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03.22.19

Why the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) Cannot Ignore Judges, Whereas the EPO Can (and Does)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO managers are trumpeting sustained revenue growth by granting illegitimate European Patents

EPO mission

Summary: The European Patent Convention (EPC) ceased to matter, judges’ interpretation of it no longer matters either; the EPO exploits this to grant hundreds of thousands of dodgy software patents, then trumpet “growth”

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) relatively new Director strongly antagonises 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (SCOTUS decision from half a decade ago). He also opposes much of what the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is doing — more or less the equivalent of Battistelli's attitude towards BoA. Meanwhile, EPO President António Campinos keeps pushing software patents in Europe in defiance of the EPC, in defiance of courts, and even in violation of directions from Parliament. So there’s some commonality there and it’s hardly surprising that Campinos can be seen with the Director of the USPTO more than he can be seen with any scientist.

Yesterday Watchtroll’s main headline said that “Alice is Due for Reversal” (no factual basis for this; Watchtroll comes up with what China, then US Democrats, and then Trump called “fake news”); it also said “Apple is Afraid of Inventors, Not Patent Trolls”. Those so-called ‘inventors’ never created anything; some just bought bogus software patents in auctions and preyed on Texan courts. But the Director of the Office now defends these trolls, as does Campinos, who keeps meeting trolls’ front groups and advocates SEP/FRAND injustice.

“Like “AI” and “blockchain”? “4IR” and “Industry 4.0″? “IoT” and “ICT”? What other buzzwords for software patents? “CII” maybe?”What has the EPO become? Who does it work for? Yesterday it retweeted Siemens after it had bragged about patent numbers. “It is not a competition and many of these patents are bunk” was my response to them. The EPO later wrote: “As a patent office we are prepared to face the challenges brought by emerging digital technologies.”

Like “AI” and “blockchain”? “4IR” and “Industry 4.0″? “IoT” and “ICT”? What other buzzwords for software patents? “CII” maybe?

The EPO just wishes to grant software patents against the law (it asks applicants to call them something else). Then it will find a way to make it sound like there’s a 40% growth in patents. IAM, the propaganda arm of the EPO, has just published this piece from Carpmaels & Ransford LLP. It’s promoting software patents not only in the EPO but also the UK-IPO (emphasis below is ours):

In the past, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has attempted to follow the EPO’s approach to software and business method-related inventions. However, the UKIPO is bound by the precedents set by UK courts. This can often result in disparity between what the EPO and UKIPO will allow.

Practice in the United Kingdom was defined in a UK Court of Appeal judgment in Fujitsu Limited’s application, which was an appeal against a decision to refuse an application relating to crystal modelling using a computer. The judge in this case confirmed that a criterion for patentability of subject matter that, on the face of it, falls within the statutory exclusions was that the claimed invention should provide a technical contribution in order to be patentable. Following Fujitsu in the United Kingdom and the IBM cases at the EPO, the UKIPO issued a practice notice stating that its practice towards software-related inventions would “remain in step with that of the European Patent Office”.

However, when the EPO moved to its inventiveness test following the Pension Benefits and Hitachi cases, the UKIPO continued to apply the technical contribution approach, as it had to follow the precedent established in Fujitsu. There was therefore a disparity in the way in which the UKIPO and EPO viewed the wording of the European Patent Convention.

It has already been ruled in courts, e.g. in France, that the EPO intentionally misinterprets the European Patent Convention. But the EPO arrogantly ignores what judges are saying, at times even attacking judges. Just like Watchtroll and Director Iancu do (we’ve already covered Iancu’s worrisome rhetoric). Does that not make the EPO a lawless organisation?

The European Patent Office Needs to Put Lives Before Profits

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last month: Bogus European Patents Kill Cancer Patients, But EPO Still Has the Audacity to Ride the Wave of World Cancer Day

EPO Cancer support in LinkedIn

Summary: Patents that pertain to health have always posed an ethical dilemma; the EPO apparently tackled this dilemma by altogether ignoring the rights and needs of patients (in favour of large corporations that benefit financially from poor people’s mortality)

THE European Patent Office’s (EPO) villains and the proponents of UPC have long lobbied for patent trolls and for patents on life. It’s all about money, not scientific advancement, and it’s preying on the lives of ill people.

There was some major news yesterday. Bristows’ Annsley Merelle Ward wrote about it (dubbing it “blow to SPC owners” [sic]) and the sole comment on these words was a critical one; watch these liars being challenged: “Why is 20 years of patent protection not sufficient to protect new formulations Amerikat? The risks and timelines are notably different from engaging in medicinal chemistry. Do you have economic data to support that? There are opposing interests in terms of access to medicines and the protection of national health budgets. That balance should be assessed by the legislature on the basis of economic assessments and should not be court driven on the basis of only one consideration. I think that it is a very sensible decision and an important one in terms of maintaining the correct balance in the industry.”

This has since then also been covered in Kluwer Patent Blog and there’s news that may indirectly relate to that (already included in our daily links):

  • 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…

Kevin E. Noonan, a proponent of patents on life, has just spoken of a new “Guidance for Industry relating to the biosimilar application process set forth in the Biologic Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BCPCIA).”

These biosimilars are essential for generics.

Is the EPO still granting patents on antibodies (see what we wrote last year: “Antibody Patents Should Not be Allowed, Nor Should CRISPR Patents”)? A few days ago this new press release said:

AroCell announced today that the patent nr. 3083698 and titled” Monoclonal Anti-TK1 Antibodies” is granted by European Patent Office and will be published on April 10, 2019

The patent is referring to AroCell’s proprietary technology of specific and sensitive immunological measurement of Thymidine Kinase 1 in serum. More specifically, the monoclonal antibody, XPA210-Ar1, is covered in the patent

“We are delighted that the EPO has granted this patent. This reinforce AroCell’s position and increases our attractiveness as a business partner. We will continue to develop our portfolio of proprietary assets to further expand its business opportunities.” Says Michael Brobjer, CEO AroCell.

This is really not my area; perhaps those who better understand the science behind it can explain to us why there are nowadays so many patents that revolve around the body’s natural immune system. Who benefits from such patents (on the whole)? Whose side has the EPO taken?

“Criminal Organisation”

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

To enter EPO

Summary: Brazil’s ex-President, Temer, is arrested (like other former presidents of Brazil); will the EPO’s ex-President Battistelli ever be arrested (now that he lacks diplomatic immunity and hides at CEIPI)?

ONE of our informants regarding abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO) is itself a victim of the EPO and of Nokia. It reached us after it had read one of our many articles (as did German academia, whom we spoke to earlier this week). It seems to have become widespread knowledge that things at the EPO are rotten.

“So maybe that’s another thing Temer and Battistelli have in common.”“The jailed Brazilian president had axis in Finland,” this reader told us about this report. “The same people is related to our patent/Nokia and also Elcoteq/Brazil case.” The headline says “Brazil’s ex-President Temer jailed, accused of heading ‘criminal organization’” (strong words from Reuters).

So maybe that’s another thing Temer and Battistelli have in common. As for António Campinos, he continues Battistelli’s job, including the introduction of software patents in Europe — as we shall note in our next post.

“In short, one could best describe the current EPO administration as follows: “Crooked man, good night. Yes man, good morning”. For what it’s worth,” said this Twitter account, adding this photo later (image reposted above).

Remember that it took almost a decade to arrest Battistelli’s boss, the ex-President of France.

03.21.19

Links 21/3/2019: Wayland 1.17.0, Samba 4.10.0, OpenShot 2.4.4 and Zorin Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Google is winning in education, but Apple and Microsoft are battling for market share

      Apple used to have the most devices in U.S. schools, but Google soared to the top after the release of the Chromebook in 2011. In 2018, Chromebooks made up 60 percent of all laptops and tablets purchased for U.S. K-12 classrooms, up from just 5 percent in 2012. Microsoft is second at 22 percent, followed by Apple, with 18 percent of shipments to U.S. schools in 2018, according to data from Futuresource Consulting.

  • Server

    • Portworx Boosts Cloud-Native Data Security and Disaster Recovery

      ortworx announced the latest edition of its namesake cloud-native storage and data management platform on March 20, providing users with new security and disaster recovery capabilities.

      Portworx Enterprise 2.1 integrates a new feature the company has dubbed PX-Security, which provides granular role-based access controls that go beyond what are natively available in the open-source Kubernetes cloud-native container orchestration system. Data backup is being enhanced with the new PX-DR disaster recovery feature that provides low latency resiliency for critical data recovery.

      “Kubernetes alone can’t meet all of an enterprise’s application needs,” Murli Thirumale, co-founder and CEO of Portworx, told eWEEK. “There are needs around security monitoring, and particularly data storage and data management that are needed to really allow adoption of containers and Kubernetes orchestration across a wide set of application platforms.”

    • A Look Back and What’s in Store for Kubernetes Contributor Summits

      As our contributing community grows in great numbers, with more than 16,000 contributors this year across 150+ GitHub repositories, it’s important to provide face to face connections for our large distributed teams to have opportunities for collaboration and learning. In Contributor Experience, our methodology with planning events is a lot like our documentation; we build from personas – interests, skills, and motivators to name a few. This way we ensure there is valuable content and learning for everyone.

    • 3 Reasons Every Enterprise Should Use Kubernetes

      As those who follow me online know, I’ve long been a fan of Kubernetes—and it’s clear I’m not alone. Kubernetes is less than five years old and it’s become the de facto container management system across the globe. In fact, back in Forrester’s cloud predictions for 2018 experts were already declaring Kubernetes the victor in the “war for container orchestration dominance.”[1] Its popularity has only grown since then and CIOs across industries are considering it the gold standard for container management, especially when it comes to supporting their DevOps efforts.

    • Three Ways Long Term Service Pack Support (LTSS) Makes the Life of Enterprise IT Easier
    • Knative: What developers need to know

      Knative is not just a hot topic in software development, it’s a whole new way to look at services and functions. As a developer, what do you need to know to take advantage of this cutting-edge technology? Are there important design or implementation considerations? Let’s take a look.

    • Quarkus 0.12.0 released

      Quarkus, a next-generation Kubernetes native Java framework, was announced in early March, and now Quarkus 0.12.0 has been released and is available from the Maven repository. The quickstarts, guides, and website also have been updated, and 213 issues and PRs are included in this release. That’s quite a few updates, but in particular check out the new metrics, health check, and Kafka guides. Also, this release requires GraalVM 1.0.0-RC13 for Building a Native Executable.

    • How Service Meshes Are a Missing Link for Microservices

      “We are coming to all those communities and basically pitching them to move, right? We tell them, ‘look, monolithic is very complicated — let’s move to microservices,’ so, they are working very, very hard to move but then they discover that the tooling is not that mature,” Idit Levine, founder and CEO of Solo.io, said. “And actually, there are many gaps in the tooling that they had or used it before and now they’re losing this functionality. For instance, like logging or like debugging microservices is a big problem and so on.”

      Levine, whose company offers service mesh solutions, also described how service meshes were designed to “solve exactly this problem,” during a podcast episode of The New Stack Analyst hosted by Alex Williams, founder and editor-in-chief of The New Stack, with Janakiram MSV, a The New Stack Correspondent and principal of Janakiram & Associates.

      One of the first things organizations notice when migrating away from monolithic to microservices environments is how “suddenly you’re losing your observability for all of the applications,” Levine said. “That’s one thing that [service meshes] is really big in solving.”

      Then there is security. Making sure that applications and microservices are secure involves different dynamics than monolithic security does in a number of ways. “Are microservices allowed to talk to each other or are they not?” Levine said. “How you do all this policy about who’s allowed to talk to whom and if it’s secure” is a major consideration.

      Routing can also pose problems. “It’s about making sure that the pipe is available to all those microservices with all of the connections,” Levine said. “This is one of three problems any organization will have once they try to move to microservices — and that’s exactly why service mesh is needed because it’s solving those problems.”

      The early development of service meshes can be traced back to when Google, IBM and other firms created Istio, Levine noted. “And the reason I believed that they did it is because they looked at their Linkerd and they just said, ‘yeah, the idea is very solid but the implementation is not the best.’”

      The issue, Levine said, was how the Java code “was very, very heavy and then there was a lot of overhead in the performance and the installation and the overall solution.”

    • Google Open Sources Sandboxed API

      Google on Monday announced that it has made available its Sandboxed API as open source in an effort to make it easier for software developers to create secure products.

      It’s not uncommon for applications to be affected by memory corruption or other types of vulnerabilities that can be exploited for remote code execution and other purposes. Using a sandbox ensures that the code responsible for processing user input can only access the resources it needs to, which mitigates the impact of a flaw by containing the exploit to a restricted environment and preventing it from interacting with other software components.

      While sandboxing can be highly useful, Google says it’s often not easy to implement. That is why the internet giant has decided to open source its Sandboxed API, which should make it easier to sandbox C and C++ libraries. The company has also open sourced its core sandboxing project, Sandbox2, which can be used on its own to secure Linux processes.

    • BMC Touches Clouds with Job Scheduler

      Clouds are growing quickly as IT executives look to find more flexibility and cut costs by adopting cloud and software as a service (SaaS) applications. But most enterprises aren’t getting rid of all their on-premise systems, which means somebody needs to connect those cloud and on-premise systems. One of those “somebodies” is BMC Software.

    • Midnight Commander Comes To IBM i

      IBM i professionals who work extensively with files in the IFS will be happy to hear a new software utility has been ported to the IBM i PASE environment that could save them a bunch of time. The open source software, called Midnight Commander, gives developers and administrators a handy command line experience that can help speed up tasks, especially when giving commands to large number of files stored on remote machines.

      Midnight Commander was originally developed in 1994 as a file utility for UNIX, which was beginning to emerge from software labs to challenge minicomputer platforms of the day, such as the AS/400, as well as early Windows operating systems. Miguel de Icaza, who’s known for founding the Mono project (among others), is credited with creating Midnight Commander, but over the years development of the product has become a group effort.

      The utility, which is distributed via a GNU license from www.midnightcommander.org, was largely modeled off Norton Commander, an MS-DOS utility developed in the 1980s by Norton. But Midnight Commander has evolved into its own thing over the years, and the resemblance to that old Norton product today largely is only in the name.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 59 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ll talk about some big releases from the GNOME desktop environment, Sway window manager, distro releases from Lakka, KNOPPIX and UBports’ Ubuntu Touch. I’ve got a couple of announcements for this show, TuxDigital and a Linux Conference I will be attenting so be sure to check out that segment. We’ll also check out some new releases from Audacity, Mesa drivers, NetworkManager, TLP project and more. We’ll also look at a new file sharing service provided by Mozilla. Then we’ll discuss some news from the Linux Foundation, Debian and Humble Bundle. All that and much more on your Weekly Source for Linux GNews.

    • FLOSS Weekly 522: Railroader

      Railroader is a security static analysis tool for applications that use Ruby on Rails. Railroader will examine custom code to look for potential problems, and warn about them. Railroader can’t find every vulnerability, but it’s a great tool to help find problems before they hurt anyone. It is a static analysis tool – that means it does not try to run the application users are analyzing. Railroader is an OSS fork of the Brakeman project, which has gone proprietary

    • LHS Episode #276: Logical Volume Management Deep Dive

      Hello and welcome to Episode 276 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts take a relatively in-depth look at the world of Logical Volume Management under Linux. LVM is a method for creating redundant, scalable and highly available disk volumes that can span multiple physical drives and media types. The topic is more immersive than could be covered in one episode but this should be a good initial primer for anyone looking to explore what LVM can offer. Thanks for listening.

    • Going Linux #365 · Listener Feedback

      We hear from George about Windows and printers. Roger and Gord also comment on printers. Many questions as always, and a report of problems installing the Software Center.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 801
  • Kernel Space

    • 5.1 Merge window part 1

      As of this writing, 6,135 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 5.1 release. That is approximately halfway through the expected merge-window volume, which is a good time for a summary. A number of important new features have been merged for this release; read on for the details.

    • Controlling device peer-to-peer access from user space

      The recent addition of support for direct (peer-to-peer) operations between PCIe devices in the kernel has opened the door for different use cases. The initial work concentrated on in-kernel support and the NVMe subsystem; it also added support for memory regions that can be used for such transfers. Jérôme Glisse recently proposed two extensions that would allow the mapping of those regions into user space and mapping device files between two devices. The resulting discussion surprisingly led to consideration of the future of core kernel structures dealing with memory management.

      Some PCIe devices can perform direct data transfers to other devices without involving the CPU; support for these peer-to-peer transactions was added to the kernel for the 4.20 release. The rationale behind the functionality is that, if the data is passed between two devices without modification, there is no need to involve the CPU, which can perform other tasks instead. The peer-to-peer feature was developed to allow Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) network interface cards to pass data directly to NVMe drives in the NVMe fabrics subsystem. Using peer-to-peer transfers lowers the memory bandwidth needed (it avoids one copy operation in the standard path from device to system memory, then to another device) and CPU usage (the devices set up the DMAs on their own). While not considered directly in the initial work, graphics processing units (GPUs) and RDMA interfaces have been able to use that functionality in out-of-tree modules for years.

      The merged work concentrated on support at the PCIe layer. It included setting up special memory regions and the devices that will export and use those regions. It also allows finding out if the PCIe topology allows the peer-to-peer transfers.

    • Intel Posts Linux Perf Support For Icelake CPUs

      With the core functionality for Intel Icelake CPUs appearing to be in place, Intel’s open-source developers have been working on the other areas of hardware enablement for these next-generation processors.

      The latest Icelake Linux patches we are seeing made public by Intel is in regards to the “perf” subsystem support. Perf, of course, is about exposing the hardware performance counters and associated instrumentation that can be exercised by user-space when profiling performance of the hardware and other events.

    • What is after Gemini Lake?

      Based on a 10 nm manufacturing process, the Elkhart Lake SoC uses Tremont microarchitectures (Atom) [2] and features Gen 11 graphics similar to the Ice Lake processors [3]. Intel’s Gen 11 solution offers 64 execution units, and it has managed over 1 TFLOP in GPU performance [4]. This can be compared with the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 which offered a peak throughput of 0.94 TFLOPs [5]. Code has already been added in the Linux mainline kernel [6] suggesting a possible Computex announcement and mid to late 2019 availability [7].

    • Systemd’s Nspawn Lands OCI Runtime Support

      Merged this morning into the systemd code-base was a big feature addition that’s been in the works for the better part of one year by Lennart Poettering and other developers.

      Merged into the systemd tree is now the OCI runtime support for nspawn. Systemd’s Nspawn, their tool that can be used for starting an OS within a lightweight container, now has support for the OCI run-time specification.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation Adds a Project for Building Data Best Practices

        The Linux Foundation today added a new project, called DataPractices.org, which acts as a template for data best practices. The project will offer open coursework for data teamwork in an effort to create a vendor-neutral community to establish these practices and increase data knowledge.

        The project was initially created by data.world, a data catalog platform for data and analysis, as a data practices manifesto. The manifesto contains the values and principles that create an effective, modern, and ethical approach to data teamwork. According to Brett Hurt, data.world co-founder and CEO, the main goal of the project is to “raise the level of data literacy across the ecosystem.”

        Data teamwork, said Hurt, is a method for bringing together “your data practitioners, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders by removing costly barriers to data discovery, comprehension, integration, and sharing.” He added that this method enables companies to “achieve anything with data, faster.”

        Under the Linux Foundation, DataPractices.org will continue and further the work started by data.world’s manifesto. The manifesto is up on the Linux Foundation’s website (and available to sign) and contains a number of values and principles.

      • The Kodi Foundation Officially Joins Forces with The Linux Foundation

        Ever since the first line of its code was written, there was the idea of creating Kodi (known as XBMC back in the day) based on open-source principles. This means that the source code of this application is available for anyone to access, see, review, and edit as they see fit. And now, the Kodi Foundation has joined the Linux Foundation in a not-as-surprising move as these organizations share the same core values.

        In a freshly-published blog post, Kodi’s development team explains the reasons why it has joined the Linux Foundation as an Associate Member. This move will allow Kodi’s team to work with similar organizations, spread their reach, and to improve their own software in the long run. The Linux Foundation has both corporate members and individual supporters, with companies like Google, Microsoft, Huawei, Intel, IBM, Oracle, Samsung, and many others on board.

      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Announces Kingsoft Cloud as Gold Member

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation® (CNCF®), which sustains open source technologies like Kubernetes® and Prometheus, today announced that Kingsoft Cloud has joined the Foundation as a Gold member.

        Kingsoft Cloud, a unit of Kingsoft Group, is a leading global cloud computing service provider. According to recent research from IDC, Kingsoft is among the top three cloud computing companies in China. The company offers a broad portfolio covering cloud server, physical cloud host, relational database, object storage, load balancing, VPN, CDN, cloud security, cloud DNS, and more, as well as cloud-based solutions for the government and enterprises in vertical industries.

        “By joining CNCF, we look forward to contributing to a more holistic integration of open source technologies across real-world business scenarios,” said Liu Tao,General Manager for Product Center of Cloud Computing and Partner of Kingsoft Cloud. “Becoming a Gold member will not only increase our power to innovate with cutting-edge technologies, but the practical experience Kingsoft Cloud brings can help the CNCF community deploy its projects across commercial application scenarios.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel’s Iris Gallium3D Driver Lands Support For Fast Color Clears

        Intel’s Iris Gallium3D driver may now see slightly better performance in some scenarios thanks to fast color clears support having landed.

        The Iris driver continues picking up new features and optimizations ahead of its debut next quarter in Mesa 19.1 as the next-generation successor to Intel’s long-standing i965 “classic” Mesa driver. The Iris Gallium3D driver is focused on supporting Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics and newer.

      • NVIDIA 418.56 Linux Driver Released With GeForce MX230 / MX250 Support

        Out for GDC week is the NVIDIA 418.56 Linux driver as the latest stable update to their current long-lived driver release branch.

        New hardware support with the NVIDIA 418.56 Linux driver is support for the GeForce MX230 and MX250.

      • Radeon GPU Analyzer 2.1 Adds Vulkan Support In Its GUI, Other Debug Improvements

        AMD has launched a new version of its open-source Radeon GPU Analyzer (RGA) software under the GPUOpen umbrella.

        The Radeon GPU Analyzer allows the offline compiler and code analysis for DirectX/OpenGL/Vulkan/OpenCL code with various nifty features catered towards AMD GPUs. This is an important tool for game/graphics developers trying to study performance bottlenecks or other issues happening on Radeon hardware.

      • SVT-AV1 Can Now Achieve 1080p @ 60 FPS AV1 Video Encoding On Select Configurations

        The performance out of Intel’s SVT video encoders for offering great CPU-based video encoding performance for the likes of HEVC / AV1 / VP9 continues maturing quite nicely. Since discovering Intel’s open-source work at the start of February and benchmarking it several times since, its performance has continued to improve particularly for the SVT-AV1 encoder.

        The work on SVT-AV1 is notable considering all of the other CPU-based AV1 video encoders have been notoriously slow. As of the latest performance optimizations in their Git tree, when using the 8th level encoding pre-set, SVT-AV1 should be capable of achieving up to 1080p @ 60 FPS when using a Xeon Platinum 8180 processor. That’s quite a beefy CPU, but the results are impressive when considering where the SVT-AV1 performance was even at one week ago.

      • wayland 1.17.0

        Wayland 1.17 is released, with no changes (except the version) since RC1.

      • Wayland 1.17 Released With Updated Protocol & Other Improvements

        Wayland release manager Derek Foreman has officially announced the release of Wayland 1.17, the first official update since last August.

        Wayland 1.17 isn’t the most exciting release for end-users but does have some low-level improvements in tow. Wayland 1.17 has some memory leaks plugged and other fixes to its scanner code and tests, the wl_seat protocol has been updated to require keymaps be private and perhaps most notable with Wayland 1.17 is support for internal server error messages. These internal server error messages allow for notifying clients of internal bugs as up to now there was no way of notifying clients of internal server errors. This is an interesting contribution to Wayland by Canonical’s Christopher James Halse Rogers.

  • Applications

    • Samba 4.10.0 Available for Download

      This is the first stable release of the Samba 4.10 release series.
      Please read the release notes carefully before upgrading.

    • Samba 4.10 Released With Pre-Fork Process Model Improvements, Full Support For Python 3

      For those using Samba as the open-source re-implementation of SMB/CIFS and allowing for file/print sharing with Microsoft Windows systems, Samba 4.10 is now available as the project’s latest feature release.

      Samba 4.10 marks the first release where it has full support for Python 3 finally in place. Python 2 also remains supported but this is expected to be the last Samba release with full support for Python 2. Python 3 will be used by default where present.

    • 15 Best Free Linux Wiki Engines

      A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. A Wiki engine is a type of collaborative software that runs a wiki system. This facilitates web pages being created and edited using a web browser. This type of software is usually implemented as an application server that runs on one or more web servers.

      The content is stored in a file system, and changes to the content are typically stored in a relational database management system (such as MySQL), although some simple wiki engines use text files instead.

      Wikis try to make it as simple as possible to write and share useful content, using intuitive page naming and text formatting conventions. Wikis are usually (but not always) wide open and assume a cooperating community. However, with spam bots prevalent, most wiki engines have lots of anti-spam measures such as page permissions, Access Control Lists, host blocking, blacklists, and CAPTCHAs in place.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 15 high quality free Linux wiki engines. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to share information with others.

    • Michal Čihař: translation-finder 1.1

      The translation-finder module has been released in version 1.1. It is used by Weblate to detect translatable files in the repository making setup of translation components in Weblate much easier. This release brings lot of improvements based on feedback from our users, making the detection more reliable and accurate.

    • OpenShot 2.4.4 Released | Keyframe Scaling, Docking, and More!

      I am proud to announce the immediate release of OpenShot 2.4.4, the absolute best version yet! This is going to be a long post, but here is a quick summary for those who are short on time. This release brings huge performance and stability improvements, along with some major bug fixes, lots of polish, and many new features.

    • OpenShot 2.4.4 Released With Better SVG Rendering, Preview Performance

      OpenShot 2.4.4 is the latest update to this long advancing open-source non-linear video editing solution that competes with the likes of Kdenlive and Shotcut.

    • Proprietary

      • Nuvola: Desktop Music Player for Streaming Services

        Initially I thought that it wouldn’t be too different than simply running the web app in Firefox, since many desktop environments like KDE support media controls and shortcuts for media playing in Firefox.

        However, this isn’t the case with many other desktops environments and that’s where Nuvola comes in handy. Often, it’s also faster to access than loading the website on the browser.

        Once loaded, it behaves pretty much like a normal web app with the benefit of keyboard shortcuts. Speaking of shortcuts, you should check out the list of must know Ubuntu shortcuts.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

    • Games

      • Stadia is about the future of YouTube, not gaming

        Yesterday, Google announced plans for a new game-streaming service called Stadia. Besides the logo, the controller, and a single game — Doom Eternal — the announcement left us with more questions than answers. Primary in my mind has been the query of why Google needs to be in the gaming business at all. Isn’t it enough to dominate web search, ads, and browsers, smartphone operating systems, and maps? What part of our lives does Google not want to know about? And then it dawned on me that we might be looking at it from the wrong perspective: what if Stadia isn’t a case of Google aggressively entering a new business sphere, but rather a defensive one to protect its existing kingdom?

      • Google Stadia’s Grand Vision for Gaming Clashes With America’s Shitty Internet

        Slow speeds, usage caps, and overage fees could mar the long-awaited arrival of game streams.

      • Slow Broadband, Usage Caps Could Mar Google Stadia’s Game Streaming Ambitions

        I can remember being at E3 in 2000 and being pitched on the idea of a sort of “dumb terminal” for gaming. As in, you wouldn’t need a computer or game console in your home, since all of the actual game processing would be accomplished in the cloud then streamed to your TV via broadband. Most of these early pitches never materialized. Initially because cloud computing simply wasn’t fully baked yet, but also thanks to America’ shoddy broadband.

        Cloud-based game streaming is something the industry has continued to push for, though nobody has yet to truly crack the market. Onlive probably tried the hardest, though again a lack of real cloud horsepower and sketchy residential broadband prevented the service from truly taking off.

        Undaunted, Google took to the stage at the Game Developers Conference to unveil Stadia, a looming game streaming platform that will let gamers play top-shelf games on any hardware with a Chrome browser. Google insists that the service, when it launches this summer, will be able to drive games at up to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second seamlessly between multiple devices with no need for game consoles, high-end PCs, loading times, or installs. The whole presentation is available here:

      • Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney on PC store moderation: ‘We’re not in the porn business’

        Last year, Valve announced a hands-off approach to Steam that would allow anything onto the platform “except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” In addition to the Rape Day controversy, that policy has pushed Valve to take hardline stances on content revolving around child exploitation, school shootings, and most recently around tributes memorializing the New Zealand shooter. Sweeney, it seems, does not see the value it trying to protect content that pushes up against that amorphous line.

      • Linux Gaming Report and Purism Librem 15 | Choose Linux 5

        Jason goes deeper down the rabbit hole by exploring the state of Steam gaming on 9 different Linux distributions. Find out how Fedora compares to Pop!_OS.

        Plus, first impressions of Purism’s brand new Librem 15 v4 laptop.

      • Objects in Space released for Linux on Steam, needs you to disable Steam Play

        While the Linux version has been up on GOG for a little while, Steam was left a bit behind. Now the Linux version on Steam has been officially announced and released but there’s an issue with Steam Play.

      • First-person roguelike ‘Barony’ released the Myths & Outcasts DLC recently, also now on GOG

        Barony is a game I hadn’t honestly touched in a very long time, which all changed with the Myths & Outcasts DLC that released last month giving new ways to play. It’s also now on GOG, so that’s great.

      • Chasm, the adventure platformer from Bit Kid just had a big update giving more variety

        Chasm, the crowdfunded adventure platformer continues to see great post-release support with the latest big free update out now.

        While it’s not a personal favourite of mine (I much prefer Dead Cells honestly), it’s still a reasonably good game overall. In fact, it’s far better than a lot of action/adventure platformers and it does look great.

      • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive now has much better queue times for Danger Zone

        Following on from the tweak to Danger Zone to focus more on duos, Valve are still tweaking their Battle Royale mode in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as well as the game as a whole.

        Firstly, for Danger Zone you should now see much better queue times for matchmaking. Before this patch, I could easily see queue times around 3 to 5 minutes (often the latter) even with a lot of people online which is not ideal and frankly that makes me (and no doubt others) get bored and look to play something else. Since this patch has dropped, I’ve played a good 30-40 matches and not a single one has hit even 2 minutes queue time (under 1 minute mostly now!) which is a pretty huge improvement.

        • SteamOS is alive with a new beta and updated drivers, also a new Steam Client Beta is out

          Valve haven’t given up on their home-grown Linux distribution yet, with SteamOS seeing another beta update. Additionally, there’s another Steam Client Beta update about.

          As far as updates to SteamOS go, the last time they actually announced anything was with the 2.170 update back in January but they have actually been doing multiple newer builds since then you can see here. Just today, they officially announced the SteamOS 2.183 beta and the gist of it is this…

        • Oxygen Not Included from Klei Entertainment to leave Early Access in May with new content

          Oxygen Not Included, the incredible space-colony sim from Klei Entertainment is leaving Early Access in May and they’ve detailed some of what’s coming and future plans.

          Before I get started, I just want to mention how much I love Oxygen Not Included. It fills me with wonder as much as it charges me with rage at times, especially when all my people are sick and throwing up everywhere or urinating in our clean water. It has a fantastic style to it too, although Klei games always look good (Don’t Starve being another example of this). It’s quite amusing to rename your people too, makes it quite hilarious when someone you know well goes around wrecking the place. Every game is a new challenge, every cavern you dig into might have something awesome and it’s just good fun.

        • Kingdom Rush Origins expanded again recently, the Forgotten treasures expansion is out

          Kingdom Rush Origins, the excellent tower defense game from Ironhide Game Studio is seeing some great updates, with another campaign named Forgotten treasures now up.

        • Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service Powered by Linux and Vulkan

          Google announced today during the GDC (Game Developers Conference) 2019 conference a new cloud-based video game streaming platform called Stadia.
          With Stadia, Google aims to take on Nvidia’s GeForce NOW and Valve’s Steam Link game streaming services by offering users select and original titles developed in-house, as well as instant access to your games library, which you’ll be able to stream virtually anywhere in up to 4K HDR resolutions at 60 frames per second.

          “To build Stadia, we’ve thought deeply about what it means to be a gamer and worked to converge two distinct worlds: people who play video games and people who love watching them. Stadia will lift restrictions on the games we create and play—and the communities who enjoy them,” said Phil Harrison, Vice President and GM, Google Stadia.

          Stadia promises to be an advanced game streaming powered by Google’s globally connected network of data centers that combine server class CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage to deliver 24/7 gaming to players around the world and unlimited resources to game developers who want to create original and gorgeous games.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Parental controls hackfest

          Various of us have been meeting in the Red Hat offices in London this week (thanks Red Hat!) to discuss parental controls and digital wellbeing. The first two days were devoted to this; today and tomorrow will be dedicated to discussing metered data (which is unrelated to parental controls, but the hackfests are colocated because many of the same people are involved in both).

        • GNOME Bugzilla closed for new bug entry

          As part of GNOME’s ongoing migration from Bugzilla to Gitlab, from today on there are no products left in GNOME Bugzilla which allow the creation of new tickets.
          The ID of the last GNOME Bugzilla ticket is 797430 (note that there are gaps between 173191–200000 and 274555–299999 as the 2xxxxx ID range was used for tickets imported from Ximian Bugzilla).

          Since the year 2000, the Bugzilla software had served as GNOME’s issue tracking system. As forges emerged which offer tight and convenient integration of issue tracking, code review of proposed patches, automated continuous integration testing, code repository browsing and hosting and further functionality, Bugzilla’s shortcomings became painful obstacles for modern software development practices.

          Nearly all products which used GNOME Bugzilla have moved to GNOME Gitlab to manage issues. A few projects (Bluefish, Doxygen, GnuCash, GStreamer, java-gnome, LDTP, NetworkManager, Tomboy) have moved to other places (such as freedesktop.org Gitlab, self-hosted Bugzilla instances, or Github) to track their issues.

        • Metered data hackfest

          We’re now into the second day of the metered data hackfest in London. Yesterday we looked at Endless’ existing metered data implementation, which is restricted to OS and application updates, and discussed how it could be reworked to fit in with the new control centre design, and which applications would benefit from scheduling their large downloads to avoid using metered data unnecessarily (and hence costing the user money).

          The conclusion was that the first step is to draw up a design for the control centre integration, which determines when to allow downloads on metered connections, and which connections are actually metered. Then to upstream the integration of metered data with gnome-software, so that app and OS updates adhere to the policy. Integration with other applications which do large downloads (such as podcasts, file syncing, etc.) can then follow.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Zorin OS 15 Enters Beta with Flatpak Support, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS

          The development team behind the Ubuntu-based and user-friendly Zorin OS GNU/Linux distribution announced that they are working on the next major release, Zorin OS 15, which entered beta testing today.

          Based on the long-term supported Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series, Zorin OS 15 promises a revamped user experience that has been modeled to suit everyone’s needs, not only those who are migrating from a Microsoft Windows operating system, but also power users and advanced Linux users.

          “Creating a Linux desktop operating system that’s designed for everyone – not only the engineers & power users – has always been the mission of Zorin OS, ever since the first release nearly 10 years ago. Zorin OS 15 takes this decade-long effort and amplifies it to the next level,” said the Zorin OS team in today’s announcement.

        • Windows 7 nagging you to move to Windows 10? Upgrade to Linux instead with Zorin OS 15 Beta!

          Well, folks, it’s happening — Windows 7 will soon be unsupported. Yes, the last Microsoft operating system to truly be loved by users will soon be dead. Microsoft would love for these users to switch to Windows 10, but understandably, not everyone wants to. After all, the user interface is a mess, and there are spying concerns with overly aggressive telemetry.

          If you are still on Windows 7, Microsoft will soon begin warning you that support is ending. I actually don’t hate Microsoft for nagging these users — quite the opposite. The company informing users that the Windows 7 operating system will soon be dangerous to use should be celebrated. Thankfully, Windows 10 is not the only path — Linux is a great option these days. In fact, one of my favorite distributions for Windows switchers, Zorin OS, has a new Beta out today. You should definitely give it a go.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Fedora

      • Debian Family

        • DebConf20 Conference to Be Hosted in Haifa, Israel, for Debian GNU/Linux 11

          port city built in tiers, Haifa is found in the northern area of Israel, extending from the Mediterranean sea till the north slope of the Carmel Mountain National Park. Haifa it’s the third-largest city in Israel after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and it is close to the biblical city Nazareth where Jesus studied and prayed.

