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04.14.19

‘Poor’ (Multi-Millionaire) Novell CEO, Who Colluded With Steve Ballmer Against GNU/Linux, is Trying to Censor Techrights

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Ron Hovsepian, Site News, Steve Ballmer at 6:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Attorneys/lawyers for millionaires, muzzling the ‘little people’

Seinberg Law

Summary: Novell’s last CEO, a former IBMer who just like IBM decided to leverage software patents against the competition (threatening loads of companies using "platoons of patent lawyers"), has decided that siccing lawyers at us would be a good idea

A FEW DAYS ago, almost on the very same day an award-winning online friend and journalist was arrested for committing the act of journalism in the UK, this letter[PDF]came out of the blue from unexpected persons. It hasn’t even been a year since I last received ludicrous SLAPP letters and here they go again, hoping to suppress the record and twist history by means of omission. Censors. They think money can buy them anything they want.

“It hasn’t even been a year since I last received ludicrous SLAPP letters and here they go again, hoping to suppress the record and twist history by means of omission.”We have lots to say to refute this letter, but why bother replying to it directly? Just look at this utterly ridiculous and legally-invalid letter. The picture in question, of Mr. Hovsepian, was posted in tandem (next to the original) to ensure people knew it was satirical, but more importantly age does not in any way invalidate the claims made, supported by a lot of media references. He is wrong. What I wrote at the time was correct. Workers were fired. They told me. So he’s basically lying about what he did. This man probably has tens of millions of dollars (salaries and bonuses), yet here he is hiring a law firm to keep pestering publishers (maybe not only me). Here’s the full text from one of his two E-mails (he kept sending it to several accounts):

Fwd: Removal Request re: Ronald Hovsepian

Dear Dr. Schestowitz:

I sent you the following correspondence earlier today at a different email address, and received an automated reply that advised sending it here for quicker response. The earlier message now follows:

I have been trying to reach you since March 7 regarding an article that you wrote about my client, Ronald Hovsepian. The article is now fairly advanced in age, but it does continue to cause difficulties for Mr. Hovsepian. With this being the case, we are requesting its removal at this time.

Please see the original letter (copied in below) that I initially tried to route to your attention via an email address that may not have been ideal for such purpose.

I look forward to your response. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and best wishes for now,

Steven Seinberg


———- Forwarded message ———
From: Steve Seinberg <steve@seinberglaw.com>
Date: Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 4:20 PM
Subject: Removal Request re: Ronald Hovsepian

March 7, 2019

VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL

Techrights

Re: Request to Remove Damaging Content

Dear Techrights Editorial Staff:

My firm has been retained to represent Mr. Ronald Hovsepian to address his concerns regarding the confusion and damage to his reputation that have been caused due to the following article remaining available on your website:

http://techrights.org/2010/03/03/ron-hovsepian-and-novl-bid/

As of this writing, nine years have passed since this article was originally published. Mr. Hovsepian left Novell less than a year later. Unfortunately for him, his reputation continues to suffer due to the negative portrayal of who you perceived him to be nearly a decade ago.

The image that grafts the lower half of Steve Ballmer’s face onto Mr. Hovsepian’s head is not especially helpful, but in a more significant objection, my client also maintains that contrary to what your piece reports, no SUSE employees had been terminated at the time the article was posted online.

While Mr. Hovsepian has of course secured subsequent gainful employment, such as his tenure as President and CEO of Intralinks, your article continues to cause him difficulties in the professional arena.

Due to the possibility that potential future business associates, partners, investors, and clients will also see and become influenced by this article, we respectfully request that you remove it from your website.

Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss this matter. We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

/s/ Steven A. Seinberg
Steven A. Seinberg, Esq.
Attorney at Law

The image in question is shown next to the original too (Steve Ballmer next to the Ballmer/Hovsepian crossover). There would no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was doctored for satirical purpose and there’s absolutely no legal basis upon which to request this removal.

“In the above example, from Steven A. Seinberg, what we have is lawyers from another continent trying to gag a site based in Europe. And on what legal basis? Nothing. Nothing at all.”Remember that it was also the French who came up with the utterly ridiculous concept of RtbF (Right to be Forgotten), which is basically saying criminals or even child abusers have a “right” to hide their past, even by forcibly censoring search engines. Will the likes of Battistelli try to leverage similar legal stunts, having already sicced several law firms at me (all based in London)? At the moment CEIPI helps him hide. People like him who leave office and lose immunity, which he once upon a time enjoyed at the European Patent Office (EPO), prefer keeping a lower profile to avert/avoid prosecution.

Let’s also remember that almost a year after António Campinos joined the EPO as President Techrights is still blocked. The EPO has blocked my site for almost five years (it’s still blocked right now). Not for being wrong. Not for being vulgar. But for being correct, for being credible and effective. Censorship in Europe is alive and well and it helps protect crooks from their critics and exposers. In the above example, from Steven A. Seinberg, what we have is lawyers from another continent trying to gag a site based in Europe. And on what legal basis? Nothing. Nothing at all.

04.13.19

Further Decreasing Focus on Software Patents in the United States as They Barely Exist in Valid Form Anymore

Posted in America, Patents, Site News at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As many as a million US patents probably cannot survive an American court’s scrutiny anymore

Some priority stamps

Summary: No headway made after almost 4 months of Iancu-led stunts; software patents remain largely dead and buried, so we’re moving on to other topics

YESTERDAY we finalised the decision to take our eyes off the ball for the first time in over a dozen years. We used to watch very closely news regarding software patents, but it doesn’t seem like good use of time anymore. I’ve deleted the relevant RSS feeds.

What’s behind this decision? Well, surely the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will still grant some software patents. But after consulting some friends I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s safe to say very few of these patents have a chance in court. The Federal Circuit has, for a number of years, rejected almost every such patent. So did the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), especially in inter partes reviews (IPRs) dealing with older patents that had been granted in error prior to the IPRs.

“But these people don’t care about the law. What they really care for are serial extortion schemes, such as patent trolls’.”“Tillis/Coons Letter Underscores That More Can Be Done to Save the U.S. Patent System,” said Watchtroll on Friday, underlying the site’s frustration. When they’re angry and desperate it is a sign that we’ve “won” this battle. The SCOTUS-inspired 35 U.S.C. § 101 and even PTAB have been fought by Coons for several years [1, 2, 3], as we’ve noted the other day. A few more politicians had a go at it, but all of them failed and practically vanished. They had virtually no impact on policy. Nothing. Gene Quinn has meanwhile stepped down as editor and got some other job. He gave up. Their site is rapidly deteriorating (as judged by various criteria). Quinn has said that “Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have written U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu,” but that’s like a prisoner writing to the ward rather than a judge. It would have no impact on actual rulings. Courts matter. These people are “raising a concern about what can really only fairly be characterized as the weaponization of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB),” according to Quinn, inverting the narrative completely. PTAB is what helps defuse patent trolls and companies that leverage bogus patents. So who’s weaponising what here?

Watchtroll then proceeded to using their new propaganda term, “serial challenges.” It’s supposed to sound like “serial infringer” or their other propaganda term “efficient infringer.” In reality — and surely they know this — these challenges are the very basis of the rule of law. If a patent was granted in error, one should be able to file an appeal. But these people don’t care about the law. What they really care for are serial extortion schemes, such as patent trolls’.

We aren’t entirely stopping our monitoring of these matters, but we shall greatly decrease this effort and mostly relegate relevant stories to our daily links. It’s a matter of priorities and time management. A decade ago the roles were opposite; Watchtroll commended the system and it was us protesting all the time. Well, tables have turned completely.

03.22.19

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

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 12 open source tools for natural language processing

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

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

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

  • Events

    • More keynotes hitting the stage at Red Hat Summit 2019

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

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

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 session highlights: Hybrid cloud infrastructure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 66.0 Released with Sound Auto-Play Blocked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Databases

    • How to save time with TiDB

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

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

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

  • LibreOffice

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

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

    • SmartArt improvements in LibreOffice, part 4

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

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

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

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

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

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

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

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Parallel 20190322 (‘FridayforFuture’) released

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

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

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

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

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

  • Programming/Development

    • Python for NLP: Vocabulary and Phrase Matching with SpaCy

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

    • Small history about QA

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

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

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

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

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

    • Seven ways to improve your team’s Python

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leftovers

  • Bach-A-Doodle-Doo

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

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

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

  • The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf

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

  • Health/Nutrition

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

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

    • Early Pesticide Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

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

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

    • AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF CORPORATE IMPERIALISM

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

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

    • Cigarettes Are Central to the History of Corporate Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Security

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

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

    • Microsoft starts notifying Windows 7 users about end of support

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • How to create good SSH keys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Defence/Aggression

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

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

    • Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Thom Hartmann: America Has Forgotten the Warnings of FDR

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

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

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

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

    • Trump Threatens to Unleash Paramilitary Violence in the US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Fight Climate Change — by Loving Carbon?

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

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

      [...]

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

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

    • Historic Midwest Flooding Has Devastating Consequences for Farmers

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

    • Jim Crow in our Climate Crisis

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

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

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

    • More Than 500 Dead in Flooding in Southern Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • ‘Potentially Historic’ Flooding Threatens Southern States

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

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

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

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

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

    • Ocean heatwaves drive more fish north

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal

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

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

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

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

  • Finance

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

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

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

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

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

    • No Deal Brexit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Beto O’Rourke Owes His Career to the GOP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Elizabeth Warren versus Joe Biden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Judge Blocks Lame-Duck Power Grab by Wisconsin GOP

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

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

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

    • The Supreme Court and Dual Citizenship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Why Not Impeach?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal

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

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

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

  • Censorship/Free Speech

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

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

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

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

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

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Nokia Phones Allegedly Sent User Information To Chinese Servers

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

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

    • Wizard Kit: How I Protect Myself from Surveillance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Facebook Exposed Millions of Passwords to Employees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Facebook Screws Up Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Hundreds of couples livestreamed in South Korean motel spycam porn

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

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

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Survey: Some taxi customers feel less safe since deregulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Putting Our Better Angels to Work

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA

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

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

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

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Heizkessel, Germany

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


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

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

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

    • Stada Arz to launch generic Exforge in Europe

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

    • Unauthorized Practice of Patent Law and State Regulators

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

    • Trademarks

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

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

    • Copyrights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Anti Article 13 Petition Signed by Five Million People

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

      • The MPAA says streaming video has surpassed cable subscriptions worldwide

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

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

03.08.19

3,000 Posts About the European Patent Office and Why We’ll Maintain Our Focus on It

Posted in Europe, Patents, Site News at 1:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Evolving and adapting to market needs

Adapting

Summary: The general or the widely-held (popular) views are changing as expectations from patents, in light of ruinous symptoms such as patent trolls, compel judges to adapt; Europe’s adaptation (or ability to adapt), however, has been slow compared to counterparts’

LOOKING at our reference page (or index) for the European Patent Office, we’re fast approaching 3,000 posts (about this subject alone). Our writings on this topic have had impact and earlier this week we were contacted by German academia. These matters are being watched closely as there’s a legal as well as technical angle to it all. There are also economic aspects and António Campinos, considering his professional background in banking, will no doubt be aware of the financial ramifications. Patent systems cannot be presumed benign just because they grant lots and lots of patents, amassing a bunch of money in the process. The costs associated with these patents are passed outwards. Scholars have long studied these relationships between patents, innovation, and economics. It’s not a simple topic.

What compels me to set aside American patent cases and focus on European affairs isn’t my European nationality, residency etc. As I’ve explained towards the end of last year and again at the start of this year, the United States came to grips with the harms of software patents after courts had repeatedly ruled against these, starting with SCOTUS (decisions like Alice and Mayo as formulated or incorporated into 35 U.S.C. § 101) and then the Federal Circuit, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), examiners and petitions in the form of inter partes reviews (IPRs). Nowadays the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and even the ITC cannot easily issue patents and sanctions. Presumption of infringement/guilt isn’t quite there anymore as many patents and allegations are suspect by default; defendants rather than plaintiffs/accusers very often win cases, either for non-infringement or invalidity of the asserted patents. After writing nearly 10,000 articles and short posts about US patents I’ve decided to mostly monitor the situation and only return to it in case things take a turn for the worse (which is possible but not likely based on the past 2 months’ court case outcomes).

“For Europe to have its own equivalents of Alice and Mayo the judiciary will need to enjoy independence from the Office, which measures its performance only in terms of money (or “products” to/from “customers”).”It is, on the one hand, troubling to see how the EPO embraced patent maximalism. On the other hand, there’s also growing opposition to it, even from insiders. This post from yesterday shows how patent maximalists such as Kevin E. Noonan (the lawsuits business) habitually advocate/promote patents on plants, life, genes/genetics. They fail to see just how irrational it is. They treat nature as though it was invented by (wo)man. That’s false. It is a colonialist ideology that persists in the 21st century and gets sold to the public using propaganda terms (euphemisms like “intellectual property rights” where every single word is a deliberate lie).

Patent maximalism may be waning, but only after decades of unstoppable gains. It was a bubble all along. We take note of the fact that many blogs about patents have become inactive or barely active. It’s very easy to demonstrate this statistically, albeit it would require some amount of work (like counting blog items in one’s RSS reader). Things have gotten so bad for the maximalists that some have had to change jobs. Blowhards like Gene Queen changed careers after a couple of decades only to be entertained, as per this new press release from Anaqua, in some events where keynotes involve Watchtroll and EPO (“Thomas Bereuter, Programme Area Manager of Innovation Support at the European Patent Academy, European Patent Office (EPO)”). Watchtroll, the Web site, is becoming more and more like a ghost town, with the large majority of the posts receiving no comments (there are no sign-up barriers), the overall number of posts declining, and the editor stepping down/aside. It’s not difficult to see the writings on the wall. We dare predict that the next major turnaround will be the demise of software patents in Europe as well as patents on life — a couple of subjects we shall cover next (in separate posts). For Europe to have its own equivalents of Alice and Mayo the judiciary will need to enjoy independence from the Office, which measures its performance only in terms of money (or “products” to/from “customers”).

03.02.19

The World Wide Web is a Dangerous Place — GNU/Linux Sites Included — Because of Misuse of JavaScript and Other Bloat

Posted in GNU/Linux, Site News at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PIA hypocrisy

Summary: Too many Web sites have turned themselves into computer programs (with a lot of proprietary and sometimes malicious JavaScript) rather than pages to be rendered

Google Analytics is not new. I remember the day Google bought Urchin and turned it into a centralised, over-the-Web spying monster. I wrote quite a lot about it in USENET, as did others (at the time). USENET is now known to many as “Google Groups” (after Google bought yet another company) and the decentralised nature of the original Web is largely gone by now. Platforms like Pleroma, Mastodon, Diaspora and so on have attempted to tackle it, but is it too late? Maybe.

Nowadays when we visit a Web site we rarely end up accessing just one single site (or domain). It’s a bloated mess that is being justified poorly, owing to devices getting more powerful, browsers adding more features, and Webmasters forgetting to K.I.S.S. Techrights has behaved and has looked almost identical since 2006. We didn’t get seduced into sending special fonts for visitors to download and render at their end. Sites aren’t posters and it’s the substance that counts, not looks.

I am sad to say that nowadays I literally dread and thus hesitate to even enter (click a link to) certain GNU/Linux sites. Phoronix recently added spyware to all the pages (Michael told me that the parent company pressed for it), causing it to slow down and do all sorts of mysterious things to the browser of the visitors (it’s proprietary code, thus impossible to tell what’s going on). To Phoronix’s credit, unlike some other GNU/Linux sites it did not go over the top with various other scripts (sometimes connecting the visitors to dozens of different sites/spies).

Disappointingly enough, Linux Journal keeps bragging about privacy (to help its parent company, a VPN company) make more sales or add subscribers when both site — Linux Journal and the parent company (PIA) — put Google Analytics in all pages. How can they pretend to value privacy and preach to that effect when sending all the log data (and beyond) to Google?

Our main drawback here is that we don’t support encryption in page-serving (that would slow things down), but that mostly means that one’s ISP will be able to tell what pages, not just what site, get visited. Some time in the future we might adopt containers and with the migration we might also add HTTPS protocol. One sure thing is, such adoption can limit reach/compatibility, raise requirements at the user’s side, increase maintenance overhead, and even cause ‘downtime’ (expired certificates). In the interests of keeping the site light and easily accessible we will, for now, avoid JavaScript.

Techrights is Still Growing, Not Just in Scale (Number of Articles) But Also in Reach

Posted in Site News at 5:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techrights design

Summary: 25,000th blog post published today (as expected some weeks ago); things have changed, but the goals are largely the same

OUR goal this year is to revert back/return to GNU/Linux coverage while maintaining both eyes on the European Patent Office (EPO) ball and to a lesser degree the USPTO. Things have changed a lot since 2006 (when we started); back then there was no “the cloud” and companies like Facebook were rather new and obscure. Back then we also did not envision that 35 U.S.C. § 101 would come from SCOTUS, taking down virtually any US software patent, even at the Federal Circuit (historically pro-software patents). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) did not exist until half a decade later and an “inter partes review” (IPR) was just some odd, foreign-sounding thing.

“We don’t have/serve scripts, unlike a lot of Web sites that nowadays embed spyware like Google Analytics in all pages.”Here we are 25,000 blog posts later (this one will be 25,003rd, 115,949th including drafts/versions) and we’re still marching. We have seen record site traffic in Techrights this past week (about double the levels we saw half a decade ago), exceeding the prior week’s record as well and blowing past previous such records. We don’t keep logs for longer than 4 weeks (they all get deleted), so traffic levels are only ever judged by file size alone (logs get rotated every 7 days). We don’t have/serve scripts, unlike a lot of Web sites that nowadays embed spyware like Google Analytics in all pages. We need these logs to help short-term DDOS protection (identifying abusive requesters). That’s their sole purpose. Our next post will be a rant about Google Analytics and the likes of that.

02.25.19

Links 25/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC8 and Second Mageia 7 Beta

Posted in Site News at 4:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • CAST Software creates index for Software Heritage open-source repository

    Software Heritage, a non-profit dedicated to building a universal archive of source code, has some 88 million open-source projects with 5.6 billion source files in its repository. Lev Lesokhin, EVP of strategy and analytics at CAST, described it as “the largest repository out there. The patents we acquired with this technology that we bought has a patent for an index to search through Software Heritage, to be able to go backwards and find the provenance, the origin, of any component in this repository. Without this index it’s a brute-force search that’s like impossible to do,” Lesokhin told SD Times.

    The index, when connected to the company’s software intelligence platform CAST Highlight, will be able to identify third-party source code and detect any risks that might be associated with it, the company said.

