage has tended to ignore how the lack of funds for public education is at the core of these actions. The Guardian reported that, depending on the criteria used to rank states, California’s spending per student consistently ranked from 37th to 50th in the country.

    • UK Special Education Programs at Risk Following Budget Cuts

      In November 2018, the Guardian discovered information requests and council reports indicating that funding for children with special needs in England has been cut in several districts. This is due to massive overspending on special needs programs, such as the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) program. Because of this increase in spending, councils across the nation are scrambling to find financial stability while also maintaining support for special needs students. So far, the Guardian has identified approximately forty councils who are either cutting funding, contemplating cutting funding, or using money from other education budgets to sustain themselves until a solution can be found.

      This unfortunate incident has led to parents taking legal action against councils who are considering defunding or making cuts to SEND. This funding supports children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other disabilities.

      The Guardian estimated that £315 million (approximately $354 million) from the education budget will be used to fill gaps in special needs funding by the end of the year. This increased spending for SEND funding draws from an increased need for special education programs, which benefit students across the nation. Reported data from 117 councils (out of 152) has identified that this spending rose from £61 million to £195 million from 2015-2018.

    • Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000 — or $400,000?

      When Natassia Smick, 28, filed her family’s taxes in January, she already had plans for the refund she and her husband expected to receive. Mainly, she wanted to catch up on her credit card debt. And she was pregnant with their second child, so there were plenty of extra expenses ahead.

      Since Smick, who is taking classes toward a bachelor’s degree, and her husband, a chef, together earned around $33,000 in 2017, about $2,000 of that refund would come from the earned income tax credit. It’s among the government’s largest anti-poverty programs, sending more than $60 billion every year to families like Smick’s: people who have jobs but are struggling to get by. Last year, 28 million households claimed the EITC.

      Smick, who lives outside Los Angeles, thought she’d get her refund in a month or so, as she had the year before. But no refund came. Instead, she got a letter from the IRS saying it was “conducting a thorough review” of her return. She didn’t need to do anything, it said. Smick waited as patiently as she could. She called the IRS and was told to wait some more.

      It wasn’t until four months later, in July, that she got her next letter. The IRS informed her that she was being audited. She had 30 days to provide “supporting documentation” for basically everything. As she understood it, she needed to prove that she and her husband had earned what they’d earned and that her child was her child.

    • The Brexit Shambles Rambles On

      This week was meant to be the denouement of the UK’s divorce from the EU, as the House of Commons was due to vote on the final EU divorce deal Theresa May had hammered out with EU leaders.

      May however postponed the vote the day before it was due to be held, saying that “if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin”.

      Allegedly May wanted more time to return to Brussels to plead with EU leaders for concessions that would sweeten her deal, even if only cosmetically.

      More than 100 of her own backbenchers indicated they would not support May’s deal, as had her Northern Irish DUP allies, and with Labour also opposed, she would have lost this vote by a large margin.

      May’s trip to Brussels with be a waste of time. The eurocrats have been unyielding in their dealings with the UK on Brexit, and sure enough, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted this week that the EU “will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop”.

      The “backstop” refers to the open border between the north and the south of Ireland that is the cornerstone of the Good Friday peace agreement. If the border remains open after the divorce, there will be a part of the UK (Northern Ireland) that will have the same border with an EU country (Ireland) that all EU members have with each other.

    • The Co-Opting of French Unrest to Spread Disinformation

      Online, a more insidious war rages. On Twitter, outsiders with little or no association with France or French politics—including far-right figureheads, conspiracy theorists, and pro-Kremlin influence networks—are capitalizing on interest in the gilets jaunes to spread disinformation, push state-sponsored propaganda, and advance their own political agendas. Research reviewed by WIRED indicates that these accounts are responsible for at least tens of thousands of posts on Twitter, many of which were then shared by thousands of others, often unaware they were spreading disinformation. The campaigns have echoes of the Russian-inspired disinformation effort in the US during the 2016 election.

    • Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job

      The deletion of events that don’t fit with the reigning ideology is part of how ruling class-owned media works to manufacture mass consent to unjust hierarchy.

      I spent much of last week in a cable-television-equipped U.S.-American apartment with CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News at my fingertips. As I inhabited this abode, flicking between sports and cable news, a political crisis of the state was unfolding in one of the world’s richest and most powerful states. France was gripped by an historic working- and middle-class uprising. In the biggest popular unrest seen there since May of 1968, many hundreds of thousands of Gilets Jaunes (“yellow vests”) took to French roadways and other public space in their fourth straight week of explosive mass protests.

    • The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It

      When millennials head home for the holidays this month, many who are city dwellers will be hosted by parents or grand-parents whose housing is far more spacious and financially secure than their own. Even guests with well-paid jobs in relatively stable rental markets will cast an envious eye at the benefits of baby boomer house buying decades ago.

      That’s because these holiday visitors belong to a “generation priced out” of America’s hottest urban markets for single-family homes, condos, and rental apartments. According to Berkeley author Randy Shaw, skyrocketing prices for all three forms of housing have created a generational divide, with major political implications for progressive city governments and advocates of affordable housing.

      On one side, we find older Americans, of varying income levels, who were able to take advantage of past market conditions, local zoning practices, or home ownership incentives to secure affordable housing that’s now in short supply for their own off-spring. On the other side are growing numbers of younger people—poor, working class, and even professional middle-class–who struggle to put a roof over their head that’s not on top of someone else’s garage. (As we saw in Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley’s ode to millennial life in rapidly gentrifying Oakland, its better, in a rent-paying pinch, if the garage owner is your uncle!).

    • There’s a Hunger Crisis in North Carolina

      We have a hunger epidemic in North Carolina, and it’s getting worse.

      North Carolina is the ninth-hungriest state in the nation, with 16.2 percent of residents receiving some amount of federal assistance to buy food in the form of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

      One in eight individuals in the state were food insecure last year — food insecurity is defined as not having reliable access to your next meal. According to the North Carolina Department of Housing and Human Services, 56 percent of public-school children are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and one in five children face hunger on a daily basis.

      The North Carolina General Assembly’s Committee on Food Desert Zones reported over 350 food deserts in the state in 2014. These numbers are significantly larger in 2018. According to the NC Action Research Center, 18 percent of elderly individuals struggle with hunger.

      In short, all kinds of people in North Carolina — children, adults and seniors — face food insecurity and hunger.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The somewhat absurd controversy over Maine’s ranked choice voting system, explained

      The new system allows voters to number the candidates on their ballot; their alternate choices come into play if no candidate receives the majority (50 percent plus 1) of first preferences. If that happens, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their votes redistributed to whomever those voters ranked second. This is repeated in rounds until one candidate reaches a majority. It resembles the run-off style elections held in states like Mississippi, but without needing to hold a whole new election — in a sense, simulating a series of runoff elections.

      Depending on whom you ask, the new method of voting is either a push toward a more democratic system or a logistical hellscape. Despite the fact that it’s used in multiple countries around the world with little fuss, in Maine, it’s proven more the latter, thanks in part to political resistance and legal challenges from the state’s Republicans.

    • ‘If You Don’t Want Negative Search Results, Don’t Do Negative Things,’ Ted Lieu Tells GOP During Google Hearing

      That’s what Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told his Republican colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday during a hearing that featured testimony from Google CEO Sundar Pichai and amid ongoing, yet unfounded, complaints by right-wing lawmakers and commentators that the search giant is biased against them.

      To make his point, Lieu used the example of Google news searches he did on two House Republicans named Steve: one was Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and the other was Steve King of Iowa.

      After reading aloud headlines from each set of results—the Scalise articles were generally positive, while the King results noted his record of racists remarks and retweets—and asking Pichai to confirm that the algorithms of the search engine don’t order results based on ideological leanings, the congressman offered some advice.

    • UK’s human rights abuses – Does Theresa May have a link to the Ariana Grande concert bombing? (E691)

      Historian Mark Curtis reveals that Britain bears responsibility for around 10 million deaths since WW2. He goes over Britain’s support for repressive regimes throughout the period, bloody conflicts Britain has been involved in, and massacres Britain has been complicit in which have been wiped from the history books.

    • Theresa May’s Britain

      I have only ever been able to discern two underlying motivations in Theresa May’s career; a love of office and a hatred of immigrants. It is possible to love office without loving power; loving power means you want to do something with it, whereas loving office is just for prestige and personal economic opportunity. I do not imagine May’s hatred of immigrants is driven by actual racism, easy though it is to read that into her hostile environment, go home van, end free movement, career. It is rather that the incredibly successful Tory narrative remains the false attribution of working class poverty to immigration, rather than its actual cause, massive inequality and an entire legal structure and system of government geared to promoting the interests of the super wealthy.

      I do not understand the notion that we have a constitutional crisis. The solution seems self-evident. England and Wales voted to leave the EU, by a large margin if you take those two countries, which share a legal system, alone. Let them leave the EU. Scotland voted by a still larger majority to remain in the EU. Let it become Independent, remain in the EU, and not need to thwart the will of the English and Welsh to leave. And let Ireland forget its bigots and be a united country.

      Constitutional crisis over. Indeed, that there is no other viable solution, and the UK is no longer a viable political unit, I can guarantee you will be universally recognised by the year 2030 as having been a self-evident truth. The actual dissolution of the UK will come ten years before that.


      The decline of leisure is not something to be celebrated. The shrinking of the “economically inactive” figure to 21% means that many pensioners are forced to keep on working because they cannot make ends meet on the developed world’s most miserly pensions, that parents of young children are forced both to stay in jobs rather than provide all the love, protection and affection they may wish. Every time Theresa May is questioned on the heartless fiasco of universal credit, she states its aim is to “get people back into work”, by which she means choose between starvation and vicious drudgery; with no rights, no prospects and low paid hours handed down as a favour.

    • UK’s May to Face No-Confidence Vote by Lawmakers

      British politics was thrown into chaos and Brexit into doubt Wednesday as Conservative lawmakers triggered a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Theresa May that will see her removed as party and government leader if she loses.

      May vowed to fight the challenge “with everything I’ve got,” after Graham Brady, who heads a committee overseeing Conservative leadership contests, said he had received letters from at least 48 lawmakers asking for a vote.

      As a result, he said, “the threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded.”

      Brady said the vote would be held in Parliament between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (1800GMT and 2000GMT) on Wednesday evening, with the results announced soon after.

    • With or Without Theresa May, Says Corbyn, Brexit Chaos Proves Tory Party’s “Total Inability to Govern”

      The United Kingdom’s Tory government is on the verge of total collapse, and many believe Prime Minister Theresa May could soon be on her way out.

      Following May’s abrupt decision to postpone a vote on her widely condemned Brexit plan after it became clear the 600-page agreement would be soundly rejected by Parliament, the prime minister on Wednesday will face a no-confidence vote brought by members of her own party that could ultimately oust her from power—if she doesn’t offer to step down first.

      But in a speech on the floor of Parliament ahead of the planned vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the Conservative government of “running away” from May’s Brexit crisis and argued the outcome of the no-confidence vote “is utterly irrelevant to the lives of people across our country.”

    • Conservatives Own the Ongoing Disaster That Is Brexit

      I’ve just returned from a whirlwind visit to the United Kingdom, where the elephant in every room seems to have grown to such proportions that Brits can hardly breathe without mentioning it with a groan. I’m talking about Brexit, of course, the U.K.’s ill-fated divorce from the European Union, which began over two years ago with a referendum that launched British politics into chaos.

      Since that June day in 2016, nothing’s been quite the same in Britain, and almost nothing else has been more pressing on the minds and mouths of Britons everywhere. Turn on any channel in the U.K., pick up any paper on your way to the tube, step into any pub from Aberdeen to London or visit any British news website, and you’ll likely see or hear at least one mention of Brexit, if not several.

      And yet, nothing has actually happened. Well, a few things have. The gamble-prone David Cameron resigned as prime minister in disgrace, a quick leadership contest in the Tory party led to the rise of former Home Secretary Theresa May over the infamous “Leave” campaigner Boris Johnson, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was triggered to begin the divorce negotiations, May called for a snap election that actually led to Tories losing seats in Parliament, and through it all Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has held his own against threats to his leadership within his party, a hostile media and even a possible government-funded conspiracy.

      But in terms of Brexit, the U.K. is no closer now than it was in 2016 to even beginning its formal departure from the EU. May’s government has spent the better part of two years negotiating with the European Union, only to come up with a deal that pretty much no one likes, and that Corbyn calls “the worst of all worlds.”

    • Statement on Strasbourg attack: response from Molly Scott Cato MEP

      Responding to last night’s attack in Strasbourg, in which three peolle were killed and 12 others injured, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who was close to the attak when it happened, said:

      “Following the shocking attack in Strasbourg last night I would like to offer my sympathy to the families of those who were killed and the many people who were injured and to send solidarity to everybody in the city who feels shaken and brutalised this morning.

      “Strasbourg is at the centre of the European peace project and also the heart of human rights in our continent since it houses both the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights. As Greens we therefore restate our total commitment to both these idealistic and hopeful projects this morning.

    • What We Now Know about Manafort, Cohen and “Individual-1” — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

      Court filings by prosecutors last week shined a light on the business lives of two men who worked get Donald Trump elected president: former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

    • ‘We Need an Unprecedented Transformation in Every Sector’: 250 Climate Activists Stage Sit-in at Pelosi’s San Francisco Office

      That’s what 24-year-old Morissa Zuckerman—one of 250 youth climate activists and constituents who staged a sit-in at the San Francisco office of presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday—wants to know.

      “If Nancy Pelosi is up to date on the latest climate science, then she knows that we need an unprecedented transformation in every sector of the economy over the next 12 years,” Zuckerman said in a statement. “Planning for a Green New Deal is common sense. It’s the Democratic Party’s ticket to the White House.”

      While a surge of support since Monday—after at least 1,000 youth activists flooded Capitol Hill and more than 140 were arrested—has brought the total number of incoming House Democrats calling for the creation of a select committee for a Green New Deal to 35, Pelosi is not yet among them. The protesters hope to change that.

    • If Democrats Fracture, This Will Be the Fault Line

      Back in the closing years of the 20th century, the British Labour Party leader Tony Blair thoroughly redefined his party’s essence. Labour, Blair believed, had to shake off the past and become a political force “on the side” of the upwardly mobile, not just workers and their unions.

      Blair’s chief strategist, Peter Mandelson, would capture the new Blairite sensibility with a quip that would go viral in the UK, even before the days of social media.

      “We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich,” Mandelson opined, “as long as they pay their taxes.”

      And those taxes would stay modest in the years after Blair’s electoral triumph in 1997. Prime minister Blair would pay precious little attention to the increasing concentration of British income, wealth, and power in the hands of a filthy rich few.

      How did that benign neglect work out for average people in the UK? Not so well. Families in Britain’s industrial belt, reeling ever since the 1980s free-market fundamentalism of the Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher, continued on a dispiriting economic slide.

      Corporate and banking honchos, meanwhile, stuffed their pockets and eventually crashed the British economy. For an encore, they helped shove Great Recession Britain into years of austerity that placed the full burden of economic recovery onto the backs of low- and middle-income households.

    • I’m with Progressives Against Impeachment

      Why? Because it bypasses democratic politics in favour of the legal system, or the quasi-legal impeachment process. But democratic electoral politics operates in its own, independent realm.

      For instance, Marion Barry was a U.S. civil rights leader who got elected mayor of Washington D.C. in the ’80s. The FBI entrapped him in a crack sting and he went to jail. Then he got reelected. His slogan was, “He isn’t perfect but he’s perfect for D.C.” Voters got the distinction.

      Take a Canadian example. In the 1830s, William Lyon Mackenzie was elected to Ontario’s legislature. The aristocrats in the Family Compact expelled him because he wanted democratic reform. Basically, they impeached him — four times. But the voters returned him each time.

      In Brazil, the right used impeachment to remove progressive president Dilma Rousseff and the courts jailed former president Lula to stop him from running again because he’d have won.

    • Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin

      The power grab by Wisconsin Republicans to limit the incoming authority of the Democratic Attorney General and Governor is about pettiness and being a sore loser. But it is not the only instance of such pettiness–Michigan too is experiencing this, as did North Carolina a few years ago when the Democratic governor ousted the Republican. Pettiness seems to be de rigueur, inspired by Donald Trump’s brand of politics, violating two norms, one informal, the other constitutional.

      Pettiness and being a sore loser is not a unique feature of contemporary American politics–it tradition goes back perhaps as early as 1800. Then, when Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Democrats took control of the White House and Congress and ousted John Adams and the Federalists, the latter retaliated with a series of late minute acts that included judgeships to stack the courts. This resulted in the appointment by John Adams of a judicial commission to William Marbury, who, while confirmed by the Senate, did not have his judgeship delivered in term and which Thomas Jefferson refused to honor. The dispute resulted in the arguably the most important and famous Supreme Court case in American history–Marbury v. Madison–which established the principles of judicial review, constitutional supremacy, and separation of powers as fundamental values in American law and politics.

      The incidents surrounding Marbury are twofold important. First, the 1800 elections were arguably the most significant in American history, establishing a pattern of peaceful transition of government power from one party to another. A hallmark of democracy is the acknowledgment by one party that it has lost and its willingness to give up the reigns of power peacefully to the opposition. Yes, in 1800 the Federalists were sore losers, but power transferred without gun shots and the election established the unwritten norm of how parties ought to observe one another–not as enemies or criminals to be locked up–but as rivals with whom you disagree but nonetheless will not seek to illegitimately undermine.

    • How To Elect Democrats Who Actually Answer To Workers

      Over the past decade in particular, right-wing forces have doubled down on their multifaceted effort to rig the rules of governmental elections. Examples include unlimited and unaccountable spending by the employer class, restrictions on who is eligible to be on the voter list itself, and gerrymandering galore.

      Many of these tactics will feel familiar to workers, whose power has been undermined for decades by bosses manipulating the system. Employers routinely “gerrymander” workplaces before union elections, removing pro-union workers from the eligible voter pool with gimmicks that include drastically reducing their hours or alleging they have newfound management duties.

      At times it’s blatantly obvious that the right-wing electioneers are borrowing straight from the union-busting playbook. In blue-state Massachusetts, voters statewide got a taste of one of the most effective tools in the union avoidance industry, captive audience meetings, where workers are forced to sit through anti-union presentations as a condition of work. Hospital bosses went to such extremes to defeat a November 2018 ballot initiative to secure safe patient limits for nurses that they forced patients and families entering emergency rooms, checking in for surgery, or undergoing any procedure to sit through briefing sessions where they were told that voting “no” on the initiative was the only way to ensure the hospital or clinic would remain open. (The bosses won.)

      The employer class has eviscerated workplace democracy over the past 40 years. Using many of the same weapons, they’ve got their sights set on civic elections. To preserve democracy and rebuild working-class power requires a key tactic revived in 2018, in the nick of time: the all-out strike.

      Strikes are a uniquely powerful form of the political education required to prepare workers to pull the levers in the voting booth because they clarify the most important political lesson urgently needed today: There are only two sides, the owners and the rest of us. Unions that still win great contracts—which generally requires their having a credible strike threat—can point the way, as educators did earlier in 2018 from West Virginia to Oklahoma to Arizona and beyond. The #Red4Ed movement led to unprecedented numbers of educators running for office and winning, and made support for public education a key issue up and down the ballot. In Arizona, the movement soundly defeated a Koch Brothers-backed initiative to expand private-school vouchers. This suggests that to build effective political operations, unions should understand that more strikes are key to winning elections, not just good contracts.

    • ‘This Is Why People Hate Congress’: With Buried Provision in Must-Pass Farm Bill, House GOP Uses Last Days in Power to Block Yemen Vote

      As the U.S. Senate prepared Wednesday to vote on a resolution to cut military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, House Republicans in their last days in power moved to undermine efforts to end U.S. complicity in the assault that’s dragged on for more than three years in the impoverished country.

      The House Rules Committee advanced the Farm Bill to a floor debate Tuesday evening, with progressives celebrating the absence of work requirements for low-income families who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—but hidden in the annual agricultural bill was a provision keeping lawmakers from forcing a vote on any legislation invoking War Powers resolutions for the rest of the year.

    • Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions

      Beware the corpse that never truly expires. General Francisco Franco might well be entombed in the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) – at least for the moment – but his remains are set for exhumation, to be disturbed on the wishes of Spain’s socialist government led by Pedro Sánchez. Fernando Martínez of the Justice Ministry, entrusted with handling matters on the delicate subject of historical memory, explains the rationale. “In a democratic society, there cannot be a dictator who is the subject of homages, or whose tomb is a site of fascist pilgrimage, or who has a monument in his honour.”

      This might be all well and good, though it tends to jar with the delicate transition process Spain endured in the 1970s. It also sits uncomfortably with voters, whether as a priority or as a necessity. Sigma Dos, in a July poll for the daily El Mundo, found a mere 41 percent of Spaniards in agreement with moving the remains, while 54 percent also felt that the issue was not of importance at this time.

      What came after the general’s death was a matter of political juggling, as much a case of rehearsed, and encouraged amnesia, as it did archiving matters of the mind. This form of forgetting had much practice, perfected by Franco himself before his death through what was termed “recuperation”. Reconciliation was off the books, though Franco, in his last message, sought “pardon of all my enemies, as I pardon with all my heart all those who declared themselves my enemy, although I did not consider them to be so.”

      To attain the goal of democracy came with its own distasteful compromises, not least of all an acceptance that Francoist officials would be left untouched by any prosecuting process. Victims of Franco’s Spain duly felt confined to the status of víctimas de segunda– “second class citizens”, contributing to the new, and reformed country, in painful silence.

    • What’s behind Mike Pence’s stony visage? Trump may plan to dump him for Nikki Haley

      It looks as if The Trump Show will take some interesting turns in the new season, which begins Jan. 3. The teaser we saw on Tuesday was a doozy. Minority Leader and soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went up to the White House to meet with the president about the looming government shutdown and all hell broke loose before the meeting even started. When the fur starts flying at the photo-op, you know that things are going to get crazy.

      Trump did his normal thing: Lying, exaggerating, threatening, bragging, complaining. But instead of the usual GOP sycophants clapping like a bunch of trained seals, this time he got pushback. He’s not used to that and it didn’t go well for him.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Google CEO Argues for Company’s China Return in Congress

      Pichai has been under pressure from politicians, activists and staff to stop building a censored search engine for China. The company has said it’s not close to launching such a product, although details of the project were exposed by media reports earlier this year.

    • The Sundar Pichai Hearing Was a Major Missed Opportunity

      The hearing was more than a missed opportunity for both lawmakers and members of the public. It was a foreboding reminder of Congress’s continued technological ignorance, and a sign that while lawmakers almost unilaterally agree that something must be done about tech giants’ tremendous power, they remain unwilling to set aside partisan squabbles to actually do anything about it.

    • The rise of academic mobs

      In each case, the letters, intended for publication and widespread dissemination, are designed to shame the individual and their institutional employer. They are better described as petitions, with the ensuing rush to gather signatures a thinly veiled witch-hunt. The aim is the squashing of research, opinions or even just awkward questions through public disapproval and humiliation.

      These academic pile-ons, complete with grandstanding public declarations, are most often based on a disingenuous and mendacious interpretation of the target’s research.

    • Guardians of the truth? Some of TIME’s ‘Person(s) of the Year’ choices are perplexing

      TIME magazine has chosen a group of journalists it refers to as ‘The Guardians’ as its 2018 most influential ‘Person of the Year’ – but some of the journalists the magazine included for honors have raised a few eyebrows.
      The decision to pick journalists for the annual title was perhaps not so surprising in the era of Donald Trump, who is constantly at odds with the media at large, labeling any report he isn’t fond of as “fake news” – but there is a niggling sense that TIME’s decision to put the spotlight on the media as the Guardians of truth is not entirely sincere.

      TIME explains its reasoning under the headline “The Guardians and the War on Truth” and, while it would be difficult to quibble over including murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – or Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested covering the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, some of the other choices are more surprising.

      Take Ukrainian journalist Arkady Babchenko. For many in the West, the first they had heard of Babchenko was the news of his untimely death at the hands of alleged Russian state assassins; It turned out to be one of the biggest fake news stories of the last year, orchestrated by none other than Babchenko himself, along with the SBU, Ukraine’s security service (SBU). While Time seems to applaud Babchenko’s fakery, which, they note, turned him into a “pariah” among some of his Ukrainian colleagues who felt their own credibility was damaged after the stunt.