          In 2020, the Debian Project will celebrate 12 years since the first DebConf Debian developer conference, so they decided to choose Israel instead of Lisbon, Portugal, for next year’s DebConf20 event despite the extensive discussions between the DebConf team and committee due to Israel’s political system.

        • Bits from Debian: DebConf19 registration is open!

          Registration for DebConf19 is now open. The event will take place from July 21st to 28th, 2019 at the Central campus of Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná – UTFPR, in Curitiba, Brazil, and will be preceded by DebCamp, from July 14th to 19th, and an Open Day on the 20th.

          DebConf is an event open to everyone, no matter how you identify yourself or how others perceive you. We want to increase visibility of our diversity and work towards inclusion at Debian Project, drawing our attendees from people just starting their Debian journey, to seasoned Debian Developers or active contributors in different areas like packaging, translation, documentation, artwork, testing, specialized derivatives, user support and many other. In other words, all are welcome.

        • Jonathan Carter: GitLab and Debian

          As part of my DPL campaign, I thought that I’d break out a few items out in blog posts that don’t quite fit into my platform. This is the first post in that series.

          When Debian was hunting for a new VCS-based collaboration suite in 2017, the administrators of the then current platform, called Alioth (which was a FusionForge instance) strongly considered adopting Pagure, a git hosting framework from Fedora. I was a bit saddened that GitLab appeared to be losing the race, since I’ve been a big fan of the project for years already. At least Pagure would be a huge improvement over the status quo and it’s written in Python, which I considered a plus over GitLab, so at least it wasn’t going to be all horrible.

          The whole discussion around GitLab vs Pagure turned out to be really fruitful though. GitLab did some introspection around its big non-technical problems, especially concerning their contributor licence agreement, and made some major improvements which made GitLab a lot more suitable for large free software projects, which shortly lead to its adoption by both the Debian project and the Gnome project. I think it’s a great example of how open communication and engagement can help reduce friction and make things better for everyone. GitLab has since became even more popular and is now the de facto self-hosted git platform across all types of organisations.

        • Lucas Nussbaum: Call for help: graphing Debian trends

          It has been raised in various discussions how much it’s difficult to make large-scale changes in Debian.

          I think that one part of the problem is that we are not very good at tracking those large-scale changes, and I’d like to change that. A long time ago, I did some graphs about Debian (first in 2011, then in 2013, then again in 2015). An example from 2015 is given below, showing the market share of packaging helpers.

        • Antoine Beaupré: Securing registration email

          I’ve been running my own email server basically forever. Recently, I’ve been thinking about possible attack vectors against my personal email. There’s of course a lot of private information in that email address, and if someone manages to compromise my email account, they will see a lot of personal information. That’s somewhat worrisome, but there are possibly more serious problems to worry about.

          TL;DR: if you can, create a second email address to register on websites and use stronger protections on that account from your regular mail.

        • Daniel Pocock: Don’t trust me. Trust the voters.

          Any reply in support of my nomination has been censored, so certain bullies create the impression that theirs is the last word.

          I’ve put myself up for election before yet I’ve never, ever been so disappointed. Just as Venezuela’s crisis is now seen as a risk to all their neighbours, the credibility of elections and membership status is a risk to confidence throughout the world of free software. It has already happened in Linux Foundation and FSFE and now we see it happening in Debian.

          In student politics, I was on the committee that managed a multi-million dollar budget for services in the union building and worked my way up to become NUS ambassador to Critical Mass, paid to cycle home for a year and sharing an office with one of the grand masters of postal voting: Voters: 0, Cabals: 1.

          Ironically, the latter role is probably more relevant to the skills required to lead a distributed organization like Debian. Critical Mass rides have no leader at all.

          When I volunteered to be FSFE Fellowship representative, I faced six other candidates. On the first day of voting, I was rear-ended by a small van, pushed several meters along the road and thrown off a motorbike, half way across a roundabout. I narrowly missed being run over by a bus.

          It didn’t stop me. An accident? Russians developing new tactics for election meddling? Premonition of all the backstabbings to come? Miraculously, the Fellowship still voted for me to represent them.

        • Derivatives

          • Canonical/Ubuntu

            • Design and Web team summary – 15 March 2019

              This was a fairly busy two weeks for the Web & design team at Canonical.

              [...]

              We maintain the Vanilla css framework that most of the websites at Ubuntu and Canonical use. Here are a few patterns and websites that were updated.

    • Devices/Embedded

    Free Software/Open Source

    • Turris: secure open-source routers

      One of the other things it is doing is creating open-source home routers. It started because CZ.NIC wondered about how safe home users are from network attacks. Are there active attacks against home users? And, if so, how frequent are they and what kinds of attacks are being made? To figure out the answer, the organization created Project Turris to create a secure router that it gave away. These routers would monitor the network and report suspicious traffic back to the project. They also served as endpoints for some honeypots that the project was running.

      CZ.NIC wanted to make the Turris router “the right way”, he said, so the organization made it all open source. The router has automatic security updates and users are given root access on the device. It also sported some “interesting hardware”, Hrušecký said; it had a two-core PowerPC CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 256MB of NAND flash.

      Based on the information provided by the Turris routers, CZ.NIC researchers started publishing reports about what they were finding. That led some people to ask if they could get the routers themselves, because they felt that other router makers were “not doing things right”. That led to the creation of commercial Turris routers: the Turris Omnia (which was reviewed here in 2016) and the upcoming Turris Mox. Those routers will still allow people to participate in the research if they choose to.

      Building the routers with free and open-source software (FOSS) is really the only way to go, he said. The project knew that it was not going to be able to compete with small, cheap routers, so it created routers with lots of capability that would allow them to run lots of different kinds of services. FOSS makes it easy to get started on a project like this because there is lots of available software that can be easily integrated into the OS.

      These routers allow users to do whatever they want and people believe they are more capable than they truly are, Hrušecký said. That means they break things in “really creative ways”. Sometimes they will make custom changes, completely outside of the OS framework, which get overwritten with the next automatic update. These are “tricky problems” to handle; the project would not have if it locked its users out. At some “dark moments” he understands why some companies do that.

    • 4 questions Uber’s open source program office answers with data

      It’s been said that “Software is eating the world,” and every company will eventually become a “software company.” Since open source is becoming the mainstream path for developing software, the way companies manage their relationships with the open source projects they depend on will be crucial for their success.

      An open source program office (OSPO) is a company’s asset to manage such relationships, and more and more companies are setting them up. Even the Linux Foundation has a project called the TODO Group “to collaborate on practices, tools, and other ways to run successful and effective open source projects and programs”.

    • Baidu open-sources NLP model it claims achieves state-of-the-art results in Chinese language tasks

      Baidu, the Beijing conglomerate behind the eponymous Chinese search engine, invests heavily in natural language processing (NLP) research. In October, it debuted an AI model capable of beginning a translation just a few seconds into a speaker’s speech and finishing seconds after the end of a sentence, and in 2016 and 2017, it launched SwiftScribe, a web app powered by its DeepSpeech platform, and TalkType, a dictation-centric Android keyboard.

      Building on that and other previous work, Baidu this week detailed ERNIE (Enhanced Representation through kNowledge IntEgration), a natural language model based on its PaddlePaddle deep learning platform. The company claims it achieves “high accuracy” on a range of language processing tasks, including natural language inference, semantic similarity, named entity recognition, sentiment analysis, and question-answer matching, and that it’s state-of-the-art with respect to Chinese language understanding.

    • The New York Times has released an open-source tool to let you manage all your internal knowledge more easily

      Library is a wiki at heart, but it uses the familiar Google Docs as its backend and editing interface, easing maintenance for a wide population of users (“we wanted to meet people where they already were, rather than trying to teach them something entirely new”).

    • We Built a Collaborative Documentation Site. Deploy Your Own With the Push of a Button.

      Our solution to this problem has worked well for us. We hope others will find value in the technology we built, so we’re releasing Library to the open source community.

    • Events

      • foss-north 2019: Community Day

        I don’t dare to count the days until foss-north 2019, but it is very soon. One of the changes to this year is that we expand the conference with an additional community day.

        The idea with the community day here is that we arrange for conference rooms all across town and invite open source projects to use them for workshops, install fests, hackathons, dev sprints or whatever else they see fit. It is basically a day of mini-conferences spread out across town.

        The community day is on April 7, the day before the conference days, and is free of charge.

    • Web Browsers

      • Chrome

        • Google Releases Chrome 73 Update for Linux, Windows, and macOS

          Google has just released an update for Chrome 73, the major update of the browser that was shipped to all supported platforms earlier this month.

          Now at version 73.0.3683.86, Google Chrome comes with under-the-hood improvements on Windows, Linux, and macOS, and you can download it using the links here.

        • Google will implement a Microsoft-style browser picker for EU Android devices

          We don’t have many details on exactly how Google’s new search and browser picker will work; there’s just a single paragraph in the company’s blog post. Google says it will “do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones. This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.”

        • EU hits Google with fine for abuse of AdSense service

          The European Commission has hit search giant Google with a third fine, related to abuse of its AdSense advertising service, and told the company to fork out €1.49 billion (A$2.38 billion) for breaching EU anti-trust rules.

        • The EU fines Google $1.69 billion for bundling search and advertising

          Google and the EU’s European Commission are making all sorts of announcements lately. Fresh off the revelation that Google would implement a browser and search-engine picker in EU-sold Android devices, Google’s advertising division is getting slapped with a fine next, to the tune of €1.5 billion ($1.69 billion). The European Commission’s latest antitrust ruling says that Google’s bundling of its advertising platform with its custom search engine program is anti-competitive toward other ad providers.

      • Mozilla

        • Sharing our Common Voices

          From the onset, our vision for Common Voice has been to build the world’s most diverse voice dataset, optimized for building voice technologies. We also made a promise of openness: we would make the high quality, transcribed voice data that was collected publicly available to startups, researchers, and anyone interested in voice-enabled technologies.

          Today, we’re excited to share our first multi-language dataset with 18 languages represented, including English, French, German and Mandarin Chinese (Traditional), but also for example Welsh and Kabyle. Altogether, the new dataset includes approximately 1,400 hours of voice clips from more than 42,000 people.

          With this release, the continuously growing Common Voice dataset is now the largest ever of its kind, with tens of thousands of people contributing their voices and original written sentences to the public domain (CC0). Moving forward, the full dataset will be available for download on the Common Voice site.

        • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #42

          WebRender is a GPU based 2D rendering engine for web written in Rust, currently powering Mozilla’s research web browser servo and on its way to becoming Firefox‘s rendering engine.

        • Firefox UX: Look over here! Results from a Firefox user research study about interruptions.

          The Attention War. There have been many headlines related to it in the past decade. This is the idea that apps and companies are stealing attention. It’s the idea that technologists throw up ads on websites in a feeble attempt to get the attention of the people who visit the website.

          In tech, or any industry really, people often say something to the effect of, “well if the person using this product or service only read the instructions, or clicked on the message, or read our email, they’d understand and wouldn’t have any problems”. We need people’s attention to provide a product experience or service. We’re all in the “attention war”, product designers and users alike.

          And what’s a sure-fire way to grab someone’s attention? Interruptions. Regardless if they’re good, bad, or neutral. Interruptions are not necessarily a “bad” thing, they can also lead to good behavior, actions, or knowledge.

    • Databases

      • How to use Spark SQL: A hands-on tutorial

        In the first part of this series, we looked at advances in leveraging the power of relational databases “at scale” using Apache Spark SQL and DataFrames. We will now do a simple tutorial based on a real-world dataset to look at how to use Spark SQL. We will be using Spark DataFrames, but the focus will be more on using SQL. In a separate article, I will cover a detailed discussion around Spark DataFrames and common operations.

        I love using cloud services for my machine learning, deep learning, and even big data analytics needs, instead of painfully setting up my own Spark cluster. I will be using the Databricks Platform for my Spark needs. Databricks is a company founded by the creators of Apache Spark that aims to help clients with cloud-based big data processing using Spark.

      • Scaling relational databases with Apache Spark SQL and DataFrames
    • LibreOffice

      • LibreOffice 6.2.2 Office Suite Released with More Than 50 Fixes, Download Now

        While LibreOffice 6.1 is still the recommended version for those who want a more stable and well-tested LibreOffice office suite, LibreOffice 6.2.2 is here for technology enthusiasts and early adopters who want to get a taste of the latest new features and innovations in the free and open-source office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide.

        “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.,” said Italo Vignoli.

      • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.2

        The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2.2, the third release of the LibreOffice 6.2 family targeted at tech savvy individuals: early adopters, technology enthusiasts and power users.

        LibreOffice individual users are supported by a global community of volunteers: https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/. On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all these resources available.

        LibreOffice users are invited to join the community at https://www.libreoffice.org/community/get-involved/, to improve LibreOffice by contributing back in one of the following areas: development, documentation, infrastructure, localization, quality assurance, design or marketing.

    • BSD

    • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

      • FSFE Newsletter March 2019

        This month’s newsletter highlights the new project the FSFE recently joined and the funding opportunities it offers, that you may want to take advantage of. You can get the latest updates on the Copyright Directive reform and the hottest news regarding Article 13, as well as a short summary of what else has happened during the past month. In the Editor’s choice section this month you can find interesting news on developments with the Radio Equipment Directive, and find out who else have expressed their support for our “Public Money? Public Code!” campaign and what they have to say about it.

    • Licensing/Legal

      • FOSS vs FRAND is a collision of worldviews

        Of late there have been a number of interventions sponsored by the world’s largest and most profitable tech patent holders to muddy the waters about open source and FRAND licensing of patents in standards by arguing contentious minutiae like the intent of the authors of the BSD license. This is happening because of the clash of industries I wrote about in 2016, with companies fundamentally based on extracting patent royalties unable to imagine any other way of doing business so mistaking the issue of FRAND as being about license compliance rather than as it being an obstacle to the very purpose of open source in commercial software — collaboration with others.

      • Motivations and pitfalls for new “open-source” licenses

        One of the bigger developments of the last year has been the introduction of licenses that purport to address perceived shortcomings in existing free and open-source software licenses. Much has been said and written about them, some of it here, and they are clearly much on the community’s mind. At FOSDEM 2019, Michael Cheng gave his view on the motivations for the introduction of these licenses, whether they’ve been effective in addressing those motivations, what unintended consequences they may also have had, and the need for the community to develop some ground rules about them going forward.

        In the past year we have seen several unusual new licenses, the Server Side Public License (SSPL), the Commons Clause license addendum, the CockroachDB Community License, and the Confluent Community License among them. All either perturb the historical copyleft norm of “you must distribute derivative works under the same license” by extending the scope past what’s covered under the definition of a derivative work, or they exclude some historically permitted form of activity such as building similar works or making money. These developments have been of concern to many; talks at FOSDEM and the immediately-following Copyleft Conference with titles like “Redis Labs and the tragedy of the Commons Clause”, “Who wants you to think nobody uses the AGPL and why”, and “What is the maximum permissible scope for copyleft?” leave little room to doubt how many people are mulling over them.

    • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • Ender 3: Open Source 3D Printer Reviewed By A 3D Printing Noob

          3D printing has been all the rage lately with both professionals and prosumers accomplishing incredible things from printing patient organs for surgery practice to printing robotic arms and quad-copters. As with all things, there has been a trickle-down effect that’s led to even the most inexperienced being able to obtain this revolutionary technology.

          Here we will explore my adventure from having never touched a 3D printer to assembling and operating my own Creality Ender 3.

    • Programming/Development

      • Trip Report: C++ Standards Meeting in Kona, February 2019

        A few weeks ago I attended a meeting of the ISO C++ Standards Committee (also known as WG21) in Kona, Hawaii. This was the first committee meeting in 2019; you can find my reports on 2018’s meetings here (November 2018, San Diego), here (June 2018, Rapperswil), and here (March 2018, Jacksonville). These reports, particularly the San Diego one, provide useful context for this post.

        This week marked the feature-complete deadline of C++20, so there was a heavy focus on figuring out whether certain large features that hadn’t yet merged into the working draft would make it in. Modules and Coroutines made it; Executors and Networking did not.

        Attendance at this meeting wasn’t quite at last meeting’s record-breaking level, but it was still quite substantial. We continued the experiment started at the last meeting of running Evolution Incubator (“EWGI”) and Library Evolution Incubator (“LEWGI”) subgroups to pre-filter / provide high-level directional guidance for proposals targeting the Evolution and Library Evolution groups (EWG and LEWG), respectively.

      • Comparing Machine Learning Methods

        When working with data and modeling, its sometimes hard to determine what model you should use for a particular modeling project. A quick way to find an algorithm that might work better than others is to run through an algorithm comparison loop to see how various models work against your data. In this post, I’ll be comparing machine learning methods using a few different sklearn algorithms.

      • Python Sets: Cheat Sheet
      • Unique sentinel values, identity checks, and when to use object() instead of None
      • The [IBM-sponsored] RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2019
      • This Week in Rust 278
      • Speed: Default value vs checking for None
      • Book Review: Mission Python
      • How To Create A ‘Hello, World!’ Application With Django

        Django is a high-level full stack open source web framework written in Python, that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Django comes with lots of advance functionalities baked in which saves developers a lot of time. The simplicity Django offers lets developers focus more on writing the app instead of rewriting the same wheel. Since it’s release in 2003 Django has proven to be the most productive framework for Python developers to know more about Django read: Django – Web Framework For Perfectionists

        In this article, we will create the traditional “Hello, World!” app, which will basically display the string ‘Hello, world!’ in the browser. This might be your first Django app so pay close attention to the core principles of Django which we will discuss later in the article.

      • Announcing Public Anaconda Package Download Data

        I’m very happy to announce that starting today, we will be publishing summarized download data for all conda packages served in the Anaconda Distribution, as well as the popular conda-forge and bioconda channels. The dataset starts January 1, 2017 (April 2017 for Anaconda Cloud channels) and will be updated roughly once a month. We hope these data will help the community understand how quickly new package versions are being adopted, which platforms are popular for users, and track the usage of different Python versions. For example, this dataset can be used to see how the Python 2 to 3 transition has been progressing for the past 2 years:

      • [Older] BPF: A Tour of Program Types
      • How to Be a Tech-Savvy

        Learn how to write a program:
        You cannot make anything new in the computer world without programming skills. You can create windows, apps, websites, a desktop application using programming languages. Some programming languages that you can learn in your beginning level of becoming tech-savvy is Java, C, C++, Html, CSS, JAVASCRIPT, PHP, PYTHON. You can enhance your programming skills by sitting home by taking online tutorials.

        Use a Linux or Unix Operating System:
        If you want to be a tech- savvy I recommend using Unix operating system because a techy person mostly uses the Unix operating system in the world. Unix operating system is open source anyone can use it, and you can view its code too. So, it will help in enhancing your programming skills and learning about technical skills.

      • JDK 12: The new features in Java 12

        The production release of Java Development Kit 12, based on Java SE (Standard Edition) 12, is now available. JDK 12 builds are available from Oracle for Linux, Windows, and MacOS.

        [...]

        Open source builds are provided under the GNU General Public License v2, with Classpath Exception. Commercial builds of JDK 12 from Oracle can be found on the Oracle Technology network under a non-open source license.

      • Python dictionary “addition” and “subtraction”

        A proposal to add a new dictionary operator for Python has spawned a PEP and two large threads on the python-ideas mailing list. To a certain extent, it is starting to look a bit like the “PEP 572 mess”; there are plenty of opinions on whether the feature should be implemented and how it should be spelled, for example. As yet, there has been no formal decision made on how the new steering council will be handling PEP pronouncements, though a review of open PEPs is the council’s “highest priority”. This PEP will presumably be added into the process; it is likely too late to be included in Python 3.8 even if it were accepted soon, so there is plenty of time to figure it all out before 3.9 is released sometime in 2021.

      • Debugging and Profiling Python Scripts [Tutorial]

        Debugging and profiling play an important role in Python development. The debugger helps programmers to analyze the complete code. The debugger sets the breakpoints whereas the profilers run our code and give us the details of the execution time. The profilers will identify the bottlenecks in your programs. In this tutorial, we’ll learn about the pdb Python debugger, cProfile module, and timeit module to time the execution of Python code.

        This tutorial is an excerpt from a book written by Ganesh Sanjiv Naik titled Mastering Python Scripting for System Administrators. This book will show you how to leverage Python for tasks ranging from text processing, network administration, building GUI, web-scraping as well as database administration including data analytics & reporting.

    Leftovers

    • Science

      • Beeps and melodies in two-way radio

        Lately my listening activities have focused on two-way FM radio. I’m interested in automatic monitoring and visualization of multiple channels simultaneously, and classifying transmitters. There’s a lot of in-band signaling to be decoded! This post shall demonstrate this diversity and also explain how my listening station works.

    • Hardware

      • The Modern Workstation — A Litmus Test for Today

        The same is not true at the high-volume low end of the market, where workstations today at a component-level share much of the same technology and chips that drive the general PC marketplace. Under the hood of most workstations less than $2,000 are the same pieces of silicon-powered machines branded as high-performance PCs. CPUs are often the same Intel Core brand and even if the GPU is branded NVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro, the silicon die at the heart of the graphics card is the same silicon driving sibling GeForce and Radeon consumer products. At this point, we can no longer point a finger at one or two hardware components in a box and conclude that the machine should be classified as a high-end desktop or a low-end workstation.

        Is the low-end workstation a marketing scam perpetrated by OEMs looking to increase their margins at the expense of customers? No, that’s a myth long dispelled, with most buyers understanding that while the make-up of the workstation has changed, its value as the premier tool for 3D visual computing is clear. However, there needs to be a different, legitimate means to cleanly differentiate the two, as the definitions or preconceptions formed in the 80s and 90s no longer apply.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • About a third of medical vaccine exemptions in San Diego came from one doctor

        A single San Diego doctor wrote nearly a third of the area’s medical vaccination exemptions since 2015, according to an investigation by the local nonprofit news organization Voice of San Diego.

      • How Rhode Island’s Emergency 911 System Failed Baby Alijah

        Barbara’s son had just gotten out of the shower and gone back downstairs to where his 6-month-old son was napping when she heard a scream. Then came the pounding of feet on the stairs of their home in Warwick, Rhode Island.

        Conner handed her Alijah, who was limp.

        Barbara tried to stay calm as she carried her grandson into the living room. She’d watched medical shows on TV where they did CPR on babies.

        “He’s turning purple!” Barbara shouted as her daughter, Jessica, spoke to a 911 operator. (We’re not using last names at the family’s request to protect their privacy.)

        “Do we give him mouth-to-mouth? What do we do?” Jessica, the baby’s aunt, asked the 911 call taker at one point.

        She never got a good answer.

        The call taker asked the same questions repeatedly, wasting crucial time. She gave incorrect information. And she failed to recognize that the baby was in cardiac arrest, meaning his heart had stopped and he was not breathing, according to three emergency medical experts who reviewed a recording of the 911 call obtained by Barbara and provided to The Public’s Radio.

        The call on that Friday morning in February 2018 lasted nearly four minutes, at which point emergency medical services personnel arrived. During the call, the 911 operator never instructed the family in how to perform a basic, potentially lifesaving, treatment: cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

      • WaPo’s ‘Hard-Line’ Stance Against Medicare for All

        The phrase “hard-line,” as commonly used in the Washington Post, is almost always a pejorative. Often it references official enemy states like Iran (5/4/18, 5/9/18) or North Korea (1/18/19). In a recent Post (3/11/19) article, however, reporter Paige W. Cunningham used the term to refer to a different kind of enemy: proponents of Medicare for All.

        Among the “hard-line liberal groups and unions” the article refers to in its headline and lead is the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations. The “hard-line” groups include much of the grassroots movements for healthcare justice in the country: National Nurses United, Social Security Works and the Center for Popular Democracy. These orgs—described elsewhere in the piece as “advocates on the far left”—are devoted to such “hard-line” positions as universal healthcare, protecting senior citizens and empowering voters and activists. The Post is concerned that these groups provided input to Rep. Pramila Jayapal as she wrote the Medicare for All legislation (H.R. 1384) she introduced in February.

        In fact, what the Post describes as “hard-line” and “far left” is actually a very popular position. Medicare for All has long polled well among the public at large, especially Democratic voters. A Reuters poll from 2018 (The Hill, 8/23/18) showed 70 percent of the public, 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans support Medicare for All. That poll is the high water mark, but the policy polls well in most other polls as well (Politico/Harvard, 1/7/19).

        [...]

        The implication from Cunningham—who has been critiqued for parroting right-wing talking points by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters (2/15/18)—is that there are acceptably mainstream policies like the ACA, backed by acceptably mainstream groups like CAP. Jayapal and others, on the other hand, are going “a step (or steps) too far” with Medicare for All, “as it would upend health coverage for tens of millions of Americans”—according “to some progressives.”

        Assuredly “some progressives” disagree with the Medicare for All policy. It is also true that “some conservatives” agree with the policy. In fact, you can put the word “some” before virtually any demographic group and be correct. Given the volume of information about this issue available, it is hard to believe the Post could not be bothered to put these vague terms in context. Who are these progressives? Voters or politicians? Do they get money from the industry? There was no information about any of that.

      • Boston City Council Passes Groundbreaking Food Justice Ordinance

        Food justice advocates heaped praise on Boston Monday after the city’s legislative body unanimously passed an ordinance that boosts the local economy and environment as well as workers, animal welfare, and healthful eating.

        “With this passage, Boston has loosened the stranglehold that corporations have over our food system, especially in schools,” said Alexa Kaczmarski, senior organizer at Corporate Accountability, following the vote on the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP).

        “This will have ripple effects throughout the entire nation,” she added.

        The GFPP, sponsored by Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu, affects public food purchasers, the largest of which is the Boston Public Schools, which has a $18 million food budget.

      • Strawberries, Spinach Top ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Pesticide-Contaminated Produce

        Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That’s the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

    • Security

      • The Many Flavors of Linux

        Linux is not as popularly used in both the security- and user-focused computing worlds as other OSes such as Windows and macOS, but it can still be used for both. In fact, depending on your needs, there are many different flavors of Linux you can use.

        And the different versions have key differences between them. Aside from security user-focused distros, there are what can be considered unique Linux distros that have their own specific uses, weird as they may be. This article will detail some of the many flavors of Linux available today and will leave you with a better understanding of their differences, and you will be in a better position to select the distro of Linux for your needs.

      • Putty 0.71 Fixes Weakness That Allows Fake Login Prompts

        The latest version of PuTTY SSH and Telnet client adds protection against spoofing the terminal authentication prompt to steal login info. Recently released, the update comes after a 20-month hiatus and fixes a total of eight security issues.

        An attacker taking advantage of this weakness could allow authentication on a malicious server with no password and at the start of the session send the text PuTTY shows when prompting for the private key passphrase.

      • VLANs and More Added to AccessEnforcer UTM Firewall

        AccessEnforcer Version 4.1 also updates firewall’s operating system to OpenBSD 6.3. OpenBSD is one of the most secure operating systems in the world. Version 6.3 provides additional mitigations against the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities and also mitigates against return-oriented programming and other memory corruption attacks.

      • Norwegian aluminium firm slowly recovering from ransomware attack

        Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro says it has made some progress restoring its systems back to normal after being hit by Windows ransomware known as LockerGoGa on Monday evening.

      • Spammers Send Junk Mail to Thousands of Printers

        Spam has been with us since the very first days of email, but a Russian marketing agency recently took things a stage further by sending good old-fashioned paper-based junk mail over the internet.

        The company claims to have advertised a graphic design course for its client Skillbox using a software bot that searched for online printers. It printed a one-page promotion on every device it found, directing them to a website boasting about its exploits.

        The website for the company’s marketing campaign, which I am deliberately not linking to here, explains that “by the 2024″, it is “94% likely” that bots will replace accountants, auditors, and financial analysts by the million. Consequently, it says, accountants (or anyone else worried about being replaced by AI) should learn graphic design instead. The stats come from a five-year-old Oxford Martin School report, but that needn’t concern us here.

        What’s more interesting is another statistic: 600,000. That’s how many printers the marketing agency claim to have clogged up with advertising, according to this report from Graham Cluley.

        [...]

        It wouldn’t be the first time that someone had spammed printers online. In December, a hacker calling himself TheHackerGiraffe spammed 50,000 printers promoting popular YouTube celebrity PewDiePie. Other incidents have been much darker. Nazi nerd Andrew Aurenheimer, a.k.a. Weev, sent white supremacist messages to every printer in North America that he could find instead of using Shodan, he used Masscan, which is a mass IP port scanner.

      • Android clampdown on calls and texts access trashes bunch of apps

        Android looks a little less open now that Google has begun to enforce draconian new rules on accessing a phone’s call and text logs.

        Developers have been forced to remove features or in some cases change the fundamental nature of the application. One example is BlackBerry’s Hub, an email client which also aggregated notifications from a variety of apps and presented them chronologically in a timeline. This application has lost its ability to includes calls and texts in that timeline.

        Exceptions created by Google don’t seem to be honoured, developers complained. One said that an enterprise archiving app – a category specifically exempt from the clampdown – has been broken.

        Another developer, Miroslav Novosvetsky of MobileSoft, rued that he might have to withdraw his Callistics usage monitor app altogether.

      • The martian packet case in our Neutron floating IP setup

        A community member opened a bug the other day related to a weird networking behavior in the Cloud VPS service, offered by the Cloud Services team at Wikimedia Foundation. This VPS hosting service is based on Openstack, and we implement the networking bits by means of Neutron.

        Our current setup is based on Openstack Mitaka (old, I know) and the networking architecture we use is extensively described in our docs. What is interesting today is our floating IP setup, which Neutron uses by means of the Netfilter NAT engine.

        Neutron creates a couple of NAT rules for each floating IP, to implement both SNAT and DNAT. In our setup, if a VM uses a floating IP, then all its traffic to and from The Internet will use this floating IP. In our case, the floating IP range is made of public IPv4 addresses.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • NZ declares massacre video “objectionable,” arrests people who shared it

        Distributing objectionable materials online comes with stiff legal penalties. One man—the 44-year-old owner of an insulation company with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies—has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand’s Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held without bail and could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison for each offense.

      • 4chan, 8chan blocked by Australian and NZ ISPs for hosting shooting video

        Telstra and Optus also blocked the sites in Australia. Besides 4chan and 8chan, ISP-level blocking affected the social network Voat, the blog Zerohedge, video hosting site LiveLeak, and others. “The ban on 4chan was lifted a few hours later,” AAP wrote.

      • Telcos block access to websites continuing to host Christchurch terror footage

        Vodafone said while blocking requests normally came from the courts or law enforcement agencies “this was an extreme case which we think requires an extraordinary response”.

      • Telcos caught in social media crackdown

        The ISPs’ decision to block access to websites was controversial as they acted to censor content without instruction from either the Australian Communications and Media Authority or the eSafety Commissioner, and most smaller service providers have decided to keep access open.

      • Theft from lorries is becoming a growing problem

        Checks carried out by South and Southern Jutland Police reveal that almost three out of four tarpaulin lorries crossing the border have had holes cut in their coverings.

        The holes have been cut by thieves to check the lorry’s load for anything worth taking.

      • Stoking Fear: We Must Remember How the Iraq War Was Sold

        It was 16 years ago this month, on March 19, 2003, that U.S. forces began a misguided and illegal “shock and awe” military assault on Iraq. The enormous costs of that invasion and subsequent occupation are all too clear today. Thousands of American soldiers and coalition allies were killed and many more suffered horrific, debilitating injuries; among the U.S. casualties, a disproportionate numberwere underprivileged youth. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died, andmillions were driven from their homes. To this toll we can also add the emergence and growth of the monstrous Islamic State (ISIS). And our Iraq War expenditures—past, present, and future—total trillions of dollars, a massive drain on crucial domestic programs for those in need.

        Many painful lessons can still be drawn from this devastating war and its ongoing aftermath. Among them, the tragedy represents a distressing case study in the manipulative use of fear—what I call “It’s a Dangerous World” appeals—by disingenuous leaders who insist that disaster awaits if we fail to heed their policy prescriptions. Unfortunately, dire warnings from influential figures can short-circuit our critical thinking and propel us toward action even before we’ve examined the evidence or considered the consequences and alternatives. Psychologically, we’re soft targets for these tactics because, in our desire to avoid being unprepared when danger strikes, we’re often too quick to conjure catastrophe—the worst outcome imaginable—regardless of how unlikely it may be.

        These “It’s a Dangerous World” appeals were employed by the George W. Bush White House throughout the Iraq War. They began with repeated claims months before the invasion that Saddam Hussein—the country’s brutal dictator—had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

        In August 2002, for example, Vice President Dick Cheney told attendees at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

        Two months later, President Bush presented this frightful image to an audience in Cincinnati: “Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

      • On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”

        Perhaps no elected official has ever been subjected to the level of vitriol, threats, and attacks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Black Muslim woman ever elected to Congress and one of only two Muslim women there, has. And while we cannot be surprised that Omar was mercilessly attacked by the Israel Lobby and its various appendages and mouthpieces for speaking plainly about Israel’s policies and its influence in US politics, the degree of viciousness was appalling.

        Omar was variously described as disloyal to the US, an adherent of sharia law, and an anti-semite. These attacks came from both Democrats and Republicans, and were themselves intended to stoke further animosity in the media and social media. They were designed to cow the Somali-American Omar, intimidate her into silence so she won’t speak openly about apartheid Israel’s crimes, or grill and publicly humiliate war criminals like Elliott Abrams in the way she did, or assert any independent voice in the oversight of US foreign policy.

      • America’s Senior Generals Find No Exits From Endless War

        Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that famed saying when summing up the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 — with a small alteration. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said with a laugh about the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, that country’s autocratic leader. Note what she left out, though: the “vici” or victory part. And how right she was to do so, since Washington’s invasions, occupations, and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere in this century have never produced anything faintly like a single decisive and lasting victory.

        “Failure is not an option” was the stirring 1995 movie catchphrase for the dramatic 1970 rescue of the Apollo 13 moon mission and crew, but were such a movie to be made about America’s wars and their less-than-vici-esque results today, the phrase would have to be corrected in Clintonian fashion to read “We came, we saw, we failed.”

        Wars are risky, destructive, unpredictable endeavors, so it would hardly be surprising if America’s military and civilian leaders failed occasionally in their endless martial endeavors, despite the overwhelming superiority in firepower of “the world’s greatest military.” Here’s the question, though: Why have all the American wars of this century gone down in flames and what in the world have those leaders learned from such repetitive failures?

        The evidence before our eyes suggests that, when it comes to our senior military leaders at least, the answer would be: nothing at all.

      • Public Health Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean

        The dramatic health situation in Venezuela, where the national health system has all but collapsed, invites an assessment on how Latin America and the Caribbean are doing regarding the health status of the population. While in the last decades, Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced measurable gains in several health indicators such as life expectancy, infant survival, and prevalence of infectious diseases, the Venezuelan people’s health status has deteriorated considerably.

        Most countries in these regions, however, still face daunting challenges due to sprawling urbanization, environmental problems, and increasing levels of obesity that affect all ages, but particularly children. In the Caribbean, for example, obesity has increased by almost 400 percent in the last two decades, affecting also the infant population.

        Prevalence of HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue, tobacco and substance abuse, chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and physical and mental disabilities continue to exact a heavy toll in most countries.80% of NCDs deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the adult population of Central and South America has stabilized somewhat at 0.6 percent, the Caribbean, with an HIV infection rate of more than two percent, is the second most heavily infected area in the world after sub-Saharan Africa.

        With little change in maternal mortality rates during the last decade, the gap in this indicator between Latin American and Caribbean countries, on one hand, and the United States and Canada, on the other, is still substantial. The risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth and post labor is 50 times greater in developing countries than in Canada and the U.S.

      • Boeing Debacle Shows Need to Investigate Trump-era Corruption

        Once considered the “world’s gold standard for aircraft safety,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was conspicuously slower than the rest of the world to take appropriate action after a tragic airline crash in Ethiopia credibly called into question the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8.

        That there were problems with Boeing’s software was not unknown to the FAA. Pilots in the U.S. had reportedly expressed concerns that the software limited their control of the planes.

        After the Lion Air crash last fall in Indonesia, Boeing undertook a fix but the implementation of the update was delayed thanks in part to Trump’s border wall shutdown. Shockingly, the FAA deemed these delays “acceptable” because there was “no imminent safety threat.”

        America’s precipitous downfall — from world leader in safe aviation to dangerous laggard — demonstrates how deeply Trump-era corruption has infected our government and underscores the pressing need for broad congressional oversight.

        Happily, there are now lawmakers empowered and willing to investigate. This week, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) who chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, announced the committee would investigate the FAA’s approval process for the 737 Max 8s. Critically, DeFazio emphasized his willingness to issue subpoenas.

    • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

      • Judge Blocks Oil, Gas Drilling Over Climate Change

        A judge blocked oil and gas drilling across almost 500 square miles (1,295 sq. kilometers) in Wyoming and said the U.S. government must consider climate change impacts more broadly as it leases huge swaths of public land for energy exploration.

