Links 31/12/2018: PureOS and Purity, Q4OS 2.7 Scorpion Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 2018: Top 10 biggest news stories from Linux and open source world

    In September 2018, Linus Torvalds issued an apology regarding his public behavior and announced that he would be taking some time off from the Linux kernel. Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds has told the BBC that he is seeking professional help to become more empathetic towards fellow developers, but admits he may have to “fake it until I make it.”

  • 5 Linux Predictions for 2019

    With a brand new year about to kick off my mind is in a contemplative mode, wondering what the next twelve months might hold for Linux and the wider open source community.

    So naturally, and without any shred of originality, I’m going to share my Linux predictions for 2019.

    Now, I am not psychic; whether any of my Linux predictions actually happen, or whether they remain wannabe “would’ve-beens” left to loiter in my head, is totally unknown.

  • What happened with Linux in 2018

    Linux continued to dominate the realms of servers and smartphones in 2018, and the pace of development of distributions and the Linux kernel remained relentless.

    Kernel developers had their hands full this year, having to deal with the disclosure of significant vulnerabilities in the CPUs used by almost every desktop computer and web server in the world – Spectre and Meltdown.

    The year also saw significant changes within the community when the creator of the Linux kernel Linus Torvalds apologised for his past behaviour and advocated for a new contributor code of conduct.

    Below is the significant Linux news from the past year.

  • Desktop

    • Google to start testing GPU support in Linux apps on Chrome OS soon

      Support for Linux apps was one of the more significant additions to Chrome OS in recent months, but the feature isn’t perfect. Thankfully, Google is getting close to improving some of the bigger issues with Linux app support.

      Notable issues include audio not working and no graphics acceleration. These two issues stem from reported problems Google had integrating audio and graphics drivers into the virtual machine used to run Linux apps.

      The search giant initially planned to resolve these issues by Chrome OS version 71, but that update has rolled out this week without the promised fixes.

  • Server

    • 5 things you didn’t know about Istio

      Microservices are rapidly rising in utilization, but their advantages are offset by the operational challenges reported by early adopters. Istio is one of the platforms that has emerged to make microservices environments simpler for enterprise IT teams. Istio is an open service mesh platform that enables developers to connect, observe, secure, and control microservices.

      In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC, IBM senior technical staff member Lin Sun shared “5 things you didn’t know about Istio.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds’ New Helper Is Working Out Well For Linux 4.21

      One of the changes recently on the kernel mailing list to help in Torvalds’ communication with kernel developers is having a bot that lets the developer know if/when their pull request has been honored. Up until now it’s been up to Linus Torvalds to manually say it’s been pulled or for the kernel developer to keep a close eye over the kernel Git tree. But Linus always didn’t email the developer over each pull request, particularly when he didn’t have anything to critique. But now with this pr-tracker-bot on duty, there’s always a message for each pull request going through.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA’s 2018 Linux Highlights Included Some Open-Source Milestones, But Not Many

        Besides the launch of their successful RTX “Turing” graphics cards, releasing the exciting Jetson AGX Xavier board, and other hardware initiatives, the green giant continued work on their flagship Linux graphics driver that while proprietary continues offering effectively the same feature set and performance as their Windows driver. They did make some open-source surprises this year, but not nearly as many as many in the community would have liked to see.

  • Applications

    • Release month, Nanonote 1.0.0

      Here is the last issue of release month! Today is the first release of Nanonote, a minimalist note-taking application.

    • Linux KVM Continues Offering Much Better Out-Of-The-Box Performance Than VirtualBox

      With the release earlier this month of Oracle VirtualBox 6.0, besides running some benchmarks of its VMSVGA 3D graphics support, I also ran some basic benchmarks to see how a similarly configured VM under both VirtualBox 6.0 with Linux KVM setup via virt-manager would compare for performance as we hit the end of 2018. This quick round of Linux virtualization tests was done on the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX system.

    • Cantata 2.3.3 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04/Higher

      Cantata MPD client released version 2.3.3 a few hours ago with enhancements and many bug-fixes. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 16.04, and Ubuntu 14.04.

    • Udeler – An Open-source Desktop App for Downloading Udemy Courses

      Are you following any online education center? Nowadays, it’s very obvious that people choose online education center to learn a lot of things important to them. These online education centers are giving so many opportunities to learn any subject or programming language or any other topic. Some of these centers offer you free courses and some offer paid ones.

      Even there are such online centers which have both the free and paid course option. If you’re familiar with the online education center, then you should have heard about Code Academy or Khan Academy. Udemy is also an online education center that provides you different online courses to learn from your place. Even you can get some of the courses entirely free.

    • VLC 3.0.5 Released with Improved YouTube, HDR & BluRay Support

      A new version of the versatile VLC media player has been released — and would you believe it: the update is already available on Ubuntu!

      VLC 3.0.5 isn’t dramatic; a minor update in the 3.x series, this is the first release of the player since the summer.

      But the version uplift brings a bunch of bug fixes and security updates to the fore, particularly for third-party libraries. There are also performance tweaks and (though not relevant here) improved compatibility with macOS 10.14 and its newfangled “dark mode”.

    • 5 Best Free Code Editors for Ubuntu, Linux

      Each editors have their own unique selling point. Developers choose their own IDE as per their comfort and needs. I hope this list helped you to decide which one you would rather pick for development use. Drop a comment below with your views.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • New Screenshots And Gameplay GIF Shown Off For Streets Of Rage 4

        Furthermore, while the game platforms have not been confirmed, Lizardcube are not ruling out a Linux port, considering their previous game, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, eventually got ported to Linux.

      • KDE Plasma, GNOME Shell, Xfce, LXQt & MATE Linux Gaming Benchmarks, Including X.Org/Wayland

        The desktop environments tested were GNOME Shell 3.30.1 (with X.Org, the default Ubuntu 19.04 experience currently), GNOME Shell 3.30.1 as a Wayland session, KDE Plasma 5.14.4, KDE Plasma 5.14.4 as a Wayland session, Xfce 4.12, LXQt 0.13, and MATE 1.20.3 all via the Ubuntu Disco packages.

      • Our top Linux picks released in 2018, the GamingOnLinux editor awards

        Now that 2018 is coming to a close, let’s have a little look over some of what we think are the top Linux games released this year.

        Unlike previous years, we’re making our own views known to the world rather than just doing user votes (that may come later for a reader award, usually January).

      • Epic Games have confirmed a Linux version of their store is not on the roadmap

        It’s interesting, since their original announcement mentioned the store was coming to “other open platforms” besides Windows, Mac and Android which we presumed would mean Linux. It’s odd, since there aren’t really other open platforms besides those to put a store on. We also had Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, give a ray of hope on Twitter with “We’ll See :D” in reply to a user asking if the other open platforms meant Linux. So, I do still find it very odd that it’s not on the roadmap at all. Not surprising though, Linux has always been low priority for Epic Games.

        This could create an issue for us in future, since Epic Games are taking on timed-exclusive games which would mean no possibility for a Linux version until that ends. Even then, the developers of those games could decide to remain solely on the Epic Store. Remember, this has already happened with Satisfactory from Coffee Stain having the Steam store page removed to be exclusive to the Epic Store.

        Speaking on Reddit, Epic’s Sweeney said “These exclusives don’t come to stores for free; they’re a result of some combination of marketing commitments, development funding, or revenue guarantees.”. So with that in mind, Epic Games are offering some commitments to developers to get their games, which could sway some future high-profile titles away from the likes of Steam.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • What’s New in Manjaro 18.0 Xfce Edition

        Manjaro 18.0 Xfce Edition is official Manjaro Linux flavour with XFCE 4.13 as default desktop environment include Xfce component.Powered by the latest Long-Term Support of Linux Kernel 4.19, include pamac version 7.3.

        in manjaro 18.0, The Manjaro Settings Manager (MSM) now provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for installing and removing the many series of kernels. At the time of this release, eight kernel-series are available directly from our binary repositories, from 3.16 series to the latest 4.19 release.

      • PureOS and Purity

        I have been following the development of Purism‘s Librem 13 and 15 laptops for several years. Like many Linux users, I am attracted by the efforts to build secure and free systems, but hesitant about the high prices for midlist hardware. At the very least, I would want to try before I buy. However, because that opportunity seems unlikely, the best I can do is to install PureOS, Purism’s distribution, on a virtual machine. Unfortunately, a couple of days of exploring leaves me with mixed reactions, and in the end does nothing to resolve my ambiguities.

        PureOS starts off promisingly enough, being based on Debian,one of the more secure major distributions. In keeping with basic security principles, the installation is minimal (after all, how can you secure a system without knowing what is on it?), consisting chiefly of utilities and a few basic applications like LibreOffice. However, mouse movement is erratic, either because of the virtual machine or because the system is customized for Purism’s particular hardware, although an immediate software update does improve performance somewhat.

    • New Releases

      • Q4OS 2.7 Scorpion, stable

        A significant update to the Q4OS 2 Scorpion stable LTS is immediately available for download. The new 2.7 series brings some important improvements for the Trinity desktop. An essential change is much improved scaling ability for hi-dpi screens, making this operating system better adapted for modern computers. Desktop profiler, Software centre, Welcome screen, Setup utility, and other Q4OS specific tools have been updated to be rendered correctly for higher screen resolutions. Apart from the scaling capabilities, Q4OS 2.7 brings numerous improvements and fixes, for example better GTK3 themes integration, fixes to XDG standard implementation and others.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Debian Family

      • wrap up: debootstrap in 2018
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Had A Very Busy 2018 But Not Everything Turned Out As Planned

            There were a lot of accomplishments for Ubuntu users and developers in 2018 ranging from the successful 18.04 LTS release to Ubuntu shipping on more Dell systems to continuing to polish their GNOME Shell based desktop experience. But, also, there were a number of letdowns.

            The Ubuntu plans for shipping with GSConnect for offering some basic smartphone integration from the desktop has yet to materialize as part of the default Ubuntu desktop offering. The Ubuntu survey data that users are prompted to engage in when hitting a new Ubuntu installation also isn’t quite transparent yet with that data still largely being closed up and just pushed out partially in static snapshots. Also, unfortunately, Ubuntu hasn’t yet tried switching back over to the GNOME Wayland session after shipping their Long Term Support release with the mature X.Org session… Hopefully we’ll see them try that transition back to Wayland in 2019 so it can be vetted ahead of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. But even with the year not having executed perfectly, there still is a lot to be happy about for Ubuntu in 2018.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Richard W.M. Jones: Haiku!
  • Events

    • Erase unconscious bias from your AI datasets

      Artificial intelligence failures often generate a lot of laughs when they make silly mistakes like this goofy photo. However, “the problem is that machine learning gaffes aren’t always funny … They can have pretty serious consequences for end users when the datasets that are used to train these machine learning algorithms aren’t diverse enough,” says Lauren Maffeo, a senior content analyst at GetApp.

      In her Lightning Talk, “Erase unconscious bias from your AI datasets,” at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC, Lauren describes some of the grim implications and advocated for developers to take measures to protect people from machine learning and artificial intelligence bias.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Microsoft Open-sources the UEFI Core Used by Surface Devices and Hyper-V [Ed: Microosft is openwashing an antifeature that promotes proprietary malware with NSA back doors]

      Project Mu aims to make it easier for developers to quickly create and frequently update the firmware of their devices, enabling Project Mu devices to adopt a Firmware as a Service (FaaS) evolution model. Project Mu contains the same code leveraged in several of products, including the Microsoft Surface and Hyper-V, Microsoft says.

      Project Mu is based on TianoCore’s edk2, a cross-platform firmware development environment for the UEFI and PI specifications which Microsoft adopted for the Surface. In the process of developing FaaS for the Surface, Microsoft learned that TianoCore was not optimized to support rapid update cycles across multiple product lines. Thus, they set out to build Project Mu on top of TianoCore.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12 and the graphics stack

      Over the Christmas season I rebuilt my workstation — the one I use in my home office, all day every day, writing Calamares or FreeBSD ports or other stuff — to be almost-all-flash (and 3TB of spinning rust for backups). Since the machine was open and on its side on my desk anyway, I decided to try out the available graphics options.

      As occurs so often: I’m not writing about something I did. It’s nearly all someone else’s work, and the FreeBSD 12.0 release notes understate it a great deal.

    • NetBSD entering 2019 with more complete LLVM support

      I’m recently helping the NetBSD developers to improve the support for this operating system in various LLVM components. As you can read in my previous report, I’ve been focusing on fixing build and test failures for the purpose of improving the buildbot coverage.

      Previously, I’ve resolved test failures in LLVM, Clang, LLD, libunwind, openmp and partially libc++. During the remainder of the month, I’ve been working on the remaining libc++ test failures, improving the NetBSD clang driver and helping Kamil Rytarowski with compiler-rt.

    • NetBSD Working On Better LLVM Toolchain Support

      While a number of BSDs already have great LLVM toolchain support and are generally quite fond of this liberally licensed compiler alternative to GCC, the NetBSD support has lagged behind a bit for LLVM but that is continuing to improve.

    • FreeBSD security settings and KDE Konsole

      Konsole has this neat feature where you can automatically title each tab in the terminal-emulator window with information from the foreground process running in that tab. Useful if you have lots of shells opened to different directories in the system.

    • OpenBSD Security, DragonFly + Threadripper, TrueOS Topped Out BSD News This Year

      For those not following the BSD operating systems on a daily basis, here is a look back at the biggest highlights in the BSD land for 2018 ranging from OpenBSD’s continued security conscious decisions, NetBSD 8.0 bringing USB 3.0 and other hardware support improvements, DragonFlyBSD running great on Threadripper 2, FreeBSD 12.0 making its highly anticipated debut, and much more.

      Of all our BSD coverage on Phoronix this year, below is a look back at the 20 most popular articles for those wishing to relive the exciting highlights. Looking ahead to 2019, it will be interesting to see what comes about as FreeBSD 13 development gets underway, DragonFlyBSD continuing with its optimizations around HAMMER2 and separately around Threadripper 2 / Ryzen 2, we’ll see what new innovations come to TrueOS, and there is also notable smaller work happening around HardenedBSD, MidnightBSD, GhostBSD, etc.


    • gzip-1.10 released [stable]

      This is to announce gzip-1.10, a stable release.

      There have been 19 commits by 2 people in the 51 weeks since 1.9,
      not to mention the 559 gnulib-related changes.

    • A message from Richard M. Stallman

      This year, I’m happy to report, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) received two large donations, each nominally a million dollars.

      The donation from the Pineapple Fund arrived in the form of Bitcoin and had gone down to around $860,000 by the time we could convert it all to dollars. Around half of the donation from Handshake is earmarked for specific software projects; some of that will go to improving Replicant, the free Android fork, but that half won’t help fund the FSF’s general operations.

      We will need to add part of these donations to our reserves, which are meant to enable us to keep operating in the case of a possible downturn. That still leaves enough to expand our staff by two or three positions. We will be able to do some of the work that always needed doing but that we could not undertake.

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU Offering Cash Bounty Incentives For Finding Security Flaws in Open Source Tools

      FOSSA aims at bringing together the developer community to ensure better security of open source systems, such as CMS or other standard software used by the EU.

      There are several open-source software that is widely used by the authorities, as well as the public at large. Reportedly some of these are used as part of the EU’s IT Infrastructure, and therefore they are keen on ensuring better security for such projects.

    • Europe to fund bug bounties for 15 open source programs, including VLC, Drupal and Notepad++

      The full list of programs that will be funded by the EC from January includes a number of popular tools: 7-zip, Apache Kafka, Apache Tomcat, Digital Signature Services (DSS), Drupal, Filezilla, FLUX TL, the GNU C Library (glibc), KeePass, Notepad++, PuTTY, PHP Symfony, VLC Media Player and WSO2. In March, midpoint will be added to the list.

    • European Union to fund bug bounties for leading open-source software projects

      The European Union is an unexpected entrant into the world of bug bounties, funding 14 of them for open-source software projects on which the organization relies.

      Bug bounties are payments provided to security researchers and others who detect and report vulnerabilities in software. The EU’s funding will begin at the start of January.

      Announced late last week by Julia Reda, an elected representative of the EU Parliament, the program will fund bug bounties for a variety of software: 7-zip, Apache Kafka, Apache Tomcat, Digital Signature Services, Drupal, Filezilla, FLUX TL, the GNU C Library (glibc), KeePass, midPoint, Notepad++, PuTTY, the Symfony PHP framework, VLC Media Player and WSO2.

      The funding will be provided through the Free and Open Source Software Audit project that was approved by the EU in 2015. That project was founded after flaws were found in OpenSSL, the open-source library used for the encryption of internet traffic.

    • EU offers bounties to help find security flaws in open source tools
    • EU to Launch Bug Bounty Program for Open Source Software

      The bounties are offered as part of the Free and Open Source Software Audit project (FOSSA), originally launched in 2015 following the discovery of security flaws in OpenSSL encryption.

      Julia Reda, a German member of the European Parliament, says the bug bounty program will include 14 projects that the EU itself relies on.

      “The amount of the bounty depends on the severity of the issue uncovered and the relative importance of the software. The software projects chosen were previously identified as candidates in the inventories and a public survey,” she says.

    • EU puts up bug bounties to find flaws in open source software

      The European Union (EU) has put up a bug bounty for security researchers to spot flaws in the open source software used by the regional bloc.

      In a post on her website, European Parliament member Julia Reda of Germany said the bounty to be launched in 2019 by the European Commission – EU’s executive branch – will cover a total of 15 free and open source software “that the EU institutions rely on.”

    • EU to fund bug bounties for open source projects including PuTTY, Notepad++, KeePass, Filezilla and VLC

      Why it matters: The internet largely relies on open source projects to survive, but these are often developed by hardworking and charitable developers rather than well-paid employees. An unfortunate consequence of this is that developers simply don’t get the time and resources they require to hunt down the vulnerabilities that are so pervasive in complex code.

      The European Union has recognized this problem, and as part of their Free and Open Source Software Audit (FOSSA) they’ve set up a bug bounty for 15 applications. The bounty ranges from $30,000 to $100,000 depending on the software in question, and of course, on the seriousness of the vulnerability discovered.

    • Misguided misguidings over the EU bug bounty

      The EU recently announced they are going to sponsor a security bug bounty program for 14 open source projects in 2019. There has been quite a bit of buzz about this program in all the usual places. The opinions are all over the place. Some people wonder why those 14, some wonder why not more. Some think it’s great. Some think it’s a horrible idea.

      I don’t want to focus too much on the details as they are unimportant in the big picture. Which applications are part of the program don’t really matter. What matters is why are we here today and where should this go in the future.

      There are plenty of people claiming that a security bug bounty isn’t fair, we need to be paying the project developers, the people who are going to fix the bugs found by the bug bounty. Why are we only paying the people who find the bugs? This is the correct question, but it’s not correct for the reasons most think it is.

      There are a lot of details to unpack about all this and I don’t want to write a novel to explain all the nuance and complication around what’s going to happen. The TL;DR is basically this: The EU doesn’t have a way to pay the projects today, but they do have a way to pay security bug bounties.

      Right now if you want to pay a particular project, who do you send the check to? In some cases like the Apache Software Foundation it’s quite clear. In other cases when it’s some person who publishes a library for fun, it’s not clear at all. It may even be illegal in some cases, sending money across borders can get complicated very quickly. I’ll give a shoutout to Tidelift here, I think they’re on the right path to make this happen. The honest truth is it’s really really hard to give money to the open source projects you use.

    • UF professor’s invention makes voting more accessible

      “It is somewhat of a challenge because it’s different than what they are used to, a voting machine manufacturer gives them equipment and support and helps them in a lot of ways,” Gilbert said. “With the technology, like in New Hampshire, they have an IT department which is very strong, and they are able to put this together and make this work for them … you need IT talent to do an open source voting system and that’s what I’m hearing from election officials at this point.”

      Eventually, Gilbert said he believes Florida and other states will try Prime III. With it being an open source company, Gilbert was able to provide the Prime III technology to New Hampshire for free, and charged a one-time licensing fee for the two counties in Ohio. Basic voting machines, on average, run from $2,500 to $3,000.

    • Finland’s teachers turn to open source geospatial tools

      PaikkaOppi, a portal that introduces Finland’s school students to geographic maps and the use of geospatial information, will switch to using Oskari, the open source, on-line geographic map-building tool originally developed by the National Land Survey of Finland.

  • Programming/Development

    • Ansible-bender in OKD

      For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a project we call “Ansible OCI image builder”. I named the tool itself ansible-bender (and yes, it’s shiny).

    • The pygame project has finally ready

      It has been a day since I had mentioned that I want to upload the new pygame project to the major gaming websites but because of some technical problems that occurred during the files packaging stage the uploading plan has been delayed until today. I have managed to solve all the files packaging issues this morning thus finally this game has been uploaded successfully to various gaming websites. Although we have finished this project together this game is still at its early stage which means more features and levels will be included from time to time. You can download this game from any of these three websites below.

    • Creating your own custom terminal image

      In this series of posts I have been talking about some of the work I have been doing with creating environments to host workshops when needing to train users in using a software product such as OpenShift.

      In the first post I explained how JupyterHub can be used to deploy web applications other than Jupyter notebooks, and how I use it to deploy user environments which give each attendee of a workshop, access to an interactive command line shell in their browser, with all the command line client tools and files they need for the workshop.

      In the second post I delved into how the container image was constructed, as well as how it could be run independent of using JupyterHub where a user may want to deploy it themselves and wasn’t running a workshop.

      In this post I am going to explain more about how the terminal image is constructed and how it can be extended to add additional command line tools and files required for a specific workshop.

    • PyDev of the Week: Mike Grouchy
    • Write python code to win the challenge
    • Trying to Beta Test Your New App? Consider These Helpful Tips For Success


  • Science

    • Lawrence Roberts, One Of Early Internet Pioneers, Dies At 81

      Among the early architects of the internet, who helped shape the internet as it is today, Lawrence Roberts is a prominent name. He was the program manager for ARPAnet — a precursor to the internet.

      Sadly, he died on December 26th at the age of 81. Even though he was a public figure for the internet as much as Tim Berners-Lee or Vint Cerf, the key decisions he made ended up deciding how the internet behaves today.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Energy firm fined for North Fork leaks
    • One dead, 10 missing after methane explosion in Czech coal mine
    • As Centrist Democrat Who Lost Reelection Attacks Medicare for All, Progressives Respond With the Facts

      Despite losing reelection in November after running on a fervently anti-Medicare for All platform, outgoing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) confidently declared during a CNN interview on Friday that the bold and increasingly popular solution to America’s healthcare crisis does not inspire voters in states like Indiana.

      “When you talk ‘Medicare for All’… you start losing the people in my state,” Donnelly said. “The talk on the coasts just doesn’t get it done in the middle.”

      The notion that an ambitious left-wing platform only resonates “on the coasts” and is not electorally viable in more conservative states has become a common trope among “moderate” Democrats, but progressives were quick to push back on Donnelly’s evidence-free claim, noting that Medicare for All has high levels of support in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.

    • Gdansk

      Arriving in Gdansk I very soon discovered that the victims were dispersed round several hospitals and there was no central authority able to produce a list of requirements. Poland was still in the early stages of a shock transition from communism and elements of administration were shaky at the best of times, let alone in a large scale emergency. The only way to make any progress was for me physically to go to every hospital and every concerned ward, buttonhole the doctors there and ask them what they needed.

      To say they were swamped would be ridiculous understatement. Victims were everywhere, very many critical, and in some places bleary-eyed doctors literally had nothing – creams, bandages, painkillers, saline drips all exhausted. Meeting many doctors, when I told them I could get anything sent out instantly, the reaction ranged from angrily incredulous to massive bear hugs.

      It was of course difficult. In 1994 Polish medical practice differed quite sharply from British. There were language barriers; my as yet basic Polish lacked medical vocabulary. And I had to keep interrupting incredibly busy people. But after the first couple of hospitals I was able to extrapolate and phone through to Mukesh the most obviously urgent items, and by the end of the day I was clutching 16 handwritten lists and could sit down to consolidate them.

      But I have not described to you what it was like to go round those wards. I really cannot – it was indescribable. Horribly disfigured people screaming and writhing in pain, begging and pleading for any relief, even asking to die. And the worst thing is, they were all teenagers – the average age seemed about 16. One image I shall never forget was of a girl sitting bolt upright in bed, looking calm, and I recall thinking that at least this one is OK. But I had seen her right profile and as I passed her, the left side of her face was literally skeletal, with a yellow blob for an eye, no skin and just the odd sinew attached to the bone. Her calm was catatonic.

  • Security

    • Best Wireless Adapter For Hacking in Kali Linux (2018 Review)

      Today you’ll learn which wireless adapter you should buy for hacking wifi networks using Kali Linux.

      Before I begin, there’s something you should know:

      Not all wireless adapters are created equal and therefore compatible with Kali Linux. And the majority you’ll find for sale aren’t equipped with packet injection or monitor mode — both of which are required for penetration testing wireless networks.

    • Hackers pocketed $878,000 from cryptocurrency bug bounties in 2018

      While hardcore cryptocurrency enthusiasts often tout blockchain for its heightened security, the technology is not perfect – and there are often tons of vulnerabilities in the code. Indeed, blockchain companies have received at least 3,000 vulnerability reports in 2018 alone.

      According to stats from breach disclosure platform HackerOne, blockchain companies awarded $878,504 in bug bounties to hackers this year. The data was compiled in mid-December. By contrast, the total sum of bug bounties awarded by August was $600,000.