    • European Parliament calls for automated and private censorship of the Web for security purposes

      As we feared last Monday, European Parliament has just adopted a Report pushing for the outsourcing of Web censorship to Facebook and Google, using the pretext of the fight against terrorism.

      This Report suggests, among numerous others recommendations, that it would be necessary to “achieve automatic detection and systematic, fast, permanent and full removal of terrorist content online” and to prevent “the re-upload of already removed content”. The text specifies that it “welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposal on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online”, “calls on the co-legislators to urgently work on the proposal” and “invites the Member States to put in place national measures if the adoption of legislation is delayed” (§47).

      Three amendments would have allowed the European Parliament to stand out from the willingness of Emmanuel Macron and the European Commission to submit the whole Web to the surveillance and automated censorship tools provided by Facebook and Google, as we have denounced it with 58 others organisations.

      A first amendment proposed that the censorship of “terrorist content” could not be “automatic” ; this amendment has been rejected by 311 votes against 269 (77 abstentions). A second amendment proposed that this censorship could not imply an active “detection” of content, nor a “systematic and fast” removal ; it has been rejected by 533 votes against 119 (4 abstentions). A third amendment proposed that platforms should not have an obligation “to remove [the content] fully” ; it has been rejected by 534 votes against 105 (14 abstentions).

    • Censoring This Documentary Only Plays Into AIPAC’s Hands

      On Wednesday, in keeping with its image as a progressive leader in social policy, the City of West Hollywood, Calif., was scheduled to host a film screening and panel discussion on the painful birth of Israel and the Palestinian refugee crisis. Instead, the city is playing censor, “postponing” the event until further notice.

      The screening of the new documentary, “1948: Creation and Catastrophe,” and panel, which I was invited to join, are part of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speaker Series, co-sponsored by PBS SoCal. But after spurious allegations of anti-Semitism by local rabbi Denise Eger, the city pulled the plug. City Council member Lindsey Horvath said she didn’t want West Hollywood to become a “refuge for hate.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • China’s Surveillance & Social Credit system alive & kicking in Berlin…

      Earlier this week I was giving a speech on Data Ethics in Copenhagen when I was approached by one of the participants who wanted to ask me about a service they recently started using in Berlin called Mobike.
      They were concerned that the app which is required to use the service (which is a dock less bicycle sharing service) was collecting all their location data and sending it back to China (where Mobike is based). They also mentioned that the App had a form of discriminative pricing whereby if you broke their “rules” your monthly subscription price would increase.
      Obviously this piqued my interest for a number of reasons. At first glance of the app it was obvious that there is a scoring system similar to the controversial Chinese Social Credit system and in order to determine your score minor infringements (such as not parking in a public parking zone) were being constantly monitored — in fact other users of the service are encouraged to report bikes parked in unauthorized zones. If you think this sounds creepy, it is because it is.

    • How Bike-Sharing Services And Electric Vehicles Are Sending Personal Data To The Chinese Government

      A year ago, Techdirt wrote about the interesting economics of bike-sharing services in China. As the post noted, competition is fierce, and the profit margins slim. The real money may be coming from gathering information about where people riding these bikes go, and what they may be doing, and selling it to companies and government departments. As we warned, this was something that customers in the West might like to bear in mind as these Chinese bike-sharing startups expand abroad. And now, the privacy expert Alexander Hanff has come across exactly this problem with the Berlin service of the world’s largest bike-sharing operator, Mobike…

    • UK Spies Say They’re Dropping Bulk Data Collection For Bulk Equipment Interference

      The lawfulness depends on the “double lock” process. The government alone can’t give GCHQ permission to engage in bulk EI. There’s a judge involved now, making this more of a warrant process than a subpoena process, to make a somewhat clumsy analogy. According to this report, bulk EI is still waiting in the wings. If true, it’s a good thing because the double-lock process didn’t actually go into effect until the end of November.

      What bulk EI is remains somewhat of a mystery. But some of what’s described in a 2016 report [PDF] containing several hypotheticals sounds like a lot of large-scale intrusion, ranging from Stingray-esque device location to tactics that have been left up to the imagination thus far.

      This sounds a bit like the FBI’s child porn hunting Network Investigative Technique: serving up malware to collect information on devices and their users.

    • Techly Explains: Why Australia’s new encryption laws are so alarming

      The Australian Labor Party decided not to oppose a controversial new bill that gives Aussie law enforcement unprecedented powers to crack encryption.
      The new law gives security agencies the ability to access the encrypted messages of suspected criminals. Notice how it says suspects, not actual criminals.

      The bill even gives government agencies the power to request that tech companies create new ways for them to access messages. That means secret backdoors accessible by them – and potential hackers.

    • European split over Huawei ‘threat’ risks ruffling Western alliances as EU states build 5G partnerships despite accusations of spying

      As international pressure mounts on Huawei amid allegations about spying, European nations are walking a fine line between their economic and security interests in an issue that could divide them.

      The United States is leading the charge that the company is a security threat, but the claim is not shared by all Western nations and no evidence has been produced.

      So far, none have gone as far as the US, Japan, New Zealand or Australia and issued an outright ban on their governments using Huawei’s technology. But signals coming from the EU are mixed as to how to respond to the push from the US and European security agencies.

    • Facebook plays down relevance of location prediction patent

      Facebook has played down the importance of a patent application linked to technology that could predict a user’s future location.

      The patent, filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, uses previously logged location data from a user as well as other people to make predictions on where they are likely to go next.

      However, the social network said the application should be not seen as confirmation of any plans to implement any such system.
      “We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications – such as this one – should not be taken as an indication of future plans,” a Facebook spokesman said.

    • Surveillance Capitalism at the BBC

      Here’s hoping that when the folks at the BBC see this, they will do some soul searching and revise their policies. At the very least, please do not include a third-party tracker in video embeds. Innocent people who just want to share videos should not find themselves unknowingly complicit in web tracking and profiling.

      As for all of you looking for ethical alternatives to surveillance-based video services for your own content, check out Peertube.

    • Facebook wants to patent tech to predict where users are going

      The patent sounds like something you’d expect to see in an episode of Black Mirror or in some near-future dystopia pretending to be a pristine utopia designed to make you feel safe and sound by predicting your every move.

      But what it plans to do, at least in the short term, is to predict where people plan to go “based at least in part on previously logged location data”.

    • Facebook Filed A Patent To Calculate Your Future Location

      In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison said, “We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications — such as this one — should not be taken as an indication of future plans.” While a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook plans to implement the technology, it does show the company’s interest in tracking and predicting your locations, an important tool for helping it serve you more effective ads.

    • Facebook’s Scheeler new man at the top of CEBIT

      Former Facebook Australia and New Zealand CEO Stephen Scheeler has been appointed chairman of CEBIT Australia.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Georgia Charter School Reinstates Corporal Punishment

      On September 10, 2018, Lauren von Bernuth, writing for Citizen Truth, reported that a Georgia charter school had reinstated an outdated form of school punishment for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Consent forms were sent to the parents of each child at the Georgia School for Innovation and Classics, asking for their permission to inflict corporal punishment, within means, on their children, as part of the school’s new three strike policy.

      Von Bernuth reported that over one hundred consent forms were returned to the school and about one third of parents will allow their children to be paddled. This law would apply only to students between Kindergarten and 9th grade. Students will face corporal punishment as a consequence of their third documented infraction. Children of parents who did not give consent will be suspended from school for five days if they receive a third strike. Citizen Truth quotes directly from the consent form, highlighting that students will be brought into an office with closed doors and will “place their hands on their knees … and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle.”

    • Hidden But Prevalent Racism in Georgia’s Special Education Programs

      On October 1, 2018, The New Yorker reported that the state of Georgia has been using disproportionate diagnoses of developmental and behavioral issues in black children to segregate them into the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS). This was the first article to frame the story of GNETS schools as a racial issue. The article focuses on a boy named Seth Murrell in Seminole County during the fall of 2015. Seth originally attended his local public school, but Seth’s teachers decided to send him to a GNETS school due to his disruptive behavior in class. GNETS have a ten percent graduation rate and there have been reports of experimentation on and violence against the students in the schools.

      GNETS schools are set up in school buildings that were formerly meant for black students during segregation. At best, they are holding centers for black students with disabilities who do not fit in the current educational infrastructure, despite the responsibility of public schools to provide space and resources for them. At worst, they are centers for physical and mental abuse, as detailed by Suzie Dunson, grandmother to a student at the Woodall Center. GNETS is a statewide institution, so families cannot escape the system by moving to a different district once their child has been identified as disabled.

    • Imagine a World Without War, Where Migrants Are Welcomed, Where Women Are Not Targets

      It is worthwhile to point out that it was the Indian delegate—Hansa Mehta—who objected to the phrase “all men are born free and equal.” She insisted that it be changed to “all human beings are born free and equal.” Hansa Mehta was thinking of women when she made that alteration. She knew that the costs of war and hunger are borne so sharply by women. So did Minerva Bernardino (Dominican Republic) and Begum Shaista Ikramullah (Pakistan), both of whom made key interventions into that declaration.

      This year, two important events took place on December 10. First, the nations of the world signed on to a Global Compact for Migration. Second, the Nobel Peace Prize went to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, both campaigners against sexual violence as a weapon of war. These are two events that drive forward the good side of history.

    • Huawei CFO Gets Bail; China Detains Ex-Canadian Diplomat

      A Canadian court granted bail on Tuesday to a top Chinese executive arrested at the United States’ request in a case that has set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries and complicated high-stakes U.S.-China trade talks.

      Hours before the bail hearing in Vancouver, China detained a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in apparent retaliation for the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder.

      After three days of hearings, a British Columbia justice granted bail of $10 million Canadian (US$7.5 million) to Meng, but required her to wear an ankle bracelet, surrender her passports, stay in Vancouver and its suburbs and confine herself to one of her two Vancouver homes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

    • In the Hands of Justice: White Supremacist Gets Life In Prison Plus 419 Years For Murdering Heather Heyer

      A jury has sentenced 21-year-old, very sick, evidently remorseless neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. to life in prison plus 419 years for killing activist Heather Heyer and seriously injuring 35 others when he rammed his car into a crowd of protesters at the August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA. Fields, who was convicted last week of first degree murder, also faces fines of $480,000, presumably a moot point other than symbolically. The jury tacked on the additional 419 years for his other charges: 70 years for each of five malicious wounding charges, 20 years for each of three other malicious wounding charges, and nine years on one charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. Judge Richard Moore accepted the jury’s recommendation; a formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 29.

      Fields must still stand trial next year on federal hate crime charges, for which he faces the death penalty. FBI Special Agent in Charge Adam Lee said Fields’ crimes, and his fate, offer “a grim reminder to those who are motivated by hate and intent on committing violence: We are going to be there.” Many others echoed the same determination that, post-Charlottesville, hate would not win. After Fields’ conviction, residents marched downtown declaring, “We have reclaimed our streets”; others sang, “We will walk with you, Charlottesville, and sing your spirit home.” At the sentencing hearing, survivors wept as they described their “living nightmare,” and Heyer’s mother Susan Bro, who has taken up her daughter’s activism, testified, “The darkness has tried to swallow us whole.” She doesn’t hate her daughter’s killer – “I’m leaving him in the hands of justice” – but neither will she accede to his hate-filled world view. “Heather was full of love, justice, and fairness,” Bro said. “Mr. Fields tried to silence her. I refuse to allow that.”

    • Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA

      One troubling example is with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2018. Sadly, it isn’t the first time that Republicans have attempted to block VAWA, literally using women’s lives as a bartering tool.

    • Trump’s Attorney General Nominee Helped Bush Sr. Get Away With Murder

      Donald Trump has been president for almost 700 days now. In all that time, I have managed to find exactly one redeeming quality in the man: I thoroughly enjoyed the prodigious hard time he gave his now-departed attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sumpter Appomattox Shiloh Both Bull Runs Sessions III. Even that small pleasure, however, is poisoned.

      Aside from Scott Pruitt, who managed to defoliate the Environmental Protection Agency while stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down or glued to a desk, Sessions was Trump’s most effective cabinet secretary by far and away. His backlit segregationist tendencies, his ruthless pursuit of child-parent separation at the southern border, and his retrograde approach to the criminal legal system and the so-called “war on drugs” all conspired to make me loathe Sessions without restraint. Trump hated Sessions because Sessions wouldn’t protect him from Robert Mueller, which thoroughly spoiled my enjoyment of that spectacle while it lasted.

      The Trump-Sessions passion play ended a day after the 2018 midterms with all the class and collegiality of a car accident, to the great surprise of nobody. Three weeks later, we are three weeks away from the arrival of a new Congress, which will have on its plate Trump’s nominee to replace Sessions. Trump has tapped William Barr to be his next attorney general. In the context of the ongoing Mueller investigation, the nomination of Barr is both appalling and unsurprising in equal measure.

    • I Walked Right Up to Militarized Police at the Border

      Recently, I was arrested on our southern border for acting on my convictions.

      I had joined about 400 faith leaders from many different traditions at the entrance of Border Field State Park in San Diego for a demonstration to launch the Love Knows No Borders: A moral call for migrant justice week of action.

      We had marched together on flooded paths through the historic park, which sits on the U.S.-Mexico border, making our way around large puddles, singing and chanting the whole time. It was inspiring to feel the spirit of unity that motivated this group of people to act together with one voice.

      We walked to the beach where the border wall can be seen extending out into the ocean. As we approached, a line of U.S. Border Patrol officers wearing riot gear ordered us to stop.

      I spoke out in blessing, feeling the support of everyone around me, saying in part that, “We bring this consecrated water to pour out here near the border wall. Water knows no borders, and love knows no borders.”

    • Criminally Insane in Oregon Attack Twice as Many People Than Previously Known, New Data Shows

      People freed by Oregon officials after being found criminally insane are charged with new felonies more often than convicted criminals released from state prison, with family members and first responders often the targets of violence, a new analysis by the Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica shows.

      All told, 23 percent of people freed by the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board are charged with felonies within three years of their release, compared with 16 percent of those released from Oregon prisons.


      In November, the Enterprise and ProPublica reported that the rate of new criminal charges was roughly similar among those released from oversight by the board and those freed from prison. That was based on data officials provided this year when the Enterprise requested the names of everyone freed by the board in the last decade and searched public records to establish how many had been arrested.

      A week after publication, the board’s executive director, Alison Bort, told the newsrooms that officials had not, in fact, shared the identity of everyone it had discharged from state custody. (The board turned over information in two batches. The data for the years 2013 to 2017 included the identities of everyone the board had released. For 2008 to 2012, the board provided only the names of people for whom they granted early discharge, not those released once they completed the sentences they would have served had they been found guilty in criminal court.)

      Within a day, the board gave the Enterprise the missing names for 192 people who successfully pleaded insanity in a felony case and were later freed by the state. As we did with the earlier names, we searched public records to identify those who were charged with new crimes.

    • Fascists Find Fertile Recruitment Ground in Anti-Choice Movement

      Those on the far right who have long discussed and acted upon their desire to dominate women’s sexual and reproductive rights are pushing that agenda into the political mainstream with help from the anti-choice movement.

      The traditional right wing in the United States tries to distance itself from fascists, but far-right groups are weaponizing traditionalism and “normie optics” to infiltrate anti-choice platforms to recruit and organize young white men.

      Attacks on reproductive rights are nothing new, but fascist groups’ infiltration of anti-choice groups and recruiting around anti-choice organizing in their genocidal agenda is an escalation. Leaked conversations between white supremacist groups using the Discord messaging site show users discussing recruiting members based on their opposition to abortion rights. “March for life never has effect until White Nationalists join [sic],” the Discord user “Commander Davis” said in the Traditionalist Worker Party chatroom, a now disbanded neo-Nazi group. March For Life is a decades old radical anti-choice movement and protest popular among Republicans. President Trump addressed the March for Life rally in January.

      Under the Trump administration, a surge in white nationalist organizing and policies has meant an uptick in threats against abortion providers and clinics, creating an even more unsafe environment for patients as Republican lawmakers further erode their rights. Threats of violence against abortion clinics have nearly doubled since 2017, and trespassing incidents have more than tripled, according to data compiled by the National Abortion Federation.

    • On Being Breathless in the Age of Trump

      As people set upon Khashoggi, he started fighting for air, repeating, “I can’t breathe” at least three times.

      As aficionados of human suffering may recall, these were precisely the same final words uttered by Eric Garner on July 17, 2014 on Staten Island when New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold. Police accosted Garner for allegedly selling cigarettes without a tax stamp and pulled him down to the sidewalk.

      While four other officers restrained him and Pantaleo pushed his face into the sidewalk, Garner repeated “I can’t breathe” eleven times before losing consciousness. Neither the officers nor the emergency medical technicians they called performed CPR on Garner, who was pronounced dead at the hospital.

      The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a grand jury opted not to indict Pantaleo. Only the man who took a video of the incident was jailed. A public outcry and various demonstrations protesting police brutality to Garner caused the City of New York to settle out of court with Garner’s family for $5.9 million.

    • Bayou Bridge Pipeline Foes Say Moonlighting Sheriff’s Deputies Protect Corporate Interests at Expense of Constitutional Rights

      Iraq war veteran and pipeline opponent Ramon Mejia was trying to stop Energy Transfer Partners from illegally constructing a pipeline on a cypress tree-covered swath of land deep in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin when St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrived.

      Mejia had a letter dated July 25 confirming he and other activists had been invited to the property by one of the hundreds of co-owners of the 38-acre property. He wasn’t on the easement, the part of the property where construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline was in full swing.

      When deputies told him he was trespassing, he at first thought it was a misunderstanding.

      If anybody should be in trouble that morning of Aug. 18, it should be the pipeline company, he reasoned. Without legal permission, it had cut a large swath of centuries-old trees and was in the process of installing the pipeline in a deep, water-filled trench it had cut through the property.

      Minutes after arriving, deputies arrested Mejia — along with two other activists and this reporter — for felony trespassing on “critical infrastructure,” which was defined to include oil pipelines and pipeline construction sites under a Louisiana law that took effect Aug. 1.

    • Tijuana Crossing: Asylum Seekers Hold Out Hope in the Face of Trumpism

      Fear and caution are drawn in the face of Efraín. It’s 7:00 am. A man’s voice announces “480” while the people around listen attentively for their turn outside the sentry box of San Ysidro in Tijuana, Mexico. Efraín asks others for the waiting time regarding the numbering running daily — his family got the number 512 — and someone told them that, if luck smiles at them, they will soon have made it. At the site, dozens of parents and children, especially mothers and children, are added to a notebook containing numbers and names.

      Efraín, his wife and their three children under the age of 14 believe that it will probably take around five weeks until they can cross the border. (Time is not written on the pages of the notebook.) They are coming from Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, Mexico, a place hit by crime, drug trafficking and violence. Days ago, they arrived at the site where the digits represent the door to a new landscape: the United States. Here, they have an appointment with hope.

    • Refused Right to Seek Asylum, Honduran Refugees Demand Reparations for Destructive US Foreign Policy in Central America

      A month after arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S, about 100 refugees from Honduras marched to the U.S. Consulate in the border city of Tijuana on Tuesday to tell officials that they will return to home—but only if the country that’s refused to observe their right to asylum pays them reparations for the destruction and destabilization its foreign policy has caused in their home country and throughout Central America.

      The group demanded $50,000 each from the U.S. government in return for turning back to their home country, asking the the U.S. answer its request within 72 hours. The sum would be enough, the group reasoned, for each asylum-seeker to start a small business or otherwise rebuild their life in a country where two-thirds of the population live in poverty and one in five people survive on less than $2 per day.

      The letter condemned the United States’ foreign policy in Honduras—including the 2009 military coup backed by the Obama administration—which has contributed to the circumstances that many are fleeing now.

      “We remind you that if the U.S. does not want more migration, it should put a stop to the economic, political, and military intervention in our territory,” wrote the asylum-seekers in the letter, which Common Dreams obtained. “Therefore, we ask you to take away your 13 military bases and all their extractive companies that offend and loot our native land.”

    • “Landmark” Maternal Health Legislation Clears Major Hurdle

      Congress moved a big step closer on Tuesday toward addressing one of the most fundamental problems underlying the maternal mortality crisis in the United States: the shortage of reliable data about what kills American mothers.

      The House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, to help states improve how they track and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers.

      The bipartisan bill authorizes $12 million a year in new funds for five years — an unprecedented level of federal support — for states to create review committees tasked with identifying maternal deaths, analyzing the factors that contributed to those deaths and translating the lessons into policy changes. Roughly two-thirds of states have such panels, but the legislation specifically allocates federal funds for the first time and sets out guidelines they must meet to receive those grants.

      “We’re going to investigate every single [death] because these moms are worth it,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., the lead sponsor, testified at a hearing in September. Lisa Hollier, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the legislation a “landmark.”

    • Receiving “Inspiration of the Year” Award From Christine Blasey Ford, First Nassar Accuser Says, “Be Willing to Hear the Truth”

      Christine Blasey Ford, the college professor who accused now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, presented Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year Award on Tuesday night to Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual assault, saying the former gymnast’s courage “galvanized future generations to come forward, event when the odds are seemingly stacked against them.”

      “Her courage inspired other survivors to end their silence. And we all know the result,” Blasey Ford said in a video statement presenting the award. “We all have the power to create real change, and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others,” the psychology professor added.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality bill 38 votes short in Congress, and time has almost run out

      Legislation to restore net neutrality rules now has 180 supporters in the US House of Representatives, but that’s 38 votes short of the amount needed before the end of the month.

      The Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, already approved by the Senate, would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules. But 218 signatures from US representatives (a majority) are needed to force a full vote in the House before Congress adjourns at the end of the year.

    • If You’re Surprised By Verizon’s AOL, Yahoo Face Plant, You Don’t Know Verizon

      While some folks reacted with “shock” on Twitter, none of this should really have been a surprise to anybody who has watched Verizon do business over the last decade or two.

      Pretty much every time Verizon wanders outside of its core competencies (operating admittedly excellent networks, lobbying to hamstring competition, being misleading about net neutrality), Verizon falls flat on its face. Whether it’s the company’s failed Go90 platform, failed video joint venture with RedBox, failed news website Sugarstring (which you may recall tried to ban reporters from talking about surveillance or net neutrality), its app store, its “me too” VCAST apps, or any of a dozen other countless efforts to expand into less familiar territory, Verizon failed. Usually semi-spectacularly.

      This happens because having spent the better part of a generation engaged in turf protection and lobbying, telcos really can’t innovate. We’ve known this for more than a decade, yet somehow, each time Verizon announces some new pivot, we forget. Telecom executives tend to think they can overcome this character flaw via megamerger, which usually just saddles the company with oodles of additional debt, but doesn’t really address any of the sector’s core shortcomings, built on the back of being largely government-pampered natural monopolies for the better part of a generation.

    • The Trump Administration Just Killed Net Neutrality for Text Messages

      The Trump administration just made it a lot easier for big wireless providers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to interfere with texting, all in the name of protecting consumers from spam, according Democrats and digital rights groups.

      Have you ever signed up to receive text blasts from an activist campaign? Does your doctor’s office text you reminders about upcoming appointments?

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines on Wednesday to classify SMS and MMS text messaging as a Title I “information service” rather than a Title II “telecommunications service” under federal law, a move that congressional Democrats and digital rights groups say will give wireless providers the power to block and censor text messages and widen the digital divide.

    • ISPs Say That Poor People Don’t Deserve Fast Internet Speeds
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Amgen’s Biosimilar IP Win Was Wrong, Hospira Tells Fed. Circ.

      Hospira has urged the Federal Circuit to toss a $70 million jury verdict finding its biosimilar version of Amgen Inc.’s blockbuster anemia treatment Epogen infringed an Amgen patent,..

    • Indigenous IP And Climate Change Subject Of New Book

      The book, titled Intellectual Property and Clean Energy, seeks to provide a critical analysis of the impact of the Paris Agreement on climate adaptation and mitigation technology.

      Matthew Rimmer, professor in intellectual property and innovation law at the Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia, authored several chapters of the book.

      In one of them, he considers the atmospheric trust litigation in the case of Nelson Kanuk v. State of Alaska over “the climate inaction of the State of the Alaska.” According to Rimmer, the case “is a compelling case study in respect of constitutional law, the public trust doctrine, climate change, intergenerational justice, Indigenous rights, and Indigenous intellectual property.”