        The order marks the latest in a string of court rulings over the past decade — including one last month in Montana — that have faulted the U.S. for inadequate consideration of greenhouse gas emissions when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal land.

        U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington appeared to go a step further than other judges in his order issued late Tuesday.

        Previous rulings focused on individual lease sales or permits. But Contreras said that when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management auctions public lands for oil and gas leasing, officials must consider emissions from past, present and foreseeable future oil and gas leases nationwide.

      • ‘Triumph for Our Climate’: Judge Blocks Fracking on 300,000 Acres of Public Land

        “This ruling is a triumph for our climate,” Jeremy Nichols, director of WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program, said in a statement.

        “To limit greenhouse gas emissions, we have to start keeping our fossil fuels in the ground and putting an end to selling public lands for fracking,” added Nichols. “This decision is a critical step toward making that happen.”

        U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras’ landmark decision was focused on the Trump administration’s land sales in Wyoming, but environmentalists said the ruling could have national implications.

        “It calls into question the legality of the Trump administration’s entire oil and gas program,” Nichols told the Washington Post. “This forces them to pull their head out of the sand and look at the bigger picture.”

      • The Government Is Hiding Its Plans for Anti-Pipeline Protests

        Federal and state responses to public records requests raise concerns of a crackdown on First Amendment-protected speech.
        President Trump likes to build things — apartment buildings, casinos, golf courses, walls — and among his first acts as president was to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline over the objections of environmental and Indigenous activists and local landowners.

        The pipeline would carry massive amounts of crude oil from Canadian tar sands through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, threatening the environment and private property as well as adjacent Native American land, sacred sites, and water sources along the way.

        The pipeline has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge pending required environmental impact assessments, but if they’re completed, it is possible that construction could begin in the coming months — and many tribes and activists are at the ready to protest. That’s their right under the First Amendment, but there seems to be mounting evidence — from a new law in South Dakota to new documents from our Freedom of Information Act litigation — that the government wants to suppress protests even before they begin.

        [...]

        So far, we know that dozens of federal-state planning meetings have taken place, and we discovered that an interagency task team was specifically convened to plan for Keystone XL protests.

        Despite that, the government has not disclosed any documents that reflect what was decided during these planning meetings, how many more took place, whether they’ve continued through today, or anything about what this interagency team has been up to. Nor has the government disclosed any information about collaboration with TransCanada or private security contractors.

        In one particularly absurd exchange, we wrote to the Department of Homeland Security to help it understand the type of documents we were seeking. We sent them a copy of an unclassified report from 2017 that had been published in the press on “Techniques, Tactics and Procedures Used in Recent US Pipeline Attacks by Suspected Environmental Rights Extremists.” In response, DHS provided us with a redacted version of the very same report we had sent them!

      • Green Groups Call Out Big Banks for Pouring Billions Into Fossil Fuel Industry

        The call-out came in Banking on Climate Change (pdf), published Wednesday as the tenth annual fossil fuel report card from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth.

        “This report is a red alert,” declared RAN climate and energy researcher Alison Kirsch. “The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future.”

        “If banks don’t rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable,” Kirsch warned. “It is imminent.”

        According to the report, the top four funders of coal, oil, and gas companies from 2016 to 2018 were all U.S. banks: JPMorgan Chase ($195.66 billion), Wells Fargo ($151.6 billion), Citi ($129.49 billion), and Bank of America ($106.69 billion).

      • Rivers gain legal protection from misuse

        So Old Man River is getting a day in court: a growing international initiative is seeing to it that rivers gain legal protection against pollution and other forms of exploitation, in a move which insists that they have rights just as people do.

        There are hopes that protecting rivers (and one lake) in this way could in time be extended to living species and to other features of the natural world.

        The first river to win this legal safeguard is the Whanganui in New Zealand, which in March 2017 gained recognition as holding rights and responsibilities equivalent to a person. (The country had in 2014 already granted legal personhood to a forest.) The river – or rather, those acting for it – will now be able to sue for protection under the law.

        The Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act 2017 recognises the river and all its tributaries as a single entity, Te Awa Tupua, which has rights and interests and is the owner of its own river bed. The river can both sue and be sued. The Act also acknowledges the river as a living whole that stretches from the mountains to the sea.

      • Greens demand ExxonMobil lobbyists be removed from European parliament

        Greens in the European Parliament have demanded that access badges of ExxonMobil lobbyists be removed. The call comes as representatives of the oil giant refuse to attend a public hearing in the European Parliament today which will, for the first time, address climate denial in the EU, and focus on the prominent role Exxon Mobil has played. When representatives of Monsanto refused to attend a similar hearing they had their access badges revoked and Greens are demanding the same action be taken against ExxonMobile.

        Currently around 220 lobbyists linked to ExxonMobil have direct access to the European Parliament through their EU badge together with many more unregistered lobbyists. This is despite the fact the corporation stands accused of funding public misinformation campaigns and slowing down political attempts to move towards progressive policies on energy. Internal company document have also revealed that the corporation has known about the realities of climate change for decades. The company helped to found and lead the Global Climate Coalition of businesses opposed to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and funded organizations critical of the Kyoto Protocol.

    • Finance

      • Fortnite Billionaire Pledges $100 Million for Game Developers

        Sweeney isn’t requiring grant recipients to use either the Unreal Engine or the Epic Store. “There are no commercial hooks back to Epic,” Sweeney said. “You don’t have to commit to any deliverables. This is our way of sharing Fortnite’s unbelievable success with as many developers as we can.”

      • Man Charged With Setting Up Bogus Websites to Scam Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke Donors

        Authorities say Dupont claimed to be raising money for “roughly 10 individual Senate candidates,” Gillum’s 2018 campaign for governor of Florida, and causes including immigrant aid, NBC wrote. To do so, they alleged, he set up at least three bogus PACs and about 15 websites, including Beto4Senate.org, Sanders2016Campaign.org, GillumForFloridaGovernor.org and ImmigrantChildrenUnited.org.

      • California con man set up bogus websites for Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke to defraud donors, prosecutors say

        John Pierre Dupont, 80, is accused of setting up at least three bogus political action committees, or PACs, and several websites that purported to be raising money for roughly 10 individual Senate candidates, a candidate for governor and for progressive causes, according to a criminal complaint.

        Instead of passing along the cash to the candidates or campaigns, Dupont used it to pay his rent, a parking ticket, and to cover the costs of a $25,300 Mercedes-Benz sedan, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

      • Neo-Nazis Bet Big on Bitcoin (And Lost)

        Bitcoin also failed for the neo-Nazis as a funding channel, because cryptocurrency is still too hard to use. “Nobody would go to the effort to get a bitcoin wallet to give them the 10 bucks a month that they were more than happy to give them.” One neo-Nazi podcaster found a credit card processor that was fine with the content of his show but said he was untouchable for another reason: He was considered a money laundering risk because he dealt in cryptocurrency.

      • Social Democratic Nations Rank Happiest on Global Index (Again). US Ranking Falls (Again).

        The social democracy of Finland was once again ranked number one on the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, released on Wednesday, while the corporate-dominated United States fell one place to rank at 19th.

        For the seventh year in a row, the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network released a report ranking 156 countries according to measures including income, freedom, trust in government, and social support.

      • Ending the NCAA’s Shameless Exploitation of ‘Student-Athletes’

        When Zion Williamson’s foot broke through the sole of his Nike shoe on February 20th, the sporting world stood still.
        The consensus number one player in college basketball was playing in the biggest game of the season — North Carolina versus Duke — and suffered his startling injury in the opening minute. Williamson’s sprained knee cost Nike $1.1 billion in stock market valuation the next day.
        The injury came on the doorstep of March Madness, the NCAA’s most profitable event of the year — to the tune of $900 million in revenue.

      • EU Leaders Open to Brexit Delay, But May Faces Storm at Home

        European Union leaders meeting for a Brexit summit are likely to grant Britain a short extension, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday, if the U.K. government can win parliamentary support next week for its divorce deal.

        But the early signs of that happening were not good. British Prime Minister Theresa May angered many legislators with a televised speech late Wednesday blaming a divided Parliament for an impasse that has left Britain eight days away from crashing out of the bloc. One lawmaker slammed her remarks as “toxic.”

        May has a tough day ahead as she arrives in Brussels to lobby her European partners to extend the Brexit date from March 29 until June 30 to push through the agreement she reached with the EU in November.

        Her deal has been roundly rejected twice by the U.K. Parliament, and EU leaders are being asked to take the risk that May can convince the lawmakers next week.

        That looked more uncertain after her speech on the eve of the summit, in which May told a Brexit-weary public: “You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.”

        May accused lawmakers of “infighting, “political games” and “arcane procedural rows,” but acknowledged no personal role in creating the impasse.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Kidfluencers’ Rampant YouTube Marketing Creates Minefield for Google

        Siwa encapsulates many of the things that made YouTube the world’s most-watched video site. She dances, sings and screams excitedly into the camera, drawing millions of viewers, mostly young girls. The 15-year-old kidfluencer also highlights how YouTube’s success with children has created an ethical and perhaps even legal minefield for its owner, Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

        [...]

        “The uptick in sponsored content and child influencers is very overwhelming,” said Dona Fraser, director of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, an industry watchdog funded by companies including Google. “This has exploded in front of our eyes. How do you now wrangle every child influencer out there?”

        The Federal Trade Commission warned dozens of Instagram influencers in 2017 that they weren’t disclosing properly when a company was paying them to peddle a product.

      • Using Networks To Govern Network Problems

        Today, botnets and the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that can accompany them, are considered among “the most severe cybersecurity threats.” Botnets have caused extensive economic harm to businesses, banks, hospitals, and government agencies around the world. Furthermore, botnets are used to spread political propaganda aimed at distorting democratic elections. In fact, U.S. government officials concluded that the Russian propaganda campaign has not stopped since the 2016 election and the magnitude of the issue is expected to grow. Yet, a time-tested framework for addressing the problem already exists. Governing complex internet-based problems is best accomplished by a network of stakeholders similar to the way the internet is currently governed.

        In her Nobel Lecture, Elinor Ostrom emphasized the necessity to study human economic behavior in any complex system. She added that no “one size fits all” policy solution would work for a highly complex socio-economic issue, but approaches created by a disperse, spontaneously self-organized group are far more innovative. This is the essence of polycentric order as defined by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. A polycentric order has multiple overlapping decision-making centers comprised of individuals equipped with necessary knowledge and expertise to create better outcomes for issues of high complexity.

      • After Trump

        Centrist liberalism is dead, and Trump is a disaster. But progressives can use what he’s done to remake America and its place in the world

      • ‘Momentum Is Shifting’: MoveOn Calls for Democratic Presidential Candidates to Boycott AIPAC Conference

        MoveOn, a progressive advocacy group with millions of members, is calling on Democratic presidential candidates to boycott AIPAC’s annual conference.

        “It’s no secret that that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage,” Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn Political Action, said in a statement.

        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are among the confirmed speakers for the event, which begins Sunday.

        None of the Democratic presidential candidates are listed as speakers at the conference, and there is no indication that any of them plan to attend. But MoveOn’s demand for a boycott will nevertheless “give a clear insight to 2020 candidates on where their base stands instead of prioritizing lobbying groups and policy people who rarely step outside of D.C.,” said Ali.

        Anna Zuccaro, a spokeswoman for MoveOn, told Politico that the boycott demand is “a clear sign that momentum is shifting.”

      • Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for 2020

        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.

      • Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence

        Racism is not natural. Babies — black, brown, white — explore the world and each other with wonder, not hate. Racism has to be taught. It is learned behavior. To assume that a person is inherently superior or inferior to another based upon race is unnatural and ungodly. Racism is used for political manipulation and economic exploitation. In a land founded on the belief that all men are created equal, slavery could not be justified without a racism that depicted slaves as sub-human.

        These basic truths need restating in this terrible time. Across the world, we see the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia, and its violent expression. Parishioners in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, are gunned down; worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue are attacked and killed. Now the murders in the mosques in New Zealand. Christians, Jews and Muslims must now stand as one and resist the rise of hate, and the hate-filled propaganda that feeds it.

        In this, Donald Trump can no longer duck responsibility. When an American president speaks, the world listens. When Barack Obama was elected, it sent hope across the world. Blacks were elected to parliaments for the first time across Europe. Some hoped a new era of peace and reconciliation might begin.

        Yet his election incited a harsh reaction as well, a new trafficking in hate, fear and violence. Donald Trump used his celebrity to claim that Obama was illegitimate, literally un-American. He had relished spreading racial fears before. When five young men were falsely arrested in New York City, Trump took out newspaper ads calling for the death penalty, inciting fear of young African-American males. When DNA testing proved their innocence, Trump simply denied the truth. His campaign for president was stained by his race-bait politics: slurring immigrants as rapists and murderers, promising to ban Muslims, denouncing a judge of Mexican descent, born in Indiana, as too biased to rule on the case involving students defrauded by Trump University.

      • Broadway’s “Hamilton” and the Willing Suspension of Reality-Based Moral Consciousness

        Despite the incredible degree of media hype surrounding the show, even prior to its 2015 Broadway debut, I remembered reading a number of strongly argued and intensely passionate negative reviews of Hamilton for profound historical distortions. These reviews particularly showed up on one of my favorite political websites, CounterPunch.

        Attending Broadway productions was a rarity for me and admittedly I was reluctant to look a Broadway gift ticket “in the mouth,” so-to-speak. I was also growing weary of my far-left political stances causing strain among family, friends and coworkers. I never could seem to align with the political (and now, it seemed, cultural) consensus of the vast majority of “normal” pro-establishment liberals. Actually my marginalization had begun with the early Obama years, steadily intensifying — me and my ilk being regarded as ideological “extremists” with the ever-hardening polarization of what used to constitute “the American Left.”

        Of course, why would any of my loved ones begin to expect a discouraging word, even from me, about a show that had swept the 2016 Tony Awards, won a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize, and was the only work of art ever to receive a Kennedy Center honor.

        I decided to forego revisiting those trouble-making Hamilton reviews before seeing the show.

      • Let’s Impeach Trump If He Continues the Yemen War

        Earlier this month, the Senate passed a War Powers resolution to cut off U.S. military support for the Saudi-led assault on Yemen. The resolution is expected to pass in the House, but President Trump has vowed to veto the measure as the administration doubles down in its support for the coalition.

        Such a state of affairs means those of us working to end the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history need to escalate our tactics. There are many opportunities for potential escalation.

        One thing we could do is push to override the veto: We could force the votes on this issue to take place, but doing so is arguably not that much of an escalation if we don’t have a plausible story for how we could successfully find these votes.

      • Trump Is Livid Because He Can’t Fire All the Investigators

        We have been dealing with the ongoing reality of President Donald Trump for 789 days. Before the American carnage of that fateful January day when he turned the oath of office into a slur, we had to deal with Candidate Trump for two grinding years, TV Star Trump since 1988 and Grifter Trump since all the way back to 1971, the year of my birth. Talk about being born under a bad sign.

        Over the span of that half-century, the public at large has gotten to know Trump’s moods and temperament with an intimacy that is rare for most public figures. Whether he was firing people on The Apprentice or cheating on his wife on the front page of the New York City tabloids, the word “subtle” has never shared the same postal code as the brutish, base, benighted bunko artist currently polluting the White House.

        Without doubt, a callus has formed over most people’s Trump receptors since he came down that escalator in June of 2015, a fact which is both positive and negative. It is positive because it means folks have begun tuning out his frantic nonsense for the sake of their own emotional equilibrium, but negative because that same nonsense is becoming normalized in the public sphere. “Oh, that’s just Trump being Trump” is an ever-growing sentiment that may come to doom us all.

        That callus is what makes Trump’s most recent free-swinging exercise in focused bedlam genuinely astonishing. In the span of six days, the man somehow managed to lower his personal bar even further, despite the fact that his bar was already so far down an Etruscan shrew could step over it without brushing its belly fur. “Beneath the bottom of the barrel” is becoming an expression without meaning. This house has no floor, and for the last few days, that callus has been a thoroughly imperfect prophylactic against the onslaught.

        It started after Trump responded to the Senate vote against his emergency declaration on Thursday by threatening the political left with violence by cops, soldiers and bikers, and continued through Tuesday with a blitzkrieg of vengeful grievances that ranged from the petty to the downright peculiar. Of course, Trump’s chosen platform for the majority of his klaxon whine festival was Twitter, which I am verging on putting in the same “Things I Wish Never Existed” category as shingles, unrepentant foot odor and Mitch McConnell.

      • Meet Trump’s Other Partners on His Attempted Moscow Tower — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

        This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re exploring President Donald Trump’s efforts to do business in Moscow. Our team — Heather Vogell, Andrea Bernstein, Meg Cramer and Katie Zavadski — dug into just who Trump was working with and just what Trump needed from Russia to get a deal done. (Listen to the podcast episode here.)

        First, the big picture. We already knew that Trump had business interests involving Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — which he denied — that could have been influencing his policy positions. As the world has discovered, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while running for president. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress about being in contact with the Kremlin about the project during the campaign.

      • Is Kamala Harris The Centrist We Need?

        In 2016 Bruce Dixon recounted that the Democrats have employed a sheepdog in all the recent past elections: “1984 and 88 the sheepdog candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 92 it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000 and 2004 the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton, and in 2008 it was Dennis Kucinich. This year it’s Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.” The purpose of the sheepdog is to shepherd radical and progressive voters back into the Democratic Party.

        Bernie Sanders was excellent at playing the sheep, but almost in spite of himself, he was better at playing the dog. Bernie is a loyal company man, but his individual ideas remain too sane to be ignored. The policies he advocated for are being taken up by an assemblage of politicians in local and national races. For this reason we should give Bernie more credit than the typical sheepdog. Even as he props up the carcass of the Democratic Party, Bernie has helped breath life into new ideas such as socialism, Medicare for all, 15$ an hour minimum wage and free college tuition.

        Progressivism cannot coexist with the current corporate duopoly structure. This contradiction has not yet been resolved. But Bernie has helped to mainstream the idea that such a contradiction exists. Bernie then is not just “a good boy” in the sheepdog sense of the word, but a man who has brought some good in his own right.

      • Florida Lawmakers Attempt to Weaken Voter Rights Restoration

        On Tuesday, Florida lawmakers advanced a bill that could severely restrict one of the most impactful expansions of the right to vote in over four decades. The legislation, which passed out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, is a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of Florida voters, who voted just months ago to restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions. Now, lawmakers are attempting to make the restoration of voting rights contingent on the full payment of all fees and court costs. This would heap financial obligations on people involved in Florida’s criminal justice system and essentially reserve the restoration of voting rights to Floridians who have the financial means to pay.

        In November 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, a constitutional amendment that automatically restored the right to vote to more than 1.4 million Floridians who have completed their sentence, including parole or probation. It was a shining example of voters using direct democracy to expand democracy. But even though nearly 65 percent of Florida voters approved the measure, lawmakers have suggested they might limit the amendment’s reach through legislation. This week’s bill would do just that.

        In fact, this new bill would make Florida’s rule regarding repayment of financial obligations even more restrictive than it was before Amendment 4’s passage. While the clemency procedure under then-Governor Rick Scott was terribly restrictive and arbitrary, it did not require the payment of all fees and costs as a condition for restoring voting rights.

        As a nation, we long ago shunned the practice of making voting contingent on wealth. Unfortunately, the practice continues, as a handful of states prohibit individuals who owe court debt from voting. This practice will be particularly harmful in Florida. Since 1996, the Florida legislature has added more than 20 new categories of legal financial obligations for criminal defendants, while simultaneously eliminating exemptions for those who cannot pay. Florida’s criminal justice system purposefully levies excessive court costs and fees as a means to underwrite the state’s criminal justice costs, trapping poor Floridians in cycles of debt.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • @DevinNunesLawyers (Video)

        Well, California Rep. Devin Nunes’ marketing campaign to boost the visibility of the Twitter account of Devin Nunes’ Cow succeeded fabulously. In the five hours or so that has passed since I took the screenshot of the @DevinCow page for this animation, the parody account has added around 70,000 followers. Before Nunes sued his imaginary cow’s Twitter account, it had a grand total of 1,204 followers.

        Nunes seems to have no grasp of satire, parody, free speech and, um, intelligence. (Which is a tad ironic given that he is the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee.) This story is about more than just a little Twitter dispute and a frivolous lawsuit, Nunes is one of President Trump’s staunchest defenders and errand boys in Congress.

      • A human rights advocate explains Russia’s new limits on free speech

        On March 18, Vladimir Putin signed two new laws penalizing Internet users who publish fake news or posts that show disrespect to the Russian government. Users who violate the new regulations would not face a criminal sentence, but they would be made to pay administrative fines. The two laws were approved two and a half months after the partial decriminalization of Article 282 of Russia’s Criminal Code. Certain parts of that law, which penalizes “inciting hate and enmity,” were shifted from their original, criminal status to become administrative regulations after a series of criminal charges were brought against social media users in response to provocative posts. Pavel Chikov, who leads the international human rights group Agora, told Meduza about the consequences of Article 282’s partial decriminalization and discussed the laws the Russian government may now use to limit freedom of speech.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • IBM used Flickr photos for facial-recognition project

        IBM has been accused of using Flickr photos for a facial-recognition project, without the full consent of people in the images.
        The company extracted nearly one million photos from a dataset of Flickr images originally compiled by Yahoo.
        Many people pictured were probably unaware of how their data had been used, according to an NBC News report.
        IBM said in a statement that it had taken great care to comply with privacy principles.
        But one digital rights group said IBM’s actions represented a “huge threat” to people’s privacy.
        “None of the people I photographed had any idea their images were being used in this way,” a photographer told NBC News.
        Photos selected by IBM were listed under a Creative Commons licence, which generally means the images can be widely used with only a small number of restrictions.

      • Who Defends Your Data? Report Reveals Peruvian ISPs Progress on User Privacy, Still Room for Improvement

        Hiperderecho, the leading digital rights organization in Peru, in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, today launched its second ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?), an evaluation of the privacy practices of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that millions of Peruvians use every day. This year’s results are more encouraging than those in 2015′s report, with Telefonica’s Movistar making significant improvement in its privacy policy, responses to judicial orders, and commitment to privacy. Five out of the six ISPs now publish specific, detailed policies on how they collect and process personal data. However, the report also revealed that there is plenty of room for improvement, especially when it comes to user notification and Peruvian ISPs’ public commitment to privacy.

        Internet access has grown significantly in Peru in recent years, particularly through mobile networks. Movistar (Telefónica) and Claro (América Móvil) are the main players, making up 70% of the Internet market. For landline connections, these two ISPs connect more than 90% of users in Peru; Movistar alone has 74.4% of them. The report also evaluated four other telecom operators: Bitel, Entel, Olo, and Inkacel. Every day, these users provide these companies with specific information about their movements, routines, and relations – a treasure trove of data for government authorities, who can use unnecessary and disproportionate measures to access it. This constant threat from State authorities demands public awareness and oversight.

        That’s why this new Peru report aims to push companies to counter surveillance measures that are conducted without proper safeguards, and to be transparent about their policies and practices.

      • Tulare Police Department says it didn’t know it was sharing data with ICE, apologizes

        The police department’s announcement comes days after the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California released documents showing 80 law enforcement agencies across the country – including the Tulare Police Department – were sharing license plate location data with ICE.

      • IBM supplied surveillance gear to Davao while Duterte was mayor and cheering on the city’s police-linked death-squads

        In 2012, IBM signed a multi-million-dollar deal to supply high-tech surveillance gear to the Duterte regime, a program that IBM boasted of when attempting to sell surveillance gear to other cities. IBM also produced sales literature boasting of having sold its “Face Capture” facial recognition program to the city (the city’s promotional material also features police using this tool), though now IBM claims it never supplied facial recognition tools to Davao.

      • Uber drivers demand their data

        Under European law, any “data subject”, or person about whom data are being collected, has the right to access that information. But do gig workers? Four British Uber drivers think they do, arguing that it will help them to improve their performance, understand how Uber’s algorithms assign jobs to them and get a precise measure of the time they spend working for the ride-hailing platform.

        Uber has declined to provide comprehensive data that the drivers have requested access to over the past two years. The requests, made separately, are now bundled up as one with Ravi Naik, a lawyer who is also handling data-protection cases against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and online advertising companies. Uber supplied a limited dataset containing the origin and destination points of the drivers’ trips and some location data. The drivers say that the firm did not offer an explanation for its decision. Uber says it offered a detailed explanation but declined to say what it was.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Civil Rights And Faith Leaders To FBI: Take White Nationalist Violence Seriously
      • Supreme Court Maintains Congress Granted Homeland Security Secretary Broad Power To Detain Immigrants Without Bail

        The United States Supreme Court ruled the government has broad executive power to detain immigrants previously convicted of a crime and deny them a bail hearing prior to deportation proceedings.

        In a 5-4 decision [PDF], the majority, led by Justice Samuel Alito, argued Congress granted sweeping authority to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen when it passed the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

        The justices maintained Congress was concerned “deportable criminal aliens who are not detained” would continue to “engage in crime and fail to appear for their removal hearings in large numbers” so lawmakers mandated arrest without bail or parole.

        Attorneys, including lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, contended the government did not have the authority to detain immigrants without bail years after they were released from prison and had served a sentence for any offenses. There was a temporal limit to the government’s authority.

        But Alito wrote, “As we have held time and again, an official’s crucial duties are better carried out later than never.”

      • Washington Prison Management Software Setting People Free Too Early, Keeping Other People Locked Up Too Long

        The previous bug miscalculated “good time” credits, resulting in thousands of premature releases. This time around, buggy code is screwing up calculations for inmates who have violated their parole. A few have benefited from the problem. But most of the cases being reviewed involve inmates who have been jailed for too long.

        The previous calculation error resulted in two homicides by an inmate who was released too early. This time around, it’s far more likely inmates who have served their time aren’t being released. Either way, there’s life and liberty on the line and the Department of Corrections is showing little sense of urgency when addressing these problems.

        [...]

        And if it’s not working now, there’s a good chance the DOC’s software will never function properly. Part of the problem is the legislature itself, which complicates sentence calculations by adding new wrinkles with each legislative session. According to the Seattle Times, at least 60 bills in the pipeline could affect sentencing guidelines, increasing the chance of new calculation errors developing.

        Software may be the only way to handle a job this complex. But those overseeing the software’s deployment have shown they’re not too interested in proactive maintenance of this complex system. Problems are eventually solved, years after the fact. That sort of responsiveness is unacceptable when guidelines are being constantly altered by new legislation.

      • ‘A naked man is always more submissive than one wearing clothes’

        Russian senators are entertaining the idea of resurrecting the country’s vytrezviteli (sobering-up centers, or drunk tanks) and empowering the police to lock up people caught intoxicated in public. Under the new proposal, those who spend a night in the tank would be forced to pay for their stay, though lawmakers have yet to draft a mechanism for extracting these payments. Russia’s first “haven for the inebriated” appeared in 1902, but drunk tanks weren’t common until the Soviet era, when the standard procedure involved a medical exam, a cold shower, and a few hours of sleep in a shared room, for which residents were charged a fee. Police guards often allowed violence, and anti-government demonstrators were sometimes locked up here during the USSR’s “Era of Stagnation,” from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. As the Federation Council moves forward with its initiative, Meduza translates journal entries published by the project Prozhito, written by people who had brushes with the drunk tanks of the Soviet Union.

      • Harvard Profiting From Photos of Slaves, Lawsuit Says

        Harvard University has “shamelessly” turned a profit from photos of two 19th-century slaves while ignoring requests to turn the photos over to the slaves’ descendants, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

        Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of images she says depict two of her ancestors. Her suit, filed in Massachusetts state court, demands that Harvard immediately turn over the photos, acknowledge her ancestry and pay an unspecified sum in damages.

        Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said the university “has not yet been served, and with that is in no position to comment on this complaint.”

        At the center of the case is a series of 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photo, taken of two South Carolina slaves identified as Renty and his daughter, Delia. Both were posed shirtless and photographed from several angles. The images are believed to be the earliest known photos of American slaves.

        They were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose theories on racial difference were used to support slavery in the U.S. The lawsuit says Agassiz came across Renty and Delia while touring plantations in search of racially “pure” slaves born in Africa.

        “To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens,” the suit says. “The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered.”

      • Jordan Peele Makes Cutting Commentary Extra Scary in ‘Us’

        Surely more than once while dreaming, you’ve been aware that you’re in a dream, inside it and outside at the same time. Sleep scientists call such self-aware reveries “lucid dreams.”

        So when I describe “Us,” Jordan Peele’s intelligent and unnerving new film, as a “lucid nightmare,” you’ll get my drift. It’s a nightmare you are immersed in while watching yourself watch it.

        Like Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out,” the new film—a variation on the theme of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”—is simultaneously a horror movie, a satire of horror movies and an American parable. It takes place in Santa Cruz, Calif., and chronicles a home invasion of the summer house owned by the Wilsons, played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, as the intruders freak out their pubescent daughter and pre-teen son.

      • In Praise Of Jonathan Daniels and Ruby Sales: Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

        In Selma, Daniels worked on voter registration, tutored black kids, tried to integrate a local church and lived with a black family, the Wests. Rachel West Nelson: “He was a part of our family…He was a part of every black family in Selma in those days.” When racists accused him of being a “white nigger,” he said he was. When he was refused work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – Stokely Carmichael argued they’d have to spend their time protecting him from the KKK, but later praised Daniels’ “abundance of strength that comes from the inside…People realized that with the strength they got from Jon Daniels they had to carry on, they had to carry on” – Daniels joined the Southern Leadership Christian Conference. “Sometimes we confront the posse, and sometimes we hold a child,” he wrote. “Our life in Selma is filled with ambiguity… (groping) through the bramble bush of doubt and fear…In this, (it) is like all the world: it needs the life and witness of militant saints.”

      • All Southern States are Not the Same: Mississippi’s Challenge

        Virginia over the past several years has become more purple while Mississippi has remained deep red. Democrats won more legislative and congressional seats in Virginia. As I pointed out in my last piece, that trend was kicked off by a successful constitutional based lawsuit against the racially based gerrymandering that the Virginia legislature had created. Court cases are one of the three primary tools available to make government’s more accountable.

        Unlike Virginia, there is no court ruling pending nor cases filed challenging Mississippi’s gerrymandered state or federal district boundaries. A seasoned research and legal staff are required to file effective lawsuits against a state legislature’s gerrymandering. In Virginia’s case the fair redistricting advocacy groupThe Princeton Gerrymandering Project provided relevant data analysis, which specializes on election and political law, and Kevin Hamilton, a litigator from the law firm Perkins Coie, brought the case representing the interests of African-American voters.

        They are not involved with Mississippi’s situation. And the other the most likely institution in Mississippi to have available legal staff would be the ACLU. However, Mississippi’s ACLU has focused on directly stopping excessive force abuses against the black community; they filed a federal class-action lawsuit against county deputies who used unconstitutional tactics to target black people. As a result, the courts are not currently looking at any cases that would overturn Mississippi’s racially biased gerrymandered districts.

        Mississippi allows citizen initiated constitutional amendments, but none is currently being planned around redistricting or expanding voter access. Past progressive initiative efforts have failed at the polls. In 2001, a vote to change the state flag by eliminating the Confederate emblem was rejected by nearly two-thirds of voters. Reflecting that same conservative culture, another amendment in 2011 requiring a strict Voter ID law passed. However, that year an amendment supporting an extreme anti-abortion failed. And although the last citizen initiated promoting greater government accountability, in this case by increasing funding for public education, failed in 2015, it almost passed.

      • Women Who Worked with Billionaire Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt Say He Asked for Sex

        Sheila Katz was a young executive at Hillel International, the Jewish college outreach organization, when she was sent to visit the philanthropist Michael H. Steinhardt, a New York billionaire. He had once been a major donor, and her goal was to persuade him to increase his support. But in their first encounter, he asked her repeatedly if she wanted to have sex with him, she said.

        Deborah Mohile Goldberg worked for Birthright Israel, a nonprofit co-founded by Steinhardt, when he asked her if she and a female colleague would like to join him in a threesome, she said.

        Natalie Goldfein, an officer at a small nonprofit that Steinhardt had helped establish, said he suggested in a meeting that they have babies together.

        Steinhardt, 78, a retired hedge fund founder, is among an elite cadre of donors who bankroll some of the country’s most prestigious Jewish nonprofits. His foundations have given at least $127 million to charitable causes since 2003, public filings show.

      • And Now Algeria

        It has now been nine years since protests broke out across the Middle East and North Africa. After citizens took to the streets, the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen all were deposed during the Arab Spring. What about Algeria – the tenth-largest country in the world, the largest in Africa and a country with the tenth-largest reservesof natural gas? Up until now, there has been no change of government since 1999, no calls for revolution despite a gross inequality of wealth and no overthrow of its leader. Understandably, Algeria has been off the media’s radar.

        The country has been ripe for revolution. Economic conditions have worsened since the 1980s with declining oil prices. There has been high unemployment. Between 1988 and 1995, for example, the percentage of the population below the poverty line increased from 8 to 14 per cent. Almost 70 per cent of the poor live in rural areas.

        For four consecutive Fridays, hundreds of thousands of Algerians have protested throughout the country. Revolutions can spread, such as in 1848 in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. While during the Arab Spring Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hasni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Ali Abdullah in Yemen left power, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has remained president of Algeria. Although there were protests in Algeria in January and February 2011, he and his followers have dominated Algerian politics for two decades.

        The government has provided stability. The 1991 to 2002 Algerian civil war was a devastating armed struggle between the Algerian Government and Islamic rebels. The total number of dead has been estimated at around 200,000, during what has been called the “dark decade” in Algerian history.

        Memories of how the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win an election in 1992 when hundreds of thousands took to the streets have been omnipresent and reason to accept the important position of the military. Bouteflika, his circle, and the army, with obvious support from the West, have provided a buffer against fundamentalist radicalization and ensured that there would not be another “dirty war” or takeover by groups like ISIS.

      • Optional Fatherhood Liberates Christians From Abortion Jihad

        Moneyed men can usually win the silence or compliance of troublesome women by paying them off. It’s news when this traditional strategy fails, as with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and CBS chief Leslie Moonves. And even these recentlyfallen exceptions succeeded for decades in wielding their wealth and clout to keep women they’d misused at bay. Donald Trump did the same, casually tossing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to stifle at least two extra-marital flings who were threatening to tattle. His money squelched them long enough for him to win the presidency.

        An Alabama teen didn’t have such a cushion of cash when his girlfriend became pregnant a couple years ago. He wanted to be a father, she didn’t want to be a mother. In defiance of his wishes, she got an abortion.

        Last year the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment affirming “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.” It also specified that the state constitution provides no right to an abortion.

        This year the fatherless teen found a local judge willing to recognize that amendment as basis for the legal personhood of the departed fetus. The judge accepted a wrongful death lawsuit by the thwarted father against his girlfriend’s abortion clinic.

        Lacking the money to induce her to comply with his preference, the young man turned to the one resource he could employ—the law. The case just began and is far from resolved, but it has flashed onto media screens nationwide and beyond.

        Right-to-lifers are in ecstasy over this. They believe he will win his case in Alabama courts, although the Supreme Court would likely reverse these lower court rulings. But if Justice Ginsburg would only be agreeable enough to shuffle along to her reward, then a Trump-appointed replacement will give the court the extra vote conservatives need for a majority to uphold the fellow’s wrongful death plea.

      • Retiring the Statue of Liberty

        I remember him (barely) as a thin, bald, little old man with a white mustache and a cane. As I write this, I’m looking at a photo of him in 1947, holding the hand of little Tommy Engelhardt who had just turned three that very July day. They’re on a street somewhere in Brooklyn, New York, Tommy in shorts and a T-shirt and his grandfather, Moore (that wasn’t his original name), wearing a suit and tie. It’s hard to imagine him as the young Jewish boy from the Austro-Hungarian Empire who ran away from home — somewhere in modern-day Poland — after reportedly “pulling the Rabbi’s whiskers” in a dispute. By his own account, he spent two desperate years working to scrape together the money for passage alone in the steerage of a ship from Hamburg to America and finally made it here in the early 1890s with the equivalent of a 50-cent piece in his pocket. And he was a lucky man.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • 4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll

        More than sixty-seven percent of respondents said they are concerned Internet content will be blocked or censored, while 63.5 percent said they fear customers will receive different services and web speeds.

      • Cable lobby seeks better reputation by dropping “cable” from its name

        Cable lobbyists don’t want to be called cable lobbyists anymore. The nation’s top two cable industry lobby groups have both dropped the word “cable” from their names. But the lobby groups’ core mission—the fight against regulation of cable networks—remains unchanged.