    “The lack of software intelligence around open-source versioning and licensing puts many companies in danger of losing valuable IP, as most executives are unaware of their risk exposure,” CAST founder and CEO Vincent Delaroche said in the announcement. “Business leaders should be aware when open source and other external components in code expose their organization to non-compliance, legal action and possible loss of proprietary IP.”

    CAST Software has always been about software intelligence, and last October, built SCA capabilities into its Highlight product, Lesokhin said, enabling the company to go after WhiteSource and Black Duck in the open-source software analysis market, Lesokhin said.

  • Events

    • Open Source is where innovation happens

      New Delhi [India] Feb 22 (ANI): The second edition of Open Source Summit was organised in New Delhi by Bharat Exhibitions and it was a roaring success.

      “Open Source is where all the innovation happens”, said Peter Lees, Chief Technologist

      Director of Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, SUSE, while speaking at the inaugural session of the

      “Open Source Summit, 2019″.

      According to him, all the new technologies, all the new ideas and all the new approach have their foundation in open source.

  • Web Browsers

    • CERN recreated the original WorldWideWeb browser for you to try out

      30 years ago next month, engineers at CERN issued a proposal for a new program to help with managing information within the organization called “Information Management: A Proposal.” After some revisions, the proposal laid out the framework for a program that would provide an interface to the user to present information, utilizing links to allow users to browse the information systems at the organization. CERN engineer Tim Berners-Lee developed the system on a NeXT computer, which he called WorldWideWeb, which became the forerunner to the modern internet.

    • Mozilla

      • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Changes in the core team

        With Rust 2018 having shipped, this is a natural time of transition. While we’ll miss Nick and Aaron’s contributions to the core team, we are very excited for them to be focusing on something new, and we’re very happy that they are still going to stay involved with Rust. We’re also looking into growing the core team to help with the work ahead.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Bringing Firefox Reality to HoloLens 2

        Our Mixed Reality program at Mozilla is focused on bringing the best browsers, services, and tools for developers to ensure that users have a safe, private experience with open, accessible technology. Alongside our desktop and standalone VR browser efforts, this prototype of Firefox Reality for HoloLens 2 will ensure that the immersive web works for all users, regardless of device they are on.

      • Mozilla Future Releases Blog: Exploring alternative funding models for the web

        The online advertising ecosystem is broken. The majority of digital advertising revenue is going to a small handful of companies, leaving other publishers with scraps. Meanwhile users are on the receiving end of terrible experiences and pervasive tracking designed to get them to click on ads or share even more personal data.

        Earlier this month, we shared our perspective about the need to find a better web ecosystem balance that puts publishers and users at the center of the online value exchange. For users, we began our efforts with curbing pervasive tracking as we believe that this is necessary to protect privacy as a fundamental human right. For publishers, we believe that these same measures will help shift long-term ecosystem incentives which are currently stripping value from publishers and fueling rampant ad fraud. However, it is important to acknowledge that such change can take time and that publishers are hurting today.

        That’s why we’ve turned our attention toward finding a more sustainable ecosystem balance for publishers and users alike. But unlike other companies that would explore possible solutions behind closed doors, we’re transparent and experiment with new ideas in the open, especially when those ideas could have a significant impact on how the web ecosystems works, or fundamentally change the value exchange we have with the people who rely on our products and services. In 2019, we will continue to explore new product features and offerings, including our ongoing focus on identifying a more sustainable ecosystem balance for both publishers and users.

      • Exercising software freedom on Firefox

        I’m becoming a minority in another way: I use Firefox. And Firefox uses GTK+. That means I can use Emacs keybindings in Firefox.

        Ah, but there’s a rub. Firefox binds C-n (or as most people would call it, “ctrl-n”) to new window. This is probably okay for people who don’t have the intersectionality of Emacs keybindings everywhere and Firefox. But for me, it’s intolerable. If I want to move a cursor down, I have to instead perform a very unnatural-feeling motion of moving my right hand to the arrow keys and hit the arrow down button. For those accostumed to using arrow keys, imagine if every time you pressed the down arrow Firefox would open a new window. Imagine software reacting so at odds to your habituation.

        Up until Firefox 56 there was an easy workaround. You could download extensions that would let you configure Firefox’s keyboard shorcuts, including disable some of them. I used to do this. The world, however, marches on and so does Firefox. Many extensions cannot do what they once did and the easy fix was gone.

  • Network

    • ATIS brings open source oneM2M support to embedded mobile IoT modules

      The enhanced OS-IoT platform allows sensor applications to run directly on the NB-IoT mobile module without the need for an additional external microcontroller to act as an application processor.

    • ATIS Brings Open Source oneM2M Support to Embedded Cellular IoT Modules

      ATIS today announced that it has successfully demonstrated a cellular IoT module using the ATIS OS-IoT software accessing cloud-based oneM2M standard services over Vodafone’s Open Lab Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT) test network. The global oneM2M standard defines a common, interoperable platform for IoT systems, providing application-independent building blocks that fulfill core tasks of secure data collection, management and distribution. The NB-IoT standard, defined by 3GPP, provides economical and efficient support of narrow-bandwidth communication services to IoT applications with wide geographic coverage by adding IoT optimizations to mobile cellular networks. The demonstration shows how applications built on the Open Source OS-IoT platform can use oneM2M and NB-IoT standards together to provide IoT capabilities suitable for global markets.

    • Open Mobile Evolved Core is part of the larger CORD project

      In 2017, Sprint worked with Intel Labs on an open source mobile core dubbed C3PO–Clean CUPS Core for Packet Optimization with CUPS meaning Control and User Plane Separation. Now, Sprint took that work and used it to seed an Open Networking Foundation project that has resulted in what the group call the Open Mobile Evolved Core (OMEC).

      Sprint’s initial work focused on seven network functions: serving gateway, packet gateway, deep packet inspection, child protection filtering, carrier-grade network address translation, static firewall and service function chaining classification. OMEC is based on 3GPP Release 13 and supports a wide range of evolved packet core and charging functions.

      Ron Marquardt, Sprint vice president of technology, said in a statement, “We plan to conduct field trials using OMEC for edge applications this year, and we’re thrilled to be working with the ONF to build a broader community to leverage and build upon OMEC.”

    • IoT roundup: Outer space, the building is getting smart, and trucking

      The goal is to provide truly global, ends-of-the-Earth LoRaWAN coverage to any IoT device on the platform. Registered devices connect to a satellite for connectivity back to a home network. The company launched its first “nanosatellite” in 2018, and boasts that companies ranging from Fortune 500s to small startups have jumped at the chance to register devices for the Project Galaxy network.

    • Open Networking Summit (ONS)
    • Ericsson joins O-RAN Alliance

      Ericsson will also focus on the upper-layer function as specified in 3GPP to provide interoperable multivendor profiles for specified interfaces between central RAN functions, resulting in faster deployment of 5G networks on a global scale.

  • LibreOffice

    • 5 free alternatives to Microsoft Word

      LibreOffice Writer, like OpenOffice, is a completely free and open-source product that offers word processing, support for .doc and .docx file formats, and all the tools the average Microsoft Word user will need in a word processor.

      LibreOffice Writer and OpenOffice Writer are similar in a lot of ways: Interface style, file format support, lack of cloud integration and real-time collaboration, and general word processing features. Both are solid choices for those looking for a free alternative to Microsoft Word, and selecting one over the other largely comes down to preference.

      One aspect of LibreOffice stands out, and it isn’t what’s in the app—it’s the community-driven nature of the platform. Collaborating with users and developers to improve the product is front and center on LibreOffice’s website, and that focus has grown LibreOffice into a thriving community of users and coders that keep making it better.

    • LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, Tokyo: Call for Proposal is open

      LibreOffice Asia Committee calls for proposals of talks for LibreOffice Asia Conference 2019, Tokyo held at the Nihonbashi Tokyo Tower (Cyboze, Inc. Tokyo office) on May 25th (Sat) and 26th (Sun).

      LibreOffice Asia Conference is the event to gather LibreOffice users and contributors (such as development, translation, PR/marketing, quality assurance, or else) in the Asian region to exchange each knowledge. In there, we will discuss LibreOffice business such as support and training, the current status of migrations for LibreOffice and its standard format ODF, how to use, development, and any other community activities around Asia in it. This year’s Tokyo conference is the first Asia Conference.

      We will also invite various guests includes some of the board of directors of The Document Foundation which is the charitable Foundation to be a home of LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • New open-source bioinformatics tool identifies factors responsible for diseases

      Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have developed and tested a new computational tool, Candidate Driver Analysis (CaDrA), which will search for combinations of factors that are likely to cause a specific disease. CaDrA recognizes that diseases are complex and likely induced by multiple causes. It is now available free to members of the research community.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Legislators Take Another Stab At Eliminating Fees For PACER Access

        Last year’s bill died after being referred to the House Judiciary Committee, most likely trampled underfoot by Congressional hearings and wall-related legislation. Either that or it’s tough to get Congress members excited about eliminating fees they already don’t have to pay.
        There have been no successful attempts to curb PACER fees, much less turn it into a free service. We know this because PACER still charges $0.10/page for documents and dockets as if it were an aged librarian keeping close tabs on the Xerox machine.
        It has been nearly 20 years since PACER opened its doors to the public. Since its inception, prices have increased, fee collections have steadily ticked upward, and almost none of that money is being spent trying to lower access costs or update the archaic system that punishes the public for expressing an interest in court proceedings.
        The only thing PACER has really done over the last twenty years is attract legislation and lawsuits. While it did create an online portal for court documents that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, that’s about all it’s done with the time and money the US court system has had at its disposal. It’s not that this step wasn’t important. It was a huge step forward. Since then, the PACER system has been characterized by its inertia.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Flux Engine Reads Floppies

        It is a bit of a paradox that we are storing more and more information digitally, yet every year more and more of it is becoming harder to access. Data on a variety of tapes and disks that were once common, is now trapped on media due to lack of hardware to read it. Do you have a ZIP drive? Do you have a computer that it will work with? Floppies are problem too. You might think you beat the system just by having a USB floppy drive. While these do exist, they typically won’t read oddball formats. That is, except for Flux Engine, an open source USB floppy drive.

  • Programming/Development

    • Trip report: Winter ISO C++ standards meeting (Kona)

      A few minutes ago, the ISO C++ committee completed its winter meeting in Kona, HI, USA, hosted with thanks by Plum Hall, NVIDIA, and the Standard C++ Foundation. As usual, we met for six days Monday through Saturday, including most evenings. This and the previous meeting were the biggest ISO C++ meetings in our 29-year history, and this time we had a new record of 13 voting national bodies represented in person: Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States. For more details about our size increase, including how we adapted organizationally to handle the load, see my San Diego “pre-trip” report and my San Diego trip report.

    • Coroutines & Modules Added For C++20

      The ISO C++ committee has wrapped up its winter meeting in Hawaii that also served as the last meeting for approving new features for the upcoming C++20 revision to the C++ programming language.

      At this week’s meeting, the last of the C++20 features were considered while at the next meeting in the summer will be taking care of some loose ends and then taking C++20 to the international comment ballot.

    • Redox OS Exploring Coreboot Payload, Other Improvements

      It’s been a while since last having anything significant to report on Redox OS, the Unix-like operating system written in the Rust programming language and pursuing a micro-kernel design, but fortunately this open-source OS is still moving along and they have some interesting plans moving forward.

      Lead Redox OS developer Jeremy Soller tweeted that “it’s time for Redox OS to become a Coreboot payload.” It looks like Redox OS is working on native Coreboot payload support for this interesting Rust operating system rather than first needing to use one of the bootloaders as a Coreboot payload before hitting Redox OS.

    • rpick

      I spent some time doing my first non-humor program in Rust, rpick. It’s still a simple program, but I find it useful because I have a very hard time making simple decisions such as which restaurant to go to, or which album to listen to next. rpick uses a Gaussian probability model to pick from an ordered list of candidates, ordered from least recently chosen to most recently chosen. It has a higher chance of picking the less recently chosen items, while still allowing some fun room for the roll of the dice to surprise you. It’s coming soon to a Fedora release near you.

    • How to write a Python web framework. Part II.
    • Data from dingbats: copying down
    • Git v2.21.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.21.0 is now available at the
      usual places. It is comprised of 500 non-merge commits since
      v2.20.0, contributed by 74 people, 20 of which are new faces.

      The tarballs are found at:

      https://www.kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/

      The following public repositories all have a copy of the ‘v2.21.0′
      tag and the ‘master’ branch that the tag points at:

      url = https://kernel.googlesource.com/pub/scm/git/git
      url = git://repo.or.cz/alt-git.git
      url = https://github.com/gitster/git

      New contributors whose contributions weren’t in v2.20.0 are as follows.
      Welcome to the Git development community!

      Alessandro Menti, Arti Zirk, Brandon Richardson, Chayoung
      You, Denis Ovsienko, Emilio Cobos Ãlvarez, Erin Dahlgren,
      Fabien Villepinte, Force Charlie, Frank Dana, Issac Trotts,
      Katrin Leinweber, Laura Abbott, Patrick Hogg, Peter Osterlund,
      Shahzad Lone, Slavica Djukic, Yoichi Nakayama, Zhilei Han, and
      Tanushree Tumane.

      Returning contributors who helped this release are as follows.
      Thanks for your continued support.

      Ãvar ArnfjÃrà Bjarmason, Alexander Shopov, Ben Peart,
      Brandon Williams, brian m. carlson, Carlo Marcelo Arenas BelÃn,
      Christian Couder, Christopher DÃaz Riveros, David Turner,
      Derrick Stolee, Elijah Newren, Eric Sunshine, Eric Wong, Fangyi
      Zhou, Jean-NoÃl Avila, Jeff King, Jiang Xin, Jimmy Angelakos,
      Johannes Schindelin, Jonathan Nieder, Jonathan Tan, Jordi
      Mas, Josh Steadmon, Junio C Hamano, Kevin Daudt, Kim Gybels,
      Kyle Meyer, Linus Torvalds, Luke Diamand, Martin Ãgren,
      Masaya Suzuki, Matthew DeVore, Matthieu Moy, Max Kirillov,
      Nguyán ThÃi Ngác Duy, Olga Telezhnaya, Orgad Shaneh, Peter
      Krefting, Phillip Wood, Pranit Bauva, Ralf Thielow, Ramsay Jones,
      Randall S. Becker, Renà Scharfe, Sebastian Staudt, Sergey
      Organov, Stefan Beller, Stephen P. Smith, Sven van Haastregt,
      SZEDER GÃbor, Thomas Braun, Thomas Gummerer, Todd Zullinger,
      and Torsten BÃgershausen.

      —————————————————————-

      Git 2.21 Release Notes
      ======================

      Backward Compatibility Notes
      —————————-

      * Historically, the “-m” (mainline) option can only be used for “git
      cherry-pick” and “git revert” when working with a merge commit.
      This version of Git no longer warns or errors out when working with
      a single-parent commit, as long as the argument to the “-m” option
      is 1 (i.e. it has only one parent, and the request is to pick or
      revert relative to that first parent). Scripts that relied on the
      behaviour may get broken with this change.

      Updates since v2.20
      ——————-

      UI, Workflows & Features

      * The “http.version” configuration variable can be used with recent
      enough versions of cURL library to force the version of HTTP used
      to talk when fetching and pushing.

      * Small fixes and features for fast-export and fast-import, mostly on
      the fast-export side has been made.

      * “git push $there $src:$dst” rejects when $dst is not a fully
      qualified refname and it is not clear what the end user meant. The
      codepath has been taught to give a clearer error message, and also
      guess where the push should go by taking the type of the pushed
      object into account (e.g. a tag object would want to go under
      refs/tags/).

      * “git checkout [<tree-ish>] path…” learned to report the number of
      paths that have been checked out of the index or the tree-ish,
      which gives it the same degree of noisy-ness as the case in which
      the command checks out a branch. “git checkout -m <pathspec>” to
      undo conflict resolution gives a similar message.

      * “git quiltimport” learned “–keep-non-patch” option.

      * “git worktree remove” and “git worktree move” refused to work when
      there is a submodule involved. This has been loosened to ignore
      uninitialized submodules.

      * “git cherry-pick -m1″ was forbidden when picking a non-merge
      commit, even though there _is_ parent number 1 for such a commit.
      This was done to avoid mistakes back when “cherry-pick” was about
      picking a single commit, but is no longer useful with “cherry-pick”
      that can pick a range of commits. Now the “-m$num” option is
      allowed when picking any commit, as long as $num names an existing
      parent of the commit.

      * Update “git multimail” from the upstream.

      * “git p4″ update.

      * The “–format=<placeholder>” option of for-each-ref, branch and tag
      learned to show a few more traits of objects that can be learned by
      the object_info API.

      * “git rebase -i” learned to re-execute a command given with ‘exec’
      to run after it failed the last time.

      * “git diff –color-moved-ws” updates.

      * Custom userformat “log –format” learned %S atom that stands for
      the tip the traversal reached the commit from, i.e. –source.

      * “git instaweb” learned to drive http.server that comes with
      “batteries included” Python installation (both Python2 & 3).

      * A new encoding UTF-16LE-BOM has been invented to force encoding to
      UTF-16 with BOM in little endian byte order, which cannot be directly
      generated by using iconv.

      * A new date format “–date=human” that morphs its output depending
      on how far the time is from the current time has been introduced.
      “–date=auto:human” can be used to use this new format (or any
      existing format) when the output is going to the pager or to the
      terminal, and otherwise the default format.

      Performance, Internal Implementation, Development Support etc.

      * Code clean-up with optimization for the codepath that checks
      (non-)existence of loose objects.

      * More codepaths have become aware of working with in-core repository
      instances other than the default “the_repository”.

      * The “strncat()” function is now among the banned functions.

      * Portability updates for the HPE NonStop platform.

      * Earlier we added “-Wformat-security” to developer builds, assuming
      that “-Wall” (which includes “-Wformat” which in turn is required
      to use “-Wformat-security”) is always in effect. This is not true
      when config.mak.autogen is in use, unfortunately. This has been
      fixed by unconditionally adding “-Wall” to developer builds.

      * The loose object cache used to optimize existence look-up has been
      updated.

      * Flaky tests can now be repeatedly run under load with the
      “–stress” option.

      * Documentation/Makefile is getting prepared for manpage
      localization.

      * “git fetch-pack” now can talk the version 2 protocol.

      * sha-256 hash has been added and plumbed through the code to allow
      building Git with the “NewHash”.

      * Debugging help for http transport.