      The question of indigenous rights was “prominent during the negotiations over the Paris Agreement 2015,” and there have been concerns “that the international climate law framework is inadequate and insufficient to address Indigenous rights,” he said in the book. From an intellectual property perspective, the chapter looks at the impact of climate change upon traditional knowledge.

      In another chapter, Rimmer explores the larger questions about the treatment of indigenous rights under international law.

    • The Danish Maritime & Commercial Court issues ruling on the potential bias of judges

      With the Danish patent litigation community being limited in numbers and the pool of legal judges and expert judges available to the Danish specialty patents court being likewise limited in numbers, The Maritime & Commercial High Court (“MCC”) – along with its appellate branches – has long since decided that judges deciding an application for an interlocutory injunction are not prima facie biased in relation to hearing an ensuing action on the merits.

      In a pending matter, however, a somewhat different aspect came up when a party applied for an injunction to be lifted (repealed) by MCC – which had also granted the injunction – due to a subsequent decision in a parallel matter in which an application for an interlocutory injunction had been denied by the MCC.

    • Trademarks

      • Iowa State Tells Students To Piss Off And Continues Its New Trademark Policy Despite Their Concerns

        We’ve been discussing Iowa State University’s bold attempt to twist itself into a knot over its trademark policy for some time now. This all started when the school attempted to bow at the alter of certain Iowa state government reps to disallow a pro-marijuana alumni group from using school iconography. For its efforts, the alumni group beat the school in court on First Amendment grounds, eventually resulting in a $600k judgement against the school. Rather than learning its lesson, the school reacted to all of this by rewriting its trademark policy for student groups, pulling back permission of all kinds for groups to use the school’s name and symbols. This, predictably, led to a full on revolt by students, with all kinds of groups refusing to associate themselves with the school at all. The student government, meanwhile, pointed out that the policy was written with zero input from students or student representatives.

    • Copyrights

      • BREAKING: AG Szpunar advises CJEU to rule that unlicensed sampling MAY be a copyright infringement and German free use may be contrary to EU law

        Last year The IPKat reported that the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) had referred the longstanding Metall auf Metall litigation to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The case is now Pelham and Others, C-476/17.

      • Malware Purveyors Targeting Pirate Sites With Bogus DMCA Takedown Notices

        That’s the way the law works. Takedown notices claiming DRM circumvention (most pirated software involves some sort of circumvention) cannot be contested. Google is allowing replies in these cases, but what it’s doing isn’t mandated by law. Google, however, is obliged to comply with requests unless it feels the complaint isn’t legitimate. How strongly it feels sometimes depends on the manpower available… or the attention the issue is receiving elsewhere on the web.
        The notices collected by TorrentFreak hardly seem legit, even with only a cursory review. They’re littered with typos and make unrealistic/absurd claims, like supposedly filing on behalf of Steam even though Steam doesn’t actually own or produce the game titles listed in the takedown notice.
        As TorrentFreak notes, thousands of URLs have already been taken down, pushing malware-loaded sites higher in search listings. Internet users seeking free games now may find they’ve picked up bitcoin-mining hitchhikers after visiting these scammers’ sites.

      • CC’s 4.0 license suite now in Greek

        All six of the Creative Commons licenses v4.0 are now available in Greek as a result of the joint and volunteer effort of the University of Cyprus, the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus, and the legal firm Ioannides Demetriou LLC. The multi-year process began when the first draft translation of the Creative Commons license into Greek was submitted to CC HQ in 2016.All six of the Creative Commons licenses v4.0 are now available in Greek as a result of the joint and volunteer effort of the University of Cyprus, the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus, and the legal firm Ioannides Demetriou LLC. The multi-year process began when the first draft translation of the Creative Commons license into Greek was submitted to CC HQ in 2016.

      • Legacy Copyright Industries Lobbying Hard For EU Copyright Directive… While Pretending That Only Google Is Lobbying

        Have you heard that all of the opposition to the EU Copyright Directive and its hugely problematic Articles 11 and 13 is really being driven by Google lobbying? Most of you probably realized this was nonsense, but it now turns out that not only was the lobbying almost entirely dominated by the legacy copyright players, but a key plank of their lobbying campaign was to falsely allege that all opposition was just Google.

        If you’ve been paying attention at all to the crazy fights over the EU Copyright Directive, you may have heard some claims being passed around that it’s somehow “Google” lobbying heavily against the bill. Indeed, all over Twitter, that’s the talking point from tons of EU Copyright Directive supporters. After the EU Parliament put the breaks on the bill back in July, I even saw a former RIAA exec (who has since blocked me on Twitter, so I can’t show it to you) tweet that this was a clear perversion of the “will of the people” by Google’s corporate lobbying. Of course, it’s hilarious for that to come from an ex-RIAA exec, who was heavily involved over the past 3 decades in pushing through all sorts of protectionist, anti-public, anti-musician legislation and trade agreements.

        But… it’s a talking point. And it’s one that lots of people have jumped on. Digital Music News, who is always quick to restate the recording industry’s talking points, claimed that Google spent more than $36 million lobbying over Article 13. Billboard Magazine published a similar claim. Various music industry groups, in what appeared to be closely coordinated messaging, all started blaming Google and “the tech giants” for any opposition to the EU Copyright Directive — which, mind you, would change the fundamental ways in which the internet works. Yet, in their minds, all of the opposition came from the internet giants.

      • Activists to Deliver 4 Million Anti ‘Article 13’ Signatures to EU Parliament

        Ahead of the final trilogue negotiations this Thursday, activists will deliver an anti “upload filter” petition signed by four million people to the European Parliament. Lawmakers will try to agree on the final text of the controversial Article 13 this week. The latest proposals stress that any measures platforms take should not remove legitimate content.

      • Article 13 isn’t quite as messy as Brexit, but its still a confused mess

        The latest summary document about the wider EU Copyright Directive has been published and seems to contain some weasel words, which suggest that there would be no filters applied to uploading to the internet, but only because it thinks that calling them something else is the same as not having them. It isn’t.

EPO Trust, Leadership and Commitment

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: “Trust, leadership and commitment” is the latest publication from EPO insiders, who in the absence of free speech and freedom of association for the union/representation are an essential spotlight on EPO abuses

THE FOLLOWING publication was made available yesterday. Here it is in HTML form.


11 December 2018



The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Trust, leadership and commitment

The president recently announced1 that the Office will run a staff survey in early 2019. That’s good news. The plan is for the survey to measure staff’s level of engagement (commitment). The results, to be published in March 2019, complement the president’s one-to-one meetings with staff members. Regular further staff surveys are planned for the future.

The skills, talents, creativity, innovation, and passion of its people can be the difference between organizations achieving exceptional performance or wallowing in mediocrity. In order to come out on the winning side of this challenge, organizations must connect the dots between trust, leadership, and engagement. Trust is the foundation, leadership is the driver, and engagement is the goal.

Randy Conley2

Trust is the foundation

Randy Conley says that in organisational life, trust simultaneously acts as the bonding agent that holds everything together and the lubricant that keeps things moving smoothly2. According to Will Campbell, trust is like a workplace currency, it is given and received, and convertible into higher productivity and increased staff engagement3.

Unfortunately, Mr Battistelli’s administration destroyed the staff’s trust in their employer4,5. This is not Mr Campinos’ fault, but it leaves him with a herculean task to rebuild it.

How to build trust

According to a global trust survey by PR giant Edelman, employees and executives agree that ‘treating employees well is one of the most important things a company can do to build trust.’”3

Leaders can build trust using “trust boosting” behaviours, such as asking for and receiving feedback openly, admitting mistakes, acting honestly, ethically and legally, and being consistent in word and deed, writes2 Randy Conley. That way, they “cultivate an environment where employees feel safe and want to invest their discretionary effort2.

Further trust-building elements are transparency3, consistent and transparent communication6, the recognition of employee’s contributions6 and providing opportunities for involvement6. Research has also indicated that the leading factor influencing an employee’s engagement is his relationship with his direct manager2.

Trust – where do we stand?

While the president’s one-to-one meetings with staff members may help to build trust, there are currently enormous deficits in many areas.

When the president announces that the Office will focus on quality, for example, COOs, line and team managers pass on the message to their staff that the knowingly7 overambitious and unrealistic production targets set by the Office must be met by all means8. Here, the Office is not consistent in word and deed. The new president recently told the delegations that president and Administrative Council must speak with one voice9. We agree. And we think that this should also apply to the EPO management (COOs, HR, directors and team managers).

Staff members’ contributions are often not recognised. The new career system is a lottery. Not even everyone who has reached his target gets a reward. It’s as if the system was designed to reward the top-producers, punish the under-producers and ignore the vast numbers of colleagues in-between, who work honestly, diligently – and unspectacularly – day in, day out. Can management expect trust to build on such uncertainty?

One of Mr Battistelli’s mantras was that employees need to be pushed to produce more by making them feel uncomfortable. Intimidation became – and still is – a management tool at the EPO. As production and productivity targets rise, increasing numbers of colleagues who fail to reach them are at risk of being classified as “incompetent” and dismissed10. Managers do not always act honestly, ethically and legally under these conditions. Some are using threats to push individuals to increase their output. But if Randy Conley is right2, only employees who feel safe will fully commit themselves to their tasks. Warigon and Bowers11 say that employees managed by intimidation will “not be sufficiently motivated to give their best or walk extra miles.” Staff who experience chronic work stress are at risk of a suffering from a wide spectrum of diseases12. And intimidation techniques are definitely not compatible with the president’s announced13 goal to increase the service quality, since employees whose adrenalin levels are driven up by fear will not be able to focus on their work a prerequisite for delivering high quality intellectual services14.

The legal system has also become a lottery. Staff can neither rely on a fair internal appeal system, nor on the ILO Tribunal to stop abuses of the administration4,15,16.

The uncertainty for the staff has meanwhile spread to the applicants and the public, where it has materialised as legal uncertainty through low quality patents17, and led to a loss of trust18.

The staff representatives are still being obstructed in their communication. The president has only made cosmetic changes19 to the total ban on mass emails from staff representatives introduced by his predecessor. The total blocking of staff union emails is still in place. Staff committees can now send two (2!) mass emails per year, and only when inviting staff to general assemblies. All staff committee papers must still get prior approval from the Office before they are published20. While the average DG1 directorate size is about 70, individuals can send emails to a maximum of 50 persons.

While social dialogue seems to be slowly resuming, there are still deficiencies in transparency and in providing opportunities for involvement to staff committees and staff unions. To name an example, a new circular on performance management, which will enter into force on 1 January 2019, is being prepared in a rather opaque manner21.

How can trust and engagement be improved?

Without knowing the results of the upcoming staff survey, it is already clear from the above that the Office management needs to do much more if it wants to regain the staff’s trust.

But there is more. The survey provider says that engaged staff “believe in where we’re going” and are “proud to work at the EPO1. For staff to believe in where we are going, management must first indicate where it wants to go. The president needs to define a clear and transparent overall Office strategy, and the individual staff members must know their role in that strategy. They must also be able to rely on their management to stick to the strategy it has defined. For staff to be proud to work at the Office, they must identify with its mission and feel valued for their contribution.

For staff to be engaged, they need to trust their management and their organisation. And for that trust to emerge and grow, there must be a high level of certainty for them. That certainty can only be provided by fair rules and a reliable justice system which staff experience as fair.

After eight years of destructive management, the EPO workforce is exhausted. Staff are thirsty for genuine leadership whose cornerstones are honesty, consistency and fairness. Their hopes for swift improvements must not be disappointed. If the president wants to energise the staff, meeting them face-to-face for 15 minutes alone won’t do the trick. Concrete actions are required.

Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group22


1 Communiqué “Update on the planned staff engagement survey” (28.11.2018)

3 Why Trust Is The Core Of Employee Engagement (Will Campbell, 22.11.2015)

4 Destroying trust – for a long time. (SUEPO The Hague, 05.03.2018, monthly password required)

5 EPO FLIER No. 36 “Trust is broken & quality in decline” (16.03.2018)

7 Patent quality has fallen, confirm Euro examiners (Kieren McCarthy, The Register, 15.03.2018)

8 An example are two recent and rather contradictory messages from one of our COOs. One of them addresses her staff, requesting them to improve the quality of patent grants, the other one was sent to her directors and team managers, pushing for higher production. See “New EPO messages reveal quality decline and ‘confuse’ staff“ (Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 4.10.2018), “Act Now? –YES, please!” (SUEPO Munich, 8.10.2018, password needed)

9 Report on the 121st meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee (CSC, 31.10.2018)

10 Which recently happened: EPO dismisses employee under new controversial ‘incompetence’ provisions(Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 06.09.2018)

11 Why management-by-intimidation can never work long-term in IT (Scott Robinson, Tech Decision Maker, 18.12.2011)

12 Such as burnout, heart disease, diabetes, and infectious diseases as the immune system becomes compromised; see Burnout Prevention and Treatment (helpguide.org), the Whitehall study, and What ails us? – Or: what the Whitehall study tells us about the relationship between work and health (CSC, 14.11.2005, password needed)

13 Communiqué “Moving forward with quality” (8.10.2018) and EPO FLIER No. 41 “The Price of Quality” (15.10.2018)

14 ”Impact of Management by Intimidation on Human Capital: is it destroying you organisation?” (Slemo D. Warigon, Betsy Bowers, see College & University Auditor, Vol. 50, No. 2 / SUMMER 2006, pages 5-10)

15 EPO FLIER No. 38 “The ILO Tribunal – Is it still worthy of our trust?“ (12.06.2018)

16 EPO FLIER No. 42 “Status of EPO disciplinary cases” (7.11.2018)

17 EPO FLIER No. 39 “Reputation and patent quality after eight years of Battistelli: ruined” (26.06.2018)

18 The EPO’s Vision (V) – Trust (Thorsten Bausch, Kluwer Patent Blog, 31.03.2018)

19 EPO partially ends staff rep email ban (Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 13.11.2018)

20 In February 2018 the Office refused permission to publish a CSC paper it didn’t like: EPO staff committee argues against publication review (Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 14.03.2018)

21 At a staff general assembly on 15.11.2018, called by LSCTH, staff were informed that minutes of a recent working group meeting were not taken since the matter was considered “highly confidential” by HR management.

22 Virgin Group Ltd. controls more than 400 companies with approximately 71,000 employees.


Links 11/12/2018: Tails 3.11, New Firefox, FreeBSD 12.0

Posted in News Roundup at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Best Lightweight Linux Distros for Older Computers

      Don’t throw away that old Pentium III tower and CRT monitor just yet! While that old laptop in the closet may not be able to run Windows 10 or macOS Mojave, it doesn’t mean it’s destined for the dump.

      Many Linux distributions are made specifically for utilizing the ancient, underpowered hardware found in older machines. By installing these lightweight distros, you can breathe new life into an old PC thought to be long past its prime. Here are the best lightweight Linux distros that we’ve picked out from the pile.

    • VirtIO-FS: A Proposed Better Approach For Sharing Folders/Files With Guest VMs

      Red Hat developers have proposed a new VirtIO-FS component to provide better support for shared folders/files between the host and guest virtual machines.

      VirtIO-FS was developed out of the need to share folders/files with guest VMs in a fast, consistent, and secure manner. They designed VirtIO-FS for Kata containers but coud be used with other VMs too. The closest existing project to fulfilling their needs was Virtio-9p, but there were performance issues and other factors leading them to designing this new solution.

    • Peter Hutterer: Understanding HID report descriptors

      This time we’re digging into HID – Human Interface Devices and more specifically the protocol your mouse, touchpad, joystick, keyboard, etc. use to talk to your computer.

      Remember the good old days where you had to install a custom driver for every input device? Remember when PS/2 (the protocol) had to be extended to accommodate for mouse wheels, and then again for five button mice. And you had to select the right protocol to make it work. Yeah, me neither, I tend to suppress those memories because the world is awful enough as it is.

      As users we generally like devices to work out of the box. Hardware manufacturers generally like to add bits and bobs because otherwise who would buy that new device when last year’s device looks identical. This difference in needs can only be solved by one superhero: Committee-man, with the superpower to survive endless meetings and get RFCs approved.

      Many many moons ago, when USB itself was in its infancy, Committee man and his sidekick Caffeine boy got the USB consortium agree on a standard for input devices that is so self-descriptive that operating systems (Win95!) can write one driver that can handle this year’s device, and next year’s, and so on. No need to install extra drivers, your device will just work out of the box. And so HID was born. This may only an approximate summary of history.

      Originally HID was designed to work over USB. But just like Shrek the technology world is obsessed with layers so these days HID works over different transport layers. HID over USB is what your mouse uses, HID over i2c may be what your touchpad uses. HID works over Bluetooth and it’s celebrity-diet version BLE. Somewhere, someone out there is very slowly moving a mouse pointer by sending HID over carrier pigeons just to prove a point. Because there’s always that one guy.

      HID is incredibly simple in that the static description of the device can just be bytes burnt into the ROM like the Australian sun into unprepared English backpackers. And the event frames are often an identical series of bytes where every bit is filled in by the firmware according to the axis/buttons/etc.

    • Windows 10 Sends Your Activity History to Microsoft, Even if You Tell It Not To

      Windows 10 collects an “Activity History” of applications you launch on your PC and sends it to Microsoft. Even if you disable or clear this, Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard still shows an “Activity History” of applications you’ve launched on your PCs.

      This problem was recently discussed on Reddit, and it’s pretty easy to confirm. Head to Settings > Privacy > Activity History and disable “Send my activity history to Microsoft.” It was already disabled on our PC, so it made this easy to test.

    • Watch Out: Clicking “Check for Updates” Still Installs Unstable Updates on Windows 10

      Microsoft hasn’t learned its lesson. If you click the “Check for Updates” button in the Settings app, Microsoft still considers you a “seeker” and will give you “preview” updates that haven’t gone through the normal testing process.

      This problem came to everyone’s attention with the release of the October 2018 Update. It was pulled for deleting people’s files, but anyone who clicked “Check for Updates” in the first few days effectively signed up as a tester and got the buggy update. The “Check for Updates” button apparently means “Please install potentially updates that haven’t gone through a normal testing process.”

  • Server

    • Intel Launches Open-Source Deep Learning Reference Stack Powered By Clear Linux & Kata

      The Intel Deep Learning Reference Stack is an integrated, performance-focused open-source stack built atop their Clear Linux distribution, utilizes their Kata Containers technology, the Intel Math Kernel Library, and supports TensorFlow and other machine learning frameworks.

    • Open Source’s Evolution in Cloud-Native DevOps

      “Open source, and especially the open source community, are constantly coming up with new tools, approaches and best practices to solve business use cases in the cloud native world. Not a day goes by where we don’t see a new tool, library or framework seeing the light on GitHub that is solving key problems that adopters of cloud native run into as they start rolling out more applications through a DevOps delivery pipeline,” Andreas Grabner, a DevOps activist, for Dynatrace, said. “Thanks to the openness of the community and the willingness to share best practices with others, open source is a core building block of the cloud native movement. The flipside of this, however, is that many organizations are overwhelmed with the constant change in open source offerings.”

    • OpenShift & Kubernetes: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going Part 1

      As we approach the end of another year for Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes, and another Kubecon, which I believe will be even bigger than the last, it’s a great time to reflect on both where we’ve been and where we’re going. In this blog I will look back over the past 4+ years since Red Hat first got involved in the Kubernetes project, where we have focused our contributions and the key decisions that got us to this point. Then in Part II, I will look ahead at some of the areas we’re focusing on now and into the future.

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.4.1 is now generally available

      Red Hat Satellite 6.4.1 is now generally available. The main drivers for the 6.4.1 release are upgrade and stability fixes. Thirteen bugs have been addressed in this release – the complete list is at the end of the post. The most notable issue is compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6.

      There is one erratum for the server and one for the hosts. The install ISOs will be updated soon, but customers registered via Red Hat Subscription Manager can update via `foreman-maintain` as described in the upgrade guide today.

    • How AWS Lambda Serverless Works

      Four years ago, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched a revolution with the debut of its Lambda service. Rather than being an expansion of existing virtual machine services that provide cloud based servers, Lambda offered users a different promise – the promise of ‘serverless’ computing.

    • How Google Is Improving Kubernetes Container Security

      The open-source Kubernetes container orchestration project has become increasingly important in recent years as organizations rely on it to deploy applications. With the increased reliance has come increased scrutiny on security, especially at Google, which hosts a managed Kubernetes service called Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

      In a call with press ahead of the KubeCon conference that runs Dec. 11-13 in Seattle, Maya Kaczorowski, product manager, Security & Privacy, at Google, outlined the steps Google is taking to help secure Kubernetes now and into the future.

    • Cumulus Networks Partners with Lenovo to Deliver Networking Switches for the Open, Modern Data Center

      Together, Lenovo and Cumulus Networks provide operational efficiency with the robust Linux ecosystem, scalability with Ethernet VPN, and a simplified cloud-based operational model. Lenovo fulfills its promise of vendor flexibility, while at the same time delivering true open switch products that enable organizations to choose the OS best suited for its business.

    • SAP HANA Systemreplication Automation with SUSE HA on Alibaba Cloud
    • Red Hat collaborates with Google, SAP, IBM and others on Knative to deliver hybrid serverless workloads to the enterprise
    • NeuVector Adds to Kubernetes Security Solution, Releases Containerd and CRI-O Run-Time Support

      NeuVector, the leader in Container Network Security, today announced containerd and CRI-O run-time support. The Kubernetes security company is unveiling these new additions to its platform at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018, where NeuVector is participating as an exhibitor and conference sponsor. Attendees are invited to learn how customers use NeuVector – and get 1:1 demos of the platform’s new capabilities – at booth S/E24. KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 takes place December 10-13 in Seattle.

    • Aqua Security, Amazon Web Services and Red Hat to Co-Host First-Ever KubeSec Enterprise Summit

      JP Morgan Chase, Starbucks, Tinder and Forrester are among the presenters who will examine best practices and emerging trends in Kubernetes security technologies

    • Red Hat Slashes Price for Managed Kubernetes by up to 50%

      Red Hat has slashed the costs to use OpenShift Dedicated, its Kubernetes-as-a-service platform, by up to 50 percent.

      OpenShift Dedicated is hosted and managed by Red Hat. It offers clusters run in a virtual private cloud on AWS.

      Starting on December 12, 2018, the Raleigh-headquartered open source company has cut cost of an OpenShift Dedicated cluster by 25 percent and the cost of additional nodes by 50 percent, it said.

    • Lightbend Fast Data Platform Now Generally Available on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform
    • VMware taps into Istio to manage Kubernetes clusters

      Istio, which allows users to connect, manage and secure microservices for both containerized and non-containerized workloads, was developed by IBM, Google and Red Hat before it was put into open source last year.

    • VMware Climbs on the Istio Train for Kubernetes Management

      VMware has updated its NSX networking platform to support managing, securing and ensuring performance of native cloud apps, using open source Istio software.

      Istio is an open source project backed by IBM, Google, Red Hat, Lyft and Pivotal, which hit version 1.0 in July. Istio manages interactions between containers. It complements Kubernetes, which provides lifecycle orchestration for containers, keeping them available and scaling them up and down as needed.

    • Red Hat, Google, IBM, And SAP Go Knative For Serverless

      The history of digital computing is to provide increasing levels of abstraction to get programmers further and further away from directly manipulating the ones and zeros. So it is no surprise that so-called serverless computing is getting a lot of looks from developers who want to focus more on their applications and less on managing the infrastructure they run on.

      As we at The Next Platform have discussed before, serverless computing doesn’t mean that the work is being done without servers, but rather that there is such a high level of abstraction for the compute that the server is no longer a concern for developers. They don’t have to worry about it because it’s a problem that someone else – like a cloud provider – has to deal with.

    • Red Hat Sets Jan. 16, 2019, Special Meeting for Vote on Merger Agreement with IBM

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced today that it had established a record date of Dec. 11, 2018, and a special meeting date of Jan. 16, 2019, for a meeting of its stockholders to, among other things, consider and vote on a proposal to adopt the previously announced Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of Oct. 28, 2018, by and among Red Hat, International Business Machines Corporation (“IBM”) and Socrates Acquisition Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM, pursuant to which IBM will acquire Red Hat for $190.00 per share in an all-cash transaction. The board of directors of Red Hat recommends that stockholders vote in favor of the merger with IBM.