        The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) got things started in 2016 when it renamed itself NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, keeping the initialism but dropping the words it stood for. The group was also known as the National Cable Television Association between 1968 and 2001.

      • The World Wide Web — not the internet — turns 30 years old

        Is that a dial-up modem ringing in your ears, or are you just looking at today’s Google Doodle? It might be both, because March 12 marks a special moment in the history of the internet: the birthday of the World Wide Web.

        The series of tubes we know and love as the web is now a sprightly 30 years old. The www you see in your browser’s address bar when you access a URL, a.k.a. the web, a.k.a. what helps keep you tethered to your screens, is barely a millennial; indeed, the web is 18 years younger than email and two years younger than the GIF.

        Wondering what the difference is between the World Wide Web and the internet? Rethinking your ability to explain what the web actually is? Strap in, because the answers are fun and inspiring, and there’s no time like a birthday to time-travel through internet history.

    • DRM

      • California Becomes 20th State To Push ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

        A few years back, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots tech movement. The company’s crackdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

        The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska that not only proposed protecting the consumers’ right to repair their own tech, but protected independent, third-party repair shops from efforts by many major companies to monopolize repair (Apple and game console vendors like Sony and Microsoft usually come first to mind). This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven by a groundswell of consumer annoyance.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Qualcomm may seek declaration of having met FRAND obligations, gets minor adjustment of Korean antitrust fine, wholesale acquittal in Japan

        There’s three pieces of news regarding Qualcomm’s antitrust issues, none of which has huge impact in its own right, but the combination of the three warrants an update.

      • Reports of Qualcomm’s Imminent Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

        Last week, the first patent jury trial between Qualcomm and Apple concluded, with the jury deciding that Apple had infringed three Qualcomm patents and awarding Qualcomm damages. Outside of Qualcomm’s hometown jury in San Diego, though, things aren’t going so well for Qualcomm.

        [...]

        Qualcomm takes a disproportionate share not only of mobile patent licensing revenue but of all patent licensing revenue. Just looking at cell phones, Qualcomm receives approximately 70% of all cellular patent licensing revenue. That 70% represents approximately 25% of all patent licensing revenue worldwide. That includes licensing revenues for life-saving drugs, for advances in computer processors and networking, for advances in clean energy, automobiles, airplanes, for every invention under the sun—every advance created by every other industry. 70% of all cellular patent revenue and 25% of all patent licensing revenue is a strong signal that Qualcomm has leveraged its position in the market to charge royalty rates far out of sync with those charged by everyone else, to the detriment of consumers and competition.

        In the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case, Qualcomm’s lawyers claimed that those royalty rates were earned by the quality of Qualcomm’s patents. And one jury seems to have agreed. But what happens when Qualcomm puts its patents in front of experts? The ITC found that only one claim of one patent was infringed, after Qualcomm started out asserting 6 patents. And the PTO found that, out of 33 challenges to claims of Qualcomm’s patents, 97% of those challenges were reasonably likely to prove the patent invalid. That’s not a group of high quality patents—and those are the ones Qualcomm picked as the most likely to be valid and infringed.

      • Dutch Discovery: to beer or not to beer

        … that is the question in recent ‘Dutch discovery’ proceedings in a patent dispute between beer giants Anheuser-Busch Inbev (‘ABI’) and Heineken. Well, sort of: the legal question was if ABI would be granted access to documentation seized at Heineken’s premises in the Netherlands. The Hague Court’s Preliminary Measures Judge answer did all but refresh the parts ABI tried to reach.

        To get back to the title of this post, ‘Dutch discovery’ is also not really spot on. In the Netherlands there exists no U.S. style pre-trial discovery. Dutch ‘discovery’ is to shoot first (by securing information on the basis of an ex parte court order), and discover later (in follow-up inter partes access proceedings). Other European states allow for similar measures to preserve evidence (partly thanks to the EU Enforcement Directive). And the funniest thing about Europe? It’s the little differences. While, like in France, we got the metric system, a Dutch discovery still tastes a little different from a saisie–contrefaçon.

        A Dutch discovery starts off with a seizure (well, often: there are some options to request an order to produce information in pending proceedings). A party seeking evidence to (further) substantiate its infringement claim, can request the court permission to seize documentation and samples and make a detailed description of products and processes at the alleged infringer’s premises. In short, to receive permission from the court – to be precise: one judge, the Preliminary Relief Judge – the patentee should make the alleged infringement sufficiently plausible and specify the in documentation it seeks to secure. If granted, the patentee is not (yet) allowed to access the secured information (which will be stored at a custodian).

        [...]

        The Hague Court’s Preliminary Measures Judge dismissed ABI’s access request. In particular noteworthy is how the Judge considers the ‘legal interest’ requirement while balancing the interests of ABI and Heineken. The Judge notes that in summary proceedings such as these (in Dutch: kort geding), there should always be a balancing of (urgent) interests. The patentee (i.c. ABI) has an interest in getting access to documents to determine if initiating actual infringement proceedings makes sense, while the alleged infringer (i.c. Heineken) has an interest in the protection of its trade secrets. Factors to consider in that regard are the value of the trade secrets and that access, if granted, is irrevocable, while it is – according to the Judge: “commonly known” – notoriously difficult to prove the misappropriation of trade secrets (for example of those acquired via access proceedings).

      • Patent case: Natural Alternatives International Inc. v. Creative Compounds LLC, USA

        Claims for methods of administering beta-alanine to increase muscles’ working capacity were valid treatment claims, not merely directed to natural laws. Claims for the supplement products and means of making them were directed to specific formulations, not natural phenomena.

      • Inventors, Licensing Groups Back US Withdrawal From Standards-Essential Patent Pact

        Standards-essential patents (SEPs) are those deemed vital for all parties to comply with a new standard, requiring the patent-owner to licence them under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The temptation for a company who owns a patent on a technology that is necessary for a standard can be to charge higher prices. The groups argue in a 15 March letter that the 2013 statement may have been well-intentioned but has been serving to weaken patents.

        [...]

        Invoking the US Constitution, the groups argue that “if standard development organizations refuse patent holders the right to exclude others who reject a license offered on reasonable terms from using their inventions, effectively creating, in the words of the AAG [Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim], a compulsory license.”

      • Network Monitoring and

        At the close of trial, the jury issued its verdict favoring the patentee and awarding $23 million in reasonable royalty damages that were then doubled by the D.Del. Judge Robinson based upon the adjudged willful infringement. On appeal, a 2-1 Federal Circuit panel has sided with the patentee on eligibility, but rejected the enhanced damages.

        The eligibility outcome here fits expectations with the majority opinion penned by Judge Stoll and joined by Judge O’Malley while Judge Lourie stood in dissent.

        SRI’s asserted claims are directed to methods of “hierarchical event monitoring” used within a computer network. U.S. Patent 6,711,615. The basic approach is (1) using a “plurality of network monitors” to detect “suspicious network activities”; (2) generate a report at the network monitor levele; and (3) a “hierarchical monitor” “automatically receiving and integrating the report.” The specification makes clear that the “integrating” step might be simply looking for commonalities in the intrusion reports or might further involve “countermeasures.” The specification does not appear to define “hierarchical monitor” other than contrasting them with peer-to-peer.

      • Trademarks

        • CJEU applies Louboutin, clarifying notion of ‘shape, or another characteristic, which gives substantial value to the goods’

          In light of the principles of legal certainty and the need to protect legitimate expectations, the CJEU ruled that Article 7(1)(e)(iii) EUTMR in its new formulation would not have retroactive effect.

          In Louboutin C‑163/16 the CJEU had considered that the concept of ‘shape’ is usually understood as a set of lines or contours that outline the product concerned. In particular, the application of a particular colour in a specific position of a product would not mean that the sign at issue consists of a ‘shape’ – within the meaning of Article 7(1)(e)(iii) of the EUTMR – where it is not the form of the product or part of the product that registration of the mark seeks to protect, but only the application of that colour in this specific location.

          However, unlike a sign relating to a specific colour, the sign in the present case contains lines and contours which together make up the two-dimensional and decorative motifs affixed to goods such as fabric or paper.

        • EU Agrees To Accede To Controversial WIPO Agreement Raising GI Protection

          European Union member states today agreed to accede to an agreement negotiated under the World Intellectual Property Organization that raises protections for geographical indications, products whose names derive from a particular regions with certain characteristics. Joining the so-called Geneva Act establishes a GI register for agricultural and non-agricultural products and appears to have the effect of requiring EU members to protect registered GIs of other members.

          It was unclear at press time what impact this will have for non-EU nations selling products in the EU. Intellectual Property Watch will seek to provide a fuller analysis of this action shortly.

      • Copyrights

        • Europeans should tell Parliament to vote NO to copyright filters

          It’s the end of the line for the EU’s proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The dramatic negative effects of upload filters would be disastrous to the vision Creative Commons cares about as an organisation and global community. The continued inclusion of Article 13 makes the directive impossible to support as-is.

          Last month the Parliament, Council, and Commission completed their trilogue negotiations and reached a final compromise on the copyright directive text. Soon thereafter the EU Member State Ambassadors and the Parliament’s legal affairs committee gave a green light, now leading to a final vote in the plenary session of the Parliament scheduled for March 26.

          Next week all 751 MEPs will get a chance vote on whether to adopt the copyright directive, or send it back to the drawing board.

        • Tell The EU Not To Wreck The Internet

          As we noted earlier this week, a bunch of sites are taking part in an internet blackout today and urging their visitors, especially those in the EU to contact their MEPs, asking them to sign the pledge not to vote for Article 13. As the page notes, Article 13 is bad for the public, bad for creators and bad for innovation.

          Because this is being pushed (misleadingly) as being good for creators, I wanted to go into a bit more depth as to why that’s wrong and why this will be bad for most creators. Over the past two decades, contrary to what some lobbyists will tell you, the internet has been an incredible boon to creativity and creators. The internet has made it easier to create, to promote, to distribute, to build a fan base, and to monetize your works than ever before in history. The idea that the internet has somehow harmed creators is a laughable myth. What the internet did do was change the model by which creators could make money. Historically, outside of the absolute fringes, it required you to get “accepted” into the club by a giant gatekeeper — a giant gatekeeper most creators couldn’t even get in front of, let alone sign a deal with. And, since that was the only path to success, those gatekeepers signed insanely bad deals with creators. They would own your copyright, not you. They would be in charge of what you created. They would be in charge of the relationship with fans. They would control how the content was distributed. You might have some input, but it was theirs now.

          And, yes, they might give you an “advance,” but it was structured as a loan. You would need to use that advance to pay for everything having to do with the creation of your work — and then the gatekeeper would bill against that “advance” for any revenue that came in. The amount of money you actually made would be tiny — and the likelihood of ever actually “recouping” the advance is so slim, that record labels were known to not even keep records because they knew they’d never have to give you another dime.

          Compare that to the world today, with the internet. In the modern world, any content creator can just go online. They can create using tools available online. They can upload their content for free at a ton of different sites. They can reach a worldwide audience. They can promote. They can build a fanbase. They can make money from a bunch of different platforms. And they retain their copyright. They retain control. They don’t have some giant company telling them what to do or keeping every penny that comes in.

        • South Africa Moves Forward With Creator Rights Agenda

          By Sean Flynn, Associate Director, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law

          South Africa took another step toward enactment of a Copyright Amendment Bill focused on improving the lot of creators. On March 20, the committee of jurisdiction in the National Council of Provinces voted 6-3 in favor of reporting the bill to the full house next week without amendment. The full house is likely to pass the bill, clearing the last hurdle before the President can sign the bill into law.

          South Africa and Singapore appear to be on the forefront of a new wave of explicitly pro-creator copyright reform, often at the expense of publishers and collective management organizations. Understandably for this reason, the South Africa bill has drawn considerable opposition from publishers and collective management organizations.

        • Italian Supreme Court clarifies availability of safe harbours, content of notice-and-takedown requests, and stay-down obligations

          In 2001 the Milan Court of First Instance found Yahoo! liable for hosting user-uploaded unlicensed audiovisual content owned by Radio Televisive Italiane (RTI) on its videosharing portal.

          In 2015 the Milan Court of Appeal reversed the first instance decision and held that Yahoo! would qualify as a hosting provider eligible for the safe harbour protection under the relevant national provision corresponding to Article 14 of the E-commerce Directive.

          RTI appealed to the Supreme Court (it should be noted that an appeal to this court is only possible insofar as the lower court has erred in its application of legal provisions: in this sense, the Italian Supreme Court is not a court on the merits), claiming – among other things – that Yahoo! could not qualify for protection under the safe harbour, it being an ‘active host’.

          The Supreme Court reviewed relevant case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), including the most recent decision on Article 14 of the E-commerce Directive – that is SNB-REACT [commented on The IPKat here] – and the decision in Ziggo [The Pirate Bay case, commented here], in which the CJEU acknowledged the possibility for a provider to be directly liable for copyright infringement.

        • Merkel party’s delegation to the European Parliament embarrasses itself with idiotic tweet displaying total digital-economy incompetence

          However, each MEP will be free to vote for or against anything. This week the political groups are just preparing their official recommendations, and given that the current version of the copyright bill resulted from a “trilogue” (interinstitutional negotiations between EU Council, European Commission and European Parliament), it’s normal that the major political groups in the EP officially recommend to their MEPs that they vote in favor. That said, there definitely is a problem because southern European center-left parties are inclined to support the bill.

          Comparing the current situation to the one we faced in 2005 before the plenary vote on software patents, there’s certainly a wider gap now. However, there will be massive protests on Saturday. In my previous post I provided a list of demonstrations (which has even grown since) and mentioned that I’m going to be one of the speakers at the Munich demonstration. Should those demonstrations have major impact, then there’s still a chance that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party (Christian Social Union, CSU) may prefer to avoid holding a vote so shortly before EU elections in May.

          The CDU and CSU delegation to the European Parliament has embarrassed and disqualified itself to the extent that no citizen could possibly trust them to understand the issues in the slightest. There are people in the CDU and CSU with a far better grasp of digital policy issues, but they’re active in national politics, not in the European Parliament.

        • Unknown Nintendo Game Gets Digitized With Museum’s Help, Showing The Importance Of Copyright Exceptions

          Roughly a year ago, we wrote about how museums were requesting an exception to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions in order to preserve online games. While the Librarian of Congress has already allowed for exceptions for preserving non-online games, the request led to pushback by the Entertainment Software Association, which indicated preserving online games would be copyright infringement. Nintendo is a member of the ESA and the gaming giant was at the same time going around to ROMs sites all over the internet and either threatening them with legal action or scaring them into shutting down. This happened all while Nintendo also released several retro consoles, essentially cashing in on the nostalgia that the emulation sites had kept alive for the past decade or so.

          All of which is to say this: Nintendo is not generally friendly to the idea of preserving Nintendo games via digitization that it does not control itself. Standing in contrast to that is the recent discovery of an otherwise essentially unknown Nintendo game from 30 years ago that, upon discovery, was swiftly digitized for posterity.

        • The Best of Europe’s Web Went Dark Today. We Can’t Let That Be Our Future.

          With confusing rhetoric, the Directive’s advocates have always claimed that they mean no harm to popular, user-driven sites like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap. They’ve said that the law is aimed only at big American tech giants, even as drafters have scrambled to address the criticism that it affects all of the Internet. Late in the process, the drafters tried to carve out exceptions for “online encyclopedias,” and the German government and European Parliamentarians fought hard – though ultimately failed – to put in effective exceptions for European start-ups and other competitors.

          Very few of the organizations and communities for whom these exceptions are meant to protect are happy with the end result. The Wikimedia Foundation, which worked valiantly to improve the Directive over its history, came out last week and declared that it could not support its final version. Even though copyright reform is badly needed online, and Wikipedians fought hard to include positive fixes in the rest of the Directive, Article 13 and Article 11 have effectively undermined all of those positive results.

        • Article 13 must go: No desperate last-minute witchcraft can turn it into magic pixie dust

          As we draw close to the finish of this long and exhausting legislative process, a few things are clear. One is that Article 13 does mean upload filters – no one can seriously deny this. Another is that Article 13 will not only harm freedom of expression on a massive scale, but it will also seriously damage the region’s already struggling digital economy. That’s the urgent message of a new open letter from 130 EU businesses. No amount of tweaking, tricks or supposed ‘fixes’ will turn this flawed technology into the long hoped-for magic pixie dust. The only solution is to drop Article 13 from the agreed text completely.

          Please use what little time is left before the final vote next week to join the Great 2019 Web Black-out on Thursday; to participate in marches across Europe in support of the open Internet on Saturday; and, above all, to contact your MEPs to ask them to vote for the removal of Article 13.

Team UPC (Unitary Patent) is a Headless Chicken

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Headless chicken
Mike the Headless Chicken

Summary: Team UPC’s propaganda about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has become so ridiculous that the pertinent firms do not wish to be identified

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is 100% mute when it comes to UPC/UPCA. António Campinos has not mentioned it even once this year. Team UPC is another matter.

Notice this thing about Team UPC which we’ve been saying for about a year (every now and then). Team UPC spreads baseless rumours. It knows it is lying, but it doesn’t want to be held accountable for these lies. So in order to advance UPC, based on falsehoods, it’s increasingly hiding behind anonymous names/pseudonyms.

“Team UPC spreads baseless rumours. It knows it is lying, but it doesn’t want to be held accountable for these lies.”Yesterday we wrote about the latest from Bristows, which already speaks about UPC robes (for judges) and venues as if the FCC does not exist, Brexit never happened, and UPC is just about to kick off. Yesterday (later on in the day) they also published an exact copy, word by word, knowing nobody reads the blog. Bristows, the firm, published its blog post, for a fee, in another site or two (as usual over the past year or so). Then it published it a third time with different wording and an added picture (Italian flag). It is again hiding behind “Kluwer Patent blogger”, as if nobody will know who wrote it…

Team UPC is an appalling bunch; they’re antidemocratic, they’re manipulative liars, they’re censors and they’re anonymous cowards who hide behind fake names. This has become increasingly so in recent years because the only way to promote UPC is to intentionally lie about it. Even IAM (the patent trolls’ lobby, paid to promote the UPC) could no longer sustain all this chronic lying and virtually threw in the towel. Team UPC will never give up. “An overview of the INPI’s measures to reduce the patent backlog” is the title of some self-promotional piece that IAM has just published regarding Brazil. They want us to think that speed matters more than accuracy/quality. Well, go tell that to law firms that make business out of monopolies and lawsuits. Bogus patents don’t worry them as it’s their clients that pay the price.

“The EPO has become stuffed/stacked with so many phony European Patents and it’s starting to show.”Last but not least, we’ve just noticed Daniel Rowe of Dehns (Team UPC) taking note of EP 2429542, which the Enlarged Board of Appeals will look into. “In an appeal from a decision of the Examining Division on EP 2429542,” he explained, “this point is being challenged and the question has now been referred up to the Enlarged Board of Appeal.”

It’s about “double patenting” — the sort of thing patent maximalism leads to. The EPO has become stuffed/stacked with so many phony European Patents and it’s starting to show. If these patents are really that bad, why should they be decided on in courts outside the country of the accused/defendant? Why should the same people who grant these bogus patents have leverage over the branch that rules on them? No separation of powers?

António Campinos Makes Up Claims About Patent Quality, Only to be Rebutted by Examiners, Union (Anyone But the ‘Puff Pieces’ Industry)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“EPO CQI pilot scheme improved patent quality, claims president”

Modernising the EPO

Summary: Battistelli’s propagandistic style and self-serving ‘studies’ carry on; the notion of patent quality has been totally discarded and is nowadays lied about as facts get ‘manufactured’, then disseminated internally and externally (as above)

SEVERAL years ago Battistelli spent millions of euros, budget of the European Patent Office (EPO), bribing the media. This was an ethical breach on many levels. He did the same to academia, both in Europe and in the US (well outside the scope of the EPO’s members). We’re still seeing the effect of it; a lot of the media keeps silent about EPO scandals and crimes. Some of it actively yanks out fluff and PR. We’d rather not link to it this year; it would serve no positive purpose and we’ve already mentioned the earliest pieces about the so-called ‘results’ for 2018 [1, 2]. These had been published before the EPO even formally announced these, indicating there was prior coordination between the EPO’s PR people and media giants, such as Bloomberg. One might even call that “collusion” (media lending itself for PR purposes, as happened in the Battistelli days, e.g. Financial Times). The EPO is virtually above the law, so bribes to journalists aren’t even up there in the list of top offenses. We already wrote dozens of articles about this one aspect alone.

A reader has sent us the latest nonsense from the EPO. It’s a message passed around internally (late on Friday, i.e. the usual timing, probably for strategic purposes). We wonder if this mention of SUEPO (posted yesterday) can be regarded as endorsement of the rebuttal, the original, or both. In the same update SUEPO included “BARDEHLE PAGENBERG’s Contribution to the Public Consultation: EPO Strategic Plan 2023″ — a ‘contribution’ to itself. It’s pushing software patents agenda or as the FFII’s President put it about a day ago (quoting and responding): “Computer implemented inventions, recently in particular artificial intelligence” #swpats “Comvik should serve as guidance for differentiating patentable inventions from abstract ideas, which should be free from monopolies” software is abstract dude…”

Totally awful patent applications are being sent to the Office, containing many of the usual buzzwords (which the Office invites and recommends in events and written guidelines). The Office, which is granting patents on anything that contains such buzzwords, oughtn’t be surprised by an increase in applications. After all, who wouldn’t want a monopoly, even a bogus one that presumably holds EU-wide (unless or until tackled in court)?

There’s this new article from IPPro Magazine’s Barney Dixon (unlike his colleague, he doesn’t just do puff pieces). President António Campinos is evidently resorting to pseudoscience and lies (he’s no scientist, he’s a former banker). Here is the introduction and rebuttal, which SUEPO links to:

The European Patent Office (EPO)’s Collaborative Quality Improvements (CQI) pilot scheme has already resulted in quality improvements of 37 percent of cases, the office’s president has claimed.

[...]

An examiner close to the situation told IPPro that there were some issues with the results of this meeting.

First off, the examiner said that the large improvement percentages were “unverifiable”, as staff representation was not involved.

The examiner added: “Only management has an overview so it seems we have to take their word for it.”

Secondly, the examiner questioned the statistical validity of the figures put forward. They said: “How was the alleged increase in quality measured? Which methodology was used? What exactly was compared with what, to then be able to claim quality improvement?”

“Improvement in 37 percent of cases, as alleged, means nothing if one does not know what is considered as improvement … Quality measurement is a serious business.”

The EPO was contacted regarding the matter but declined to comment.

Writing with tongue-in-cheek expressions and in a totally sarcastic fashion, one reader spoke of “improved patent quality, claims president,” adding that: “It’s best to take what Campinos says with a pinch of salt…”

As we pointed out earlier this month, Campinos has begun lying in his writings just like Battistelli did. And he hasn’t even been in the Office for 9 months!

Here are the lies in full:

15.03.2019 Outcome and main issues

Dear Colleagues,

This week I held a meeting with participants of the Management Advisory Committee. To keep you informed on our ongoing discussions, you will find a brief summary below on two particularly important themes. Firstly our preparations to make sure the Strategic Plan 2023 (SP2023) is based on extensive input continue well. The MAC received updates on the progress of the preparation of both the Financial Study and the Staff Survey report and I would like to underline that all staff will have access to the findings of both sources of information. I will also be communicating on the outcome of the One-to-One meetings separately.

Secondly, while we are currently developing the SP2023 to make improvements over the next four years, we are already starting to implement schemes intended to improve both the work place and the patent granting process. In this MAC, we therefore received an update on the development of a new Ad Hoc Teleworking Scheme and the initial results of the Collaborative Quality Improvements pilot.

Inputs for the Strategic Plan

Financial Study – An overview of the progress of this on-going study gave us good hope that it will be ready on time, as scheduled. The purpose of the study is to give us an accurate assessment of the Office’s current financial situation and how it is expected to evolve in the future. Four scenarios will be presented from “Conservative” to “Optimistic” based upon the evolution of a set of various external factors, which determine the economic environment in which our organisation operates and which we cannot influence. The consultant will also provide a number of takeaways – or conclusions – and identify a series of levers, which are measures under the influence of our Office and which can be managed to help steer our financial future. The outcome of the Financial Study will be made available to all staff. An internal communication plan is being prepared so that all our departments will have access to comprehensive information and can ask their questions to obtain clarification where required on this sometimes complex issue.

We are convinced that greater financial sustainability for our organisation can be achieved through careful management of the various elements which can have a financial effect on our organisation. While we have already increased our operational and financial performance over recent years, the issue of financial sustainability is ongoing. We are now aiming to manage these questions based on a solid plan to address our liabilities for the years to come and so these questions do not have to be revisited in the near future.

Staff Engagement Survey – Following the closure of the survey on the 1 March with an 85% participation rate, we will soon have another invaluable source of information containing the views of the staff. The results will be delivered directly by the survey provider, Willis Towers Watson, at the beginning of April.

As well as being published on the Intranet, the consultant will be providing both Office-wide and DG specific results through a series of presentations at different sites. Further information on the presentations and the specific timing will be provided shortly but it is planned that all staff will be able to access the presentation either in person or by VICO (or similar means).

New Schemes

Ad hoc Teleworking Scheme – The MAC received an update on an Ad hoc Teleworking (AHTW) pilot scheme under development. By complementing the current Part-Time Home Working Scheme, it will provide more opportunities for staff members to work remotely on an occasional basis. It aims to contribute towards a more flexible working environment that can help balance the various professional and private demands faced by our staff members.

The main elements of the scheme were discussed, as well as the criteria for evaluating the success of the pilot. While the exact details are still to be finalised it’s anticipated that approximately 200 employees will initially take part, starting in April and following consultation with the GCC. We have every confidence that the scheme will prove a win-win for the Office and our employees.

Collaborative Quality Improvements (CQI) – Some staff may recall that we intend to encourage greater collaboration (broken link) among staff and departments to see whether it can yield benefits, such as increased transparency and the spread of knowledge and best practice. In the last couple of months, based on already existing collaborations used in many teams, DG1 has implemented a pilot that aimed to enhance quality in the patent granting process through greater collaboration within divisions and in teams. In the MAC yesterday, VP1 presented the findings of the first few weeks of operation and already the results are extremely encouraging.

Overall, quality improvements were reported in 37% of cases. The exercise is proving particularly useful for increasing the quality of examination, in which consultations led to quality improvements in 46% of the cases. Efficiency gains were also registered in 20% of all cases and the consultations were judged to be useful or very useful by the participants in the vast majority of cases (72%).

Although these are initial results, they are providing an extremely useful insight into the way in which greater collaboration can help contribute to greater quality, and confirming the findings of teams already using an enhanced collaborative approach. But other metrics being recorded also show a range of additional benefits, such as improved confidence among participants in their judgements, a sense of shared ownership and job satisfaction.

All members of the MAC would like to convey their thanks to everyone involved in the CQI initiative and look forward to hearing more about the pilot in the weeks to come.

Other Business

In other business, a statistical overview on different key figures from the patent granting process and some social indicators were presented, showing some positive trends that included an increase in applications and a reduction in the backlog. Finally, the timing of the rewards process was also discussed. More information on the rewards process will be communicated to all staff on 15 April.

I look forward to updating you in due course on the outcome of the next MAC. In the meantime, and following the Strategic Quality Board held in February, I will also be reporting on next week’s meeting on engaging our users in quality.

António Campinos
President

We’re probably the first and perhaps only site to publish this text (other than the intranet). Making it public may make rebuttal by anyone easier. Are puff pieces based on it going to come in the form of a public ‘study’?

03.20.19

Links 20/3/2019: Google Announces ‘Stadia’, Tails 3.13

Posted in News Roundup at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Google Open-sources Sandboxed API, a tool that helps in automating the process of porting existing C and C++ code

      Yesterday, the team at Google open-sourced Sandboxed API, a tool that Google has been using internally for its data centers for years. It is a project for sandboxing C and C++ libraries running on Linux systems. Google has made the Sandboxed API available on GitHub.

      Sandboxed API helps coders to automate the process of porting their existing C and C++ code in order to run on top of Sandbox2, which is Google’s custom-made sandbox environment for Linux operating systems. Sandbox2 has also been open-sourced and is included with Sandboxed API GitHub repository.

      Christian Blichmann & Robert Swiecki, from Google’s ISE Sandboxing team, said, “Many popular software containment tools might not sufficiently isolate the rest of the OS, and those which do, might require time-consuming redefinition of security boundaries for each and every project that should be sandboxed.”

    • Google open-sources its Sandboxed API tools for isolating application processes

      Google LLC has open-sourced a new tool for developers that lets them sandbox C and C++ libraries that run on Linux-based operating systems.

      Developed internally by Google, the Sandboxed API has been used in its data centers for several years already, the company said in a blog post Monday announcing the move. Google has made Sandboxed API available to download on GitHub, together with its documentation that describes how to get it up and running.

    • Init Container Build Pattern: Knative build with plain old Kubernetes deployment

      With Kubernetes evolving at supersonic speed and seeing a lot of adoption in the enterprise world, the developer community is now looking for solutions to common Kubernetes problems, such as patterns. In this article, I will explore a new Kubernetes pattern using Init Containers.

      Let’s start with the use case that gave birth to this problem: Quarkus—Supersonic and Subatomic Java—has excited the Java developer community with its amazing speed and all new native build artifact for Java applications. As one of those excited developers, I want to quickly build and deploy a Quarkus application on to Kubernetes.

    • KubeEdge, a Kubernetes Native Edge Computing Framework

      Open source edge computing is going through its most dynamic phase of development in the industry. So many open source platforms, so many consolidations and so many initiatives for standardization! This shows the strong drive to build better platforms to bring cloud computing to the edges to meet ever increasing demand. KubeEdge, which was announced last year, now brings great news for cloud native computing! It provides a complete edge computing solution based on Kubernetes with separate cloud and edge core modules. Currently, both the cloud and edge modules are open sourced.

      Unlike certain light weight kubernetes platforms available around, KubeEdge is made to build edge computing solutions extending the cloud. The control plane resides in cloud, though scalable and extendable. At the same time, the edge can work in offline mode. Also it is lightweight and containerized, and can support heterogeneous hardware at the edge. With the optimization in edge resource utlization, KubeEdge positions to save significant setup and operation cost for edge solutions. This makes it the most compelling edge computing platform in the world currently, based on Kubernetes!

    • Red Hat Security: The Product Security Blog has moved!

      Red Hat Product Security has joined forces with other security teams inside Red Hat to publish our content in a common venue using the Security channel of the Red Hat Blog. This move provides a wider variety of important Security topics, from experts all over Red Hat, in a more modern and functional interface. We hope everyone will enjoy the new experience!

    • From virtualization to emerging workloads: How Red Hat and NVIDIA are driving enterprise innovation

      Innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other emerging workloads present a vision of IT’s future, one where intelligent solutions can more effectively analyze and address evolving business needs. But this vision can be limited by current IT infrastructure, which can often require significant investments in order to enable new workloads.

      One answer to this challenge is through workload acceleration, which uses specialized computational resources, like graphic processing units (GPUs) to tackle intense computing tasks. Established in scientific and research computing, GPUs such as those offered by NVIDIA are now catching the attention of enterprise IT as a technology that can accelerate compute-intensive operations found in data science and AI, extending their reach to a broader range of end users.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel Working On Some Interesting Coreboot Improvements: Multi-CPU Support, SMM

      Last week during Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit, some interesting details were revealed by Intel and their work on this open-source hardware initialization effort alternative to proprietary BIOS/firmware.

      One is that Intel is working on multi-CPU support within Coreboot for multi-socket server platforms. The code for this has yet to be published.

    • Handling Complex Memory Situations

      Jérôme Glisse felt that the time had come for the Linux kernel to address seriously the issue of having many different types of memory installed on a single running system. There was main system memory and device-specific memory, and associated hierarchies regarding which memory to use at which time and under which circumstances. This complicated new situation, Jérôme said, was actually now the norm, and it should be treated as such.

      The physical connections between the various CPUs and devices and RAM chips—that is, the bus topology—also was relevant, because it could influence the various speeds of each of those components.

      Jérôme wanted to be clear that his proposal went beyond existing efforts to handle heterogeneous RAM. He wanted to take account of the wide range of hardware and its topological relationships to eek out the absolute highest performance from a given system.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Sysdig Joins the Linux Foundation’s New Foundation to Support Continuous Delivery Collaboration
      • Linux Foundation Launches Red Team Project

        The Linux Foundation has launched a new project aimed at incubating open source cybersecurity tools. The Red Team Project’s main goal is to make open source software safer to use.

        The aim is to create cybersecurity tools for areas including cyber range automation, containerized pentesting utilities, binary risk quantification, and standards validation and advancement.

        [...]

        Current tooling from the project start with a Linux Exploit Mapper (LEM) that scans a Linux system for local exploits and maps them to known exploit code. When exploits are discovered using the mapper, they are curated, tested for efficacy and ease-of-use using a variant of the STRIDE scoring mechanism. An Ansible role called cyber-range-target is used to deliberately downgrade OS packages to a version vulnerable to a given CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure) for assessment purposes. The project also provides a Red Container. This offers containerized pentesting tooling, which can be launched from whole OSes or containerized environments like Kubernetes.

      • DataPractices.org Becomes a Linux Foundation Project

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced DataPractices.org, the first-ever template for data best practices, will now be a hosted project under the Linux Foundation and offer open courseware for data teamwork.

        Datapractices.org was initially pioneered by data.world as a “Manifesto for Data Practices,” comprised of values and principles to illustrate the most effective, modern, and ethical approach to data teamwork. As an open project under the Linux Foundation, Datapractices.org intends to maintain and further develop a collaborative approach to defining and refining data best practices. The project will also facilitate collaboration and development of open courseware to guide organizations interested in aligning their data practices with the values (inclusion, experimentation, accountability, and impact) and principles of DataPractices.org.

        As a part of the Linux Foundation, DataPractices.org intends to enable a vendor-neutral community to further establish best practices and increase the level of data knowledge across the data ecosystem. The project’s new open courseware is available to anyone interested in data best practices—including novice practitioners, data managers, corporate evangelists, seasoned data scientists, and more. The project also welcomes expert practitioners to help refine and advance the courseware.

      • datapractices.org joins the Linux Foundation to Advance Best Practices & Offers Open Courseware Across Data Ecosystem

        The Linux Foundation has announced datapractices.org, a vendor-neutral community working on the first-ever template for modern data teamwork, has joined as an official Linux Foundation project.

        DataPractices.org was pioneered by data.world as a “Manifesto for Data Practices” of four values and 12 principles that illustrate the most effective, ethical, and modern approach to data teamwork. As a member of the foundation, datapractices.org will expand to offer open courseware and establish a collaborative approach to defining and refining data best practices.

    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Gets Patches For VK_KHR_8bit_storage

        The Mesa Radeon “RADV” Vulkan driver has a series of patches pending for introducing VK_KHR_8bit_storage support.

        Rhys Perry of the Nouveau crowd worked on the VK_KHR_8bit_storage support for RADV back in February while it’s now being carried forward by Valve Linux developer Samuel Pitoiset. The VK_KHR_8bit_storage extension as implied by the name allows for using 8-bit types in uniform and storage buffers as well as push constant blocks.

      • xf86-video-ati / xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0.1 Released To Better Deal With DP MST Displays

        Radeon DDX wrangler Michel Dänzer of AMD has announced the releases today of xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0.1 and the xf86-video-ati 19.0.1 release for older Radeon hardware.

        The lone change with the xf86-video-amdgpu X.Org driver update is support for the RandR output tile properties in better dealing with DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport (DP MST) displays. This was the change that landed last week in these X.Org drivers and ushering out these new point releases to ship this support finally — years after the support was added to the X.Org Server and xf86-video-modesetting.

      • Nvidia ray traces the heck out of Quake II… launching for free in April

        Nvidia has been working behind the scenes on Q2VKPT with creator Christoph Schied to build Quake II RTX: a cutting-edge reimagining of the old school classic. While Schied has been working on a ray-traced version of Quake II for some time, and doing a grand job of it too, Nvidia has lent its expertise to bring the classic shooter into 2019 and utilise all that ray tracing has to offer.

    • Benchmarks

      • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Linux Benchmarks

        Last week NVIDIA announced the GeForce GTX 1660 as the newest RTX-less Turing GPU but costing only $219+ USD. The GTX 1660 is a further trimmed down version of the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti that launched several weeks prior. After picking up an ASUS GeForce GTX 1660 Phoenix Edition, here are Linux OpenGL/Vulkan gaming benchmarks compared to a wide assortment of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards under Ubuntu.