      * “git fetch –deepen=<more>” has been corrected to work over v2
      protocol.

      * The code to walk tree objects has been taught that we may be
      working with object names that are not computed with SHA-1.

      * The in-core repository instances are passed through more codepaths.

      * Update the protocol message specification to allow only the limited
      use of scaled quantities. This is to ensure potential compatibility
      issues will not get out of hand.

      * Micro-optimize the code that prepares commit objects to be walked
      by “git rev-list” when the commit-graph is available.

      * “git fetch” and “git upload-pack” learned to send all exchanges over
      the sideband channel while talking the v2 protocol.

      * The codepath to write out commit-graph has been optimized by
      following the usual pattern of visiting objects in in-pack order.

      * The codepath to show progress meter while writing out commit-graph
      file has been improved.

      * Cocci rules have been updated to encourage use of strbuf_addbuf().

      * “git rebase –merge” has been reimplemented by reusing the internal
      machinery used for “git rebase -i”.

      * More code in “git bisect” has been rewritten in C.

      * Instead of going through “git-rebase–am” scriptlet to use the “am”
      backend, the built-in version of “git rebase” learned to drive the
      “am” backend directly.

      * The assumption to work on the single “in-core index” instance has
      been reduced from the library-ish part of the codebase.

      * The test lint learned to catch non-portable “sed” options.

      * “git pack-objects” learned another algorithm to compute the set of
      objects to send, that trades the resulting packfile off to save
      traversal cost to favor small pushes.

      * The travis CI scripts have been corrected to build Git with the
      compiler(s) of our choice.

      * “git submodule update” learned to abort early when core.worktree
      for the submodule is not set correctly to prevent spreading damage.

      * Test suite has been adjusted to run on Azure Pipeline.

      * Running “Documentation/doc-diff x” from anywhere other than the
      top-level of the working tree did not show the usage string
      correctly, which has been fixed.

      * Use of the sparse tool got easier to customize from the command
      line to help developers.

      * A new target “coverage-prove” to run the coverage test under
      “prove” has been added.

      * A flakey “p4″ test has been removed.

      * The code and tests assume that the system supplied iconv() would
      always use BOM in its output when asked to encode to UTF-16 (or
      UTF-32), but apparently some implementations output big-endian
      without BOM. A compile-time knob has been added to help such
      systems (e.g. NonStop) to add BOM to the output to increase
      portability.

      Fixes since v2.20
      —————–

      * Updates for corner cases in merge-recursive.
      (merge cc4cb0902c en/merge-path-collision later to maint).

      * “git checkout frotz” (without any double-dash) avoids ambiguity by
      making sure ‘frotz’ cannot be interpreted as a revision and as a
      path at the same time. This safety has been updated to check also
      a unique remote-tracking branch ‘frotz’ in a remote, when dwimming
      to create a local branch ‘frotz’ out of a remote-tracking branch
      ‘frotz’ from a remote.
      (merge be4908f103 nd/checkout-dwim-fix later to maint).

      * Refspecs configured with “git -c var=val clone” did not propagate
      to the resulting repository, which has been corrected.
      (merge 7eae4a3ac4 sg/clone-initial-fetch-configuration later to maint).

      * A properly configured username/email is required under
      user.useConfigOnly in order to create commits; now “git stash”
      (even though it creates commit objects to represent stash entries)
      command is exempt from the requirement.
      (merge 3bc2111fc2 sd/stash-wo-user-name later to maint).

      * The http-backend CGI process did not correctly clean up the child
      processes it spawns to run upload-pack etc. when it dies itself,
      which has been corrected.
      (merge 02818a98d7 mk/http-backend-kill-children-before-exit later to maint).

      * “git rev-list –exclude-promisor-objects” had to take an object
      that does not exist locally (and is lazily available) from the
      command line without barfing, but the code dereferenced NULL.
      (merge 4cf67869b2 md/list-lazy-objects-fix later to maint).

      * The traversal over tree objects has learned to honor
      “:(attr:label)” pathspec match, which has been implemented only for
      enumerating paths on the filesystem.
      (merge 5a0b97b34c nd/attr-pathspec-in-tree-walk later to maint).

      * BSD port updates.
      (merge 4e3ecbd439 cb/openbsd-allows-reading-directory later to maint).
      (merge b6bdc2a0f5 cb/t5004-empty-tar-archive-fix later to maint).
      (merge 82cbc8cde2 cb/test-lint-cp-a later to maint).

      * Lines that begin with a certain keyword that come over the wire, as
      well as lines that consist only of one of these keywords, ought to
      be painted in color for easier eyeballing, but the latter was
      broken ever since the feature was introduced in 2.19, which has
      been corrected.
      (merge 1f67290450 hn/highlight-sideband-keywords later to maint).

      * “git log -G<regex>” looked for a hunk in the “git log -p” patch
      output that contained a string that matches the given pattern.
      Optimize this code to ignore binary files, which by default will
      not show any hunk that would match any pattern (unless textconv or
      the –text option is in effect, that is).
      (merge e0e7cb8080 tb/log-G-binary later to maint).

      * “git submodule update” ought to use a single job unless asked, but
      by mistake used multiple jobs, which has been fixed.
      (merge e3a9d1aca9 sb/submodule-fetchjobs-default-to-one later to maint).

      * “git stripspace” should be usable outside a git repository, but
      under the “-s” or “-c” mode, it didn’t.
      (merge 957da75802 jn/stripspace-wo-repository later to maint).

      * Some of the documentation pages formatted incorrectly with
      Asciidoctor, which have been fixed.
      (merge b62eb1d2f4 ma/asciidoctor later to maint).

      * The core.worktree setting in a submodule repository should not be
      pointing at a directory when the submodule loses its working tree
      (e.g. getting deinit’ed), but the code did not properly maintain
      this invariant.

      * With zsh, “git cmd path<TAB>” was completed to “git cmd path name”
      when the completed path has a special character like SP in it,
      without any attempt to keep “path name” a single filename. This
      has been fixed to complete it to “git cmd path\ name” just like
      Bash completion does.

      * The test suite tried to see if it is run under bash, but the check
      itself failed under some other implementations of shell (notably
      under NetBSD). This has been corrected.
      (merge 54ea72f09c sg/test-bash-version-fix later to maint).

      * “git gc” and “git repack” did not close the open packfiles that
      they found unneeded before removing them, which didn’t work on a
      platform incapable of removing an open file. This has been
      corrected.
      (merge 5bdece0d70 js/gc-repack-close-before-remove later to maint).

      * The code to drive GIT_EXTERNAL_DIFF command relied on the string
      returned from getenv() to be non-volatile, which is not true, that
      has been corrected.
      (merge 6776a84dae kg/external-diff-save-env later to maint).

      * There were many places the code relied on the string returned from
      getenv() to be non-volatile, which is not true, that have been
      corrected.
      (merge 0da0e9268b jk/save-getenv-result later to maint).

      * The v2 upload-pack protocol implementation failed to honor
      hidden-ref configuration, which has been corrected.
      (merge e20b4192a3 jk/proto-v2-hidden-refs-fix later to maint).

      * “git fetch –recurse-submodules” may not fetch the necessary commit
      that is bound to the superproject, which is getting corrected.
      (merge be76c21282 sb/submodule-recursive-fetch-gets-the-tip later to maint).

      * “git rebase” internally runs “checkout” to switch between branches,
      and the command used to call the post-checkout hook, but the
      reimplementation stopped doing so, which is getting fixed.

      * “git add -e” got confused when the change it wants to let the user
      edit is smaller than the previous change that was left over in a
      temporary file.
      (merge fa6f225e01 js/add-e-clear-patch-before-stating later to maint).

      * “git p4″ failed to update a shelved change when there were moved
      files, which has been corrected.
      (merge 7a10946ab9 ld/git-p4-shelve-update-fix later to maint).

      * The codepath to read from the commit-graph file attempted to read
      past the end of it when the file’s table-of-contents was corrupt.

      * The compat/obstack code had casts that -Wcast-function-type
      compilation option found questionable.
      (merge 764473d257 sg/obstack-cast-function-type-fix later to maint).

      * An obvious typo in an assertion error message has been fixed.
      (merge 3c27e2e059 cc/test-ref-store-typofix later to maint).

      * In Git for Windows, “git clone \\server\share\path” etc. that uses
      UNC paths from command line had bad interaction with its shell
      emulation.

      * “git add –ignore-errors” did not work as advertised and instead
      worked as an unintended synonym for “git add –renormalize”, which
      has been fixed.
      (merge e2c2a37545 jk/add-ignore-errors-bit-assignment-fix later to maint).

      * On a case-insensitive filesystem, we failed to compare the part of
      the path that is above the worktree directory in an absolute
      pathname, which has been corrected.

      * Asking “git check-attr” about a macro (e.g. “binary”) on a specific
      path did not work correctly, even though “git check-attr -a” listed
      such a macro correctly. This has been corrected.
      (merge 7b95849be4 jk/attr-macro-fix later to maint).

      * “git pack-objects” incorrectly used uninitialized mutex, which has
      been corrected.
      (merge edb673cf10 ph/pack-objects-mutex-fix later to maint).

      * “git checkout -b <new> [HEAD]” to create a new branch from the
      current commit and check it out ought to be a no-op in the index
      and the working tree in normal cases, but there are corner cases
      that do require updates to the index and the working tree. Running
      it immediately after “git clone –no-checkout” is one of these
      cases that an earlier optimization kicked in incorrectly, which has
      been fixed.
      (merge 8424bfd45b bp/checkout-new-branch-optim later to maint).

      * “git diff –color-moved –cc –stat -p” did not work well due to
      funny interaction between a bug in color-moved and the rest, which
      has been fixed.
      (merge dac03b5518 jk/diff-cc-stat-fixes later to maint).

      * When GIT_SEQUENCE_EDITOR is set, the command was incorrectly
      started when modes of “git rebase” that implicitly uses the
      machinery for the interactive rebase are run, which has been
      corrected.
      (merge 891d4a0313 pw/no-editor-in-rebase-i-implicit later to maint).

      * The commit-graph facility did not work when in-core objects that
      are promoted from unknown type to commit (e.g. a commit that is
      accessed via a tag that refers to it) were involved, which has been
      corrected.
      (merge 4468d4435c sg/object-as-type-commit-graph-fix later to maint).

      * “git fetch” output cleanup.
      (merge dc40b24df4 nd/fetch-compact-update later to maint).

      * “git cat-file –batch” reported a dangling symbolic link by
      mistake, when it wanted to report that a given name is ambiguous.

      * Documentation around core.crlf has been updated.
      (merge c9446f0504 jk/autocrlf-overrides-eol-doc later to maint).

      * The documentation of “git commit-tree” said that the command
      understands “–gpg-sign” in addition to “-S”, but the command line
      parser did not know about the longhand, which has been corrected.

      * “git rebase -x $cmd” did not reject multi-line command, even though
      the command is incapable of handling such a command. It now is
      rejected upfront.
      (merge c762aada1a pw/rebase-x-sanity-check later to maint).

      * Output from “git help” was not correctly aligned, which has been
      fixed.
      (merge 6195a76da4 nd/help-align-command-desc later to maint).

      * The “git submodule summary” subcommand showed shortened commit
      object names by mechanically truncating them at 7-hexdigit, which
      has been improved to let “rev-parse –short” scale the length of
      the abbreviation with the size of the repository.
      (merge 0586a438f6 sh/submodule-summary-abbrev-fix later to maint).

      * The way the OSX build jobs updates its build environment used the
      “–quiet” option to “brew update” command, but it wasn’t all that
      quiet to be useful. The use of the option has been replaced with
      an explicit redirection to the /dev/null (which incidentally would
      have worked around a breakage by recent updates to homebrew, which
      has fixed itself already).
      (merge a1ccaedd62 sg/travis-osx-brew-breakage-workaround later to maint).

      * “git –work-tree=$there –git-dir=$here describe –dirty” did not
      work correctly as it did not pay attention to the location of the
      worktree specified by the user by mistake, which has been
      corrected.
      (merge c801170b0c ss/describe-dirty-in-the-right-directory later to maint).

      * “git fetch” over protocol v2 that needs to make a second connection
      to backfill tags did not clear a variable that holds shallow
      repository information correctly, leading to an access of freed
      piece of memory.

      * Some errors from the other side coming over smart HTTP transport
      were not noticed, which has been corrected.

      * Code cleanup, docfix, build fix, etc.
      (merge 89ba9a79ae hb/t0061-dot-in-path-fix later to maint).
      (merge d173e799ea sb/diff-color-moved-config-option-fixup later to maint).
      (merge a8f5a59067 en/directory-renames-nothanks-doc-update later to maint).
      (merge ec36c42a63 nd/indentation-fix later to maint).
      (merge f116ee21cd do/gitweb-strict-export-conf-doc later to maint).
      (merge 112ea42663 fd/gitweb-snapshot-conf-doc-fix later to maint).
      (merge 1cadad6f65 tb/use-common-win32-pathfuncs-on-cygwin later to maint).
      (merge 57e9dcaa65 km/rebase-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge b8b4cb27e6 ds/gc-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge 3b3357626e nd/style-opening-brace later to maint).
      (merge b4583d5595 es/doc-worktree-guessremote-config later to maint).
      (merge cce99cd8c6 ds/commit-graph-assert-missing-parents later to maint).
      (merge 0650614982 cy/completion-typofix later to maint).
      (merge 6881925ef5 rs/sha1-file-close-mapped-file-on-error later to maint).
      (merge bd8d6f0def en/show-ref-doc-fix later to maint).
      (merge 1747125e2c cc/partial-clone-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge e01378753d cc/fetch-error-message-fix later to maint).
      (merge 54e8c11215 jk/remote-insteadof-cleanup later to maint).
      (merge d609615f48 js/test-git-installed later to maint).
      (merge ba170517be ja/doc-style-fix later to maint).
      (merge 86fb1c4e77 km/init-doc-typofix later to maint).
      (merge 5cfd4a9d10 nd/commit-doc later to maint).
      (merge 9fce19a431 ab/diff-tree-doc-fix later to maint).
      (merge 2e285e7803 tz/gpg-test-fix later to maint).
      (merge 5427de960b kl/pretty-doc-markup-fix later to maint).
      (merge 3815f64b0d js/mingw-host-cpu later to maint).
      (merge 5fe81438b5 rj/sequencer-sign-off-header-static later to maint).
      (merge 18a4f6be6b nd/fileno-may-be-macro later to maint).
      (merge 99e9ab54ab kd/t0028-octal-del-is-377-not-777 later to maint).

    • Git 2.21 Released With Performance Improvements, Human Date Option

      Git maintainer Junio Hamano has just announced the release of Git v2.21.0 with more than 500 commits since the previous release from more than six dozen developers.

      Git 2.21 continues working on performance improvements for large repositories, a configuration tunable was added to force the HTTP version to use for fetching/pushing, a new –date=human type, introducing a new UTF-16LE-BOM encoding type to use UTF-16 with BOM in little endian byte order, updates to git-multimail, BSD port updates, and dozens of fixes.

    • Most Popular Open Source Projects In Python Programming

      Machine learning and software development make up a large part of all the open-sources projects created with the help of Python. In recent years, these projects caused the creation of many working places for programmers interested in open-source development. Naming the most popular such open-source projects written in Python, it is necessary to mention TensorFlow, Keras, Scikit-learn, Flask, Django, Tornado, Pandas, Kivy, Matplotlib, and the Requests.

    • Most popular programming language frameworks and tools for machine learning

      More than 1,300 people mainly working in the tech, finance and healthcare revealed which machine-learning technologies they use at their firms, in a new O’Reilly survey.

      The list is a mix of software frameworks and libraries for data science favorite Python, big data platforms, and cloud-based services that handle each stage of the machine-learning pipeline.

    • GitLab considers moving to a single Rails codebase by combining the two existing repositories

      The team at GitLab is now considering to move towards a single Rails repository by combining the two existing repositories. Although the GitLab Community Edition code would remain open source and MIT licensed and also the GitLab Enterprise Edition code would remain source available and proprietary.

    • $1.1 billion GitLab hires two new executives as it takes on GitHub and prepares to go public in 2020

      As it prepares to go public in November 2020, $1.1 billion code-sharing startup GitLab announced on Tuesday that it is hiring two new executives into its highest levels of leadership.

      Michael McBride, who was previously at the security company Lookout, is joining GitLab as Chief Revenue Officer. Todd Barr, who was most recently at Red Hat, joins as Chief Marketing Officer.

      “The company grew tremendously,” McBride told Business Insider. “We’re in a new chapter of growth that is global. We’re serving markets all over the world. It’s also very horizontal. That scope is a new sort of stage for us.”

      McBride and Barr both see challenges ahead for GitLab in terms of competition, as companies like Microsoft’s GitHub and Atlassian are delivering similar products. GitLab, like its rivals, helps large teams of programmers all work on the same code at the same time, making it possible to build ever-larger software products.

    • Diving into Merkle Trees

      This is a transcript of my talk on Diving into Merkle Trees that I will give at Lambda Days and ScaleConf Colombia. Slides and video should be up soon!

      Introduced in 1979 by Ralph C. Merkle in his Thesis: Secrecy, Authentications, and Public Key Systems, the Merkle Tree, also known as a binary hash tree, is a data structure used for efficiently summarizing and verifying the integrity of large sets of data enabling users to verify the authenticity of their received responses.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?

      He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

    • One in ten people now use cryptocurrency: Survey

      There are a growing number of businesses now offering cryptocurrency as a payment method, with retailers and food outlets now accepting it. Prices are falling and major sports teams are even partnering with crypto-exchanges. Yet, as people show interest in using cryptocurrency to both invest and spend their money, their funds are vulnerable to being stolen from cryptocurrency wallets, insecure exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). There have been high profile incidents where sums of up to $530 million worth of digital tokens have been stolen.

    • Age below 20 or above 50 more susceptible to fake news: Report

      An extensive survey based study titled, ‘Countering Misinformation (Fake News) in India’ by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Factly has found that people below the age of 20 or those above the age of 50 are most susceptible to be swayed by fake news.