    • Ransomware suspected in cyberattack that crippled major US newspapers {Ed: Drama queen Catalin Cimpanu does not mention Microsoft Windows when it causes issues, blames “Linux” even when it’s nothing to do with GNU/Linux]

      A Tribune Publishing spokesperson didn’t confirm the ransomware infection, but did say the incident was caused by “malware.” The same spokesperson said that websites and mobile applications of its newspapers weren’t affected.

    • Cyber attack causes distribution delays at prominent US newspapers: report

      The Los Angeles Times reported that Tribune Publishing was affected by a cyberattack originating outside of the U.S., which caused service disruptions for the Saturday editions of major newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun.

    • Six places to report phishing emails and websites

      It’s easy to just ignore a phishing email or website. You’re of course smart enough to realize you’re looking at a fake version of your online bank. However, would you realize that if you were feeling a bit under the weather or when you’re quickly checking emails on your phone after a night on the town? Please do take the time to report phishing immediately when you encounter it!


      Note that you should only report emails that pretend to be from a trusted organization for the purpose of stealing login credentials, credit card information, or other personal information. SpamCop also welcome reports of other types of unsolicited bulk spam emails.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Basing Air Force Jets in Vermont Violates US’s Own Laws of War

      The US Air Force decision to base F-16 and F-35 jets at a civilian airport in a heavily populated area in Vermont violates multiple principles of long-established international humanitarian law codified in the 1,236-page US Department of Defense (DoD) “Law of War Manual.”

      The DoD first published its Manual in 2015, a time of growing recognition that the wanton killing and injuring of civilians in Iraq and the torturing of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was illegal, immoral, unjust and counterproductive. Updated twice since that first publication, the December 2016 version of the DoD Manual states that, “The protection of civilians against the harmful effects of hostilities is one of the main purposes of the law of war.”

      So far, however, that acknowledgement has not developed sufficiently to end the gratuitous F-16 operations that harm civilians and their property in the Chamberlin School neighborhood of South Burlington, Vermont, in violation of principles in the DoD Manual. Nor are there any plans to cancel the basing of the even more harmful F-35 jets in that neighborhood.

      The willful exposure of Vermonters to harm from extreme noise and crash risks, the positioning of high-value weapons intermingled with civilians, and the use of civilian residents and the civilian airport as human shields each violate long-established law-of-war principles.

    • Trump Administration Shows Off Iranian Missiles to Try and Save Saudi War in Yemen We Support

      The Trump administration’s war in Yemen is on the rocks in Congress. So what can you do when the Hill doesn’t want to back your Saudi allies’ increasingly bloody war there? Drag out some Iranian missiles from Yemen and hope the sight of them is enough to spook senators into supporting continued American involvement in the war.

      In a briefing on Thursday, the State Department’s special Iran envoy Brian Hook hailed the display of seized Iranian weapons from Yemen as “new evidence of Iran’s ongoing missile proliferation” and a sign that the “Iranian threat is growing and we are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to act.”

    • Islamic extremists are now using drones in Nigeria, leader says

      Islamic extremists in Nigeria have begun using drones, the country’s president says, opening a worrying new front in the region’s nearly decade-long fight against Boko Haram and an offshoot linked to the Islamic State.

      President Muhammadu Buhari announced the development during a meeting on Thursday of countries that contribute troops to a multinational force combatting the extremists.

    • U.S. Military Says It Has a “Light Footprint” in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases.

      THE U.S. MILITARY has long insisted that it maintains a “light footprint” in Africa, and there have been reports of proposed drawdowns in special operations forces and closures of outposts on the continent, due to a 2017 ambush in Niger and an increasing focus on rivals like China and Russia. But through it all, U.S. Africa Command has fallen short of providing concrete information about its bases on the continent, leaving in question the true scope of the American presence there.

      Documents obtained from AFRICOM by The Intercept, via the Freedom of Information Act, however, offer a unique window onto the sprawling network of U.S. military outposts in Africa, including previously undisclosed or unconfirmed sites in hotspots like Libya, Niger, and Somalia. The Pentagon has also told The Intercept that troop reductions in Africa will be modest and phased-in over several years and that no outposts are expected to close as a result of the personnel cuts.

    • US Airstrike Kills 11 Qaeda Terrorists in South Libya

      At least 11 terrorists were killed in an air strike carried out this week by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) near al-Uwaynat desert in Libya.

    • US army airstrikes kill 9 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia
    • Trump ramps up airstrikes as Taliban peace talks remain elusive

      The Trump administration has ratcheted up its bombing campaign in Afghanistan in an effort to pressure the Taliban to engage in peace talks, but a deal to end the 17-year war remains elusive.

      Manned and unmanned aircraft have dropped more than 10,300 bombs over Afghanistan during President Trump’s first two years in office, including 4,361 in 2017 and a record 5,982 weapons as of Oct. 31.

    • Why Are We Talking About Khashoggi Murder When US Drones Kill Thousands?

      Democrats and neocons in Washington screaming about Trump’s apparent lack of concern over the Saudi crown prince’s alleged murder of a journalist are themselves silent over the not one, but thousands of civilians killed by US drone strikes. It is not war or savagery that they are opposing.

    • AFRICOM is More about Natural Resources than Fighting Terrorism

      First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.

      Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.

    • US reopens permanent diplomatic facility in Somalia after nearly 28 years

      The U.S. reopened a permanent diplomatic facility in Somalia on Sunday, nearly 28 years after shuttering its embassy in Mogadishu as the country collapsed into civil war.

      The State Department heralded the announcement as a historic event that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years. It comes amid a challenging security environment, as the fragile Somali government continues to fight off the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group al-Shabab and assert its control of the whole country.

      While American staffers will officially move to Mogadishu for the first time in nearly three decades, it will not be a full U.S. embassy.

    • NYPD to Deploy Fleet of Drones

      The New York Police Department announced it will begin using drones. The NYPD says the drones will be used for search and rescue missions, to investigate hazardous materials and to access crime scenes in tall buildings. The New York Civil Liberties Union said in response, “The NYPD’s drone policy places no meaningful restrictions on police deployment of drones in New York City and opens the door to the police department building a permanent archive of drone footage of political activity and intimate private behavior visible only from the sky.”

    • “30 seconds to live”: A glimpse inside the secretive world of the killer-drones

      To many, modern warfare, and particularly drone warfare, can seem like a video game. Successive waves of war movies and video games have managed to replicate the images of the modern battlefield. Images, however, are just that: visual interpretations of events. They don’t show the impact, physical or mental, that the participants experience. Dr Peter Lee, a British academic and former Royal Air Force (RAF) chaplain, is trying to explain the feeling behind the images of drone warfare.

      As a chaplain, Dr Lee had extensive access to the RAF’s Reaper crews and their U.S. partners both in Britain and the U.S. (he specifically spent a lot of time at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and RAF Waddington base in Lincolnshire). Having completed his service with the RAF, Dr Lee published a book describing his experiences with the Reaper Force.

    • UN: respect for human rights is critical for peace, justice and inclusive society in Ukraine

      Systemic impunity for human rights violations and lack of effective remedy for civilian victims of the armed conflict hinder prospects for peace and stability, says a report published today by the United Nations Human Rights Office.

      The report covers the period between 16 August and 15 November 2018 and details violations committed in Ukraine, including on both sides of the contact line and in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, occupied by the Russian Federation. Within this period, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine documented 242 violations.* The Government of Ukraine was responsible for 147 violations of those recorded, while 28 violations were attributed to the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and the self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’. The Russian Federation was responsible for 32

    • New global guidelines coming regarding first responders and drones

      INTERPOL held a Drone Expert Forum in late August as part of their Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore. The event, which was supported by the FBI and the Netherlands Police was deemed a “first step towards developing the global capacity to deal with the emerging threat posed by ‘unmanned aerial systems’ known as drones.”

      A specific date for the publishing and distribution of the INTERPOL Drone Response and Forensic Guidelines was not stated.

    • America’s year in war: All the places US armed forces took or gave fire in 2018

      The US military gave or took fire in some form or another in at least seven countries in 2018: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.

    • The United States at War in Somalia

      The battle famously depicted in the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’ (based on Mark Bowden’s book) took place 25 years ago (October 1993) and the U.S. remains engaged in a conflict in Somalia now—in 2018—and likely for the foreseeable future. The warlords remain, to a lesser degree, and the government is still unable to provide consistent services and security. Al-Qaeda has long been a meaningful player in Somalia, from the earliest days of the group, and is now represented there through its affiliate al-Shabab. Al-Shabab, or “the Youth,” has proven to be a well-entrenched insurgent organization capable of launching spectacular terrorist attacks while withstanding a steady campaign of U.S. and African Union-supported military operations over the past decade. The counterterrorism campaign in Somalia is among the most intractable and difficult of the many theatres where the U.S. military has remained active in the post-9/11 era.

    • In Afghanistan, ignorance has become a crucial part of the War on Terror

      Away from the media glare, the war on Afghan civilians at the hands of America and its local allies continues to take a toll on everyday life, with hundreds killed as a result.

    • The United States Is First in War, But Trailing in Crucial Aspects of Modern Civilization

      Maybe those delirious crowds chanting “USA, USA” have got something. When it comes to military power, the United States reigns supreme. Newsweek reported in March 2018: “The United States has the strongest military in the world,” with over 2 million military personnel and vast numbers of the most advanced nuclear missiles, military aircraft, warships, tanks, and other modern weapons of war. Furthermore, as the New York Times noted, “the United States also has a global presence unlike any other nation, with about 200,000 active duty troops deployed in more than 170 countries.” This presence includes some 800 overseas U.S. military bases.

    • A Top 2018 Story: Sudan’s Mercenary child-soldiers in Yemen (NYT)

      David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times caused an international stir by estimating that 20 percent of Sudanese fighters in Yemen may be 13-17, i.e. child soldiers. The percentage may be as high as 40%.

      That these child soldiers appear to have been paid for by Saudi Arabia at a time when, because of the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia is in bad odor anyway, contributed to the sensation. Virtually every Arabic newspaper and news site is leading with the Times story.

    • Do We Care About Drones Now?

      The US drone killing programme massively expanded under President Barack Obama. Responding to evolving militant threats and the greater availability of remote piloting technology, Obama ordered ten times more “counter-terror” strikes than his predecessor George W Bush over the course of his term. Thousands of strikes have been carried out in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, carried out by the highly secretive Central Intelligence Agency and Joint Special Operations Command at the Pentagon.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Test of western democracy

      THIS has been the seventh year that WikiLeaksfounder Julian Assange spent Christmas in confinement inside Ecuador’s London embassy. For nearly a decade, the US government’s aggressive witch-hunt of truthtellers has trapped him in the UK.
      Assange claimed political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to mitigate the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his publishing activities. He has been unlawfully held by the UK government without charge, being denied access to medical treatment, fresh air, sunlight and adequate space to exercise. In December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange was being ‘arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.’ Yet the UK government’s refusal to comply with the UN finding has allowed this unlawful detention to continue.
      This cruel persecution of Assange represents a deep crisis of western democracy. As injustice against this western journalist prevails, the legitimacy of traditional institutions has weakened. The benevolent democracy that many were taught to believe in has been shown to be an illusion. It has been revealed as a system of control, lacking enforcement mechanisms in law to deal with real offenders of human rights violations, who for example illegally invade countries under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Under this managed democracy, the premise of ‘no person is above laws’ is made into a pretense that elites use to escape democratic accountability. Media has become the ‘Guardian’ of ruling elites that engage in propaganda to distort truth.

    • US embassy in Helsinki

      Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of kilograms of cargo sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?

      A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.

      The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks’ database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Wolf Killing is an Unfair and Destructive Subsidy

      The killing of a wolf pup near Corral Creek outside Sun Valley, Idaho was done to protect John Peavy’s business, Flat Top Sheep Company. Once again this raises the question of why public wildlife should be killed to increase the profitability of private enterprises operating on our public lands.

      It is especially disconcerting that Peavy did not implement minimum measures to protect his own sheep, instead, used a taxpayer-funded “hired gun,” i.e., USDA Wildlife Services to kill our wolves.

      Grazing on public lands is a privilege, not a right. Why should Peavy sheep, and his business interests be allowed to jeopardize, harass and kill public wildlife? If I were to harass his sheep when I discovered them polluting our streams or otherwise damaging our public lands, I would be arrested.

    • Robots to the Rescue on the Great Barrier Reef

      “On healthy reefs, you would never bother intervening because the reef is doing a fantastic job restoring itself,” says Harrison, whose pioneering research in “larval reseeding,” or “coral IVF,” has set the stage for the current restoration. But on the Great Barrier Reef, and on most reefs around the world, sexually reproductive corals are dwindling. “If we don’t [intervene], there simply won’t be enough larvae naturally produced to enable recovery,” Harrison adds.

      With that reality in mind, researchers have been working fast to harvest millions of coral eggs and sperm released at Moore Reef, a healthier system located an hour and a half by boat from Cairns. Once collected, the spawn bundles are transferred from giant nets to floating reef enclosures as large as swimming pools, where embryos are reared into larvae, or “baby corals.” This week, when the larvae are mature enough to resettle, they’ll get loaded into autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) developed by Dunbabin, then sprinkled onto damaged reefs nearby at the touch of a button.

    • Australia’s horses and cows are killing more people than its snakes and spiders

      Australia — while a very popular destination for backpacking, students, business trips, and travelling — is well known for its horror stories about snake bites, hornet stings, and tarantulas lurking in toilets.

      As ABC Science recently reported, however, the animals we’re most afraid of may actually not be the most deadly.

      In fact, you might find some of them pretty locally.

    • Feeling Blue About Climate Change? You’re Not Alone.

      It’s been a tough year for those of us in the climate change community. Each week has seemed to bring either a fresh report reminding us of how precious little time we have left to try to turn this ship around or a disaster that has climate change’s fingerprints all over it. Friends, family, colleagues, and reporters have all asked whether I’m optimistic or hopeful about our ability to limit the severity of future climate change. And I’ll be honest: I’m not. But that doesn’t mean we should give up—in fact that would be among the worst things we could do. Rather, we need to hold fiercely to a vision of the future we want to see and work like hell to make it a reality.

    • Far More Is Needed, Say Green Groups, But Hour-Long Sunday Show Segment on Climate Crisis a ‘Huge’ Testament to Grassroots Pressure

      Described by one observer as the first of its kind, NBC’s segment was viewed by youth climate leaders as a major testament to the power of persistent grassroots organizing to bring a life-or-death issue like the global climate crisis to the center of national attention.

      “Glad that ‘Meet the Press’ devoted a full hour to climate change—that’s huge and shows how grassroots organizing is making climate change a top issue in our country,” declared the youth-led Sunrise Movement on Twitter. “Next time we’d love to see Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) plus a young person from the Sunrise Movement on to talk about the Green New Deal.”

  • Finance

    • Gen X bought the most homes, but debt killed their American Dream

      When they were the age of millennials, Gen Xers had far more financial assets than Boomers.

    • Marriott Hotel Strikers Set a New Industry Standard

      After two months of strikes, workers at the largest hotel company in the world have won their biggest demands and set a new pattern for the hospitality industry.

      The seven UNITE HERE locals in Hawaii, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Detroit, and Boston bargained separately, but similar contract expiration dates allowed 7,700 workers to strike Marriott at the same time.

      Their common demands focused on three areas—job security, workload, and wages and benefits—and the slogan, “One Job Should Be Enough.”

      Employees stopped Marriott from making them choose between wages and benefits. Details varied local by local, but across the country they won on both.

      In San Francisco and Hawaii, workers won $4 raises over the four-year contract. San Diego workers got a 40 percent increase. In Boston, they got 20 percent. Boston, Hawaii, and San Francisco also won increased pension contributions and maintained or improved their health care.

    • 2018 Was the Year of the Labor Strike

      For US workers, 2018 was the year of the strike.

      It may seem incongruent for workers to have gotten more militant in making demands of their employers in an economy with such low unemployment. The unemployment rate has hovered around 4 percent or less this year. If so many people can find work, what’s the problem?

      Even as many of us have gone back to work in the years since the Great Recession, we’re not being rewarded for our labor. Wage growth has just recently started to show signs of increasing — it was up 3.1 percent over the last year, as of the most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — but it’s still lagging behind where it was before the recession and where you’d expect it to be, given the low unemployment rate. Four in ten adults in the US say they don’t have the money to cover an unexpected $400 emergency and more than a fifth can’t pay all of their monthly bills in full.

    • Los Angeles Hires Substitutes in Preparation for Teacher Strike

      The Los Angeles Unified School District has reportedly hired about 400 substitute teachers to work while teachers are on strike for better pay and classroom resources. Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), said that after 20 months of bargaining, the union’s 34,000 members are prepared to strike beginning Jan. 10.

      “We have hired substitutes,” Austin Beutner, the district superintendent, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “We have made plans as to alternate curriculums for days that there is a strike but our goal is to make sure schools are safe and open so kids continue to learn. My concern first and foremost is the safety and well being of our students.”

      The union struck back at Beutner—a former investment banker with no experience in education leadership prior to his hiring in May—for failing to offer teachers a contract that met their requests. “It is outrageously irresponsible for Supt. Austin Beutner to force this strike when the district holds $1.9 billion in reserves and it is even more irresponsible to think that 400 substitutes can educate more than 600,000 students,” UTLA said in a statement Friday.

    • End of year crypto roundup: How did Ethereum perform in 2018?

      Ethereum ETH is an open-source blockchain platform which lets anyone create and deploy decentralized applications (DApps). The project was first proposed in a white paper in 2013 by a 19 years old Vitalik Buterin.

      Buterin’s purpose was clear. Instead of targeting and building every single use-case over blockchain, he wanted to create something that could be used to create anything over blockchain — whether it is custom cryptocurrencies, financial instruments, smart property, decentralized storage systems, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), non-fungible assets, identity management solutions, or whatever else you could think of. And, he wanted the users to be able to do this by ‘writing up the logic in a few lines of code.’

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How This Year’s Struggles Set Us Up for a Bold, Hopeful 2019

      Those of us constantly assessing the national political scene could be forgiven for looking at the coming year with more than a bit of trepidation. True, new Democratic control of the House of Representatives means we might get the investigations of President Trump that Republicans have refused to do.

      And as a fairly bleak 2018 comes to a close, we’re getting a taste of what might be more to come: a continuing shutdown of the federal government over funding for a border wall, simmering international crises that threaten to drag in the U.S. and an administration untested by a major crisis, and partisan monkey business in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, where Republicans are moving to strip power from offices won by incoming Democrats.

      The big unknown is special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign, administration, and businesses and their connections to Russia—and how the president might react to each new drip of information to trickle out of the locked grand jury courtrooms.

    • Trump’s tweets: Judges in government secrecy cases say they are ‘speculation’ and not ‘pure fact’

      “Speculation.” “Unofficial information.” “Political statements rather than assertions of pure fact.”

      Those are words federal judges have used to describe President Donald Trump’s tweets while guarding the secrecy of ongoing investigations that have shadowed his presidency.

      And in an unusual twist, these rulings mark victories for Trump’s own Justice Department, which has argued repeatedly that the president’s comments on the probes are not always to be taken literally, or to be trusted.

    • BBC complains to Russia over leaked staff data that was ‘shared with authorities’

      The BBC has gone out of its way to voice concern over the personal details of its staff in Russia appearing on social media and on a news site, not long after staying puzzlingly silent when UK media doxxed Sputnik staff in the UK.

      A list featuring 44 names of BBC employees – with their pictures – published on a couple of Russian social media platforms and a news website did not sit well with the British broadcaster, which lamented “the groundless publication of our Moscow team’s details” and then requested that Russian authorities investigate the matter.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Google wins dismissal of facial recognition lawsuit over biometric privacy act

      In the original suit, the woman sued Google for allegedly uploading her data to Google Photos and scanning it to create a template of her face without her permission. The Google lawsuit is one of three cases aimed at prominent tech companies that have allegedly violated the United States’ toughest biometric privacy law and it’s the first one to get dismissed.

    • Google Wins Dismissal of Suit Over Facial Recognition Software

      U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang in Chicago cited a lack of “concrete injuries” to the plaintiffs. The suit, initially filed in March 2016, alleged Alphabet Inc.’s Google collected and stored biometric data from photographs using facial recognition software, running afoul of a unique Illinois law against using a person’s image without permission.

    • Many Popular Apps Still Send Data To Facebook Without Users’ Consent

      Now, the Privacy International study has found many popular apps – at least 20 out of 34 – are still sending data to Facebook without user’s consent. To put it in other words, Facebook gets hold of your data even if you are not part of the social media platform, or logged out of it.

    • Where Governments Hack Their Own People and People Fight Back: 2018 in Review
    • State-backed hackers switch to inferior tactics to avoid being fingered for attacks

      State-sponsored hackers from China and elsewhere are switching to less effective hacking tools so that they can “blend in with the noise” and avoid taking the blame for their actions.

      This is according to former top US National Security official Priscilla Moriuchi, who headed up the NSA’s East Asia and Pacific cyber threats office prior to moving to the private sector.

      She said that US indictments against named officials in the Chinese military, Russian military intelligence, and Iranian hackers are having an impact.

      China’s willingness to avoid a digital paper trail is also forcing a switch up in tactics.

      “China, for example, realised the amount of data you generate when you do an intense cyber operation,” Moriuchi told The Daily Swig.

      Data from domain registration and payments, as well as the use of RATs and malware that are synonymous with Chinese operations, has allowed experts to attribute cyber campaigns to agents of the state, such as the Ministry of State Security (MSS) and the Peoples Liberation Army – undesirable from a Chinese perspective.

    • With Surveillance Limits Ending, ACLU Sues Everyone

      A civil rights group has sued the US government, saying it needs more information about surveillance of Americans’ phone and financial records to guide the public debate over what will happen when the law that regulates the scrutiny expires next year, the AP reports. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the National Security Agency, the director of national intelligence, the CIA, and the Justice Department on Friday in Manhattan federal court, seeking information about a program that collects records during investigations into terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. According to the lawsuit, the government has not responded to requests made last month for information about its surveillance of Americans under a 2015 law.

    • Memo shows the CIA was offered PROMIS software in 1981

      Agency’s claim of a thorough search for records related to stolen software is undercut by evidence they didn’t check their own software requisition records

    • German cybersecurity chief: Anyone have any evidence of Huawei naughtiness?

      Germany’s top cybersecurity official has said he hasn’t seen any evidence for the espionage allegations against Huawei.

      Arne Schönbohm, president of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), the nation’s cyber-risk assessment agency in Bonn, told Der Spiegel that there is “currently no reliable evidence” of a risk from Huawei.

      “For such serious decisions such as a ban, you need evidence,” Schönbohm said. Should that change, the BSI will “actively approach German industry” he assured the paper.

    • Information warfare: the NSA, there are the trolls

      duration: : First Twitter activities of the IRA in the United States are dated by the Oxford researchers in the year 2012, in the other report 2013. In 2018 the alleged IRA were locked-account Twitter and Facebook. The disinformation campaign is thus established permanently and was by no means limited to the presidential election of 2016.

      This corresponds to the approach of the Western intelligence services, for as long as possible access networks to set up and analyze data streams over the years.

    • The NSA and China feuded in cyberspace in 2014. Will they again?

      The Trump administration is accusing the Chinese government of masterminding a slew of state-sponsored cyberattacks against private sector and defense firms. American officials describe the hacks as an effort to gobble up sensitive defense information and valuable intellectual property.

      “China’s strategy is the same: rob, replicate and replace,” John Demers, the U.S. Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general, told lawmakers Dec. 12. “Rob the American company of its intellectual property, replicate the technology, and replace the American company in the Chinese market and, one day, the global market.”

    • China Is Now the Greatest Threat to Americans’ Privacy
    • Australia Becomes First Western Nation to Ban Secure Encryption

      Australia is now the first Western nation to ban security, following a decision by its parliament to pass a bill forcing companies to hand over encrypted data to police upon demand. The government will be allowed to demand this without judicial review or oversight of any kind, beyond the requirement to get a warrant in the first place. Furthermore, the law requires corporations to build tools to give them the ability to intercept data sought by police when such tools do not already exist. While the bill has only passed Australia’s lower chamber, the upper chamber has indicated it will pass the legislation provided there are later votes on unspecified amendments to the current bill.

    • Australia is a battleground for encrypted apps

      Ever since encryption seeped out of spy agencies and into the commercial world, government watchdogs have been trying to contain its spread. One of the latest battles is in Australia, where politicians are cracking down on technology firms and requiring them to allow “back door” access to encrypted messaging.

      Signal, a messaging app with end-to-end encryption, indicated that it’s unable to—and won’t—comply with the requirements. The app service said in a blog post that it doesn’t keep a record of contacts, locations, group memberships, and other data, and the contents of messages and calls are protected by encryption keys it can’t access. “We remain committed to fighting mass surveillance worldwide,” Signal said.

    • Opinion: A European perspective on the arrest of Huawei’s CFO
    • The US is worried about China spying via Huawei because it did the same

      The US is again warning its allies about the risks of using telecom equipment made by China’s Huawei. American officials have briefed their counterparts in countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan about what they argue are potential cybersecurity risks, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). This follows previous warnings, such as a claim earlier this year that American citizens shouldn’t use Huawei’s phones.