        The GeForce GTX 1660 features 1408 CUDA cores (compared to 1536 with the GTX 1660 Ti) while having a 1785MHz boost clock frequency and 1530MHz base clock frequency. The GeForce GTX 1660 opts for 6GB of GDDR5 unlike the 6GB GDDR6 used by the GTX 1660 Ti, which means only around 192GB/s of video memory bandwidth compared to 288GB/s with the Ti model. The other specifications are largely in common with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and the other Turing GPUs aside from lacking the RT/tensor cores.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Latest MATE 1.22 Linux Desktop Is Out Now

      Latest version contains plenty of critical bug fixes and various features too. In the latest release, plenty of work has been done so that MATE 1.22 can work with Wayland display backend system.

      Wanda the Fish now works properly on HiDPI displays. Good news for the metacity themes lover as support for metacity-themes has finally been upgraded to version 3 in the macro window manager. The session manager now properly terminates all processes on systemd. Also the Tabs in pluma now have the ability to be switched with keyboard shortcuts and mouse scrolling. A few new key shortcuts have been added, including support for different types of media keys like Bluetooth, WiFi, touchpads, and global killswitches.

    • Sway – A Tiling Wayland i3-Compatible Compositor

      I have covered window tiling editors/managers previously with apps like herbstluftwm and Tilix so check them out if you haven’t already.

      Sway is a free and open source tiling Wayland compositor that is compatible with the i3 window manager, uses the same configuration syntax, and works with most of the software designed for i3.

      Sway makes use of all the available space on your screen and automatically adjusts window sizes as you open more apps and you can navigate between apps with your keyboard.

      App windows can be arranged horizontally, vertically, stacked, or tabbed and you can change their size as well as split windows into containers of several windows all without touching your mouse. You could, however, use your mouse to rearrange windows and even take windows out of the tiling grid and manipulate them.44

    • The Greenfield Wayland Compositor Can Now Run Apps Directly In Your Web Browser

      Greenfield is the nearly two year old effort providing an in-browser, HTML5 Wayland compositor. This open-source project has allowed for remote Wayland applications to run in browsers while running from remote hosts. Greenfield though can now run applications directly inside a user’s web browser via Web Worker threads.

      Erik De Rijcke who masterminded Greenfield announced that applications can now run directly in browsers thanks to Web Workers. But in order to do so, the application must be using JavaScript or WebAssembly. Among other hinderances, this also currently requires a custom Wayland buffer protocol to be supported by the application as well. But once working, all the work is done in the client’s web browser rather than running remotely on a web server.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Google Removed the KDE Connect App from the Play Store (Update: It’s Back)

        The official KDE Connect Android app was briefly removed from the Google Play Store for “violating” app permission policies.

        Google yanked the phone-side companion app, which works with desktop tools like GSconnect, from its Android app store on March 19. It said the app did not adhere to its new rules on apps that can access to SMS messages.

      • Shallot – Qt-based file manager with plugin interface

        We recently published a comprehensive roundup of the best 15 Qt file managers, finally plumping on Krusader and Dolphin as our recommended tools to manage your file system.

        A few of our readers have emailed us requesting we take a spin of Shallot. Never one to disappoint, here’s our take on this file manager. It’s Qt-based with a plugin interface. We compare Shallot with the 15 Qt file managers.

        Shallot is billed as a file manager with the maximum degree of flexibility and customizability.

      • Making the Most of your Memory with mmap

        Sometimes it seems that we have nearly infinite memory resources, especially compared to the tiny 48K RAM of yesteryear’s 8-bit computers. But today’s complex applications can soak up megabytes before you know it. While it would be great if developers planned their memory management for all applications, thinking through a memory management strategy is crucial for applications with especially RAM intensive features like image/video processing, massive databases, and machine learning.

        How do you plan a memory management strategy? It’s very dependent on your application and its requirements, but a good start is to work with your operating system instead of against it. That’s where memory mapping comes in. mmap can make your application’s performance better while also improving its memory profile by letting you leverage the same virtual memory paging machinery that the OS itself relies on. Smart use of the memory mapping API (Qt, UNIX, Windows) allows you to transparently handle massive data sets, automatically paging them out of memory as needed – and it’s much better than you’re likely to manage with a roll-your-own memory management scheme.

        Here’s a real-life use case of how we used mmap to optimize RAM use in QiTissue, a medical image application. This application loads, merges, manipulates, and displays highly detailed microscope images that are up to gigabytes in size. It needs to be efficient or risks running out of memory even on desktops loaded with RAM.

      • KDAB at QtDay 2019

        On the 1st and 2nd of April, KDAB will once again be sponsors at this fast-growing Qt event in Italy: QtDay 2019.

        The biggest Qt event in the region, now in its 8th year, contrary to what its name suggests, QtDay 2019 boasts a full two days of technical talks and workshops, each day with two to three tracks.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Parental controls & metered data hackfest: days 1 & 2

        I’m currently at the Parental Controls & Metered Data hackfest at Red Hat’s office in London. A bunch of GNOME people from various companies (Canonical, Endless, elementary, and Red Hat) have gathered to work out a plan to start implementing these two features in GNOME. The first two days have been dedicated to the parental control features. This is the ability for parents to control what children can do on the computer. For example, locking down access to certain applications or websites.

        Day one began with presentations of the Endless OS implementation by Philip, followed by a demonstration of the Elementary version by Cassidy. Elementary were interested in potentially expanding this feature set to include something like Digital Wellbeing – we explored the distinction between this and parental controls. It turns out that these features are relatively similar – the main differences are whether you are applying restrictions to yourself or to someone else, and whether you have the ability to lift/ignore the restrictions. We’ve started talking about the latter of these as “speed bumps”: you can always undo your own restrictions, so the interventions from the OS should be intended to nudge you towards the right behaviour.

        After that we looked at some prior art (Android, iOS), and started to take the large list of potential features (in the image above) down to the ones we thought might be feasible to implement. Throughout all of this, one topic we kept coming back to was app lockdown. It’s reasonably simple to see how this could be applied to containerised apps (e.g. Snap or Flatpak), but system applications that come from a deb or an rpm are much more difficult. It would probably be possible – but still difficult – to use an LSM like AppArmor or SELinux to do this by denying execute access to the application’s binary. One obvious problem with that is that GNOME doesn’t require one of these and different distributions have made different choices here… Another tricky topic is how to implement website white/blacklisting in a robust way. We discussed using DNS (systemd-resolved?) and ip/nftables implementations, but it might turn out that the most feasible way is to use a browser extension for this.

      • GNOME ED Update – February

        Another update is now due from what we’ve been doing at the Foundation, and we’ve been busy!

        As you may have seen, we’ve hired three excellent people over the past couple of months. Kristi Progri has joined us as Program Coordinator, Bartłomiej Piorski as a devops sysadmin, and Emmanuele Bassi as our GTK Core developer. I hope to announce another new hire soon, so watch this space…

        There’s been quite a lot of discussion around the Google API access, and GNOME Online Accounts. The latest update is that I submitted the application to Google to get GOA verified, and we’ve got a couple of things we’re working through to get this sorted.

      • Some Quick Graphics/Game Tests With GNOME 3.32 On Clear Linux

        For about one week already Intel’s rolling-release Clear Linux distribution has been shipping with GNOME 3.32. Here are some quick graphics and gaming benchmarks comparing GNOME 3.30.2 to 3.32.0.

        Using a Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card, I tested Clear Linux between its releases having GNOME Shell 3.30 and the move to GNOME Shell 3.30.2. On both builds of Clear Linux, Linux 5.0.1 was in use along with X.Org Server 1.20.4 (they aren’t yet defaulting to a Wayland session), and Mesa 19.1-devel.

      • More GNOME Shell / Mutter Performance Optimizations & Latency Reductions Still Coming

        Over the course of the GNOME 3.32 that is nearly complete as well as GNOME 3.30 there was a lot of measurable performance fixes and enhancements to improve the fluidity of the GNOME desktop as well as addressing various latency issues. While in some areas these performance improvements make a night and day difference, work isn’t done on enhancing GNOME’s performance.

        One of the developers leading the charge on enhancing/fixing the performance of GNOME Shell and Mutter in particular has been Canonical’s Daniel Van Vugt. While he’s already made great strides in fixing issues himself, reviewing and collaborating on other patches, etc, the job isn’t done. Van Vugt shared there’s still some big ticket work pending.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • KDE neon 5.15 review – Speed bumps ahead

        KDE neon 5.15 is a decent distro. But it’s not quite as pain-free as some of its predecessors, and I’ve hit a bunch of highly disappointing errors and bugs that simply shouldn’t be there. The network and phone experience needs to be better, smoother. There ought to be no crashes. Regressions are bad.

        Then, the upgrade process is robust and tight, the system is beautiful, and it purrs like a tiger – do tigers purr actually? You get the idea. Very sleek, very slick. Fast. You have a wealth of great software and a well-designed desktop environment that blends the bleeding-edge with pro-thought and good speed, and without being utterly beta. I’m quite happy overall, but I don’t like the lack of consistency between the live media and the installed system. Some of this feels rushed. A good release, but ultimately not calm enough for everyday use. Well, I guess that’s what LTS is for. 7/10. That would be all for today.

    • New Releases

      • LinHES R8.6 Released

        The LinHES Dev team is pleased to announce the release of LinHES R8.6!

        LinHES R8.6 updates MythTV to 30-fixes as well as updates to the kernel, system libraries, graphics drivers and many other parts of LinHES.

        Release notes and upgrade instructions can be found here.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Enterprise Storage 6 Beta Program

        SUSE Enterprise Storage 6, the upcoming release from SUSE, enables IT organizations to seamlessly adapt to changing business demands while reducing IT operational expense with new features focused on containerized and cloud workload support, improved integration with public cloud and enhanced data protection capabilities. This release of SUSE Enterprise Storage will be available for first customer ship in early June. However, you can download a BETA version today and give release 6 a test drive. It is built on the upstream Ceph release: Nautilus and updated to run on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP1 BETA. There are a lot of new features in SUSE Enterprise Storage 6.

      • From Paris with Love

        Last week, I had the great pleasure of being among the team representing SUSE at HPE’s Technology and Solutions Summit (aka HPE TSS) in Paris. HPE’s largest and most comprehensive technical and solutions knowledge transfer event is aimed at presales consultants and solutions architects from HPE and their partners, bringing together teams from within HPE and their partner community all with the aim of sharing knowledge about their products and services.

        Around 3,000 delegates converged upon the City of Lights to learn, exchange ideas and have a little fun in the city that is home to Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, the legendary Eiffel Tower, and of course the many creperies serving up delicious treats to hungry visitors!

    • Fedora

      • F29-20190319 updated Live isos released

        The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated F29-20190319 Live ISOs, carrying the 4.20.16-200 kernel.

        This set of updated isos will save considerable amounts of updates after install. ((for new installs.)(New installs of Workstation have 1.2GB of updates)).

        This set also includes a updated iso of the Security Lab.

        A huge thank you goes out to irc nicks dowdle, Southern-Gentlem for testing these iso.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian members afraid to make or propose change, says leadership contender

        Michlmayr made the comments as part of his platform for the leadership elections; he and four others are contesting for leader of the project, with the campaigning period running until 6 April. Nominees also take part in online debates as part of pushing their claims to the post of leader.

        He said that he had not been active in Debian of late but believed that the role of DPL should have three sides to it: administrator, facilitator and leader.

        Having been the DPL in 2003 and 2004, Michlmayr said he was familiar with the role. “If I didn’t believe in Debian, I wouldn’t run in this DPL election. I acted as DPL before and know how difficult being the DPL can be sometimes. Yes, I see severe problems in Debian, but I firmly believe that together we can solve them!” he added.

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.13 is out

          This release fixes many security vulnerabilities. You should upgrade as soon as possible.

        • Tor-Powered Tails 3.13 Anonymous Linux OS Adds Extra Security and Latest Updates

          Powered by the Linux 4.19.28 kernel, the Tails 3.13 operating system is now available with latest TOR technologies to help you stay hidden while surfing the Internet, including the Tor Browser 8.0.7 anonymous web browser and Tor 0.3.5.8 client and server for the anonymous Tor network.

          However, probably the most important addition in the Tails 3.13 release is the updated Intel microcode to version 3.20180807a.2, which adds an extra security measure against more variants of the well-known Spectre, Meltdown, and L1TF (Level 1 Terminal Fault) security vulnerabilities.

        • Septor 2019.2 – changes

          Tor Browser is fully installed (8.0.7)
          System upgrade from Debian testing repos as of March 19, 2019

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Debug ACPI DSDT and SSDT with ACPICA Utilities

            Using acpidbg on Ubuntu 18.04 x64 can be quite handy; however, the Linux kernel with ACPI_DEBUGGER is not always available, such as on Ubuntu for ARM. In such cases, acpica also provides a set of utilities, named acpica-tools, for ACPI debugging.

          • NVIDIA Jetson Nano is a $99 Computer Built for AI, Powered by Ubuntu

            Sold as a complete compute solution, the Jetson Nano Developer Kit wants to let embedded designers, researchers, and DIY makers harness the power of AI, all at an affordable price.

            A NVIDIA’s JetPack SDK provides a ‘complete desktop Linux environment based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS’, replete with accelerated graphics, NVIDIA CUDA toolkit support, and more.

            NVIDIA say developers will find it “easy” to install leading open-source Machine Learning (ML) frameworks like TensorFlow, Caffe and Keras. Frameworks for computer vision and robotics development like OpenCV and ROS are also available via the SDK.

            The JetPack 4.2 SDK [shipped on the microSD card] provides a complete desktop Linux environment for Jetson Nano based on Ubuntu 18.04 with accelerated graphics, support for NVIDIA CUDA Toolkit 10.0, and libraries such as cuDNN 7.3 and TensorRT 5,” Nvidia says of the nimble Nano dev kit.

            But how powerful is it?

          • Vertical rhythm and spacing in Vanilla Framework 2.0

            Vanilla, the CSS framework behind Canonical’s suite of products and services, has undergone significant changes over the last 12 months. We’ve introduced vertical rhythm, a new type scale, consistent white space in and between elements, and adjustable information density.

          • Ubuntu 19 04 Desktop Tour of New Features
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Pop OS 18.10 Linux Gaming Report: System76 Nails It For Nvidia And AMD Users

              Pop!_OS is, in my opinion, a seriously underappreciated Ubuntu-based operating that distinguishes itself in a couple major areas — in addition to its utter simplicity and slick installer. It was created primarily to be the accompanying OS for the variety of custom Linux desktops and laptops produced by System76, and they’ve added some features I prefer not to live without regardless of what hardware I’m using.

              First, Pop!_OS is one of the only distros I’ve tried that elegantly handles Hybrid graphics (that’s Intel CPU + Nvidia GPU as seen in laptops like the ThinkPad X1 Extreme) out of the box. Moreover, System76 ships two versions of Pop!_OS: one designed for Intel/AMD, and one designed for Nvidia GPUs. The Nvidia ISO installs the proprietary driver so that users don’t need to add a repository by hand and install it later.

            • And the next version of Zorin OS is…

              After a long development cycle, we’re excited to introduce the Beta of the next major version of our operating system: Zorin OS 15. Creating a Linux desktop operating system that’s designed for everyone – not only the engineers & power users – has always been the mission of Zorin OS, ever since the first release nearly 10 years ago. Zorin OS 15 takes this decade-long effort and amplifies it to the next level. Every aspect of the user experience has been re-considered and refined in this new release, from how apps are installed, to how you get work done, to how it interacts with the devices around you. The result is a desktop experience that combines the most powerful desktop technology with the most user-friendly design.

              This is a pre-release Beta version which we have created to get your feedback & bug reports on what we’ve built so far.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Managing changes in open source projects

    Why bother having a process for proposing changes to your open source project? Why not just let people do what they’re doing and merge the features when they’re ready? Well, you can certainly do that if you’re the only person on the project. Or maybe if it’s just you and a few friends.

    But if the project is large, you might need to coordinate how some of the changes land. Or, at the very least, let people know a change is coming so they can adjust if it affects the parts they work on. A visible change process is also helpful to the community. It allows them to give feedback that can improve your idea. And if nothing else, it lets people know what’s coming so that they can get excited, and maybe get you a little bit of coverage on Opensource.com or the like. Basically, it’s “here’s what I’m going to do” instead of “here’s what I did,” and it might save you some headaches as you scramble to QA right before your release.

  • Women win all open board director seats in Open Source Initiative 2019 board elections

    A person discussed six female candidates in misogynistic language on Slashdot, which is a tech-focussed social news website. The post also then labeled each woman with how much of a “threat” they were. Slashdot immediately took down this post “shortly afterward the OSI started seeing inappropriate comments posted on its website”.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Improves Web Browser Security in Firefox 66 Update

        Mozilla released the Firefox 66 update on March 19, providing users of the open-source web browser with new features that enhance user experience and improve security.

        Among Firefox 66′s new features is one that blocks websites from auto-playing sound, which can be an annoyance. Also, the search feature within the browser has been improved with enhanced capability to search across multiple open tabs on a user’s system. Additionally, security gets a boost in the new browser release with patches for multiple vulnerabilities and an expansion of the number of web content loading processes.

      • Firefox 66: The Sound of Silence

        Firefox 66 is out, and brings with it a host of great new features like screen sharing, scroll anchoring, autoplay blocking for audible media, and initial support for the Touch Bar on macOS.

        [...]

        Starting with version 66, Firefox will block audible autoplaying video and audio. This means media (audio and video) have to wait for user interaction before playing, unless the muted property is set on the associated HTMLMediaElement.

      • Firefox 66 Released, This is What’s Changed

        Mozilla Firefox 66 is available to download for Windows, macOS and Linux desktops and Android devices.

        The browser update comes with a selection of interface tweaks, bug fixes and performance improvements across all operating systems. A few Linux-specific changes also feature.

        For more details on what’s new in Firefox 66, read on!

      • Firefox Quantum 66 blocks audio autoplay, improves scrolling behavior and adds option to search all tabs

        Android users gain the sound-blocking feature and scroll anchoring support, plus users can now open files from external SD cards and other storage. Firefox Quantum 66.0 and Firefox for Android 66.0 are both available now as a free, open-source download for supported versions of Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Conference 2020: Call for Locations

      Once a year, the LibreOffice Community gathers for a global community event: the LibreOffice Conference, or LibOCon. After a series of successful events – Paris, October 2011; Berlin, October 2012; Milan, September 2013; Bern, September 2014; Aarhus, September 2015; Brno, September 2016; Rome, October 2017; and Tirana, September 2018 – the venue for 2019 is Almeria, Spain.

      To ease the organization, TDF Board of Directors has decided to open the call for location for 2020, to give the 2020 event organizers the opportunity of attending the conference in Almeria in September 2019. The LibreOffice Conference takes place between September and November, with a preference for September.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • LLVM 8.0.0 released

      I’m pleased to announce that LLVM 8 is now available.

      Get it here: https://llvm.org/releases/download.html#8.0.0

      This release contains the work on trunk up to Subversion revision
      r351319, plus work on the release branch. It’s the result of the LLVM
      community’s work over the past six months, including: speculative load
      hardening, concurrent compilation in the ORC JIT API, no longer
      experimental WebAssembly target, a Clang option to initialize
      automatic variables, improved pre-compiled header support in clang-cl,
      the /Zc:dllexportInlines- flag, RISC-V support in lld. And as usual,
      many bug fixes, optimization and diagnostics improvements, etc.

      For more details, see the release notes:

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/docs/ReleaseNotes.html

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/tools/clang/docs/ReleaseN…

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/tools/clang/tools/extra/d…

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/tools/lld/docs/ReleaseNot…

      https://llvm.org/releases/8.0.0/projects/libcxx/docs/Rele…

      Special thanks to the release testers and packagers: Amy Kwan, Bero
      Rosenkränzer, Brian Cain, Diana Picus, Dimitry Andric, Kim Gräsman,
      Lei Huang, Michał Górny, Sylvestre Ledru, Ulrich Weigand, Vedant
      Kumar, and Yvan Roux.

      For questions or comments about the release, please contact the
      community on the mailing lists. Onwards to LLVM 9!

      Thanks,
      Hans

    • LLVM 8.0.0 released

      Version 8.0.0 of the LLVM compiler suite is out. “It’s the result of the LLVM community’s work over the past six months, including: speculative load hardening, concurrent compilation in the ORC JIT API, no longer experimental WebAssembly target, a Clang option to initialize automatic variables, improved pre-compiled header support in clang-cl, the /Zc:dllexportInlines- flag, RISC-V support in lld.” For details one can see separate release notes for LLVM, Clang, Extra Clang Tools, lld, and libc++.

    • LLVM 8.0 Released With Cascade Lake Support, Better Diagnostics, More OpenMP/OpenCL

      After being delayed the better part of one month, LLVM 8.0 officially set sail this morning.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Install Fests: What to Do about the Deal with the Devil

      Install fests invite users to bring their computers so that experts can install GNU/Linux on them. This is meant to promote the idea of free software as well as the use of free software. In practice, these two goals conflict: users that want to reject nonfree software entirely need to choose their computers carefully to achieve that goal.

      The problem is that most computers can’t run with a completely free GNU/Linux distro. They contain peripherals, or coprocessors, that won’t operate unless the installed system contains some nonfree drivers or firmware. This happens because hardware manufacturers refuse to tell us how to use their products, so that the only way to figure out how is by reverse engineering, which in most cases has not yet been done.

      This presents the install fest with a dilemma. If it upholds the ideals of freedom, by installing only free software from 100%-free distros, partly-secret machines won’t become entirely functional and the users that bring them will go away disappointed. However, if the install fest installs nonfree distros and nonfree software which make machines entirely function, it will fail to teach users to say no for freedom’s sake. They may learn to like GNU/Linux, but they won’t learn what the free software movement stands for. In effect, the install fest makes a tacit deal with the devil that suppresses the free software movement’s message about freedom and justice.

      The nonfree software means the user sacrifices freedom for functionality. If users had to wrestle with this choice, they could draw a moral lesson from it, and maybe get a better computer later. But when the install fest makes the compromise on the user’s behalf, it shelters the user from the moral dimension; the user never sees that something other than convenience is at stake. In effect, the install fest makes the deal with the devil, on the user’s behalf, behind a curtain so the user doesn’t recognize that it is one.

      I propose that the install fest show users exactly what deal they are making. Let them talk with the devil individually, learn the deal’s bad implications, then make a deal—or refuse!

      As always, I call on the install fest itself to install only free software, taking a strict stance. In this way it can set a clear moral example of rejecting nonfree software.

      My new idea is that the install fest could allow the devil to hang around, off in a corner of the hall, or the next room. (Actually, a human being wearing sign saying “The Devil,” and maybe a toy mask or horns.) The devil would offer to install nonfree drivers in the user’s machine to make more parts of the computer function, explaining to the user that the cost of this is using a nonfree (unjust) program.

    • RMS article: “Install fests: What to do about the deal with the devil”

      Stallman explains that, because of obstacles deliberately devised to thwart back engineering, not all computers can function properly with a completely free distro. And that a choice, therefore, often has to be made, between freedom and convenience, between installing a fully free distro that won’t function as intended, and installing a nonfree distro that will. He argues that this choice should be made by the informed user alone, not silently by the install-fest volunteer.

      Stallman appeals to install fests to forgo the “tacit deal with the devil” that suppresses the free software movement’s message about freedom and justice, and to take advantage of the teachable moment, to introduce the user to the “moral dimension” of their computing choices. He suggests a number of things an install-fest could do (implement visual demarcations that help users understand when they’re about to “forfeit their freedom,” give technical advice regarding free software and free hardware, encourage users to lobby offending manufacturers) in order to “retain full moral authority when it talks about the imperative for freedom.” Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, and, ultimately, better no devil at all.

    • About Musix’s removal from our list of endorsed distributions

      The maintainer of Musix requested that it be removed from our list of endorsed distributions, as the distribution is no longer maintained.

      In 2018 we updated our list of free GNU/Linux distributions to add a “Historical” section. We retired BLAG Linux and GNU at that time, as it was no longer maintained. We are sad to announce today that Musix will also being moving to the Historical section, as it is likewise no longer maintained. Founded in 2004, Musix was on the list of free GNU/Linux distributions for over a decade. The list helps users to find operating systems that come with only free software and documentation, and that do not promote any nonfree software. Being added to the list means that a distribution has gone through a rigorous screening process, and is dedicated to diligently fixing any freedom issues that may arise.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • MOREbot Introduces Kids to Robotics Using 3D Printed Parts

        MORE Technologies last week launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise US$20,000 for development of its open source robot ecosystem.

        The company will fund the project if it reaches its goal by April 21. As of this writing, $6,485 of that $20,000 goal has been pledged.

        The MOREbot project teaches real tech skills to the next generation of innovators and problem solvers using MOREbot — a series of open source, customizable robotics kits designed for classroom or home use.

        MOREbot is an expandable modular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning robotic ecosystem. All robot parts are 3D printed, which makes it very affordable, according to the company.

      • gym-gazebo2 toolkit uses ROS 2 and Gazebo for reinforcement learning

        The first gym-gazebo was a successful proof of concept, which is being used by multiple research laboratories and many users of the robotics community. Given its positive impact, specially regarding usability, researchers at Acutronic Robotics have now freshly launched gym-gazebo2.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Selling Used Panties Online Is Harder Than You Think

    “The education business is killing me, I am selling panties to buy groceries,” she admitted. This admission turned out to be an opening: To Charlotte’s surprise, the friend replied with a confession that the PR firm was a front, and that she was actually working as an escort. She offered to teach Charlotte the ropes.

  • Science

    • University of Illinois at Chicago Missed Warning Signs of Research Going Awry, Letters Show

      For a year, the University of Illinois at Chicago has downplayed its shortcomings in overseeing the work of a prominent child psychiatrist who violated research protocols and put vulnerable children with bipolar disorder at risk.

      But documents newly obtained by ProPublica Illinois show that UIC acknowledged to federal officials that it had missed several warning signs that Dr. Mani Pavuluri’s clinical trial on lithium had gone off track, eventually requiring the university to pay an unprecedented $3.1 million penalty to the federal government.

      UIC’s Institutional Review Board, the committee responsible for protecting research subjects, improperly fast-tracked approval of Pavuluri’s clinical trial, didn’t catch serious omissions from the consent forms parents had to sign and allowed children to enroll in the study even though they weren’t eligible, the documents show.

      The IRB’s shortcomings violated federal regulations meant to protect human subjects, putting it in “serious non-compliance,” according to one of five letters from UIC officials to the federal government the university turned over to ProPublica Illinois after a nearly yearlong appeal for the documents under open records laws.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘We Already Spend More Than Medicare for All Would Cost Us’ – CounterSpin interview with Diane Archer on Medicare for All

      : The March 11 Washington Post headline told readers that the Medicare for All bill, recently introduced by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, “reflects influence of hard-line progressive groups.” Not quite a hit piece, but something very like it, the article said “a slew of groups further to the left” shaped the bill, which would “upend health coverage for tens of millions of Americans,” and “cost many times more than the ACA.” Which is why, the Post claims, “To some progressives, this is a step (or steps) too far.”

      Words like “upend” and “drastically” do their work. And at one point, “advocates on the left” are counterposed with “most health policy experts.”

      “Supporters of the Jayapal bill insist there’s a groundswell of grassroots enthusiasm” for overhauling the country’s healthcare, the piece says—without reference to any of various polls that would indicate precisely that.

      The thing is, public support for a fundamental change in the way we do healthcare persists, despite years of this sort of elite media treatment—perhaps because for most Americans, healthcare is not a partisan debate, but a crisis.

      Joining us now to talk about how Medicare for All would respond to that crisis is Diane Archer. Founder and former president of the Medicare Rights Center, she is president of Just Care USA. She joins us now by phone from here in New York. Welcome to CounterSpin, Diane Archer.

    • Sweetened Drinks Linked to Higher Mortality Risk

      While sugary beverages seem to be the worst offenders, artificially sweetened drinks might also associated with health problems, an observational study suggests.

    • Kale, Strawberries, and Spinach Top List as Report Shows Nearly 70% of US Produce Contain Dangerous Pesticide Residue

      The majority of conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables contain pesticide residues that are not eliminated even after washing and peeling the food, scientists revealed Wednesday.

      The findings came in an annual report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The study includes analysis of more than 40,000 samples of produce including kale, apples, spinach, and other popular fruits and vegetables that Americans buy every day. Pesticides were found in nearly 70 percent of the non-organic foods the study included.

      The samples EWG analyzed had been tested by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) itself. The government found 225 different pesticides on popular fruits and vegetables.

      Strawberries, spinach, and kale were among the most-contaminated produce according to EWG’s list of the “Dirty Dozen.” Among the 12 fruits and vegetables found to contain the most residues, several tested positive for two or more pesticides. Some of the kale samples contained as many as 18 different chemicals.

      “We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal,” said EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin, who suggested that shoppers purchase organic versions of the Dirty Dozen, if possible.

    • A Second U.S. Jury Finds That Roundup Causes Cancer

      The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company’s glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff’s cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

    • Jury Finds Monsanto’s Roundup Guilty of Causing Cancer
    • Another Guilty Verdict for Monsanto as Jury Finds Roundup Was ‘Substantial Factor’ in Causing Man’s Cancer

      “Today’s verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people,” Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook said in a statement, referring to the active ingredient in Roundup. “As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up.”

      Edwin Hardeman, the plaintiff in the case, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in 2015 after using Roundup to kill poison oak and weeds on his property for over 20 years. In 2016, Hardeman sued Monsanto, which was acquired by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year.

      “The decision by Bayer to purchase Monsanto, a company with a long history of environmental malfeasance, could go down as one of the worst business decisions ever made,” said Cook. “The day of reckoning for Bayer and its cancer-causing weedkiller is getting closer.”

      The jury’s verdict comes just months after Monsanto was ordered to pay over $200 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who said Roundup caused his cancer.

      Michael Baum, an attorney who represented Johnson, told Buzzfeed that the jury’s verdict in the Hardeman case is “a huge win for all Roundup-induced NHL claimants and a devastating loss for Bayer/Monsanto.”

    • Latest Science Debunks Claim That Marijuana Significantly Harms Brain

      Claims that cannabis use is associated with lower cognitive functioning are largely based upon the findings of a single longitudinal study. The paper, published by Madeline Meier and a team of Duke University researchers in 2012, reported that the onset of cannabis use in early adolescence was associated with an average decline of eight IQ points by middle-age.

      However, a critique of Meier’s study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, opined that the reported differences in IQ were consistent with socioeconomic differences among the study’s participants and likely were not attributable to marijuana use. (This criticism is hardly surprising as data has historically shown that those of greater economic means tend to test higher on IQ tests than those who are poorer, and critics have also raised questions as to whether the test itself may possess inherent racial biases.) It countered that the Duke team likely “overestimate[d]” the impact of marijuana on IQ and opined that the “true effect [of cannabis exposure] could be zero.”

      This criticism is given additional merit by the fact that several later and better controlled studies have failed to replicate Meier’s initial findings. For example, a British study of more than 2,000 teens reported that cannabis exposure prior to the age of 15 “did not predict either lower teenage IQ scores or poorer educational performance … once adjustment is made for potential confounds.”

  • Security

    • 40 Linux Server Hardening Security Tips [2019 edition]
    • Why Trust Is Key for Cyber-Security Risk Management

      “Trust” is an often-overused term, but according to Rohit Ghai, president of RSA Security, trust is the key to understanding and managing digital risk.

      In a video interview with eWEEK, Ghai discusses his views on trust, where the concept of an artificial intelligence “digital twin” fits in and why there could well be a need to redefine industry cyber-security categories to better reflect how risk management technologies should work. He also provides insight into how RSA Security’s products, including Archer, Netwitness and SecurID, fit together to help organizations provide trust and manage risk.

      “As long as we pay attention to the idea of risk and trust co-existing and taking a risk orientation to security, I think we’ll be fine,” Ghai said. “Trust is important. We are living in an era where people are losing faith or trust in technology, and we have to act now to restore it.”

    • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 129 is ready for testing

      The next release is available for testing – presumably going to be last release in the 2.21 series before we bring some bigger changes. This update has a huge number and significant changes for IPsec as well as many updates to the core system and various smaller bug fixes.

    • Superuser accounts: What they are and how to secure them

      Most security technologies are helpless in protecting against superusers because they were developed to protect the perimeter – but superusers are already on the inside. Superusers may be able to change firewall configurations, create backdoors and override security settings, all while erasing traces of their activity.

      Insufficient policies and controls around superuser provisioning, segregation and monitoring further heighten risks. For instance, database administrators, network engineers and application developers are frequently given full superuser-level access. Sharing of superuser accounts among multiple individuals is also a rampant practice, which muddles the audit trail. And in the case of Windows PCs, users often log in with administrative account privileges –far broader than what is needed.

    • Education and Science Giant Elsevier Left Users’ Passwords Exposed Online

      It’s not entirely clear how long the server was exposed or how many accounts were impacted, but it provided a rolling list of passwords as well as password reset links when a user requested to change their login credentials.

    • Norwegian aluminium firm goes manual after Windows ransomware attack

      Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro has been under what it describes as “an extensive cyber attack” that has affected several areas of the company’s operations. The malware affecting the firm is believed to the LockerGoga ransomware that attacks Windows systems.

    • “Severe” ransomware attack cripples big aluminum producer

      Norsk Hydro of Norway said the malware first hit computers in the United States on Monday night. By Tuesday morning, the infection had spread to other parts of the company, which operates in 40 countries. Company officials responded by isolating plants to prevent further spreading. Some plants were temporarily stopped, while others, which had to be kept running continuously, were switched to manual mode when possible. The company’s 35,000 employees were instructed to keep computers turned off but were allowed to use phones and tablets to check email.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Microsoft Office Is The Most Exploited Software By Cybercriminals[Ed: Microsoft software is designed for back doors, not for security, and that still shows.]

      list of the top 10 most exploited vulnerabilities in 2018 has revealed that Microsoft Office was the favorite victim of cybercriminals. Microsoft Office vulnerabilities appear 8 times in the list with one Adobe Flash Player vulnerability and an AndroidRAT cyber vulnerability being the only mobile device flaw in the list.

    • Mirai botnet returns with sights set on enterprise IoT devices

      Researchers from Unit 42, the threat intelligence group of Palo Alto Networks, found the new variant targeting LG Supersign TVs and WePresent WiPG-1000 Wireless Presentation system, both of which are used by businesses with networks offering larger amounts of bandwidth.

    • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #203
    • PuTTY in your hands: SSH client gets patched after RSA key exchange memory vuln spotted

      Venerable SSH client PuTTY has received a pile of security patches, with its lead maintainer admitting to the The Register that one fixed a “‘game over’ level vulnerability”.

      The fixes implemented in PuTTY over the weekend include new features plugging a plethora of vulns in the Telnet and SSH client, most of which were uncovered as part of an EU-sponsored HackerOne bug bounty.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Joint Chiefs Chairman: Google ‘Is Indirectly Benefiting The Chinese Military’

      “We have an American company that does not want to do work with our defense department which is one thing, but they’re happy to help the Chinese, at least the Chinese government that is, the Chinese military, at least indirectly, I think that’s just extraordinary,” he added.

    • Whose Blood, Whose Treasure?

      Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that famed saying when summing up the Obama administration’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 — with a small alteration. “We came, we saw, he died,” she said with a laugh about the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, that country’s autocratic leader. Note what she left out, though: the “vici” or victory part. And how right she was to do so, since Washington’s invasions, occupations, and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere in this century have never produced anything faintly like a single decisive and lasting victory.

      “Failure is not an option” was the stirring 1995 movie catchphrase for the dramatic 1970 rescue of the Apollo 13 moon mission and crew, but were such a movie to be made about America’s wars and their less-than-vici-esque results today, the phrase would have to be corrected in Clintonian fashion to read “We came, we saw, we failed.”

      Wars are risky, destructive, unpredictable endeavors, so it would hardly be surprising if America’s military and civilian leaders failed occasionally in their endless martial endeavors, despite the overwhelming superiority in firepower of “the world’s greatest military.” Here’s the question, though: Why have all the American wars of this century gone down in flames and what in the world have those leaders learned from such repetitive failures?

      The evidence before our eyes suggests that, when it comes to our senior military leaders at least, the answer would be: nothing at all.

      Let’s begin with General David Petraeus, he of “the surge” fame in the Iraq War. Of course, he would briefly fall from grace in 2012, while director of the CIA, thanks to an affair with his biographer with whom he inappropriately shared highly classified information. When riding high in Iraq in 2007, however, “King David” (as he was then dubbed) was widely considered an example of America’s best and brightest. He was a soldier-scholar with a doctorate from Princeton, an “insurgent” general with the perfect way — a revival of Vietnam-era counterinsurgency techniques — to stabilize invaded and occupied Iraq. He was the man to snatch victory from the jaws of looming defeat. (Talk about a fable not worthy of Aesop!)