      The report is based on an extensive survey covering 891 respondents, along with structured interviews of 30 interviewees from the Technology & Internet Service Providers, Government officials, Law Enforcement, Media & Influencers, Fact Checkers, Academia Political Parties.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Generics discuss fallout from major pharma patent cases

      Legislation funded by big pharma’ politicians to ban more #generics http://www.managingip.com/Article/3860173/Generics-discuss-fallout-from-major-pharma-patent-cases.html

    • Agribusiness’s secretive plans to unravel food safety and worker protections

      As Congress and the public debate the pros and cons of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), or New NAFTA, behind the scenes and in the shadows transnational corporations are doubling down on their plans to weaken and eliminate public protections through a related entity, the secretive Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). This little-known council has the mission of promoting trade by “reducing, eliminating or preventing unnecessary regulatory differences” between Canada and the United States. Since the RCC’s inception, agribusiness—including factory-farmed livestock producers, the feed industry, and chemical and pesticide manufacturers and linked transportation businesses—has had a seat at the regulatory cooperation table. Their focus, without exception, has been advocating the scaling back and even elimination of important safety protections in both countries. In the U.S., recommendations made by the RCC feed directly into regulations enacted (or eliminated) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

      Cross-border regulatory cooperation activities aimed at eliminating so-called “non-tariff barriers” to trade—standards that can increase the cost of importing products that don’t meet another country’s health and safety protections, or prevent the import altogether—began following the signing of the original NAFTA. Initially, informal working groups were established to harmonize pesticide and other regulations. The RCC was formally created in 2011 by an Executive Order from President Obama, and proceeded to establish work plans to harmonize U.S. and Canadian regulations in 23 policy areas, including meat and plant inspections, food safety, workplace chemicals, chemicals management, rail safety and transport of dangerous goods. The RCC was revitalized in June 2017 by the Trump and Trudeau administrations with a new Memorandum of Understanding.

    • African-American women with HIV often overlooked, under-supported

      The face of HIV in the United States has long been white gay men, even though the epidemic has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on African-American communities.

      This is especially true among women; 60 percent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in women in 2017 were African-American. Yet, African-American women’s voices are notoriously absent from the national discourse on HIV.

      Largely invisible to a fractured health care system, these women are often breadwinners and matriarchs whose families count on them for support and care.

      Treatments to help people who are HIV-positive manage their illness and survive into older age have improved greatly, yet the unique health needs of African-American women living and aging with HIV – estimated at about 140,000 – are often ignored.

      While many are actively taking medication and receiving care, some do not know their HIV status. After diagnosis, many have difficulties managing their HIV, which can contribute to their other health challenges.

    • Pro-Choice Bills Could Cement Illinois as the Midwest’s Abortion Care Oasis

      Illinois Democrats recently introduced legislation to secure and expand reproductive rights, changes that could have far-reaching effects, as people travel to Illinois to secure abortion care that is difficult to access in neighboring states.

      And one part of that legislation could help providers cope with that influx of out-of-state patients by expanding the number of medical professionals who can provide in-clinic abortion services.

      The two bills proposed last week in the Illinois General Assembly would repeal decades-old statues intended to criminalize abortion providers and require parental notification for minors to receive abortion care. The measures have large Democratic support in the general assembly where Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers.

      “It’s pushing back against a deliberate strategy of the anti-abortion movement of stigmatizing and siloing women’s reproductive health care, and these bills are saying we need to treat reproductive health care like any other health care,” Colleen Connell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, told Rewire.News.

    • Judge in Monsanto Roundup Trial Is Already Hindering Testimony

      Anyone concerned about probable carcinogens in the environment needs to keep an eye on the trial of Edward Hardeman v. Monsanto Company, which begins on February 25, in the Federal District Court in San Francisco. A bellwether for future challenges against the company, the federal court has grouped hundreds of plaintiffs into this multidistrict litigation case. The plaintiffs have sued Monsanto claiming to have contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) after being exposed to Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide. While there are an estimated 9,300 lawsuits against the chemical giant because of Roundup, Hardeman will be only the second NHL trial against Monsanto ever.

      Judge Vince Chhabria has already granted an unusual motion by Monsanto to split the Hardeman trial into two phases. Characterized as “unheard of” by the plaintiffs, this way of trying a case is called bifurcation, consisting of a first phase that would have the jury determine if there is a preponderance of scientific evidence that Roundup caused Hardeman’s cancer. If the jury finds this to be true, they will then be allowed to decide if Monsanto knew of and attempted to hide the dangers of Roundup. To do this, they will be shown internal Monsanto documents that reveal how the company ignored or tried to discredit legitimate science and scientists, ghostwrote scientific studies and manipulated regulators. (I saw this evidence firsthand, because I was a juror on the first ever NHL trial, Dwayne Lee Johnson v. Monsanto.)

      Monsanto’s attorneys asked the judge to bifurcate the upcoming trial because they think that jurors will be swayed by the emotions brought forth from seeing the documents exposing systematic corporate malfeasance. This is not the first time Monsanto has inferred that a jury might, or might have, reached a verdict based on emotions.

      After the historic $289 million award to the plaintiff in Dwayne Lee Johnson v. Monsanto on August 10, 2018, defense attorneys asked Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos to toss the jury’s nearly unanimous verdict claiming, in part, that they were “inflamed” by some of the rhetoric in the plaintiff’s closing argument.

    • Paid family leave is an investment in public health, not a handout

      Most Americans – on both sides of the political aisle – say they support paid parental leave. However, we haven’t yet found the political will to make it happen. In part, that’s because the discussion always seems to start with the question, “How do we pay for it?”

      That question goes only halfway, though. As a researcher who focuses on stress and health within families, I believe there’s a more important question to ask: “How do we pay for the lack of parental leave?” In other words, how does the stress of a rapid return to work affect parents, and in turn, cost society as a whole? Recently, I sought to answer this question by delving into research on the many changes that new parents experience in the first weeks, months, and years after the birth of a new child – and the possibility that all these changes might not just compromise children’s well-being, but also put parents’ long-term health at risk.

      [...]

      I reached out to Stanford economist and family leave policy expert Maya Rossin-Slater to help digest the body of research on health and family leave. Together with developmental neuroscientist Diane Goldenberg, we reviewed existing studies and proposed future directions for research and policy in a recent paper published in American Psychologist.

      Psychologists already know that the transition to parenthood is a high-risk time for mental health problems like anxiety and depression. New parents are about twice as likely to report clinically significant depression as are adults at other life stages.

      Physical health risks may worsen during this time as well. For example, obesity: many mothers gain in excess of physician-recommended weight guidelines during pregnancy, and may struggle to lose this weight after birth. New fathers also gain weight: “Dad bod” is real.

    • Does “Special Ed” Serve Students? Disability Activists Say No.

      As a child born with cerebral palsy in the 1950s, Gail Cartenuto-Cohn had one option when she was old enough to go to school: enroll in an isolated public program specifically for kids with disabilities. There was no interaction with nondisabled kids, and there were just three classrooms: one for kindergarten through second grade, another for grades three through five, and a third for sixth through eighth.

    • As Industry Ramps Up Efforts to Kill Medicare for All, New Tool Shows ‘Why We Desperately Need, and Can Absolutely Afford, #SinglePayer’

      They’ve recently joined to form the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), with Lauren Crawford Shaver, a veteran of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, at the helm. Politico previously reported on the coalition, as did The Intercept.

      The group’s focus is not on extending healthcare to all Americans but keeping the Affordable Care Act, and with members including powerful groups like the American Medical Association, Federation of American Hospitals, PhRMA, and HCA, PAHCF’s “reach is undeniable,” as the Times notes. Seeing legislative proposals, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act, fast approaching, the group is ready to “step up the tempo,” the Times reports.

      Indeed, last week, it announced a six-figure digital campaign “to inform the American public about ways to protect and strengthen our nation’s existing healthcare system, while warning them that a one-size-fits-all health care program—whether called Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, single-payer or public option, will lead to higher taxes and less patient choice for every American family.” A recent analysis, however, showed that a single-payer system would slash healthcare costs, boost systemic efficiency, and expand coverage.

    • ‘These Women’s Lives Mattered’: Nurse Builds Database Of Women Murdered By Men

      In February 2017, a school nurse in this Dallas suburb began counting women murdered by men.

      Seated at her desk, beside shelves of cookbooks, novels and books on violence against women, Dawn Wilcox, 55, scours the internet for news stories of women killed by men in the U.S.

      For dozens of hours each week, she digs through online news reports and obituaries to tell the stories of women killed by lovers, strangers, fathers, sons and stepbrothers, neighbors and tenants.

    • Parents say a Russian pediatrician gave kids fake vaccines and tests for years

      On February 21, several Moscow doctors publicly announced a set of frightening accusations made against one of their colleagues, the pediatrician Yevgeny Likunov. The parents of Likunov’s former patients accused him of fraud: they said the pediatrician forged their children’s test results and gave them fake vaccines either by merely pretending to perform injections or by using an insulin syringe to inject saline solution instead of an actual vaccine. Meduza spoke with Likunov’s colleagues and patients and discovered that he has been deceiving patients for several years, all while hosting talk shows about health and appearing in the news media as a medical expert.

    • Trump Administration Attacks Vital Healthcare in New Rule

      “This rule will be deadly. It will restrict reproductive and sexual rights, putting the lives of all people at significant risk, especially women of color and low-income women who are under-insured or uninsured.

    • Trump Sets Up Abortion Obstacles, Blocking Funds Over Referrals

      The Trump administration on Friday set up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals. The new policy is certain to be challenged in court.

      The final rule released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department also would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers, and require stricter financial separation.

      Clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients, along with other options. However, that would no longer be required.

    • What You Need to Know About Trump’s Attacks on the Federal Family Planning Program

      Reproductive health advocates are bracing themselves for the finalization of the Trump administration’s Title X “domestic gag rule.” The anti-choice policy would ban providers receiving Title X funds from referring patients for abortion services and force abortion providers under the program to physically separate abortion services from other family planning services.

      But what is the Title X family planning program, and why do the administration’s policies threaten access to reproductive health care?

      In order to provide public funding and support to family planning services nationwide, the federal grant program commonly referred to as “Title X” was created as part of the Public Health Service Act, signed into law by Republican President Nixon in 1970. With Title X, Nixon made good on his campaign promise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

      Around the 1960s, when courts were ruling to allow the use of contraception in the United States, new research found that access to family planning and contraceptive services could help prevent unplanned pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. More studies revealed the long-term socioeconomic benefits of preventing unplanned pregnancies and the health benefits of spacing pregnancies. The problem was that access to care was largely determined by income. The first federal grants to address this issue and support family planning services for low-income women came in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty efforts. Nixon’s Title X followed.

  • Security

    • Cyber-Mercenary Groups Shouldn’t be Trusted in Your Browser or Anywhere Else

      Browsers rely on this list of authorities, which are trusted to verify and issue the certificates that allow for secure browsing, using technologies like TLS and HTTPS. Certificate Authorities are the basis of HTTPS, but they are also its greatest weakness. Any of the dozens of certificate authorities trusted by your browser could secretly issue a fraudulent certificate for any website (such as google.com or eff.org.) A certificate authority (or other organization, such as a government spy agency,) could then use the fraudulent certificate to spy on your communications with that site, even if it is encrypted with HTTPS. Certificate Transparency can mitigate some of the risk by requiring public logging of all issued certificates, but is not a panacea.

    • This is bad: the UAE’s favorite sleazeball cybermercenaries have applied for permission to break Mozilla’s web encryption

      Now Darkmatter has applied to Mozilla to become a “Certificate Authority,” which means they’d get the ability to produce cryptographically signed certificates that were trusted by default by Firefox and its derivatives, giving them the power to produce cyberweapons that could break virtually any encrypted web session (though Certificate Transparency might expose them if they’re careless about it).

      And since Moz’s root of trust is used to secure Linux updates, this could affect literally billions of operating systems.

    • Spectre is here to stay: An analysis of side-channels and speculative execution

      As a result of our work, we now believe that speculative vulnerabilities on today’s hardware defeat all language-enforced confidentiality with no known comprehensive software mitigations, as we have discovered that untrusted code can construct a universal read gadget to read all memory in the same address space through side-channels.

    • Experts Find Serious Problems With Switzerland’s Online Voting System Before Public Penetration Test Even Begins

      The public penetration test doesn’t begin until next week, but experts who examined leaked code for the Swiss internet voting system say it’s poorly designed and makes it difficult to audit the code for security and configure it to operate securely.

    • A Decryption Key for Law Firm Emails in Hacked 9/11 Files Has Been Released

      The release of the files was part of an extortion scheme against The Dark Overlord’s hacking victims, and followed the group’s established technique of stealing information and then approaching media outlets with the files in an attempt to exert further pressure on the group’s targets. The Dark Overlord also distributed a set of encrypted folders, ready to be unlocked at a later date, and which they claimed contained more 9/11-linked material.

      Now, around two months after the first data dump, someone has released another encryption key for the third layer of stolen material, which appears to contain thousands of emails, at least some of which are between different law firms.

    • B0r0nt0K Ransomware Wants $75,000 Ransom, Infects Linux Servers [Ed: This is misleading. This relies on the servers being compromised some way else.]

      A new ransomware called B0r0nt0K is encrypting victim’s web sites and demanding a 20 bitcoin, or approximately $75,000, ransom. This ransomware is known to infect Linux servers, but may also be able to encrypt users running Windows.

      In a BleepingComputer forum post, a user stated that a client’s web site was encrypted with the new B0r0nt0K Ransomware. This encrypted web site was running on Ubuntu 16.04 and had all of its files encrypted, renamed, and had the .rontok extension appended to them.

    • New backdoor Trojan affecting Linux servers [Ed: This, again, relies on the server already being cracked.]
    • Securing Container Images in the DevOps World

      According to 451 Research, the application container market will experience significant growth over the next five years. In its “2017 Cloud-Enabling Technologies Market Monitor & Forecast report,” the research firm noted that “annual revenue is expected to increase by 4x, growing from $749m in 2016 to more than $3.4bn by 2021, representing a CAGR of 35%.”

      Automating deployment is a must-have capability for SMBs and enterprises. Leveraging container automation has reshaped how quickly and effectively an organization can leverage internal and external virtual environments.

    • Will This Vulnerability Finally Compel Bitmain to Open Source Its Firmware?

      As if Bitmain’s year hasn’t been rough enough, having posted big losses and laying off entire departments, its flagship product now has a firmware vulnerability.

      A few weeks ago, Bitcoin Core contributor James Hilliard discovered an exploit in Bitmain’s S15 firmware. The pseudonymous Twitter user 00whiterabbit, also known simply as “john,” subsequently wrote exploit code based on Hilliard’s findings. A video proving that the exploit code worked was shared on Hilliard’s Twitter account last week.

      Hilliard is offering to disclose the vulnerability to Bitmain but under one condition: Bitmain would have to comply to the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), the popular open source license that the Chinese mining giant is currently breaching, and open source its firmware.

    • Deep dive into Electrum hack reveals 70% of network was controlled by attackers
    • Pragmatic Political Campaign Security

      Election campaigns cannot exist without money. Being robbed blind is an existential threat to a campaign. This is actually a counterintuitive point for information security professionals. To cripple a candidate’s campaign it’s easier to just steal their money, rather than craft an effective information operation. The 419 hackers who just want to take the money are a very real risk (they target everyone, even small campaigns), and actually present an existential threat.

    • Google Says Spectre Flaws Cannot Be Defeated By Software Alone
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 135 – Passwords, AI, and cloud strategy

      Josh and Kurt talk about change your password day (what a terrible day). Google’s password checkup (not a terrible idea), an AI finding new spice flavors we expect will one day take over the world, and we finish up on a new DoD cloud strategy. Also Josh burnt his finger, but is going to be OK.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • From Karl Lagerfeld to George H. W. Bush: When Is It “Too Soon” to Criticize the Dead?

      The passing of legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has once again raised the question: “When is it too soon to publicly discuss the less-than-positive legacy of a dead person?”

      To me, the answer depends on a single factor: How much power the person wielded in life. The more powerful the individual, the more influence they had on the world around them, the more their words and deeds are fair game to be raised, discussed and analyzed. And, let us be clear: I do not mean salacious details about the private life of the dead, or some minor social infractions. I mean actions and public statements that were of broad social significance

      The same day it was announced that former US President George H. W. Bush had died, I tweeted out the fact that, as the former head of the CIA, Bush had overseen the support of military dictators in Latin America who had murdered, in the most horrific fashion, thousands of innocent civilians. This tweet was spurred by the spread on Twitter of a letter Bush had left in the Oval Office for then-incoming President Bill Clinton, a letter many on the social media platform held up as evidence of both Bush’s fundamental decency and the loss of civility in US politics in an age of Trump. Such a definition, I tweeted, would likely strike the families of those killed with the support of the CIA as somewhat ironic, if not perverse.

    • Dreaming Their Sweet Dreams: a Peace to End Peace

      The setting for Margaret MacMillan’s lecture “Making peace is harder than waging war” could not have been better. Held in the Ottawa war museum’s lower floor, the LeBreton Gallery, one is enclosed in, surrounded by WW II bulky Canadian tanks and scary heavy artillery. Looking up, one cannot miss a Canadian jet ready to explode into space. Upstairs, the haunting “Victory 1918: the last hundred days” in the last days of its exhibit.

      Margaret MacMillan is a tall, regal women who has, rightly so, established herself as one of the world’s leading historians of the first world war and the peace talks in Paris, 1919. Her award-winning book, Paris 1919: six months that shook the world (2001) sweeps us into the multiple worlds of the Paris peace conference. A world teeming with plots and parties, proposals and counterproposals about, as it turned out, how the British and French empires ought to divvy up the smashed-up world map of 1914 and subvert Woodrow Wilson’s endless plotting to create a league of nations. MacMillan’s lecture theme—the conditions of peace were not present for peace to occur—startles us out of any dreams of war-no-more coming soon to a nearby theatre.

      In fact, Kant’s famous short text, “Perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch,” penned in 1795, offered humankind a profound statement of what conditions had to be present for perpetual peace to come. Gripped by a sense of war’s horrors, Kant thought that if we could not create a league of nations that constrained war, we would “destroy each other and thus find perpetual peace in the vast grave that swallows both the atrocities and their perpetrators.” WW I was a vast grave that swallowed up 9.7 million military personnel and 10 million civilians. What would Kant have thought 125 years down the road? Does his ghost hover over all discussions of a world of unity and peace beyond nation-state self-interest and contestation—whispering encouragement in the collective ear?

    • Who Was Behind the Plan to Give Saudi Arabia Nuclear Power, and What Was Their Agenda? — “Trump, Inc.” Extra

      For a year, “Trump, Inc.” has been digging into the 2017 inauguration. That reporting led us to look closely at the man Donald Trump picked to run the event, Tom Barrack, a wealthy businessman who’s been friends with Trump for decades.