      The US may be concerned about Chinese government influence embedded in Huawei’s technology because America’s spy agencies have done the same thing in the past.

      Western governments have long been wary of Huawei, which was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier. (The recent arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is Zhengfei’s daughter, over allegations of violating of Iran trade sanctions is apparently separate to concerns about cyber espionage.)

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Journalist Jailed Under NSA for Criticising BJP-Led Manipur Govt

      Imphal-based journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, who was taken into custody by the state police under the National Security Act (NSA) on November 26, has been sentenced to a 12-month jail term – the maximum period of detention allowed under the Act.

      The advisory board of NSA, set up under Section 9 of the Act to look into the allegations brought by the state government against the journalist, met on December 11 and conducted hearings on the matter. On December 13, the board submitted its report to the authorities approving his detention under the NSA.

    • ‘Absolutely Disgusting’: In First Comment on Deaths of Two Young Kids in US Custody, Trump Falsely Blames Democrats and Child’s Father

      In his first public comments on the deaths of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump on Saturday falsely blamed the Democratic Party and Caal’s father—rather than his own inhumane anti-immigrant policy agenda—in an attempt to score political points amid the ongoing government shutdown.

      “Any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!” Trump wrote. “The two children in question were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol. The father of the young girl said it was not their fault, he hadn’t given her water in days.”

    • 2018 Was The Year Donald Trump Declared Total War On Immigrants

      Donald Trump is doing exactly what he promised to do back when he kicked off his presidential campaign in 2015. In this, his second year of office, the president’s sick and deranged racist fantasies came to life through his xenophobic policies and the rise of his deportation force. And for immigrants, 2018 can be summed up in just one word: fear.

      (Of course, the president said and did plenty of other horrendous things to immigrants prior to 2018 ― e.g., the Muslim travel ban of 2017 ― but this year Trump’s racist policies became front and center on a whole new level.)

    • Let’s Remember the Social Justice Organizers We Lost in 2018

      There were thousands of organizers, activists and local social justice leaders around the world who died in 2018. People who may not have made the headlines, but did crucial work in their local communities. As we do every December, we bring you some of the voices and stories of our Fallen Heroes.

    • Outgoing Chief of Staff Kelly: Trump Backed Away From Wall Months Ago

      President Donald Trump long ago backed away from his campaign pledge to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, his outgoing chief of staff said, as the president’s demand for “border security” funding triggered a partial government shutdown with no end in sight.

      John Kelly, who will leave his post Wednesday after a tumultuous 17 months in the job, said in an exit interview with the Los Angeles Times that Trump abandoned the notion of “a solid concrete wall early on in the administration.” It marked the starkest admission yet by the president’s inner circle that his signature campaign pledge, which sparked fervent chants of “build that wall” during Trump’s rallies and is now at the center of a budgetary standoff, would not be fulfilled as advertised.

      “To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Kelly said, adding the mix of technological enhancements and “steel slat” barriers the president now wants along the border resulted from conversations with law enforcement professionals.

    • Quotation of the Day: C.I.A.-Led Afghan Forces Leave Grim Trail of Abuse

      “In their operations, most of the times the harm to civilians is direct. When they make arrests, there is usually torture involved, also.”

      SABRINA HAMIDI, an Afghan Human Rights Commission leader, referring to an Afghan strike force that is believed to be overseen by the C.I.A.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • California Could Soon Have Its Own Version of the Internet

      Internet freedom advocates have worried that the [Internet] will fracture into multiple national “splinternets” since France banned Yahoo’s ecommerce users from selling Nazi paraphernalia in the country in 2000, whether due to state censorship or well-intentioned policies that alter the web experience. The Tor Project says at least a dozen countries, including Pakistan and Russia, censor the [Internet]. Meanwhile, search results within the European Union can differ from those elsewhere due to its right to be forgotten law, and web publishers around the world are still grappling with the effect of the sweeping EU privacy regulations that took effect this year.

      A series of laws passed in California this year raise a new possibility: that individual US states will splinter off into their own versions of the [Internet]. [...]

  • DRM

    • What Is Denuvo, and Why Do Gamers Hate It?

      Denuvo is a digital rights management (DRM) solution for game developers. They can license Denuvo and integrate it into their PC games. If they do, the Denuvo software provides anti-piracy protection. It’s designed to make it more difficult for people to “crack” games and distribute them for free. According to Denuvo, it “stops the reverse engineering and debugging” required to crack a game.

      No anti-piracy solution is perfect, but Denuvo promises the “longest crack-free release window.” In other words, game developers are hoping their games won’t be cracked for a while, forcing people who might otherwise pirate the game to buy it if they want to play the game without waiting.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • At last, the sun rises: China will establish the National IP Appeals Court in 2019

      This 3+17 (regional) framework has brought IP protection in China to a new level, inter alia, in terms of harmonizing assessment criteria, promoting uniformity of the law, and improving the quality of decision making. Yet for long, there has been one key piece missing: a unitary court to handle IP appeals.

    • Copyrights

      • UK Police Arrest Man Over ‘Nintendo Switch’ Modding, Warn Game Pirates

        City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) arrested an alleged Nintendo Switch modder this month. The man was suspected of infringing Nintendo’s copyrights but got off with a caution. At the same time, PIPCU warned those who are considering buying modded consoles or download pirated games.


2019 in Techrights: New Datacentre, New Focus

Posted in IBM, News Roundup, Patents, Red Hat at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As Techrights continues to grow we move to a new hosting environment and we’ll be covering technology a little more than court cases with legalese and pertinent caselaw

SEEING that patent extremists like Gene Quinn throw in the towel after two decades and seeing that patent blogs are becoming a lot less active, we’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest problems at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are being gradually addressed, notably software patents that the Federal Circuit and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) help squash. We’ve seen several new examples over the past fortnight, but we’re not going to cover these. Instead, seeing that António Campinos promotes software patents in Europe under the auspices of tbe European Patent Office (EPO), we’re going to shift focus somewhat. The main difference in the coming year will be less coverage about the US patent system. It’s viewed as a lower priority because, as we said a few days ago, “we feel like goals have been fulfilled.” If elimination of software patents was the goal, SCOTUS and 35 U.S.C. § 101 sealed the deal. Several times earlier this year we pointed out that SCOTUS continually rejects appeals from cases like Alice. It’s not interested in reconsideration. Nothing will change.

“IBM has been stockpiling loads of US patents for several decades and even gave some of these to trolls like Finjan.”The demise of software patents has expectedly caused the number of patent cases (lawsuits) to collapse and many patent trolls go out of ‘business’ (it was never a legitimate business in the first place).

David Perry, senior patent lawyer at Red Hat, wrote for CNBC on Boxing Day. Being a lawyer who will soon work for IBM albeit subject to approval in 2-3 weeks’ time (IBM is overzealously in favour of software patents), he framed the question as a matter of hirings; this has nothing to do with hirings however. Gross slant from people whose job depends on patent litigation. “Companies lose as much as $80 billion every year to litigation brought by patent aggressors,” he explained, perhaps failing to note that his next employer is among those aggressors. To quote:

Tech companies are fighting an $80 billion legal battle to help attract the most talented software engineers


So-called “patent trolls” may not be top of mind for the public, but they’re certainly on the mind of technology innovators. Nine out of the top ten global internet companies — including Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Google — and hundreds of other companies (including mine) have joined forces against them.

These trolls – also known as patent assertion entities — acquire patents for the sole purpose of suing other companies for money. They cost companies $80 billion in lost wealth every year, and are responsible for over 85 percent of U.S. high-tech patent litigation.

What about IBM? Look no further (back) than its patent aggression earlier this year. IBM has been stockpiling loads of US patents for several decades and even gave some of these to trolls like Finjan. Then there’s the scam which is misuse of patents for tax purposes. Luxembourg, for instance, is still facilitating tax evasion using patents as loophole/cover (there's a patent trolls infestation there). An article by Oliver R. Hoor and Samantha Schmitz-Merle (ATOZ Tax Advisers) alluded to this some days ago:

Therefore, IP rights covered by the new Luxembourg regime are patents defined broadly and copyrighted software. These IP rights fall within the scope of the new regime to the extent that they are not marketing-related IP assets and were created, developed or enhanced after 31 December 2007 (the former IP regime provided the same limitation in time) as a result of research and development (R&D) activities…

These tax breaks are benefiting, by design, the richest people and corporations. The monopolists who can afford loads of patents (like IBM) profit from this.

In the coming year we intend to focus a little less on the US patent system (notably courts and Office). Instead we’ll write more about technology companies like IBM and Red Hat, not to mention mischievous Microsoft. EPO coverage will remain unchanged and it will be our highest priority.

A server migration was completed successfully yesterday, but only for the sister site, Tux Machines. We may soon attempt the same with Techrights although this migration will definitely be more complicated for several reasons (3 CMS components, 3 domains and so on). Fingers crossed. Downtime is likely with or without DNS changes taking hours to propagate.

Even Joff Wild and the Patent Trolls’ Lobby Finally Admit Unitary Patent (UPC) is Dead

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Joff Wild, Editor-in-chief of IAM, unable to deny it anymore

Mathieu Klos‏

Summary: Those who tried really hard to make the Unified Patent Court (UPC) become a reality finally admit that it’s not going to happen (Mathieu Klos, shown above, predicted a decision in Germany may come no sooner than 2020)

THE SIGN that UPC is dead? Even its biggest proponents, who were paid to promote it and manufacture false predictions, throw in the towel…

UPC proponent Alexander Esslinger wrote on Twitter about this article of IAM, to which I replied humorously with “Joff Wild: I lied to you all those years. The EPO paid me to lie to you, saying UPC was just around the corner.”

IAM’s prediction was summarised in Twitter as follows: “Litigation predictions for 2019 from IAM’s editorial team: * The beginnings of an auto patent war * An uptick in patent suits in the US on the back of economic uncertainty * The death of the UPC in its current form * German v UK courts for SEP/FRAND cases”

The relevant part from the said article:

That said, patents will be the least affected by all this. In 2019 the UPC in its current form will finally die a death long foretold – killed by Brexit and the German Constitutional Court’s failure to deal with a challenge to the legality of the country’s ratification of the system in a timely manner. Instead, courts in the UK and Germany will get involved in some – from a patent owner’s perspective – very healthy competition to attract big ticket litigation, especially around SEPs and FRAND.

The European Patent Office (EPO) quit talking about the UPC a long time ago, perhaps having already reached the conclusion that it’s a lost cause. Since around the same time Team UPC blogs have been dormant or barely active. They too know that the UPC is likely dead. Their fabricated rumours about decision by year’s end is now officially false.

Links 30/12/2018: Linux 4.21 Staging Updates, VLC 3.0.5, KaOS 2018.12, Calculate Linux 18.12

Posted in News Roundup at 2:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • How to Run a Different OS Without Buying a New Computer

      If you’re running Windows and adding Linux in a dual-boot setup, the Linux installer should include tools for partitioning your main hard drive—just make sure you choose to install Linux alongside Windows. You’ll also need to create a Linux installer on a CD, DVD, or USB drive first, then boot from that: There’s an official guide for doing this with Ubuntu here, for example.

      If you need another tool, search for the Disk Management utility from the Windows Start menu: Here you can view, edit, and manage disk partitions. One of the disadvantages of this method is that the process is more complicated to reverse if you change your mind.

      Alternatively, you can skip the partition and install a second hard drive inside your machine—provided you’re running a desktop computer and have the space. The process isn’t particularly difficult—YouTube is packed with tutorials—but it is more of a serious undertaking than just splitting your current hard drive into two with a few mouse clicks. You have to actually crack open your computer and install the additional drive, as well as much around in the BIOS for your motherboard to confirm the drive is installed correctly to function as a boot drive.

      But if that’s still too daunting don’t worry. There’s another way to get operating systems on your computer without partitioning drives (and running the risk of losing data) or installing entirely new drives.

    • Google is testing GPU acceleration for Linux apps on Chromebooks

      There are two major limitations to running Linux applications on Chromebooks — audio doesn’t work, and graphics aren’t accelerated. Google originally aimed to fix these issues in Chrome OS 71, but that didn’t happen. Thankfully, GPU acceleration is a bit closer to reality, according to a series of commits to the Chromium Gerrit.

      9to5Google spotted a commit in the Chromium Gerrit that allows GPU acceleration to be enabled. “Using the GPU in crostini is not ready for everyday use and should be considered pre-alpha,” the description reads. “The option to enable GPU can be taken away at any time.”

    • 10 Best lightweight Linux OS for old Laptop in 2019

      All the OS listed here can run on a very low amount of RAM, mostly on 1 GB RAM, also needs very less amount of CPU power, most of them do not need a 1 GHz CPU. Some of them do need to be installed on HDD but some them do not need to be installed on HDD at all. Some of them even do not need to have HDD on the Laptop to work properly.

      Now you make sure what your PC’s hardware specifications are, then choose according to your need. Make a list and download those from the internet, as all of the OS given here are free. To download you can use the given links as well as another way you can search from Google for downloads also. Try the OS one by one, as per your choice. To know more you can read our other articles on some of these Operating system listed here on this website.

      Though it would be very blunt to advise, then also if you ask me for advice on choosing the perfect OS from the list I would tell you to start from Puppy Linux, as it is the best and most optimized solution among all others in this list. As well as try Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Damn small Linux and SLAX if you have time to spare, as the experience worth it.

    • Google to Let You Run Windows 10 on Your High-End Chromebook

      If you follow Chromebook development news the way hot-stove baseball fans follow the latest trade rumors, you know Google is working on bringing Windows to Chromebook.

      If you have that one Windows applications you must run, Google has been working on making it possible to dual-boot Windows 10 on Chromebook since July 2018. This is not the same as Google bringing Linux to Chromebook. With the latter, you can run both operating systems at once. With the former, you can run one or the other, not both, simultaneously. ZDnet reported.

      This new dual-boot mode will let Chromebook users with Intel processors and a minimum of 64GB of SSD and 4GB of RAM run Windows 10. It also appears as if Dual Boot, the offspring of Google’s Project Campfire, will enable you to run other operating systems.

      In the short term, since Campfire is built on Eve, Chrome OS for the Pixelbook, you can expect to see it appear on that top-of-the-line Chromebook first.

    • Chrome OS To Trial Early GPU Support For Linux Apps Shortly

      If you have kept up with Chrome OS in the last 6 Months, you will know that one of the more appealing new functions to roll out is support for Linux apps. While this has capability to launch all kinds of new apps to Chrome OS, there are some functions not present in this early stage that hold it back. One of the most expected functions, GPU support (graphics acceleration), required for operating Linux apps and games, will be accessible to test shortly on Chrome OS.

      The Linux apps support (Crostini) by Chrome OS can be employed to operate some light games on your favorite Chromebook. On the other hand, without support for GPU, they are running exclusively employing the main chipset, which makes many games entirely inaccessible or slower.

  • Server

    • Major acquisitions, Kubernetes evolution top IT news in 2018

      After several years of containerization growth filling the top IT news slots, 2018 closed out with major container and DevOps-related updates, fixes, acquisitions and partnerships.

      These top ten stories from the second half of 2018, in no particular order, captured the attention of IT operations admins, container managers, IT directors and other industry professionals.


      Kubernetes has emerged as the industry’s ubiquitous container orchestration tool, but it won’t match every enterprise’s security requirements from the get-go. Some default settings break security guidelines, such as the API server connecting to the unsecured network port 8080. Pariseau describes the security concerns of users deploying containers in production with Kubernetes.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Destination Linux EP101 – We Respin You A Merry Christmas

      On this episode of Destination Linux, we discuss some distro news for Peppermint Linux, GParted Live & Ubuntu. We cover some application news for Firefox, VirtualBox and more. Later in the show, we’ll talk about some unfortunate news regarding SQLite and Valve’s Artifact. We’ll also cover so great discussion topics like Photography on Linux and the pros and cons of Headerbars. All that and much more including our Tips, Tricks and Software Spotlight picks!

  • Kernel Space

    • F2FS Gets More Fixes In Linux 4.21 With The File-System Now Supported By Google’s Pixel

      The Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS) has some new features for the current Linux 4.21 development cycle but it’s mostly fixes stemming from increased testing with Google now supporting this flash-focused file-system for their Pixel device line-up.

      Jaegeuk Kim, who started developing F2FS years ago while employed by Samsung and then since transitioned to Google almost two years ago, sent in these F2FS patches on Friday for the Linux 4.21 merge window. The F2FS maintainer mentioned they have been focusing on bug fixes with Pixel devices now shipping with F2FS. The fixes include taking care of some encryption issues, better idle time tracking, and a number of garbage collection fixes.

    • Linux Adds AMD Rome and Zen 2 Support

      Back in November, AMD debuted their new Zen 2 architecture. The new chips will offer a massive boost in performance, building on Zen and Zen+. To achieve the performance numbers, AMD has made a number of major changes to the underlying designs. Ahead of launch next year, OS support to starting to roll out. This week, we have the new Linux 4.21 kernel set to add some support.

      The new kernel integrates new AMD Platform QoS support that is geared towards the 7nm EPYC and Zen 2 chips. Due in part to the shift to the chiplet design, resource allocation is quite different. The updates aim to provide monitoring of the resources as well as place limits on them. Initially, this will be for L3 cache monitoring, limiting, prioritisation and memory bandwidth. Due to the chiplet design, the L3 cache is shared on a core die, with challenges to latency and sharing.

    • Linux 4.21 Picking Up New Console Font For HiDPI / Retina Screens

      While there are existing ways of manipulating Linux console fonts/sizes from user-space, with the upcoming Linux 4.21 kernel there is a new in-tree console font.

      Under the new FONT_TER16x32 kernel option is support for compiling a 16×32 sized Terminus console font into the kernel. This large, high-resolution font is intended for use with HiDPI and retina displays compared to the smaller in-kernel console fonts. The addition doesn’t enable it by default or otherwise make any changes to the existing kernel console font configuration unless explicitly opting for this new console font.

    • Linux 4.9.148

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.148 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

    • Linux 4.14.91
    • Staging/IIO driver patches for 4.21-rc1
    • Linux 4.21 Staging Updates Have “Lots & Lots Of Tiny Patches”

      Greg KH on Friday submitted the staging changes for the Linux kernel where many drivers and other code continues maturing before being elevated to the normal area of the kernel.

      Greg commented of the 4.21 cycle staging changes, “Lots and lots of tiny patches here, nothing major at all. Which is good, tiny cleanups is nice to see. No new huge driver removal or addition, this release cycle, although there are lots of good IIO driver changes, addtions, and movement from staging into the “real” part of the kernel, which is always great.”

    • Linux 4.19.13
    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Linux Graphics Driver Developers Working On More Efficient Display Presentation For GVT

        Local Display Direct Flip is a feature being worked on by the Intel developers working on the GVT-g graphics virtualization technology for Linux for more efficient display handling.

        The “Local Display Direct Flip” feature that is proposed would allow the virtual GPUs from KVM/Xen to control a subset of the Intel graphics hardware’s display engine resources. This would end up allowing the vGPUs to make use of the display engine for composing their frame-buffer and displaying to the assigned output.

      • NVIDIA’s Linux Driver Saw Some Nice Performance Gains In 2018

        The NVIDIA Linux driver stack this year saw punctual support for new consumer and workstation/professional products, as we’ve come to expect over the past decade and even longer. The 2018 NVIDIA Linux drivers also brought continued EGL improvements, introduced a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler for faster shader compilation and lower memory consumption, kept up-to-date with the latest Vulkan revisions, added support for RandR transformations, added the OptiX ray-tracing engine, implemented support for Vulkan real-time ray-tracing, and there was a wide variety of fixes and other improvements. Though with NVIDIA’s Linux driver effectively having been at feature parity with their Windows driver for years, the ongoing changes may not seem as impressive as the open-source Radeon Linux driver stack that only recently has been reaching feature and performance parity to the Windows Radeon Software driver.

      • A Lot Of AMDGPU DC Fixes, New VegaM PCI ID Line Up For Linux 4.21

        A few days back the DRM feature updates landed in Linux 4.21 with AMDGPU FreeSync support and a variety of other improvements. With all of the AMDGPU changes at play, it’s now time to fix up the code with some early fallout.

    • Benchmarks

      • Clear Linux Ending Out 2018 With Even More Performance Optimizations

        With the Windows Server 2019 vs. Linux benchmarks this week on a dual socket Intel Xeon Scalable server and testing six different Linux distributions and three Windows Server configurations, Intel’s open-source Clear Linux was the winner in nearly half of the dozens of benchmarks carried out across these Linux and Windows operating system tests. But the results did yield some areas they could improve upon for better performance and as a result have already landed some more performance optimizations.
        As a result of the recent Windows Server vs. Linux benchmarks, at least one takeaway was the Rscript performance not meeting their expectations. To which they have now pushed out an update that resolves an issue in their OpenBLAS linear algebra library use by R as well as Numpy and other packages. With this fixing/tuning, the performance should be back to their expectations. Curious, I ran some benchmarks to see the difference.

  • Applications

    • VLC 3.0.5 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04

      VLC media player released version 3.0.5 a few days ago with performance improvements and numerous fixes. Here’s how to install it in all current Ubuntu releases.

    • VLC 3.0.5 Vetinari

      VLC 3.0.5 is the second version of the “Vetinari” branch of our popular media player.

    • VLC 3.0.5
    • Korkut – An Open-Source “Image Processing” Tool at the Terminal

      Digital image processing always bears far incredible and wide-ranging features if compared to the analog image processing as analog image processing lacks some specific attributes that can make the picture better than ever. In competition with the latest digital image processing software, Korkut is one of the topnotch software to deal with if you want your images ideally processed.

      This kind of software affords you the ability to apply a huge number of algorithms so that a user can input data effortlessly and it gets easy for them to avoid difficulties like the signal distortion or the noise build-up during the processing of the picture.

    • PulseEffects: A System-Wide Equalizer For PulseAudio

      Should you not be familiar with it already, PulseEffects is a program that provides an equalizer and other effects controls for Linux systems running on PulseAudio.

      A Phoronix reader wrote in praising PulseEffects for its ability to tweak systems making use of PulseAudio, which is now common among nearly all modern Linux desktops.

      PulseEffects provides a ton of output controls for audio as well as a wide range of application parameters.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Announcement

        The Wine development release 4.0-rc4 is now available.

      • Wine not! The Wine 4.0 RC4 release bottle has been opened and is ready to serve

        Not quite the corker that previous releases have been, since they’re not focusing on any new features right now. This latest release candidate only stated ten bug fixes and some of them are older bugs only now being noted as fixed. While it’s not exactly exciting, it’s good to have a clean-up of open bug reports so they know what to focus on for the next development cycle.

        Comparing Wine 4.0 with the previous stable Wine 3.0 release, there’s a lot of exciting changes ahead for those who don’t test out the development versions. These features include: support for HID gamepads, Vulkan support, OpenGL core contexts enabled by default in Direct 3D, support for fetching BIOS information on Linux, subpixel font rendering support and much more.

      • Wine 4.0-RC4 Is Out For Testing While The Official Release Expected Next Month

        Lead Wine developer Alexandre Julliard has just posted the fourth weekly release candidate of the upcoming Wine 4.0 stable release for running Windows games and applications on Linux and other platforms.

        Wine 4.0-RC4 continues in the code freeze with just bugs being fixed for these weekly release candidates. Over the past week there are just ten known bug fixes compared to 27 the prior week. Yes, the release cycle is winding down, but also Christmas fell in over that time which may explain the low bug and patch numbers.

      • WINE applications on HD displays – Better looks

        Here’s a story for you – you need it to understand the reasoning for this article slash guide. Got meself a new laptop, one Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu Beaver on it, right. Encountered HD scaling issues all over the place, which I fixed. So far so cushty.

        Now, I also started reporting my daily slash weekly experience with this machine, used on full thrusters in a production environment, no restraint and no detail glossed over. If it’s good, it’s good, and if it’s not, then hopefully, stuff will be fixed in future versions of Plasma, like the 5.14 release, for instance. I found out that the default KDE image viewer GwenView and the text editor Kate aren’t quite as slick and efficient as their Windows counterparts by the names of IrfanView and Notepad++, respectively. So I installed these, and noticed they looked mighty tiny on Slimbook’s 1920x1080px display. No scaling. Aha! The reason why we’re here. Let’s fix that, then, shall we?

    • Games

      • ETLegacy Continues Work On New Renderer 16 Years After Enemy Territory

        This coming May will mark sixteen years already since the release of the legendary Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory game built atop the ioquake3 engine. Continuing to let this game live on and advance as open-source is ETLegacy, which continues work on its new renderer for this once popular first person shooter.

        Already the ETLegacy support is well past where Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory left off with having an OpenGL 3 renderer and many other improvements while retaining compatibility with the original ET game client. They have also been re-creating the original game maps in higher quality.

      • Unigine 2.7.3 Released With Rendering Improvements But No Vulkan Support Yet

        The high-end, Linux-friendly Unigine engine for powering games but seemingly more industrial/simulator applications these days is out with their last feature release of 2018.

        Unigine 2.7.3 is out with various rendering improvements, including better sky rendering, a screen-space dirt effect, improved glass refraction, and other visual enhancements.

      • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation inches closer to a Linux release with Vulkan

        Some fun weekend news for those wanting another RTS to play, as Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is getting closer to a Linux release.