    • Red Hat sets date for stockholders to vote on IBM merger

      Open source solutions provider Red Hat has set a special meeting on 16 January for stockholders to consider and vote on IBM’s proposed acquisition of the company.

      On 28 October, IBM and Red hat announced an agreement and plan of merger which would see IBM acquire Red Hat for $190.00 per share in an all-cash transaction.

      “The board of directors of Red Hat recommends that stockholders vote in favour of the merger with IBM,” the company said in a statement on 11 December.

    • IBM exec: Why buying Red Hat is better than partnership
  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Going Linux #358 · Listener Feedback

      This month we have voice feedback from Paul, suggestions on alternatives for G+, a question on OpenVPN, feedback and problems moving to Linux. Troy provides a Going Linux story on software for Linux users.

    • Linux Thursday – Dec 6, 2018
    • Gnocchi: A Scalable Time Series Database For Your Metrics with Julien Danjou – Episode 189

      Do you know what your servers are doing? If you have a metrics system in place then the answer should be “yes”. One critical aspect of that platform is the timeseries database that allows you to store, aggregate, analyze, and query the various signals generated by your software and hardware. As the size and complexity of your systems scale, so does the volume of data that you need to manage which can put a strain on your metrics stack. Julien Danjou built Gnocchi during his time on the OpenStack project to provide a time oriented data store that would scale horizontally and still provide fast queries. In this episode he explains how the project got started, how it works, how it compares to the other options on the market, and how you can start using it today to get better visibility into your operations.

    • Podcast.__init__: Gnocchi, a Time Series Database for your Metrics
    • Episode #190: Teaching Django

      You’ll find this episode to be part discussion on how to teach and learn Django as well as why learning web development can be hard and part meta where Will Vincent and I discuss the business of creating content and teaching around Python.

    • 57: What is Data Science? – Vicki Boykis

      Data science, data engineering, data analysis, and machine learning are part of the recent massive growth of Python.

  • Kernel Space

    • Adiantum File-System Encryption Support Ready For Linux 4.21

      Adiantum, Google’s newly developed crypto algorithm to replace their planned use of the controversial Speck, is ready to begin providing speedy file-system encryption support for low-end devices with the upcoming Linux 4.21 merge window.

      Adiantum is intended to be eventually used by low-end Android Go devices where their limited SoCs don’t provide any hardware crypto extensions. As covered back in November, Adiantum was added to the Linux kernel’s crypto subsystem is staging it ahead of Linux 4.21.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux networking project: ‘expose & orchestrate’ to ONAP

        LF Networking (LFN) is the label used by the Linux Foundation to denote the coming together of seven top networking projects.

        In other (arguably more straightforward) words, LFN is an open source networking stack.

        The openly stated aim of LFN is to increase harmonisation across platforms, communities and ecosystems.

        This December 2018 sees new platform releases from ONAP (Casablanca) and OPNFV (Gambia) with additional support for cross-stack deployments across use cases such as 5G, Cross-Carrier VPN (CCVPN), as well as enhancements to cloud-native VPN.

      • Straight outta Linux: Cloud tech conference KubeCon will feature hip-hop star at ‘Ice Cube-Con’

        Will Tuesday be a good day? It will be for those attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon in Seattle this week if they’re fans of the legendary rapper Ice Cube.

        The cloud-computing startup Mesosphere is taking tech conference musical guests to a fun new level by presenting a side event Tuesday night called Ice Cube-Con. A website dedicated to the performance even reads “Straight Outta KubeCon” in a nod to NWA’s 1988 debut album “Straight Outta Compton.”

      • Celebrating K8s crates inflation rate, Linux mates congregate

        A number of open source types are heading toward Seattle, Washington, on Monday, if they’re not already installed there, to attend the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 confab.

        The forecast for the cloud-centric event is rain, with widespread Kubernetes. The gathering begins Tuesday, not counting preparatory cocktails. Nonetheless, a press release downpour should arrive on Monday in which less consequential announcements get served as hors d’oeuvres.

        Platform9, a managed hybrid cloud service, plans to tout a handful of corporate customers – Aruba Networks, EBSCO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Juniper Networks, and Snapfish – who’ve started using its managed Kubernetes service. The idea is that if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.

      • Introducing the Interactive Deep Learning Landscape

        The artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning (DL) and machine learning (ML) space is changing rapidly, with new projects and companies launching, existing ones growing, expanding and consolidating. More companies are also releasing their internal AI, ML, DL efforts under open source licenses to leverage the power of collaborative development, benefit from the innovation multiplier effect of open source, and provide faster, more agile development and accelerated time to market.

        To make sense of it all and keep up to date on an ongoing basis, the LF Deep Learning Foundation has created an interactive Deep Learning Landscape, based on the Cloud Native Landscape pioneered by CNCF. This landscape is intended as a map to explore open source AI, ML, DL projects. It also showcases the member companies of the LF Deep Learning Foundation who contribute contribute heavily to open source AI, ML and DL and bring in their own projects to be housed at the Foundation.

      • Linux Foundation’s ONAP ‘Casablanca’ Enables 5G Management

        Today’s topics include the Linux Foundation adding new features to ONAP Casablanca for 5G enablement, and Censys raising seed money to expand internet scanning for threat hunting.

        The Linux Foundation’s LF Networking project group last week took the next step in delivering an open-source platform to enable telecom providers to deploy next-generation network services.

      • The Joint Development Foundation Joins the Linux Foundation Family to Drive Adoption of Open Source and Standards

        The Linux Foundation and the Joint Development Foundation today announced an agreement to bring the Joint Development Foundation into the Linux Foundation family to make it easier to collaborate through both open source and standards development. The Joint Development Foundation is a nonprofit that provides a “standards organization in a box” to enable groups to quickly establish projects. With today’s news, the Linux Foundation and the Joint Development Foundation plan to provide greater capabilities for communities to engage in open source and standards development to speed industry adoption.

        “Linux Foundation communities have been engaged in developing open standards and specifications around Linux since day one and more recently with newer efforts such as OpenChain and the Open Container Initiative to collectively solve technical challenges,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation. “Leveraging the capabilities of the Joint Development Foundation will enable us to provide open source projects with another path to standardization, driving greater industry adoption of standards and specifications to speed adoption.”

      • How CNCF Is Growing the Cloud Landscape at KubeCon

        Thousands of developers, vendors and end users alike are descending on Seattle from Dec. 11-13 for the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America event. They are all here to learn and talk about the growing cloud native landscape, anchored by the Kubernetes container orchestration system.

        Among those at KubeCon is Chris Aniszczyk, Chief Operating Officer of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). In a video interview with eWEEK, Aniszczyk provides insight into the KubeCon event as well as highlighting the current and future direction of the CNCF, which now hosts 31 different open-source efforts.


        Aniszczyk is also particularly enthusiastic about the Envoy project, which was created by ride-sharing company Lyft and officially joined the CNCF in September 2017. Envoy is a service mesh reverse proxy technology that is used to help scale micro-services data traffic. Among the organizations that are now using Envoy are Square, Stripe, Amazon and Google.

    • Graphics Stack

      • V3D Compute, VC4 display, PM

        For V3D last week, I resurrected my old GLES 3.1 series with SSBO and shader imgae support, rebuilt it for V3D 4.1 (shader images no longer need manual tiling), and wrote indirect draw support and started on compute shaders. As of this weekend, dEQP-GLES31 is passing 1387/1567 of tests with “compute” in the name on the simulator. I have a fix needed for barrier(), then it’s time to build the kernel interface. In the process, I ended up fixing several job flushing bugs, plugging memory leaks, improving our shader disassembly debug dumps, and reducing memory consumption and CPU overhead.

      • AMD Outs New Vega 10 & 20 IDs With Linux Driver Patch

        AMD may have accidentally revealed some new products containing its Radeon RX Vega 10 and Radeon RX Vega 20 graphics technologies. The company patched its RadeonSI Mesa and AMDKFD/AMDGPU kernel drivers with new PCI IDs; no other changes were made with the patch.

        Phoronix reported that the patch added six new IDs released to Vega 10: 0×6869, 0x686A, 0x686B, 0x686D, 0x686E, and 0x686F. These are new IDs that were previously only referenced in an update to macOS Mojave and GPUOpen’s lists of GFX9 parts. That could mean AMD plans to introduce new Vega 10 products sooner than later, but the company might also be internally testing new products that are a ways from release.

      • AMD Files Trademark For Vega II

        It looks like AMD could be announcing Vega II as new 7nm Vega GPUs soon complementing the recently announced Vega 20 Radeon Instinct MI50 / MI60 accelerators.

      • The Linux Direct Rendering Manger Subsystem Poised To Have A Second Maintainer

        For hopefully helping out with code reviews and getting code staged in a timely manner before being upstreamed to the mainline Linux kernel, Daniel Vetter of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center is set to become a co-maintainer.

        Daniel Vetter who has been with Intel OTC for a number of years working on their Linux graphics driver has proposed becoming a DRM co-maintainer, “MAINTAINERS: Daniel for drm co-maintainer…lkml and Linus gained a CoC, and it’s serious this time. Which means my [number one] reason for declining to officially step up as drm maintainer is gone, and I didn’t find any new good excuse.”

    • Benchmarks

      • An Initial Look At The Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver PerformanceAn Initial Look At The Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver Performance

        One of the most exciting developments in the open-source Intel driver space this year was the Iris Gallium3D driver taking shape as what’s destined to eventually succeed their “classic” i965 Mesa driver. With Iris Gallium3D maturing, here’s a look at how the performance currently stacks up to their mature OpenGL driver.

        The Intel Iris Gallium3D driver is designed for Skylake (potentially Broadwell too) support and newer generations while being a forward-looking driver and utilizes their mature NIR compiler support. Iris holds much more performance potential than their classic Mesa driver albeit the developers haven’t really taken to performance optimizations yet but rather getting the driver up and running, eliminating test suite failures, and getting to the point of feature parity with the i965 driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE4 and Qt4 deprecation in FreeBSD

        This is a reminder — for those who don’t read all of the FreeBSD mailing lists — that KDE4 is marked deprecated in the official ports tree for FreeBSD, and will be removed at the end of this year (in about 20 days). Then Qt4 will be removed from the official ports tree in mid-march.

        Since both pieces of software are end-of-life and unmaintained upstream already for several years, the kde@ team at FreeBSD no longer can maintain them. Recent time-sinks were dealing with OpenSSL 1.1.1, libressl, C++17, .. the code is old, and there’s newer, nicer, better-maintained code available generally by replacing 4 with 5.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Devs Experiment with a Refreshed GTK & Icon Theme

        Now, if you’re a regular reader of this site then may recall our post on a new GNOME icon theme back in July. At the time only a handful of core GNOME apps had been given newly redesigned icons.

        Fast forward a season or so and not only is the give-core-apps-new-icons initiative well underway, but the redesign effort has extended to other parts of the desktop experience, including the default theme.

        Modernising the look and feel of GNOME apps and the shell is a) a bit overdue and b) happening as part of a wider update to GNOME design guidelines. The idea is to give the desktop a distinct yet consistent appearance.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The PCLinuxOS Magazine Graphics Special Edition, Volume 1

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the Graphics Special Edition, Volume 1 of the PCLinuxOS Magazine. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux Users With Intel Graphics Can Begin Enjoying A Flicker-Free Boot

        It looks like the recent efforts led by Red Hat / Fedora on providing a flicker-free Linux boot experience and thanks to their upstream-focused approach is starting to pay off for the other desktop Linux distributions… A flicker-free boot experience can now be achieved on Arch Linux with the latest packages, assuming you don’t have any quirky hardware.

        A Phoronix reader reported in earlier today that Arch Linux as of the 4.19.8-arch1-1-ARCH kernel is working out well for the seamless/flicker-free boot experience. The caveat though — like with Fedora — is that it only works with Intel graphics hardware/driver for now and does require setting the “i915.fastboot=1″ kernel module parameter.

    • Slackware Family

      • KDE Plasma 5 for Slackware – end of the year edition

        I just uploaded a whole new batch of packages containing KDE Plasma5 for Slackware. The previous batch, KDE 5_18.10 is already two months old and has some library compatibility issues. The new KDE 5_18.12 for Slackware consists of KDE Frameworks 5.53.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and Applications 18.08.3. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.
        Compiled on the latest Slackware -current, it’s running smoothly here on my laptop.
        I decided against upgrading to QT 5.12.0. This is a new LTS release, but I will wait for the other distros to find bugs in this new software. Next week, KDE will release KDE Applications 18.12.0 and that too is something I want to check a bit before releasing Slackware packages. Therefore it’s likely that a new batch of packages containing Qt 5.12 and KDE Applications 18.12 will see the light shortly after the New Year.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 29 Release Party Novi Sad

        Fedora 29 Release Party was held at University of Novi Sad in Serbia like our previous events. Around 50 Fedorians were presents, and I am happy to report that I saw a lot of new faces.

      • Fedora Looks To Build Firefox With Clang For Better Performance & Compilation Speed

        Following the move by upstream Mozilla in switching their Linux builds of Firefox from being compiled by GCC to LLVM Clang, Fedora is planning the same transition of compilers in the name of compilation speed and resulting performance.

        FESCo Ticket 2020 laid out the case, “Mozilla upstream switches from gcc to clang and we’re going to follow upstream here due to clang performance, maintenance costs and compilation speed. Tom Stellard (clang maintainer) has asked me to file this ticket to comply with Fedora processes.”

      • Work in progress: PHP stack for EL-8
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.11 is out
        • [Tor] Transparency, Openness, and Our 2016 and 2017 Financials

          After completing a standard audit for 2016, our 2016 federal tax filings and audit, along with our 2017 federal tax filings, are available. We publish all of our related tax documents because we believe in transparency.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • IoT Gateway uses Ubuntu Core and integrates with AWS IoT Greengrass

            Rigado’s Cascade IoT Gateway running Canonical’s secure operating system Ubuntu Core, has integrated with the newly released Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Greengrass features to help give teams an easy-to-use mechanism to get Bluetooth-based data to their cloud applications.

            This new functionality combines the scalability of AWS IoT Greengrass edge computing with the flexibility of Bluetooth connectivity and is provided as part of Rigado’s “edge-as-a-service” Cascade IoT Gateway. The direct connection from the Bluetooth sensor to the cloud is made possible through the integration of AWS IoT Greengrass and Rigado’s Edge Connect on the Cascade gateway. It provides the ability to interact with Bluetooth devices using Rigado REST APIs via AWS Lambda. AWS IoT Greengrass Connectors, a new feature of AWS IoT Greengrass, allows applications to connect to AWS services including Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), and Amazon CloudWatch. This allows for a full data chain with little to no coding required.

          • Ubuntu burrows deeper into Kubernetes clouds

            Canonical is taking steps to cement the presence of its Ububtu Linux in the cloud through the appeal of containers and Kubernetes.

            The company has expanded its partnership with Supermicro on OpenStack while smoothing the design and deployment of containers on Ubuntu clusters on cloud.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 556
          • Canonical makes Kubernetes moves

            When last I spoke to Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s founder, in Berlin, he told me that — when it comes to Kubernetes — enterprise “Kubernetes runs on Ubuntu.” Kubernetes, the most popular cloud container orchestration program, “makes life easier for people who want portability across public clouds. With multiple Kubernetes clusters you have one common way to run workloads on Linux over both private and public clouds.”

          • Canonical announces support for Kubernetes 1.13 on Ubuntu

            Canonical is pleased to announce full enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.13 on Ubuntu, including support for kubeadm, and updates to MicroK8s – our popular single-node deployment of Kubernetes.

            Canonical’s certified, Charmed Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) is built from pure upstream binaries, and offers simplified deployment, scaling, management, and upgrades of Kubernetes, regardless of the underlying hardware or machine virtualisation. Supported deployment targets include AWS, GCE, Azure, VMware, Openstack, LXD, and bare metal.

            CDK integrates tightly with underlying cloud services and hardware without requiring special configuration – from exposing the GPU to leveraging cloud native services like load balancers and storage. Each component of CDK can be easily scaled to an HA or minimal configuration, and upgrades from one version to the next are a breeze.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Nextcloud 15 goes social, enforces 2FA and gives you a new generation real-time document editing

    Nextcloud 2018 ends the year with a big announcement: Nextcloud 15 is here! This release marks a big step forward for communication and collaboration with others in a secure way, introducing…

  • Nvidia Open Sources Physics Engine

    Nvidia has released a new version of its physics engine, PhysX, and has made it open source. The developers say the engine has been upgraded to provide industrial grade simulation quality at game simulation performance.

    PhysX was already available for use for free, even in commercial projects, but the fact it is now open source means developers can modify the engine if they want to without paying a license fee.

  • 5 things you won’t learn from The Open Organization Leaders Manual

    Today the open organization community—a global group of writers, consultants, theorists, managers, and other organizational leaders dedicated to helping others understand how open principles can transform organizational culture and design—unveiled the second edition of The Open Organization Leaders Manual. Billed as “a handbook for building innovative and engaged teams,” the book is available now as a Creative Commons-licensed eBook and a paperback.

  • Companies behind on digital transformation get ahead with open leaders

    One source of that disruption is digitization. Digitization is reshaping the way we lead, manage, and work. Even in the scope of the last decade, we’ve seen rapid adjustments to how we live, connect, and receive services. While we’ve been discussing ad nauseum how (or whether) we should be redefining organizational cultures and business models, the clock has been ticking, and the pace of digitization has not been slowing. In his book The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology, author Venkat Venkatraman argues that, by 2025, differences between digital and non-digital functions, processes, and business models will no longer exist.

  • DAV1D v0.1 AV1 Video Decoder Released

    Out today is DAV1D as the first official (v0.1) release of this leading open-source AV1 video decoder.

    This release was decided since its quality is good enough for use, covers all AV1 specs and features, and is quite fast on desktop class hardware and improving for mobile SoCs.

  • PikcioChain plans for open-source MainNet in roadmap update

    France-based PikcioChain, a platform designed to handle and monetize personal data, has announced changes to its development roadmap as it looks towards the launch of its standalone MainNet and block explorer in the first quarter of 2019.

  • New Blockstream Bitcoin Block Explorer Announces The Release Of Its Open Source Code Esplora

    Blockstream has just announced a release of Esplora, its open source software. This is the software that keeps the website and network running. This new release follows on the heels of its block explorer that was released in November to the public.

    The company released the block explorer, and after making sure it was successful, released the code behind that block explorer. This way, developers can easily create their block explorers, build add-ons and extensions as well as contribute to Blockstream.info.

  • Will Concerns Break Open Source Containers?

    Open source containers, which isolate applications from the host system, appear to be gaining traction with IT professionals in the U.S. defense community. But for all their benefits, security remains a notable Achilles’ heel for a couple of reasons.
    First, containers are still fairly nascent, and many administrators are not yet completely familiar with their capabilities. It’s difficult to secure something you don’t completely understand. Second, containers are designed in a way that hampers visibility. This lack of visibility can make securing containers extremely taxing.

  • Huawei, RoboSense join group pushing open-source autonomous driving technology

    Telecommunications equipment giant Huawei Technologies, its semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon and RoboSense, a maker of lidar sensors used in driverless cars, have become the first Chinese companies to help establish an international non-profit group that supports open-source autonomous driving projects.

    The three firms are among the more than 20 founding members of the Autoware Foundation, which aims to promote collaboration between corporate and academic research efforts in autonomous driving technology, according to a statement from the group on Monday.

    The foundation is an outgrowth of Autoware.AI, an open-source autonomous driving platform that was started by Nagoya University associate professor Shinpei Kato in 2015.

  • Events

    • Red Hat KubeCon Seattle 2018 Events & Demos

      Stop by the Red Hat booth D1 to explore 1:1 demos and speak with our open source specialists. We’ll be giving away Red Hat beanies, stickers, Command Line Hero coloring books and more, while supplies last.

    • Future Session #10 Open Innovation & Open Design

      On November 27th 2018, The Spindle, in collaboration with HumanityX, organised a Future Session about global technological developments and open innovation & open design. Participants to this meeting came from various organisations, sectors, and backgrounds, which provided fruitful input and discussions, especially during the workshop part of the session.

      The session was led by expert Diderik van Wingerden, who is an Open Source Innovation expert and pragmatic idealist. To find out more about Diderik and his work, visit www.think-innovation.com. You can find Diderik’s presentation and the material that he used for this session here.

      Introduction to Technological Trends

      Diderik started off by presenting a great selection of today’s technological trends and developments, among which virtual reality, big (open) data, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, 3D printing, open source & open design, internet of things and robots & drones.

    • 40 top Linux and open source conferences in 2019

      Every year Opensource.com editors, writers, and readers attend open source-related conference and events hosted around the world. As we started planning our 2019 schedules, we rounded up a few top picks for the year.

      Which conferences do you plan to attend in 2019? If you don’t see your conference on this list, be sure to tell us about it in the comments and add it to our community conference calendar. (And for more events to attend, check out The Enterprisers Project list of business leadership conferences worth exploring in 2019.)

  • Web Browsers

    • HTC Exodus: Open Source Brave to be Blockchain phone’s default web browser

      HTC’s latest release HTC Exodus 1 is set to introduce the free and open source blockchain-backed Brave as its default browser.

      In a tweet, the CEO & Co-Founder of Brave and Basic Attention Token (BAT) Brendan Eich, shared the development. Brendan said, “We are very happy to have @Brave as default browser & to be working with HTC on their Exodus phone”.

    • Chrome

      • Microsoft vs the web

        I have been saying for a few years now that Chrome is the new IE, and the Google is the new Microsoft (Microsoft being the new IBM). This statement have been somewhat tongue in cheek, but I have always been serious about it not being a joke: history is repeating. I could got at length on all the reasons why I believe this to be true, but I’ll just talk about one new development.

        Last week, Microsoft announced that they had decided to abandon EdgeHTML, their web browser engine, and move to be using Google’s Chromium as the heart of the web browser offering, Edge. [1] Whether it will be just Blink and V8 (Web rendering and JS engine respectively) or also parts of Chromium is something unclear.

      • What is Chromium and why is Microsoft using it for Edge?

        Chromium is very similar. You can install a standalone application for Windows, macOS and any flavor of Linux named Chromium that’s a complete web browser complete with synchronization through Google’s could services. But Chromium is also the name of the open-source code project used to make Chromium, as well as the Chrome web browser, Chrome OS, Amazon Silk, and the Android Chrome web-view component companies like Twitter can use to build a browser into an application.

      • How Microsoft Is About to Make Google Chrome Even Better
    • Mozilla

      • If your bug bounty program is private, why do you have it?

        The big bug bounty platforms are structured like icebergs: the public bug bounty programs that you can see are only a tiny portion of everything that is going on there. As you earn your reputation on these platforms, they will be inviting you to private bug bounty programs. The catch: you generally aren’t allowed to discuss issues reported via private bug bounty programs. In fact, you are not even allowed to discuss the very existence of that bug bounty program.

        I’ve been playing along for a while on Bugcrowd and Hackerone and submitted a number of vulnerability reports to private bug bounty programs. As a result, I became convinced that these private bug bounty programs are good for the bottom line of the bug bounty platforms, but otherwise their impact is harmful. I’ll try to explain here.

      • BBN challenge resolution: Exploiting the Screenshotter.PRO browser extension

        The time has come to reveal the answer to my next BugBountyNotes challenge called Try out my Screenshotter.PRO browser extension. This challenge is a browser extension supposedly written by a naive developer for the purpose of taking webpage screenshots. While the extension is functional, the developer discovered that some websites are able to take a peek into their Gmail account. How does that work?

        If you haven’t looked at this challenge yet, feel free to stop reading at this point and go try it out. Mind you, this one is hard and only two people managed to solve it so far. Note also that I won’t look at any answers submitted at this point any more. Of course, you can also participate in any of the ongoing challenges as well.

      • Latest Firefox Release Available Today

        It’s the season for spending time with family and friends over a nice meal and exchanging gifts. Whether it’s a monogrammed bag or a nicely curated 2019 calendar of family photos, it’s the practical gifts that get the most use.

      • Version 64.0, first offered to Release channel users on December 11, 2018
      • Latest Firefox Release Available Today

        It’s the season for spending time with family and friends over a nice meal and exchanging gifts. Whether it’s a monogrammed bag or a nicely curated 2019 calendar of family photos, it’s the practical gifts that get the most use.