      As we were finishing our Barrack episode — just out this week — the House Oversight Committee released a report detailing how the Trump administration pursued a plan to export nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

    • Twenty-First Century Indian Wars

      The American war against its indigenous people is incessant, interminable and indefensible. From the Pequot Wars blessed by the English Puritan John Winthrop to the present day destruction of native culture and community in the name of resource extraction, there are very few episodes in human history more bloody, brutal and relentless. The recent attempts by indigenous Americans to defend their lands and culture against the rapacious designs of the energy industry on Canada and the United States exist as blatant reminders of this history. When members of various indigenous nations represented their peoples (along with allies) in the Idle No More protests that began in Canada in 2014, the response from the authorities was swift, occasionally brutal, and mostly dismissive of the native people’s claims and demands. A very similar scenario played out in the US Midwest during the direct actions against the DAPL pipeline at Standing Rock.

      Nick Estes, author of Our History is the Future, makes this very clear. Given the history of their treatment at the hands of the European invaders and their descendants, Estes’ book title takes on a double meaning. The history of genocide is as much a potential future for the Native Americans as is the history of their resistance a hopeful response to the genocidal legacy. A member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and co-founder of The Red Nation, Estes participated in the Standing Rock resistance. It is within the resistance at Standing Rock that Estes bookends his history of indigenous history in North America, especially the land known as the United States.

    • Trump Administration Escalates Regime Change Operation Against Venezuela With ‘Humanitarian Aid’ Delivery Attempt

      The United States government, with the support of Latin American governments in countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, escalated a regime change operation against Venezuela by attempting to force the delivery of “humanitarian aid.”

      Opposition groups targeted three border bridges that Venezuelan government forces had no trouble defending, which was possibly the plan. The spectacle of force deployed to block what much of the world views as legitimate aid would help the opposition stir more sympathy for overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro.

      Trucks carrying aid on the were set on fire on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge that connects the towns of Cucuta, Colombia, and Urenas, Venezuela, gave the opposition the kind of horrifying imagery it wanted. The blazing trucks were immediately blamed on Venezuela national guard forces.

      “Masked thugs, civilians killed by live rounds, and the burning of trucks carrying badly-needed food and medicine,” John Bolton, national security adviser to President Donald Trump, tweeted. “This has been Maduro’s response to peaceful efforts to help Venezuelans. Countries that still recognize Maduro should take note of what they are endorsing.”

      But it was not exactly clear what happened to the trucks. A number of members of the armed forces defected and crossed the bridge into Colombia. They may have been involved in firing upon the trucks that erupted in flames.

    • What War Films Never Show You

      Critical acclaim has poured in from all corners for the BBC production They Shall Not Grow Old, a technical and emotional masterpiece on the First World War — the war Woodrow Wilson said would “make the world safe for democracy.”

      The way the film brings old footage, and therefore the soldiers, to life is almost magical and powerfully moving. But because of how director Peter Jackson defined his film, a critical element is virtually invisible: the wounded.

      Jackson distilled the stories of 120 veterans who spoke on some 600 hours of BBC audio tape done in the 1960s and ‘70s. His goal was to have “120 men telling a single story…what it was like being a British soldier on the Western Front.” He artfully presents it, using no narration other than the archive of BBC interviews.

      But since dead men tell no tales, nor do the severely wounded often live into their 70s and 80s, the film narrows its focus to the camaraderie and adventures of young men growing up with shared experiences of tinned rations, trench life, and rats. The dead flit across the screen in graphic but limited numbers of colorized photos of corpses.

      The wounded receive mute witness with brief footage of gas attacks, and a classic photo of seven British troops carrying one wounded comrade through the knee-deep mud of Passchendaele.

      Jackson’s team brilliantly turned herky-jerky, silent, monochrome youths into breathing, talking, living color, with compelling stories. But because of his cinematic goal, this assured award-winner misses the depth of feeling and realism it could have projected by giving similar treatment to the agony of the wounded.

    • ‘We Refuse to Create Technology for Warfare and Oppression’: Microsoft Workers Demand Company End Army Contract

      Declaring to chief executives that they refuse “to become war profiteers,” a group of Microsoft workers on Friday demanded the company cancel a contract with the U.S. Army that they say would “help people kill” and turn warfare into a “video game.”

      Their open letter is addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, and, according to the “Microsoft Workers 4 Good” Twitter handle, which posted the document, it got over employee 100 signatures in its first day.

    • How Kushner and other Key Trump Officials Plotted to Give Saudis the Atom Bomb in Return for Billions

      The House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform has issued a Report on a plot to make billions of dollars by selling Saudi Arabia sensitive American nuclear technology that could allow the Kingdom to develop nuclear weapons. The scheme required breaking US law, which forbids technology transfers that might allow nuclear proliferation.

      The plot was pushed by a “company” formed for this express purpose called IP3 International, which doesn’t seem to have actually existed except as a sort of shell for lobbying the Trump administration. IP3 was, according to the committee, helmed by “General Keith Alexander, General Jack Keane, Mr. Bud McFarlane, and Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, as well as the chief executives of six companies— Exelon Corporation, Toshiba America Energy Systems, Bechtel Corporation, Centrus Energy Corporation, GE Energy Infra structure, and Siemens USA—“ All “signed a letter to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The letter presented ‘the Iron Bridge Program as a 21st Century Marshall Plan for the Middle East.’”

    • Warning ‘Every Option Is On the Table,’ Pompeo Stokes Fears of Military Force in Venezuela

      Unrest and fears of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela continued on Sunday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the Trump administration’s warning that “every option is on the table” and that it would galvanize a “global coalition to put force behind the voice” of those calling for the ouster of President Nicolás Maduro.

      Pompeo made the comments on “Fox News Sunday” hours after he tweeted that the “U.S. will take action against those who oppose the peaceful restoration of democracy in #Venezuela,” an apparent reference to those who do not back a regime change to opposition leader and self-declared acting president Juan Guaido.

    • ICJ Delivers Chagos Advisory Opinion, UK Loses Badly

      Earlier this afternoon the ICJ delivered its Chagos advisory opinion. Briefly, the Court found that the separation of the Chagos archipelago from the British colony of Mauritius was contrary to the right to self-determination and that accordingly the decolonization of Mauritius was not completed in conformity with international law. As a consequence, the Court found that the UK’s continuing administration of the archipelago, which includes the largest US naval base in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, is a continuing internationally wrongful act, which the UK was under an obligation to cease as soon as possible. The Court was almost unanimous – its decision not to exercise discretion and decline giving an opinion was made by 12 votes to 1, while its findings on the merits were made by 13 votes to 1 (Judge Donoghue dissenting). The AO and the various separate opinions is available here.

      Here are some key takeaways.

      First, on the issue of the exercise of discretion/propriety to give an opinion, the key issue here was whether, in answering the questions posed by the General Assembly the Court would be effectively deciding on a bilateral dispute between states over territorial sovereignty, which one of them (the UK) did not consent to (for more background on this issue see Dapo’s earlier post here). Here Judge Tomka joined Judge Donoghue in thinking that the Court should have declined giving an opinion, consistently with his prior position in the Kosovo AO. The Court effectively gets around this problem by labeling the advisory proceedings as being about decolonization, an issue in which the UNGA has a longstanding interest, rather than about sovereignty. Technically, the Court is right, except that its finding on the illegality of the decolonization process inevitably impacts on the British sovereignty over Chagos – either the UK really has no sovereignty over the islands at all, or it is the sovereign but is obliged to relinquish that sovereignty to Mauritius as soon as practicable. The situation is comparable to some extent to the South China Sea arbitration, in which the arbitral tribunal technically avoids issues of sovereignty but by deciding on the nature of certain maritime features, and their (in)ability to project maritime areas, it effectively completely demolishes China’s claim to these areas.

    • How Britain forcefully depopulated a whole archipelago

      There are times when one tragedy tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments often justify their actions with lies.

      In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the British government of Harold Wilson expelled the population of the Chagos Islands, a British colony in the Indian Ocean, to make way for an American military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island. In high secrecy, the Americans offered the British payment for the islands in the form of a discount on the Polaris nuclear submarine system.

      The truth of this conspiracy did not emerge for another 20 years when secret official files were unearthed at the Public Record Office in London by lawyers acting for the former inhabitants of the coral archipelago. Historian Mark Curtis described the enforced depopulation in Web of Deceit, his 2003 book about Britain’s post-war foreign policy.

      The British media all but ignored it; the Washington Post called it a “mass kidnapping”.

      I first heard of the plight of the Chagossians in 1982, during the Falklands War. Britain had sent a fleet to the aid of 2,000 Falkland Islanders at the other end of the world while another 2,000 British citizens from islands in the Indian Ocean had been expelled by British governments and hardly anyone knew.

      The difference was that the Falkland Islanders were white and the Chagossians were black and, crucially, the United States wanted the Chagos Islands – especially Diego Garcia – as a major military base from which to command the Indian Ocean.

      The Chagos was a natural paradise. The 1,500 islanders were self-sufficient with an abundance of natural produce, and there was no extreme weather. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life – until a secret 1961 Anglo-American survey of Diego Garcia led to the expulsion of the entire population.

    • The Banality of Empire

      This month freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar questioned Trump’s nominee for envoy to Venezuela, Elliot Abrams. While her interrogation was somewhat tepid in regard to American imperialism (she said “no one disputes” that the US goal has always been to support democracy and defend human rights), she did bring up the role of the US in the massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s. Massacres in which Abrams is implicated. It was also instructive in that it provided a visual to how deeply debased the American political landscape actually is. Abrams is a Presidential pardoned liar who provided cover for some of the most heinous war crimes of the 20th century. That he has reemerged again to lead a coup against the democratically elected government of yet another Latin American country is testament to the banality of American Empire and how uninterested it is in its own history or unending brutality and corruption.

      The history of US imperialism in this region, like so many others around the world, is one drenched in blood. In 1954 a mercenary army hired by the United Fruit Company and assisted by the US government staged a military coup which overthrew the democratically elected, reform oriented, government of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was installed as the new president of Guatemala and thus began a military dictatorship that would span the latter half of the 20th century. The indigenous Maya of the country had long been viewed as sub-human by the ruling, Spanish descended, elite, a supremacist stain that remains to this day. Some Mayans and others protested their oppression under this neo-fuedalistic tyranny, but all Mayans were collectively punished, culminating in a multi-stage genocide that took the lives of at least 200,000 people and created millions of refugees. It was a presage to the current migrant crisis in North America.

      Israel was also complicit in the genocide, supplying arms and training mercenaries. In fact General Rios Montt, the military general who is largely blamed for directing the genocide, gave his personal thanks to both the US and Israel for assisting him conducting the systematic rape, torture and slaughter of the country’s indigenous population. Trained at the infamous School of the Americas Montt, who died in April of last year, was an evangelical Christian minister and a personal friend of ultra-conservative televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. This is instructive since we now have Christian dominionists like Pence and Pompeo at the helm. Montt was also unquestioningly supported and praised by President Ronald Reagan. “President Ríos Montt,” Reagan said, “is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”

    • The Coup Has Failed and Now the US Is Looking to Wage War in Venezuela

      Venezuela’s opposition is calling on the United States and allied nations to consider using military force to topple the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is heading to Bogotá, Colombia, today to meet with regional leaders and Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president, opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The meeting follows a dramatic weekend that saw the Venezuelan military blocking the delivery of so-called humanitarian aid from entering the country at the Colombian and Brazilian borders. At least four people died, and hundreds were injured, after clashes broke out between forces loyal to Maduro and supporters of the opposition. The United Nations, the Red Cross and other relief organizations have refused to work with the U.S. on delivering aid to Venezuela, which they say is politically motivated. Venezuela has allowed aid to be flown in from Russia and from some international organizations, but it has refused to allow in aid from the United States, describing it as a Trojan horse for an eventual U.S. invasion. On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Maduro’s days in office are numbered. We speak with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who has recently held secret talks with Trump’s special envoy Elliott Abrams.

    • Britain’s Paintball Strategist

      The eyebrow-raising was not surprising, because Williamson was referring specifically to President Macron, which is not exactly what diplomacy and international relations are all about. But Williamson is not content with insulting and threatening Britain’s allies in the European Union. He goes further afield, such as when he declared last year that “Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up,” which was probably the most fatuously immature statement by a British defense minister since the post was created in 1936.

      In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute on February 11 he rejoiced that Britain’s Brexit calamity provided an opportunity to demonstrate military prowess. He told his audience that “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

      Williamson has decided that Britain’s armed forces will be sent around the world because “the UK is a global power with truly global interests” and “wherever I go in the world I find that Britain stands tall.”

      Please stop laughing.

      The uncomfortable but undeniable truth is that Britain is not a global power, or anywhere near one, and that if Williamson imagines that Britain “stands tall” around the world he has a serious problem with comprehending height and foreign sentiment.

      It’s what might be called the paintball mentality.

    • Another Russian federal agent is attacked in the street

      Someone in Moscow walked up to a federal agent on February 24, punched him in the face, and stole his wallet. According to the Moskva news agency, the 41-year-old victim serves as a Federal Security Service (FSB) local department chief in Khabarovsk. He says the attacker ran away with his badge, bank card, and 24,000 rubles (about $370) in cash. Local police are still trying to identify the assailant.

      Earlier in February, unknown men in Moscow attacked FSB Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Budagotsky, throwing a bottle at his service vehicle and then beating him up. Budagotsky serves in the agency’s “Department K,” which investigates economic crimes.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Endangered Wildlife Are Getting Dosed With Rat Poisons

      People who consider rodents to be pests often turn to an array of products, known as anticoagulant rodenticides, which are marketed to lethally “solve” the issue with poisoned bait. But researchers have been collecting evidence for years showing that it’s not just nuisance rats that can end up dead.

      Some of the most recent studies, conducted in California, found that everything from Pacific fishers to bobcats to northern spotted owls often become victims of rodenticides. The list of potentially affected wildlife is long — basically anything that preys on a rodent could be at risk, because the poisons are so toxic they travel up the food chain, and in some cases, can remain in an animal’s body for years. It can even leapfrog in utero from one generation to the next.

      “If you have a very poisoned rat, you’re going to have a very poisoned hawk,” says Kelle Kacmarcik, director of wildlife solutions and advocacy at WildCare, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Marin County, California.

      And that’s a huge problem.

    • “Realists” Are Courting Global Devastation

      In a recent confrontation with representatives of the Sunrise Movement, Senator Diane Feinstein referred to herself as a “realist” when challenged to support the Green New Deal.

      She’s not alone. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referred to the GND as a dream, and nearly every article about it alludes to it being unrealistic, while the pundits pile on with charges of political doom for the Dems if they support it.

      Ponder this for a moment. We are faced with a planet wrecking problem – something that, if left unchecked, could literally lead to the deaths of billions of people, the extinction of nearly half of all species, and the destruction of the ecological systems which allowed for the development of civilization – and the people who want to do something about it are labelled unrealistic, and those who advocate ineffective half-measures are considered “realists.”

      This tells us a great deal about the state of our politics, and none of it is good.

      For starters, it tells us that our entire political process has been overtaken by monied interests. The Constitution and its principles have been discarded in exchange for campaign funds and a revolving door that allows politicians to cash in on public service.

    • The Hard Lessons of Dianne Feinstein’s Encounter with the Young Green New Deal Activists

      One imagines that Senator Dianne Feinstein would like a do-over of her colloquy with some young people on Friday afternoon. A group of school students, at least one as young as seven, went to the senator’s San Francisco office to ask her to support the Green New Deal climate legislation. In a video posted online by the Sunrise Movement, she tells them that the resolution isn’t a good one, because it can’t be paid for, and the Republicans in the Senate won’t support it. She adds that she is at work on her own resolution, which she thinks could pass. Then, when the group persists in supporting the Green New Deal, which was introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Feinstein responds, “You know what’s interesting about this group? I’ve been doing this for thirty years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and you say, ‘It has to be my way or the highway.’ I don’t respond to that. I’ve gotten elected, I just ran, I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality,” she continued. “And I know what I’m doing. So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.”

      Well, maybe. But Feinstein was, in fact, demonstrating why climate change exemplifies an issue on which older people should listen to the young. Because—to put it bluntly—older generations will be dead before the worst of it hits. The kids whom Feinstein was talking to are going to be dealing with climate chaos for the rest of their lives, as any Californian who has lived through the past few years of drought, flood, and fire must recognize.

      This means that youth carry the moral authority here, and, at the very least, should be treated with the solicitousness due a generation that older ones have managed to screw over. Feinstein’s condescension, though it’s less jarring in the video of the full encounter, which also shows gracious moments—including one when she offers a young person an internship—echoed that of Nancy Pelosi, from earlier this month, when the Speaker of the House talked about “the green dream, or whatever they call it. Nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”

    • The Kids Might Save Us All

      I became involved in climate advocacy when I realized how dramatically my son’s life would be affected by climate change if we don’t do anything.
      He was three years old when I started to imagine what his world would be like when he graduates from school, when he gets his first job, when he wants to start a family, and when he’s ready to retire. In different ways, the impacts of climate change will affect all of these moments.
      Climate change will disproportionately affect my kid’s generation, and all future generations. And that terrifies me.
      I want my little boy to inherit a beautiful, healthy world — not just to grow up in, but also to grow old in. There are a lot of other issues I care about, but if we don’t address climate change, and soon, the rest won’t matter.
      At first I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do with my outrage and my worries. But I was lucky enough to meet like-minded individuals who were already fighting for a healthy planet and a hopeful future for humanity. Together we founded a local climate advocacy group and organized our first annual climate rally in Northern Virginia.

    • Newly Uncovered Documents Show Pruitt Spent Nearly $900,000 on Personal Security for Travel
    • Green New Deal Is Feasible and Affordable

      There are three main ideas of the Green New Deal Resolution introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey.

      The first is to decarbonize the US energy system — that is, to end the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil and natural gas, in order to stop global warming.

      The second is to guarantee lower-cost, high-quality health coverage for all.

      The third is to ensure decent jobs and living standards for all Americans, in part by making colleges and vocational schools affordable for all.

      The right wing and corporate lobbies are already hyperventilating: It is unachievable; it will bankrupt us; it will make us into Venezuela.

      These claims are dead wrong. The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable. This will become clear as the agenda is turned into specific legislation for energy, health care, higher education, and more.

      The Green New Deal combines ideas across several parts of the economy because the ultimate goal is sustainable development. That means an economy that delivers a package deal: good incomes, social fairness, and environmental sustainability. Around the world, governments are aiming for the same end — a “triple-bottom line” of economic, social, and environmental objectives.