      • Get This Highly-Rated Computer Game for Free for the Next 40 Hours

        The site is giving away SOMA for Windows, Linux, and Mac for free. From the creators of the cult classic Amnesia Dark Descent, the scary game promises to “raise questions about identity, consciousness and existence itself.” Based on reviews, it delivers on that promise.

        It was also a Kotaku favorite back during its initial release. The reviewer said, “I’ve been thinking about what happened in SOMA for days now, especially the game’s closing minutes, and can’t let it go. Just thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach. If that’s not a sign of success, I’m not sure what is.”

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • digiKam 6.0.0 beta 3 is released

        Dear digiKam fans and users, following the first beta release published in October, we are proud to announce the third and last beta of digiKam 6.0.0, before the final release planed in February 2019.


        With this release, 40 new files have been closed since 6.0.0 beta2. The total files closed for next 6.0.0 final release is more than The reports already closed 600 files now, and we are now close to the final 6.0.0 release planed in Febrary 2019.

        The next stage while January will be to stabilize all implementations. No new features are planed and the application will be ready for a major update by translator teams about internationalization.

      • Kid3 Tag Editor 3.7.0 Comes with Complete Playlist Editor

        Kid3 is a free and open source audio tagger runs on Linux (KDE/Qt), MacOS, Windows and Android. With Kid3 you can easily tag multiple formats of audio files without typing the same information again and again. This is very handy tool when you need to tag huge volumes of audio files for various purposes. Kid3 supports almost all popular audio file formats – MP3, Ogg/Vorbis, FLAC, MPC, MP4/AAC, MP2, Opus, Speex, TrueAudio, WavPack, WMA, WAV and AIFF files (e.g. full albums).

      • Latte bug fix release v0.8.4

        Latte Dock v0.8.4 has been released containing important fixes and improvements!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • The Biggest GNOME Stories Of 2018

        The GNOME desktop environment advanced in 2018 especially when it came to its rather mature Wayland compositor support plus a lot of minor usability fixes (“paper cuts”), the PipeWire remote desktop/recording capabilities, continuing to mature Flatpak, performance improvements, and other changes to polish off the “GNOME 3″ experience this year.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Sparky 4.9.1 & 5.6.1

        Sparky iso images of both lines stable and rolling have been rebuild and updated.
        This is a minor but important update which provides new settings of Sparky repositories.

      • KaOS 2018.12

        Two years after initially starting the move to OpenSSL 1.1 has this update now been possible. All downstream libraries and applications have caught up, so the move was now smooth, without the need to have a mix of OpenSSL versions in the repositories. This move required a very large rebuild, combine that with a move to Perl 5.28.1, FFMPEG 4.1, LLVM/Clang 7.0.1 and Qt 5.12.0, it is clear a new ISO is needed.

        The artwork saw an update to the Midna SDDM theme, gone are the QML sliding effects, instead a cleaner and simpler layout with the addition of several warnings when num lock or capslock are activated.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Gentoo Family

      • Calculate Linux 18.12 released

        We have a bunch of news for this last 2018 release. We have added support for installation on Btrfs with the zstd compression. All server editions have been optimized for size. Software can now be transferred when reinstalling the system. Our ISO images are packed in the zstd format to speed up the startup times for the LiveCD, applications and system installation.

        Are available for download: Calculate Linux Desktop featuring the KDE (CLD), Cinnamon (CLDC), LXQt (CLDL), Mate (CLDM) or else Xfce (CLDX and CLDXE) environments, Calculate Directory Server (CDS), Calculate Linux Scratch (CLS) and Calculate Scratch Server (CSS).

      • Gentoo-Based Calculate Linux 18.12 Adds Btrfs Install Support With Zstd Compression

        The Gentoo-based Calculate Linux distribution is out with a final release before ringing in the new year.

        Calculate Linux 18.12 is now available in its various flavors from the Calculate Linux Desktop powered by KDE Plasma to its different Cinnamon/LXQt/MATE/Xfce spins to the Calculate Linux Directory Server, Calculate Linux Scratch, and Calculate Scratch Server.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Popularity-Contest Program To Collect System Packages Data

        In the following article, we will see how we can provide data on the use of our .deb packages to the Debian team through popularity-contest. Obviously, the fact of providing the data of the packages that we use the most will be optional and totally anonymous.

      • Orphaning reportbug-ng

        After more than two years without an update, I’ve decided to discontinue developing reportbug-ng and orphaned the Debian package. Since reportbug is a more than adequate alternative and reportbug-ng’s popcon value is relatively low, it’s probably the best to just remove the package from the archive.

        I started developing reportbug-ng 11 years ago as a user-friendly alternative to Debian’s standard reportbug. Not only did it come with a nice GUI that allowed for easy searching and filtering of existing bugs, it also queried our bug tracking system (BTS) using its SOAP interface. Back then, reportbug used to parse the human readable HTML from the website to get the same information.

        A couple of years later Debian’s reportbug got a GUI too and became a lot more novice-friendly.

      • Stephen Michael Kellat: How I Did It

        The output rendered is actually rather nicely organized and fairly compact. My site does not require much interactivity at this time. If people need to contact me, they’ll need to use e-mail. I’m not maintaining a huge CRM database on a remote server. This is a small Digital Ocean droplet. Black text on a white background works in this case as there are links to two work examples plus to the stash of multimedia on the Internet Archive.

        Every tool used is in the package archive. I didn’t even get fancy enough to use a snap for this. LaTeX actually gives me the flexibility to logically lay everything out in a way that makes sense not just in print but also online. Thankfully the nice folks at NIST came up with that great package.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 5 Ubuntu Themes That Will Steal Your Breath Away
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Beautiful Desktop Effects on Lubuntu LXQt

              At the last moment I wrote the WTDAI, I found out Compton settings to be very very interesting. In other words, we can make our old computer runs beautiful desktop OS featuring translucent window and drop shadows (similar to macOS). As it would be too complicated to explain on a simple WTDAI, I make a separate tutorial here starting with finding out the config, enabling it, and making the effects right for you. This tutorial is based on Lubuntu 18.10 and should be effective for the next releases and other LXQt distros as well. Enjoy!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: flyio

    Data company SocialCops’ solution for reading and writing data from cloud and local storage is now open-source.

    The project, flyio, provides an interface for interacting with data storage directly from R.

    Currently flyio supports AWS S3 and Google Cloud Storage, and can read or write tables, rasters, shapefiles, and R objects to a data source from memory. It also enables users to specify which function name they want to read or write.

  • What is the Next of Virtualization

    In conclusion, while virtualization is being adopted ubiquitously, and the next move would be to enable and accelerate adoption of a DevOps paradigm with an automation platform that provides users with turn-key experience. In specific area of DevOps in IoT field, service virtualization will play a more and more important role in its enablement and accelerated adoption. Machine learning will be a key technique to build a reliable model of service virtualization for DevOps in IoT field. And more importantly, the gaps are the missing open source solutions for both DevOps automation platform and machine-learning-based service virtualization platform. Those open source solutions are really needed by industry, now.

  • Tech Mahindra Launches Open Source AI Platform For Enterprises

    Tech Mahindra has now revealed the launch of GAiA, the first enterprise edition of the open source Artificial Intelligence platform Acumos.

    GAiA will now help to enable the enterprises across the industry verticals to build, share and quickly deploy the Artificial Intelligence driven services and applications to solve some of the critical problems.

  • Tech Mahindra launches open source AI platform for enterprises

    Acumos AI is a platform and open source framework that makes it easy to build, share and deploy AI apps. It standardizes the infrastructure stack and components required to run an out-of-the-box general AI environment. This frees data scientists and model trainers to focus on their core competencies.

  • The Best Kodi Add-ons 2018: For Your Viewing Pleasure

    Kodi is a free, open-source media center that allows you to import and categorize your digital content. In this guide to the best Kodi add-ons, we’re going to help you expand Kodi’s functionality with the best official and unofficial add-ons. We’re going to show you how to install an add-on, run through why we like each pick and give you a few suggestions on staying safe when using them.

  • From Cooperation to Competition or How Code Became Proprietary

    After two semesters of hard work, I’m happy to say I’ve finished all the classes I had to take for my Master’s degree. If I work hard enough, I should be able to finish writing my thesis by the end of August.

    Last night, I handed out the final paper for my History of the Economic Thought class. Titled “From Cooperation to Competition or How Code Became Proprietary”, it is a research paper on the evolution of the Copyright Law in the United States with regards to computer code.

  • Haiku Beta: The release heard around the world

    One big step for this little OS. One leap for free software.

  • Events

    • Learn how to jump start your career in open source in 5 minutes

      In his Lightning Talk, “How to jump-start a career in open source,” at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC, Eric D. Schabell says the most important thing in advancing your career is a lesson most people learn in preschool: “Sharing is caring.”

      Eric, global technology evangelist director at Red Hat, says the best way to bolster your career if you work in open source (or want to) is to share your knowledge with others. Some of his suggestions include giving talks at conferences or meetups, showing your colleagues how to do something, publishing blogs, and writing articles for Opensource.com

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • How different is Chromium from Google Chrome browser and Chrome OS

        Google has been on some major moves in general systems operation and internet services. There are a few terms like Chromium/Chrome OS, Chromium and the Google Chrome. First, the Chromium and Chromium OS are part of an open source project called Chromium Project. A few years in, the project has gotten some major players on board and just recently Microsoft embarks on using Chromium as the base code for its Edge browser. Let’s get into what these terms mean already.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Labs is back!

        Not seen for a number of years, Mozilla Labs used to be home to experimental Firefox projects. Now, the relaunched version is home to more, including Project Things, Spoke, Hubs and more — Firefox is no longer the sole focus.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding


    • GCC 9.0 Compiler Benchmarks Against GCC7/GCC8 At The End Of 2018

      In early 2019 we will see the first stable release of GCC 9 as the annual update to the GNU Compiler Collection that is bringing the D language front-end, more C2X and C++ additions, various microarchitecture optimizations from better Znver1 support to Icelake, and a range of other additions we’ll provide a convenient recap of shortly. But for those wondering how the GCC 9 performance is looking, here are some fresh benchmarks when benchmarking the latest daily GCC 9.0 compiler against GCC 7.4 and GCC 8.2 atop Clear Linux using an Intel Core i9 7980XE Skylake-X system.

      Similar to the few other tests we’ve done at different times throughout the years and on different hardware, this article is a last look as we end out 2018 to see how the GCC9 performance is looking on Intel x86_64 compared to the past two major releases. When the formal GCC 9.1.0 compiler release nears its debut around the end of Q1-2019, I’ll be back with plenty more compiler benchmarks on different CPUs. Of course, there will also be benchmarks of the upcoming LLVM Clang 8.0 release that should be out roughly around the same time as GCC9 stable.

    • Gnuastro 0.8 released

      The 8th release of GNU Astronomy Utilities (Gnuastro) is now available for download. Please see the announcement for details.

  • Public Services/Government

    • In January, the EU starts running Bug Bounties on Free and Open Source Software

      In January the European Commission is launching 14 out of a total of 15 bug bounties on Free Software projects that the EU institutions rely on. A bug bounty is a prize for people who actively search for security issues. The amount of the bounty depends on the severity of the issue uncovered and the relative importance of the software. The software projects chosen were previously identified as candidates in the inventories and a public survey.

      You can contribute to the projects below by analysing the software, and by submitting any bugs or vulnerabilities you find to the involved bug bounty platforms. Here is the list of Software projects and the bug bounties: [...]

    • EU to fund bug bounty programs for 14 open source projects starting January 2019

      The 14 projects are, in alphabetical order, 7-zip, Apache Kafka, Apache Tomcat, Digital Signature Services (DSS), Drupal, Filezilla, FLUX TL, the GNU C Library (glibc), KeePass, midPoint, Notepad++, PuTTY, the Symfony PHP framework, VLC Media Player, and WSO2.

      The bug bounty programs are being sponsored as part of the third edition of the Free and Open Source Software Audit (FOSSA) project.

      EU authorities first approved FOSSA in 2015, after security researchers discovered a year earlier severe vulnerabilities in the OpenSSL library, an open source project used by many websites to support HTTPS connections.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • New Leads for Malaria Discovered: Open Source Pharma FTW!

      Happy Scientific Sunday! There’s been some promising news in the field of Anti-Malaria Research! In this new article on Open Science, we are going to talk about the current challenges we face concerning the disease and what the new Open Source Discovery is all about!

      In our previous Science articles, we have talked about the Open Source Malaria Project and Open Source Pharma. You might want to look into them before reading on.

  • Programming/Development

    • SD Times news digest: SDM 1.2.0, Apache NetBeans 10.0, and Linux 4.20

      Atomist has released Software Delivery Machine (SDM) 1.2.0. The release was mostly focused on fixing bugs, the company explained.

      New features include an improved config command in the CLI, LazyProjectLoader for preventing eager cloning of Git projects, a convenience method for implementing ExecuteGoal instances, and more.

      The release is also backwards compatible and can be used with any SDM that is running SDM 1.0.0 or higher.

    • Creating a Custom Landing Page in Sphinx
    • 100 Days of Code – Julian Sequeira
    • Running an interactive terminal in the browser

      In the last blog post I explained that JupyterHub can be used to spawn instances of applications other than Jupyter notebooks. Because JupyterHub can also handle user authentication, this made it a handy way of spinning up distinct user environments when running workshops. Each attendee of the workshop would be given access to a shell environment running in a separate pod inside of Kubernetes, with access via an interactive terminal running in their web browser. This meant that they did not need to install anything on their local computer in order to complete the workshop.

      For the interactive terminal, the Butterfly application was used. This is a backend Python application implemented using the Tornado web framework, with the in browser terminal support being based on term.js.

    • Open Source IDE for FPGAs as QtCreator Learns Verilog

      Classic battles: PC vs Mac, Emacs vs Vi, Tastes Great vs Less Filling, and certainly one that we debate around the Hackaday watercooler: command line or IDE? There’s something to be said for using good old command line tools, and even if you like to configure your favorite editor to be nearly an IDE, at least it is one you are familiar with and presumably leverage over several different uses.

      Most commercial FPGA tools come with a heavy-weight IDE. The open source tools for Lattice (IceStorm) typically is driven by the command line or a makefile. Until now. [Rochus-Keller] released VerilogCreator which is a plugin for QtCreator.

    • What’s inside the Google V8 Engine?

      JavaScript has always been an interesting language fro the developers across the globe for its user-friendliness. We thought that by knowing how the building blocks of JavaScript play together and write better code and applications. There are many JavaScript engines which are committed to the clarification and depiction of the numerous pages. Among all, it is the Google V8 Javascript engine which has become the talk of the town these days. People are going gaga over its functionalities and flexibility.

    • Python Get Current time
    • stackoverflow python report
    • The Zen of Python is well sed :)


  • Is Haiti Awakening to Change?

    It started with a few keystrokes in a living room in Montreal. Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., a Haitian filmmaker and writer, took to Twitter on Aug. 14 to post a photo of himself, blindfolded, holding a piece of cardboard with a simple question written on it in Haiti’s Creole: “Kot Kòb Petwo Karibe a???” — Where is the Petrocaribe money???

    He was referring to funds that had gone missing from some $2 billion in low-interest loans provided by Petrocaribe, a Venezuela-led oil-purchasing alliance of Caribbean states, since 2008 to help Haiti’s economy. It became a critical emergency resource in 2010, when an earthquake devastated the country.

    A few days after the Mirambeau tweet, the popular Haitian rapper K-Lib tweeted his own picture, using the hashtag #PetroCaribeChallenge. On the 18th, an informal group of young Haitians who organized on Twitter and Facebook decided to make promoting the hashtag their first public action. The movement continues to build momentum and the campaign has hit Haitian streets.

    On Oct. 17, huge crowds of Haitians from all sectors of society peacefully demonstrated with banners and shirts demanding an answer to Mr. Mirambeau’s tweeted question, which is still trending.

  • Science

    • People adopt made-up social rules to be part of a group

      The new work was published by the University of Melbourne’s Campbell Pryor, Amy Perfors, and Piers Howe. It’s based on past research that looked at how social norms are established. This work has suggested two means that drive their adoption. One is simply practical: people will adopt social standards that are popular because it’s likely those standard have some utility. An alternative explanation is only slightly less practical in that it posits adopting a social norm will ensure that you can avoid punishment by the rest of society for violating it.

    • Why you might want to wrap your car key fob in foil

      People who store their fobs in Faraday cages aren’t paranoid, experts say.

  • Hardware

    • Apple’s gaslighting over bent iPads is a stunning response to a serious problem

      There’s enough photographic proof that a number of warped iPad Pros are indeed arriving in customers hands. But in the face of this mounting evidence, Apple hasn’t indicated that it will replace any of them. In fact, Apple seems to be actively trying to convince users that there’s nothing wrong with their tablets at all. Basically, Apple is saying these iPads are either a) not bent, or b) supposed to be bent.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • What Ireland’s Pro-Choice Referendum Teaches Us About Democracy

      When future historians write about 2018, what will stand out? Some might say the midterm elections that repudiated of the policies of Donald Trump and saw the ascendency of some pretty progressive figures – including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who might potentially save our two-party system from the dreaded scourge of centrism. But to me one of the most important stories of the year is also one of the least understood.

      In May, the people of Ireland affirmed what has long been understood to be a basic tenet of human rights law: a woman’s body is her own. No one – no relative, spouse or government – has the right to prohibit a woman’s access to her sexual and reproductive rights. That includes her choice to end a pregnancy. Yes there are certain parameters within which she may do so, and there is room for further improvement. But in general this is a huge step forward for women’s rights.

      That’s great for the people of Ireland, but the really interesting thing is about how that referendum took place. Unlike in other referenda (one involving Ireland’s neighbor to the North and East), the referendum wasn’t the first step. Rather it was the end of a process that was started essentially by politicians who didn’t want to touch a potentially explosive issue. The middle class in Ireland – the perhaps 30% of the population who live in the cities and visit relatives in the large Irish diaspora – have long been ready for changes to Ireland’s repressive anti-abortion laws. But fear of a backlash prevented mainstream political parties from actually taking forward a proposal through the usual channels.

    • Reckless Gamble for Profit that Placed Indian Cotton Farmers in Corporate Noose

      The dubious performance (failure) of genetically engineered Bt cotton, officially India’s only GM crop, should serve as a warning as the push within the country to adopt GM across a wide range of food crops continues. This article provides an outline of some key reports and papers that have appeared in the last few years on Bt cotton in India.

      In a paper that appeared in December 2018 in the journal Current Science, P.C. Kesavan and M.S. Swaminathan cited research findings to support the view that Bt insecticidal cotton has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. This paper was not just important because of its content but also because M.S. Swaminathan is considered to be the father of the Green Revolution in India.

      The two authors provided evidence that indicates Bt crops are unsustainable and have not decreased the need for toxic chemical pesticides, the reason for these GM crops in the first place.

  • Security

    • Breaking Up the Crypto-Criminal Bar Brawl

      Unikernels embrace this new model of software provisioning yet enforce it at the same time. They run only one single application per virtual machine (the server). They can not, by design, run other programs on the same server.

      This completely prevents attackers from running their programs on your server. It prevents them from downloading new software onto the server and massively limits their ability to inject malicious content, such as credit card skimming scripts and cryptomining programs.

    • Electrum wallet hack spooks market, causing bitcoin price to plunge again

      Those behind the hack tricked users to download and install a malicious software update. They did so by adding malicious servers to Electrum’s network that if contacted would result in an error message followed by an update client message that linked to an unauthorized GitHub repository.

    • Side-Channel Vulnerability Variants 3a and 4 – Spectre and Meltdown

      On May 21, 2018, new variants of the side-channel central processing unit (CPU) hardware vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown were publicly disclosed. These variants—known as 3A and 4—can allow an attacker to obtain access to sensitive information on affected systems.

    • Firejail – Securely Run Untrusted Applications in Linux

      Sometimes you may want to use applications that have not been well tested in different environments, yet you must use them. In such cases, it is normal to be concerned about the security of your system. One thing that can be done in Linux is to use applications in a sandbox.

      “Sandboxing” is the ability to run application in a limited environment. That way the application is provided a tighten amount of resources, needed to run. Thanks to application called Firejail, you can safely run untrusted applications in Linux.

      Firejail is a SUID (Set Owner User ID) application that decrease the exposure of security breaches by limiting the running environment of untrusted programs using Linux namespaces and seccomp-bpf.

    • Hackers Attack IPMI Default Passwords to Deploy Ransomware On Linux Servers

      However, JungleSec is only a concern for those using the IPMI default password. The best prevention against the JungleSec Ransomware attack is to simply reset your IPMI password to a something more secure, alternatively consider disabling/restricting if not required.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Democrats and Neocons Are the Biggest Losers of Trump’s Syria Withdrawal

      Russia: Nancy Pelosi’s Dec. 20 description of the pullout as “a Christmas present to Vladimir Putin” is not off the mark. Not only has the Russian president gained leverage in Syria, he’s now the chief arbiter across the entire Mashriq, the area from the Nile to the Tigris. But the pullout alters the balance of power in another arena as well: the Black Sea. The Nov. 26 fracas in the Kerch Strait, in which Russia captured three Ukrainian navy boats attempting to force their way through what Moscow regards as its territorial waters, ended in a clear Russian victory, because it showed that it could limit access to the Sea of Azov (and therefore to the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk) without NATO able to do much in response.

      It’s a far cry from the heady days of February 2014, when the U.S. thought it could use the “AutoMaidan” protests in Kiev to force Russia out of its historic naval base at Sevastopol in the southern Crimea, a move that, if successful, would have virtually closed off Russian access to the Black Sea. But now the shoe is on the other foot. If the Syria pullout is a sign that the American appetite for foreign adventures is on the wane, Russia will gain even more room to maneuver—not only in Syria but in the Black Sea as well.

      Iran: The last time Iran opened a corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean was in the early seventh century, when it overran Syria and captured Jerusalem. Then the Byzantines counterattacked in 628, and the Arab conquests began in 632. With the U.S. out of Syria, the path is once again open from Iraq to Lebanon. It’s a victory of historic proportions.

    • Keep Walking, Nothing Important to See Here

      Shanahan managed, with the assistance of a friendly press corps who were either inappropriately polite or simply historically ignorant, to cover up the reality that the Pentagon had actually been forced by Congress to finally submit to an attempted audit by 1200 auditors from the nation’s leading audit firms after 27 years of stonewalling a Congressional mandate to develop an auditable set of books.

      Like all his predecessors in the leadership of the Pentagon dating back to 1990, when Congress passed the CFO Act requiring all federal departments and agencies to have auditable books and regular outside audits, Shanahan did his best during his short tenure to avoid making the Pentagon’s budget and spending record transparent and understandable.

      The reality is that under Shanahan and his soon-to-be-cashiered boss Sec. Mattis, as under prior Pentagon leaders, neither Congress nor any inquisitive media (if there still are any), nor any of us taxpayers have the remotest idea how the Pentagon spends the astonishing trillion or so dollars that are annually shoveled its way by the US Treasury Department, and that’s the whole point of keeping the budget totally opaque and filled with purely fake numbers called, in the Pentagon’s darkly humorous jargon, “plugs.” Nor, it would appear, does this guy who is so ready to excuse himself and the department for this abject and apparently willful failure at a first audit exercise, plan to let us learn more in the future.

    • Confessions of a Soviet Assassin

      That’s the story of Stashinkiy’s second assassination at the behest of Soviet intelligence– at least according to Stashinkiy himself. The alleged murder took place in 1959, and two years later Stashinkiy defected to the West. The story above is the one he told the CIA during long debriefings, according to declassified CIA files.

      Stashinkiy’s first kill supposedly came in 1957 – another Ukrainian who died of what authorities thought was another heart attack also in Munich.

    • US turns to military, medical research to solve diplomats’ ‘health attacks’

      In the waning days of summer, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan was quietly dispatched to a Pennsylvania brain clinic to investigate for himself what government doctors had described: American diplomats and spies suffering from a mysterious set of ailments.

    • How the CIA Finally Caught One of Russia’s “Most Successful” Spies

      A declassified CIA study describes what happened:

      “Located at his hotel at 0800 the next morning, Felfe invited our liaison officer to breakfast. Without being asked to account for his time, Felfe volunteered that he had gone to the movie at 1830, had had something to eat and drink, and had then gone to another movie at 2230. Again without being asked or challenged, he exhibited two movie tickets.

      “This voluntary display of props to support a story struck the liaison officer as quite unusual,” the study says.

      But then a telltale detail: “Equally unusual was the fact that the stub was torn off only one of the tickets…”

      The CIA officer played it cool and let Felfe get back to his breakfast, but later wrote up a report about the man’s “disappearing act.”

      Luckily for Felfe, and unluckily for the CIA, the suspicious account was one among many suspicious accounts recorded by Western security services – but not shared with one another.

      Only years later did the CIA find out that Felfe had actually gone to meet a KGB officer that night, as he had many, many times over the years, under the collective noses of Western intelligence.

      According to the CIA, “of the identified KGB penetrations of Western intelligence and security services, Heinz Felfe was certainly one of the most successful.”

    • This was a fight against MI6 and CIA not Ranil – Gammanpila

      MP Udaya Gammanpila stated that the foreign ambassadors can rest well because their wishes have been fulfilled. He went on to state that this fight was not against Karu Jayasuriya or even Ranil Wickremesinghe but a fight against foreign secret services such as America’s CIA and Britain’s MI6. He added that they will now be able to see how the UNP dances to the tune of the UNP.