        For Firefox, we’re always looking for ways to simplify and personalize your online experience. For today’s version of Firefox for desktop, we have a couple new features that do just that.

      • Firefox 64.0 Released with Enhanced Tab Management

        Mozilla Firefox announced new stable 64.0 release a few hours ago with new features and performance improvements.

      • Mozilla Firefox 64 Now Available for Download on Windows, Linux, and macOS

        Mozilla has just released Firefox 64 stable for users on Windows, Linux, and macOS, with the Android version likely to be updated in the coming hours.
        While checking for updates using the built-in update engine may not offer you Firefox version 64, you can download the browser using the links below, as Mozilla has just updated its servers with the new builds.

        Firefox 64 introduces a series of changes that were previously tested as part of the beta versions, including recommended extensions. This feature is supposed to help improve the experience with the browser by providing suggestions on services that are relevant to your activity.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Pimcore Closes $3.5M in Series A to Expand Open-Source Data and Experience Management Platform Into the U.S.
    • Open source software platform Pimcore raises $3.5M funding

      Pimcore, open-source software platform startup, has raised $3.5 million in the first funding round to expand operations in India and enhance marketing activities in the US. The funding round was led by German Auctus Capital Partners AG.

      The firm focuses on user experience, data management among other solutions. The Austria headquartered startup, which has agreements with Infosys, Happiest Minds, and UST Global for implementation of its software platforms, is looking to expand product development activities in India as well.

    • Solo.io raises $11M to help enterprises adopt cloud-native technologies

      Solo.io, a Cambridge, Mass-based startup that helps enterprises adopt cloud-native technologies, is coming out of stealth mode today and announcing both its Series A funding round and the launch of its Gloo Enterprise API gateway.

      Redpoint Ventures led the $11 million Series A round, with participation from seed investor True Ventures . Like most companies at the Series A state, Solo.io plans to use the money to invest in the product development of its enterprise and open-source tools, as well as to grow its sales and marketing teams.

  • BSD


    • GCC 9 Guts Out The PowerPC SPE Support

      It should come as no surprise since it was deprecated in this year’s GCC 8 release, but the PowerPC SPE code has been removed.

      This isn’t to be confused with conventional POWER/PowerPC but rather PowerPC SPE that is for the “Signal Processing Engine” on older FreeScale/IBM cores like the e500. It’s not all that important these days and doesn’t affect newer versions of the 64-bit Power support.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • How Shared, Open Data Can Help Us Better Overcome Disasters

        WHEN A MASSIVE earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant failed, leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere and water. People around the country as well as others with family and friends in Japan were, understandably, concerned about radiation levels—but there was no easy way for them to get that information. I was part of a small group of volunteers who came together to start a nonprofit organization, Safecast, to design, build, and deploy Geiger counters and a website that would eventually make more than 100 million measurements of radiation levels available to the public.

        We started in Japan, of course, but eventually people around the world joined the movement, creating an open global data set. The key to success was the mobile, easy to operate, high-quality but lower-cost kit that the Safecast team developed, which people could buy and build to collect data that they might then share on the Safecast website.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital Takes A RISC

        Proponents of RISC-V say that it that enables the diversity of Big Data and Fast Data applications and workloads proliferating in core data centers and in remote and mobile systems at the edge. It provides an alternative to current, standard, general purpose compute architectures. With RISC-V, open standard interfaces can be utilized to enable specialty processing, memory centric solutions, unique storage and flexible interconnect applications. The RISC-V Foundation has a broad ecosystem represented by the significant increase in attendees at the 2018 Summit compared to 2017.

      • The Year 2018 in Open Hardware

        2018 saw several open hardware projects reach fruition. Where the open hardware movement goes from here, remains to be seen.

        2018 was not “The Year of Open Hardware,” any more than it was the fabled “Year of the Linux Desktop.” All the same, 2018 was a year in which open hardware projects started to move from fundraising and project development to product releases. Many of these open products were traditional hardware, but 2018 also saw the release of innovative tech in the form of new and useful gadgets.

        In the background, open hardware hangs on to traditional niches. These niches occur at the intersection of altruism, hobbyists, academia, and the market, to say nothing of crowdfunding and the relative affordability of 3D printing. A prime example of this intersection is the development of prosthetics. Much of the modern work in open hardware began almost a decade ago with the Yale OpenHand project. At the same time, sites like Hackaday.io offer kits and specifications for hobbyists, while the e-NABLE site has become a place for exchanging ideas for everyone from tinkerers to working professionals in the field. As a result, open hardware technology in the field of prosthetics has grown to rival traditional manufacturers in a handful of years.

        This niche is a natural one for open hardware not only because of the freely available resources, but for simple economics. Traditionally manufactured prosthetic hands begin at about $30,000, far beyond the budgets of many potential customers. By contrast, an open hardware-based company like the UK based Open Bionics can design a cosmetically-pleasing hand for $200, which is still a large sum in impoverished areas, but far more obtainable. A non-profit called Social Hardware estimates that a need for prosthetic hands in India alone numbers 26,000 and hopes to help meet the demand by offering a development kit on which enthusiasts can learn and later donate their results to those who need them.

      • This MIT Developed 3D Printer Is 10 Times Faster Than Modern 3D Printers

        3D printers have become more and more useful in the mass production of complex products that are cheaper and stronger. However, the only issue with 3D printing is its slow speed. These desktop 3D printers can print only one product at a time and only one thin layer at a making.

      • Accelerating 3-D printing

        Imagine a world in which objects could be fabricated in minutes and customized to the task at hand. An inventor with an idea for a new product could develop a prototype for testing while on a coffee break. A company could mass-produce parts and products, even complex ones, without being tied down to part-specific tooling and machines that can’t be moved. A surgeon could get a bespoke replacement knee for a patient without leaving the operating theater. And a repair person could identify a faulty part and fabricate a new one on site — no need to go to a warehouse to get something out of inventory.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python Community Interview With Brian Peterson

      To date, I’ve interviewed people you’ve likely heard of before from the Python community. But this column isn’t just about interviewing the rock stars and core devs. It’s also a means to shine light on the huge contributions to the community that can often go unthanked and overlooked. As such, I present to you Brian Peterson.

      Brian is a project manager by day, and by night he’s one of the moderators of the Pythonista Café, a peer-to-peer learning community for Pythonistas. In our interview, we talk about how Python helps him in his role as a project manager, and how moderating a large forum for Python enthusiasts has impacted his coding chops. Let’s dig in!

    • Building a GraphQL API with Django
    • Create the pause scene for the game
    • PyDev of the Week: Steve Dower
    • How to Fix your Python Code’s Style
    • LLVM’s OpenMP Runtime Picks Up DragonFlyBSD & OpenBSD Support

      Good news for those using the LLVM Clang compiler on OpenBSD or DragonFlyBSD: the OpenMP run-time should now be supported with the latest development code.

    • Nick Cameron: Rust in 2022

      In case you missed it, we released our second edition of Rust this year! An edition is an opportunity to make backwards incompatible changes, but more than that it’s an opportunity to bring attention to how programming in Rust has changed. With the 2018 edition out of the door, now is the time to think about the next edition: how do we want programming in Rust in 2022 to be different to programming in Rust today? Once we’ve worked that out, lets work backwards to what should be done in 2019.

      Without thinking about the details, lets think about the timescale and cadence it gives us. It was three years from Rust 1.0 to Rust 2018 and I expect it will be three years until the next edition. Although I think the edition process went quite well, I think that if we’d planned in advance then it could have gone better. In particular, it felt like there were a lot of late changes which could have happened earlier so that we could get more experience with them. In order to avoid that I propose that we aim to avoid breaking changes and large new features landing after the end of 2020. That gives 2021 for finishing, polishing, and marketing with a release late that year. Working backwards, 2020 should be an ‘impl year’ – focussing on designing and implementing the things we know we want in place for the 2021 edition. 2019 should be a year to invest while we don’t have any release pressure.

      To me, investing means paying down technical debt, looking at our processes, infrastructure, tooling, governance, and overheads to see where we can be more efficient in the long run, and working on ‘quality of life’ improvements for users, the kind that don’t make headlines but will make using Rust a better experience. It’s also the time to investigate some high-risk, high-reward ideas that will need years of iteration to be user-ready; 2019 should be an exciting year!

    • A Java Developer Walks Into A Ruby Conference: Charles Nutter’s Open Source Journey

      As a Java developer, Nutter began looking for an existing way to run Ruby within a Java runtime environment, specifically a Java virtual machine (JVM). This would let Ruby programs run on any hardware or software platform supported by a JVM, and would facilitate writing polyglot applications that used some Java and some Ruby, with developers free to choose whichever language was best for a particular task.

    • Good ciphers in OpenJDK
    • Don’t delete the same file in its own directory
    • Create a home button on the pause scene
    • Discovering the pathlib module

      The Python Standard Library is like a gold mine, and the pathlib module is really a gem.

    • QtCreator CMake for Android plugin

      It’s about QtCreator CMake for Android! I know it’s a strange coincidence between this article and The Qt Company’s decision to ditch QBS and use CMake for Qt 6, but I swear I started to work on this project *before* they announced it ! This plugin enables painless experience when you want to create Android apps using Qt, CMake and QtCreator. It’s almost as easy as Android Qmake QtCreator plugin! The user will build, run & debug Qt on Android Apps as easy as it does with Qmake.

    • Testing Your Code with Python’s pytest, Part II
    • Top Tips For Aspiring Web Developers

      As we’re a portal geared towards open-source development, we’re naturally going to bang the drum about the benefits of getting involved in open-source projects. There are so many fantastic open-source projects that are still going strong today – WordPress, Android and even Ubuntu/Linux to name but a few. Open source projects will give you direct hands-on experience, allowing you to build your own portfolio of work and network with other like-minded developers too.

    • Announcing Rust 1.31 and Rust 2018

      The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.31.0, and “Rust 2018″ as well. Rust is a programming language that empowers everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

    • A call for Rust 2019 Roadmap blog posts

      It’s almost 2019! As such, the Rust team needs to create a roadmap for Rust’s development next year.

    • Processing CloudEvents with Eclipse Vert.x

      Our connected world is full of events that are triggered or received by different software services. One of the big issues is that event publishers tend to describe events differently and in ways that are mostly incompatible with each other.

      To address this, the Serverless Working Group from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) recently announced version 0.2 of the CloudEvents specification. The specification aims to describe event data in a common, standardized way. To some degree, a CloudEvent is an abstract envelope with some specified attributes that describe a concrete event and its data.


  • Egypt investigates ‘pyramid nude photo shoot’

    Climbing the pyramids was banned in the 1980s after a number of tourists died attempting to scale them.

  • Science

    • 50 Years Later, We Still Don’t Grasp the Mother of All Demos

      Fifty years ago today, Doug Engelbart showed 2,000 people a preview of the future.

      Engelbart gave a demonstration of the “oN-Line System” at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 1968. The oN-Line System was the first hypertext system, preceding the web by more than 20 years. But it was so much more than that. When Engelbart typed a word, it appeared simultaneously on his screen in San Francisco and on a terminal screen at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. When Engelbart moved his mouse, the cursor moved in both locations.

      The demonstration was impressive not just because Engelbart showed off Google Docs-style collaboration decades before Google was founded. It was impressive because he and his team at SRI’s Augmentation Research Center had to conceive of and create nearly every piece of technology they displayed, from the window-based graphical interface to the computer mouse.

    • Screen Time Changes Structure of Kids’ Brains, ‘60 Minutes’ Says

      In brain scans of 4,500 children, daily screen usage of more than seven hours showed premature thinning of the brain cortex, the outermost layer that processes information from the physical world. Though the difference was significant from participants who spent less screen time, NIH study director Gaya Dowling cautioned against drawing a conclusion.

    • When algorithms go wrong we need more power to fight back, say AI researchers

      The report examines the social challenges of AI and algorithmic systems, homing in on what researchers call “the accountability gap” as this technology is integrated “across core social domains.” They put forward ten recommendations, including calling for government regulation of facial recognition (something Microsoft president Brad Smith also advocated for this week) and “truth-in-advertising” laws for AI products, so that companies can’t simply trade on the reputation of the technology to sell their services.

      Big tech companies have found themselves in an AI gold rush, charging into a broad range of markets from recruitment to healthcare to sell their services. But, as AI Now co-founder Meredith Whittaker, leader of Google’s Open Research Group, tells The Verge, “a lot of their claims about benefit and utility are not backed by publicly accessible scientific evidence.”

    • How a telescope forum feud ended with prison time

      Goodyear swore innocence at first, but after increasingly pointed questioning, he confessed. One of his accounts had been banned a couple of weeks ago, he said. In a sudden rage, he’d spammed the site with pornography, then posted its address on a site called HackForums.net, asking for someone to attack it. “I was just, like, what the fuck am I being banned for? I was just pissed,” he told his visitors — one from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and another from the Los Angeles Police Department. “I just went up in, just the heat of the moment.”

      His visitors seemed mildly amused by the forum drama, and he chatted with them about his $100,000 telescope collection before they left. But one year later, Goodyear was arrested. In December 2018, he was sentenced to more than two years in prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    • 5 Ways Your Phone Is Secretly Destroying Your Life

      For starters, infants and toddlers were found to be more emotionally distressed and less likely to explore their environments when their mothers were on their phones. In fact, excessive phone use was considered a form of “maternal withdrawal and unresponsiveness.”

      That problem continues into tweenhood, where 32 percent of children aged eight to 13 reported feeling unimportant when their parents used their phones during dinner, conversations, and other family occasions, and over half the children in the study felt that their parents used their phones too much in general. Another study suggested that kids were more likely to act out to get the attention of a phone-using parent, while the parents were more likely to be irritable in their responses, feeding a negative cycle.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Just pee in a cup for bladder cancer detection

      Now, scientists have figured out how to use atomic force microscopy (AFM) to detect bladder cancer in urine samples. By analyzing only five cells, it can achieve 94 percent accuracy.

    • Best Option For Funding Medicare For All May Be Employer Mandate

      One of the biggest political and technical hurdles standing in the way of Medicare for All is deciding how to pay for it, but voters have made clear there is one option they would support: simply requiring every employer to purchase Medicare (or equivalent) coverage for their employees.

      This is the least disruptive option. It is successfully used by other countries. Most importantly, it is the only idea that is both popular and can reasonably produce enough money to fund the program.

      In 2016, the United States spent more than $1.12 trillion on private insurance and another $352.5 billion on out-of-pocket expenses. It will be necessary to make up this roughly $1.4 trillion in either taxes, cost-sharing reforms, or new deficit spending in order to move toward a universal system with no or only nominal cost-sharing.

      A well-structured employer mandate is the only option with clear majority support which would produce enough revenue. Most importantly, the idea of an employer mandate has grown more popular in recent years—from 53 percent of Americans in favor in 2016, to 62 and 63 percent in 2017, to 69 percent just last month—even though it has been attacked aggressively by lobbying groups.

      In some polls, the employer mandate even scores slightly better than providing people subsidies to buy insurance or imposing higher taxes on rich people.

    • Experts Call For Global Accountability Mechanism For Access To Essential Medicines

      Global health experts, including senior officials at the World Health Organization, are calling for a global accountability mechanism for access to essential medicines, noting that a the lack of data on medicines affordability and national pharmaceutical expenditures has hindered this process, according a recent article published in UK medical journal The Lancet.

      “The focus of accountability should move away from measuring only availability of medicines towards the effectiveness, quality, and efficiency of patient-centred comprehensive primary care services, which encompasses equitable access to essential medicines,” they said.

      Authors include WHO Deputy Director General Mariângela Simão and WHO Director of Essential Medicines and Health Products Suzanne Hill, along with an array of academics and other experts.

      The article stated that “high-level discussions between WHO, the Lancet Commission, other UN agencies, and NGOs have led to the identification of four priorities to ensure the development of a global Accountability Mechanism for Access to Essential Medicines.”

    • Under Trump, More People Live Without Health Coverage

      The number of adults living in the United States without health coverage increased by more than half a million during President Trump’s first year in office, after steadily declining since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 and began expanding health coverage for millions of people, according to data released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

      Trump has promised to “blow up” the ACA and his administration has worked to weaken certain key provisions ever since Republicans in Congress failed to repeal and replace the health care law early 2017. The administration also drastically cut funding for and access to outreach programs that help people enroll in the ACA health coverage marketplace.

      The number of uninsured adults under the age of 65 declined dramatically from 44 million in 2013 to just below 27 million in 2016, as ACA provisions expanding Medicaid and offering subsidized insurance plans for people with lower incomes went into effect, according to the Kaiser report. In the first year after Trump took office in 2017, the number of adults living without health coverage increased by nearly 700,000, when about 10 percent of US residents reported living without health insurance.

    • ‘We Can’t Enact Our Agenda Without Seats at the Table’: Tens of Thousands Sign Petition Demanding Powerful Ways and Means Committee Seat for Ocasio-Cortez

      As the House’s key tax-writing body, as Common Dreams previously reported, Ways and Means will have enormous power over every central policy goal of the Democratic Party’s growing progressive wing—from Medicare for All to a Green New Deal to tuition-free public college.

      By vying for a seat on the powerful committee—a spot freshmen are almost never given—Ocasio-Cortez is taking on Wall Street Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative.

  • Security

    • An evil Penguin grabs the persistence partition’s key of a friend’s Tails operating system
    • Pop the Box

      Let[s] talk a little about this box. In this HTB machine we will see only one port is open and that will be the http one , we will fireup the dirbuster to find the different files and directories inside that website. We will came to know about the phpbash file from where we will be getting code execution. After getting the ever shell we will enumerate more and will be able to find the way to escalate the privileges and became root. This time I have made two video[s] the first one will be on getting our first reverse shell on the box and the second one will be on how we will be able to escalate the privileges. Hope you guys will enjoy it. In last but not the least I have uploaded some file[s] from which you will be able to learn about bash scripting, python and you will learn about the cronjob working.

    • Linux 4.21 Will Better Protect Against Malicious Thunderbolt Devices

      Linux 4.21 is set to further improve the system security around potentially malicious Thunderbolt devices.

      The new protection with Linux 4.21 is the enabling of IOMMU-based direct memory access (DMA) protection from devices connected via Thunderbolt. PCI Express Address Translation Services (PCIe ATS) is also disabled to prevent possibly bypassing that IOMMU protection, per this pull.

    • Google to Shut Down Google+ 4 Months Earlier After Second Data Hack

      Google+ still hadn’t recovered from the data leak it suffered in October. And now it has to go through the same fortune yet again. The company today announced that a new security loophole found last month can impact 52.5 million users. The data of these users can be taken from the apps that use the API of Google+.

      The data of the 52.5 million users consists of their personal information like name, age, occupation, and email address. Even if the accounts are set on private, developers will be able to access the profile information due to the security bug. Even if the information was set to private, developers had easy access to the data of the users.

    • Expediting changes to Google+

      In October, we announced that we’d be sunsetting the consumer version of Google+ and its APIs because of the significant challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations, as well as the platform’s low usage.

      We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API. We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.

      With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days. In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.

    • Google+ closure brought forward after more data leaks

      Google has advanced the date for shutting down its Google+ social network from August 2019 to April 2019, after discovering another bug that leaked the data of some 52.5 million users.

    • Google will shut down Google+ four months early after second data leak

      Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days.

      According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.

    • What’s the most secure operating system?

      Linux has a family of different free versions (known as distributions, or distros) to choose from, based on users’ computer skills. If you’re just getting started, check out Mint or Ubuntu. And because Linux is open-source, users can make copies of modified systems and give them away to friends in need.

    • Choose the Right VPN for Linux in 2019
    • Cryptomining campaign pulls new ‘Linux Rabbit’ malware out of its black hat [Ed: No, it's not ‘Linux Rabbit’ but ‘Weak Password Rabbit’; calling it Linux is rather misleading, distracts from the real problem.]
    • Linux malware: is it so hard to get it right? [Ed: Recognising Catalin Cimpaun for what he really is (and has always been): a clickbaiting troll. For CBS to employ him for ZDNet says a lot about the agenda.]

      Once again, so-called security researchers and tech writers have combined to provide misinformation about trojanised SSH scripts which can be run on a Linux server after said server is compromised through a brute-force attack and root status attained. And they call it Linux malware!
      Security firm ESET and ZDNet writer Catalin Cimpanu have both got it wrong in the past — the latter on numerous occasions as he simply does not seem to understand anything about the Linux security model — but both continue to persist in trying to pursue the topic. ESET has gone in the wrong direction on torrent files and clients too.

      Arguably, there is reason to do so: Linux and malware in the same headline do still serve as some kind of clickbait.


      Cimpanu was more descriptive, but again made the same fundamental mistake. Malware can be created for any operating system, but the crucial question is how do you get it onto that system?


      Cimpanu’s former employer, Bleeping Computer, was also prone to screw-ups of this nature. Here is the editor of Bleeping Computer, Lawrence Abrams, expounding on ransomware targeting Linux servers.

      But then Bleeping Computer is a relatively small operation. One would have thought that ZDNet, which has tons of resources, would have a little more editorial quality control.

    • Open Source Risk Continues to Challenge Organizations’ Software Security [Ed: Veracode reminds us that it’s nothing more but a propaganda campaign against FOSS, looking to make money in the process (pushing proprietary ‘solutions’). There’s also a Microsoft connection.]
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Ransomware still dominates the global threat landscape

      Ransomware attacks continues as the main world’s main security threat and the most profitable form of malware, but a new global report indicates that despite “copious” numbers of infections daily there’s emerging signs the threat is no longer growing.

    • Someone messed with Linux.org’s DNS to deface the website’s homepage [Ed: That's not "deface"' but more like redirect and it's not the site's DNS system but something upstream, another company that's at fault]

      SO IMAGINE YOU REALLY LOVE OPEN SOURCE; you’ve poured yourself a glass of claret from a wine box and have settled into a night of perusing Linux.org. You feel a tingle of excitement as you type in the URL – you’re old skool – but that sours to despair as you see a defaced website greet your eyes.

      Yep, it looks like someone managed to get into the Linux.org website’s domain name service (DNS) settings and point the domain to another server that served up a defaced webpage, which depending on when you may have accessed it, greeted visitors with racial slurs, an obscene picture and a protest against the revised Linux kernel developer code of conduct.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Dave Lindorff Explores the Pentagon’s Financial Mysteries

      Long-time investigative reporter Dave Lindorff explores the Pentagon’s financial mysteries, including massive unaccounted-for spending and decades of non-compliance with audit law.

    • This Is What It Looks Like When Imperialism Comes Home

      You have to hand it to him—the man has a way with words and he sure knows how to fire up his base. Early in November, President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters in Montana, and he gushed with pride about his recent deployment of active-duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. The commander in chief bragged about the job his troops were doing in fending off the “invasion”—that isn’t an invasion at all, of course—from a “caravan” of asylum-seeking Central American migrants who were, at the time, 700 miles away. Regarding recent footage of those troops working on the border, he casually said he “noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire, used properly, can be a beautiful sight.” Beauty, as they say, is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

      Now, at least for the next two months, Mr. Trump remains this soldier’s commander in chief, so I won’t remark on him or his general personality. Still, I was more than a little troubled by this astounding comment. It’s not just that these migrants are empirically not an invading force, generally not “armed,” and certainly not infused with “unknown Middle Easterners” (read: terrorists). And it’s not just that the United States is itself at least partially to blame for the refugee crisis infecting Central America. Nor is it that the sight of tear gas fired at women and children—in scenes reminiscent of the Gaza Strip—is more than a little distressing.

    • Border Patrol Arrests 32 at San Diego Demonstration

      U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers.

      A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall.

    • Vladimir Putin Outmaneuvers the U.S. Yet Again

      Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin has racked up another win in his latest skirmish with the west.

      The victory took place Nov. 25 in the Kerch Strait, the narrow strip of water separating the disputed Crimean Peninsula from the Russian mainland to the east. It occurred when the Russian coast guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels. As always, the details are in dispute, with the Ukrainians claiming that their boats informed the Russians about their plans to navigate the strait but received no reply and Russia saying the opposite.

      But there’s no doubt as to the result. By briefly closing the strait, Russia has demonstrated that it can restrict access at will to roughly half the Ukrainian coastline that lies within the Sea of Azov, including the economically vital ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. Although Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko immediately called for Western intervention, it also demonstrated that there is little NATO can do in response.