    • In the Arctic Refuge, a Life Force Hangs in the Balance

      A lot has been written lately about the possibility of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

      This is hardly new. In 2001, as George W. Bush and his Interior Secretary Gail Norton were pushing to open up the Refuge, a photographer friend and I flew from the Canning River at the western edge of the Refuge to Prudhoe Bay. In 60 miles, we’d traveled from the largest protected wilderness area in the United States to one of the largest industrial complexes in the world, measuring over 200,000 acres.

      Prudhoe Bay resembled Gary, Indiana in the 1980s, its giant stacks coughing smoke and fire. It was a stark reminder that wilderness and oil have long had an uneasy relationship in Alaska.

      Although politicians and oil companies have been trying to get at the Refuge’s reserves for decades, their most recent attempt might be the most daring.

    • The fight to #StopTMX continues as feds approve their own pipeline

      The NEB’s new report focused on the impacts of marine shipping (including on the highly endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales) which was excluded from the original review. It was one of the 2 factors that caused the Federal Court of Appeal to quash the pipeline’s approvals and permits in their August 2018 ruling. The other was the inadequate consultation with affected First Nations, which the government says it is addressing through a new round of consultations that began in October.

      The new report states that the proposed project will have significant “adverse environmental effects” on orcas and Indigenous culture, significant climate pollution, and significant damage in the event of a worst-case oil spill, and recommends approval in the face of these. Alongside the approval, the report recommends 16 conditions aiming to better protect marine life.

      This report delivery also technically starts the clock on a 90-day deadline for Trudeau’s cabinet to decide whether the project will proceed, but this is something officials are already signalling could be pushed back.

      Earlier this week, the National Energy Board (NEB) also rejected a motion supported by environmental groups, First Nations, municipal governments, and community groups to include climate impacts in its new review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX). The motion was asking the NEB to adopt the same climate impact standards it had already adopted for Energy East, that were a key factor in TransCanada finally abandoning the project.

    • After 40 Years of Government Inaction on Climate, Have We Finally Turned a Corner?

      In 2015, 21 young people sued the U.S. government for promoting the fossil fuel industry even when it was aware of the dangers of climate change. In Juliana v. United States, the youths accused the government of endangering their future well-being thereby violating the government’s public trust responsibility and their constitutional rights.

      The U.S. government has repeatedly tried to stop this case from moving to trial. Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have denied or refused to rule on government challenges. The case is currently before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on yet another motion to dismiss.

      The suit centers on whether the government actively promoted the use of fossil fuels despite being aware of evidence that such action endangered the future of the planet. The youths, represented by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, retained experts to contribute supporting reports for the suit, including from environmental lawyer and climate policy expert James Gustave Speth. He reviewed what each administration from Carter to Trump knew about climate change and alternative energy and what actions were taken. Speth concluded in his report, which was filed in 2018, that every administration “continued full-throttle support for the development and use of fossil fuels.” This pattern is “the greatest dereliction of civic responsibility in the history of the Republic,” he wrote.

    • ‘Stop Funding Climate Change!’: Jamie Dimon Interrupted for Important Planetary Message

      Climate activists interrupted JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Saturday to make a clear demand: “Stop funding climate change!”

      Dimon was the key speaker at a morning session of the National Governors Association’s (NGA) annual winter meeting, taking place in Washington, D.C. The session (pdf) was to “offer governors unique insights into the intersection of public policy and the modern economy.”

      As Dimon was speaking, activists affiliated with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the D.C. chapter of 350.org rose to ask, “How is [climate change] not one of your policy priorities?” and repeatedly said, “Jamie Dimon, stop funding climate change!”

      Dimon continued to talk over the activists, who stood and held a banner reading, “Chase: Stop profiting off dirty energy and rights abuses.”

    • Can YouTube Solve Its Serious Climate Science Denial Problem?

      “Will the temperature resume an upward trend? Will it remain flat for a lengthy period? Or will it begin to drop? No one knows, not even the biggest, fastest computers.”

      The video — with the clickbait title “What They Haven’t Told You about Climate Change” — has been watched more than 2.5 million times on the Google-owned video platform.

    • Vandana Shiva: We Must Fight Back Against the 1 Percent to Stop the Sixth Mass Extinction

      New research finds at least a third of the Himalayan ice cap will melt by the end of the century due to climate change, even if the world’s most ambitious environmental reforms are implemented. A report released earlier this month by the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment warns rising temperatures in the Himalayas could lead to mass population displacements, as well as catastrophic food and water insecurity. The glaciers are a vital water source for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush Himalaya range, which spans from Afghanistan to Burma. More than a billion-and-a-half people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayan peaks. We speak with world-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva about climate change, seed sovereignty and her new book, “Oneness vs. the 1%.” Shiva is an Indian scholar, physicist, and food sovereignty and seed freedom advocate. She was was born in Doon Valley in the Himalayan foothills.

    • Extinction Rebellion

      There is one desperate chance left to thwart the impending ecocide and extinction of the human species. We must, in wave after wave, carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries, crippling commerce and transportation, until the ruling elites are forced to publicly state the truth about climate catastrophe, implement radical measures to halt carbon emissions by 2025 and empower an independent citizens committee to oversee the termination of our 150-year binge on fossil fuels. If we do not do this, we will face mass death.

      The British-based group Extinction Rebellion has called for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience on April 15 in capitals around the world to reverse our “one-way track to extinction.” I do not know if this effort will succeed. But I do know it is the only mechanism left to force action by the ruling elites, who, although global warming has been well documented for at least three decades, have refused to carry out the measures needed to protect the planet and the human race. These elites, for this reason alone, are illegitimate. They must be replaced.

      “It is our sacred duty to rebel in order to protect our homes, our future, and the future of all life on Earth,” Extinction Rebellion writes. This is not hyperbolic. We have, as every major climate report states, very little time left. Indeed, it may already be too late.

      In Britain, Extinction Rebellion has already demonstrated its clout, blocking roads, occupying government departments and amassing 6,000 people to shut down five of London’s bridges last Nov. 17. Scores of arrests were made. But it was just the warm-up act. In April, the group hopes, the final assault will begin.

  • Finance

    • Cowboy Welfare

      The Federal Government just reduced its grazing fee to $1.35 an AUM for ranchers with grazing privileges on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands. Grazing on other public lands According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service is often higher as is grazing on private lands that typically runs $22.60 an AUM or more.

      Furthermore, the price of grazing privileges on public lands has not kept up with inflation. The current formula for setting grazing fees was established in 1966 when the cost per AUM was $1.26. If you adjust for inflation, the minimal cost should be $9.47.

      Compounding this already subsidized cost is that since 1966, the average cow and calf are considerably larger, and require more forage. As a result, an AUM or the amount of vegetation needed to sustain a cow and calf in 1966 is now considerably less, but most grazing allotments have not been adjusted to reflect these changes in the size (appetite) of cattle.

      Due to failure to keep up with inflation, the price paid to graze on public lands is estimated by one 2015 study to be more than a billion dollars annually and covers only 7% of the real costs of administrating these lands.

    • New York Times Provides Cover for Austerity Cranks

      It’s not uncommon to read news stories that quite explicitly identify economic mismanagement. For example, news reports on the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe routinely (and correctly) attribute the cause to the poor economic management by its leaders. We will see similar attributions of mismanagement to a wide range of developing countries.

      One place we will never see the term mismanagement or any equivalent term applied is in reference to the austerity imposed on the euro zone countries by the European Commission, acting largely at the direction of the German government. In fact, major news outlets, like the New York Times, seem to go out of their way to deny the incredible harm done to euro zone economies, and to the lives of tens of millions of people in these countries, as a result of needless austerity.

      A decade ago, it would at least have been an arguable point as to whether austerity, meaning budget cuts, in the wake of the Great Recession, was reasonable policy. There was some research suggesting that the boost to confidence from lower budget deficits could spur enough investment and consumption to offset the impact on demand of reductions in government spending.

      Since then, however, we have far more evidence on the impact of deficit reduction in the context of an economy coming out of recession. There have been numerous studies, most importantly several from the International Monetary Fund’s research department, which show that lower deficits in this context slow growth and raise unemployment.

    • What’s behind the teacher strikes: Unions focus on social justice, not just salaries

      For the past few years I’ve been studying teacher unions and teachers strikes throughout the Americas. My research has taken me from the Mexican state of Oaxaca – where teacher protests in 2006 led to both violent repression and a broad-based social movement for direct democracy – to the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, to coal-mining towns in West Virginia.

      I’ve learned that certain conditions prompt teacher unions to adopt new forms of activism and take up broader issues of social justice that go beyond how much teachers are paid.

      Now is such a time in the United States.

    • Why Bay Area Tech Workers Should Support the Oakland Teachers

      As Bay Area tech workers and activists, we see clearly that the struggles faced by tech workers are fundamentally connected with those faced by the teachers who are on strike in Oakland.

      When one section of the working class fights and wins, it raises the hopes and expectations for all working people. Now that the strike wave that swept through Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona is coming to Silicon Valley’s own backyard, it’s time for us to show up, support the striking teachers and learn from their struggle.

      Many of the social and economic forces that are impacting teachers also directly impact tech workers.

      The already sky-high cost of housing means that even relatively well-paid tech workers (who are not the majority of tech workers) spend a significant portion of each paycheck on renting a place to live. The striking teachers point out that Oakland rents have increased 32 percent since 2014, and wages have not risen at the same pace.

      There are other ways the teachers’ struggle impacts workers in tech. Educators are having a harder time doing their jobs, which means that raising a family in the Bay Area becomes a choice between scrambling for access to better schools or sending the kids to private or charter schools (schools that are run privately but receive state funding).

    • ‘Serial Forger of Documents’ Craig Wright Attempts to Patent Smart Contracts for Bitcoin
    • Neil deMause on Amazon’s Retreat, Nina Besser Doorley on Women’s Healthcare Restrictions

      This week on CounterSpin: Corporate media aren’t in the business of challenging the idea that corporations are benevolent social actors who bring benefits to the communities lucky enough to have them. So even if Amazon didn’t own a major newspaper, there was no reason to expect much by way of deep media criticism of the company’s search for a second “HQ”—even as that led to cash-strapped US cities falling over one another to offer tax breaks and subsidies to a corporation that paid zero federal taxes last year on profits of over $11 billion. Surprisingly, some media followed the lead of community organizers and questioned the deal—questions Amazon pulled out over rather than engage. More surprisingly, the deal’s end didn’t end the questions. We’ll hear that story from journalist Neil deMause, author of, most recently, The Brooklyn Wars.

    • Need a Good Bitcoin Client?

      Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer payment system and digital currency that is powered by its users with no central authority, central server or middlemen. Instead, managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world.

      Bitcoin is a digital currency that enables instant payments. It offers a path to lower payment processing and more secure transaction. It has often attracted attention for its popularity in black markets, and for its volatility in its value. However, there is a growing number of organizations and individuals that use Bitcoin for mainstream transactions, attracted to the lower payment processing charges, and the ability to receive micropayments, payments much smaller than what the traditional financial system can handle.

      In exchange for its low-cost peer-to-peer system, Bitcoin’s network contains no recourse if bitcoins are lost or hacked. Consequently, security is a vital concern with Bitcoin. How to store Bitcoins is therefore a very important decision for a Bitcoin user to make. Desktop bitcoin clients offer a reasonably secure and advanced way to store. Bitcoin supports native wallet encryption so that people who steal your wallet file do not obtain access to your Bitcoins.

    • What States Can Do to Reduce Poverty and Inequality Through Tax Policy

      States have an opportunity to act to close the loopholes that hide and protect the wealth of the top 1%, remedy the impact of the new federal tax law that lowers taxes on the wealthy, and make critical investments in infrastructure, energy systems, and programs that create broader opportunity and shared prosperity. Concentrations of wealth are distorting our economy and undermining our democracy and civic health. State Administrations and State Legislatures can act to close the loopholes, put a brake on economic inequality and concentrations of wealth, and generate significant revenue.

    • Cuba’s leaders adopt social media, not democracy
    • Trump Threatens a Second Embargo of Cuba

      The Trump administration is threatening to unleash a flood of lawsuits involving Cuba, which no U.S. president has ever done. It has set a deadline of March 2 to announce whether it will create, in the words of the National Lawyers Guild, “a second embargo” of Cuba — “one that would be very difficult to dismantle in the future.”

      Trump may give current U.S. citizens standing to sue in U.S. courts even if they were Cuban citizens when the Cuban government nationalized their property after the 1959 Revolution. They would be able to bring lawsuits against U.S. and foreign companies that allegedly profit from the nationalized properties.

      In accordance with international law, the Cuban government had offered compensation to U.S. nationals for the taking of their property, as I explain below. If Trump permits myriad new lawsuits to proceed, it would unleash a tsunami of litigation that would harm U.S. companies and punish the Cuban people even more.

      For 59 years, the United States has maintained a cruel embargo against Cuba. “The embargo on Cuba is the most comprehensive set of U.S. sanctions on any country, including the other countries designated by the U.S. government to be state sponsors of terrorism — Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria,” according to the U.S. government.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: Living Wage for Staff Is ‘Common-Sense’ Policy Not ‘Communism’

      Add Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) paying a living wage to staffers to the ideas Fox News considers “communism.”

      On Sunday, “Fox & Friends” host Pete Hegseth railed against a report that Ocasio-Cortez will start staff salaries at $52,000 a year and cap salaries at $80,000 a year. The cap will allow the Congresswoman to pay interns $15 an hour, a pledge she made in December.

      “Everyone’s between 52 and 80,” said Hegseth. “It’s actually socialism and communism on display.”

      Hegseth’s comments came on the heels of a Saturday tweet by Fox News contributor Dan Bongino, who took issue with the fact that Ocasio-Cortez’s office is funded by taxpayers. “She’s NOT paying this ‘living wage,’ YOU are,” wrote Bongino.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Stepping Down From Board

      Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone started the San Francisco-based social media company in 2006 that is known for its original 140-character limit on messages. He served in various roles, including chief executive officer, chief product officer and chairman before giving up day-to-day responsibilities in late 2010. He started Medium in 2012. Twitter went public in 2013.

      [...]

      Williams has apologized previously for Twitter’s potential role in helping Trump get elected, adding that the election results underscored his concern that social-media platforms are helping to “dumb the entire world down.”

    • The Death Of Local News Is Making Us Dumber And More Divided

      It began with the death of your local hometown newspaper. It’s been compounded by an online media industry that’s too busy laying off existing reporters to spend much time expanding local reporting. Now the last bastion of local journalism, local TV broadcasters, are increasingly being hoovered up by giant companies for which real journalism isn’t much of a priority.

      A new joint study out of Stanford and Emory University indicates that this shift is having a profoundly-negative impact on the American public, public discourse, and the democratic process. The researchers found that the erosion of quality local reporting is not only leaving America less informed, but more divided than ever before.

    • Democrats Might Oppose Trump’s National Emergency, But They’re Hardly the Resistance

      In a letter to Members of Congress yesterday, Nancy Pelosi wrote in response to Trump’s emergency declaration, that, “The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated” and that “We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault.” Though this challenge is important to ending the emergency declaration, like the 1.4 billion dollars afforded to the government to build a wall, neither democrats or republicans are willing to address the fact that the US is manufacturing an immigration crisis through the violence it conducts spanning the globe from South and Central America to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

      According to the UNHCR, there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world and 57% of refugees worldwide come from three countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. For anyone paying attention, its no coincidence that two of the three countries have the highest numbers of refugees are Afghanistan and Syria—countries that have born a large brunt of the US’ War on Terror.

      There are 2.6 million Afghan refugees alone—an appalling figure that stands as a reminder that this is the US’ longest running war in it’s history. But as old as the war in Afghanistan is, it’s as new as the “virtual invasion,” Trump referenced in his speech is. Yet, the response from Congress has not been to end the violence directed at other countries that has caused forced migration—it is simply to call the legality of Trump’s actions into question. The irony of course is that for countries on the receiving end of the US’ violence, a “virtual invasion,” might be preferable than an actual one that leaves behind instability, death, and destruction—violence that both parties have supported.

    • We Need a New Standard for When Politicians Should Step Down

      In the 400th year since chattel slavery began in the colony of Virginia in 1619, the Commonwealth has been under severe duress, with its heads of state embroiled in controversies descended from the colony’s founding sin.

      For weeks, Democrats and Republicans statewide — and nationwide — have called for the resignations of Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, for the racist act of wearing blackface as young adults (a claim Northam denied after initially admitting to being in a photo that surfaced weeks ago).

      Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax also drew demands for resignation, after sexual assault and rape allegations were brought against him by two different women. (Fairfax denies the allegations.)

      Virginia constituents (including myself) have been vocal in the debate over whether the men should step down. Complicating matters, next-in-line GOP House Leader Kirk Vox would take office if all three stepped down, restoring Republican control of the state after the party lost badly in the last elections.

      The firestorm in Richmond has since calmed. Out of fear of being branded a “racist for life,”Northam announced a “Racial Reconciliation Tour” as a way to save face and remain governor.

    • Trump Vows Veto as Democrats Try to Block Emergency Order

      Democrats controlling the House have teed up a vote next week to block President Donald Trump from using a national emergency declaration to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, accelerating a showdown in Congress that could divide Republicans and lead to Trump’s first veto.

      The Democrats introduced a resolution Friday to block Trump’s declaration, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would vote on the measure Tuesday. It is sure to pass, and the GOP-run Senate may adopt it as well. Trump quickly promised a veto.

    • Manafort ‘Brazenly Violated the Law’ for Years, Mueller Memo Says

      Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort committed crimes that cut to “the heart of the criminal justice system” and over the years deceived everyone from bookkeepers and banks to federal prosecutors and his own lawyers, according to a sentencing memo filed Saturday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

      In the memo, submitted in one of two criminal cases Manafort faces, prosecutors do not yet take a position on how much prison time he should serve or whether to stack the punishment on top of a separate sentence he will soon receive in a Virginia prosecution. But they do depict Manafort as a longtime and unrepentant criminal who committed “bold” crimes, including under the spotlight of his role as campaign chairman and later while on bail, and who does not deserve any leniency.

      “For over a decade, Manafort repeatedly and brazenly violated the law,” prosecutors wrote. “His crimes continued up through the time he was first indicted in October 2017 and remarkably went unabated even after indictment.”

    • The Bitter Fruit of Trump’s China Bashing: Anti-Asian Racism

      Donald Trump’s New Cold War with Beijing has caught Chinese foreign students at U.S. universities in its crosshairs.