    • We were up against CIA and MI6, not Karu and Ranil – Gammanpila

      Speaking at a press conference in Colombo on Saturday, he stated that they were not up against Speaker Karu Jayasuriya or UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

      “We were up against secret intelligence agencies such as America’s CIA and Britain’s MI6,” he claimed.

    • China should free the two Canadian citizens held after Huawei arrest: CIA director

      Pompeo’s comments were the first by a senior U.S. official on the arrests, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said could escalate a growing trade conflict between China and the United States.

      “The unlawful detention of two Canadian citizens is unacceptable,” Pompeo told reporters after talks in Washington with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. “They ought to be returned … We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly.”

      Canadian officials were granted consular access on Friday to one of the two detainees in China and were still trying to contact the second, the Foreign Ministry said.

      China detained the two – businessman Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group (ICG) – after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1.

      ICG President Robert Malley also called for Kovrig’s release on Saturday.

    • Following Report on Saudi Use of Child Soldiers in Yemen, Anti-War Voices Offer This Reminder: American Tax Dollars ‘Help Pay for It’

      “America is now aiding and abetting the use of child soldiers.”

      That was how Ari Rabin-Havt, deputy policy director for U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), responded to a New York Times report on Friday detailing Saudi Arabia’s use of Sudanese child soldiers as young as 14 years old to wage its vicious assault on Yemen, which has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

      According to the Times, “five fighters who have returned from Yemen and another about to depart said that children made up at least 20 percent of their units. Two said children were more than 40 percent.”

      “To keep a safe distance from the battle lines,” the Times noted, “their Saudi or Emirati overseers commanded the Sudanese fighters almost exclusively by remote control, directing them to attack or retreat through radio headsets and GPS systems provided to the Sudanese officers in charge of each unit, the fighters all said.”

      The Times report was met with horror by anti-war activists, who highlighted the fact that—by continuing to send the Saudis arms and provide other military assistance—the United States is directly complicit in the kingdom’s use of children as soldiers in its years-long war on Yemen.

    • Stop Wasting Money on the Pentagon

      In this season of (hoped for) peace and goodwill, it’s worth looking for things our divided country can agree on. And since all of us want to be able to trust government to spend wisely, we might find common cause in a surprising place: the Pentagon budget.

      When you think of politicians railing against the Pentagon (if you can think of any) it might be someone on the left, like Senator Bernie Sanders. That’s why I was gratified to see Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley take on the Pentagon budget in a recent op-ed in The New York Times.

      It’s a relatively rare occurrence for a politician of any persuasion to criticize the Pentagon — but especially for a conservative Republican like Grassley. (That said, the late Senator John McCain, when he was in the right mood, could do it with the best of them. And it’s not Grassley’s first rodeo, either.)

      The Pentagon deserves the criticism. Nearly 30 years ago, Congress asked the Pentagon to complete an audit that could show military leaders knew where our money was going. This year, the Pentagon finally delivered a result: After waiting nearly 30 years, the Pentagon failed its first-ever audit.

    • Bush, Posada and Dirty War Against Cuba

      Former president George H.W. Bush recently died. Stories abound as to his civility and easy interaction with political associates and casual contacts alike. In Maine, where his family owns a summer home, the press highlighted such qualities and also his generosity. The assumption prevails that affability softened the hard edges of wielding power. Dark corners in Bush’s political life receive less attention.

      The criminal Luis Posada Carriles lived in one of them. President Bush’s dealings with Posada reflected amorality, want of ethical principles, and dedication to preserving a world of privilege. The contrast between a decent-guy image and easy tolerance of blatant criminality is striking.

      It’s a blight recalling the high-minded framers of the U.S. Constitution who owned enslaved people. Bush resembled the “gentleman” southern planter of pre-Civil War years whose hands were not often dirtied. An underling enforced the “pushing system” of industrial-scale cotton production. (1) Similarly, Bush himself didn’t perform the dirty deeds against Cuba.

    • UN Arrives in Hodeida to Monitor Fragile Truce Amid Repeated Saudi Violations

      A UN monitoring team, led by Cammaert, arrived in the port city on Monday after traveling from the Saudi-controlled city of Aden, and earlier from Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, where they met with Houthi officials on Sunday. The team arrived in Yemen on Saturday to oversee the fragile truce reached during recent UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden.

      Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia increased its attacks — in breach of the UN-brokered truce – in the port city of Hodeida, leaving a father and his child dead after Saudi-led coalition fighters launched a guided missile at Bani Ghazi village in western Heis city on Wednesday.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Watch Replay of 10th Online Vigil for Julian Assange

      Consortium News on Friday night broadcast live the 10th online vigil for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Among the guests were Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who spoke about his experiences with the U.S.-British extradition treaty.

      Other guests were radio host Scott Horton, activists Cathy Vogan and Vivian Kubrick, journalist Nozomi Hayase, priest and boxer Father Dave, radio journalist Ann Garrison, CIA analyst Ray McGovern and journalist and historian Gareth Porter. If you missed the live broadcast you can watch the entire replay here, which ends with a video of a talk given by Julian Assange…

    • Justice for Julian Assange, Test of Western Democracy

      Assange claimed political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to mitigate the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his publishing activities. He has been unlawfully by the UK government without charge, being denied access to medical treatment, fresh air, sunlight and adequate space to exercise. In December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange was being “arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released”. Yet the UK government’s refusal to comply with the UN finding has allowed this unlawful detention to continue.

      This cruel persecution of Assange represents a deep crisis of Western democracy. As injustice against this Western journalist prevails, the legitimacy of traditional institutions has weakened. The benevolent Democracy that many were taught to believe in has been shown to be an illusion. It has been revealed as a system of control, lacking enforcement mechanisms in law to deal with real offenders of human rights violations, who for example illegally invade countries under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Under this managed democracy, the premise of “no person is above laws” is made into a pretense that elites use to escape democratic accountability. Media has become the “Guardian” of ruling elites that engage in propaganda to distort truth.

    • Guarded warehouse near airport and mysterious cargos from Baghdad; what is the US embassy in Helsinki up to?

      Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of parcels sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?

      A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.

      The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks’ database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.

      Situated across the street from the main entrance of Malmi Airport, the warehouse with its 3 meter high security fence appears an unlikely location for official embassy business. Neighbouring companies include a car yard and a tyre warehouse.


      In addition to Finland and Western Europe, the Wikileaks database shows that the US embassy in Baghdad disseminates hundreds of thousands of parcels worldwide, with more than 300,000 parcels recorded as being delivered Stateside alone.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Is the Green New Deal a Revolutionary Reform?

      The movement around the Green New Deal is the ultimate testing ground for the kind of political skills and strategy needed to win the most important political battles of all. What do you think of the Green New Deal? I think we might just have a workable “revolutionary reform.” The Green New Deal can help us focus our energy on a concrete set of proposals that provides a bridge to the fundamental social transformation necessary to preserve the planet and free the people. But first we need a winning strategy.

    • Ten 2018 Extinction Awards

      Given the way people are transforming the earth into a place where the human species cannot survive, it is only right and just that we honor achievement in the race to extinction.

    • Permian era die-off may be warning for today

      Forensic geologists have revisited the scene of one of the world’s great massacres to identify the means of death. The victims of the Permian era die-off found themselves increasingly in hot water, to die of overheating or suffocation.

      That is, in a rapidly warming globe, marine animals simply could not gasp fast enough to take in the increasingly limited dissolved oxygen. So they died in their billions.

      It happened at the close of the Permian era 252 million years ago: the planet’s worst single mass extinction event so far, in which up to 90% of marine species perished and 70% of land animals succumbed.

      And if the scientists who have reconstructed this epic event are right, then the prime cause of mass death and destruction was a dramatic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide which raised tropical ocean temperatures by about 10°C.

      Tropical species could move away from the equatorial zones to find cooler waters and a breathing space. Species adapted to cooler waters had nowhere to go.

    • ‘Not the Leadership This Moment Calls For’: Progressives Slam Pelosi for Pushing ‘Weak’ Climate Panel Over Green New Deal Committee

      Following presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) official announcement on Friday that Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) will chair the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, progressives accused the Democratic leadership of moving ahead with a “weak” congressional panel instead of listening to grassroots demands for a more bold and visionary Green New Deal Select Committee.

      Justice Democrats—an advocacy group that helped organize recent mobilizations in support of a Green New Deal—declared in a statement that the Democratic leadership appears dead-set on taking the “path of least resistance” when it comes to tackling the climate crisis.

      “Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership seem to be pushing forward a weak Select Committee that has no subpoena power, that allows participation from members of Congress who take donations from the fossil fuel industry, and that has no explicit goals regarding the mass economic mobilization needed to match the [United Nations'] recommendations on scale and timeline,” Justice Democrats spokesman Waleed Shahid said in a statement.

    • With ‘Unconscionable Rollback,’ Trump EPA Lays Groundwork for Coal Industry to Release More Mercury Into the Air

      Janet McCabe, who ran the EPA’s air office under Obama, told the Times, “There is a likelihood that this rule-making will be the administration’s flagship effort to permanently change the way the federal government considers health benefits.”

      When crafting the regulation, the Obama EPA considered not only the direct gains of curbing mercury pollution, but also public health impacts such as fewer asthama attacks and premature deaths. Under notoriously pro-coal Trump, the agency is now, as Bloomberg News put it, “effectively ignoring those so-called co-benefits and focusing only on the direct potential benefits from slashing mercury emissions.”

      Ex-coal lobbyist and current EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler “is attacking the foundational building blocks for these critical protections,” declared Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) president Fred Krupp. In spite of the fact that much of the industry complies with MATS, which enjoys widespread public support, “and in spite of all common sense, Wheeler is plowing ahead.”

    • World’s Governments Indulge in Symbolism, Not Action, at COP24

      The good news from the annual climate summit just concluded in Katowice, Poland, is that the world’s governments agreed on a “rulebook” intended to implement the Paris Accord, the 2015 agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The bad news is that the world is no closer to actually tackling global warming than before and the rulebook has little binding effect.

      Because these annual meetings are more about symbolism than action, it is symbolic indeed that the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP 24, took place in Katowice, in Poland’s coal country. For added irony, the far-right Polish government announced the opening of a new coal mine days before COP24 opened, and Poland’s pavilion featured displays of everyday items such as walls and soap made out of coal.

      Admittedly the bar is awfully low, but COP24 was an improvement over last year’s COP23 gathering in Bonn, Germany, when the world’s governments talked and concluded by announcing that they would talk some more. But there were some glowing press releases issued, in which participants congratulated themselves for their willingness to talk. The official COP23 website declared that “we have done the job we came here to do, which is to advance the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement.” Evidently, talking about those guidelines was considered sufficient to “advance” the Paris Accord agreements.

    • Bear Dreaming: Of Wonder in Winter

      By now most grizzly bears are snug in winter dens, safe at last from poachers, big game hunters, and other dangers. Last week, to the relief of her many fans, Number 399, the rock star grizzly matron of Grand Teton Park, was seen with her two yearling cubs making their way back towards her denning area along Pilgrim Creek. She and her family had stayed up later than most grizzlies because they could feast on the abundant remains of elk killed by hunters in Jackson Hole. Once again, this 21-year-old veteran mom had miraculously survived a landscape bristling with guns as well as other hazards that come with her life strategy of living close to people.

      What does the next four to five months of life look like for her and other grizzly bear moms? Let’s peer into her lair and find out.

      In the darkness below the snow, we find miracles and mysteries. I like the fact that, despite industrial-scale research, hibernation remains magical and elusive. Wild animals will always defy circumscription by the human intellect – and throw us back on heart, soul, and imagination.

    • Louisiana Sheriff Who Criticized Pipeline Opponents Is Ordered to Release Records on Standing Rock Visit

      On December 27, a federal appeals court ordered a Louisiana’s sheriff’s department and its sheriff to release information about its officers’ trip to North Dakota during the heated protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. The extended, indigenous-led protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation drew a highly militarized response from public and private law enforcement. Out-of-state cops, including those from Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish, flooded North Dakota to support it via an interstate agreement.

      The latest move reversed a decision by a district court, which denied a public records request made by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights law firm, on behalf of environmental groups in Louisiana after parish law enforcement spoke out against Dakota Access pipeline opponents and endorsed the Bayou Bridge pipeline, a similar oil pipeline in Louisiana.

    • The Green New Deal: Let’s Shake Things Up

      Lately there’s been a lot of bad news about climate change and the future of humanity.

      In October, the United Nations issued a major report warning of a climate crisis as soon as 2040. The day after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration tried to bury the release of its own report on the dire effects of climate change already occurring in the United States, which included dark predictions for the future.

      In December alone, we learned that 2018’s global carbon emissions set a record high. NASA detected new glacier melts in Antarctica. There were wildfires. Coral reef bleaching. Ecosystem upheaval in Alaska as the arctic ice melts.

      Meanwhile the Trump administration sent an adviser to the UN climate summit to promote coal and warn against climate “alarmism.”

      So this all sucks. But here’s the thing about climate change: You can either ignore it, get depressed about doomsday scenarios, or believe that no matter how badly we’ve screwed up as a species, we’re also smart and creative enough to fix this.

    • China’s Climate Progress May Have Faltered in 2018, But It Seems to Be on the Right Path

      Despite clear signs that the need to act on climate change is becoming more urgent, global greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise for the second straight year.

      China, the world’s second-largest economy and ground zero in the global effort to combat climate change, is among the biggest drivers of this increase. Accounting for 27 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, China has been the world’s leading emitter for more than a decade. Although its emissions stayed flat between 2013 and 2016, they rose again in 2017 and increased by an estimated 5 percent in 2018.

      While recent increases are certainly cause for concern, based on my research on China’s climate change policies, I see grounds for optimism in terms of what to expect with China’s carbon footprint.

    • Germany’s Electricity 38% Renewable in 2018, more than Coal for 1st Time

      Germany, a pioneer in renewables among the advanced industrial economies, now gets 38% of its electricity from renewables.

      In the United States the proportion of electricity generated by renewables is only about 20%, about half as much as Germany, because of the opposition to green energy of Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Gas, and increasingly Big Trump (what has he been eating?) Moreover, much of the increase in renewables in the US is very new, with falling solar and wind prices, whereas Germany has been at this for a long time and thus avoided substantial carbon emissions that it would otherwise have produced.

    • CIA, climate scientists, and Mueller all show limits of Trump’s authority

      Right before Thanksgiving, the Trump Administration issued the National Climate Assessment which laid bare the dangers to the United States of man-made climate change. Trump denied the conclusions of the report, a strange reaction for a president regarding a report from the executive branch of government.

  • Finance

    • Over 5 million workers will have higher pay on January 1 thanks to state minimum wage increases

      On January 1, 2019, 20 states will raise their minimum wages, lifting pay for 5.3 million workers across the country.1 The increases, which range from a $0.05 inflation adjustment in Alaska to a $2.00 per hour increase in New York City, will give affected workers approximately $5.4 billion in increased wages over the course of 2019. Affected workers who work year-round will see their annual pay go up between $90 and $1,300, on average, depending on the size of the minimum wage change in their state.


      The increases in the remaining six states—Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Washington—are the result of ballot measures approved directly by voters in those states.

    • Thoughts on Putin, Economic Downturns and Democracy

      A friend called my attention to this Project Syndicate piece by Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard economics professor and former chief economist at the I.M.F. Rogoff argues that Russia will need major economic reform and political reform in order for its economy to get back on a healthy growth path.

      In the course of making his argument, Rogoff makes a quick and dirty case that the fact Putin was able to win re-election despite the economic downturn in 2015-2016 resulting from the collapse of world oil prices, shows that the country is not a western democracy.

    • ‘Pouring Salt Into the Wound’ Amid Shutdown, Trump Signs Executive Order Freezing Pay of Nearly 2 Million Federal Workers

      With hundreds of thousands of federal employees currently furloughed or working without pay due to the ongoing government shutdown, President Donald Trump delivered another blow to struggling workers on Friday by signing an executive order that will freeze the pay of around two million public employees in 2019.

      “This is just pouring salt into the wound,” declared Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents around 100,000 federal workers. “It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don’t even deserve a modest pay increase.”

    • Innovation Used to Benefit Workers. Can It Again?

      Replacing human labor with a machine used to mean fewer work hours per worker, with little or no loss in pay. It meant workers being freed up to do other, more rewarding work.

    • China’s plan to sideline Bitcoin for investors

      When Satoshi Nakamoto introduced Bitcoin to the world in 2008, he or she or they (the mystery endures) pitched it as a way to end the power of central authorities in finance. Ten years on, the Chinese government is adapting the ideas behind Bitcoin to do the exact opposite.

      The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, plans to introduce a digital currency of its own. But unlike the decentralized blockchain-based offerings, this one could give Beijing more control over its financial system.

    • Questioning the Logic of Capital: A Conversation With Richard D. Wolff

      Richard D. Wolff is professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Programs in International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. In this interview, Wolff discusses how market-based economies have had their critics since the times of Plato and Aristotle, how both major US political parties have become subservient to the gospel of capitalism and how technology isn’t always constructive. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: FDR and His Deal for a Desperate Time

      Roosevelt’s detractors labeled him a socialist before he ever took office. His partisans deified him ahead of his inauguration and predicted he would save the nation from economic plight and bring back prosperity. Roosevelt was, in fact, neither a “commie” nor a miracle worker, neither Christ nor Antichrist. What he was, as he took the mantle of executive power in March 1933, was imbued with a mandate for change and determined to do something—not just to end the Depression but to reshape the country. Through fits and starts, periods of immense popularity and stretches in the political doldrums, FDR would improvise and legislate with an energy and passion rarely seen from an American president.

      From the very start, both on the campaign trail and in his inaugural address, Roosevelt announced that the train of change was a-coming. Accepting his party’s nomination in a Chicago stadium, he exclaimed, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” Just what that New Deal would mean in practice was initially rather vague, couched in rhetoric more than clear public policy. FDR liked to say that the “New Deal is as old as Christian ethics. … It recognizes that man is indeed his brother’s keeper. … [It] demands that justice shall rule the mighty as well as the weak.” To the optimistic leftist and the fearful conservative alike, this rhetoric smacked of socialism. But it was never that.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Since When Did the Irish Words “Sinn Féin” Mean Pro-Empire?

      Brexit has exposed Ireland as much as it has exposed Britain. In the on and off deal between the UK and the EU, the future of the Irish border, and therefore the future of Ireland, is being decided by faceless bureaucrats in Britain and Brussels. This is yet more proof – if any more proof was needed – of Ireland’s dependent status. After the Irish banking disaster, this is the latest ignominy “Independent Ireland” must bear.

      While the subjugation of Ireland by its powerful neighbors is nothing new – the almost cheerful acceptance of this current state of affairs by “rebel Ireland” is something new.

      For decades now the Sinn Féin party has been the face of “rebel Ireland”. It fought British rule in the north. And openly defied the comprador capitalists in the south. But today it cheers on Brussels as the latter decides the fate of Ireland. Today Sinn Féin criticizes anyone who wishes to exit the European Union. Today – irony of ironies – Sinn Féin is the Unionist Party par excellence. In the most smug way, it is now loyal to the prevailing Empire.

      The Irish words “sinn féin” mean “ourselves”, or in political terms, “ourselves alone” – as opposed to “ourselves following the orders of others”. So in contemporary terms, the words “sinn féin” best describe those arguing for Brexit. While those wishing to remain in the EU are anything but “sinn féin”. Following this semantic line, Ireland’s Sinn Féin party, by defending the EU and mocking Brexit, has turned the meaning of “sinn féin” on its head.

    • Schumer vs. the Climate: Manchin’s Criminally Insane Promotion

      If I read Chuck Schumer correctly, he generally assumes his progressive opponents are powerless wimps and that he can just serve his Wall Street and AIPAC masters without taking our views or feelings into account. Or even that we’re “fucking retarded,” as Schumer evidently believes but it took Rahm Emanuel to actually say. Schumer, by contrast, typically goes about his business of screwing progressives without getting too emotionally or verbally worked up about us.

      But occasionally—I hope ever increasingly—we progressives manage to get under his skin and Schumer does (usually not says) something incredibly spiteful. And potentially incredibly stupid, provided Schumer has severely underestimated his progressive opponents’ numbers, resolve, and strategic savvy.

      Now, given progressives’ long years of political impotence—the same history of futile tethering to the anti-progressive Democratic Party that prompted Rahm Emanuel to ask, “Where the hell will they go?”—Schumer’s calculus of screwing progressives without backlash has worked incredibly well. Perhaps an occasional grumble of protest (say, by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights) when he actually sought to violate the Constitution, as Schumer’s irrational level of aversion to the BDS movement (abetted by Congress’s largest AIPAC-sponsored donations) rashly compelled him to do. But nothing like career-threatening backlash from his rashness; such a powerful shield is Schumer’s prowess as a Wall Street fundraiser for Democrats that it’s been long years since he’s even faced the indignity of a primary.

    • ‘Fake News’ Results In Real Jail Time For Ohio Woman

      As Sullum points out, this sentencing appears to ignore the First Amendment, which allows for the spreading of stupidity, even if the stupidity could conceivably provoke reactions from those who come across it.

      The school claims the repeating of the unfounded rumor — months after the alleged event had happened — disrupted school administration. Apparently, the principal of Coventry Middle School “spent the entire day” answering phone calls from parents who had read Croghan’s post. Croghan’s post — referencing a rumor she had heard from her daughter the previous November — hit Facebook shortly after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.


      The sentence is being appealed. This will likely be followed by a lawsuit, especially if the sentence is overturned. The application of the state law in this fashion criminalizes ignorance. And, in this case, it comes with additional Constitutional violations (prior restraint) that make it litigation bait. Handing out jail time in response to “fake news” is the worst way to handle careless — but protected — speech. Sooner or later, Ohio taxpayers are going to be paying real dollars to settle cases stemming from “fake news” arrests.

    • Why Scott Pruitt Still Matters in the Trump Era

      Scott Pruitt is gone. In place of the erstwhile EPA administrator sits former coal lobbyist and savvy deregulatory policy hand, Andrew Wheeler. Good luck, environment.

      The world, such as it is, has moved on. It’s time now to turn away from that unpleasant episode as the Trump saga trudges through interminable bedlam. But, although Pruitt is gone, he can’t be forgotten. (Investigators certainly remember.) Tracing the course he charted helps clarify today’s politics and presages what oversight will uncover as the Democrats take over the House and hold the Trump administration accountable. In retrospect, he seemed destined to go under, yet the fact that it took so long and required such a torrent of venality to sweep him away even now remains astounding.

    • The comical incompetence of President Trump

      President Trump is spending the last few days of 2018 in signature fashion, with a series of unforced errors and comical pratfalls around the world, any one of which would have been a multi-week scandal for any previous president. The government is shut down over total nonsense, and Trump’s attempt to visit the troops for a quick propaganda coup instantly became a head-shaking discussion about his awful operation security and pointless lies.

      It’s worth remembering every now and then that Trump is horrible at being president. The basic tasks are as far beyond him as it would be for a parakeet attempting to operate the Large Hadron Collider.

      Let’s review. The United States is on the seventh day of a government shutdown sparked by Trump demanding $5 billion for The Wall. As many, many experts have argued at tedious length, any border wall is all but pointless for achieving its stated objective. Walls are easy to get around, and actually building one would ruin the lives and properties of many law-abiding citizens, in addition to presenting huge logistical and legal barriers. Anyway, since 2007 most people who immigrate illegally overstay their visas instead of crossing the border.

    • Democrats Won’t Seat Candidate in Contested Race, House Leader Says

      Amid the turmoil, incoming U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a statement saying House Democrats won’t allow Republican Mark Harris to be sworn in next week because of the ongoing investigation.

      “Given the now well-documented election fraud that took place in NC-09, Democrats would object to any attempt by Mr. Harris to be seated on January 3,” Hoyer said, adding that “the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress.”

    • Government Shutdown or Not, the Police State Will Continue to Flourish

      At least, parts of the government have temporarily shut down over President Trump’s demand for a $5 billion border wall.

      Yet while these political games dominate news headlines, send the stock market into a nosedive, and put more than 800,000 federal employees at risk of having to work without pay, nothing about this government shutdown will diminish the immediate and very real dangers of the American Police State with its roadside strip searches, government surveillance, biometric databases, citizens being treated like terrorists, imprisonments for criticizing the government, national ID cards, SWAT team raids, censorship, forcible blood draws and DNA extractions, private prisons, weaponized drones, red light cameras, tasers, active shooter drills, police misconduct and government corruption.

      Shutdown or not, war will continue. Drone killings will continue. Surveillance will continue. Censorship and persecution of anyone who criticizes the government will continue. The government’s efforts to label dissidents as extremists and terrorists will continue.

      Police shootings will continue. Highway robbery meted out by government officials will continue. Corrupt government will continue. Profit-driven prisons will continue. And the militarization of the police will continue.

    • A government agency shared tips for employees to send to landlords while the shutdown leaves them without paychecks

      In a Thursday tweet, the US Office of Personnel Management sent out three sample letters to furloughed federal employees. The letters are templates to use in case they need to ask their creditors, landlords, and mortgage companies for a payment break, since the government shutdown has, for the time being, frozen their paychecks.

      Nearly 800,000 federal government employees are currently not getting paid thanks to the partial government shutdown that began on December 22. These include scientists, researchers, janitors, and paralegals. Some have taken to Twitter to share the struggles the shutdown has put them in under the hashtag #ShutdownStories. Many of the stories shared were from employees worried about not being able to make rent or pay for their utilities under the shutdown.