      While expressing “full support” for Ukraine, the alliance said nothing about Poroshenko’s request that NATO ships force their way through the Kerch Strait in defiance of the blockade. The same goes for Ukraine’s call to Turkey to close off Russian naval access to the Dardanelles, the equally narrow body of water connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s only response was an offer to mediate.

    • The ADA Is Not Bush Sr.’s Legacy. It Belongs to Disability Activists.

      On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Introduced into the United States Congress in 1988, the ADA is widely recognized and commemorated by disabled people as landmark civil rights legislation and as the culmination of decades of grassroots organizing by disabled people and their allies.

      Together, the titles that comprise the ADA are designed to provide equal access to persons with disabilities and to bar discrimination against us in all areas of public life. While not a panacea for the oppression of all disabled people in the United States, the ADA has, for example, transformed many built environments in essential ways that make community living for disabled people more possible. Although often unrecognized, these modifications — such as curb cuts, ramps, closed captioning and audio-visual announcements on transit — benefit non-disabled people as well.

      The death of the former president on World AIDS Day 2018 has inspired a flurry of hagiographies, some penned by disability rights advocates, that feature the passage of the ADA as a prominent part of Bush’s legacy as a “kinder, gentler” leader. These reconfigurations of history, in which Bush is imagined as the engine of the disability rights movement, cast a long shadow on the struggle of disabled people and imperil disabled peoples’ activist movements today.

    • War Over Ukraine?

      Who wants to go to war against Russia in defense of Ukraine over the Kerch Strait, which lies between the Black and Azov seas and between Russia’s Taman Peninsula and Russian-annexed Crimea?


      True, in a week or two, we noninterventionists may look as though we overreacted to the Kerch Strait “crisis.” But who knows? Why take a chance? War would be a catastrophe, maybe the biggest the world has ever seen. I’d rather overreact now than regret not having said anything later.

      The U.S. government has no businesses policing relations between Ukraine and Russia. Even if that role were appropriate for some party, the U.S. government would not be the one because it hardly has clean hands in the matter. Since the 1990s after the peaceful fall of the Soviet Union, Democratic and Republican presidents have threatened Russia by moving the anti-Soviet NATO alliance — which at the latest, should have ended with the fall — right up to Russia’s border, contrary to late President George H. W. Bush’s assurances, by incorporating former Soviet allies and republics.

    • AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?

      Amid the George HW Bush imperial death-orgy, the endless saga of Midtown Mussolini’s daily news cycle, the seemingly unprecedented political upsurge in France, and countless other show-stopping news stories, you likely missed three very sad, yet revealing, incidents out of the Sahel region of West-Central Africa.

      First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.

      Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.

      And on the very same day, also in Diffa near the Niger-Nigeria border, suspected Boko Haram militants killed seven employees of Foraco, a French well drilling and mining company.

      This spate of deadly, and rather brazen, attacks on civilians along the Niger-Nigeria border paints a troubling picture of the continued instability of the region, and give the lie to the idea that counter-terrorism operations, ongoing for a number of years now, have put Boko Haram and other terror groups on the back foot.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Guardian’s WikiLeaks ‘expose’ only revealed its own incompetence

      Does The Guardian’s latest “expose” on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks — currently falling apart in real time — represent its greatest fail yet, in its long and tempestuous history with the Prisoner of Knightsbridge?

      Last week, the paper claimed that Assange had held secret meetings with Trump associate Paul Manafort all the way back in 2012. These deep background stories were soon discredited by embassy security officials of the time.

    • James Goodale, ’58: Former General Counsel of the New York Times and Famous First Amendment Lawyer on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

      It’s not a stretch to say that few people are disliked more within media circles than WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Yet with the news that Trump’s Justice Department has filed secret charges against him, the rights of many journalists who despise Assange may also hang in the balance.

      It’s still unclear what charges the Justice Department is bringing against Assange, who has lived under diplomatic protection in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years. But if the secret charges implicate any of WikiLeaks’ publishing activities, it could ironically be just the precedent the Trump administration needs to directly go after journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post.

      With that in mind, I recently spoke to James Goodale — the famed First Amendment lawyer and former general counsel the New York Times, who led the paper’s legal team in the famed Pentagon Papers case — about the dire impact the Justice Department’s move may have on press freedom, regardless of whether people consider Assange himself a “journalist.”

    • Assange now “insecure”

      According to the British government, they would never extradite a person to a country where his life is at risk. “He will spend a few months in jail, after that, freedom,” Moreno said. Assange faces a British arrest warrant over violating bail conditions by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, but Sweden, which originally sought to question him on sexual abuse allegations, has said it is no longer seeking to extradite him.

    • Truth and Free Speech Are Being Taken Away From Us

      The attack on Julian Assange is the arrow aimed at the heart of the ability to publish the truth.

    • Major players in Trump-Russia drama seek to dismiss DNC suit alleging international conspiracy

      A group of defendants — including the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and a member of President Donald Trump’s family — unleashed a wave of court filings late last week, a deluge of documents totaling more than 150 pages. It amounts to the most comprehensive legal defense yet presented in the Russia probe, seeking to have the Democrats’ case thrown out.

    • Trump Campaign, WikiLeaks Seek To Kill DNC Hacking Suit
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • By Accident of Fate: The Fires in Paradise

      I breathe dead people. The words ran unfettered across the chalkboard of my mind as I drove the curves of Oregon Route 66 back down into Ashland. It had taken nearly a week for the haze to blow north into our valley from the horrific and devastating Camp Fire that was burning three hours south.

      We experienced days and weeks of smoke in our valley this past summer so thick you couldn’t see the street signs. The haze I saw below wasn’t nearly as bad, but I was surprised how I hadn’t really noticed it until I got up out of it for the day. Sort of how it’s not as easy to see the forest when stuck in the trees.

      I chastised myself for the morbid words that flickered unbidden through my brain as I drove. But then I considered the possible truth of them. What are we actually breathing when so much goes up in flames?

    • The Dream of Capturing Coal’s Carbon Emissions Is Dead. Someone Should Tell Trump.

      This week, a Trump official at the U.S. government’s pro-fossil fuel event at the United Nations climate talks made clear that the idea of burying carbon emissions from coal plants is still alive.

      Wells Griffith, an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said at the event: “For the U.S. energy policy, it’s not about keeping [fossil fuels] in the ground but about using them cleanly.”

      Griffith added: “Alarmism should not silence realism. This is a forum for fact science-based discussions on climate realities.”

      His conclusions make for great talking points, but they’re far from reality. After more than a decade of failed demonstration projects, a recently rescinded $1.1 billion DOE research program, and the Trump administration’s move to roll back requirements that all new coal plants have “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) capabilities, the promise of so-called “clean coal” technology is dead.

    • As Uprising Spreads Across Globe, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky Among Signers of Open Letter Backing Extinction Rebellion

      After starting in the United Kingdom just months ago with a mere 10 members dedicated to pressuring their elected officials to urgently confront the climate crisis, the Extinction Rebellion has quickly ballooned into a global movement spanning an estimated 35 countries—a testament to the growing disaffection with the deadly climate status quo and hunger for transformative change among the world’s population.

      “In the two months since our first action, we have expanded more than we imagined,” Liam Geary Baulch, a U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion activist, told The Guardian. “We are now planning to change our structure so it can accommodate up to two million people.”

      In a sign of the movement’s rapid spread beyond the streets of London, Extinction Rebellion banners have been seen over the past several days at rallies in Katowice, Poland, the site of the ongoing COP24 climate conference. According to the movement’s principal organizers, the goal is to build up to a massive international day of action next April.

    • As Trump Pushes Planetary Destruction at COP24, Investors Holding $32 Trillion Demand Bold Climate Action

      As a new report reveals (pdf) that asset management behemoth BlackRock is continuing to finance “the destruction of our planet”—and the Trump administration pushes that path at the United Nations climate talks—hundreds of global investors holding $32 trillion in assets called for world leaders to commit to greater action to address the climate crisis.

      “The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society, and the financial system to climate risks,” a statement signed by 415 investors declared Monday as the COP24 climate summit was underway.

      The signers, including HSBC Global Asset Management, the New York State Comptroller, and Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System, warned of the potentially catastrophic “ambition gap” between the Paris climate accord goal of limiting warming to below 2˚ Celsius and what countries have committed to doing.

    • As Demand for Urgent Transformation Intensifies, New Study Shows Hotter Planet Making Extreme Weather Deadlier

      Titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective” and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), the series of new studies identify a total of 15 weather events that took place throughout the world last year that were made significantly more likely by the human-caused climate crisis, such as deadly heatwaves in China and catastrophic flooding from Uruguay to Bangladesh.

      “A warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year,” BAMS editor-in-chief Jeff Rosenfeld said in a statement. “The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate.”

    • ‘We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up ‘Til It’s Won!’: 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.

      “When the people rise up, the powers come back. They tried to stop us but we keep coming back,” sang the protesters as they occupied Pelosi’s office.

    • “Our Leaders Are Behaving Like Children”: Teen Climate Activist Confronts World Leaders at U.N. Summit

      Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, this week, where world leaders gathered to negotiate climate solutions were confronted last week by a teenage climate activist who says they are not doing enough to turn back the clock and prevent catastrophic climate change. Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg stunned the world last week when she denounced world leaders for inaction and told them: “change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.” She has made international headlines since launching a school strike against climate change in her home country of Sweden earlier this year. Every Friday, she protests outside the parliament building in Stockholm instead of attending school, and her actions have inspired thousands of students across the globe to do the same. Before we speak with Thunberg in person, we play an excerpt of her speech that went viral. “I like school, and I like learning,” said Greta, who plans to end her strike when Sweden starts cutting carbon emissions by 15 percent a year. “But why should we be studying for a future that soon may be no more? This is more important than school, I think.”

    • Climate Activists Arrested en Masse at Offices of Top Democrats

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.


      Many also wore T-shirts emblazoned with the following message: “We have a right to good jobs and a livable future,” two key components of the Green New Deal, which would create 10 million jobs in the first decade by putting Americans to work building a green energy infrastructure that would be sustainable for decades and centuries to come—unlike the current coal-, oil-, and gas-reliant system which scientists say will push the warming of the planet past the point of return unless carbon emissions hit net-zero by 2050.

      The halls erupted in cheers when Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the incoming chair of the House Rules Committee, told the group that he would join 22 of his colleagues in backing the creation of a House Select Committee with a mandate to pass a Green New Deal.

    • ‘An Indication of What’s Coming’: Melting at North and South Poles Worse Than Previously Thought

      “The Arctic is an indication of what’s coming to the rest of the globe,” noted Walt Meier, a sea ice expert at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). And while the timeline is uncertain, the region appears on-track to experience an ice-free summer.

      “In the Arctic Ocean, a difference of 2 degrees can be huge. If it goes from 31 Fahrenheit to 33 Fahrenheit, you’re going from ice skating to swimming,” Meier told the Post. “Looking down from the North Pole from above, for all intents and purposes, you’re going to see a blue Arctic Ocean.”

      If ice-free summers become the Arctic’s new normal, it would be an “unmitigated disaster,” concluded Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Such conditions, he warned, could add another half-degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) to the already-alarming rates of global temperature rise.

    • Climate Scientist: World’s Richest Must Radically Change Lifestyles to Prevent Global Catastrophe

      The 24th United Nations climate summit comes amid growing warnings about the catastrophic danger climate change poses to the world. In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe—with severe droughts, floods, sea level rise and extreme heat set to cause mass displacement and poverty. But on Saturday, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait blocked language “welcoming” the landmark IPCC climate report. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. A recent report likened the rising emissions to a “speeding freight train.” We speak with Kevin Anderson, professor in climate change leadership at Uppsala University’s Centre for Environment and Development Studies, and 15-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg about the drastic action needed to fight climate change and the impact of President Trump on climate change activism.

    • Biological Annihilation

      been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up. After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

      Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

      Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change. In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming. Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.

      With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

    • The Arctic Just Had Its Hottest Five Years on Record, and It’s Only Getting Worse: Report

      Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their Arctic Report Card this week, with the equivalent of failing grades for a critical marker of environmental health.

      The oldest and thickest ice in the region has declined by 95 percent, meaning, as The Washington Post reported Monday, that “the sea at the top of the world has already morphed into a new and very different state, with major implications not only for creatures such as walruses and polar bears but, in the long term, perhaps for the pace of global warming itself.”

      The age of the ice is directly related to its ability to protect the earth. “The younger the ice, the thinner the ice, the easier it is to go away,” Don Perovich, a scientist at Dartmouth who coordinated the sea ice section of the yearly report, told the Post. The thinner, younger ice may be able to regrow more easily, but as the Post notes, that’s not helpful for climate change: “It may not add much stability or permanence to the Arctic sea ice system if it just melts out again the next summer.”

  • Finance

    • Crypto Diehards Say Slump Is `Bump in the Road’ Before Growth
    • Crypto Market Crash Leaving Bankrupt Startups in its Wake

      Many of the companies are suffering because they kept a portion of their funds in digital assets, whether in tokens they sold through initial coin offerings or in Bitcoin and Ether, which served as the preferred means of exchange in the crypto world. As prices collapsed this year by more than 90 percent in some cases, and their so-called digital wallets thinned out, many developers found they couldn’t raise additional funding.

    • Jeff Bezos Earns [sic] More In 30 Seconds Than The Average Worker Makes In A Year

      Helped by the asset-friendly policies of the world’s largest central banks, the wealthiest 1% of the world now owns nearly half the wealth. The 54 billionaires living in the 54 UK alone have an aggregate $160 billion in wealth, equivalent to over 6% of Britain’s GDP. Meanwhile, the average worker earns about $37,000 a year. Virgin CEO Richard Branson earns that amount in roughly 25 minutes.

    • Uber Is Headed for a Crash

      By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses — this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?


      If Uber were to drive all competitors out of business in a local market and then jack up prices, customers would cut back on use. But more important, since barriers to entry in the taxi business are low, and Uber lowered them further by breaking local regulations, new players would come in under Uber’s new price umbrella. So Uber would have to drop its prices to meet those of these entrants or lose business.

    • Inequality at the Center of Chicago Charter School Strikes

      Chicago teachers are making history again. Educators at Acero Schools have just reached a tentative deal with their employer after staging the first charter school strike in the nation. After nearly a week of walkouts, the teachers will return to the classroom after the charter network agreed to raises, smaller class sizes, and protections for undocumented students.

      The more than 500 educators who walked out last week are members of a charter division of the Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, which staged a hugely influential strike in 2012 that hit a national nerve. And, like with the 2012 strike, a whole host of inequality-related issues were brought front and center by the walkout, from school closings to executive pay and immigration.

      Most of the teachers’ demands centered on improving learning conditions in the classroom. Reductions in the 32-student class size, increased special education funding, and more time for lesson planning were just a few of the issues at play. Educators were also pushing for raises — a CTU statement said that Acero was spending $1 million less in program salary costs in 2018 than it did in the previous year.

    • Brexit Deal in Turmoil as May Postpones Parliament Vote

      Facing almost certain defeat, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday postponed a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal, saying she would go back to European Union leaders to seek changes to the divorce agreement.

      May’s move threw Britain’s Brexit plans into disarray, intensified a domestic political crisis and battered the pound. With EU officials adamant the withdrawal deal was not up for renegotiation, the country does not know on what terms it will leave — and whether May will still be Britain’s leader when it does.

      In an emergency statement to the House of Commons, May accepted that the divorce deal she struck last month with EU leaders was likely to be rejected “by a significant margin” if the vote were held Tuesday as planned.

      May said she would defer the vote so she could seek “assurances” from the EU and bring the deal back to Parliament. She did not set a new date for the vote. The U.K.’s departure is supposed to take place on March 29.

      Opposition lawmakers — and ones from May’s Conservative Party — were incredulous and angry. Some accused her of trampling on parliamentary democracy.

      “The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

    • ‘The System Is Shaken’: As Yellow Vests Persist in France, Macron Bends With Minimum Wage Hike and Pension Tax Canceled

      Following four weeks of “Yellow Vest” protests which have erupted into violence at times, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated Monday that his government can no longer ignore the demands of hundreds of thousands of citizens—announcing a minimum wage increase and a cancellation of a tax on retirees, but still refusing to relent on one of his most widely-criticized tax reforms.

      In a pre-recorded televised address, Macron told the country that the minimum wage would be raised by €100, or $113, per month. As part of the “concrete measures” he said must happen to alleviate the suffering of low- and middle-income French households, a planned tax on pensions under €2,000 will be canceled and overtime pay will be tax-free.

      The announcement follows weeks of protests which first began in rural areas but have spread across the country, with Parisian officials calling for a lockdown over the weekend after more than 100,000 protesters poured into the city’s streets. More than 1,200 demonstrators were arrested on Saturday.

    • May Should Admit That Brexit Has Failed

      Facing a historic defeat for her Brexit deal in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May has, almost unbelievably, managed to make things worse.

      In a speech before the House of Commons on Monday, May postponed a vote on the deal and vowed to reopen talks with the European Union on the most contentious aspect of the whole undertaking, the Irish border. She offered few specifics, little direction, and only the haziest of timelines. To call this the worst of all worlds is only a slight exaggeration.

      It had been clear for weeks that May’s deal — hard fought over months of negotiation — was facing a landslide rejection in the House of Commons. And rightly so: It would stunt Britain’s economy, burden its companies, and infringe its sovereignty, offering essentially no benefits and solving no problems. Everyone hated it.

      Even so, proceeding with the vote had a certain logic. It would have allowed Parliament to reject the deal, and cleared the way for work to begin on alternatives. The country and its voters would have been offered at least the possibility of a way forward. What they got instead was yet more paralysis.

    • How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card

      The Venezuelan government has promoted a Social Benefits Card to facilitate the distribution of goods and services at a time when the country is beset by a pernicious financial blockade that makes it difficult to access food and medicine.

      The sanctions applied against Venezuela by the USA, Canada and European allies are ILLEGAL. They violate the Charter of the UN and the charter of the OAS. But that has not stopped these countries and their corporations – their one desire is to get hold of the country’s oil and gold.

      Instead of implementing “austerity” policies, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela has, on the contrary, used every means possible to mitigate the impact of this blockade on its people. In order to efficiently distribute benefits, it is necessary – as logic and good sense indicates- to have an accurate idea of how many people need what services and how many access them. Hence the social benefit card, or as it is called there El Carnet de la Patria (literally, the ID of the Homeland).

      Any Venezuelan can obtain this card – there are no restrictions of any kind, no one is asked whom they voted for, who they will vote for, what party they belong to, or their opinion of the government. It is a free card to all. It is an instrument to help the public services cater to the people’s needs.

    • How the IRS Was Gutted

      In the summer of 2008, William Pfeil made a startling discovery: Hundreds of foreign companies that operated in the U.S. weren’t paying U.S. taxes, and his employer, the Internal Revenue Service, had no idea. Under U.S. law, companies that do business in the Gulf of Mexico owe the American government a piece of what they make drilling for oil there or helping those that do. But the vast majority of the foreign companies weren’t paying anything, and taxpaying American companies were upset, arguing that it unfairly allowed the foreign rivals to underbid for contracts.

      Pfeil and the IRS started pursuing the non-U.S. entities. Ultimately, he figures he brought in more than $50 million in previously unpaid taxes over the course of about five years. It was an example of how the tax-collecting agency is supposed to work.

      But then Congress began regularly reducing the IRS budget. After 43 years with the agency, Pfeil — who had hoped to reach his 50th anniversary — was angry about the “steady decrease in budget and resources” the agency had seen. He retired in 2013 at 68.

      After Pfeil left, he heard that his program was being shut down. “I don’t blame the IRS,” Pfeil said. “I blame the Congress for not giving us the budget to do the job.”

    • Robert Reich: Trump’s Tax Policy Risks Global Recession

      I needn’t remind you that your Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed last year, slashed taxes on big corporations and the rich by about $150 billion annually. You claimed it would cause companies to invest more in America and thereby create more American jobs. They didn’t. (See General Motors.)

      They spent most of their tax savings buying back their own shares of stock. This gave the stock market a steroidal boost. Not surprisingly, the boost was temporary. Last week the stock market erased all its gains for 2018, and worse may be in store. The whole American economy is slowing.

      Your tariffs could put us into a recession. The world’s other big economies are slowing, too. In 1930, congressmen Smoot and Hawley championed isolationist tariffs that President Herbert Hoover signed into law. They deepened the Great Depression.

    • Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression

      My views on these matters were first put forward in a blog post titled “Did World War Two End the Great Depression”, written in September, 2011. It cited a Paul Krugman Op-Ed piece written in 2008 and titled “Franklin Delano Obama?”. Krugman made the case that “What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.” With respect to the public works projects mentioned by Al Ronzoni, Krugman described them as “largely offset by other factors, notably a large tax increase, enacted by Herbert Hoover, whose full effects weren’t felt until his successor took office.”

      In Krugman’s view, FDR was someone who “thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans.” Sounds rather like Obama, doesn’t it? In fact, Krugman’s op-ed was a cautionary tale warning Obama, the supposed new FDR, not to be as tightfisted with government-funded recovery programs as occurred during the New Deal unless he wanted to take “big risks with the economy and with his legacy.”

      Well, given the high costs of another world war (after all, those H-Bombs can make a real mess of things), Obama didn’t even create a public works program—the only option open to him. In fact, as I have argued, Obama was inspired more by Herbert Hoover than FDR. As someone who relied heavily on U. of Chicago economists, he was not likely to embark on a new New Deal despite all the advice he got from Paul Krugman, The Nation Magazine, Huffington Post, et al.

      While I found Krugman’s arguments convincing, they lacked the economic data that would “close the deal” on how the Depression ended. In the December 1994 Journal of Economic History, there’s an article by J.R. Vernon titled “World War II Fiscal Policies and the End of the Great Depression” that is the standard against which FDR New Deal nostalgia must be measured. (Vernon’s article can be downloaded from https://www.researchgate.net/.)

      Vernon starts off by presenting statistics that make it abundantly clear that fully half of the recovery from the depths of 1933 were realized in just two years: 1941 and 1942. Using Department of Commerce data, Vernon makes the case that the recovery was 78.7 to 86.7 percent complete by the end of 1941 but only half-complete (40.8 to 46.0) by the end of 1940. when the recovery still had more than halfway to go.

    • The Yellow Vests Rise Up Against the Elites and Neoliberal Austerity

      While Americans have been preoccupied by the nostalgic reminiscence and burial of a former president, French citizens have been engaged in mass civil disobedience enacted by the gilets juanes or “Yellow Vests,” the roadside safety vests French drivers are required to have. This action reflects and exposes social divisions barely recognized and inadequately addressed by both the neoliberal corporate right and the traditional social democratic parties, both in the U.S. and in France.

      To put this dispute into terms American drivers would understand the government of President Emmanuel Macron proposed a hike of 28 cents per gallon for diesel and 17 cents per gallon for gasoline. Though these taxes were the immediate trigger, the context in which this policy was imposed made the difference. In domestic economic policy Macron has been a smoother French version of Donald Trump. The tax on diesel followed a whole series of tax gifts to the most wealthy French citizens and businesses, including elimination or reduction of estate and wealth taxes as well as the replacement of a progressive income tax with a flat tax. These tax policies were a neoliberal dream that had already become a nightmare for working class citizens.

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Out Congress For Giving Themselves Cheap Healthcare

      Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had some choice words about the U.S. healthcare system after comparing what she’s paying now as a Congresswoman to what she paid as a waitress for her healthcare plan — and she’s on a mission to reform it all.

      Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said during her on-boarding to Congress, she was allowed to pick her insurance plan. In doing so, the disparity of what she used to pay earning far less money became quite clear.

      “As a waitress, I had to pay more than TWICE what I’d pay as a member of Congress,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s frustrating that Congressmembers would deny other people affordability that they themselves enjoy.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Hightower Hits a Wall

      Not so this week, when Creators editor Maxine Mulvey called Hightower staffer Melody Byrd and told her they wouldn’t be distributing the Nov. 27 column entitled, “Free the free press from Wall Street plunderers.” Byrd says Mulvey told her she liked the column, but that Creators could not risk retaliation from two named “plunderers”: Gatehouse Media and Digital First Media. Together the two mega-corps own some 1,500 newspapers (Gatehouse recently acquired the Austin-American Statesman), many of which use Creators’ material.