      The Trump administration has tightened restrictions on their visas, accused them of spying for the Chinese state and its high tech giants, and in the process whipped up a climate of Anti-Asian racism.

      Trump’s policies yielded bitter fruit most recently at Duke University. The chair of the graduate program in biostatics, Megan Neely, in the wake of complaints from a faculty members about Chinese grad students “speaking Chinese (in their words VERY LOUDLY)” in the student lounge and study areas, wrote an email scolding students for speaking their native language.

      She told students to “commit to using English 100 percent of the time” while in department buildings or “any other professional setting.” Even worse she warned them that if they didn’t it might impact their ability to get internships and jobs: “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak Chinese.”

      This was not the first time that Neely had criticized students for speaking a language besides English in their private time. Last year she sent a message to all the biostatistics students saying, “I don’t like being the language police [but] … speaking in your native language in the department may give faculty the impression that you are not trying to improve your English skills and that you are not taking this opportunity seriously.”

    • How Bernie Can Win Over Black Voters (Video)

      Jacqueline Luqman and Prof. Lester Spence discuss how Sanders might distinguish himself and contend with Black candidates such as Corey Booker and Kamala Harris, Watch the full conversation in the video player above and read the transcript below.

    • State of Money in Politics: Billion-dollar ‘dark money’ spending is just the tip of the iceberg

      Secret donor-funded “dark money” spending reported to the Federal Election Commission has officially exceeded $1 billion according to a new analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, and that barely begins to scratch the surface of political spending by groups that don’t fully disclose their donors.

      Along with another billion dollars spent by partially-disclosing groups that keep some donors hidden or are funded by dark money sources, spending by groups that don’t fully disclose donors has exceeded $2 billion since the 2006 election cycle.

      Direct dark money spending by groups funded entirely by anonymous donors hit nearly $150 million reported to the FEC for the 2018 election cycle alone. That doesn’t include additional money funneled to other groups spending in elections or spent on political ads couched as issue advocacy and digital advertising that remains largely untouched by FEC disclosure requirements. Dark money has hardly waned. Instead, it has begun manifesting in new forms that are often harder to track and quantify.

      More than half of all 2018 election spending by outside groups, excluding party committees, was by groups that do not fully disclose their donors.

    • How I Learned to Let Communities Guide Our Local Reporting Projects

      The journalism event we’d planned for months in East St. Louis, Illinois, was hours away. And I couldn’t get rid of the nerves churning in my stomach.

      So I did what I do when I’m anxious: overprepare. I made a Walmart run to stuff food and supplies in my car, not really sure how many people would attend. My ProPublica Illinois colleague Derrick Clifton and I stuck flyers in door handles at a federally subsidized housing complex. We chatted with people there, telling them why we were in town.

      I was in Illinois to bring our findings on the crumbling state of federally subsidized housing to the residents actually impacted by it. Our partner, Molly Parker, of The Southern Illinoisan, had spent months investigating housing issues in East St. Louis. The Southern Illinoisan was part of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network — our initiative to support local investigative journalism.

    • Say Goodbye to Mitch McConnell’s America

      We stand today upon the fulcrum of history, a crossroads at midnight with a blood moon rising. Down one road lies fire, flood, famine, failure and the final triumph of greed. What awaits down the other road is unknown, terra incognita, a mystery to be solved one gentle step at a time. As a species, we tend to recoil from what we do not know, often choosing the awful alternative simply because it is familiar. Now, even that poor option is a suicidal indulgence leading inexorably to our common doom.

      Everyone, from leader to laborer, is a teacher delivering a simple lesson: how to be, or how not to be. We go to school on the words and behavior of others, and it falls to us as individuals to either absorb what those others teach us by being who they are, or to cast their lessons aside in search of more worthy instruction. As bad lawsuits make bad law, however, bad people make worse people by example. We are often childlike in our emulation of what we see, and if we only see scoundrels, well … that script writes itself.

      Which brings us to a most valuable teacher: a privileged, compromised, cowardly, racist, sexist, hate-swaddled, power-mad, greed-gorged, double-dealing, fathomless void where all integrity goes to die. I speak, of course, of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If Donald Trump is the Devil waiting at that moonlit crossroads to tune our guitar at the cost of our souls, Mitch McConnell drove him there and paid for the gas.

    • One-party rule in 49 state legislatures reflects flaws in democratic process

      Across the U.S., Republicans control 30 statehouses and the Democrats control 18. That is the largest number of one-party controlled state legislatures since 1914.

      Minnesota is currently the only state where there’s not one party in control of the state legislature – Republicans have a majority in the state Senate chamber, while Democrats hold the state House chamber.

      The Democrats’ so-called “blue wave” in the 2018 midterm elections was not big enough to put a major dent into the Republican’s control of state legislatures.

      As a scholar of state politics, I believe partisan gerrymandering is a major reason why the Democratic wave fizzled as it reached the states. It is also why Democrats will likely have a difficult time regaining control in states as the redistricting process begins in 2020.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube Filters At It Again: Pokemon YouTubers Have Accounts Nuked Over Child Porn Discussions That Weren’t Occurring

      It’s clear at this point that the automated filtering and flagging done by YouTube is simply not good. Whatever legitimacy the platform might want to have by touting its successes must certainly be diminished by the repeated cases of YouTube flagging videos for infringing content that isn’t infringing and the fact that the whole setup has been successfully repurposed by blackmailers that hold accounts hostage through strikes.

      While most of these failures center around ContentID’s inability to discern actual intellectual property infringement and its avenues for abuse, YouTube’s algorithms can’t even suss out more grave occurrences, such as child exploitation. This became apparent recently when multiple Pokemon streamers had their accounts nuked due to discussions about child pornography that never occurred.

    • Win in Washington State: Judge Strikes Down Unconstitutional ‘Cyberstalking’ Law Chilling Free Speech

      Great news out of Washington state: a federal judge has ruled that the First Amendment protects speech on the Internet, even from anonymous speakers, and even if it’s embarrassing.

      EFF has been fighting this statute for a long time. It’s a prime example of how sloppy approaches to combatting “cyberstalking” can go terribly wrong. As we explained in an amicus brief filed in this case by EFF and the ACLU of Washington, the law could potentially block the routine criticism of politicians and other public figures that is an integral part of our democracy.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Guess who’s working on a health data-slurping digital tool? Bzzt! Nope, it’s the UK Department for Work and Pensions

      The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions is drawing up plans for an internal service that allows it to automate slurps of medical data on claimants to dole out health-related benefits.

      In an ad posted on the UK’s Digital Marketplace, DWP said the work was currently in alpha and it now wanted a supplier to deliver a technical proof of concept to expose NHS data to the department’s systems.

      The aim, it said, is to cut down the time and cost involved in gathering information the department needs to make a decision about “the right support” for someone with a health condition or disability.

    • The Microphones That May Be Hidden in Your Home

      Google apologized Wednesday to customers who purchased its Nest Secure home-security system. The device is equipped with a microphone that has gone unmentioned since it went on sale in 2017. Earlier in February, Google announced on Twitter an upcoming software update that activated the microphone, making the Nest Guard responsive to voice commands and Google Assistant technology. The tweet startled users, who were never told the system could pick up sound.

      “Have I had a device with a hidden microphone in my house this entire time?” one user asked.

      Missing from the Nest account’s response was the word yes, but to be clear: Yes.

      “We included a microphone in the Nest Guard with features such as the Google Assistant in mind. It has not been used up to this point, and you can enable or disable it at any time using the Nest app,” the company wrote on Twitter.

    • Report: Code of Practice for the use of personal information in political campaigns: ORG response

      Activity, which relates to elections or referenda, in support of, or against, a political party, a referendum campaign or a candidate standing for election.

    • Facebook Grew Too Big to Care About Privacy

      Two years ago, a Yale Law School student published what became an influential paper about how antitrust law should apply to one of America’s superstar technology companies, which don’t fit the conventional mold of Standard Oil monopolists.

      Now, another academic paper from a former advertising technology executive and Yale law graduate is arguing that Facebook Inc. abuses its power. Titled in part “The Antitrust Case Against Facebook,” its author, Dina Srinivasan, offers a deeply researched analysis of Facebook’s pattern of backtracking on the user data collection that allowed the company to become a star. Once Facebook was powerful and popular, Srinivasan says, it was able to overrun objections about its data-harvesting practices.

    • Report: Apps are sharing sensitive data with Facebook without informing users

      The Journal found 11 apps with tens of millions of users among them that were sharing the information with the social network, with little to no disclosure to its users.

    • Huawei Frightens Europe’s Data Protectors. America Does, Too

      As the U.S. pushes ahead with the “Cloud Act” it enacted about a year ago, Europe is scrambling to curb its reach. Under the act, all U.S. cloud service providers from Microsoft and IBM to Amazon — when ordered — have to provide American authorities data stored on their servers regardless of where it’s housed. With those providers controlling much of the cloud market in Europe, the act could potentially give the U.S. the right to access information on large swaths of the region’s people and companies.

    • California Data Privacy Proposal May Give Law Tough New Teeth

      The strongest data privacy law in the country may be about to get sharper teeth, and lobbyists representing the tech industry think it’s a disastrous idea.

      Companies that amass user data could be the target of mass class-action litigation from California consumers if they’re accused of violating the California Consumer Privacy Act, under a proposed amendment to the law filed Feb. 22.

      The measure would allow consumers to sue such companies, including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., for monetary damages should they be accused of breaking the law. If approved, the measure would dramatically raise the stakes of adhering to the statute and shape the conversation around federal regulations being considered by Congress.

    • Facebook is shuttering its Onavo VPN app over teen privacy scandal

      Last month, it was revealed that Facebook was targeting teenagers with a ‘market research’ app that offered $20 per month in exchange for allowing it to intercept web traffic and hoover up the data.

      Onavo, purchased by Facebook in 2013, was at the heart of the app, enabling web traffic to be redirected through Facebook servers, and now Facebook has decided that the jig is up.

      The VPN app will be shut down at a later date, but will immediately cease being used as a source for data mining. Questions had been asked about why it was such a data hog long before the truth came out.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • China’s social credit system shows its teeth, banning millions from taking flights, trains

      Annual report shows the businesses and individuals added to trustworthiness blacklist as use of the government system accelerates

    • Malcolm: We Want Freedom

      This week marks 54 years since the assassination of El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, militant radical, fiery orator, Muslim leader, evolving but unceasing advocate for justice and what Ossie Davis called “our own black shining prince,” who rose from poverty to fight relentlessly against racism and oppression through the 1950s and 60s until his death at 39. Arguing “wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it,” Malcolm spoke “the naked truth” as he saw it on behalf of people of color in hopes, he wrote in his seminal autobiography, his “life’s account might prove to be a testimony of some social value.” And it did, via ongoing reinvention and an unlikely narrative arc: The face of the fierce black nationalist whose complex, shifting, fight-fire-with-fire message terrified many white Americans, especially those in power, landed on a 1999 Black Heritage Stamp issued by the postal service of the government he long and passionately resisted; at the stamp’s unveiling he was lauded as “a modern-day revolutionary, a man who dreamed of a better world, and dared to do something about it.”

    • Russian government accuses ‘The Times’ journalist of immigration violation

      Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs requested that the British newspaper The Times explain why one of its journalists, Janice Turner, entered Russia using a tourist visa. Turner published a column that criticized the culture of Russia’s capital on February 14.

      On Facebook, the Ministry of Internal Affairs wrote that Turner did not apply for a journalist’s visa and the accreditation required to work as a journalist in Russia. The Ministry accused the British journalist of deluding Russian immigration officials and violating Russian laws.

    • Russian committee to investigate torture of Jehovah’s Witnesses despite denying two days ago that any torture occurred

      Russia’s Investigative Committee will investigate reports that members of the religious group Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is officially banned in Russia, were tortured in the Siberian city of Surgut.

      Local Investigative Committee employee Oleg Menshikh told Interfax about the committee’s intentions. He said, “We have still received no official notice of any torture. However, given the stir that has arisen after these reports were published in the media, a decision has been made to undertake a preliminary investigation.”

    • New Election Ordered in North Carolina Over Actual Real-Life “Voter Fraud” Allegedly Carried Out by GOP Campaign

      Further proving that the real “voter fraud” that exists is voter suppression, North Carolina was forced to call for a new election after facing evidence that the 9th congressional district’s 2018 Republican candidate had paid a political operative to commit fraud on his behalf.

      As of Friday, President Donald Trump and others who have spent years decrying so-called “voter fraud” were silent on the development.

      Mark Harris, who ran in November against Democrat Dan McCready, announced at a hearing before the Board of Elections that he believed public confidence in the election results, which had him leading McCready by 905 votes, had been “undermined” so severely that a new election was necessary.

    • Just Another Nigger: My Life in the Black Panther Party

      Just Another Nigger is Don Cox’s revelatory, even incendiary account of his years in the Black Panther Party. He participated in many peaceful Bay Area civil rights protests but hungered for more militant action. His book tells the story of his work as the party’s field marshal in charge of gunrunning to planning armed attacks—tales which are told for the first time in this remarkable memoir—to his star turn raising money at the Manhattan home of Leonard Bernstein (for which he was famously mocked by Tom Wolfe in Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers), to his subsequent flight to Algeria to join Eldridge Cleaver in exile, to his decision to leave the party following his disillusionment with Huey P. Newton’s leadership. Cox would live out the rest of his life in self-imposed exile, where he began writing these unrepentant recollections in the early 1980s, enjoining his daughter to promise him that she would do everything she could to have them published—with the title he insisted upon, a nod to W. E. B. Du Bois’s remark that “In my own country, for nearly a century I have been nothing but a nigger.”

    • The Emperor’s New Wall

      President Donald Trump will continue trying to fund his border wall. If he succeeds, the human cost will make the final price tag much higher than $5.7 billion.

    • El Chapo and the Path Taken

      A couple of months ago my wife reminded me that season four of Narcos and season three of El Chapo were up and running on Netflix. Although I hadn’t written anything about the El Chapo series, it seemed like a good opportunity to cover both since they dealt with the drug cartels in Mexico that were very timely given El Chapo’s trial. In addition, they are about the best entertainment available on Netflix. The two series are closely related since they deal with the Sinaloa cartel that El Chapo ruled over. In season four of Narcos, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is only a bit player. Primary attention is on Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (Diego Luna), the founder of the cartel for which El Chapo served as a sicario (hitman). Another important character is Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña), the DEA agent who was tortured and killed by Gallardo’s henchmen in 1985. His death became a cause célèbre that led to the first in a series of escalations of the drug war.

      The series ends with Gallardo being arrested in 1989 and sent to the Altiplano maximum security prison, where the 73-year old gangster is still locked up. Season three of El Chapo picks up where Narcos left off. Joaquín Guzmán (played by the unusually named Marco de la O) reigns over a coalition of gangs that have only come together because of his use of the carrot and the stick. The carrot? The right to profit handsomely by the export of drugs to the USA through his advanced transportation system that has nothing to do with refugees trekking through the desert. The stick? Getting a bullet in the head if they decline.

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Guns – Quelle Chris

      Quelle Chris is a Detroit based indie rapper who is known for his eclectic brand of socially conscious hip-hop. In 2018 he and his partner Jean Grae released the well-received Everything’s Fine, which was one of the best protest albums of 2018. He is following it up with a solo album Guns, which is due out March 29, 2019.

      In a statement posted on the album’s Bandcamp page, Quelle Chris describes the motivation behind the album: “Guns is an arsenal of both sounds, styles and subjects. At its core it’s about things that can be weaponized for good or evil, including ourselves. The words we say, what we fear, how we love, how we live, what we ingest, what we believe in, who we idolize, shit like that. Somewhat a sonic study of the question “do ‘guns’ kill people or do people kill people?”

    • Rule by Fiat: National Crises, Fake Emergencies and Other Dangerous Presidential Powers

      Who pays the price for the dissolution of the constitutional covenant that holds the government and its agents accountable to the will of the people?

      We all do.

      This ill-advised decision by President Trump to circumvent the Constitution’s system of checks and balances by declaring a national emergency in order to build a border wall constitutes yet another expansion of presidential power that exposes the nation to further constitutional peril.

      It doesn’t matter that the legal merits of this particular national emergency will be challenged in court.

      The damage has already been done.

      As reporter Danny Cevallos points out, “President Donald Trump only had to say ‘national emergency’ to dramatically increase his executive and legal authority. By simply uttering those words … Trump immediately unleashed dozens of statutory powers available to a president only during a state of emergency. The power of the nation’s chief executive to declare such an emergency knows few strictures — it was designed that way.”

      We have now entered into a strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

      This attempt by Trump to rule by fiat merely plays into the hands of those who would distort the government’s system of checks and balances and its constitutional separation of powers beyond all recognition.

      This is about unadulterated power in the hands of the Executive Branch.

    • FBI Scientist’s Statements Linked Defendants to Crimes, Even When His Lab Results Didn’t

      A man stepped into a rural South Carolina bank a few days before Christmas in 2001, aimed a gun at tellers and stole $7,800 from the drawers. Witnesses couldn’t identify the robber. The surveillance video was too grainy to help investigators.

      More than three years later, FBI agents narrowed the investigation to a suspect. They believed John Henry Stroman robbed the bank. But during questioning, Stroman told them the security footage instead showed his brother, Roger. How could investigators prove one brother was the robber and not the other? Agents shipped the video and pictures of both Stromans to the FBI Laboratory in July 2005.

      The package went to Richard Vorder Bruegge, one of the bureau’s image examiners.

      In his report, Vorder Bruegge wrote that John Henry Stroman and the robber had similar “overall shape of the face, nose, mouth, chin, and ears.” But Vorder Bruegge stopped short of declaring a match, saying the video and pictures were too low resolution for that.

    • A Teenage War Resister in Israel

      Hilel Garmi’s phone is going straight to voicemail and all I’m hoping is that he’s not back in prison. I’ll soon learn that he is.

      Prison 6 is a military prison. It’s situated in the Israeli coastal town of Atlit, a short walk from the Mediterranean Sea and less than an hour’s drive from Hilel’s home. It was constructed in 1957 following the Sinai War between Israel and Egypt to house disciplinary cases from the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF.

      Hilel has already been locked up six times. “I can smell the sea from my cell, especially at night when everything is quiet,” he tells me in one of our phone conversations. I’m 6,000 miles away in Chicago, but Hilel and I have regularly been discussing his ordeal as an Israeli war resister, so it makes me nervous that, this time around, I can’t reach him at all.