      The OPM sample letters aim to explain to creditors and lenders the precarious situation many workers are finding themselves in.

    • 10 Good Things About 2018

      1. The election of the progressive new members of Congress, particularly women of color such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Deb Haaland, Ayanna Pressley and Sharice Davids. Before even taking office they are shaking up the D.C. establishment: Calling out lobbyists for briefing new members of Congress? Refusing to take the “mandatory” AIPAC trip to Israel? Paying congressional interns? Calling for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All? It’s head-spinning for the establishment and thrilling for the rest of us. With these new progressive allies, with Democrats now controlling the House, and with an expanded and invigorated Progressive Caucus, we have a chance to drag centrist Democrats into supporting policies that might not be popular with their big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

    • Should We Rethink Presidential Powers?

      On Dec. 18th it was agreed that Donald Trump’s charitable foundation would be dissolved. The decision was reached as a result of findings that Donald Trump and his family abused the tax exempt status and abused campaign finance laws.

      The lawsuit is not over; a decision on $2.8 million in restitution and penalties as well as possible permanent ban against Trump and three of his children serving on nonprofits in New York still needs to be reached.

      Given what was described by the State’s Attorney General office as:

      “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,”

      one hopes they are prevented from betraying the public’s trust in the future. One might ask, “what does this mean?”

      Trump is selfish and willing do whatever it takes to get what he wants for himself. His favorite tool is dishonesty—it is all purpose, he lies all the time. In his version of winning the public’s loss is his gain, and we’ve been “big league” losing. Reflecting on the dissolution of his corrupt Trump Foundation, as with so much of his storied career of dishonesty, reveals an ingenious ability to deceive unfettered by any moral decorum—his absolute willingness to betray. He is proof, in financial terms, that in this broken system cheaters do win, and he publicly brags that he doesn’t pay his debts because he is smart.

    • Alexandria The Millennial

      This “self-care” was a trendy enough term (Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is savvy enough to know all the trendy terms). It was a trendy enough term for the right to be their traditional mean and petty selves, griping about socialists being lazy or whatever. But there was even more people that came to Ocasio-Cortez’s defense, for whatever reason.


      Regardless, she is cultivating all the millennial stereotypes at once. First, there is the socialist stereotype (this one isn’t true at all, sadly!). Socialism, in the mainstream imagination, basically just means that you are lazy and selfish (rather than opposed to human suffering). Oh dear!

      But the other assumption behind believing in socialism is that you must be a spoiled brat, unwilling to earn your capitalist points of suffering in exchange for not dying. I wish we had more lazy socialists. I wish we had more lazy people in general! But everyone works too hard, including on the left. No one has fun, no one has the time or energy or courage to have fun. This stinks. And screw you people telling us all to work harder! You don’t like it, we don’t like it, and why the hell are we all doing it?

      It is here that Ocasio-Cortez is an open troll, or an authentic stereotype. Yoga? Salmon? Sleeping in your jeans? I mean it’s the strangest mixture of high-brow misery and low-brow struggle one could come up with! And if that’s the millennial reality, no wonder we all hate the world!

    • Redrawing the Political Map: Gerrymandering Fights Set the Stage for 2019 and Beyond

      Nowhere has the Republican plan to hang onto power at all costs expressed itself more fully than in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

      In both states, Democratic governors won competitive statewide elections, only to see their powers stripped away by Republicans who control the state legislatures.

      And in both states, the gerrymandered electoral maps that set up Republican control in the first place are the subject of potentially precedent-setting federal lawsuits.

      As demographic trends undermine Republican control across the country, the GOP is resorting to more flagrantly anti-democratic tactics to hold on to power. What happens next in the battleground states of North Carolina and Wisconsin will set the stage for the next round of elections, and for politics for many years to come.

    • UK-funded psyop, war-torn Yemen & Bush’s criminal legacy: John Pilger looks back at 2018

      The recent emerging scandal around the shadowy UK government-funded Integrity Initiative (II) leaked by Anonymous hacktivists has been hitting the headlines over the past month. Commenting on the II motto which is ‘Defending Democracy against Disinformation’ Pilger said: “I would say ‘satire’ but it isn’t satire.”

    • Do it CIA style: What you need to know about latest leak on UK-funded psyop

      It’s been over a month since hackers began exposing the Scotland-based ‘Integrity Initiative’ as a UK government-funded propaganda outfit — and gradually new details of the organization’s clandestine activities have come to light.

      The documents were leaked by a group which claims to be associated with the Anonymous hackers. The first batch of leaks revealed the Integrity Initiative (II) was stealthily operating “clusters” of influencers across Europe working to ensure pro-UK narratives dominate the media. The second batch showed that the organization was also running disinformation campaigns domestically — specifically a smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; all done under the guise of combatting “Russian propaganda.”

      Now, a third batch of leaks has exposed that the project allegedly operated much like a modern-day version of Operation Mockingbird — a secretive 1950s project whereby the CIA worked hand-in-glove with willing journalists in major media outlets to ensure certain narratives were adhered to. Only this time, it’s a UK-funded organization with deep links to the intelligence services and military passing itself off as a non-partisan “charity.”

    • The funny, the weird and the serious: 33 media corrections from 2018

      No one likes admitting to a mistake. But everyone likes reading about them.

      Poynter’s annual roundup of media corrections is now in its sixth edition (follow the links for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and 2017 lists) — and it is always among our top articles of the year.

      The corrections in our roundup are often hilarious, uncovering Freudian slips, misplaced homonyms or pedantic readers. But not all are a laughing matter. Corrections can reveal systemic bias or severe mispractice in reporting.

      Still, readers should continue to value publications that honestly correct themselves over those that pretend nothing happened or stealthily edit past mistakes. Corrections policies are an unequivocally good thing about journalism. Even as accusations of “fake news” dog the industry, its response should be to double down on this practice.

    • 2,200 Women Who Ran for Office in 2018 Lost. What’s Next for Them?

      They put their passion on the line, knocking on doors, dialing for dollars, giving speeches wherever they could find a podium, and working to turn out the voters to give them victory on election day.

      They did this for months, then they learned that it had not been enough. Despite the soaring number of women who won races in the 2018 election, they were not among them. They were among the even greater number of women who lost.

      While the winners make headlines and prepare to take office, the losers face a different reality.

      “We find this narrative around women winning can be really isolating for the women who lost. There’s no guide for the day after the election if you lose,” says Erin Loos Cutraro of She Should Run, an organization she co-founded in 2011 to encourage more women to run for office.

    • Crushing Glas Along With Ecuador’s Rule of Law

      This is totally unsurprising if you read a previous interview in which Ruiz-Chiriboga described how the government of Lenin Moreno has trampled all over Ecuador’s constitution and judicial independence.

    • Lessons for the Left From the Spanish Elections

      In what seems a replay of recent German and Italian elections, an openly authoritarian and racist party made major electoral gains in Spain’s most populous province, Andalusia, helping to dethrone the Socialist Party that had dominated the southern region for 36 years. Vox (Voice)—a party that stands for “Spain First,” restrictions on women’s rights, ending abortion, stopping immigration and dismantling the country’s regional governments—won almost 11 percent of the vote. The Party is in negotiations to be part of a ruling rightwing coalition, while left parties are calling for an “anti-fascist front,”. It’s as if the old Spanish dictator Francisco Franco had arisen from his tomb in the “Valley of the Fallen” and was again marching on Madrid.

      Actually, the results were not so much “stunning”—the British Independent’s headline on the election—as a case of chickens coming home to roost, and a sobering lesson for center-left and left forces in Europe.

      The Dec. 2 vote saw the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) lose 14 seats in the regional parliament and the leftist alliance, Adelante Andalucía, drop three. The conservative Popular Party (PP) also lost seven seats, but, allied with Vox and the rightwing Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party, the right now has enough seats to take power. It was the worst showing in PSOE’s history, and, while it is still the largest party in Andalucía, it will have to go into opposition.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • It Is Both Ridiculous And Dangerous To Make Domain Registrars Liable For Content On Domains

      Going back more than five years, we’ve been warning about the dangers of moving copyright enforcement down the stack, away from the actual hosting companies deeper and deeper into infrastructure. This was, of course, part of the goal of SOPA — to make infrastructure companies liable for infringement, and to force them to shut down entire sites. But that’s exactly a key part of our concern. Infrastructure players have only a single remedy: shut down an entire site, including anything that’s not infringing, to deal with claims (never adjudications) of infringing content. And yet, legacy copyright companies have been going after domain registrars for years.

      We were particularly troubled by a ruling in Germany back in 2014 saying that a registrar could be liable for infringement on a site using a domain from that registrar. And while it’s taken years, it appears that that ruling has now been upheld by a higher court.

    • Facebook’s Secret Censorship Manual Exposed as Platform Takes Down Video About Israel Terrorizing Palestinians

      After the New York Times on Thursday published an exposé of Facebook’s global censorship rulebook, journalist Rania Khalek called out the social media giant for taking down a video in which she explains how, “on top of being occupied, colonized territory, Palestine is Israel’s personal laboratory for testing, refining, and showcasing methods and weapons of domination and control.”

      Tweeting out the Times report—and noting that while, according to the newspaper, “moderators were told to hunt down and remove rumors wrongly accusing an Israeli soldier of killing a Palestinian medic,” Israeli soldiers did fatally shoot an unarmed 21-year-old female paramedic earlier this year—she announced Friday morning that Facebook had “just removed” her video.

    • Cybersecurity Law: Vietnam Will Censor Internet, Not Close Websites

      Expect to get caught if you post anti-government material on the internet in Vietnam or take a phishing trip. From 2019 authorities can build evidence against you from material provided by email services and social media networks including Facebook. Yet the country, mindful of its role in the emerging digital economy, won’t close down websites the way China does.

      Vietnam has long walked a thin line between a free internet as part of its economic growth and resistance against what market research firm IDC’s country manager Lam Nguyen calls “digital disasters.” The country is getting testier toward online dissent at the same time.

    • Major American Magazine Time Column Reports About Bitcoin’s Liberating Potential

      Bitcoin (BTC) has a substantial liberating potential, American mainstream newspaper Time reports on Dec. 28.
      The aforementioned article claims that “speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have overshadowed the real, liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.”
      According to the article’s author, Bitcoin “can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.”
      Alejandro Machado, a cryptocurrency researcher at the Open Money Initiative, reportedly said that the fee on a wire transfer from the United States to Venezuela can be as high as 56 percent.

    • Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom

      For people living under authoritarian governments, Bitcoin can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.

    • Jordan Peterson takes crypto donations to avoid censorship

      Jordan Peterson has taken to accepting cryptocurrency donations to circumvent potential censorship.

    • Vladimir Putin bows to his most dangerous enemy

      The kids are alright. Or so says Vladimir Putin, defender of Slavic values, crusher of political dissent and (it seems) indulgent fan of Russian rap music.

      Speaking on Saturday at a St. Petersburg forum on arts and culture, the Russian President warned against heavy-handed censorship of Russian rap.
      On the surface, it’s an odd move. Like most authoritarians, Putin likes to present himself as a social traditionalist — defending Russia’s viciously homophobic restrictions on gay life and decriminalizing domestic violence in a nation which still expects women to obey their husbands. Among the international alt-right, Putin is widely seen as a last defender of Christian values.

    • A year of death, destruction and censorship in Kashmir

      IAK is rife with stories of killing, maiming, enforced disappearance, custodial killings, rape, torture, crackdowns and censorship on media.

    • 50 Years Ago, Brazil Virtually Legalized Torture and Censorship

      It was actually the news, and the only way possible to convey it. The night before, in a televised address to the nation, the justice minister of the military dictatorship ruling the country since 1964 had announced the enactment of the “Institutional Act Number 5”. The AI-5, as it became known, superseded the constitution and ushered in a new, more oppressive phase of the regime. The newspaper’s “weather report” was a way of editorializing about the change without provoking the military’s censors.

      Institutional Acts established supra-constitutional powers and legalized actions by the Brazilian military rulers. The first one was signed on April 9, 1964, just days after civilian president João Goulart was deposed. AI-1 gave the regime the power to terminate terms of elected representatives and strip critics of all political rights, as well as to fire any civil servant on national security grounds. The following year, the Institutional Act Number 2 (AI-2) instituted indirect elections for the presidency, extinguished political parties and honed the system of persecution of opposition figures by giving the general-president the right to declare a state of siege without congressional approval.

      By the time the fifth act came around, it was 1968 – a year that became a symbol thanks to a series of transforming events around the world. The mobilizations against the Vietnam war, the hippie movement, the sexual revolution, the large demonstrations in Paris, Berkeley, Berlin, Mexico—there was transformation in the air in all fields of existence: in politics, in culture, in the arts. In Brazil, the winds of rebellion were blowing under a dictatorship.

    • Is media censorship a coming threat in Poland?

      In mid-November, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza unveiled a corruption scandal that forced Marek Chrzanowski, the head of the Financial Supervision Authority (KNF), to resign.

      In a conversation that was recorded, Chrzanowski offered to help a bank owner solve the bank’s woes. The institute was to hire a specialist recommended by Chrzanowski and pay him a fee of €10 million ($11.36 million).

    • Cuba Readies More Censorship Efforts on Performers and Artists
    • Released From Jail, Artist Tania Bruguera Vows to Remain in Cuba to Continue Her Fight Against a New Censorship Law

      The performance artist Tania Bruguera was released on Thursday, along with around a dozen other Cuban artists and activists, after spending three days in jail for organizing a sit-in protest against new regulations that would limit artistic expression in the country. Amid widespread backlash against the law, known as Decree 349, the government rolled back some of its most rigid and repressive provisions just before it was due to go into effect on December 7.

      But Bruguera, for one, believes the fight is far from over. She announced this morning that, despite her release and the softening of the law, she no longer plans to attend the Kochi Muziris Biennale, which opens on December 12 in Kerala. She was due to give a performance and lecture there, according to Indian media reports.

      “As an artist I feel my duty today is not to exhibit my work at an international exhibition and further my personal artistic career,” she said in a statement, “but to be with my fellow Cuban artists and to expose the vulnerability of Cuban artists today.” She noted that the status of the law and the requested adjustments is not yet clear and the current version still makes “independent art impossible.” Bruguera could not immediately be reached for additional comment.

    • ‘This is scientific censorship of the worst kind’: The Trump administration reportedly froze the acquisition of fetal tissue for research, including an HIV cure experiment

      The Trump administration has quietly barred scientists working at the National Institutes of Health from acquiring new fetal tissue to use in experiments, including researchers working on a potential HIV cure, according to Science Magazine.

      The use of fetal tissue, some of which is donated by women who have had legal abortions, in scientific research is fiercely opposed by anti-abortion groups.

    • ‘Scientific censorship’: Trump administration shuts down study to find cure for HIV by halting use of fetal tissue
    • Letter To U.S. State Department Expresses Opposition To Reported Proposal To Censor Sexual, Reproductive Health Language
    • Maine Governor Settles Suit Claiming Facebook Censorship
    • US Sanctions Top North Korean Officials for Human Rights Abuses, Censorship
    • U.S. Targets North Korean Censorship With Sanctions
    • US sanctions 3 North Korean officials for human rights abuse
    • Israel’s National Lottery as Censor
    • ‘Alabama Story’ addresses censorship and race
    • How Sister Wendy Observed ‘Controversial’ Art Through a Progressive Lens
    • Venezuelan stand-up comics still dare to joke about Maduro — but for how much longer?
    • Movie on Bal Thackeray hits censor roadblock
    • Facebook Censors Image of Santa Kneeling Before Our Lord
    • Israeli Military Censor to Post Officer in State Archive Office, Worrying Historians

      The military censor will soon assign an official to be seated at the state archive office in Jerusalem, a source familiar with the situation told Haaretz.

    • Ian Johnson: Most people in China are not really aware of censorship

      Most people are not really aware of censorship in China. Unless you personally have had a problem, have come up against the power of the state, or you have a very strong sense of justice. It is quite an effective, very refined method, Ian Johnson says about China in the Rise of a New Superpower lecture he delivered in Bratislava on December 5.

    • Actors Union Presses To Revive California Age Censorship Law

      A California law requiring entertainment industry site IMDb.com to mask actors’ ages marks a valid attempt to combat discrimination in Hollywood, the actors union says in new court papers.
      “There is unrefuted evidence … that age discrimination in the industry would be reduced if IMDB did not publish age-related information,” the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists argues in legal papers filed last week with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    • India Proposes Regulation to Force Tech Platforms to Censor the Web and Shatter Security

      Following in the footsteps of the European Union and Australia, the government of India now wants to rewrite its laws to censor *content* and weaken encryption.

    • Congress Censors the Internet, But EFF Continues to Fight FOSTA: 2018 in Review
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Says Problems Will Take Years to Fix

      This year was one of constant apologies for the social network, after multiple instances of broken trust with its users. Zuckerberg testified for the first time in front of Congress in April, explaining why Facebook allowed users’ data to fall into the hands of unauthorized third parties. In his reflection on Friday, he made the case that Facebook is now a changed company, and will be more proactive about problems.

    • From Encrypting the Web to Encrypting the Net: 2018 Year in Review
    • EU Diplomatic Comms Network, Which the NSA Reportedly Warned Could Be Easily Hacked, Was Hacked

      The European Union’s network used for diplomatic communications, COREU, was infiltrated “for years” by hackers, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, with the unknown rogues behind the attack reportedly reposting the stolen communiqués to an “open internet site.”

      The network in question connects EU leadership with other EU organizations, as well as the foreign ministries of member states. According to the Times, the attack was first discovered by security firm Area 1, which provided a bit more than 1,100 of the cables to the paper for examination.

    • Hacking Diplomatic Cables Is Expected. Exposing Them Is Not

      ON WEDNESDAY, THE security and anti-phishing firm Area 1 published details of a breach that compromised one of the European Union’s diplomatic communication channels for three years. The perpetrators also compromised systems related to the United Nations, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and a number of international foreign affairs ministries. It’s a massive trove of sensitive communications—the kind that intelligence agencies from every country attempt to access every day.

      The European Union says it is investigating the findings, but hasn’t yet publicly confirmed them. Area 1 discovered the breach during routine analysis of international phishing campaigns. The firm showed more than 1,100 of the compromised diplomatic cables to The New York Times as evidence of the breach, an unorthodox decision for a private security firm conducting an investigation.

    • NSA’s empty PROMISes

      The investigations into the Inslaw affair were the result in the Department of Justice, the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency all responding to allegations involving the PROMIS software. Each agency denied their involvement and any wrongdoing, to varying degrees of credibility. The investigations eventually involved Inspectors General, a Special Counsel, and Congressional briefings, only scarce details of which have been released more than 20 years later. The NSA performed what it considered a very thorough search that proved that its PROMIS software was wholly separate from Inslaw’s. While the review of said software was thorough, the search nevertheless failed to identify the Agency’s purchase and use of at least one other piece of software called PROMIS.

    • Google is a Vital Cog in the U.S. Spying Machine

      Microsoft isn’t the only one working closely with the U.S. spying machine. Google has been doing it for years. The company’s roots are tied to the CIA, and it has worked with the NSA as well.

    • Mother of jailed NSA contractor rails against Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Michael Cohen: ‘Those actually responsible for threatening our election continue to get off easy’

      The mother of former NSA contractor Reality Winner is taking aim at some of the biggest names in the Trump-Russia investigation.
      Billie Winner-Davis, who’s now-27-year-old daughter was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet,” published a scathing op-ed in the Intercept on Sunday.
      “I am writing now because I am outraged: While my daughter languishes in prison, those actually responsible for threatening our election continue to get off easy,” Winner-Davis wrote.
      Winner was accused of leaking an intelligence report about Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election to the Intercept. Winner’s sentence is, to date, the lengthiest ever given for such a federal crime. She was arrested June 3, 2017 and sentenced August 23, 2018.

    • ACLU suit seeks info from NSA

      A civil rights group has sued the U.S. government, saying it needs more information about surveillance of Americans’ phone and financial records to guide the public debate over what will happen when the law that regulates the scrutiny expires next year.

    • ACLU sues US government to learn more about NSA call records program

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued several federal agencies in an effort to learn more about surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and financial records, according to The Associated Press.

      The ACLU filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court in Manhattan and says that the federal government hasn’t answered requests made last month by the ACLU for additional information about surveillance under a 2015 law, the AP reported. The ACLU made the requests through the Freedom of Information Act.

      The defendants in the lawsuit include the National Security Agency (NSA), the director of national intelligence, the CIA and the Justice Department.

      The 2015 law was created to put limits on NSA’s surveillance of Americans’ phone calls after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information from the NSA in 2013 that revealed surveillance programs.

    • Once Again, GDPR Is A Potential Privacy Nightmare: Amazon Sends 1,700 Voice Recordings To The Wrong User In GDPR Request

      There are, of course, many different ways of thinking about this. On the whole, it’s a good thing that companies are giving users more access to data, and allowing them to not just see what’s being held, but to download it as well (it would be nice if things were more standardized, and it would enable easier shifting between services, but… baby steps). But, it also needs to be recognized that this creates new privacy challenges.

      This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but is a useful reminder that, contrary to what many GDPR supporters will tell you, the GDPR itself doesn’t actually do much to “protect” your privacy, and could make your data even more vulnerable. Again, there are potentially good reasons for this, but way too many people keep insisting that the GDPR is about protecting privacy, and it is important to understand where and how it fails in that regard, and how it could even make much of your data more vulnerable.

    • Economists calculate the true value of Facebook to its users in new study

      Since the design of both studies was so complementary, they decided to combine their data and results into a single paper. Cash and Saleem had a larger sample for their part of the study and looked at a longer time period of one year, while Corrigan and Rosein focused on shorter time frames, asking subjects to quit Facebook for one day, three days, or seven days. The studies nonetheless had similar results.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Year Tech Workers Realized They Were Workers

      2018 was the year that Big Tech’s mission statements came back to haunt it. When employees felt that their products were damaging the world and that management wouldn’t listen, they went public with their protests. At Google and Amazon, they challenged contracts to sell artificial intelligence and facial-recognition technology to the Pentagon and police. At Microsoft and Salesforce, workers argued against selling cloud computing services to agencies separating families at the border.

    • The First Step Act Is a Small Step for Incarcerated Women

      While the law ends two gender-specific indignities of federal incarceration, it only begins to scratch the surface for incarcerated women.
      The enactment of the First Step Act earlier this month will bring some much-needed change to our criminal justice system. But the First Step Act remains just that, a first step — particularly with respect to the impact that mass incarceration has had on cisgender women and trans people.

      The legislation ends two gender-specific indignities of federal incarceration: the shackling of pregnant women and restrictions on access to menstrual hygiene products.

      Shackling pregnant women during delivery has zero safety or health purposes, and serves only to demean and endanger the individual and her infant. The First Step Act moves toward permanently banning this practice by prohibiting federal correctional authorities from shackling incarcerated women during pregnancy and for a period thereafter, with some exceptions. The act also requires the federal Bureau of Prisons to provide sanitary napkins and tampons at no charge. As with the shackling of pregnant women, unnecessary restrictions on access to menstrual health products have turned a normal bodily function into a nightmare for people in prison.

    • How to Fund the Government Without Paying for Trump’s Border Wall

      Congress has a way out of this crisis of Trump’s making, and it doesn’t involve rewarding the Trump administration for its attacks on immigrants.
      President Trump has followed through on his threat to shut down the government in order to feed his border wall obsession. In fact, he’s gone further, stating that he’ll loot his cabinet departments, including the military, if necessary.

      After Trump refused to sign a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate, which would have kept the government open through February 8, 2019, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders suggested that the administration will somehow find money to pay for a border wall by raiding “every agency” for dollars. “We’re looking at every avenue available to us,” Sanders said. “The president asked every one of his cabinet secretaries to look for funding that can be used” to build the wall.

      Unfortunately there are bad precedents in the Trump administration for this sort of sham accounting: At the beginning of hurricane season, for example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shifted nearly $10 million in disaster relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to use for ICE detentions.

    • The power of the courts and the people can still protect immigrants’ rights

      For immigrants, there’s no way to sugarcoat 2018. The Trump administration enacted a series of draconian policies targeting noncitizens, and the one that will most define the year — and this administration — is the separation of thousands of children, some less than a year old, from their mothers and fathers at the U.S. border.

      Conceived as a means to deter people from seeking refuge, the scope of the “zero tolerance” family separation policy was unprecedented, notwithstanding the administration’s claim that past presidents engaged in similar practices. The government took more 2,500 children away from their parents. The government did this systematically, without regard for the trauma that would inevitably follow and without a plan for how these families could ever be reunited. This was the worst policy I’ve seen in more than 25 years of civil rights work.

      Of course, this was not the only attack on immigrants by the administration, which is also seeking to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, putting 800,000 young people who were raised here at risk of being deported. The administration has also enacted an asylum ban and abruptly taken protected status away from hundreds of thousands of people who fled wars and natural disasters decades ago.

    • Tale of a Number-One Cold-Blooded Bastard

      Anyone who has ever questioned the Iraq War and Dick Cheney as a vice president expropriating power as second banana to a shallow man ill-equipped to lead anything has to see the Adam McKay film Vice. It’s nothing short of incredible. The filmmaker has created a hybrid genre that’s part narrative, part essay; most important, it’s extremely entertaining with just the right elements of satire, horror and tragedy. While it’s clearly driven by a disdain for its protagonist, it’s not reductive and presents a fully human, three-dimensional dramatic character. McKay’s point seems to be, this is serious stuff for all Americans and we ought to give it a lot more thought than we did as it was unfolding. Especially now, when we have a president with unquestioned, in-your-face authoritarian instincts.