      Here’s some of what Hightower wrote about the companies: “They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product – then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper.” (For background, Hightower cites the Dec. 27, 2017 American Prospect story, “Saving the Free Press from Private Equity.”)

    • Syndicated columnist censored for writing about the risks of hedge funds and billionaires buying papers

      Jim Hightower is a longstanding, respected columnist distributed by Creators Syndicate — but Creators refused to distribute his latest column, “Free the Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers,” which warns about Wall Street vultures like Digital First Media and GateHouse Media buying up newspapers, including the Austin Statesman.

      The Austin Chronicle reports that Creators wouldn’t distribute the column because it feared retribution from the Wall Street firms; Creators managing editor Simone Slykhous told the Chronicle that “We have more than 200 columnists and cartoonists, and our job is to make sure that our actions do not negatively impact them.”

    • The Empress of Facebook: My Befuddling Dinner With Sheryl Sandberg

      The Facebook of 2013 is now a distant memory. As 2018 comes to a close—a “low dishonest” time, as Auden said of the 1930s—that high-flying, hardly working, nap-besotted, righteous Facebook has given way to one known for secrecy and collaboration with disinformation campaigns and computational propaganda. The purpose of these campaigns at Facebook, in the words of the Oxford Internet Institute at Balliol College, is to “hack people.”

      Hacking us. Not connecting us. I deactivated my Facebook account a year and a half ago, and at the same time sold the few shares of Facebook stock I’d bought to be a good sport on the day of the IPO. Sandberg’s credible moral superiority; her pose as a billionaire basic; and her obsession with eucalyptus-scented lifestyle questions had made me wonder, as far back as 2013, about the leadership at Facebook.

      We can’t remind ourselves enough: With 2.27 billion citizens, Facebook is by far the biggest empire the world has ever known. As with the British one—but more so—it’s inconceivable that the sun could ever set on it. Its users spend 950 million hours on it every day. The social, economic, and political lives of 2.27 billion users depends at least in part on Facebook’s policies, practices, and design. The moral responsibility of its leaders is crushing.

    • To Rebuild Trust, Facebook’s Zuckerberg Looked to Microsoft
    • Mark Zuckerberg has reached out to Microsoft president Brad Smith which is bad for Sandberg because… that’s basically her job

      Smith and Sandberg’s roles aren’t exactly the same, with each executive overseeing a slightly different portfolio of responsibilities. But Smith and Sandberg both essentially serve as the No.2 executive, alongside the CEO.

    • Kushner didn’t stop advising Saudi crown prince after Jamal Khashoggi murder

      Kushner’s attitude toward the Saudi crown prince is directly at odds with the stance articulated by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in an interview with The Atlantic published last week. Despite her plans to leave the administration, Haley is perceived as being on good terms with President Trump and his inner circle.

    • Full transcript reveals slain journalist Khashoggi’s last words: CNN

      Khashoggi, whose October death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul set off an international diplomatic crisis, protested and gasped for air as he was abducted and killed by a group of Saudi agents, some of whom have been identified as top Saudi government officials, the source told CNN.

    • New York Times: Kushner offered advice to Saudi crown prince after journalist’s death

      Although White House protocol stipulated that National Security Council staff be present on all phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and bin Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi’s death, the Times reported, citing two former senior American officials and two people briefed by the Saudis.

    • Beto O’Rourke Is Like Obama. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing

      Despite narrowly losing his Senate campaign, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has clearly emerged from the 2018 election cycle as a rising star. In the weeks since Election Day, the spotlight on the Texas congressman has only intensified.

      The race had scarcely been called for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz when the speculation began about what O’Rourke would do next, and it didn’t take long for plenty of Democrats to imagine O’Rourke as a possible presidential contender in 2020. The national media followed closely behind.

      Earlier this month, no less a personality than podcaster, former Obama staffer and liberal tastemaker Dan Pfeiffer published “The Case for Beto O’Rourke.” His argument why O’Rourke should run for president: an ability to inspire enthusiasm among voters; the potential to build a winning national coalition; his au courant approach to fundraising and social media. Or, as one major donor put it more bluntly to Politico: “He’s Barack Obama, but white.”

    • Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn

      A secret UK Government-funded infowars unit based in Scotland sent out social media posts attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

      On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife.

      But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation’s Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists.

      The “think tank” is supposed to counter Russian online propaganda by forming “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation.

    • Russia linked to hacking of anti-propaganda initiative

      British intelligence officers are investigating a hack into a government-funded programme that counters Russian propaganda, The Times understands.

      The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, has launched an inquiry into digital breaches several weeks ago of the Institute for Statecraft.

      Russian media said last month that the hacker collective Anonymous had obtained documents from the Integrity Initiative — an anti-disinformation programme run by the institute — that proved it was part of a hybrid warfare project to interfere in other countries.

    • Where There’s Smock There’s Covfefe

      Laughter Is the Best Medicine Followed By Impeachment and Jail Time Dept: A terrible no good day for our spectacularly inept, perilously insecure “president” for whom mockery is the ultimate threat. First, his peeps were laughed/shamed off the stage at UN climate talks in Poland, where protesters eviscerated their claims that “unapologetic utilization” of “clean” coal, oil and gas is our future. Then, in his frantic Denial of the Day – on Twitter, of course, the new site for all presidential policy briefings – Trump arguably admitted to two felonies, offered a legal defense widely deemed “beyond unconvincing,” and did it with spelling errors that many commenters argued – and confirmed by asking their kids – fourth graders wouldn’t stoop to. “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion,” he blathered, going on to huff and puff about “a simple private transaction” and anyway Obama did it (not).

      Cue the quickly trending hashtag Smocking Gun, full of bad sewing puns, digs at Trump’s best words, and reminders the guy who keeps loudly, lamely protesting his innocence has again moved the proverbial goal post from “I didn’t do anything” to “even if I did, so what?” His idiocy, it is universally agreed, “makes a smockery of” our democracy, the presidency and basic literacy: “I always hope that it’s a parody account and it never is…Can I buy a smocking gun without a background check?…Dude what r U smocking???…It was #ScottFree with the #SmockingGun in the #Covfefe room… Smocky the Bear warned us about this. Only you can prevent re-electing dumb ass presidents.” To help us resist, the Washington Post Fact Checker has added a new mendacity rating for Trump, the “Bottomless Pinocchio,” for formerly 3 or 4 star lies repeated at least 20 times. So far, Trump has 14 whoppers that made the list. Meanwhile, even Fox News pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano actually said out loud that Trump may face indictments. Trump, Giuliani et al, he warned, “mock the government at their peril,” smocking gun or no.

    • Can a New Political Party Save America From Itself?

      When it comes to criticizing the Democratic Party, nothing speaks like experience within the belly of the beast. Ralph Nader is living proof. After years of effectively pressuring congressional Democrats to protect consumers and the environment against corporate greed, he watched firsthand as the party bowed to the demands of Big Business during the Jimmy Carter administration.

      And then there’s Nick Brana, the leading activist behind the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP). Like Nader, Brana isn’t content merely to expose the corruption of the dismal dollar Democrats—a party that late political scientist Sheldon Wolin rightly called “the inauthentic opposition.” He’s looking to replace them with something much better: let’s call it an “authentic opposition.”

      Don’t let his tender age of 29 fool you. Brana has served his time served his time inside the belly of the beast that is the Democratic donkey, first as a volunteer for Barack Obama and later as a member of John Kerry’s political action committee. These experiences gave him a front-row seat to the “quid pro quo” between concentrated wealth and elected officials.

      Brana later served as the deputy director for voter protection of close Clinton ally and top Democratic Party fundraiser Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign. It was, in his words, “a test run for the [2016] Hillary Clinton campaign.” There, Brana got to know future Clinton campaign chief Robby Mook and other high-ranking Clinton staffers.

    • Everybody Loves Redistricting Reform

      2018 was a banner year for redistricting reform, with voters in five states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah — putting limits on extreme partisan gerrymandering.

      Not surprisingly, the reforms were especially popular among Democrats, who have been on the receiving end of gerrymandering this decade. But the measures also earned wide backing from Republicans, winning with more than 60 percent support in four of the five states.

      To understand how the measures did among voters, we analyzed the approval rate in each county and compared support for reform with votes cast in a statewide partisan election. Our preliminary analysis makes it clear that these proposals did strikingly well among Republicans, far outperforming candidates of either party in nearly every instance.

      In other words, while the political class may still be divided along partisan lines about fixing gerrymandering, voters aren’t. The American people are strongly in favor of efforts to reform how redistricting is conducted in the states so that partisan lawmakers don’t have unfettered control of the process.

    • Democrats’ 2020 battle royale is going to be brutal, dirty, and totally worthwhile

      Jostling for position in the 2020 Democratic primary has started already, God help us. And there is probably no way around a bitter fight between liberals and leftists over who is going to be the nominee.

      However, it might be possible to head off some of the bitterness that resulted from the 2016 primary by admitting the necessity of that fight and making it about ideology and policy to the greatest possible degree.

      The first big flare-up of 2020 has already happened, over Beto O’Rourke. The failed Texas senate candidate got a ton of positive media attention during his campaign, leading to him being put forward by former Obama staffers as a good presidential candidate. Various lefties expressed some skepticism of this: Zaid Jilani and Branko Marcetic focused on his moderate policy record, particularly his support of financial deregulation, while I focused on how neither O’Rourke nor his Obamaworld supporters have deeply reckoned with the appalling consequences of the too-small stimulus or the corrupt bank bailout.

      It really got going when Elizabeth Bruenig wrote a much more gentle criticism in The Washington Post. She argued that while O’Rourke is well above average when it comes to a possible Texas Democratic senator, he isn’t the kind of full-throated progressive we should ask for, since about anyone should be able to defeat Trump.

    • As Schumer and Pelosi Offer Up $1.3 Billion, Progressives Say ‘Not One Dime’ Should Go to Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reportedly preparing to offer President Donald Trump $1.3 billion for his brutal anti-immigrant agenda during a scheduled budget meeting Tuesday morning, that was the message from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who joined other progressives in warning the Democratic leadership against capitulating to the Trump administration’s xenophobic border policies—and argued the amount of funding they should offer is zero.

      “If anything,” Ocasio-Cortez added in her tweet, “they need to fund healthcare for the children they have traumatized (with lifelong implications) after months of separation from their parents.”

    • See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White

      It is hard to watch TV these days without seeing reports pertaining to the recent death of the elder George Bush — former president, CIA director, and whitewashed war criminal. I call him a “whitewashed war criminal” because there are inconvenient truths that the mainstream media would rather ignore in favor of the usual hero worship that accompanies the death of a popular politician (see also: coverage on the death of John McCainor, even more egregiously, Richard Nixon). Sprucing up our departed politicians, disgraced or otherwise, seems to be a nod to our most respected civil discourse values, but it’s not a favor to the truth and the whitewashing only makes it more likely to happen again.

      Perhaps the most inconvenient truth relating to war crimes of Bush the Elder involves Panama in 1989. Under the guise of protecting democracy, then-President Bush illegally invaded a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the United States, calling it “Operation Just Cause,” in order to remove its ruler — with disastrous results. The U.S. government acknowledges that at least 300 Panamanian civilians were killed, but other sources have estimated that as many as several thousand were killed with tens of thousands displaced. At best you could call it an overreaction to Noriega’s involvement in drug trafficking and a peculiar form of democracy promotion. The era of slaughtering civilians as acceptable collateral damage is over in the eyes of international law and simple decency. Bush could have resolved that contretemps without Panamanian children and other noncombatants dying.

    • The Bad Ideas-Industrial Complex

      One of the integral components of Beltway ecology, along with the Pentagon, intelligence spooks, contractors, and lobbyists, is the think tank. Whether it’s called a foundation, an institute or a trust, it’s not only as important as the other big players, it synergizes with them and cements their power. And since the think tank is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 “charitable” or “educational” pursuit, it operates with an implicit taxpayer subsidy.

      Think tanks have been a part of the American scene since the early 20th century, when passage of the income tax motivated the super-rich to shield their money from the revenooers with some ostensibly do-gooding activity. Some of the major ones performed undeniably laudable works, such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s medical research, but from the beginning, even the highly prestigious foundations, such as Carnegie and Ford, engaged in studies that inevitably impacted the politics of the day.

      That said, the Washington think tank world, at least through mid-1960s, was a mostly gentile and prestigious activity whose directorships were suitable for the political elite. McGeorge Bundy, national security adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson, left government to become president of the Ford Foundation, while Dean Rusk, secretary of state in both administr

    • In Major Victory for Progressives, Democratic Leadership Abandons Tax Rule That Would Have Made Bold Agenda Impossible

      In a major victory for the growing Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and everyone who supports popular solutions like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and tuition-free public college, the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday ditched plans to impose a widely denounced right-wing tax rule that would have made a bold agenda impossible to fund.

      “We are pleased to announce that the rules package for the 116th Congress will not include the 3/5 supermajority tax provision promoted by House Republicans in recent years,” the CPC wrote on Twitter. “The removal of this harmful provision will help progressives pass college for all, Medicare for All, and other bold proposals that will deliver meaningful relief for working families.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • ‘A Cowardly Act’: Democrat Leads Bipartisan Push to Sneak Criminalization of Pro-Palestinian BDS Campaign Into Must-Pass Spending Bill

      If passed, the measure would strike a significant blow against the growing Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement, which has been endorsed by two newly-elected Democratic members of Congress—Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

      “Regardless of how anyone may personally feel about BDS, Congress’ attempts to attach criminal penalties to freedom of expression against the Israeli occupation must not stand,” Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn.org, said in a statement on Monday. “Hiding anti-BDS legislation in end-of-the-year packages is a cowardly act and one that is being considered only because members of Congress know that this legislation would not pass muster if debated publicly and openly.”

      When Cardin’s bill was introduced in the Senate last year, it was co-sponsored by 42 Republicans, Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), and 15 Democrats—including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

    • CNN Must Rehire Pundit Who Defended Democratic Rights

      As Marc Lamont Hill delivered his widely discussed speech at the United Nations on November 28, in which he expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and emphasized the need to protect the human rights and self-determination of all who lived “from the river to the sea,” he probably expected some critical response. What he likely didn’t expect was to be fired from his position as a CNN commentator, and to have his job as a professor at Temple University threatened.

    • Congress Is Trying to Use the Spending Bill to Criminalize Boycotts of Israel and Other Countries

      Congress is trying to sneak an unconstitutional ban on political expression into the spending bill in order to avoid public scrutiny.
      According to recent reports, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle are planning to sneak a bill criminalizing politically motivated boycotts of Israel into the end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill.

      The bill’s original sponsor, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), is pushing Democratic leadership to include this bill, which has not moved forward thus far primarily because it violates the First Amendment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are reportedly leaning toward slipping the text into the spending bill, which needs to pass for the government to stay open.

      The ACLU has long opposed the Israel Anti-Boycott Act through its multiple iterations because the bill would make it a crime to participate in political boycotts protected by the First Amendment. Now, the bill’s sponsors are attempting to avoid public scrutiny by including the bill’s unconstitutional criminal penalties in must-pass legislation scheduled for a vote just days before Congress’ holiday recess — likely because it will be harder to pass in the new Congress.

      Earlier versions of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would have made it a crime — possibly even subject to jail time — for American companies to participate in political boycotts aimed at Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories when those boycotts were called for by international governmental organizations like the United Nations. The same went for boycotts targeting any country that is “friendly to the United States” if the boycott was not sanctioned by the United States.

    • 5 Questions Congress Should Ask Google’s Sundar Pichai

      On Tuesday, Pichai will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing focused on transparency, data collection, and filtering. Until now, Pichai has mostly avoided the public lashings in Washington that his contemporaries, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, have received. In September, Google declined to send either Pichai or Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to testify alongside Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senators instead vented their frustrations with Google to an empty chair, artfully reserved with a name plate for Page.

      Pichai has since held closed door meetings with leading Republicans, including House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, who has repeatedly accused Google of skewing its search results in favor of Democrats and their causes. Both McCarthy and Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte have signaled that these charges will be central to the committee’s questioning.

    • Human Rights Groups Blast Google for ‘Actively Aiding China’s Censorship and Surveillance Regime’

      The letter (pdf) came ahead of Pichai’s Tuesday morning testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Google’s data collection, use, and filtering practices. His prepared remarks (pdf) read, “I’m incredibly proud of what Google does to empower people around the world, especially here in the U.S.”

      Digital rights defenders, meanwhile, are concerned about the company’s plans to launch a censored search engine in China, warning that it “is likely to set a terrible precedent for human rights and press freedoms worldwide.”

      Signed by 61 groups—including Amnesty International, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), and Human Rights Watch—as well as 11 individuals that include NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the letter points to a series of reports from The Intercept that detail how the project “would facilitate repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations affecting nearly a billion people in China.”

    • Human rights groups press Google on China plans ahead of Pichai testimony

      “We are writing to ask you to ensure that Google drops Project Dragonfly and any plans to launch a censored search app in China, and to re-affirm the company’s 2010 commitment that it won’t provide censored search services in the country,” the letter, which is addressed to Pichai, begins.

    • Google CEO Has Serious Questions to Answer on China Censored Search

      Google CEO Sundar Pichai will appear before Congress later today to defend his company against allegations of political bias. Google is accused of rigging search engine results against US conservatives, so Pichai can expect the grilling to focus on Google’s domestic operations. But given some of Google’s current activities further afield, lawmakers in Washington would be wise to broaden the scope of their inquiry.

    • Human Rights Groups to Sundar Pichai: Listen to Your Employees and Halt Project Dragonfly

      EFF, as part of a coalition of over sixty other human rights groups led by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International —still have questions for Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO. Leaks and rumors continue to spread from Google about “Project Dragonfly,” a secretive plan to create a censored, trackable search tool for China. Media reports based on sources from within the company have stated that the project was being readied for a rapid launch, even as it was kept secret even from Google’s own security and privacy experts.

      These stories undermine the vague answers we were given in previous correspondence. On the eve of Pichai being called before the House Judiciary Committee, we have re-iterated our profound concern, and jointly called upon Google to halt Project Dragonfly completely.

      Silicon Valley companies know how dangerous it can be to enter markets without considering the human rights implications of what they do. A decade ago, following Yahoo’s complicity in the arrest and detention of journalist Shi Tao, and Google’s own fumbles in creating a Great Firewall-compatible search service, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo agreed to work with independent experts in the Global Network Initiative to stave off the use of new technology to conduct human rights violations. Members of the U.S. Congress concerned about Google and other tech companies’ co-operation with other governments, have been supportive of this open, cautious approach.

      But under Pichai’s leadership, Google appears to have ignored not just outside advice; the company has apparently ignored the advice of its own privacy and security experts. An Intercept article based on statements made by four people who worked on Project Dragonfly noted that Google’s head of operations in China “shut out members of the company’s security and privacy team from key meetings about the search engine … and tried to sideline a privacy review of the plan that sought to address potential human rights abuses.”

    • China has established an ethics committee to vet online games

      China has established a new ‘ethics assessment committee’ to vet online games for release in the country.

      As reported by state media agency Xinhua, the committee is comprised of online gaming experts and researchers from government departments, industry institutions, and media outlets.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • When Not Hiding Cameras In Traffic Barrels And Streetlights, The DEA Is Shoving Them Into… Vacuums?

      This almost sounds like an ultra-low tech version of the NSA’s hardware interdiction program. The NSA intercepts computer equipment to install hardware/software backdoors. The DEA’s vacuum camera possibly could be stashed in a Shop Vac en route to a targeted person/business. Either that or a DEA agent/informant is going to pretend to be a janitor and wheel around a loaded Shop Vac to capture footage.

      It’s weird but it’s pretty much in line with the DEA’s procurement history. A report from Quartz last month showed the DEA was buying cameras concealed in streetlights, traffic barrels, and speed-display road signs. The last one on the list doesn’t house ordinary cameras, but rather automated license plate readers.

      Are there Constitutional concerns? Sure. They’re pretty minimal in areas where any activity could be observed by a member of the public. But they’re not nonexistent. And much of this surveillance activity occurs with the silent blessing of the city governments that own the repurposed streetlights. The government has occasionally pushed for upgraded streetlight systems, with the main “improvement” being the addition of surveillance devices.

    • Mobile Location Scandals Keep Making Facebook’s Privacy Flubs Look Like Child’s Play

      Curiously, the Times doesn’t even mention the cellular carriers’ role in this problem, insisting that location data sales “began as a way to customize apps and target ads for nearby businesses.” In reality, cellular carriers have been tracking and selling your location data before the concept was even a twinkle in many app makers’ eye, and as the recent LocationSmart scandal (which exposed the personal data of nearly every mobile customer in North America) made very clear, this data is sold to dozens of third-party location data brokers and their sales partners — without much, if any, effort to ensure it’s being protected down the chain.

      In other words, app location data sharing is just a smaller part of a massive problem. A problem that started with telecom operators and our total unwillingness to hold them accountable for similar behavior. Politically powerful cellular carriers who repeatedly insisted we didn’t need any meaningful privacy rules of the road because “public shame” would keep the industry honest. That promise has never really worked out that well.

      Multiple ISPs were accused years ago of collecting and selling consumer clickstream data. When they were pressed for details, many simply either denied doing it or refused to respond. Collectively, we decided that was fine. As more sophisticated network gear like deep-packet inspection emerged, ISPs began tracking and selling online browsing habits down to the millisecond, some even charging users extra if they wanted to protect their own privacy. Wireless only made things worse, some carriers even going so far as to modify your very data packets to glean additional insight without your knowledge or consent.

    • Microsoft Posts List Of Facial Recognition Tech Guidelines It Thinks The Government Should Make Mandatory

      Roughly five months later, this blog post was discovered, leading to Microsoft receiving a large dose of social media shaming. A number of its own employees signed a letter opposing any involvement at all with ICE. A July blog post from the president of Microsoft addressed the fallout from the company’s partnership with ICE. It clarified that Microsoft was not actually providing facial recognition tech to the agency and laid out a number of ground rules the company felt would best serve everyone going forward.

      This starting point has now morphed into a full-fledged rule set Microsoft will apparently be applying to itself. Microsoft’s Brad Smith again addresses the positives and negatives of facial recognition tech, especially when it’s deployed by government agencies. The blog post is a call for government regulation, not just of tech companies offering this technology, but for some internal regulation of agencies deploying this technology.

    • Australia’s encryption laws will fall foul from differing definitions

      The Assistance and Access Act, which became law just days ago, defines a systemic weakness as one that “affects a whole class of technology, but does not include a weakness that is selectively introduced to one or more target technologies that are connected with a particular person”.

      That just creates a new conundrum: What counts as a “whole class” of technology?

    • GCHQ now has the power to legally hack anyone

      In a letter filed in the House of Commons library Ben Wallace, security minister, stated that the “GCHQ’s position on the authorisation of equipment interference operations has evolved since the Investigatory Powers Act”, specifying “Since the passage of the Bill, the communications environment has continued to evolve, particularly in terms of the range of hardware devices and software applications which need to be targeted.”

      In the letter, Wallace points to the Investigatory Powers Act (more commonly known as the Snooper’s Charter) as providing a theoretical warrant for bulk equipment interference, with the further permissions to enact it provided by recent warrant applications. He also states that Investigatory Powers Commissioner Adrian Fulford has recommended safeguards for the hacks — although all are post-facto, so may have limited effect.

    • Social Justice Organizations Challenge Retention of DNA Collected from Hundreds of Thousands of Innocent Californians

      California Arrestees’ DNA Profiles Become Part of Federal Database, Accessible to Law Enforcement Across the Country, Even for Those Not Convicted of Any Crime
      San Francisco – Two social justice organizations—the Center for Genetics and Society and the Equal Justice Society—and an individual plaintiff, Pete Shanks, have filed suit against the state of California for its collection and retention of genetic profiles from people arrested but never convicted of any crime. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Law Office of Michael T. Risher represent the plaintiffs. The suit argues that retention of DNA from innocent people violates the California Constitution’s privacy protections, which are meant to block overbroad collection and unlawful searches of personal data.

      “One-third of people arrested for felonies in California are never convicted. The government has no legitimate interest in retaining DNA samples and profiles from people who have no felony convictions, and it’s unconstitutional for the state to hold on to such sensitive material without any finding of guilt,” said Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society.