      A recent high-school graduate with dark hair and a big smile, he’s only 19 and still lives with his parents in Yodfat, an Israeli town of less than 900 people in the northern part of the country. It’s 155 miles to Damascus (if such a trip were possible, which, of course, it isn’t), a two-hour drive down the coast to Tel Aviv, and a four-hour drive to besieged Gaza.

      Yodfat itself could be a set for a Biblical movie, with its dry rolling hills, ancient ruins, and pastoral landscape. The town exports flower bulbs, as well as organic goat cheese, and notably supports the Misgav Waldorf School that Hilel’s mother helped found. Hilel is proud of his mom. After all, people commute from all over Israel to attend the school.

    • Pope’s ‘Wrath of God’ Promise on Sex Abuse Doesn’t Appease Survivors

      Pope Francis closed out his extraordinary summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing Sunday to confront abusers with “the wrath of God” felt by the faithful, end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize the victims of this “brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”

      But his failure to offer a concrete action plan to hold bishops accountable when they failed to protect their flocks from predators disappointed survivors, who had expected more from the first-ever global Catholic summit of its kind.

      [...]

      In his final remarks to the summit, Francis noted that the vast majority of sexual abuse happens in the family. And he offered a global review of the broader societal problem of sexual tourism and online pornography, in a bid to contextualize what he said was once a taboo subject.

      But he said the sexual abuse of children becomes even more scandalous when it occurs in the Catholic Church, “for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.”

      Francis summoned the bishops from around the world to the four-day meeting to impress upon them that clergy sex abuse and cover-ups aren’t just a problem in some countries but a global problem that threatens the very mission of the Catholic Church.

    • Mississippi Players Kneel in Response to Confederacy Rally

      Eight University of Mississippi basketball players knelt during the national anthem Saturday before a victory over Georgia in response to a Confederacy rally near the arena.

      With the teams lined up across the court at the free throw lines, six players took a knee and bowed at the start of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Two other players later joined them.

      “The majority of it was just that we saw one of our teammates doing it and didn’t want him to be alone,” Ole Miss scoring leader Breein Tyree said. “We’re just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like we have these hate groups in our actual school.”

      The Confederacy demonstration took place a few hundred feet from the arena. In the aftermath of violence at a similar rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Oxford community has been on alert.

    • Illinois Prison Phone Rates Are Lowest Following Grassroots Activism

      “There were a lot of times my sons tried calling me,” recalled Annette Taylor, who regularly receives calls from her two sons in prison, “but there was no money on the account.” Those were some of the “hardest calls,” she said. “I would worry something was wrong.”

      Families of those incarcerated have long complained about the high cost of phone calls from prison. A national campaign pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene in 2015, but the agency’s regulations have since been reversed by the Trump administration.

      In Illinois, the price of prison phone calls was just drastically reduced, making it much easier for Taylor and others like her to stay in contact with their loved ones. Just a few years ago, Illinois had the most inflated rates in the country. According to a renegotiated contract, the cost of a call from prison is now just under a penny a minute. Illinois is now the state with the lowest costs in the country.

      Taylor’s group, the Ripple Effect (Reaching Into Prisons with Purpose and Love), a prison pen pal project located in Champaign, Illinois, was involved early on in the campaign to reduce the rates. “It’s such a blessing for my family,” Taylor told Truthout in an email exchange. “Now, one of my sons calls too much!”

    • Corporate-backed groups seek more pro-business judges in the Deep South

      Back in 1994, after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that oil giant BP owed back taxes to Plaquemines Parish, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) urged its member corporations to contact the justices to complain. A few months later, after a LABI-backed candidate won the state Supreme Court election, the court unanimously overturned its ruling against BP — a decision that drained millions of dollars in tax revenue from Plaquemines Parish and its schools.

      Before intervening on BP’s behalf, LABI had been complaining about the influence of trial lawyers in judicial elections and threatening to exert more political pressure over judges. LABI had already established four corporate-funded political action committees to exercise its clout in the state legislature; in the mid-1990s, the PACs began giving large contributions to their preferred judicial candidates.

      In 1996, LABI took its judicial influence operation to the next level: It began rating judges based on whether they ruled for or against corporate interests. After national media reported on LABI’s aggressive tactics, the group ceased evaluating every justice and stopped pressuring them to rule a certain way in specific cases.

    • What are Torts? They’re Everywhere!

      What exposed the Tobacco industry’s carcinogenic cover-up? The lethal asbestos industry cover-up? The General Motors’ deadly ignition switch defect cover-up? The Catholic Church’s pedophile scandal? All kinds of toxic waste poisonings?

      Not the state legislatures of our country. Not Congress. Not the regulatory agencies of our federal or state governments. These abuses and other wrongs were exposed by lawsuits brought by individuals or groups of afflicted plaintiffs using the venerable American law of torts.

      Almost every day, the media reports on stories of injured parties using our legal system to seek justice for wrongful injuries. Unfortunately, the media almost never mentions that the lawsuits were filed under the law of torts.

      Regularly, the media reports someone filing a civil rights lawsuit or a civil liberties lawsuit. When was the last time you read, heard, or saw a journalist start their report by saying…“so and so today filed a tort lawsuit against a reckless manufacturer or a sexual predator, or against the wrongdoers who exposed the people of a town like Flint, Michigan to harmful levels of lead in drinking water? Or lawsuits against Donald Trump for ugly defamations or sexual assaults”?

      I was recently discussing this strange omission with Richard Newman, executive director of the American Museum of Tort Law and a former leading trial attorney in Connecticut. He too was intrigued. He told me that when high school students tour the Museum, their accompanying teachers often admit that they themselves never heard of tort law!

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Blockbuster Gizmodo investigation reveals probable masterminds of the massive anti-Net Neutrality identity theft/astroturf campaign

      Despite the mountains of evidence that the real comments were almost entirely in support of Net Neutrality, the FCC said it would give both bots and humans equal weight in its deliberations, and then it shut down the commenting system and stonewalled the States attorneys generals who were investigating the fake comments as a criminal matter.

      Now, Gizmodo writers Dell Cameron and Jason Prechtel have done incredible work, using freedom of information act requests to correlate the precise moment at which known-fake comments appeared in the FCC’s comment system with the API keys used to submit comments a few seconds before the fake comments were registered, and were thus able to produce a high-confidence guess about the identities of the astroturfers who violated federal laws and defrauded the US government and the American people in order to help Ajit Pai kill Net Neutrality.

    • How an Investigation of Fake FCC Comments Snared a Prominent D.C. Media Firm

      What was most curious, however, is that each of these people had supposedly submitted the very same comment; a veritable word salad of telecom industry talking points. In particular, the comment was a rebuke of the Obama administration’s exercise of “unprecedented regulatory power” in pursuit of net neutrality, a policy which it accused of “smothering innovation, damaging the American economy, and obstructing job creation.”

      Internal FCC logs reviewed by Gizmodo for the first time offer clues as to why the matching comments led investigators in October to the doorstep of CQ Roll Call, a company that, while running an august newsroom in the nation’s capital, is also in the business of helping lobbyists construct digital “grassroots” campaigns aimed at influencing policymakers, and specifically, those controlling the FCC’s rulemaking process.

  • DRM

    • Scribd Files Complaint Against DRM Circumvention Tool

      Scribd has filed a complaint targeting a tool that allows users to permanently download books, audiobooks, magazines, and other digital content from its publishing platform. Scribd Downloader does require the user to have a Scribd subscription to operate fully, but the company says the tool breaches the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.

    • Right to Repair Legislation Is Officially Being Considered In Canada

      A newly-proposed bill could become the first legislation to ensure individuals and independent shops can repair brand-name devices in North America.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Federal Circuit Continues to Narrow the Eligibility Standards for CBM Review of Patents Under the AIA

      In its recent ruling in IBG LLC v. Trading Techs. Int’l, the Federal Circuit vacated determinations by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) on patents relating to a graphical user interface (“GUI“), holding that the patents were “not … technological inventions” and were therefore ineligible for Covered Business Method Patent Review (“CBM review”).

      The petitioners challenged the validity of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,766,304, 6,772,132, 7,676,411, and 7,813,996 (the “Asserted Patents”) via multiple CBM review proceedings, including CBM2015-00161 and CBM2016-00035. The Asserted Patents share the same specification and are related to a GUI for a trading system that “reduc[es] the time it takes for a trader to place a trade when electronically trading on an exchange, thus increasing the likelihood that the trader will have orders filled at desirable prices and quantities.”

    • E-Trading Patents Are “For Technological Inventions,” Not Subject To CBM Review

      In a nonprecedential per curiam decision, the Federal Circuit vacated the PTAB’s final written decisions in five covered business method (“CBM”) reviews on four related e-trading patents as “arbitrary and capricious” because those patents are “for technological inventions” and therefore not subject to CBM review. In reaching this conclusion, the Federal Circuit considered as instructive its prior decision upholding the eligibility of two of the challenged patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

      Trading Technologies (“TT”) owns four patents that share the same specification and claim methods and apparatus for electronic trading. The patents describe a graphical user interface (“GUI”) for a commodity trading system that includes “a dynamic display for a plurality of bids and for a plurality of asks in the market for the commodity and a static display of prices corresponding to the plurality of bids and asks.” For two of those patents, the Federal Circuit previously affirmed a district court’s decision upholding the patent eligibility under § 101.

      The PTAB instituted CBM reviews on all four patents. Under AIA § 18(d)(1), the PTAB may institute CBM review only on a patent that “claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service,” but not on “patents for technological inventions.” In instituting CBM reviews, the PTAB held that the TT patents are not “for technological inventions.”

    • Contours of Apple-Qualcomm dispute: Apple emphasizes antitrust, FRAND, patent exhaustion — Qualcomm says contracts are contracts

      On April 15, the Apple & contract manufacturers v. Qualcomm trial will start in San Diego (Southern District of California), and the stakes are high.

      This is a key month for pretrial filings. I’ve gleaned from the parties’ joint pretrial brief on disputed contract terms that Qualcomm charges a 5% patent royalty on iPhone repairs performed by Foxconn and wants an extra $1.3 billion from three of Apple’s four contract manufacturers as a late “processing and handling” charge. Beyond the joint pretrial brief, the parties have also filed literally dozens of motions, and yesterday (Saturday) they filed a total of more than 1,100 pages (!) relating to, and including, their proposed jury instructions and verdict forms.

      It’s obviously impossible to discuss everything in detail. The purpose of this post is to provide a bird’s-eye view of the parties’ priorities in the upcoming trial. Those priorities are reflected by what Apple writes about its plans for its case-in-chief, by what the parties would like to go into or be kept out of the jury instructions, and by their preferences for the order of items on the jury form as well as what should be put before a jury in the first place (as opposed to being decided by the judge).

    • Walker-Process Antitrust Case is Back Before the Federal Circuit

      The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over any “appeal from a final decision of a district court of the United States . . . in any civil action arising under . . . any Act of Congress relating to patents.” 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1). “Arising under” jurisdiction clearly include patent cases, but it also includes a “special and small category” of cases that don’t directly arise under the Patent Act, but involve patents decisions at such a deep level that it should be deemed a patent case. In drawing these lines, a clear data point came in Gunn v. Minton, 133 S. Ct. 1059 (2013). In that case, the Supreme Court was faced with a patent attorney malpractice case that would require determination of various fundamental patent law issues. In its decision, the court nevertheless ruled that it did not arise under the patent laws because the patent issues were not “substantial.” In particular, the court wrote that “[a]lthough such cases may necessarily raise disputed questions of patent law, those cases are by their nature unlikely to have the sort of significance for the federal system necessary to establish jurisdiction.”

    • UnionPay Joins the Open Invention Network Community

      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history with more than 2,800 members, announced today that UnionPay has joined its community. As a leading multinational financial services corporation that provides card, mobile, and online payment technologies to merchants and consumers, UnionPay agrees with the concept of open innovation and patent non-aggression in Linux and open source.

      “The online, mobile, and card-based financial services industries are experiencing significant growth, driven by global leaders that recognize the benefits of shared innovation, which enables them to build robust, feature-rich products and services for their customers,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “We are pleased that UnionPay has joined our community and committed to patent non-aggression in Linux and adjacent open source technologies.”

    • Copyrights

      • Artists Against Article 13: When Big Tech and Big Content Make a Meal of Creators, It Doesn’t Matter Who Gets the Bigger Piece

        Article 13 is the on-again/off-again controversial proposal to make virtually every online community, service, and platform legally liable for any infringing material posted by their users, even very briefly, even if there was no conceivable way for the online service provider to know that a copyright infringement had taken place.

        This will require unimaginable sums of money to even attempt, and the attempt will fail. The outcome of Article 13 will be a radical contraction of alternatives to the U.S. Big Tech platforms and the giant media conglomerates. That means that media companies will be able to pay creators less for their work, because creators will have no alternative to the multinational entertainment giants.

        [...]

        The initial versions of Article 13 required companies to build copyright filters, modeled after YouTube’s “Content ID” system: YouTube invites a select group of trusted rightsholders to upload samples of works they claim as their copyright, and then blocks (or diverts revenue from) any user’s video that seems to match these copyright claims.

        There are many problems with this system. On the one hand, giant media companies complain that they are far too easy for dedicated infringers to defeat; and on the other hand, Content ID ensnares all kinds of legitimate forms of expression, including silence, birdsong, and music uploaded by the actual artist for distribution on YouTube. Sometimes, this is because a rightsholder has falsely claimed copyrights that don’t belong to them; sometimes, it’s because Content ID generated a “false positive” (that is, made a mistake); and sometimes it’s because software just can’t tell the difference between an infringing use of a copyrighted work and a use that falls under “fair dealing,” like criticism, commentary, parody, etc. No one has trained an algorithm to recognise parody, and no one is likely to do so any time soon (it would be great if we could train humans to reliably recognise parody!).

      • Street protests are mounting against Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive: more participants than last week

        Toward the end of an eventful week on the EU copyright reform front, during which the EU Commission was forced to apologize for calling dissidents a “mob” and the most controversial part of the bill–Article 13–almost got blocked in the EU Council, it’s clear that the only EU institution that can still prevent a digital disaster is the European Parliament. But I’m increasingly hopeful as there are ever more signs of the people showing their elected representatives that it would be unwise for them to approve the most controversial piece of Internet legislation in history–and to do so shortly (less than two months) before European Parliament elections.

        The Commission at least apologized for inappropriate language. I’m still waiting for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany–Merkel’s party–to apologize for incorrectly attributing to “bots” the genuine outrage of countless humans of flesh and blood. Those people have voting rights or will reach that age soon, and Merkel’s party risks making itself extremely unpopular among an entire generation of voters.

        I’m writing this post as I’m watching a livestream of today’s anti-Article 13 demonstration in Cologne, Germany. Thousands of mostly young people–at least twice as many as a week ago, despite the demonstration having been announced only three days (!) ago–are taking to the streets of Cologne as speak, and just the livestream I’m watching has more than 10K viewers at the moment (and it’s not even the only one–all streams combined had more than 30K viewers).

      • Investigating the Higbee & Associates Copyright Trolling Operation

        The moment I saw Higbee’s demand letter to Daniel Quinn I knew I was dealing with a troll. Although I’ve recently joined the #resistance, I spent the first five years of my career defending Silicon Valley companies against mass copyright trolls. Higbee is new to me, but I know this game.

        I immediately scanned his demand letter for problems. There were many — Michael Grecco’s power of attorney authorization isn’t even signed! — but I’ll focus on three major ones.

        [...]

        They’ve refused to answer my questions, responding only that “[we] will not be conducting the pre-litigation discovery you want.”

        There’s only so much our ongoing investigation can accomplish short of litigation, discovery, and the power to issue third-party subpoenas to Fox and Yahoo/Flickr. But at the moment, based only on the information I have, I’m severely concerned that Higbee & Associates is failing to exercise due diligence and conduct reasonable investigations before issuing its boilerplate demand letters.

        Theodore Sell’s belated admission that they cannot seek statutory damages and attorneys fees supports their lack of diligence; so does Mathew Higbee’s contention last Thursday that “We never intentionally pursue private non-commercial infringements.” Daniel Quinn runs a private, non-commercial, hobbyist scifi review blog; Higbee & Associates has been chasing him with threats of litigation and demands for $20,000 – $80,000 in damages and attorneys fees for months.

      • UK ISP Will Ban Two Million Kids From Accessing Pirate Sites

        Not-for-profit Internet service provider LGfL, which supplies broadband to 3,000 UK schools, has agreed to block access to a huge number of pirate sites. The initiative will rely on a database of domains provided by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, preventing students from accessing pirated content.

      • Frontier demands $4,300 cancellation fee despite horribly slow Internet

        Frontier Communications reportedly charged a cancellation fee of $4,302.17 to the operator of a one-person business in Wisconsin, even though she switched to a different Internet provider because Frontier’s service was frequently unusable.

      • NBCUniversal Repeatedly Flags BitTorrent.com as a “Pirate” Site

        NBCUniversal works hard to remove pirated content from the Internet. In recent years it has sent more than 30 million takedown requests to Google alone. Among the targeted websites is BitTorrent.com, the creators of the Mainline and uTorrent file-sharing clients. While the site doesn’t appear to host any infringing content, NBCUniversal keeps asking Google to remove URLs.

02.14.19

Reading Techrights on a Mobile Device Running Android

Posted in Site News at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Screenshot Techrights on an app
Screenshot of Techrights on the Android app

Summary: A new Android app for reading this site is being tested

TECHNOLOGY changes over time and it changes relatively fast (compared to other things). This means that nowadays more people use Linux to access to Web than any other kernel, owing primarily to Android. Form factors too have changed. Microsoft missed the boat and only laptops is where GNU/Linux adoption has been rather scarce (depending on how one classifies Chromebooks).

“It never really evolved for that need. That site is 15 years old and the layout has been largely the same over the years.”A week ago I responded to complaints that Tux Machines did not have a mobile-friendly layout. It’s true. It never really evolved for that need. That site is 15 years old and the layout has been largely the same over the years.

There’s now another option for reading Techrights and also for following Tux Machines, which is a lot more active (more regularly updated). It’s this .apk file (it’s not on some ‘app’ ‘store’, at least not yet) and it’s mostly being tested at the moment. It ought to work perfectly fine with most modern versions of Android (we’re aware of some bugs already). To our surprise it has exceeded 1,500 downloads since yesterday when it was first published. It doesn’t do much except display content from the Techrights RSS feeds, as well as notifications. Maybe in the near future we’ll make something more solid and privacy-preserving (although nothing on a ‘smart’ phone can ever fully respect privacy), but this is just an interim solution. We reluctantly “get with the times…”

Please download/install to help the testing.

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