      McKay began as a Saturday Night Live writer and went on to make films like Anchorman with Will Ferrell, with whom he made at least five films. As McKay did in The Big Short – the first serious film he directed without Will Ferrell – in this internet, i-phone age of interactive, touch-screen communication, he likes to use bold and ironic graphics to advance his tale. Perhaps his most creative touch is the use of visual metaphors – quick images of predatory animals, a drawing by Goya from his Disasters of War series, a precarious, wobbling stack of teacups and saucers, a still of golfers playing with a backdrop of a raging California forest fire – popped in the middle of a playing-out scene like modifying literary metaphors. It feels unorthodox, but it seems to hark back to the basic Eisenstein montage theory of juxtaposing images to establish complex emotions quickly. It certainly does that, creating a rich stew of images for the brain to chew on.

      McKay wrote the screenplay, which begins in Cheney’s youthful, wild days of drunken rowdiness where he’s a man headed off the rails. His wife Lynne reads him the riot act: Straighten up or it’s goodbye, Dick. She tells him she didn’t sign on to be the wife of an asshole like her abusive father, who the film virtually indicts for the drowning death of Lynne’s mother. Thanks to wife Lynne, Dick turns to the pursuit of Power, which as they say, made all the difference. There is a wonderful scene later in the film where — in bed and played like late-in-a-marriage foreplay — the two erotically recite an exchange between Shakespeare’s MacBeth and his famously ambitious Lady. It’s both funny and very serious.

    • What’s It Like for an Immigrant Child to Have a Glimpse of the American Dream, Then Have It Taken Away?

      Christmas wasn’t going to be much this year at the Maldonados’ tiny home in eastern El Salvador. Then 6-year-old Wilder arrived, lugging a duffel bag fat with the brightly colored remnants of his brief life in the United States — time he’d spent separated from his father by immigration authorities.

      Suddenly, the two shabby rooms with dirt floors and drab adobe walls turned festive. As a pot of chicken stew simmered on a wood-burning stove, a group of barefoot children rummaged with glee through the big black bag, pulling out treasures.

      Two-year-old Kevien claimed the Spider-Man pajamas and the talking Spider-Man mask that said things like, “Look out, it’s web-slinging time!” Darwin, a neighbor’s kid, posed in a pair of red Spider-Man glasses with silvery-white webs and blinking lights on the frames.

      Yohana, 14 and wispy like a ballerina, picked up a glossy soccer ball that had “USA,” emblazoned on one side and called Darwin outside to play. Meanwhile, the baby, MiLeidi, 8 months old, squealed in delight at a stuffed Olaf, the snowman from “Frozen,” that was bigger than she was.

      The only kid who didn’t seem to care much about the contents of the duffel bag was Wilder. He sat by himself on the only bed in the house, apart from the commotion, engrossed in games on his mother’s old cellphone. Kevien offered Wilder the talking mask, trying to entice him to come play. But, without looking up from the cellphone, Wilder shook his head and turned away.

    • The Cure for White Supremacy Lies in Religion and Art

      For the ideas helping the direction of this essay, I am indebted to Chris Hedges’ recent essay in Truthdig about black theologian James Cone. I am grateful to Mr. Hedges for his hailing of one of the most powerful cultural figures we have, whose insights, because he is of that backward-gazing group of intellectuals known as “theologians,” is inevitably marginalized by the secular liberal left. Marginalization of such a voice surely helps to maintain the continued visionlessness and depleted vitality among progressive secular liberals.


      Significantly, suffering, whether mine or yours, whether the sufferer is bourgeois liberal or poor, always contains an implicit critique of illegitimate authority. And here may be the hiddencause of white people’s tendency, as individuals, to be stopped by fear at the threshold of the process of humanization: To throw off the oppressive dictum “I must never do what I want” makes necessary a complete bottom-up revision of the society. It radicalizes, for now one sees right through to power’s naked truth, to the weakness inherent in the tyrant’s “I can never do what I want and therefore you must not either.”

    • 6 Young Men, Given Adult Sentences for “Minor” Infractions, Are Freed in Illinois

      Six young men who had been sentenced to lengthy adult prison terms for committing what were described as minor infractions at a southern Illinois youth correctional facility went free Friday after outgoing Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, in an unannounced move, commuted their sentences.

      The young men, whose cases were documented in a ProPublica Illinois investigation last year, had only learned they would be released the day before. By Friday afternoon, all had walked out of the prisons where they were being held.

      “It feels good to be out,” Kaleb Martin said in a phone call, after leaving the Pinckneyville Correctional Center in southern Illinois, where he was met by his sister. Martin had been sentenced to six years in adult prison for biting a guard he claimed put him in a chokehold that blocked his breathing.

      He and the other five young men had been imprisoned for assaulting guards or other employees at the Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg, though internal Department of Juvenile Justice records described some of the incidents as “minor.” Juvenile justice advocates and some state officials criticized Harrisburg officials for pressing charges, saying the incidents, which included biting, striking or spitting on workers, typically would have been handled through internal discipline.

    • County Pays $90,000 Settlement To Man After Seizing $80,000 Judgment From Him Using 24 Deputies And An Armored Vehicle

      This decision made national news in 2014. In the wake of the Ferguson protests, it was considered bad form to be turning normal police work into military maneuvers. But the Sheriff’s office didn’t care. Sheriff’s Captain Greg Bean said 24 deputies and a military vehicle were a proportionate response. Deputies were needed to haul away the junk that had prompted the $80,000 civil settlement and Hoeppner had been known to be “argumentative” in the past.

      But the fact is the squad of deputies could have shown up after the judgment and other legal issues had all been sorted out and someone being contentious in the presence of law enforcement officers is hardly justification for the use of an armored vehicle.

      This bit of bad optics and worse judgment had resulted in another setback for Marathon County. As [former cop/current lawyer] Greg Prickett pointed out, it has also proven the local government sucks at math. The law enforcement man-hours and legal fees incurred by the county has turned its $80,000 judgment into at least a $10,000 loss.

    • Police: Students made ‘horrifying’ mock shooting videos
    • Students Make A Video Depicting A School Shooting; Sheriff Decides Everyone Needs To Have Their Rights Violated

      Lots of movies, books, TV shows, and videogames contain “graphic and horrifying” content. Some even include “racist” dialogue, just as this video did. At no point did any of the participants mention a school, mention an intent to perform these acts at a school, or even tag other students/schools in the posting. It was simply a dramatization of events that happen far too often in this country.

      The videos were noticed by a student of the school the three arrested students attended. No one’s faulting the school for handing over the videos to law enforcement, but the sheriff’s office should have recognized the students were engaging in protected speech, not issuing terroristic threats. A simple conversation about why the videos might be disturbing to others should have been the end of it. Instead, there are now three arrests and a bunch of civil rights lawyers pointing out exactly why these arrests should not have occurred.

    • How CIA created remote-controlled DOGS with sinister brain electrodes for its infamous Project MKUltra

      Documents detailing the experiments were provided under the Freedom of Information Act by John Greenewald, founder of The Black Vault, a site specialising in declassified government records.

      In one letter a person with their name redacted writes to a doctor, whose name has also been redacted, with advice about launching a laboratory for experiments in animal mind control.

      The writer of the letter is an expert in the field, has already apparently created six remote control dogs, which could be made to run, turn and stop.

      The letter describes the work with remote-controlling the pooches as a success, describing “a demonstrated procedure for controlling the free-field behaviours of an unrestrained dog.”

    • Inside the CIA’s Top-secret Otter Dossier

      The CIA’s illegal program of human experimentation aimed at controlling the human mind, Project MKUltra officially ran from 1953 until 1973, when CIA Director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of all MKUltra files, permanently obscuring a full understanding of the CIA’s use of otters in experimentation. Through Project MKUltra, drugs were administered to thousands of unsuspecting people in the United States and Canada, including amphetamines, salvia, sodium pentothal, scopolamine, psilocybin and LSD. Through hospitals and universities, the CIA sponsored further experiments into the application of sensory deprivation, psychological and sexual abuse.

    • Turkish FM claims freed US pastor is a ‘CIA agent’

      In a surprising statement, Turkish Foreign Minister Meblut Cavusoglu claimed at the Doha Forum on Sunday that US Pastor Andrew Brunson, who stood trial in Turkey over terrorism charges, is a CIA agent.

      Cavusoglu’s statements have been ridiculed in the US, with some even calling it a joke.

      “Everybody was focusing on this Pastor Brunson, who is also a CIA agent, I am also a very straightforward person like Erdogan, but it was a minor issue in our relations, we have more serious problems,” Cavusoglu said.

    • Leaked video shows Pervez Musharraf seeking covert US support to regain power

      In an embarrassment to Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani dictator, in a leaked video, was purportedly seen seeking covert US support to regain power and telling American lawmakers that he was “ashamed” of the ISI being negligent about the al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

      The undated video clips, which have been posted by dissident Pakistani columnist Gul Bukhari, also shows the self-exiled former president as saying that he thinks that the negligence of the ISI was “pardonable” as the CIA was also involved in same level of negligence on 9/11.

    • How the CIA Used Brain Surgery to Make Six Remote Control Dogs

      ‘Delivering that electrical stimulation to a dog’s brain involved some gruesome side effects, including “infection at the electrode site due to a failure of the surgical wound to heal.”’ https://www.newsweek.com/cia-mkultra-documents-files-remote-control-dogs-1250519

    • MFIA Clinic Files Lawsuit Against CIA

      Acting for two investigative journalists, the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic has sued the Central Intelligence Agency for silencing the top FBI interrogator of Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah. The lawsuit alleges a CIA effort to mislead the American public about the effectiveness of torture.

    • New Docs Reveal Extent of CIA’s Grotesque Mind Control Experiments

      Earlier this year, the CIA marked the 65th anniversary of the launch of Project MKULTRA, a secret program which engaged in mind control experiments on people. Now, thanks to new documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the public has a chance to learn just how far those carrying out the gruesome experiments were willing to go.

      For many decades, the CIA tried to prevent documents related to Project MKULTRA from being released. However, late last week, John Greenewald Jr., founder of The Black Vault, a website specializing in declassified government records, released new documents said to detail the bizarre extent of the project’s experimentation on both people and animals.

    • ‘No to $5 Billion, No to $2.1 Billion, No to $1.6 Billion’: Progressive Groups Pressure Democrats to Reject Any Funding for Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      While applauding the Democratic leadership’s refusal to give in to President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding, a coalition of dozens of advocacy groups on Friday sent a letter to presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressing alarm that their proposals to reopen the government would still hand the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) billions of dollars to continue Trump’s inhumane anti-immigrant agenda.

      “The Trump shutdown is deeply unfair to hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors; it is a disgrace that the president chose to inflict distress on them and their families,” the groups wrote (pdf). “As much as we all desire an end to the shutdown, however, rewarding Trump’s DHS with border barrier money is the wrong course of action, especially at a time when its personnel are tear gassing toddlers, separating and detaining families, and presiding over custodial deaths, including those of a seven-year-old girl named Jakelin and an eight-year-old boy named Felipe in Border Patrol custody just this month.”

    • Women in Military, Female Veterans Turning Away From GOP

      It had been months since retired Lt. Cmdr. Michele Fitzpatrick paid attention to news coverage. She was turned off by President Donald Trump’s tweetstorms and attacks on critics such as the late Republican Sen. John McCain, a war hero. But as the November midterm elections approached, she fired up her laptop.

      A member of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 1980, the first to include women, Fitzpatrick began researching candidates and poring over issues. On Election Day, she voted without hesitation: all Democrat.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC announces probe into CenturyLink outage disrupting 911 lines

      The outage began on Thursday morning and appears to remain unresolved.

    • 342.4 Million Top Level Domains Now Populate the Internet

      Country-code TLD (ccTLD) domain name registrations, which include the dot cn for China and dot de for Germany on the whole continued to grow as well. Across all ccTLDs, VeriSign reported that at the end fo the third quarter there were approximately 149.3 million domain name registrations for a 3.2 percent year-over-year gain.

      The dot cn (.cn) ccTLD is actually the second largest TLD overall, behind dot com, with a total of 22.7 million domain names registered. In third is another ccTLD, with the dot tk (tokelau) domain, which had 21.5 million domains registered. The dot tk domain has grown thanks to the fact that it is available for free to anyone that wants a domain.

    • How Microsoft lost the web [Ed: And it lost a lot more. Windows market share now at around 30%.]

      Microsoft’s announcement earlier this month that it was dumping its own browser technology for Google’s – turning Edge into a Chrome clone – was a stunning acknowledgement that the company had lost its decades-long battle for browser supremacy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Spineology, Inc. v. Wright Medical Technology, Inc., US

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied attorney fees to a medical device manufacturer in a dispute relating to an expandable surgical reamer patent, ruling that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the prevailing defendant’s motion for attorney fees.

    • Patent case: Icescape Limited v Ice-World International BV & ors, United Kingdom

      Applying the so-called ‘Actavis Questions’ (further to the Supreme Court decision in Actavis v Eli Lilly), the Court of Appeal reached a different conclusion from the Patents Court on the issue of infringement.

    • Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2018)

      U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston stuck again on Christmas Eve, giving the biotech patent community a rhetorical lump of coal in their stocking by invalidating on summary judgment claims directed to methods for isolating cell-free fetal DNA from maternal DNA on the grounds that they are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

    • Why iPhone Sales Are—and Are Not—Banned In Two Countries
    • China launches appeal court for intellectual property right disputes

      China’s first ever appeal court for intellectual property disputes – a major bone of contention in the ongoing trade war with the US – will open for business in Beijing on Tuesday, the nation’s top court said on Saturday.
      The new body would handle cases that demanded “highly technical expertise”, Luo Dongchuan, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, which established the new body, told a press conference in the Chinese capital.
      The creation of the appeal court was the latest effort to protect intellectual property rights, inspire innovation and improve the business environment, said Luo, who will oversee its operations.

    • Copyrights

      • Metal Band Bans Photographer After Copyright Clash

        Metal band Arch Enemy has banned photographer J. Salmeron from shooting any future gigs. The band’s management was not amused when he alerted a clothing sponsor about the unauthorized use of his work. Apparently, the band sees ‘exposure’ as sufficient compensation. But what about people who pirate their latest album?

      • Philippines Could Revoke Licenses of ISPs That Help to Facilitate Piracy

        A new bill introduced in the Philippines could see local ISPs stripped of their licenses to operate if they provide access to sites that infringe or facilitate infringement of copyright. Citing threats posed by torrent, streaming, and cyberlocker sites, the bill requires ISPs to promptly disable access to “infringing online locations” or face serious consequences.

      • Bryan Adams: Longer Copyright Term Enriches Intermediaries, Not Creators

        Following a new trade deal with the US and Mexico, Canada is set to expand its copyright term to 70 years after the creator’s death. According to the Canadian singer Bryan Adams, large intermediaries such as record labels stand to benefit the most, not creators themselves. He, therefore, calls for a simple change that would allow creators to terminate their copyright assignments after 25 years.


Links 28/12/2018: Mesa 18.2.8 Released, Ubuntu/GNOME on a Tablet

Posted in News Roundup at 2:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Nor-Tech Refreshes Existing HPC Supercomputers for Big Data Applications AI, DL, ML

      The project includes installation of Bright Cluster Manager; Scientific Linux 7.x, 16; PBS Pro Job Scheduler; and Bioinformatics software.

      Nor-Tech Executive Vice President Jeff Olson said, “We have an engineering team that rivals those at the top HPC technology companies in the world. Coupled with access to the brain trusts at organizations such as Intel, NVIDIA, Bright, Linux, etc., we can build and refresh HPC technology for almost any application.”

    • Open Source Domain Controller

      Is there an open source domain controller (DC) worth considering? There are a number of open source DCs available and many of them could end up representing interesting solutions for your organization. Often, solutions pertaining to the directory services realm end up functioning as domain controllers for organizations. Many of the solutions considered are either OpenLDAP™, FreeIPA, Samba, and a slew of others.

    • Using JupyterHub as a generic application spawner

      As part of my day job I occasionally need to give workshops on using OpenShift, Red Hat’s distribution of Kubernetes. The workshop notes that attendees follow to do the exercises we host using an internally developed tool called workshopper. We host the workshop notes using this tool inside of the same OpenShift cluster that users will be working in.

      To access the OpenShift cluster and do the exercises, attendees use the OpenShift command line clients oc or odo. They may also need to use kubectl. Because these are client side tools they would need to be installed somewhere where the attendees can run them, usually this is on their own local computer.

      Requiring that attendees install a client on their own local computer can often be a challenge. This is because when dealing with enterprise customers, their employee’s computers may be locked down such that they are unable to install any additional software.

      A solution one often sees to this problem is to enhance the tool used to host the workshop notes to embed an interactive terminal which is then used through the web browser. Behind the scenes that terminal would be connected up to some backend system where a shell environment is run for the specific user accessing the workshop. Finally, in that shell environment they would have access to all the command line tools, as well as other files, that may be needed for that workshop.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • 2018’s Deal Channels | Coder Radio 337

      The guys drink some Liquid Christmas Tree and reflect on the major trends of 2018, and the stuff they are preemptively freaking out about for 2019.

    • The Real McCoy | BSD Now 278

      We sat down at BSDCan 2018 to interview Kirk McKusick about various topics ranging about the early years of Berkeley Unix, his continuing work on UFS, the governance of FreeBSD, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Btrfs vs OpenZFS

      Btrfs or B-tree file system is the newest competitor against OpenZFS, arguably the most resilient file system out there. Both the file systems share some commonalities such as having checksum on data blocks, transaction groups and copy-on-write mechanism, making them both target the user groups. So what’s the difference and which one should you use?

    • Binderfs Sent In For Linux 4.21 Plus Thunderbolt Updates, Intel Stratix10 Additions

      Greg Kroah-Hartman began sending in his pull requests on Friday morning for the kernel code he maintains. With the char/misc changes does come the Binderfs file-system.

      Binderfs is the new file-system to Android’s Binder IPC mechanism. Binderfs will allow containers to access the Binder inter-process communication support from within their containerized environment.

    • Andes NDS32 Architecture Seeing Many Additions With Linux 4.21

      Early in the year with Linux 4.17 the kernel saw a port to the Andes NDS32 CPU architecture. With Linux 4.21, that CPU architecture is seeing a number of improvements.

      AndesCore NDS32 is a 32-bit RISC-like architecture with clock rates hovering around 1GHz and these CPUs used by IoT applications, wearables, medical devices, and other low-power devices. Open-source support for NDS32 has existed for years by the company albeit out of tree until the kernel support landed in Linux 4.17.

    • Systemd Hits A High Point For Number Of New Commits & Contributors During 2018

      With the end of the year upon us, the latest project we’re looking at the GitStats on and most popular milestones of the year is for systemd.

      As of writing this morning, systemd is up to 37,772 commits from around 1,317 different authors. The systemd Git repository has grown to include over three thousand files (3,026) that amount to around 1,158,511 lines of code.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Cage Is A New Wayland Compositor For Kiosk/Full-Screen-One-App Deployments

        Jente Hidskes, the developer who last year overhauled the Piper mouse configuration utility as part of libratbag via GSoC 2017, announced that he recently began developing his own Wayland compositor to fill a void.

        Hiskes’ “Cage” compositor isn’t just yet-another-Wayland-compositor hobbyist project, but is designed to fill a void where there hasn’t been much Wayland activity: a compositor focused on a kiosk mode where it’s effectively for supporting a single application running maximized the entire time and no other access to the system. There isn’t any major Wayland compositor exclusively focused on that use-case, well, besides Canonical’s Mir Kiosk work they have been pursuing that folds into their Wayland offering.

      • mesa 18.2.8
      • Mesa 18.2.8 Released With Driver Fixes To End Out The Series

        Mesa 18.2.8 was released today as what is the final planned point release for the Mesa 18.2 series. In order to continue receiving OpenGL/Vulkan open-source driver updates, users are encouraged to transition to Mesa 18.3.

        Mesa 18.2.8 backports the new Vega M PCI ID plus the other new Vega 10 and Vega 20 PCI IDs we’ve spotted in recent weeks for the AMD/Radeon Linux graphics driver stack for currently unannounced products. With building off the existing Vega (and Polaris, in the case of Vega M) support, it was safe for back-porting to the 18.2 stable series.

      • The X.Org Server Continues Cruising Along As We Approach 2019

        While it’s been ten years now that Wayland has been in development, a majority of the Linux desktops at the end of 2018 are still relying upon the X.Org Server. In 2018 we saw much better Wayland support out of GNOME Shell and KDE Plasma, but many Linux distributions — including Ubuntu — haven’t transitioned over (or in the case of Ubuntu, back-over) to running a Wayland session. While the xorg-server remains at the heart of most Linux desktops, its development pace remains very slow.

        The X.Org Server hasn’t seen any major/breakthrough features this year besides wrapping up the VR HMD work for improving SteamVR HMD support and rolling out the long overdue X.Org Server 1.20 that debuted after a year and a half in development compared to their prior six month release cycle. It looks like xorg-server 1.21 will be another long development cycle with not too much upstream activity for this mature display stack besides, well, security fixes in researchers continuing to evaluate the aging X11 code-base. It’s old but it “just works” for a majority of the Linux desktop users these days and doesn’t feature NVIDIA driver issues like is one of the main bottlenecks currently in Wayland adoption.

      • Mesa RadeonSI Lands FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync Support That Pair With Linux 4.21

        With the FreeSync support for AMD GPUs having been merged this week into Linux 4.21, the associated user-space patches are landing now for rounding out this AMD Radeon FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync / VRR support as we enter 2019.

        Hitting Mesa 19.0-devel today was the DRI3 loader support around the new DRM Adaptive-Sync / Variable Refresh property and enabling the option for the RadeonSI OpenGL driver. At the moment there is no FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync support for RADV Vulkan. Also, we haven’t seen any FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync work on the Wayland front at this time.

    • Benchmarks

      • XFS RAID0 Benchmarks Across Twenty SSDs vs. EXT4 & Btrfs On Ubuntu Linux

        Earlier this month were the FreeBSD ZFS vs. Linux EXT4/Btrfs RAID With Twenty SSDs. Besides interest in seeing ZOL tests (they’re already planned upon the ZFS On Linux 0.8 release), there was also some interest by readers in seeing some XFS RAID tests side-by-side. Here are some of those XFS RAID benchmarks up against Btrfs and EXT4 from Ubuntu Linux.

        With the tests today are XFS results alongside EXT4 and Btrfs for a single disk and then across twenty Samsung 860 EVO SSDs. With the tests earlier this month were also RAID10 benchmarks, but when testing XFS on the twenty SSDs in RAID10 I was hitting MD RAID errors that prevented the tests from completing. So for now it’s just the single disk and 20 x SSD RAID0 benchmarks for those interested.

      • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti vs. TITAN RTX In 82 Linux Graphics / Compute Benchmarks

        Complementing our initial NVIDIA TITAN RTX Linux benchmarks and follow-up collection of more GPU compute benchmarks on the TITAN RTX compared to other NVIDIA hardware going back to the GeForce GTX 680, here is an expansive collection of side-by-side tests to the RTX 2080 Ti in more workloads.

        Here are 82 different graphics and compute benchmarks tested side-by-side on the TITAN RTX and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

      • Taking Radeon ROCm 2.0 OpenCL For A Benchmarking Test Drive

        Last week AMD officially released ROCm 2.0 as the newest major release of the Radeon Open Compute stack. Here are some initial benchmark figures for that Radeon Linux compute component on Polaris and Vega hardware.

        ROCm 2.0 was released last week with Vega 7nm (Vega 20) support, a new library (MIvisionX), updated TensorFlow port to ROCm, 48-bit virtual addressing for Vega, more OpenCL 2 work, and an assortment of other changes. For your viewing pleasusre today are some initial OpenCL benchmark figures with a Radeon RX 580, RX Vega 56, and RX Vega 64 while more ROCm 2.0 tests will be coming in the new year.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Patching Qt5Network for Christmas

        Qt5 and KDE Plasma 5 have been running smoothly on my workstation desktop for a year or more. I have a kind of boring desktop: there is one CPU, one graphics card, two network interfaces, and I use the default settings for just about everything. .. and everything (that I need) just works.

        But it didn’t work for everyone: there was this one weird bug report that when the system had VLANs defined, that most Qt5-based applications would crash or refuse to start up. That first manifested itself there as a build failure of kf5-syntaxhighlighting. After some discussion with Volker, I ended up with a workaround: don’t validate the schema’s during the build. That takes away the networking dependency, and things were OK again.

        Other similar bug reports trickled in. They’re now all closed as duplicates of this original. Some patches trickled in, which I didn’t particularly like because they were of the “comment this bit out and things work”. Thankfully the original reporter of the kf5-syntaxhighlighting build failure, Ting-Wei Lan, did a great deal of debugging work. Enough to give me a handle on where to continue looking. I hemmed and hawed, tried blaming the run-time loader, but really all the evidence pointed at memory corruption from inside Qt5Network.

      • TableView and Qt 5.12 / Qt Creator 4.8

        I finally got around to doing the final merge for QmlBook this year.