      While California has long collected DNA from people convicted of serious felony offenses, in 2009 the state doubled-down on this policy to mandate DNA collection for every single felony arrestee, including those later determined to be innocent. The intimate details that can be revealed by a person’s DNA only increases as technology develops, exposing plaintiffs to ever heightening degrees of intrusiveness. After collection, the DNA is analyzed and uploaded to the nationwide Combined DNA Index System, or “CODIS,” which is shared with law enforcement across the U.S.

    • Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret

      At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times — a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company — reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

      These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior. It’s a hot market, with sales of location-targeted advertising reaching an estimated $21 billion this year. IBM has gotten into the industry, with its purchase of the Weather Channel’s apps. The social network Foursquare remade itself as a location marketing company. Prominent investors in location start-ups include Goldman Sachs and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder.

    • Electric vehicles are sending real-time location and diagnostic data to Chinese government monitoring centers

      More than 200 carmakers selling electric vehicles in China – including famous brands like Tesla, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen – send over 60 data points to government-backed monitoring platforms. Chinese officials say that they are merely using the analytics to improve public safety, and to aid with infrastructure planning. Those are certainly legitimate uses of aggregate data, and are similar to how Geotab’s vehicle data is being analyzed and applied in the US. However, in China’s case, the data is flowing to the Beijing Institute of Technology, which is monitoring some 1.1 million vehicles in the country. As the Associated Press article explains, the data flow is about to increase dramatically as part of a “Made in China 2025” industrial development plan.

    • The Week in Business: The Emails Facebook Doesn’t Want You to See

      The victim of Facebook’s latest privacy breach: itself. On Wednesday, Britain’s parliament released 250 pages of the company’s internal documents, including emails between top executives. The messages revealed ruthless efforts to extract as much data as possible from users like you and me, and obscure the fact that it was doing so. The emails also show that the company wielded data like currency, bestowing special access to it as a reward to friendly businesses like Airbnb and Netflix while cutting off rivals. Facebook says the emails don’t tell the full story. It must be painful to have private information given to others without your consent, right?

    • How Tinder creates better matches using AWS image recognition technology

      Speaking during AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas last week, Tom Jacques, VP of engineering at Tinder explained how it is using the deep learning-powered AWS Rekognition service to identify user’s key traits by mining the 10 billion photos they upload daily .


      Tinder ingests 40TBs of data a day into its analytics and ML systems to power matches, which are underpinned by AWS cloud services.`

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • YouTube tells impersonation victim: No, you’re not being impersonated

      She took to Twitter to ask her followers how to report impersonation claims on YouTube. After filing a Wednesday impersonation report, which included her government-issued driver’s license, her published book’s jacket sleeve photo, and screenshots of the offending, fake YouTube account, Ng received a Thursday response from YouTube: her report did “not meet our impersonation reporting guidelines.”

      A quick scan of YouTube’s reporting page includes a request for “a clear, readable copy of your valid driver’s license, national ID card, or other photo ID” as an attached image. Ng’s posts did not confirm whether her book’s jacket photo was YouTube’s point of contention, nor whether that photo was used to demonstrate an issue with the fake account: that it had lifted a publicly available photo (from a book’s jacket sleeve) to pretend to be Ng.

    • Atlanta Cops Caught Deleting Body Cam Footage, Failing To Activate Recording Devices

      Officers know the system is flawed and abuse it. Those in charge of securing recordings officers may not want retained either don’t know what they’re doing or are playing dumb when questioned by auditors. At the top of the miserable heap is a chief who has allowed flagrant policy violations to occur under her watch.

      An official worth a damn would never express their lack of surprise at this sort of behavior from underlings. There should be shock and dismay at these results, not a shrug of “They’re cops, what can you do?” emanating from the top person in Atlanta law enforcement. If that’s the official reaction, the next audit will just find more of the same.

    • More Than Half Tech Workers Work In ‘Toxic’ Environment: Survey

      Over half the employees in tech domain find their work culture toxic. According to a survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous work talk app, about 52 percent of participants aren’t happy with their work environment. (Source: WFAA)

    • There’s A Reason They Call It “Work” — As Opposed To “Spa Vacation”

      I saw this question at Quora and found the sense of entitlement to employees’ time, sans pay, pretty unbelievable: [...]

    • Stung by Controversies, Police Chief Resigns in Elkhart, Indiana

      Elkhart, Indiana, Police Chief Ed Windbigler announced his resignation Monday after recent reports by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica about disciplinary issues in the city’s Police Department and a video that showed two officers beating a handcuffed man.

      In a letter addressed to members of the Elkhart Police Department, Windbigler said Mayor Tim Neese contacted him on Sunday and asked him to resign.

      “I admit that I am not perfect and have made mistakes, but I always tried to make sure we were making decisions that would be best for the department,” Windbigler said in the letter.

      Last month, the mayor suspended Windbigler for 30 days without pay after the release of a video showing two officers repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the police station after he tried to spit on one of them. Windbigler downplayed the severity of the incident at an oversight commission meeting in June and reprimanded the officers. But after the Tribune requested a copy of the video, the officers were criminally charged with misdemeanor battery.

    • 1 in 4 government officials accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era is still in office today

      At least 138 government officials, in both elected and appointed positions, have been publicly reported for sexual harassment, assault, misconduct or violence against women since the 2016 election, according to an analysis my colleagues and I conducted.

      Three in every four of these officials have left or been ousted from their positions. But as many as 33 will remain in office by January.

      Our study of those accused, posted online on Nov. 9, tallied reports of allegations of sex-related misconduct by government officials in the media over the past two years. Although these reports are likely the mere tip of an iceberg of sexual misconduct, they are yet another sign that #MeToo is slowly beginning to disrupt the power structure.

    • Resistance is Not Terrorism

      Today we live in a continuous state of warfare at different levels of intensity. The bully U.S. Empire keeps busy maintaining that level of aggression by using huge amounts of resources taken away from uninformed USAmericans and others.

      We have quite a wide range of “conflictive relationships” masterminded by the U.S. government.

      It’s interesting to see the corresponding proliferation of terminology associated with different types of warfare that we have come to use in describing those conflicts.

    • A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!

      Last year, the College of the Ozarks (C of O), a small evangelical Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, organized a two-week study abroad trip Viet Nam that paired 12 students with 12 US veterans of the US War in Viet Nam. Many of the destinations were sites of battles in which the veterans had fought.

      Launched in 2009, these Patriotic Education Travel Programs affirm one of the five goals of the college: Patriotic Education. According to its website, “These rich educational journeys provide life-changing experiences for College of the Ozarks students, who not only learn volumes of history from its firsthand participants but grow to love and appreciate them as well. Participating students return with renewed respect for Veterans and a dramatically increased love for their country.” The Viet Nam trip, the 21stof its kind, was under the direction of C of O’s “director of patriotic activities.”

      The purpose of the C of O Patriotic Education Program is to “to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibility, love of country, and willingness to defend it.” Not surprisingly, C of O “provides numerous opportunities for students to learn, become involved, and show respect to our nation,” including Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and citizenship classes that “provide formal academic training for students with regard to learning how to become effective citizens and if desired, members of the military” and student organizations that place “a heavy emphasis on patriotism.”

    • ‘Not Your Average Demonstration’: Faith Leaders Arrested Demanding Demilitarization of US Border

      Dozens of faith leaders were arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border in California on Monday after they confronted border patrol agents, demanding the demilitarization of the area and calling on the Trump administration to end its detention and deportation of asylum-seekers.


      The rally was the first event in a planned week of direct actions, ending on International Migrants Day on December 18. Those who participated came from a number of Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other faiths.

      A small group of Central American refugees has been the latest target of President Donald Trump’s xenophobic fear-mongering regarding immigration; they arrived at the border late last month after fleeing violence and unrest in their home countries and traveling for weeks.

      The protest came two weeks after border patrol agents closed the border’s busiest port of entry—which the Trump administration has repeatedly claimed it wants immigrants to enter the country through—and fired tear gas at asylum seekers including many families with young children.

    • Trump’s Caravan Problem Isn’t Which People Are Coming, But What Kind of Country America Will Choose to Be

      A bleak irony is emerging in Tijuana’s border zone. For all the raging conservative rhetoric about how Central American migrants are lawbreakers who refuse to just “get in line” and enter the “legal” way, the asylum seekers are actually “getting in line” — or what passes for a line — by forming an ad hoc queue that Mexican authorities have improvised to maintain some social order.

      Every day, migrants line up to be “processed” with a black number scrawled onto their arms — an informal label used to secure a “spot” on a theoretical waiting list. Yet, as they wait indefinitely for their number to be called, the basic institutions of due process they hope to invoke are disintegrating in a dysfunctional, backlogged immigration court system.

      The White House remains hell bent on keeping them out, however, and the plan appears to be to warehouse asylum seekers in Mexico with the underlying aim of discouraging them from trying to cross at all. So a ragged encampment in Tijuana is slowly sinking into chaos as heavily militarized American border authorities block and repel refugees.

    • Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.

      Wondering which side police in the U.S. are on…. left or right, is a more certain social science proposition than attempting to guess how many angels can safely fit on the head of a pin.

      For those close to protest from the 1950s through today, including all facets of left protest, the broken and murdered bodies of protesters in the civil rights movement and the Vietnam antiwar movement, and movements beyond those heady days of protest are quite telling. Guns, fire hoses, batons, tear gas, fists, planting evidence, etc., have all been used viciously by police throughout the U.S. in doing the bidding of their political and financial overlords.

      The militarization of the police began, not as a coincidence, in the 1970s. Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) “teams” were soon in evidence, as was the gathering of so-called intelligence by police units, a fact well known to Vietnam-era protesters, the movement to which mass policing responded. The dumping of military weapons and vehicles to the police was the direct result of the massive police mobilization during and following the Vietnam War. All that was needed was a globalized economy to begin the school to prison pipeline of which the police are an integral part.

      Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs (D.A.R.E.), founded in Los Angeles in 1983, have been totally ineffective in stemming the tide of drug use in the U.S. Indeed, D.A.R.E. has seen some police act as enforcers of discipline in schools in mostly poor neighborhoods and has furthered the school to prison pipeline in the U.S.

      That many individual police have authoritarian leanings and behaviors comes as no surprise. The antipathy toward people of color in the civil rights era and beyond had its roots in the mass violence in the U.S. in which police were an integral part. That a member of the Black Panther Party would relate that violence is as “American as cherry pie” is no accident.

    • What white nationalists think about Tucker Carlson

      He has used his nightly show to question whether racial diversity is truly a positive thing in America. He has promoted, and defended, the phrase “It’s OK to be white,” which has become a slogan for racists across the country. David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, claimed last year the campaign was “sweeping the nation.”

      Just last month Carlson suggested that a Georgetown professor was calling for “genocide” of white people. This is a warning that has been circulating in white supremacist circles for decades. And he has used his perch to play down the issue of white nationalism in America: “It’s not a crisis. It’s not even a meaningful category,” he said on his show earlier this year.

      One of the stated goals of leading white nationalists has been to mainstream their racist ideals into the modern conservative movement. With that in mind, we were curious to see whether the hardcore white nationalists on the web viewed Carlson as their messenger to the broader public.

      We asked our Hate Sleuths, a group of loyal Hate Report readers who volunteer their time to help research, to comb through sites that often host hate speech for mentions of the conservative commentator.

      They found overwhelming support for Carlson. Everywhere they looked, the Fox News anchor was being discussed, and ideas were being swapped about how to convince him to continue mainstreaming racist and anti-Semitic talking points.

    • ‘For Taking Great Risks in Pursuit of Greater Truths,’ Journalists Under Attack Named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year

      Capping off a year marked by accusations of “fake news,” hurled at journalists by President Donald Trump and other global threats to press freedom, TIME magazine selected as Person of the Year journalists who have spent the past year fighting increased hostility toward their work—including those who lost their lives as a result of their reporting.

      Calling journalists under attack “guardians” of the truth, the magazine announced the selected Tuesday as it prepared to release four covers of the yearly issue.

      “Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments,” wrote editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal. “This year we are recognizing four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment…They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world—as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018—who risk all to tell the story of our time.”

    • “It’s Called Transparency”: Donald, Chuck, and Nancy Hold Rare Public Talks as Negotiations Erupt on Live TV

      A press availability at the White House with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Democratic leader in the House Nancy Pelosi broke into bizarre—as well as refreshing—public negotiation on Tuesday as the Democrats and the president sparred over funding for a border wall and the prospect of a government shutdown if a budget deal is not reached before a fast-approaching deadline.

      “I will shut down the government,” the president declared at one point. “And I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”

    • Trump Bickers With Democratic Leaders, Threatens Shutdown

      Bickering in public with Democratic leaders, President Donald Trump threatened repeatedly on Tuesday to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t provide the money he says is needed to build a wall at the Mexican border.

      Trump’s comments came as he opened a contentious meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, with a partial shutdown looming on Dec. 21 when funding for some agencies will expire. The president and Pelosi tangled over whether the House or the Senate was holding up his proposal. Trump and Schumer jabbed at each other over the import of the midterm elections — and who will be blamed if a shutdown occurs.

      “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Trump ultimately declared. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”

    • Courage Is Contagious

      One reason for blindness to our own power could be that we can’t see the bucket that our “action drops” are filling up–that is, the big, system-changes our individual choices inch forward. I do know that every time in my life that I have been able to catch even a glimpse of such a bucket, my life has changed.

      Most recently it happened as I marched more than a hundred miles with Democracy Spring in 2016 to sit on the Capitol steps, demanding money out of politics. Knowing that I was part of the rising Democracy Movement, I could feel my “drops” splashing into a powerful bucket.

      But a metaphor of “filling up” from the top down still misses a lot, for in our world where “there are no parts, only participants” (the lovely phrase of my departed friend, physicist Hans Peter Duerr) our energies radiate horizontally.

      It happens because in our interconnected world, almost always someone is noticing. Even if it’s one person.

      On that note, I love a story author Rebecca Solnit tells about a rainy day in the early 1960s when a handful of Women Strike for Peace members protested above-ground nuclear testing in front of the Kennedy White House. They reported feeling “foolish and futile,” she writes.

    • New York Police Rip Toddler From Mother in Plain Sight

      Outrage built Monday over a video showing police officers violently yanking a toddler from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn public benefits office, with officials criticizing police for not de-escalating the situation and clients of the facility complaining it is indicative of how the city treats social-services recipients.

      The video, taken by a bystander, captured the chaotic scene that unfolded last Friday as officers tried to remove mother Jazmine Headley from the crowded office, where she had sat on the floor for two hours because of a lack of chairs. Police were called when she refused a security guard’s order to leave. The woman ended up lying face-up on the floor during a tug of war over her 18-month-old son.

    • Unsolicited Dick Pics Prompt Stupid, Unworkable Legislative Response From New York Lawmakers

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic a trenchcoat-wearing lurker. Apple’s AirDrop app, which allows anyone to share files with anyone else using the app, has become the new way to send unsolicited dick pics.

      Granted, there’s a bit of a perfect storm aspect that sets it apart from the ChatRoulettes of the world. Users of the app must allow messages from “Everyone” (rather than just people on their Contacts list) and be within Bluetooth range of the amateur photographer.

      Of course, since it can conceivably happen to someone, it has happened to someone. And the New York Post was there to report on the easily-avoidable menace.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Hardwood Floors, Natural Light and the Right to Choose Your ISP

      Your landlord is prohibited from making deals that restrict you to a single video provider, and those prohibitions should apply to your broadband service as well. Yet, across the country, tenants remain locked into a single choice. In January of 2017, San Francisco became the first city to take action toward filling in the loopholes that enable anti-competitive practices. Will 2019 see more cities adopting similar protections?

      Large Corporate ISPs—looking to lock out competition—have created a market of landlord addiction to practices that take advantage of these loopholes in the FCC’s prohibition on exclusive access agreements, by simply denying physical access to any but their preferred ISP. These owners and Real Estate Investment Trusts may charge prohibitive Door Fees, participate in ISP revenue sharing schemes, or enter into exclusive marketing agreements. While ostensibly legal, these practices often result in the same lack of choice, and disincentivization of innovation, the FCC intended to curtail.

    • FCC to investigate whether major wireless carriers submitted false coverage data
    • At least one major carrier lied about its 4G coverage, FCC review finds

      The RWA, which represents rural carriers, made its case to the FCC by submitting speed test data. The speed tests showed the Verizon network wasn’t providing 4G LTE service in areas that Verizon claimed to cover, according to the RWA.

    • Google, Facebook Face Australia Crackdown Over Market Power

      In a preliminary report released Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a new or existing watchdog should investigate and monitor how large digital platforms rank and display adverts and news. It also expressed concern about a lack of transparency in how their key algorithms work.

  • DRM

    • Denuvo-Protected Just Cause 4 Cracked In A Day, Suffering From Shitty Reviews

      Two common topics here at Techdirt are about to converge in what will likely serve as a lovely example of how piracy is often a scapegoat rather than a legitimate business issue. The first topic is Denuvo, the once-unbeatable DRM that has since become a DRM that has been defeated in sub-zero days before game releases. The exception that used to prove the rule that DRM is always defeated has become another example that yet again proves that rule. On the other hand, we’ve also talked at length that the real antidote for piracy is creating a great product and connecting with fans to give them a reason to buy. The flipside of that formula is that no amount of piracy protection is going to result in big sales numbers for a product that sucks.

      While that’s typically obvious, we’re all about to watch what happens when a game both has its piracy protection fail completely and is deemed to be a shitty product, with Just Cause 4 having its Denuvo protection defeated a day after launch while the game is suffering from withering reviews.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UK pregabalin ruling “increases patent applicant burden”, say drug companies [Ed: A patent maximalists' site complains that patents might be harder to get; pretends it cares about "small innovator companies"]

      “As with many Supreme Court decisions, we will have to wait and see how the lower courts apply it,” says the patent attorney at a UK pharmaceutical firm. “But my concern is that the higher hurdle for plausibility will be applied more widely, and that would increase the burden on patent applicants.”

      The vice-president of IP at a UK biotech company adds that the decision does not reflect the scientific reality of drug development because of the complexities associated with animal models.

      Last month, the Supreme Court rejected Warner-Lambert’s appeal that its patent for medication used to treat anxiety, epilepsy and neuropathic pain was sufficiently disclosed, and upheld Mylan and Actavis’s appeal that the disputed claims were not even partially sufficient.

    • Copyrights

      • While Everyone’s Busy, Hollywood & Record Labels Suggest Congress Bring Back SOPA

        There are a million different things going on these days when it comes to preventing the powers that be from destroying the internet that we know and love. There are dozens of mostly bad ideas for regulating the internet here in the US, and of course, over in Europe, they’re doing their best to destroy everything with the poorly thought out GDPR, the new Copyright Directive and the upcoming Terrorist Regulation (more on that soon). With all of that keeping everyone trying to protect the internet busy, it appears that the MPAA and the RIAA have decided that now would be a good time to re-introduce SOPA. No joke.

        Every year, the US government’s “IP Enforcement Coordinator” — or IP Czar — takes comments for its “Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property,” which is supposed to lay out the federal government’s yearly plan for protecting Hollywood’s profits. As questionable as that is already, this year, the comment submissions seemed to go a bit further than usual. The RIAA’s submission, the MPAA’s submission and the (almost so extreme as to be a parody) Copyright Alliance’s submission all seemed to push a pretty consistent theme. Despite the incredible abundance of content creation happening these days, despite the myriad new ways to distribute, to build a fan base, to create new works and to make money from those works… these legacy gatekeepers all insist that the internet is truly a horrible attack on creativity and must be stopped.

      • Four million Europeans’ signatures opposing Article 13 have been delivered to the European Parliament

        Lawmakers in the European Union (EU) often lament the lack of citizen engagement with the complex policy questions that they wrestle with in Strasbourg and Brussels, so we assume that they will be delighted to learn that more than 4,000,000 of their constituents have signed a petition opposing Article 13 of the new Copyright in the Single Market Directive. They oppose it for two main reasons: because it will inevitably lead to the creation of algorithmic copyright filters that only US Big Tech companies can afford (making the field less competitive and thus harder for working artists to negotiate better deals in) and because these filters will censor enormous quantities of legitimate material, thanks to inevitable algorithmic errors and abuse.

        Currently, the Directive is in the “trilogue” phase, where European national governments and the EU negotiate its final form behind closed doors. We’re told that the final language may emerge as soon as this week, with the intention of rushing a vote before Christmas, despite the absolute shambles that the negotiations have made of the text.

      • Federal Courts Aren’t ATMs, Angry Judge Reminds Copyright Troll

        I will never tire of judges handing down benchslaps to IP trolls. Perhaps I’ll never tire of it because it just doesn’t happen often enough. Or perhaps it cannot happen often enough, given the sheer amount of troll litigation judges preside over. Not every dismissed case can be given the court’s full attention. But this opinion, from Judge Royce Lamberth, should certainly get Strike 3 Holding’s attention.

      • Latest EU Copyright Proposal: Block Everything, Never Make Mistakes, But Don’t Use Upload Filters

        As we’ve been discussing the “Trilogue” negotiations between the EU Commission, EU Council and EU Parliament over the EU’s Copyright Directive have continued, and a summary has been released on the latest plans for Article 13, which is the provision that will make upload filters mandatory, while (and this is the fun part) insisting that it doesn’t make upload filters mandatory. Then, to make things even more fun, another document on the actual text suggests the way to deal with this is to create a better euphemism for filters.

        When we last checked in on this, we noted that the legacy film and television industry associations were freaking out that Article 13 might include some safe harbors for internet platforms, and were asking the negotiators to either drop those protections for platforms, or to leave them out of Article 13 altogether and only have it apply to music.

        The latest brief description of the recommendations for Article 13 appear to be an attempt by bureaucrats who have no understanding of the nuances of this issue to appease both the legacy copyright industries and the tech companies. Notably absent: any concern for the public or independent creators. We’ll dig in in a moment, but frankly, given the state of Article 13 demonstrated in this two-page document, it is horrific that these discussions are considered almost concluded. It is obvious that the vast majority of people working on this have no idea what they’re talking about, and are pushing incredibly vague rules without any understanding of their impact. And rather than taking in the criticism and warning from knowledgeable experts, they’re just adding in duct-taped “but this won’t do x” for every complaint where people warn what the actual impact of the rules will be for the internet.

      • New EU Piracy Watchlist Targets Key Pirate Sites and Cloudflare

        Following the example set by the United States, the European Union has published its very first ‘Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List’. The European Commission report targets a broad range of alleged ‘pirate’ sites in the BitTorrent, cyberlocker, stream-ripping spaces, encouraging law enforcement and network players to help stymie their activities.

      • UK Govt. Backs Anti-Piracy Campaign With £2 Million in Funding

        The UK Government has committed £2 million to fund the ongoing “Get it Right” anti-piracy campaign until 2021. Under this program, UK Internet providers and rightsholders have teamed up to warn alleged pirates and educate the public at large on how to access content through ‘genuine’ channels.


        This isn’t the first time that the UK Government has financially supported the ‘Get it Right’ campaign. It also contributed £3.5 million to the program at the start.

      • Scammers Use Facebook and Google to Spread Malicious ‘Pirate’ Files

        Scammers and spammers are using user-generated content sites to distribute links to malware and viruses. The malicious content is advertised as pirated software and games, in an attempt to lure users. The issue is plaguing many platforms but appears to be rather persistent on Facebook and Google groups.

      • IFPI Slams Pirate MEP For ‘Lobbying’ Kids, Forgets a Decade of Rightsholders Doing Just That

        Yet another war of words on Twitter over Article 13 has delivered one of the great ironies of recent times. After Pirate MEP Julia Reda called on kids to ‘lobby’ their parents over the controversial legislation, she got a “shame on you” from IFPI for “manipulating minors”. Trouble is, the entertainment industries have been doing the same for well over a decade.


        Joking aside though, it’s pretty ironic that IFPI has called out Reda for informing kids about copyright law to further the aims of “big tech companies”. As we all know, the music and movie industries have been happily doing exactly the same to further their own aims for at least ten years and probably more.

        Digging through the TF archives, there are way too many articles detailing how “big media” has directly targeted kids with their message over the last decade. Back in 2009, for example, a former anti-piracy consultant for EMI lectured kids as young as five on anti-piracy issues.

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