      Though retired from the military since 2011, Petraeus somehow remains a bellwether for conventional thinking about America’s wars at the Pentagon, as well as inside the Washington Beltway. And despite the quagmire in Afghanistan (that he had a significant hand in deepening), despite the widespread destruction in Iraq (for which he would hold some responsibility), despite the failed-state chaos in Libya, he continues to relentlessly plug the idea of pursuing a “sustainable” forever war against global terrorism; in other words, yet more of the same.

    • WATCH: Video Details Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s Ties to ‘Murderous’ Right-Wing Militias Ahead of Trump Meeting

      An in-depth video report detailed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s growing list of scandals and deep ties to Brazil’s “most violent, lawless, and murderous paramilitary gangs” just before Bolsonaro is set to meet with his right-wing American counterpart Donald Trump in the White House Tuesday afternoon.

      “The facts around this trip are vital for the American media—and especially the American press covering the White House—to understand, so that they can report properly and question Bolsonaro during his trip to the White House about the realities of his presidency,” said The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, “rather than the branding and perception the Brazilian government is trying to sell around the world.”

      The image Bolsonaro is attempting to convey is one of a “strong” and “honest” leader, Greenwald said, but recent revelations have severely undermined this narrative while raising disturbing questions about the Brazilian president and his sons.

    • Empire of Absurdity: Recycled Neocons, Recycled Enemies

      There are times when I wish that the United States would just drop the charade and declare itself a global empire. As a veteran of two imperial wars, a witness to the dark underside of America’s empire-denial, I’ve grown tired of the equivocation and denials from senior policymakers. The U.S. can’t be an empire, we’re told, because – unlike the Brits and Romans – America doesn’t annex territories outright, and our school children don’t color its colonies in red-white-and-blue on cute educational maps.

      But this distinction, at root, is rather superficial. Conquest, colonization, and annexation are so 19th century – Washington has moved beyond the overt and engages in the (not-so) subtle modern form of imperialism. America’s empire over the last two decades – under Democrats and Republicans – has used a range of tools: economic, military, political, to topple regimes, instigate coups, and starve “enemy” civilians. Heck, it didn’t even start with 9/11 – bullying foreigners and overturning uncooperative regimes is as American as apple pie.

      Still, observing post-9/11, post-Iraq/Afghanistan defeat, Washington play imperialism these days is tragicomically absurd. The emperor has no clothes, folks. Sure, America (for a few more fleeting years) boasts the world’s dominant economy, sure its dotted the globe with a few hundred military bases, and sure it’s military still outspends the next seven competitors combined. Nonetheless, what’s remarkable, what constitutes the real story of 2019, is this: the US empire can’t seem to accomplish anything anymore, can’t seem to bend anybody to its will. It’s almost sad to watch. America, the big-hulking has-been on the block, still struts its stuff, but most of the world simply ignores it.

      Make no mistake, Washington isn’t done trying; it’s happy to keep throwing good money (and blood) at bad: to the tune of a cool $6 trillion, 7,000 troop deaths, and 500,000 foreign deaths – including maybe 240,000 civilians. But what’s it all been for? The world is no safer, global terror attacks have only increased, and Uncle Sam just can’t seem to achieve any of its preferred policy goals.

    • The Taliban Is Ascendant as Afghanistan Hangs in the Balance

      The tables have turned. The Taliban, the militants who sheltered the 9/11 attackers and earned the wrath of America, are now meeting their arch-nemesis in Doha, Qatar. Conducting the talks is Zalmay Khalilzad, a senior diplomat of Afghan descent who is currently serving as the U.S. State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation.

      Since August 2018, the two parties have met five times. Last Tuesday, Ambassador Khalilzad tweeted: “Just finished a marathon round of talks with the Taliban in Doha. The conditions for peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides.”

      It had been hoped that the peace talks would reach some positive conclusion by spring and a cease-fire announced. This has not happened. Ambassador Khalilzad has returned to Washington for further consultations.

      [...]

      Taliban authority is inevitable if the leadership in Kabul is kept out of the talks. Without his government’s participation, Ghani would have no say in the implementation of the final settlement and the power-sharing arrangement that is worked out. Moreover, once the U.S. forces are out of Afghanistan, it would be a walkover for the Taliban.

      Taliban leaders have already been discussing their future plans. Theirs would be an Islamic state, but they have moderated their tone somewhat, not wishing to revive memories of the ideological state they created from 1996 to 2001. Yet their extremist anti-female and anti-culture stance and militancy invites skepticism given their past record while in power.

      They have also promised to cultivate cordial and friendly relations with Islamabad. This is to be expected. After all, Pakistan has been a friend that has provided them support and helped them break out of their isolation. Islamabad’s role in paving the way for the Doha talks has been acknowledged by Washington.

    • Trump Praises Brazil’s Far-Right Leader at White House

      President Donald Trump praised Brazil’s new far-right leader Tuesday as he welcomed him to the White House, saying the man who’s been described as the “Trump of the Tropics” has done “a very outstanding job.”

      Trump said President Jair Bolsonaro had run “one of the incredible campaigns,” saying he was “honored” it had drawn comparisons with his own 2016 victory. And he predicted the two would have a “fantastic working relationship,” telling reporters as he opened a joint press conference that they have “many views” in common.

      The two leaders were expected to discuss a range of issues during their first sit-down, including expanding trade relations, increasing U.S. private-sector investment in Brazil and resolving the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela. Both are fierce critics of Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

      As they sat down for talks, Trump also said that he supports Brazil’s effort’s to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and is “very strongly” looking at U.S. support for Brazil’s effort to gain certain NATO privileges.

      “We’re very inclined to do that,” Trump told reporters, describing the relationship between the two countries as better than ever.

    • US Killing Civilians With ‘Impunity’ in Hidden War on Somalia: Report

      A human rights group is accusing the United States of waging a shadow air war in Somalia that is killing civilians with abandon.

      Amnesty International issued its findings on the African war Tuesday evening in a report titled The Hidden US War in Somalia (pdf).

      The U.S. has been covertly engaging in conflicts in Somalia for decades, but in April 2017, the Donald Trump administration upped airstrikes and attacks targeted at the rebel group Al-Shabaab.

      The human rights advocacy group studied five of more than 100 strikes on Somalia over the past two years and found that 14 civilians were killed in the attacks. Eight others were injured, the report says.

      “These five incidents were carried out with Reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle,” Amnesty said in a press release, “a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu.”

      The U.S. military denied to Amnesty that any civilians have been killed as a result of American operations in Somalia.

      However, Amnesty’s report claims its methodology is sound and that the evidence is overwhelming.

      “The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law,” the organization said, “and some may amount to war crimes.”

      In comments provided to the media, Brian Castner, the group’s senior crisis advisor on arms and military operations, claimed that the continued airstrikes are also a sign of the Trump administration’s aggressive use of military action across the world.

      “The civilian death toll we’ve uncovered in just a handful of strikes suggests the shroud of secrecy surrounding the US role in Somalia’s war is actually a smokescreen for impunity,” Castner said.

    • Bloomberg’s Armsmaker-Funded Columnist Wants You to Know: Military Spending Is Woke

      Progressives are told to love the Pentagon budget (Bloomberg, 3/17/19) by a pundit whose connection to the military/industrial complex isn’t disclosed.

      You may not know it, but bloated Pentagon budgets are actually “progressive.” Or so says a recent opinion piece in Bloomberg News (3/17/19), “Progressives Should Learn to Love the Pentagon Budget,” by Hal Brands.

      Bloomberg identifies Brands as the “Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.” “Kissinger” is ominous enough, but surely Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments is some innocuous, wonky academic institution, no?

      In a piece explicitly defending bloated military budgets, however, perhaps it would be useful to know what exactly the “Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments” is. We can start by reading this section taken directly from their website (unabridged):

    • Venezuela Tops CIA’s Agenda for Brazil’s President

      On his first visit to the U.S., President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro eagerly receives his instructions from the CIA and Trump’s foreign policy team. Alex Main of CEPR analyzes the visit

    • California governor joins 18 states in outlawing death penalty

      California Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., signed an executive order Wednesday placing an indefinite moratorium on capital punishment, saying it goes against Californians’ “values.”

      Newsom said the death penalty has been meted out unevenly, often discriminating against the poor and people of color. He added that he personally opposes the measure.

    • Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”

      The US is formally committed to dominating the world by the year 2020. With President Trump’s new Space Directive-4, the production of laser-armed fighter jets as possible precursors to space weapons, and the possibility of nuclear warheads being put into orbit, the clock is ticking…

      Back in 1997, the now-re-established US Space Command announced its commitment to “full spectrum dominance.” The Vision for 2020 explains that “full spectrum dominance” means military control over land, sea, air, and space (the so-called fourth dimension of warfare) “to protect US interests and investment.” “Protect” means guarantee operational freedom. “US interest and investment” means corporate profits.

      The glossy brochure explains that, in the past, the Army evolved to protect US settlers who stole land from Native Americans in the genocidal birth of the nation. Like the Vision for 2020, a report by the National Defense University acknowledges that by the 19th century, the Navy had evolved to protect the US’s newly-formulated “grand strategy.” In addition to supposedly protecting citizens and the constitution, “The overriding principle was, and remains, the protection of American territory … and our economic well-being.” By the 20th century, the Air Force had been established, in the words of the Air Force Study Strategy Guide, to protect “vital interests,” including: “commerce; secure energy supplies; [and] freedom of action.” In the 21stcentury, these pillars of power are bolstered by the Cyber Command and the coming Space Force.

    • Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show

      Embarked upon overthrowing Venezuela’s socialist government, the U.S. government now renews efforts to squash Cuba. The U.S. record of implacable hostility features terror attacks, military invasion, germ warfare, internal subversion, and almost 60 years of U.S. economic blockade. Devoid of natural resources ready for U.S. plunder, Cuba offends by having defended socialism and national independence. Now Title III of the U.S. 1996 Helms Burton Act joins an arsenal of weapons employed in what Cubans regard as genocidal aggression.

      Helms Burton is complex but centers on tightening the economic blockade; preparing for a transition government; and by means of Title III, inflicting suffering and destabilization. The latter is taking place now in Venezuela, by other means.

      Title III opens the door for the former owners and the heirs of properties nationalized by Cuba’s revolutionary government to bring actions in U.S. courts to gain compensation for what they lost. Persons or companies presently occupying such properties, or profiting from them, and who are located in third countries, would be required by the courts to pay off the aggrieved parties. These live in exile, mainly in the United States. The courts would lack enforcement capabilities.

      In 1966, when the law was introduced, the European Union and other critics insisted that the U.S. government delay implementation of Title III. It did so and for the next 23 years, at six month intervals, the United States did announce one six-month delay after another. But a new era dawned on January 16 when the State Department declared that this time suspended implementation would end at 45 days. Something was up.

    • War Crimes in Yemen?
    • Trump’s $174 Billion Budget Lie

      Over the past week, the Trump administration put out their proposal for the federal budget for fiscal year 2020, which starts in October of this year.

      With this budget, Trump is trying to have his cake and eat it too: he wants to claim that he’s adhering to strict spending limits favored by deficit hawks in his party, but there’s just one problem.

      His budget leaves a spare $174 billion in extra Pentagon lying around in plain sight, while claiming that it doesn’t count toward spending limits.

      This isn’t a new trick. Congress has been passing extra money to the Pentagon in just this way for years.

      But the Trump administration is taking it even further. The $174 billion in extra funds that Trump is asking for is more than double what Congress passed last year.

      If Trump pretends that the Pentagon is also subject to strict spending limits, he can argue that his more than $50 billion in cuts to programs like the Environmental Protection Agency and Legal Aid are honest attempts to control federal spending.

    • When They Don’t Ignore, US Media Often Disparage Palestinians’ Right of Return

      For many years, US corporate media have consistently failed to adequately inform audiences about the Palestinian right of return.

      Even though the refugees are a crucial reason that the issue of Israel/Palestine remains unresolved, only a small portion of the coverage addresses the right of return. I used the media aggregator Factiva to search the databases of three major US newspapers: the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. In a combined search of these three publications, Factiva returns results for 45,285 pieces that mention the Palestinian issue over the last ten years. Of these, only 624 contain the phrase “right of return.” In other words, since March 2009 these outlets have published 44,661 articles that bring up the Palestinian question while omitting a phrase that is absolutely integral to it, and one of the main reasons that it remains unresolved.

      To put it another way, only 0.01 percent of coverage of Palestinians or Palestine in the last ten years in the Times, Journal and Post informs its audience about the right of return or even mentions it at all. That these are US media outlets writing for largely US audiences underscores the seriousness of this hole in the coverage, because US tax dollars are used to prevent the Palestinians from exercising this right.

      When the right of return is mentioned in media, pundits and other journalists often baselessly call its legitimacy into question. In the Wall Street Journal, Michael Weiss (2/1/11) referred to it as the “Palestinians’ so-called ‘Right of Return.’” The Post’s Jennifer Rubin (10/2/14) opted for the same formulation, criticizing Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, because he wouldn’t “give up the so-called right of return.”

    • White nationalism, born in the USA, is now a global terror threat

      The recent massacre of 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand is the latest confirmation that white supremacy is a danger to democratic societies across the globe.

      Despite President Donald Trump’s suggestion that white nationalist terrorism is not a major problem, recent data from the United Nations, University of Chicago and other sources show the opposite.

      As more people embrace a xenophobic and anti-immigrant worldview, it is fueling hostility and violence toward those deemed “outsiders” – whether because of their religion, skin color or national origin.

    • White Supremacy Is a Genuinely Global Threat

      White supremacy — the belief that white people are somehow superior to people of other racial backgrounds, and should therefore politically, economically, and socially rule non-white people — isn’t going away any time soon.

      It’s been deeply woven into the fabric of our culture, systemically and institutionally ingrained into this country’s DNA. It’s at the root of every racist act. It’s metastasized into the soil of this land and beyond, shaping our nation — and our world — as it stands today.

    • The war on terror in our communities

      Let’s make visible the domestic war on terror and work to end it once and for all.
      As an anti-war activist and mother, for many years I’ve been acutely aware that we have been at war my teenage daughter’s entire life. March 20 is the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. We are now living in a time when an entire generation of young people — including new Marine recruits and newly registered voters — have grown up with war as a routine condition. And most of the public is unaware that more than 244,000 civilians have been killed and that the U.S. continues to conduct “counter-terror” activities in 80 countries.

      The endless “war on terror” has multiple fronts, no clear conditions for ending, and has become so normalized as to be almost invisible. Yet perhaps even more obscured is the war on terror within the U.S., that targets and criminalizes entire communities – particularly Muslims, immigrants, and Black and brown people. As Deepa Kumar, professor of media studies at Rutgers University, has written, when the U.S. goes to war, “the end goal is to win consent for an imperial agenda through a process that orchestrates fear of the enemy within and preempts criticisms of empire-building.”

    • Trump Administration Fails to Roll Back Support for Landmark Women’s Rights Agreement at United Nations

      The U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) tried and failed to roll back support for a landmark 1995 document that has long provided a blueprint for developing the rights, health, and safety of women and girls worldwide.

      According to draft documents acquired by The Guardian, the U.S. delegation came into this week’s CSW meetings intending to “water down” commitments to the health and well-being of women and girls as well as remove the word “gender” from the commission’s documents. At issue is the 1995 Beijing declaration and platform for action, a landmark blueprint outlining priorities for the global empowerment of women and girls, including protection from gender-based violence and access to basic reproductive health care. While the agreement is non-binding, advocates often use it to pressure governments into loosening restrictions on women’s lives.

      Tarah Demant, director of Amnesty International’s gender, sexuality, and identity program told Rewire.News that U.S.-led efforts to undercut support for the Beijing declaration failed late Monday.

    • Trump & Bolsonaro Join Forces to Back Regime Change in Venezuela & to Attack Media as “Fake News”

      Brazil’s far-right president and former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro visited President Trump at the White House for the first time on Tuesday. During the visit, Trump announced he would designate Brazil a major non-NATO ally, opening the door for Brazil to receive more U.S. military aid. Trump also suggested Brazil could even become a member of NATO. Both leaders criticized what they called the “fake news” and discussed increasing efforts to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from office. We speak with Maria Luísa Mendonça, director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil. She is a visiting scholar at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

    • ‘Military Keynesianism is Back!’: Democrats and Trump Agree on Pentagon Increase, Quibble on Details

      The Trump administration unveiled the details of its proposal to the public on March 12. At $750 billion, the military seeks to receive $36 billion more than last year’s record $714 billion budget—an increase that experts say is aimed at China and Russia. Democrats have signaled that the increase is a nonstarter, but their counter-offer of $733 billion isn’t exactly a difference in more than degrees, Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone.

      “The Democrats want to lower Trump’s number,” said Taibbi, “but still give the Pentagon a raise.”

      The budget increase marks a new direction on a number of levels. Trump is breaking with tradition on federal spending by increasing the military budget while slashing social services. That’s deceptive, wrote Lindsay Koshgarian, program director at the budget research organization National Priorities Project.

      “If Trump pretends that the Pentagon is also subject to strict spending limits,” Koshgarian said, “he can argue that his more than $50 billion in cuts to programs like the Environmental Protection Agency and Legal Aid are honest attempts to control federal spending.”

      Pentagon spending proposed in the new military budget will double the discretionary war funds the military uses while cutting the standing Pentagon budget by $71 billion. The sharp increase in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, or “war funding,” is adding to the so-called “Pentagon slush fund.” It’s just a way of getting around budget caps, said Taibbi.

      “OCO funding is mainly used as a means to increase military spending above caps designated by Congress,” Taibbi explained. “Thanks to the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress can only spend a certain percentage of overall appropriations on defense versus non-defense programs. In 2018, the cap was roughly 54 percent.”

      The increase in spending appears set to pass Congress. That’s “appalling” in a chamber now controlled by Democrats, journalist David Dayen wrote on Twitter.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Tulsi Gabbard: The U.S. Government’s Treatment of Wikileaks Will ‘Have a Chilling Effect on Investigative Reporting’

      This is a followup to similar statements she’s made about WikiLeaks before. During an event in New Hampshire, she said the stolen information that WikiLeaks published had “spurred necessary change.” During her Concord meet and greet she said: “Obviously the information that has been put out has exposed a lot of things that have been happening that the American people were not aware of and have spurred some necessary change there.”

      Her response was an answer to a question about President Donald Trump’s administration seeking to prosecute Julian Assange. Just this week, Chelsea Manning was jailed for not answering questions from a grand jury about Assange. She refused to testify before a grand jury investigation regarding WikiLeaks, AP shared. She said she objected to the secrecy of the grand jury process and had already shared everything that she knows. Because prosecutors granted her immunity for her testimony, she said she couldn’t invoke the Fifth Amendment to defend her right not to speak.

      The emails from the DNC shared by WikiLeaks did indeed ultimately bring about some changes, including lesser power to superdelegates in 2020. Donna Brazile, former DNC chairwoman, has said that the DNC primary in 2016 was “rigged” against Bernie Sanders. Brazile herself had even leaked some debate questions to Hillary Clinton before her debate with Sanders. Brazile has said that the DNC worked closely with Clinton’s campaign in 2016 because it needed the money, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz let Clinton’s campaign help cover the DNC’s debt in exchange for some level of control, the Miami Herald reported. The DNC is supposed to be impartial during Democratic presidential primaries, but Brazile said that was not the case.

      In July 2016, Wasserman Schultz stepped down as chair of the DNC after WikiLeaks published DNC emails that showed the organization strongly favored Clinton over Sanders during the primary. Brazile briefly served as interim chair before Tom Perez took over.

    • Attempts to prosecute Julian Assange on account of his publishing activities set a dangerous precedent against the freedom of the press throughout the world

      For more than 8 years, WikiLeaks’ founder and editor, Julian Assange has been under various forms of restrictions upon his liberty without charge in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Despite a Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruling in December 2015 (opinion No. 54/2015) that Mr Assange was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released. The UK has not only refused to comply with this decision, but senior government representatives, including the Prime Minister, have condemned the decision.

      On 21 December 2018, UN human rights experts repeated the demand that the UK abides by its international obligations and immediately allows Mr. Assange to walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been for over 6 years, fearing arrest by British authorities if he leaves, and extradition to the United States of America.

    • Daniel Ellsberg Calls Chelsea Manning “an American Hero”

      Two years after being released from prison where she had served seven years for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Chelsea Manning was jailed once again for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

      “I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury,” Manning declared in a written statement. “Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.”

      Noted whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg praised Manning. “Chelsea Manning is in jail again, this time for resisting a grand jury system whose secrecy and lack of witness rights makes it prone to frequent abuse,” Ellsberg told Truthout. “She is also resisting its current abuse, as it is used to attack freedom of the press by pursuing criminal charges for publication of the very war crimes and corruption she courageously revealed to WikiLeaks nine years ago.”

      Manning wrote, “The grand jury’s questions pertained to disclosures from nine years ago, and took place six years after an in-depth computer forensics case, in which I testified for almost a full day about these events. I stand by my previous public testimony.”

    • Russian journalists find 50,000 court rulings between 2017 and 2018 that mostly duplicate previous convictions

      In a new report, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta studied 780,000 verdicts issued by Russian courts between 2017 and 2018, and found that 50,000 of these rulings were at least 80-percent copied from decisions previously issued by the same judges.

      Mostly copied verdicts are most common in rulings against defendants convicted of illegally acquiring and possessing narcotics. Of 136,000 such convictions, Novaya Gazeta’s study found nearly 25,500 verdicts (19 percent) that were largely copied from previous rulings. In terms of percentage, the most common copied verdicts were discovered in unpaid alimony cases (28.9 percent of 370 rulings) and draft dodging (26 percent of 294 rulings).

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Surprising Clue to Reducing Human-Elephant Conflict: Minerals

      The increasing human population and global intensification of agriculture have had a major impact on the world’s natural ecosystems. This, as we’ve seen, has had devastating effects for populations of mega-herbivores such as African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).

      Elephants and other animals with vast home ranges have found themselves forced into increasingly smaller geographical areas, often restricted by fencing or other human activities. These smaller areas are then, in turn, under huge pressures to meet the animals’ nutritional needs. This can cause animals to alter their movement patterns and search for new sources of food, potentially causing human-elephant conflict.

      Due to their vast food consumption — as much as 600 pounds a day for an adult bull — and sometimes destructive behavior, African savanna elephants can rapidly cause significant damage to crops and vegetation and pose a risk to human life and infrastructure. When elephants and humans come into conflict like this, people may feel the need to retaliate. All too often in these conflicts, the elephant ultimately loses. Human-elephant conflict will only worsen in the coming years due to continued increase in the global human population to 9.7 billion by 2050, the associated growth of agriculture, and a predicted reduction of 200–300 million hectares of wildlife habitat worldwide.

      To understand more about these conflicts — and how to prevent them — my colleagues and I conducted a review of existing research to understand how nutritional needs dictate the movements and migrations of elephants and other large species. Our paper was published recently in Peer J.

    • England Could Run Out of Fresh Water in 25 Years

      England faces an “existential threat” if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country’s Environment Agency warned Tuesday.

      In a speech at the Waterwise Conference in London, the agency’s Chief Executive James Bevan explained that the twin pressures of climate change and population growth could cause England to run out of fresh water within 25 years. Bevan referred to the point at which demand would outstrip supply as the “jaws of death,” NBC News reported.

      “Self-evidently, avoiding something called the jaws of death is by and large the sensible thing to do. So how do we do that?” Bevan asked the crowd.

    • The Future of Climate Authoritarianism Is Now

      It was the kind of headline one might encounter in the science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin or Kim Stanley Robinson. Last month, citing a new study from the British science journal Nature, Quanta Magazine’s Natalie Wolchover explored the possibility of human-caused global warming forging a world without stratocumulus clouds by the end of the century. This would raise the temperature of the planet an additional 8 degrees Celsius (14.4 F)—double the increase for which we’re currently on pace.

      “To imagine 12 degrees of warming,” Wolchover notes, “think of crocodiles swimming in the Arctic and of the scorched, mostly lifeless equatorial regions during [prehistoric times].”

      While the scenario outlined in Quanta and the greater threat of feedback loops remain purely hypothetical, for the time being, the age of climate chaos we have entered is all too real. By 2050, the U.N. projects that there will be as many as 200 million climate refugees across the globe. That number could climb to as high as 1 billion if we fail to take radical action to reduce carbon emissions. To put those numbers in perspective, the Syrian civil war that has so roiled the West had produced 5 million refugees as of 2016. As David Wallace-Wells observes in his haunting “The Uninhabitable Earth,” we are not witnessing a “new normal” but something far more terrifying: “That is, the end of normal; never normal again.”

    • Hear the Song of the Earth While You Still Can

      “You have to understand,” said Cherokee elder Stan Rushworth as he sat across the table from me at a downbeat Santa Fe breakfast joint last week. “All this,” he continued with a sweep of his arm that encompassed the café, the high-end boutique selling Native-themed knickknacks next door, the city, the state and indeed the entire country from sea to shining sea, “is occupied territory to us.”

      At Stan’s right arm sat my friend Hannah, an artist who moved to Santa Fe from New England 10 years ago. To Stan’s left was Truthout’s climate reporter Dahr Jamail, who was in town to deliver a lecture on anthropogenic climate disruption for the Lannan Foundation. Stan was there for Dahr. I was there to introduce Dahr at the beginning of the lecture and then get out of the way. Little did I realize how transformative the experience would be, beginning at that table over a plate of huevos rancheros and a cup of coffee.

      We were there together because of Dahr’s new book, an essential yet harrowing read titled “The End of Ice.” The lecture he would give that night detailed his long journey around the world to places where climate change is not an argument, but an indubitable, constantly evident fact. From the retreating glaciers of Denali to the methane bombs lurking beneath the permafrost just south of the Arctic Circle to the dying coral of the Great Barrier Reef and beyond, Dahr saw and touched and tasted the climate of this world even as it radically shifted before his eyes.

      The Amazon rainforest, the lungs of our planet, is disappearing at a rate of 1.5 acres per second. You can no longer get a 30-year mortgage in Miami because the ocean is coming, and that city’s freshwater aquifer is in mortal peril. The Great Barrier Reef will be a graveyard in as little as 10 years. These are but some of the things we learned that night in Santa Fe.

    • Rat Poison Linked to Several Deaths of San Francisco’s Iconic Parrots

      Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.

    • ‘They Have Lied for Decades’: European Parliament To Scrutinise Exxon’s Climate Science Denial

      With millions of students taking to the streets and oil majors increasingly facing litigation, the fossil fuel industry is finally being held to account for its contribution to the climate crisis.

      This week, the EU is taking this accountability up a notch, with ExxonMobil’s decades-long denial of climate science facing the scrutiny of MEPs and the public at a hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday.

      During the two-hour session, scientists, campaigners and a historian will examine the history of climate denial and in particular the misinformation spread by Exxon, with MEPs able to ask questions about the role and behaviour of the oil major.

    • Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact

      A report published today names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris Agreement’s adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

      The top four banks that invested most heavily in fossil fuel projects are all based in the U.S., and include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays in Europe, Japan’s MUFG, TD Bank, Scotiabank, and Mizuho make up the remainder of the top 10.

    • Reaching New Heights

      Mapping out hurricane evacuation routes and floodplains are just two cases in which it is critical to know accurate land heights. That’s because heights tell us which way water will flow. How we calculate heights based on mean sea level today is good, but it’s complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. But National Geodetic Survey experts are working to make it better, faster, and cheaper.

    • Early-Season Wildfire Threatens Homes, Buildings in Oregon

      An early-season wildfire near Lyons, Oregon burned 60 acres and forced dozens of homes to evacuate Tuesday evening, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said, as KTVZ reported.

      The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.

    • Failing Students on Climate Change

      Last Friday hundreds of thousands of students around the globe walked out of classrooms to demand that our political leaders take concrete steps to address the deadly threat of climate change. They are right, of course, that the generations of their elders, from millennials to baby boomer grandparents, have failed in our responsibility to preserve a livable future for our ever more crowded, ever more polluted and ever more endangered planet.

      And while that’s a sad statement to make, it is an undeniable truth and a shameful guilt that should cause every one of the “elders” to think long and hard about whether they’re making the world better or worse for our young people.

      The movement, characterized by various identifiers such as #fridaysforfuture, #schoolstrike4climate and #climatestrike, is vast and growing. The strikes by young people staring an unlivable future in the face are now massive, but were inspired by a 16-year old Swede, Greta Thunberg, who has now been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. As Thunberg famously addressed the United Nations climate conference in Poland earlier this year: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

      Truer words were never spoken. Just look at what these young people are up against. Here in the United States, the second-largest producer of greenhouse gasses in the world, we have a president who not only doesn’t believe 97 percent of the world’s scientists who acknowledge human-caused climate change, he demands that we exert “energy dominance” by drilling, fracking, pumping and burning more fossil fuels than any nation on the planet.

      For decades our citizens have been told it was necessary to exploit every manner of fossil fuel because our national security relied on “energy independence” from foreign sources. It was bogus then and it’s bogus now. Had we spent a fraction of what has gone into subsidizing fossil fuel production on renewable resources, we would have true national security with independent distributed energy from solar panels, tidal generators and wind power. Instead, we got massive coal-fired power plants hooked to vast electrical grids that are susceptible to interruption and destruction by even the most primitive of means, to say nothing of their vulnerability to the sophisticated hacking of utility computer systems.

    • Global Kids Strike

      Children’s crusades do not necessarily end well. During the years of armed missions to the Holy Land, when Jerusalem meant something to the sacredly inclined in Europe, children were encouraged to take to the rough and dangerous road as it wound its way towards Palestine. In 1212, a boy of 12 is said to have begun preaching at Saint-Denis in France. God had supposedly taken some time to communicate a pressing wish: Christian children were to head to the Holy Land and liberate it from the Infidel. How they would do so was not clear.

      They subsequently starved, suffered deprivation, were killed and enslaved on route to their destination. The modern student movement against climate change stresses another Jerusalem, that there will be nothing to salvage if nothing is done now. We are all, in short, for the chop if climate change is not arrested. As an Oakland high-schooler by the name of Bruke told Wired, “My GPA isn’t going to matter if I’m dead.” And much else besides.

      To such movements can also be added other acts of striking in peaceful protest. Tens of thousands of US students did so in 2018 swathed in the grief and despair of gun shootings, the most immediate being the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The National School Walkout of March 14 and the March for Our Lives ten days later had a biting clarity of purpose: students and staff were entitled to feel secure in the teaching and learning environment. The movement was characterised by much eloquence wreathed in anger and tears, not least of all Emma Gonzalez, who chided those political representatives “who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been ever done to prevent this”.

    • Oceanic carbon uptake could falter

      Scientists can now put a measure to the role of the waves as a climate shock absorber: they estimate that oceanic carbon uptake by the deep blue seas has consumed 34 billion tonnes of man-made carbon from the atmosphere between the years 1994 and 2007.

      This is just about 31% of all the carbon emitted in that time by car exhausts, power station chimneys, aircraft, ships, tractors and scorched forest, as human economies expand and ever more fossil fuel is consumed.

      This confident figure is based on a global survey of the chemistry and other physical properties of the ocean by scientists from seven nations on more than 50 research cruises, taking measurements of the ocean from the surface to a depth of six kilometres.

      The researchers report in the journal Science that they already had the results of a global carbon survey of the oceans conducted at the close of the last century, and had calculated that from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution – when humans started using coal, and then oil and gas – to 1994, the oceans had already absorbed 118 billion tonnes.

    • Coal Tax Cut Endangers Funds for Black Lung Treatmen

      Former coal miner John Robinson’s bills for black lung treatments run $4,000 a month, but the federal fund he depends on to help cover them is being drained of money because of inaction by Congress and the Trump administration.

      Amid the turmoil of the government shutdown this winter, a tax on coal that helps pay for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was cut sharply Jan. 1 and never restored, potentially saving coal operators hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

      With cash trickling into the fund at less than half its usual rate, budget officials estimate that by the middle of 2020 there won’t be enough money to fully cover the fund’s benefit payments.

      As a surge of black lung disease scars miners’ lungs at younger ages than ever, Robinson worries not only about cuts to his benefits, but that younger miners won’t get any coverage.

    • Study: Americans Are Happy to Let Wind Turbines Be Their Neighbors

      That’s the conclusion of a University of Delaware (UD) study published in Nature Energy Monday. UD Prof. Jeremy Firestone and undergraduate Hannah Kirk looked at data from a survey of people who lived within eight kilometers (approximately five miles) of a wind turbine. They found that around 90 percent of them preferred the wind turbine over an alternative plant located at a similar difference, whether it was fueled by coal, natural gas or uranium.

      Firestone said the study offered a more realistic gauge of American’s energy preferences.

      “We’ve looked at social acceptance of wind projects examining factors such as effect of landscape change, sound and place attachment. In those studies, the ultimate question is whether a community member supports or opposes a local project — that is, wind power or nothing,” he explained in a UD press release. “But that’s not the societal choice, which is instead, among wind power, solar, coal or natural gas. Even when residents might have less than positive attitudes toward a local project, the majority appear to conclude that their local wind power project is better than the alternatives.”

    • ‘The Trend Is Unmistakable’: New Analysis Shows Heat Records Broken Twice as Often as Cold Ones

      A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the United States have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts’ warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.

      The study was conducted by The Associated Press, which reviewed nearly a century’s worth of data and spoke with climatologists who confirmed the reporters’ conclusions about more frequent hot days and fewer cold ones align with scientific peer-reviewed findings. According to the experts, “the trend is unmistakable.”

      “We are in a period of sustained and significant warming,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, “and—over the long run—will continue to explore and break the warm end of the spectrum much more than the cold end.”

    • Restoring Tropical Forests Isn’t Meaningful if Those Forests Only Stand for 10 or 20 Years

      Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.

      At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world’s deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.

    • The Secret to Funding a Green New Deal

      As alarm bells sound over the advancing destruction of the environment, a variety of Green New Deal proposals have appeared in the U.S. and Europe, along with some interesting academic debates about how to fund them. Monetary policy, normally relegated to obscure academic tomes and bureaucratic meetings behind closed doors, has suddenly taken center stage.

      The 14-page proposal for a Green New Deal submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., does not actually mention Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), but that is the approach currently capturing the attention of the media—and taking most of the heat. The concept is good: Abundance can be ours without worrying about taxes or debt, at least until we hit full productive capacity. But, as with most theories, the devil is in the details.

      MMT advocates say the government does not need to collect taxes before it spends. It actually creates new money in the process of spending it; and there is plenty of room in the economy for public spending before demand outstrips supply, driving up prices.

      Critics, however, insist this is not true. The government is not allowed to spend before it has the money in its account, and the money must come from tax revenues or bond sales.

      In a 2013 treatise called “Modern Monetary Theory 101: A Reply to Critics,” MMT academics concede this point. But they write, “These constraints do not change the end result.” And here the argument gets a bit technical. Their reasoning is that “the Fed is the monopoly supplier of CB currency [central bank reserves], Treasury spends by using CB currency, and since the Treasury obtained CB currency by taxing and issuing treasuries, CB currency must be injected before taxes and bond offerings can occur.”

    • Flooding of Nebraska Air Force Base Illustrates Security Risk Posed by Climate Change

      The historic flooding that devastated Nebraska last week has also submerged one third of an Air Force base, offering a further illustration of the threat posed to national security by climate change.

    • Nebraska flooding shows (again) how extreme weather can threaten national security

      A massive winter storm created a “bomb cyclone” over parts of the country last week, and dumped snow and rain on Nebraska. Rain slicked off frozen ground, snow melted, and ice thawed on rivers — kicking off devastating floods that killed at least two people in the state and destroyed hundreds of homes. “This was a monster, no question about it,” Greg Carbin at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center told the Omaha World-Herald.

    • Orangutan shot 74 times goes blind while her baby starves to death

      Rescue workers in Aceh, Indonesia, found Hope with dozens of bullets in her body and her one-month-old infant was by her side, malnourished and dehydrated

    • US Government Knew Climate Risks in 1970s, National Petroleum Council Documents Show

      A series of newly discovered documents clarify the extent to which the U.S. government, its advisory committees and the fossil fuel industry have understood for decades the impact carbon dioxide emissions would have on the planet.

      The documents obtained by Climate Liability News show how much the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy, knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s. A series of reports illuminate the findings of government-contracted research that outlined the dangers associated with increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    • Climate Change: Now Will the Older Generation Step Up?

      On Friday, the youth spoke. And they spoke loudly. In excess of a million young people skipped school and colleges and marched around the globe demanding urgent action on climate change. They did so in over a hundred countries.
      Listening to one young activist about why their generation cares so much about climate change, they replied: “it is the urgency of the problem. It is our future at stake.”
      So will the older generation quicken the fight against climate change in response to Friday’s climate strike? You would hope so. In response to Friday, António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, wrote: “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change. This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”
      He added: “These schoolchildren have grasped something that seems to elude many of their elders: we are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing – we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.”
      Guterres is right to say we are losing the battle, but the fight is not yet over. The status quo can change. It does not have to be this way. There are already millions of people who are committed to climate action, who every day, either professionally or personally make a difference in fighting climate change. But collectively, the pace is glacial and not near fast enough as the science demands.

    • Transformative Climate Action Is Possible—If Polluters Stay Away

      Last year was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in “the number of Americans who say they worry ‘a great deal’ about climate change.”

      That was before the release of two reports in the fall by scientists commissioned by the United Nations and the U.S. federal government. Both reports painted a dire picture of the coming climate catastrophe and a clear timeline. They warned that if we don’t take drastic action to cut emissions globally, we will face global catastrophic effects of climate change. According to the U.N., we have about a decade. That’s no time at all.

  • Finance

    • The Green New Deal: A Strategy for a More Equal United States

      The Green New Deal often gets portrayed as simply a program for climate protection. But the Green New Deal — as proposed in a new congressional resolution from Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey — stands just as boldly as a strategy to counter America’s grotesque and growing inequality. The resolution they’ve introduced calls for “a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.”

      Such a mobilization, notes their resolution, provides “a historic opportunity to create millions of good, high-wage jobs, virtually eliminate poverty in the United States, provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all U.S. persons, and counteract systemic injustices.”

      The Green New Deal resolution outlines a vision of what we need to do to address the dual crises of climate change and runaway inequality. What policies and programs could help us realize that vision? My recent Labor Network for Sustainability discussion paper — Eighteen Strategies for a Green New Deal: How to Make Climate Mobilization Work — lays out a comprehensive strategic framework that draws on the experience of the original New Deal and the homefront mobilization for World War II. This framework envisions a Green New Deal active on a variety of fronts.

      The Green New Deal will use the powers of government to rectify past and present injustices. Green New Deal jobs protecting the climate will be available to those individuals and groups who’ve been denied equal access to good jobs, with job recruitment programs that include strong racial, gender, age, and locational affirmative action to counter our current employment inequalities.

      Green New Deal programs will also require standards for local hiring and minority business enterprises and provide job ladders within and across employers so those who currently face only dead-end jobs won’t face only dead-end jobs in the climate-protection economy.

      Green New Deal projects will remedy the concentration of pollution in marginalized and low-income communities and counter the deprivation of transportation, education, health, and other facilities in poor neighborhoods.

      The Green New Deal will ensure full employment. The original New Deal used the tools of what came to be known as macroeconomic or Keynesian economic policy to steer the economy as a whole. That New Deal employed budget deficits and other fiscal policies as well as low interest rates and other monetary policies to fight unemployment.

    • Trillion Dollar Wall Street Bailouts, Bernie Sanders, and the Washington Post

      Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Fact Checker gave Bernie Sanders two Pinocchios yesterday for saying that the Wall Street banks got a trillion dollar bailout. Kessler raises several points of contention. First, whether the Wall Street banks actually got that much money. Second, whether it can really be called a bailout, since the government made a profit on the loans. Third, that the bailout was necessary to keep the financial system running.

      Taking these in turn, Kessler points out that the money that went from the TARP to the Wall Street banks, the congressionally approved bailout, was in the low hundreds of billions, far less than $1 trillion. He does note that a much larger amount of loans went from the Federal Reserve Board to the banks, however the piece points out both that the Fed is nominally independent of the government and that many of these loans were short-term, so that rolling them over would count twice. (If a bank got overnight loans for $1 billion for a week, this would count as $7 billion.)

      Sanders seems on pretty solid ground here when including the Fed loans. First, the reason the Fed has the power it does is because it is the central bank of the United States. It is true, that when it was established in 1913 it was set up as a mixed public-private entity, with the banks having a direct voice in setting policy. However, its ability to print an essentially unlimited amount of money is due to the fact that it is the central bank of the United States. All the other major central banks (e.g. the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, The Bank of Japan) are fully public institutions. The fact that the United States allows private banks to have a voice in setting Fed policy doesn’t really change the fact that it is a government institution and therefore loans from the Fed should be seen as coming from the government.

    • Trump Budget Ends Medicaid Expansion, Axes Affordable Housing Programs

      On Monday, the Trump administration released full details of its 2020 budget request, the general outlines of which were released last week. The initial release called for cuts to nearly every federal agency, with deep cuts to the State Department, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and others. Only the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would receive substantial increases.

      With this week’s release, the administration provided a fuller picture of its anti-government, pro-military vision for the U.S. The long list of cuts targets programs for the poor, middle-income Americans, the environment and peacekeeping.

    • UNESCO Report Shows World’s Most Vulnerable and Poor Paying More Than Rich for Clean Water

      The 2019 edition of the World Water Development Report, entitled Leaving No One Behind, was published Tuesday by UNESCO. (Graphic: UNESCO)

      Globally, those who are poor or marginalized because of their identities pay far more than the rich to acquire clean water.

      That’s according to the new World Water Development Report (WWDR 2019), which is published annually by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s World Water Assessment Program (UNESCO-WWAP). This year’s report, entitled Leaving No One Behind, was unveiled Tuesday at an ongoing session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

      Access to safe, affordable, and reliable drinking water and sanitation facilities such as toilets and showers are internationally recognized human rights.

      But as the report lays out (pdf), “billions are being left behind” in their access to both, often due to factors such as gender, age, poverty, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion, socio-economic class, and geographic location.

    • Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist

      Margaret Thatcher was very good at telling tall tales. Ukania’s tragedy is that far too many Brits fell for these tales.

      Probably the biggest of these tales concerned the notion of a share-owning democracy.

      The idea here was simple, but utterly misguided – sell off the publicly-owned enterprises, and everyone will be able to buy shares in the newly privatized companies. By buying however many shares you want, you will become a part of Thatcher’s great British share-owning democracy.

      Many of us knew at that time that it was never going to be like this at all. As Marx noted, the stock exchange, where the shares of the newly privatized companies would of course be traded, is “where the little fish are swallowed by the sharks and the lambs by the stock-exchange wolves”.

      The wealthy have always used their resources to acquire a monopoly on company shares. So when the public enterprises were put on sale at rock-bottom prices by Thatcher and her cronies, the wealthy rushed to collar the majority of the share offerings, the ensuing demand drove-up the price of the shares, and in so doing put nearly all of them beyond the reach of Joe and Jill Normal.

      So what actually happened to the “great British share-owning democracy”?

    • With Help of Democrats, Regulators Move to Gut ‘Last Line of Defense’ Against Wall Street Gambling

      “At issue is the supplementary leverage rule, which was adopted in the aftermath of the 2008 collapse as a last line of defense against financial excess,” HuffPost’s Zach Carter reported Tuesday. “Four out of five top officials at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission want the Fed to lower leverage requirements by changing the way the officials treat derivatives.”

      Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee and a banking regulation expert, condemned the plan to gut post-crisis protections as “another example of Trump regulators listening to Wall Street’s wish list.”

      “Between this, the banking deregulation bill passed last year, and other changes proposed by the Fed and [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency],” Porter added, “we can expect Too Big to Fail banks to get riskier and have less of a cushion to guard taxpayers from bailouts.”

      The plan to weaken post-crisis leverage requirements on the nation’s six largest banks—backed by Schumer appointees Rostin Behnam and Dan Berkovitz—was presented to the Fed last month, according to HuffPost.

      Gregg Gelzinis, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress told HuffPost that the proposal would “only increase the likelihood of another crash.”

    • “Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party

      Like an annoying rash that could become dangerous, the Wall Street and war wing of the Democratic Party is back for yet another reprise in its run in the 2020 presidential primary and election. Think these representatives of wealth and war and power went away with the mid-evening swing toward doom of the New York Times polls on election night 2016? Think again… Hillary Clinton has been supplanted by Joe Biden. Power and wealth will not give up because those forces have an almost psychopathic hold on a wing of the Democratic Party, like an out-of-control vehicle careening to certain doom down a mountainside.

      In the 1970s, Biden was a fierce opponent of school busing toward the end of eliminating segregation in schools (”As Joe Biden Hints at presidential Run, Andrew Cockburn Looks at His ‘Disastrous Legislative Legacy,’” Democracy Now, March 13, 2019).

      During the 1980s and 1990s, Biden became a law and order legislator, teaming up with none other than Strom Thurmond and Bill Clinton to put people away and fueling the epidemic of mass jailing. Readers know the result that those “crime” fighting sprees had on the black community.

      Then, during the confirmation process of Clarence Thomas, Biden refused to call witnesses that would have supported Anita Hill’s testimony about Thomas.

    • The Real College Admissions Scandal

      In what’s being called the largest college admissions scam ever, a number of wealthy parents, celebrities, and college prep coaches have been accused of offering large bribes to get rich students into Ivy League schools, regardless of their credentials.

      The parents facing charges allegedly paid up to $6.5 million to get their kids into college.

      Shocking as it is, this is hardly a new phenomenon in higher education. Wealthy and privileged students have always had an upper hand in being accepted to prestigious universities.

      They’re called “legacy preferences.”

      “Many U.S. colleges admit ‘legacies,’ or students with a family connection to the university, at dramatically higher rates than other applicants,” The Guardian explains, because “they are widely seen as a reliable source of alumni donations.”

      Some of our countries most prominent figures have benefited from legacy preferences. When applying to Harvard, future president John F. Kennedy noted that his father was an alumnus. And although his academic record was unspectacular, he was admitted into the Ivy League school.

    • Calls for Breaking Up Tech Giants Grow Louder After EU Hits Google With $1.7 Billion Antitrust Fine

      “Google is dominant when it comes to online advertising brokerage market, with market shares in Europe of above 70 percent,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner for competition. “Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform.”

      Former New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout celebrated the penalty. “Europe is cracking down on Google’s corrupt business model,” she tweeted. “The abuse of power is real. But the tide has changed.”

      “The U.S. should act too,” Teachout said, pointing to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) plan to break up tech giants. While unveiling her plan this month, the senator and 2020 presidential candidate charged that companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have “ too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.”

      In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, concurred with Teachout and Warren. “Breaking up big tech isn’t the only solution,” he said, “but it’s the necessary first step to actually addressing the problem of big tech.”

    • May Asks for Delay of Brexit Until June 30

      France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has set three criteria that Britain must meet if British Prime Minister Theresa May is to be granted a Brexit extension.

      Speaking at the National Assembly ahead of the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday where May’s request for an extension to the country’s departure date from March 29 to June 30 will be discussed, Le Drian warned that the country would likely crash out of the bloc without a deal if the conditions are not met.

      He said that the May must convince leaders that “the purpose of the delay is to finalize the ratification of the deal already negotiated” and that the deal agreed last November “won’t be renegotiated.”

      He also said that the short delay request has to be conditioned on the U.K. not participating in the European parliamentary elections from May 23-26.

    • 68% Want to Hike Taxes on the Rich to Help the Poor, Survey of 21 OECD Nations Shows

      A large majority of residents in the world’s leading capitalist nations responded with a resounding “yes” to a survey asking whether they support hiking taxes on the rich to fund social programs for the poor.

      Most residents in all 21 countries included in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) survey published Tuesday said their governments should “tax the rich more than they currently do in order to support the poor.”

      In the United States, over 50 percent of those polled said they support hiking taxes on the wealthy to help the poor. Average support for the idea among all 22,000 people surveyed was at 68 percent.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Democrat Beto O’Rourke raises $6.1 million during first 24 hours as a 2020 presidential candidate

      Beto O’Rourke raised $6.1 million during his first 24 hours as a presidential candidate, his campaign said Monday, in what amounts to be the largest initial fundraising haul of any 2020 Democratic contender who has disclosed their figures to date.

      The former Texas congressman took in $6,136,763 in online contributions from all 50 states within the day after announcing his White House bid, according to his campaign. O’Rourke did not, however, reveal how many individual donors contributed to his campaign or their average donation. Still, his initial fundraising haul surpasses the $5.9 million one-day total Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont raised last month after announcing his campaign, with donations averaging just $27 — a figure mirroring the average donation size he repeatedly touted in his first bid for the White House in 2016. The other closest 2020 Democratic contender to disclose his or her complete first-day fundraising total was Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who raked in $1.5 million from 38,000 donors in 24 hours — the average online contribution was $37 — a number that, at the time, raised eyebrows.

      “In just 24 hours, Americans across this country came together to prove that it is possible to run a true grassroots campaign for president — a campaign by all of us, for all of us, that answers not to the PACs, corporations and special interests but to the people,” O’Rourke, who has ruled out PAC donations of any kind, said in a statement announcing the total.

    • Rep. Devin Nunes Sues Internet Cow For Saying Mean Things About Him Online

      Last year, Devin Nunes co-sponsored the Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act. Twelve days ago, he voted for a House Amendment “to express a sense of Congress that free speech should be protected.”

      And yesterday, he sued an internet cow for making fun of him.

      By now you may have heard, as first reported by Fox News, that Rep. Devin Nunes — who spent two years making a total mockery of the House Intelligence Committee — has decided to sue Twitter and some satire accounts, and a real political commentator for a variety of “offenses” from defamation to shadow banning. The complaint, filed in a local court in Virginia, is not yet available anywhere but Fox News’ posting of it (so you can click the link above, but we can’t embed it yet).

      Let’s just get the first part out of the way: the complaint is utter nonsense. It is a complete joke. It makes a total mockery of the judicial system and its an embarrassment that Nunes thought this was a good idea. We’ll get into the details in a moment, but rest assured, we see a lot of really dumb lawsuits, and this one is up there on the list of truly special ones.

    • After three decades, Nazarbayev is quitting Kazakhstan’s presidency, but the ‘national leader’ will retain enormous influence

      On March 19, Nursultan Nazarbayev addressed the nation of Kazakhstan and announced that he is stepping down as president — a title he’s held since 1990. “As the founder of the independent Kazakhstani state, I see my future task as ensuring that a new generation comes to power that will continue the country’s ongoing transformation,” Nazarbayev said.

      The new head of state is Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the speaker of the Senate and a professional diplomat who headed the Foreign Ministry from 1994 to 1999 and again from 2002 to 2007, before serving as U.N. deputy secretary general from 2011 to 2013. According to Kazakhstan’s Constitution, Tokayev will take over Nazarbayev’s current term, serving until the next scheduled elections in the spring of 2020. The only formal limit Tokayev faces on his normal presidential powers is that he cannot initiate constitutional amendments before he is elected.

    • The Military-Industrial Complex: Trump’s Ties to Boeing in Spotlight Amid Probes of 737 MAX 8 Jets

      The Trump administration’s close ties to Boeing are facing new scrutiny in the wake of deadly plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet. President Trump has publicly praised Boeing hundreds of times in his two years in office and participated in efforts to sell its planes, including the 737 MAX series, to countries and airlines around the world. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg praised Trump’s support at a dinner last August at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who was appointed by Trump, spent 31 years as a Boeing executive. And Trump’s former U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, has been nominated to the Boeing board of directors. We speak to William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. His recent piece in The Nation is titled “A Former Boeing Executive Is Now Running the Pentagon.”

    • Fulfilling Vow to Run 2020 Campaign Differently, Sanders Campaign Claims 70% of Top Leadership Now Women

      Facing previous criticism that his campaign team during his 2016 presidential run was “too white” and “too male,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) received praise on Tuesday after it was reported his campaign has hired a diverse slate of high-caliber women for key posts on his 2020 leadership team.

      As journalist Natalie Gontcharova of Refinery29 was the first to report, the Sanders campaign now claims that “every single one of its teams — management, political, policy, organizing, communications, advance, digital, and fundraising — has women, and predominantly women of color, in leadership positions. Overall, the national leadership team is around 70% women.”

    • What does 30 years in power look like? Follow Kazakhstan’s outgoing president from the Soviet Communist Party Congress to his handshake with Donald Trump
    • Everyone Must Condemn Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence

      Racism is not natural. Babies — black, brown, white — explore the world and each other with wonder, not hate. Racism has to be taught. It is learned behavior. To assume that a person is inherently superior or inferior to another based upon race is unnatural and ungodly. Racism is used for political manipulation and economic exploitation. In a land founded on the belief that all men are created equal, slavery could not be justified without a racism that depicted slaves as sub-human.

      These basic truths need restating in this terrible time. Across the world, we see the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia, and its violent expression. Parishioners in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, are gunned down; worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue are attacked and killed. Now the murders in the mosques in New Zealand. Christians, Jews and Muslims must now stand as one and resist the rise of hate, and the hate-filled propaganda that feeds it.

      In this, Donald Trump can no longer duck responsibility. When an American president speaks, the world listens. When Barack Obama was elected, it sent hope across the world. Blacks were elected to parliaments for the first time across Europe. Some hoped a new era of peace and reconciliation might begin.

      Yet his election incited a harsh reaction as well, a new trafficking in hate, fear and violence. Donald Trump used his celebrity to claim that Obama was illegitimate, literally un-American. He had relished spreading racial fears before. When five young men were falsely arrested in New York City, Trump took out newspaper ads calling for the death penalty, inciting fear of young African-American males. When DNA testing proved their innocence, Trump simply denied the truth. His campaign for president was stained by his race-bait politics: slurring immigrants as rapists and murderers, promising to ban Muslims, denouncing a judge of Mexican descent, born in Indiana, as too biased to rule on the case involving students defrauded by Trump University.

      As president, Trump has used his position to continue to foster hatred and racial division: the Muslim ban, the “wall” and the continued slander of immigrants, African nations as “s–thole countries.” In Charlottesville, he equated Nazis marching through the streets with tiki torches, chanting “Jews will not replace us,” with those protesting Nazism and racism; “good people,” he said, on “both sides.”

      He’s also fanned the flames of violence. He told his followers at a campaign rally in 2016 that if they beat up a young protester, he’d pay their legal fees. He talked about “Second Amendment people” — gun owners presumably — taking care of liberal judges or of Hillary Clinton, if she appointed them. He encouraged police officers to rough up suspects.

      Now, as he appears more and more unhinged, he did an interview with the right-wing Breitbart news in which he suggested that his people “play it tougher,” intimating that if he didn’t get his way, brown shirt violence might follow: “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

    • Alabama Prisoners Associated With Anti-Violence Program Put In Solitary, Launch Hunger Strike

      Eight Alabama prisoners have followed in the footsteps of incarcerated activist Robert Earl Council by initiating a hunger strike, arguing they, like Council, were arbitrarily placed in solitary confinement.

      Council, who has organized with other prisoners for years with the Free Alabama Movement, ended his hunger strike on March 14 after refusing food and liquids for one week. He was assured by Commissioner Jeffrey Dunn that he would be moved to general population.

      According to Unheard Voices OTCJ, which is supporting these prisoners, they were part of a group of 30 men, who were awoken at 2:00 in the morning on February 28 and found they would be transferred hundreds of miles away to the Holman Correctional Facility.

      At Holman, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) placed 22 of the men in general population and sent eight to solitary confinement without initiating any disciplinary action or notifying them about any rules violations.

      Unheard Voices received a statement from the hunger strikers announcing their action would begin at 12:01 AM on March 18 “in protest of being held in solitary without just cause.” They said their “loved ones and community members are mobilizing outside support, and more folks are expected to join the strike.”

    • ‘McConnell Is Afraid of Democracy’: Progressives Push Senate Majority Leader to Stop Blocking Vote on HR1

      Progressives are ramping up their pressure campaign against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an effort to force a vote on the “For the People Act” when Congress returns from recess.

      The bill, also known as H.R. 1, passed the Democratic House earlier this month without support from a single Republican. In a move that outraged pro-democracy organizations, McConnell vowed to stop the bill from getting a vote in the Senate.

      Asked why he is blocking the legislation, McConnell said, “Because I get to decide what we vote on.”

    • ‘A Poll Tax By Any Other Name’: Florida GOP Undermines Newly-Restored Voting Rights For 1.4 Million People

      Civil rights advocates Tuesday slammed Republicans in Florida for passing a bill that would severely undermine a law approved by voters last year that restored voting rights to residents with felony convictions.

      Four months ago, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 in a state referendum to allow many of the state’s former felons to vote. But on Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed CRJ 3 in a party-line vote.

      While the passage of Amendment 4 was celebrated by voting rights advocates nationwide, the new GOP measure would undermine the hard won victory by requiring former felons to pay all court fees in order to have their right to vote granted.

      Critics including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Public Citizen denounced CRJ 3 as a poll tax.

    • Bernie Sanders Makes the Case for His Electability

      On the trail, Sanders is quick to note that some of his policy ideas have moved from the fringe to the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

    • Meet the Press Chuck Todd and the Boeing Blackout

      That crash has not been mentioned once on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd in the twenty episodes since.

      On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, crashed after taking off from Addis Ababa killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.

      That crash has not been mentioned once on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd in the two episodes since.

      Two Boeing plane crashes, 346 people dead and no mention on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

      And it’s not as if Meet the Press with Chuck Todd doesn’t do disasters. They do. For example, on the March 17, 2019 episode of Meet the Press, the March 15 Christchurch, New Zealand massacre, which killed 50, was a major topic of conversation throughout the show.

      What might explain this discrepancy?

      Boeing is at the center of both crashes and is now under criminal investigation.

    • Special Counsel Zeroed In on Cohen Early, Documents Show

      Hundreds of pages of court records made public Tuesday revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller quickly zeroed in on Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, in the early stages of his Russia probe.

      The heavily blacked-out records, released by a judge at the request of news organizations, show that Mueller was investigating Cohen by July 2017 — much earlier than previously known.

      That was two months after Mueller was appointed to investigate Moscow’s election interference and practically a year before an FBI raid on Cohen’s home and office.

      The full scope of Mueller’s interest in Cohen is not clear from the documents, which include search warrant applications and other records. More extensive files from the special counsel investigation remain under seal in Washington.

      But the documents made public Tuesday show that Mueller’s investigators early on began looking into possible misrepresentations Cohen made to banks to shore up his financially troubled taxi business.

    • Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together

      From childhood we learn that you can know somebody by his or her company. Our present president, Donald Trump, values loyalty. He favors people who like what he likes and who think like him. For his closest helpers, he has chosen people who have appeared devoted (or related) to him and who have endorsed goals he has championed. Many, however, have landed in jail and more may be on the way to the same destination, including even the man for whom they were backers or fixers.

      Now in the third year of the Trump presidency, we can tote up some of the results. Many of Trump’s cabinet picks have been accused of serious ethical breaches such as using government planes for private entertainment ventures. It now appears that the current EPA administrator, then lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, consulted secretly with then Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017 on omitting areas rich in coal and uranium (plus sacred Native American sites and unique dinosaur fossils) from the redrawn borders of two national monuments in Utah.

      Whether those whom Trump gave major jobs were actually competent for their assigned task seems to have been irrelevant. The only apparent rationale for choosing a brain surgeon to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development was that he had lived in one or more homes. As HUD secretary, Dr. Ben Carson has done little except to sign off on some expensive office furniture allegedly ordered by his wife. On the other hand, some appointees do know their assigned domain, if only from the perspective of an industrial owner or lobbyist. The ex-governor of carbon-rich Texas, Rick Perry, was notorious for vowing to demolish the Department of Energy even before Trump asked him to head it.

    • Trade Bill – Green win protects current standards

      The government are due to amend the Trade Bill today to protect existing standards for animal welfare, workers rights and the environment in future trade agreements. They have submitted a slightly tweaked version of the amendment put forward by Green Party Baroness Jones.

      Jenny Jones’ amendment on the Trade Bill was debated two weeks ago and she received a lot of cross party support from Labour. She has also met the Minister to discuss it. It contains the current protections for the standards we have. But the Government had seemed reluctant to accept it, even though the Prime Minister had committed herself to not weakening existing standards in future trade agreements. At the moment it would be possible for Ministers to use statutory instruments to change the rules on this, but this amendment would guarantee these minimum standards were kept for rolling over all the trade deals that we currently have as a result of EU membership.

    • Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party

      Do you remember the Democrats, dearest motherfuckers? Not the neoliberal, gutter capitalist, Clintonista kind or even Bernie’s brand of drone-strike socialists, but the peace loving hippie kind. The doves who tried to end the Cold War and marched against the draft and stuck flowers in the barrels of National Guard rifles. The liberal lions who took on the war machine, who made love not war, who couldn’t hug their children with nuclear arms, and braved the perils of grassy knolls and brainwashed Arabs to bring just one ounce of sanity to Capitol Hill. Sure they were corny and preachy and a little grabby in cocktail party coatrooms but they had character and cojones and conviction. What ever happened to those liberals, before their bleeding hearts were eaten whole by those nasty neos? Where have all the flowers gone? Tell me, dearest motherfuckers, do you remember the Democrats?

      Yeah, me neither, and here comes another one of my famously merciless reality checks. With the exception of few fantastic McGovern hiccups, they never actually fucking existed. The Democrats have always been a war party, even back when the Republicans were still Lindbergh worshiping isolationists. Don’t get me wrong, the Dems were always big on that Feed the World-style, Kumbaya charity shit, but there chief staple was usually more white phosphorous than whole grain granola. Both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam; all started by Democrats. Even the Republican crusades in the Persian Gulf initially passed with broad Democratic support and lingered into holocausts with broad Democratic indifference. Much like the Republicans relationship with putting America first, the Democrats only get in touch with their hippie-dippie side when it serves their partisan needs, with Yemen as your latest rule-proving exception.

    • 16 Years After US Invaded Iraq, Anti-War Groups Demand No Regime Change in Venezuela

      Anti-war voices are marking the 16th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a demand the U.S. government not take a page out of the same playbook and unleash similar catastrophe and carnage in Venezuela.

      “Thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives because of a war entered into under false pretenses,” said Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, in a statement. “Surveying the foreign policy challenges of the present, from Iran, to North Korea, to Venezuela, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Regime change has a disastrous track record.”

      Codepink also marked the anniversary of when the U.S. “illegally, immorally, and unconstitutionally invaded Iraq.”

      “We can’t do the same to Venezuela!” the organization said.

      The U.S. is backing self-declared interim president Juan Guaido and imposing economic sanctions. The Trump administration has also warned that “all options are on the table” in terms of Venezuela.

    • Why Did Bush Go to War in Iraq? The Answer Is More Sinister Than You Think

      Sixteen years after the United States invaded Iraq and left a trail of destruction and chaos in the country and the region, one aspect of the war remains criminally underexamined: why was it fought in the first place? What did the Bush administration hope to get out of the war?

      The official, and widely-accepted, story remains that Washington was motivated by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. His nuclear capabilities, especially, were deemed sufficiently alarming to incite the war. As then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We do not want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

      Despite Saddam not having an active WMD programme, this explanation has found support among some International Relations scholars, who say that while the Bush administration was wrong about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, it was sincerely wrong. Intelligence is a complicated, murky enterprise, the argument goes, and given the foreboding shadow of the 9/11 attacks, the US government reasonably, if tragically, misread the evidence on the dangers Saddam posed.

      There is a major problem with this thesis: there is no evidence for it, beyond the words of the Bush officials themselves. And since we know the administration was engaged in a widespread campaign of deception and propaganda in the run-up to the Iraq war, there is little reason to believe them.

      My investigation into the causes of the war finds that it had little to do with fear of WMDs – or other purported goals, such as a desire to “spread democracy” or satisfy the oil or Israel lobbies. Rather, the Bush administration invaded Iraq for its demonstration effect.

      A quick and decisive victory in the heart of the Arab world would send a message to all countries, especially to recalcitrant regimes such as Syria, Libya, Iran, or North Korea, that American hegemony was here to stay. Put simply, the Iraq war was motivated by a desire to (re)establish American standing as the world’s leading power.

      Indeed, even before 9/11, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saw Iraq through the prism of status and reputation, variously arguing in February and July 2001 that ousting Saddam would “enhance US credibility and influence throughout the region” and “demonstrate what US policy is all about”.

    • Why is the Kremlin replacing multiple regional governors right before Russia’s fall elections?

      On March 19 and 20, three Russian regional leaders all handed in their resignations. Even more regional government heads are expected to join their colleagues from Chelyabinsk Oblast, Kalmykia, and the Altai Republic and resign in the coming weeks. Russian political experts argue that this series of resignations stems from high disapproval ratings among certain regional governors and conflicts in the Russian provinces that may cause difficulties for the Kremlin in September’s nationwide elections.

      The “bundled” resignations that are a staple of pre-election season in Russia have begun in earnest: Chelyabinsk Oblast’s Governor Boris Dubrovsky, Kalmyk government head Alexey Orlov, and Altai Republic leader Alexander Perdnikov have all tendered their resignations. Russian media sources also reported that Governor Marina Kovtun of Murmansk Oblast has already drafted an announcement in preparation for leaving her post, while Orenburg Oblast’s Governor Yury Berg denied that he would also resign. That list of names may grow in the coming days.

    • Time for the Electoral College to die: Can the popular-vote compact save America?

      For many years, I was a relatively strong believer in the wisdom of the Electoral College as our method of choosing a president. Foolishly, I thought the intent of the Constitution’s framers was a smart one — specifically Alexander Hamilton’s express intent to build a procedural roadblock in the path of would-be villains and populists.

      In fact, Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68 that the Electoral College was intended to obstruct presidential candidates with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity,” a pair of traits that ought to sound familiar to anyone who followed Donald Trump’s despotic rise to power.

      Of course the Electoral College has never functioned as intened at any point in American history. It utterly failed to live up to this mandate in 2016, allowing Trump to ooze through the cracks despite his obvious treachery and criminality — and despite the fact that he lost the national popular vote by nearly three million.

      In the face of history and our founding documents, the Electoral College was yet again revealed to be nothing more than a pointless technicality — a turnkey rather than a last line of defense against Trump and his “talents for low intrigue.” Consequently, I’ve changed my mind. It’s time for the Electoral College to die, and a growing list of states are busily plunging knives into its back.

      The latest state to join the process of killing the Electoral College is Delaware, where the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact passed the state legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Sen. Josh Hawley is making the conservative case against Facebook

      After years of escalating scandals, Congress is looking for ways to crack down on the size and power of tech companies like Facebook and Google. On the Democratic side, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has taken the lead by calling for new antitrust regulations that would break up the companies and usher in a new era of anti-monopoly action. Republican concerns have been harder to pin down, often veering off into deplatforming conspiracies or conflicting theories of free speech, but no less aggressive.

      Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, has emerged as a surprising Republican voice on those issues. The youngest working lawmaker in the Senate, Hawley has taken a lead on the ongoing investigations into Facebook, joining with Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in February for a letter probing the company’s teen data collection practices, and penning legislation with Democrats that would extend more rigorous privacy protections for children. He’s also been outspoken in calling for changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, often seen as the central legal protection for online platforms.

      On February 28th, The Verge sat down with Sen. Hawley at his temporary office on Capitol Hill. Hawley and his staff currently work in the basement of the Dirksen office building with other junior senators as they await a more permanent place to set up shop. Despite the temporary nature of the office, Hawley was surrounded by reminders of his home state, including a map of Missouri and its state flag.

    • Facebook blocked Trump’s social media director because they thought he was a bot

      Trump White House social media director Dan Scavino got a personal apology from Facebook, after some features on his account were blocked for a few hours on Monday. The social media firm says its automated systems identified his activity as likely being that of a bot.

    • Facebook apologizes after mistaking Trump social media director for a bot

      In a statement issued soon after the president’s tweet, a Facebook spokesperson explained, “In order to stop automated bots, we cap the amount of identical, repetitive activity coming from one account in a short period of time, such as @mentioning people. These limits can have the unintended consequence of temporarily preventing real people like Dan Scavino from engaging in such activity, but lift in an hour or two, which is what happened in this case.”

    • ECHR Judgement: Høiness v. Norway

      The domestic courts’ refusal to impose liability on an Internet forum
      for anonymously posted comments was not in breach of Article 8

      In today’s Chamber judgment1in the case of Høiness v. Norway (application no. 43624/14) the
      European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

      no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human
      Rights.

      The case concerned the domestic courts’ refusal to impose civil liability on an Internet forum host
      after vulgar comments about Ms Høiness had been posted on the forum.

      The Court found in particular that the national courts had acted within their discretion (“margin of
      appreciation”) when seeking to establish a balance between Ms Høiness’s rights under Article 8 and
      the opposing right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the news portal and host of the
      debate forums. Moreover, the domestic court

    • ‘Russia Today’ staff face 5-million-ruble penalties if they criticize the network on social media

      The autonomous nonprofit organization “TV-Novosti,” which technically owns the Russia Today television network, reportedly requires staff to sign strict non-disclosure agreements that prohibit reporters, camera operators, and other employees from discussing anything happening at RT with outsiders or criticizing the network in interviews or on social media. According to documents obtained by the website Znak.com, these NDAs remain in force not only while staff are employed at RT, but also for 20 years afterwards. Offenders can be forced to pay RT five million rubles (more than $77,670) in compensation. The agreements bear the signature of TV-Novosti CEO Alexey Nikolov.

      The non-disclosure agreements describe confidential information as anything pertaining to TV-Novosti in terms of “production, technical aspects, finances, managerial hierarchy, or otherwise.” This applies to the organization’s internal structure, performance indicators, how the organization and staff operate, and its work style and methods, including any information learned at workshops or about partners. Staff are also prohibited from divulging information about their own NDAs.

    • @DevinCow Now Has More Twitter Followers Than Devin Nunes

      Yesterday we wrote about the completely ridiculous lawsuit that Rep. Devin Nunes — a real live Congressional Representative — filed against Twitter, a political communications expert, and two satirical fake Twitter accounts: one pretending to be his cow, and one pretending to be his mom. As we noted, in the lawsuit itself, Nunes’ lawyer points out that the satirical cow had a grand total of 1,204 followers when the lawsuit was initiated. For reference, Devin Nunes’ own Twitter account has ~394,000 followers. When we did our post yesterday, @DevinCow was up to 106,000. And now?

    • Police are reportedly investigating several news websites that criticized Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin

      Police in Moscow have reportedly opened a criminal investigation in response to defamation charges filed by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, against Internet publications that have criticized his job performance. Sources in law enforcement told the newspaper Kommersant that Rogozin singled out the websites Rospres.org and Kompromatural.ru.

      According to Kommersant, Rogozin originally complained to the Attorney General’s Office. Deputy Attorney General Viktor Grin then referred the matter to a preliminary investigative unit in the Interior Ministry, which decided in late February to launch a formal criminal inquiry. The case is now reportedly being investigated by a special group led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Milovanov. Sources told Kommersant that officials have already established that the offending websites use equipment and domain names located in the United States and the Netherlands.

    • Terrified Of The Internet, Putin Signs Laws Making It Illegal To Criticize Government Leaders Online

      Russia’s efforts to clamp down on anything resembling free speech on the internet continues unabated. Putin’s government has spent the last few years effectively making VPNs and private messenger apps illegal. While the government publicly insists the moves are necessary to protect national security, the actual motivators are the same old boring ones we’ve seen here in the States and elsewhere around the world for decades: fear and control. Russia doesn’t want people privately organizing, discussing, or challenging the government’s increasingly-authoritarian global impulses.

      After taking aim at VPNs, Putin signed two new bills this week that dramatically hamper speech, especially online. One law specifically takes aim at the nebulous concept of “fake news,” specifically punishing any online material that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.” In other words, Russia wants to ban criticism of Putin and his corrupt government, with experts telling the Washington Post that the updated law effectively removes the pesky legal system from what was already a fairly draconian system….

    • Florida College Asked Local Sheriff To Declare Faculty Member’s Artwork Obscene

      Cops may not know art, but they know what they don’t like. Blowing past the First Amendment to give their official opinion on art critical of law enforcement is never an acceptable “solution,” but it’s one that happens nonetheless.

      Last year, a high school decided it would rather demonstrate its subservience to local law enforcement than stand behind its students and their First Amendment rights. Photos of a painting of a cop in Ku Klux Klan hood pointing a gun at a black child appeared in the school newspaper. Instead of running the article, a teacher ran down to the cop shop to offer a profuse apology on behalf of “99.9% of the teachers at the school.” Returning to school with the aftertaste of boot polish still lingering in his mouth, he engaged a full-on tongue kiss with the town’s mayor, who offered his own profuse (and cowardly) apology to the offended police department.

      Now, as Sarah McLaughlin of FIRE reports, another institute of learning has decided the best approach to controversial artwork is to display its soft underbelly to law enforcement as quickly as possible. A faculty member’s artwork was deemed “controversial.” This is an unsurprising development. Controversy and artwork have enjoyed a long and healthy relationship for many, many years.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Trump administration requests nearly $86B for spy budget

      The Trump administration wants nearly $86 billion for its intelligence programs in fiscal 2020, a 6 percent jump from last year.

      Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Monday revealed that the administration wants $62.8 billion for its U.S. intelligence agencies, while the Pentagon released its $22.95 billion request for its military intelligence program (MIP).

      Details of the so-called black budget are secret, but the funds cover a range of expenses including spy planes and satellites, intelligence gathering through spies and informants, and cyber weapons.

      The higher request comes despite the fact that President Trump has had a contentious relationship with his intelligence agencies since taking office.

      Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray made headlines in January with their congressional testimony on global threats, in particular because their statements appeared to conflict with Trump’s policy agenda.

    • EFF Submits Consumer Data Privacy Comment to the California Attorney General

      The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires the California Attorney General to take input from the public on regulations to implement the law, which does not go into effect until 2020.

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed comments on two issues: first, how to verify consumer requests to companies for access to personal information, and for deletion of that information; and second, how to make the process of opting out of the sale of data easy, using the framework already in place for the Do Not Track (DNT) system.

    • Here’s Why You Can’t Trust What Cops and Companies Claim About Automated License Plate Readers

      In response to an ACLU report on how law enforcement agencies share information collected by automated license plate readers (ALPRs) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials have been quick to deny and obfuscate despite documentary evidence obtained directly from ICE itself through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit

      Let’s be clear: you can’t trust what ALPR company Vigilant Solutions and its clients says. It’s time for higher authorities to conduct an audit.

      Through years of research spanning California (and beyond), EFF has discovered that agencies that access ALPR data are often ignorant or noncompliant when it comes to the transparency and accountability requirements of state law. Furthermore, their agreements with the vendor Vigilant Solutions often include “non-disparagement” and “non-publication” clauses that contractually bind them to Vigilant Solutions’ “media messaging” and prevent agencies from speaking candidly with the press. Meanwhile, training materials created by Vigilant Solutions explicitly recommend that police leave ALPR out of its reports whenever possible.

    • Uber used spyware to surveil and poach drivers from Australian rival service Gocatch

      A senior source at Uber has confirmed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners programme that Uber Australia illegally deployed an in-house piece of spyware called Surfcam in order to spy on drivers for a rival rideshare company called Gocatch; Uber was able to compile lists of drivers’ emails, car registration numbers and other details and it used these to poach Gocatch drivers and turn them into Uber drivers.

    • Only politicians get exemption from encryption law

      The Federal Government’s encryption law spreads its net far and wide in society, but exempts one class of person — politicians — from its tentacles, according to an analysis of the law by lawyer and consultant Matthew Shearing.

      “This Bill (which is now law) has a number of small but powerful provisions tucked away in its 220 pages – but none might raise more eyebrows than the provision regarding members of Parliament,” Shearing pointed out in his analysis which came to iTWire’s notice after InnovationAus editor James Riley mentioned it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Attorneys and Reporters Interrogated at Border About Political Beliefs In ‘Outrageous’ Violation of Rights

      Rights advocates are issuing fresh warnings of intimidation and repressive tactics in the wake of new reporting about U.S. border patrol agents detaining and interrogating journalists and immigration lawyers, including questions about their political beliefs.

      NBC News reported Monday that at least one journalist and four immigration lawyers were stopped at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations near the border in Texas and Arizona in an apparent attempt to identify individuals in the area who oppose the Trump administration.

      [...]

      As Common Dreams reported last year, a change in the Immigration and Nationality Act more that 70 years ago resulted in a 100-mile zone near all U.S. borders—where 200 million people live—in which Americans officially do not have constitutional rights protecing them from warrantless searches and demands by CBP agents.

      The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held up the rule over the objections of the ACLU and other rights groups. The ruling has resulted in incidents like Levy’s and Ruiz’s detentions, as well as those of a documentary filmmaker and two other lawyers.

      Esha Bhandari, an attorney with the ACLU, rejected the notion that the CBP can legally seize reporters’ and lawyers’ phones and detain them without cause within the 100-mile zone.

    • Among Questions Raised by Pompeo’s Faith-Based Only Press Call: ‘How Many Muslim Reporters Invited?’

      A secretive State Department briefing restricted to all but faith-based reporters is raising questions among reporters about access and press freedoms.

      On Monday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a phone briefing for reporters from the religious press. Secular news agencies—including the main networks and newspapers—were not invited to participate in the call.

    • ICE Officers Forging Signatures, Deploying Pre-Signed Warrants To Detain Immigrants

      Oxley forged signatures of supervisors. Other ICE officers didn’t go that far. Many simply phoned up the supervisor who was supposed to be reviewing the warrants — you know, to ensure they were compliant with the Constitution — and then signed them on their behalf. In all the cases reviewed by CNN, no one was following the rules.

      The President claims the “crisis” at the southern border warrants a national emergency declaration. The job ICE does is, apparently, too important to be done correctly. The agency is cooking the books to make it appear as though the nation is overrun by dangerous immigrants. Simultaneously, ICE threw manpower and funding at creating a fake college so it could sweep up immigrants and visitors attempting to comply with the law.

      This warrant process that can barely be called a “process” is resulting in the illegal detention of immigrants who haven’t violated the law. The Fourth Amendment is supposed to limit government wrongdoing, but ICE officers appear to believe civil rights are inconveniences to be routed around. It wants to make the fun part of the job — rounding up people and detaining them — more efficient.

    • ACLU: The U.S. Is Acting Like an Authoritarian Regime by Barring ICC Officials Probing War Crimes

      The Trump administration has barred International Criminal Court investigators from entering the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the U.S. will start denying visas to members of the ICC who may be investigating alleged war crimes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In September, national security adviser John Bolton threatened U.S. sanctions against ICC judges if they continued to investigate alleged war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A 2016 ICC report accused the U.S. military of torturing at least 61 prisoners in Afghanistan during the ongoing war. The report also accused the CIA of subjecting at least 27 prisoners to torture, including rape, at CIA prison sites in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania. We speak with Jamil Dakwar, director of the Human Rights Program at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    • Facebook Revamps Its Ad-Targeting System To Stop Discrimination

      Facebook has been under users’ scrutiny for various reasons; one of them is discrimination caused by the ads on the platform. To curb this, the social networking site is revamping its ad-targeting system for housing, employment and credit ads.

      The new ad-targeting system will no longer discriminate against users on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion.

    • Facebook Changes Its Ad Tech to Stop Discrimination

      The settlement resolves five separate cases that had been brought against Facebook over discriminatory advertising since 2016, following a ProPublica investigation that revealed Facebook let advertisers choose to hide their ads from black, Hispanic, or people of other “ethnic affinities.” Lawsuits soon followed. The most recent case was an EEOC complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union in September, alleging that Facebook allowed job ads to discriminate against women.

    • Facebook Settles Suits Over Ad-Targeting Discrimination

      Facebook settled five lawsuits alleging that its advertising systems enabled discrimination in housing, credit and employment ads. For the social network, that’s one major legal problem down, several to go, including government investigations in the U.S. and Europe over its data and privacy practices.

      As part of that settlement, Facebook says it will overhaul ad targeting for housing, credit and employment ads so they can’t be used to discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity, gender and other legally protected categories in the U.S., including national origin and sexual orientation. The social media company is also paying about $5 million to cover legal fees and other costs.

      Facebook and the plaintiffs — a group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and others —called the settlement “historic.” It took 18 months to hammer out. The company still faces an administrative complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in August over the housing ads issue.

    • Facebook Won’t Let Employers, Landlords or Lenders Discriminate in Ads Anymore

      Facebook advertisers can no longer target users by age, gender and ZIP code for housing, employment and credit offers, the company announced Tuesday as part of a major settlement with civil rights organizations.

      The wide-ranging agreement follows reporting by ProPublica since 2016 that found Facebook let advertisers exclude users by race and other categories that are protected by federal law. It is illegal for housing, job and credit advertisers to discriminate against protected groups.

      ProPublica had been able to buy housing-related ads on Facebook that excluded groups such as African Americans and Jews, and it previously found job ads excluding users by age and gender placed by companies that are household names, like Uber and Verizon Wireless.

    • Facebook Settles Civil Rights Cases by Making Sweeping Changes to Its Online Ad Platform

      The ACLU expects other social media and advertising platforms to follow suit in recognizing that civil rights laws apply online.

      The ACLU, along with our client Communications Workers of America and other civil rights groups, announced a historic settlement agreement with Facebook that will result in major changes to Facebook’s advertising platform. Advertisers will no longer be able to exclude users from learning about opportunities for housing, employment, or credit based on gender, age, or other protected characteristics.

      This policy change follows years of work by civil rights advocates — including a legal challenge from the ACLU, the Communications Workers of America, and the civil rights law firm Outten & Golden LLP. In September, we collectively filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of CWA and individual job seekers against Facebook and a number of companies that targeted certain ads for jobs to younger male Facebook users. These charges joined other litigation asserting race discrimination in job, housing, and credit ads and age discrimination in job ads.

      Most Facebook users were likely not even aware that this type of exclusionary ad targeting was happening. Some 30 years into the digitization of our daily lives, we’re still coming to grips with the fact that the vast trove of data we hand over with each and every “like,” search, post, or click — often without our knowledge or consent — will be used to target advertisements to us.

      This kind of data mining is ubiquitous on Facebook, which attracts advertisers by touting its targeting tool’s power to show users only the ads Facebook or advertisers think they’d be interested in, based on how individualized data describes them. But there’s a discriminatory flip side to this practice. Ad-targeting platforms can be used to exclude users on the basis of race, gender, or age as well as interests or groups that can serve as proxies for those categories (think “soccer moms” or “Kwanzaa celebrators”).

    • Following protests against migrant workers in Yakutsk, dozens of bus drivers stay home from work and kiosk vendors are told to shut down for their own safety

      In Yakutsk, where protests against migrant workers have continued for the past two days, between 80 and 90 buses didn’t run their routes on March 19. According to Andrey Sharygin, the director of Yakutsk’s Unified Dispatch Service, most of the drivers are foreigners.

      “With just 420–430 buses in total, this hits us pretty hard. Right now, we’re trying to figure out what happened. The drivers are reporting technical issues, and some say they fear for their safety,” Sharygin told the website SakhaDay, adding that crew foremen and route directors are covering for many missing drivers.

      Sergey Maximov, the head of the public utility “Yakut Passenger Trucking Company,” confirmed to Ykt.ru that roughly 80 buses missed their routes on the morning of March 19. By midday, he says, about 40 lines were still out of service. “I emphasize that this is happening only with commercial public transportation. All our shuttle vans are on schedule,” Maximov told the news agency Interfax, adding that some drivers stayed home on Tuesday because they “fear reprisals.”

    • ‘Terrible News’: US Supreme Court Rules for Indefinite Detention of Immigrants

      A Supreme Court ruling Tuesday stating undocumented immigrants with criminal records can be detained indefinitely by U.S. authorities at any time after an initial arrest—even years later—generated outrage and disappointment from advocacy groups around the country.

      The case, Nielsen v. Preap, was decided by a majority of 5-4. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the suit against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to the Supreme Court in October 2018.

      The case rested on whether or not the government can detain immigrants convicted of crimes at any time after their sentences and for any amount of time.

      A law passed by Congress in 1996 allowed for the detention of undocumented immigrants after their sentence was served, but that law had largely, until now, been interpreted as only applying immediately after sentencing. Tuesday’s ruling means that application parameter no longer exists.

      “For two terms in a row now, the Supreme Court has endorsed the most extreme interpretation of immigration detention statutes, allowing mass incarceration of people without any hearing, simply because they are defending themselves against a deportation charge,” Cecilia Wang, ACLU deputy legal director, said in a statement. “We will continue to fight the gross overuse of detention in the immigration system.”

    • The Trump Administration Is Detaining Migrant Children in Clandestine Shelters

      The federal government is relying on secret shelters to hold unaccompanied minors, in possible violation of the long-standing rules for the care of immigrant children, a Reveal investigation has found.

      The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency that cares for unaccompanied minors, has never made the shelters’ existence public or even disclosed them to the minors’ own attorneys in a landmark class-action case.

      It remains unclear how many total sites are under operation, but there are at least five in Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia, holding at least 16 boys and girls for the refugee agency, some as young as 9 years old.

      Minors being held at the clandestine facilities initially were placed at known shelters around the country but later were transferred to these off-the-books facilities that specialize in providing for youth with mental health and behavioral challenges.

      The refugee agency’s standards for transferring youth in its care state that the agency “makes every effort to place children and youth within the ORR funded care provider network,” but makes room for out-of-network transfers, adding that “there may be instances when ORR determines there is no care provider available within the network to provide specialized services needed for special needs cases. In those cases, ORR will consider an alternative placement.”

    • Officer’s Body Cam Fails To Capture Footage Of Woman Shooting Herself In The Head While Her Hands Were Cuffed Behind Her

      The police department has 356 cameras and deploys “40-60 per shift.” The department has 525 officers so it seems the odds were in favor of there being multiple cameras on the scene. But the only footage recorded didn’t capture the incident. Multiple police cruisers were on the scene, but the Chesapeake PD decided to eliminate dash cams when it acquired body cameras, removing one more impartial witness.

      With the official word from the state, the Chesapeake PD closes the book on an extremely dubious “suicide.” Whether this is just a bunch of lies or some very terrible police work, the end result is the same: someone in handcuffs ended up dead. The odds that this person decided to escalate a traffic stop to a successful suicide attempt are incredibly low. Something fucked up happened that afternoon and the police department hasn’t even attempted to explain how something like this might have happened. Since the medical examiner has spoken, the Chesapeake PD has decided it’s no longer obligated to provide an explanation.

    • Black Sites for Kids: Rights Advocates Outraged Over Child Immigrants Being Held at ‘Off-the-Books’ Detention Facilities

      Immigrant rights advocates were horrified Tuesday by a new report which confirmed that the Trump administration is sending some immigrant children to clandestine facilities that are not known to their families and lawyers and are not equipped to provide care to vulnerable minors.

      An investigation by Reveal on Monday showed that at least 16 young immigrants—as young as nine years old and in need of mental or behavioral health treatment—have been sent by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to “off-the-books” facilities outside the network of federally-funded detention centers. The administration is housing immigrant children with an even greater degree of secrecy than was previously known, in violation of U.S. law.

    • Christian Charity Gave Over $50 Million to Hate Groups, Report Reveals

      The National Christian Foundation is America’s eighth largest public charity, but it doesn’t build houses, educate children, feed the hungry, or provide other goods or services one might commonly associate with a charity. It’s also not a household name like the Red Cross, but that doesn’t prevent it from having vast influence. According to a new investigation from Sludge, the far-right, evangelical NCF “has donated $56.1 million on behalf of its clients to 23 nonprofits identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups.”

      These nonprofits include multiple anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate groups. In fact, as reporter Alex Kotch points out, Inside Philanthropy has said that NCF “is probably the single biggest source of money fueling the pro-life and anti-LGBT movements over the past 15 years.”

      In addition to not being a direct service charity, the NCF is also not a conventional foundation that a wealthy donor uses as a vehicle to grow and then give away their money to multiple other charities over time. Instead, it’s a donor-advised fund, offering its Christian donors “expert guidance and creative giving solutions,” Kotch writes.

    • What Republicans and Billionaires Really Mean When They Talk About ‘Freedom’

      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.

    • Lady Liberty Gets Probation

      After Trump put people in cages, Okoumou said of her action, “I had had enough. We have gone so low as a country I had to climb as high as I could to raise consciousness.”

    • Police in Yakutia detain several people for acts against migrant workers, following a rape case that has put the region on edge

      Police in Yakutsk detained the organizer of an unscheduled protest on March 17 against migrant workers, after he used instant messengers to invite others to join his demonstration. A court later fined the man 20,000 rubles ($310) for organizing and staging the event without advance notice.

      [...]

      The region’s police department denies rumors that three men from Central Asia were recently murdered in Yakutsk, as well as claims that 20 migrant workers were attacked and hospitalized.

      Demonstrations against migrant workers started in Yakutsk after a Kyrgyz man was charged with kidnapping and raping a local woman. On March 17, roughly 200 people attended an unplanned protest in the city. The next day, the city’s mayor and the region’s governor hosted roughly 6,000 people for a town hall meeting, where they promised to crack down on illegal migrant workers, relying in part on massive police sweeps of local businesses.

    • Border Patrol and ICE Routinely Violate Immigrants’ Religious Rights

      Seizing rosaries, forbidding turbans, and serving pork sandwiches to Muslims are just some of the reasons we’re demanding an investigation.
      One pork sandwich every eight hours for six straight days. That’s the only food that Border Patrol provided to Adnan Asif Parveen, a Muslim immigrant who was detained in South Texas in January because his work permit had expired and was pending renewal. Mr. Parveen reportedly informed officials that his religion forbids him from eating pork, but they didn’t care. All he could eat were the slices of bread from the sandwich.

      Mr. Parveen’s experience was not an isolated incident. While President Trump and his administration have repeatedly proclaimed their commitment to religious liberty, in practice, this has only translated to religious freedom for some. Detained immigrants are apparently not among them. Detained immigrants from various faiths — Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians — have reported incidents in which Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement brazenly violate their religious-freedom rights.

      Take, for instance, Border Patrol’s treatment of Christians. Despite the agency’s “Religious Sensitivity” policy, which directs officers and agents to “remain cognizant of an individual’s religious beliefs while accomplishing an enforcement action in a dignified and respectful manner,” officials have seized rosaries from Catholic immigrants. One janitor found so many rosaries discarded by Border Patrol officials that he was able to create and photograph an entire collection of them. Immigrants have had their Bibles confiscated at the border, including Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist men represented in a lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU.

    • Lawmakers in Colorado Should Abolish the Death Penalty

      The death penalty is a broken tool riddled with bias that must be abandoned. A new bill in Colorado can do just that.
      In July 2012, Coloradans were devastated by the now-infamous murder of 12 moviegoers in the town of Aurora. Despite the trauma and grief that crime caused, a local jury three years later refused the prosecutor’s request to impose the death sentence against the convicted perpetrator. At the time, The Denver Post observed, “The death penalty in Colorado has effectively expired. And it didn’t happen because of bleeding-heart lawmakers or activist judges. It happened because juries themselves wanted no part of it.”

      Coloradans turned their back on the death penalty in one of the state’s darkest hours this century. They were right to do so. Now, with a new bill, the state has the chance to abolish the practice once and for all.

      The problems with the death penalty are well known and damning. The practice is irreparably biased; it delays justice for victims’ families and draws out their suffering; and it devours millions of law enforcement dollars that would be better invested where they could actually protect the public — which the death penalty does not. The death penalty is so broken that even law enforcement officials have little faith in it.

    • Leader of Russia’s notorious Tambov gang sentenced to 24 years total for murder and organizing a criminal group

      A St. Petersburg court has sentenced Vladimir Barsukov, born Vladimir Kumarin, to 12 years in a high-security prison for founding a criminal society. Barsukov is known as a leader of the so-called Tambov gang, which rose to be one of the most notorious criminal organizations in Russia beginning in the late 1990s. The gang leader had previously been sentenced to 23 years for murder and will spend a total of 24 years behind bars. His accomplice Vyacheslav Drokov received an identical sentence for founding a criminal society and will spend 21 years in a prison colony overall. The sentences come amid an effort on the part of the Putin administration and the State Duma to make holding leadership positions in criminal groups a crime in its own right even for non-founders.

    • Federal Judge Tosses Cops’ Lawsuit Against A Councilmember Who Said The Police Dept. Had Committed Murder

      A federal judge in Washington just reminded two Seattle police officers that a politician saying unkind things about law enforcement is not defamation.

      [...]

      The lawsuit is done. Dismissed with prejudice. These cops paid for the chance to learn that people saying unkind things is not actually defamation, especially when the person saying these things never names names. Thanks to this stupid lawsuit, Seattle taxpayers will be doubling up paying for these officers’ actions. First, they paid for the city’s defense of Councilmember Sawant’s non-defamatory statements. They’ll be asked to foot the bill again in the near future to defend these officers from a lawsuit brought by the family of the man they killed.

    • The Roots of Police Violence in Chicago: How Cops Have Targeted Communities of Color for Decades

      We look at the long history of police brutality against Latinos in Chicago. Latinos, especially immigrants, have faced police violence and killings for decades, and have a long history of fighting back against brutality through community organizing and activism. But their stories have received little news coverage. We speak with Lilia Fernández, a professor of history and Latino studies at Rutgers University and the author of “Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago.” We also speak with Flint Taylor, an attorney with People’s Law Office and author of “The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago.”

    • Kamala Harris’ Record as Tough-On-Crime Prosecutor Far From Progressive – Documentary Report

      Democrat and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris says she supports a Sanders-style progressive agenda, but given her record as AG of California, can she be trusted to enact it if elected?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 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.

    • For Africa, Chinese-Built Internet Is Better Than No Internet at All

      The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei has made huge inroads in Africa in recent years even as the United States urges its allies around the world to avoid working with the firm over cybersecurity concerns.

      Huawei has built about 70 percent of the continent’s 4G networks, vastly outpacing European rivals, according to Cobus van Staden, a senior China-Africa researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs. The construction is often accompanied by loans from Chinese state banks, which are approved faster and with fewer conditions than loans from international institutions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Natural Alternatives International, Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Last week, in Natural Alternatives International, Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC, the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Creative Compounds, LLC that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,965,596, 7,825,084, 7,504,376, 8,993,610, 8,470,865, and RE45,947 are not patent eligible. In reversing the District Court, the Federal Circuit found that Creative Compounds had failed to demonstrate that the asserted claims were not patent eligible in view of Natural Alternatives’ proposed claim constructions.

      The patents at issue, which are owned by Natural Alternatives International, Inc., relate to dietary supplements containing beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is an amino acid, which together with the amino acid histidine, can form dipeptides that are found in muscles, which in turn are involved in the regulation of intracellular pH during muscle contraction and development of fatigue. Variations in dipeptide concentrations affect the anaerobic work capacity of individual athletes. The asserted claims relate to the use of beta-alanine in a dietary supplement to increase the anaerobic working capacity of muscle and other tissue.

      Natural Alternatives has asserted the patents at issue in multiple suits in the Southern District, including against Creative Compounds. Creative Compounds responded by moving for judgment on the pleadings, which the District Court granted. The District Court determined that all of the asserted claims were directed to patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and lacked an inventive concept sufficient to render the claims patent eligible. Although the District Court indicated that it had accepted Natural Alternatives’ proposed claim constructions in performing its eligibility analysis, the Federal Circuit, applying those same proposed claim constructions, determined that “the complaint’s factual allegations, together with all reasonable inferences, plausibly establish the eligibility of the representative claims.”

    • Symantec Corp. v. Zscaler, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2018)

      In a suit by Plaintiff Symantec Corp. (“Symantec”) against Defendant Zscaler, Inc. (“Zscaler”), Symantec alleged that Zscaler’s cloud-based security products infringe seven of Symantec’s patents. Zscaler moved to dismiss infringement claims for four of the patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,285,658 (the ’658 patent), 7,587,488 (the ’488 patent), 8,316,446 (the ’446 patent), and 8,316,429 (the ’429 patent), on grounds that the claims of the patents are directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Earlier this month, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the motion in part, denied the motion in part as moot, and held the remainder of the motion in abeyance pending briefing on Symantec’s assertion of assignor estoppel.

      The ’658 patent claims relate to a system for managing network bandwidth based on data contained in packets flowing in various Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocol layers (e.g., network layer, transport layer, and application layer). The ’488 patent claims relate to filtering and dynamically rating Internet content. The ’446 patent claims relate to a system for blocking unwanted software downloads. And the ’429 patent claims relate to extracting and categorizing encrypted Internet communications between clients and hosts servers without having to decrypt network traffic between those clients and host servers.

      During pendency of the motion to dismiss, the parties stipulated to dismiss the infringement claims with respect to the ’658 patent with prejudice, and thus the Court denied the motion with respect to the ’658 patent as moot. The Court also holds the motion in abeyance with respect to the ’446 and ’429 patents until the parties’ cross-motions for partial summary judgement on the basis of assignor estoppel are resolved. Additionally, the Court noted that it would not consider the motion with respect to the ’429 patent because the PTAB recently instituted inter partes review of the asserted claims of that patent.

    • Google Patents now includes Unified PTAB and District Court litigation data

      This collaboration incorporates all PTAB and district court litigation from Unified’s Portal and its new BigQuery deployment into the events area of Google’s patent search for any patent which has been in dispute. Unified is only entity providing completely free, public accessibility to this information. For example, a Dominion Harbor Patent US6014089 was recently found mostly invalid and the PTAB information can be seen in the events section.

    • Unified files IPR against US 9,014,494 owned by Velos Media, LLC

      On March 18, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Baker Botts serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent No. 9,014,494, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos), as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone.

      The ’494 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is one of the largest families known to be owned by Velos. Including this petition, Unified has now challenged patents representing 29% of Velos’ total known U.S. assets.

    • Patent case: Final term to claim patent infringement in arbitration against generic applicants,Portugal

      The Constitutional Court held that the 30-day period to initiate mandatory arbitration proceedings against applicants for authorization to introduce generic medicines onto the market is a final (or expiration) term.

    • Physical-Realm: The Federal Circuit’s New Machine-or-Transformation

      Note here, that the court did not give itself Bilski-style wiggle-room by suggesting that its physical-realm identity offered a “clue” to eligibility. Rather, the court held that the invention was not in the physical-realm (other than its use of computers) and therefore was abstract. Now, to be clear, I believe that the InvestPic decision could be interpreted a different way. However, the easiest reading of the case is that the court meant what it said – the claim is directed either to something abstract or something physical.

    • Copyrights

      • More than 130 European businesses tell the European Parliament: Reject the #CopyrightDirective

        The EU’s Copyright Directive will be voted on in the week of March 25 (our sources suggest the vote will take place on March 27th, but that could change); the Directive has been controversial all along, but it took a turn for the catastrophic during the late stages of the negotiation, which yielded a final text that is alarming in its potential consequences for all internet activity in Europe and around the world.

        More than 5,000,000 Europeans have signed a petition against Article 13 of the Directive, and there has been outcry from eminent technical experts, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on free expression, and many other quarters.

        Now, a coalition of more than 130 EU businesses have entered the fray, led by file storage service NextCloud. Their letter to the European Parliament calls Article 13—which will lead to mass adoption of copyright filters for online services that will monitor and block user-submitted text, audio, video and images—a “dangerous experiment with the core foundation of the Internet’s ecosystem.” They also condemn Article 11, which will allow news publishers to decide who can quote and link to news stories and charge for the right to do so.

        Importantly, they identify a key risk of the Directive, which is that it will end up advantaging US Big Tech firms that can afford monitoring duties, and that will collect “massive amounts of data” sent by Europeans.

        March 21st is an EU-wide day of action on the Copyright Directive, with large site blackouts planned (including German Wikipedia), and on March 23, there will be mass demonstrations across the EU. Things are getting down to the wire here, folks.

      • Europe-wide street protests to take place Saturday against Article 13 of EU copyright reform bill (I’ll speak at the Munich demonstration)

        Tomorrow (Thursday, March 21), the Conference of Presidents (= political group leaders) of the European Parliament will set the schedule for next week’s Strasbourg plenary session, with the plenary debate on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (“EU Copyright Directive”) most likely to take place on Tuesday (March 26) and the vote later that day or the next day. In light of various developments, most notably a position paper by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany (= Merkel’s party) on the subsequent transposition of the EU directive into German law, I’m convinced the best and smartest thing to do for the Parliament, its largest parties and even for the EU as a whole would be to postpone the vote into the next legislative term. Certain discontinuity effects would be felt, with hundreds of new MEPs on board, but even the burdensome implications of a postponement would be preferable over a situation in which the important final two months of this year’s EU election campaign would be overshadowed by public outrage over a rubberstamping of, above all, the ill-conceived Article 13.

        But normally the vote will take place next week, and then the best thing to do would be for a majority of MEPs to vote to delete Article 13 so the process can continue. In fact, the EU Council (where the governments of the Member States cast their votes) could adopt the bill without Article 13. A new legislative process for Article 13 would be warranted. It’s not just “one little article.” Even by the narrowest definition, we’re talking about 1,200 English words, making it almost as long as the Declaration of Independence–but if you include the directly-related Article 2 and, especially, the Article-13-specific recitals 37 and 38, the total length is at a level with the original (prior to amendments) U.S. Constitution.

      • Will Copyright Directive Destroy the Open Internet?

        The participants are founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, Executive Director of Estonian Human Rights Centre Kari Käsper, member of Czech Pirate Party Marcel Kolaja, Google Public Policy and Government Relations Manager Milan Zubíček, UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye and MEP Yana Toom. Moderator is Ahto Lobjakas, political analyst, columnist and radio host.

        The internet is a platform for information: it does not differentiate between “good” and “bad” and both spread at an equally fast rate. Recently there have been more calls to control content online. To ensure that creators are paid for their content online and stop exploitation by big tech companies the use of technologies is proposed. This is at stake in the Copyright Directive, a controversial law which soon will be voted in the European Parliament.

        Ahead of the vote, MEP Yana Toom is organizing a conference with experts and stakeholders to discuss what the implications of this law are. As the Directive promises to pay creators more, but there are concerns about the impact on freedom of speech. Furthermore, many claim that the law will destroy the open internet as we know it: banning memes, snippets of news and create obstacles for online creativity through upload filtering.

      • Is Transformative Use Eating the World?

        Fair use is copyright law’s most important defense to claims of copyright infringement. This defense allows courts to relax copyright law’s application when courts believe doing so will promote creativity more than harm it. As the Supreme Court has said, without the fair use defense, copyright law would often “stifle the very creativity [it] is designed to foster.”

        In today’s world, whether use of a copyrighted work is “transformative” has become a central question within the fair use test. The U.S. Supreme Court first endorsed the transformative use term in its 1994 Campbell decision. Since then, lower courts have increasingly made use of the transformative use doctrine in fair use case law. In fact, in response to the transformative use doctrine’s seeming hegemony, commentators and some courts have recently called for a scaling back of the transformative use concept. So far, the Supreme Court has yet to respond. But growing divergences in transformative use approaches may eventually attract its attention.

        But what is the actual state of the transformative use doctrine? Some previous scholars have empirically examined the fair use defense, including the transformative use doctrine’s role in fair use case law. But none has focused specifically on empirically assessing the transformative use doctrine in as much depth as is warranted. This Article does so by collecting a number of data from all district and appellate court fair use opinions between 1991, when the transformative use term first made its appearance in the case law, and 2017. These data include how frequently courts apply the doctrine, how often they deem a use transformative, and win rates for transformative users. The data also cover which types of uses courts are most likely to find transformative, what sources courts rely on in defining and applying the doctrine, and how frequently the transformative use doctrine bleeds into and influences other parts of the fair use test. Overall, the data suggest that the transformative use doctrine is, in fact, eating the world of fair use.

      • The Rise and Rise of Transformative Use

        I’m a big fan of transformative use analysis in fair use law, except when I’m not. I think that it is a helpful guide for determining if the type of use is one that we’d like to allow. But I also think that it can be overused – especially when it is applied to a different message but little else.

        The big question is whether transformative use is used too much…or not enough. Clark Asay (BYU) has done the research on this so you don’t have to. In his forthcoming article in Boston College Law Review called, Is Transformative Use Eating the World?, Asay collects and analyzes 400+ fair use decisions since 1991

      • Internet Blackout Coming To Show The EU Parliament It’s Not Just ‘Bots’ Concerned About Article 13

        Last week Glyn mentioned that the German Wikipedia had announced plans to “go dark” this Thursday to protest Articles 11 and 13 of the EU Copyright Directive. And now it appears that a whole bunch of other websites will join in the protest (including us). While we won’t go completely dark, we’ll be putting up a banner in support of the many websites that do plan to go dark — and we’ve heard that an awful lot of websites will be joining in. Supporters keep trying to dismiss these complaints as just being “bots” or the big internet companies, but lots of others will be showing that this is about the broader internet this Thursday. This is just one of many protests happening this week, with in-person protests happening all through the EU this coming weekend as well.

      • Report: In Bollywood, Movie Piracy Is Largely Carried Out By Rival Publishing Houses

        To hear it from the film industry writ large, a certain picture is painted in one’s head when film piracy is discussed. That image is of a person, typically young, perhaps living in Mom and Dad’s basement and covered in Cheetos dust, illicitly downloading film after film for their personal enjoyment, cackling evilly all the while. And, hey, personal downloading that amounts to infringement is certainly a thing.

        But it’s not the only thing. In India, where Bollywood has often put out the same old story about the evils of piracy, and where the government recently ramped up criminal penalties for recording or transmitting films and audio, one newspaper has comments from within the industry that suggest much of the film piracy in question is specifically enabled by rival publishing houses.

      • The European Copyright Directive: What Is It, and Why Has It Drawn More Controversy Than Any Other Directive In EU History?

        Not really. It’s true that filters—and even human moderators—would struggle to figure out when a meme crosses the line from “fair dealing” (a suite of European exceptions to copyright for things like parody, criticism and commentary) into infringement, but “save the memes” is mostly a catchy way of talking about all the things that filters struggle to cope with, especially incidental use. If your kid takes her first steps in your living room while music is playing in the background, the “incidental” sound could trigger a filter, meaning you couldn’t share an important family moment with your loved ones around the world. Or if a news photographer takes a picture of police violence at a demonstration, or the aftermath of a terrorist attack, and that picture captures a bus-ad with a copyrighted stock-photo, that incidental image might be enough to trigger a filter and block this incredibly newsworthy image in the days (or even weeks) following an event, while the photographer waits for a low-paid, overworked moderator at a big platform to review their appeal. It also affects independent creators whose content is used by established rightsholders. Current filters frequently block original content, uploaded by the original creator, because a news service or aggregator subsequently used that content, and then asserted copyright over it. (Funny story: MEP Axel Voss claimed that AI can distinguish memes from copyright infringement on the basis that a Google image search for “memes” displays a bunch of memes)

      • CC Search: A New Vision, Strategy & Roadmap for 2019

        At A Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain at the Internet Archive, I teased a new product vision for CC Search that gets more specific than our ultimate goal of providing access to all 1.4 billion CC licensed and public domain works on the web. I’m pleased to present that refined vision, which is focused on building a product that promotes not just discovery, but reuse of openly-licensed and public domain works. We want your feedback in making it a reality. What kinds of images do you most need and desire to reuse when creating your own works? Along that vein, what organizational collections would you like to see us prioritizing for inclusion? Where can we make the biggest difference for you and your fellow creators?

      • YouTuber “Golden Modz” Settles Lawsuit Over Fortnite Cheats

        The popular game YouTuber “Golden Modz” has admitted to posting copyright-infringing videos that displayed Fortnite cheats and hacks. Brandon Lucas, owner of the channel, agreed to an undisclosed settlement and a permanent injunction that prevents him from promoting Fortnite cheats going forward. The “Golden Modz” channel remains online and appears to have switched focus to GTA V.

CEN and CENELEC Agreement With the EPO Shows That It’s Definitely the European Commission’s ‘Department’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wernher von Braun
Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-1880 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Summary: With headlines such as “EPO to collaborate on raising SEP awareness” it is clear to see that the Office lacks impartiality and the European Commission cannot pretend that the EPO is “dafür bin ich nicht zuständig” or “da kenne ich mich nicht aus”

YESTERDAY we wrote about the EPO‘s affinity for patent trolls — an affinity that António Campinos (like Iancu at the USPTO) has totally failed to hide. The same goes for software patents in Europe. Whose interests are served by the EPO? Certainly not Europe’s. Maybe some law firms’. Maybe some of these have branches or even headquarters in Europe.

“When it comes to immunity, i.e. legalising or at least tolerating white-collar crimes, the European Commission would rather say it lacks authority over the EPO.”A couple of rather shallow puff pieces have come out, one from WIPR (World Intellectual Property Review) that adds nothing new. No analysis. “According to an EPO press release issued yesterday, March 18, the memorandum will see the European Committee of Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) work together to increase knowledge on the relationship between patents and standardisation.”

Why not just copy the entire press release and be done with that? “Copypasta” is always a lot cheaper than pretense of journalism. Knowing what I know about WIPR (from insiders), the management there has an agenda and spreading propaganda for patent parasites is part of the business model. “News” is just the cover. Over at IPPro Magazine, a piece that’s borderline puff piece has also been published to say:

The European Patent Office (EPO), the European Committee of Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) have agreed to cooperate on standard-essential patents.

The trio signed an agreement to work together to provide industry and stakeholders support on SEPs.

All three organisations will now work together to extend knowledge regarding standardisation and patents.

The EPO said this latest agreement complements its ongoing cooperation with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Commission.

Later they’ll keep insisting that the EPO has nothing to do with the European Union and the European Commission. When it comes to immunity, i.e. legalising or at least tolerating white-collar crimes, the European Commission would rather say it lacks authority over the EPO. When it comes to serving parasitic firms that impose software parents through SEP/FRAND thickets? Oh, then the European Commission is “all in”.

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