        I just merged the chapter on the brand new TableView. This let’s you show 2D data tables in an efficient way.

        I also merged the version upgrade, so the text should now reflect what is available from Qt 5.12 and be based on menus and screens from Qt Creator 4.8.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Ubuntu/Gnome on a tablet

        The ExoPC is a tablet device from Intel with regular Intel Atom x86 processor, 2 GB RAM, a 64 GB SSD, 2 USB ports, touch screen etc. Not a high-end tablet by today’s specs, but it was pretty nice back in 2013 when it came out. It is still a decent piece of hardware, and not the least because all of the device drivers for it can be found in the mainline Linux kernel and therefore Ubuntu 18.04 installed on it works fully out-of-the-box as expected.

        Installation is easy. Just boot the tablet with a USB installation drive inserted, and during the boot press the “BBS” icon and start the installation and the rest is familiar to anybody who has installed Ubuntu before. An external keyboard connected via USB is helpful during the process though.

        All of the hardware is detected as one would expect. WLAN works, camera works, sound, microphone and everything else we tested works. Even the rotation sensor works and the screen turns around as the tablet physically rotates. Since the tablet is very old, the experience is a bit sluggish though.

  • Distributions

    • Sparky repos changed

      There is a change in the Sparky repository as of 27 December 2018.

    • Reviews

      • A tour of elementary OS, perhaps the Linux world’s best hope for the mainstream

        Everyone is a Linux user, but almost no one knows it. The operating system is a strange beast. You’d be hard pressed to come up with another tool so widely used, so widely deployed, and so absolutely necessary to the functioning of the modern world that is simultaneously so utterly unknown outside the tech community.

        From ATMs, to phones, to in flight displays, to the Web server your browser got this page from, we are all using Linux every day even if we don’t all realize it. Yet even with that ubiquity, there’s one place Linux has never really succeeded: the desktop. Despite passionate communities of users (as seen in place like Ars comment threads), Windows and macOS dominate the desktop and that’s unlikely to change in the near term. Though if it ever does, it will likely be because of projects like elementary OS—an operating system that seeks to bring the polish of commercial desktops to the world of Linux.

    • New Releases

      • ExTiX 19.1, Build 181228, with KDE 4.17, Kodi 18 “Leia”, Calamares, Refracta Tools and kernel 4.20.0-exton

        I have made a new version of ExTiX – The Ultimate Linux System. I call it ExTiX 19.1 KDE/Kodi Live DVD. (The previous KDE version was 18.6 from 180602). The best thing with ExTiX 19.1 is that while running the system live (from DVD/USB) or from hard drive you can use Refracta Tools (pre-installed) to create your own live installable Ubuntu system. So easy that a ten year child can do it! As an alternative to KDE you can run Kodi 18 Leia. Just start Kodi like any other program while logged in to the KDE Desktop as the ordinary user extix. I have enabled a few addons in Kodi. Most important the Netflix addon.

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 126 released

        Finally, the next release of IPFire is available: IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 126 This update comes with a new kernel and security enhancements. This change log is rather short, but the changes are very important.

        Thank you very much to all of you who have supported our Donations Challenge so far. We have received a lot of nice words and support from you, but we are not there, yet! Please support our project and donate!

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • The Ceph Foundation and Building a Community: an Interview with SUSE

        On November 12 at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Germany, the Linux foundation formally announced the Ceph Foundation. Present at this same summit were key individuals from SUSE and the SUSE Enterprise Storage team. For those less familiar with the SUSE Enterprise Storage product line, it is entirely powered by Ceph technology.

        With Ceph, data is treated and stored like objects. This is unlike traditional (and legacy) data storage solutions, where data is written to and read from the storage volumes via sectors and at sector offsets (often referred to as blocks). When dealing with large amounts of large data, treating them as objects is the way to do it. It’s also much easier to manage. In fact, this is how the cloud functions—with objects. This object-drive model enables Ceph for simplified scalability to meet consumer demand easily. These objects are replicated across an entire cluster of nodes, giving Ceph its fault-tolerance and further reducing single points of failure. The parent company of the project and its technology was acquired by Red Hat, Inc., in April 2014.

    • Fedora

      • Best of 2018: Fedora for developers

        Building custom apps in Python on Fedora — using either a Python IDE that helps you learn understand the language, or a popular editor that also works with many other languages. And what about Rust — a very fast and safe programming language. Yes, it’s been a whole year again! What a great time to look back at the most popular articles on the Fedora Magazine written by our awesome contributors.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • I have a need, a need for snap

            Are snaps slow? Or slower than their classic counterparts (DEB or RPM, for instance)? This is a topic that comes up often in online discussions, related to various containerised application formats, including snaps. We thought this would be a good idea to run a detailed experiment to see what kind of numbers we get when running software as snaps and classic applications, side by side.

          • Top Snaps in 2018

            With 2018 drawing to a close, and many of us spending with family during the holiday season, I thought we’d take a look back over some of our favourite Linux applications in the Snap Store. Some have been in the store for over a year, and a few landed only recently, but they’re all great.

            Whether you’re a professional app developer, bedroom coder or enthusiastic Linux user, there’s something for everyone. Beyond these 10, there’s thousands more quality apps in the Snap Store, so have a browse, and find something new to install today.

          • Canonical shares the Top 10 Linux Snaps of 2018 — Spotify, Slack, Plex, VLC, and more!

            As 2018 comes to a close, I find myself doing much reflecting. Linux consumes much of my thinking, and sadly, this was not the year that it overtakes Windows on the desktop. You know what, though? Windows 10 was an absolute disaster this year, while the Linux-based Chrome OS has slowly become more and more mature. Other desktop Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Mint and Fedora, continue to get better, and Android remains the undisputed king of mobile. As we all know, Linux powers many servers around the globe too. So yeah, maybe it isn’t the year of the Linux desktop, but the open source kernel still had a superb 2018 — I raise my glass to it.

          • Canonical Shares Top 10 Linux Snaps of 2018
          • The evolution of Canonical at KubeCon

            Stephan Fabel, director of products at Canonical spoke to Swapnil Bhartiya from TFIR at KubeCon in Seattle about the evolution of Canonical at KubeCon, the excitement around MicroK8s and Kubernetes announcements.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Chat with your friends on top of Matrix engine

              When Canonical launched Ubuntu Touch on the BQ 4.5 they had to make a decision about a messenger app, in response to the practical and ethical issues presented by the dominance of Whatsapp on closed, proprietary systems. The peer pressure from friends and the insistence of some educational establishments and employers that the Facebook owned app must be used are of course still a problem for us today.

              The Canonical solution was to go with Telegram instead. The Cutegram client was already established on Linux desktops and that was taken as the starting point for the Ubuntu Touch client. This was the situation inherited by UBports and indeed Telegram is still widely used on our platform. For the first year of operation, the builds relied heavily on back-porting from the Cutegram client but that approach ran into problems because not only was that client lagging around eighteen months behind those available for other platforms but the developers had bowed to that and allowed the project to fade. To give credit where it is due, Telegram have shared with UBports their template for a detailed revamp of their platform, enabling us to jump forward to a version which is as modern as those on other operating systems.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 2019 Preview: Open RAN efforts gain momentum

    Perhaps nowhere is disruption more evident than in the efforts around the radio access network (RAN) and freeing that up for more competition. Advocates for the Open RAN characterize it as an evolution rather than a revolution, and they undoubtedly are on a mission to transform the way communications networks are built.


    O-RAN also announced that it’s working with The Linux Foundation to establish an open source software community for the creation of open source RAN software. Collaboration with The Linux Foundation will enable the creation of open source software supporting the O-RAN architecture and interfaces.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox’s New Feature Is A Boon For Working On Multiple Tabs Simultaneously

        If you want to search a tab from the host of open tabs, type % followed by a space and the text featured in that particular tab’s title.

        For example, here if you want to search the opened Reddit tab then you will type “% red,” and all the tabs with “red” in the title will be displayed for you to choose. The feature will also search through the tabs opened in a different window.

  • Databases

    • How to Install Nginx, MySQL/MariaDB and PHP on RHEL 8

      Many of TecMint readers know about LAMP, but less people are aware of LEMP stack, which replaces Apache web server with the light weight Nginx. Each web server has their pros and cons and it depends on your specific situation which one you would choose to use.

    • What is BigchainDB?

      Sophia Armstrong, a computer science major at East Carolina University, provided an overview of BigchainDB in her Lightning Talk, “Blockchain database for a cybersecurity learning environment,” at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC.

      Sophia’s project, which is funded by a National Science Foundation grant, gives students a hands-on, game-based experience to learn about cybersecurity. Her team uses BigchainDB, an open source blockchain database, behind the firewall to securely store the data they collect.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • HAMMER2 File-System Performance On DragonFlyBSD 5.4.1

      With the newly released DragonFlyBSD 5.4.1 having a lot of HAMMER2 file-system work on top of all of the changes introduced by DragonFlyBSD 5.4 at the start of December, here is a fresh look at the HAMMER versus HAMMER2 file-system performance on this BSD operating system.

      Using an Intel Core i9 7960X test system with Intel 800p 128GB NVMe SSD, fresh benchmarks were carried out of DragonFlyBSD 5.4.1 when installed with a root HAMMER file-system and again with the latest HAMMER2 file-system option that has matured quite nicely over the DragonFlyBSD 5.x releases.

    • FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 21 new GNU releases!


    • The dream of LILA and ZeMarmot

      I hinted that there were some cool stuff going on lately on a personal level, and now here it is: I have been hired by CNRS for a year to develop things in relationship to GIMP and G’Mic.

      This is the first time in years I have a sustainable income, and this is to continue working on GIMP (something I have done for 6 years, before this job!). How cool is that?
      For the full story, I was first approached by the G’Mic team to work on a Photoshop plug-in, which I politely declined. I have nothing against Photoshop, but this is not my dream job.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Software Freedom Conservancy: Governance & Federation are the Future

      This is part of our ongoing series on generous matching donors. Elana is the Queen of Debian Clojure, Empress of Symbol Versioning, Conqueress of ABIs, Python Packaging Authority, ELF Herder and the Winner of this year’s Award for most odd, but needful volunteer assistance this year (keeping people from eating pizza on top of the Conservancy tablecloth and so, so much more.) Elana and several other outstanding individuals are joining Private Internet Access and a big anonymous donor in offering a total of $90K in matching funds to the Conservancy for our continued work to provide both support for important free software and a clear voice in favor of community-driven licensing and governance practices.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open 2019
    • A Joint Front

      Another probable reason could be that even if we are keen, our present ecosystem does not encourage disruptive risk-taking projects. As someone who has helped design India’s own disruptive programme in innovation – an open source drug discovery programme (OSDD) – I would believe that disruptive innovations do happen in the country, albeit facing resistance. A decade after OSDD was launched to tackle the problems posed by diseases that are endemic to developing countries like India – with tuberculosis (TB) being its first disease target – the programme has been subsumed into the India TB Research and Development Consortium project.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Banana Pi Teases 24-Core ARM Server Board

        Banana Pi, a company that produces Raspberry Pi-type devices, is teasing its new 24-core server board running Ubuntu. The upcoming server board comes equipped with 24 ARM Cortex A53 cores, 32GB of memory and supports NVMe storage. The company posted a quick demo video and a few images, but hasn’t said whether the project will come to market as a full server or just as a server board. A Banana Pi representative also commented on LinkedIn that the board supports OpenSuse, Tensorflow, Docker, ROS and Raspbian.

      • Improving Router-Based Dev Boards With The Onion Omega2 Pro

        Before we had Raspberry Pis and Beaglebones, the art of putting a Linux system in a small, portable project was limited to router hacking. The venerable WRT54G controlled Internet-connected robots with a careful application of a Unix-ey firmware. Now, things are different but there’s still a need for a cheap, portable Linux system that’s just good enough to get the job done. Now, there’s an upgrade to the board that follows in the footsteps of that router hacking The Onion Omega2 Pro is up on Crowd Supply, and it’s got more buttons, more switches, and it’s still smaller than a breadboard.

      • 2018: As The Hardware World Turns

        2018 is almost over, and we have another year in the dataset: an improbable number of celebrities died in 2016. The stock market is down, and everyone thinks a crash is coming. Journalists are being killed around the world. Fidget spinners aren’t cool anymore. Fortnite. Trade wars.

        But not everything is terrible: Makerbot released a new printer and oddly no one complained. It was just accepted that it was an overpriced pile of suck. Elon Musk is having a great year, press and Joe Rogan notwithstanding, by launching a record number of rockets and shipping a record number of cars, and he built a subway that we’re not calling a subway. FPGA development is getting easier with new platforms and new boards. There is a vast untapped resource in 18650 cells just sitting on sidewalks in the form of scooters, and I’m going to keep mentioning this until someone actually builds a power wall out of scooters.

  • Programming/Development

    • Celery on Docker: From the Ground up

      Docker is hot. Docker is hotter than hot.

      Docker 1.0 was released in June 2014. Since then, it has been adopted at a remarkable rate. Over 37 billion images have been pulled from Docker Hub, the Docker image repository service. Docker is so popular because it makes it very easy to package and ship applications.

      How do you dockerise an app? And how do you orchestrate your stack of dockerised components? This blog post answers both questions in a hands-on way. We are going to build a small Celery app that periodically downloads newspaper articles. We then break up the stack into pieces, dockerising the Celery app. and its components Finally, we put it all back together as a multi-container app.

    • My New Year’s Resolution: Work Less to Code Better

      You may look at my job title (or picture) and think, “Oh, this is easy, he’s going to resolve to stand up at his desk more.” Well, you’re not wrong, that is one of my resolutions, but I have an even more important one. I, Jeremy Gibson, resolve to do less work in 2019. You’re probably thinking that it’s bold to admit this on my employer’s blog. Again, you’re not wrong, but I think I can convince them that the less work I do, the more clear and functional my code will become. My resolution has three components.

    • Worked On Migration Of Plone Addons To Python 3

      I created a new clean buildout from the Plone coredev Github repository using a checkout of the 5.2 branch. I added a local.cfg file to my local repo and added some packages to this file. This packages were checked out within the next run of buildout using the new local.cfg buildout file, extending buildout.cfg.

    • malloc in c language
    • Strings in Python
    • Using Plotly Library for Interactive Data Visualization in Python
    • PyPy Winter Sprint Feb 4-9 in Düsseldorf
    • PyCharm 2018.3.3 RC and PyCharm 2018.2.7
    • Developers Are Coding for the Love of It (Plus the Money)

      You know what they say about building software: It’s not just a job—it’s a passion.

      Okay, nobody really says that.

      Nonetheless, it’s true: when developers and other tech pros leave their jobs, they keep coding through the night and on weekends. Based on data in the annual Octoverse report, which breaks down the activity of 31 million developers on the Github platform, contributions to public and open-source code repositories dip but don’t flatten out on Saturday or Sunday, even as activity on private repositories plunges.


      According to Stack Overflow’s (extensive and essential) Developer Survey, more than 80 percent of developers code as a hobby outside of work. Not only that, but those developers with extensive non-programming responsibilities, such as parenting or an affinity for the outdoors, were “slightly more likely to code as a hobby than other groups.”

    • Apache NetBeans 10.0 Released With JDK 11 & PHP7 Support

      The Apache NetBeans 10.0 release is now available as the latest release for this integrated development environment under the Apache incubator umbrella.

    • git-annex and funding update

      git-annex v7 was released this fall, the culmination of a long effort to add some important new features to git-annex. Rather than go into details about it here, see this LWN article comparing and contrasting git-annex with git lfs.

    • Calling subs and typing in Perl 6

      This is the ninth article in a series about migrating code from Perl 5 to Perl 6. This article examines the subtle differences in visibility of subroutines between Perl 5 and Perl 6 and the (gradual) typing core feature of Perl 6.

      This article assumes you’re familiar with signatures—if you’re not, read How subroutine signatures work in Perl 6, the fourth article in this series, before you continue.

    • ‘Update perl to 5.28.1′
    • PyPy Winter Sprint Feb 4-9 in Düsseldorf


  • Hardware

    • On Planned Cellphone Obsolescence

      About a month ago, my Blu Studio M HD cellphone started misbehaving; it fired up apps at random and turned off by itself. Eventually, it was more difficult to start it again. Today, it barely refused to come back after I turned it on seven times. I checked how old the phone was. Interestingly, it was almost two years old.

      The suspicion was inevitable: is this a confirmation that cellphones are somehow built to fail when the two-year lifespan is reached?

      I know that most experts agree on the fact that it is not that the electronic components of the phone are designed to fail, but it is the battery that dies and causes the problems. That might be true, for the problems with my phone started when I noticed that the battery ran out of juice a lot faster than usual.

      However, there is a detail: I specifically bought this kind of cellphone because of its manually-replaceable battery, which, in theory, extends the lifespan of the device. Except that today it is practically impossible to find a spare battery.

  • Security

    • NPM security to use automated tools to boost community alerts

      Adam Baldwin: Open source is wonderful, right? We get the advantage of a large ecosystem of packages and a lot of different levels of quality of packages in there. There [are] some people just trying it out, and some that are really maintained by organizations and kept up to rigorous standards. They’re all mixed together in this ecosystem.

      So, we’ve got this web of dependencies, and companies consume those. And at the end of the day, you’re responsible for what you require. Hopefully, NPM is going to be able to provide some better tooling to help with that. It is a supply chain security problem for consumers of the software.

    • ESET joins global initiative to fight against ransomware [Ed: How about you start by pushing back against our oppressive governments that demand back doors in everything? Or advise people to dump proprietary software (with back doors in it)?]

      ESET recently announced that it has joined hands with No More Ransom, an international initiative between Europol, the Dutch National Police and major cybersecurity organizations in the fight against ransomware. The collaborative project helps victims of ransomware attacks recover their personal data and has so far managed to decrypt the infected computers of 72,000 victims worldwide.

      With its 130 partners, the No More Ransom online portal hosts a collection of 59 free decryption tools from multiple security software vendors, covering 91 ransomware families. Users from around the world can access the tools for free in order to recover data held hostage by ransomware attacks. Launched in 2016, No More Ransom decryption tools have so far kept around USD 22 million out of the pockets of cybercrimininals.

    • Cuckoo – Sandboxed Malware Analysis

      You can throw any suspicious file at it and in a matter of minutes Cuckoo will provide a detailed report outlining the behavior of the file when executed inside a realistic but isolated environment.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Host your website safely and avoid website cross-contamination issues

      This article discusses the hidden pitfalls of hosting multiple websites on one hosting account, and how you can remediate the consequences of website cross-contamination.

      The structure of virtual hosting (also known as shared hosting) can be illustrated by a bee hive: each website (bee) has its own folder (cell). At the same time, all bees share the same hive (hosting account resources, such as disk space, database, RAM, CPU, etc.).

      In most cases, hosting companies do not provide resource isolation for shared hosting accounts (plans that let you host multiple websites on one account). In practice, that means that all website files are owned by the same system user, and server scripts (using PHP, Python, Perl, etc.) on each website on the account run with equal access rights. So, we get into a situation where the scripts of one website on the account may create, remove or modify any file on any other website hosted on the same shared hosting account.


      I hope this information helps you to avoid mass infection or hacking issues with your websites, or, if this has already happened, effectively resolve the incident. Along with professional security advice, a comprehensive security solution such as Imunify360 is essential to keep such incidents from happening in the first place.

    • Security updates for Friday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Iraqi Lawmakers Demand U.S. Withdrawal After Trump Visit

      Iraqi lawmakers Thursday demanded U.S. forces leave the country following a surprise visit by President Donald Trump that politicians denounced as arrogant and a violation of national sovereignty.

      Trump’s trip to U.S. servicemen and women at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq on Wednesday was unannounced and the subject of extreme security, which is routine for presidential visits to conflict regions. But it came at a time when containing foreign influence has become a hot-button issue in Iraqi politics, and it provoked vociferous backlash.

      Iraqi lawmakers were smarting after the U.S. president left three hours after he arrived without meeting any officials, drawing unfavorable comparisons to the occupation of Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

      “Trump needs to know his limits. The American occupation of Iraq is over,” said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of one of two main blocs in Iraq’s parliament.

    • Muslim Ban: Meet the Yemeni Americans Suing Trump in an Attempt to Reunite with Loved Ones
    • The Bolton Speech on Africa: A Case of the Wolf and the Foxes

      Malcolm X reminded us that we had to be careful about the difference between the wolf and the fox. The wolf for black people were the hardcore, racist white folks with the hoods and clearly articulated stance in support of white supremacy. The fox, on the other hand were the liberals who were supposed to be our friends. Their ultimate support for white supremacy was always just as deadly but sugarcoated in diversionary language like “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect.” The game, according to Malcolm, was that black folks would recognize danger of the wolf and run from the wolf straight into the jaws of the fox with the consequence being just as fatal because both the fox and the wolf are members of the same canine family.

      This captures in many ways not only the nature of the ongoing saga of U.S. politics in general where there is really no substantial difference in the class interests and fundamental priorities of the two capitalist parties, but specific policies like U.S. policy in Africa.

    • Putin and Russia’s Turn to Capitalism

      Any book on Putin and Russia that departs from these stereotypes would be most welcome. When it turns out to be a first-rate Marxist analysis, it should be added to your must-read list for 2019. The good news is that book has arrived in the form of Tony Wood’s Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War, a ground-breaking study that departs from the lurid personality-driven narratives that are the stock-in-trade of MSNBC or the Washington Post. Additionally, for those on the left whose ideas are shaped by Stephen F. Cohen’s pro-Putin apologetics, the book will serve as a wake-up call to return to a class rather than a chess analysis. If Rachel Maddow is for the chess-master playing white, there is no reason to uncritically root for who is playing black. In keeping with the palette analogy, it is worth recalling Lenin’s citation of Mephistopheles’s words from Goethe’s Faust in his 1917 Letter on Tactics: “Theory, my friend, is grey, but green is the eternal tree of life.”

      Wood’s title communicates his basic thesis, namely that Russia must be understood as a product of a post-Communist system that is riven with unresolved contradictions. Those contradictions explain the domestic and foreign policies of the Kremlin, not some grand strategy by Vladimir Putin. Despite the tendency to view Putin as the negation of Boris Yeltsin, there is convincing evidence that he is instead a continuation of the status quo ante. In essence, Russia’s turn to capitalism has not resulted in the sort of social democratic Utopia Mikhail Gorbachev promoted. When it became obvious that Western Europe and the United States had little interest in such an outcome, Putin turned eastward in the hopes of creating an alternative economic and security bloc such as the kind Aleksandr Dugin advocated. With the prospects for such a solution growing increasingly dim, Russia is forced to carve out a new role for itself in a crisis-ridden world. No matter how adept Putin is as a master strategist, this might be beyond his powers.

      Putin continued Yeltsin’s policies along two fronts. In October 1993, Yeltsin ordered a tank assault on the Congress of People’s Deputies in a virtual coup. Afterward, he rewrote the constitution in order to increase the president’s powers.

    • The ‘Highest Danger’ of the Cold War Isn’t Behind Us

      The odds were stacked against the two authors of “The Kremlinologist: Llewellyn E. Thompson, America’s Man in Cold War Moscow” when it came to treating their subject with anything resembling journalistic precision or objectivity. That’s primarily because they resembled their subject a little too closely—in addition to being the book’s co-writers, Jenny and Sherry Thompson are also Llewelyn Thompson’s daughters.

      No matter. As Robert Scheer puts it in this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” in which he interviews the Thompson sisters, the pair produced a “first-rate work of journalism” as they profiled their father.

      Jenny and Sherry Thompson tell Scheer that their shared impulse in taking on the project was part intellectual and part emotional. The senior Thompson, who was stationed in Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union during two crucial stretches of the Cold War, died more than four decades ago, so the sisters were invested in his memory as well as his legacy. “We started this whole project for our families … we wanted to discover who he was,” Sherry says. “It really needed to be a proper book.”

      That it is, and then some. According to Scheer, who notes the book’s positive reception in the diplomatic community, “The Kreminologist” ranges far beyond a professional profile of Thompson himself. In fact, Scheer says, it’s “the indispensable book to understanding the trajectory of the Cold War.” Most important, it capably debunks the lingering “fundamental fallacy” about a conflict that remains dismayingly relevant to this day.

    • Japan Wants to Jettison Its Vow to “Forever Renounce War”

      On December 26 Japan announced it would leave the International Whaling Commission and resume whale-hunting which was banned since 1986 when it was acknowledged (albeit reluctantly by Tokyo) that some species had been driven almost to extinction.

      Irrespective of the moral aspects of the affair, and the fact that whale-killing is one of mankind’s cruelest commercial entertainments, the decision signals yet another move by Japan to assert itself on the world stage where it is demonstrating its determination to expand its military capabilities.

      On December 11 Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that “Japan plans to effectively upgrade its helicopter carriers to enable them to transport and launch fighter jets.” Concurrently the Indian Ministry of Defence noted that in the course of a large exercise being held in India by the US and Indian air forces, “two military pilots from Japan are also taking part in the exercise as observers.” There was also aReuter’s account of Tokyo’s plans “to boost defense spending over the next five years to help pay for new stealth fighters and other advanced US military equipment.”

      Coincidentally, these developments were reported in the same week as the anniversary of the Nanking Massacre of 1937-38, which was totally unreported by the Western media but remembered in China where “over a period of six weeks, Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people” and wreaked further death and destruction there and throughout Asia until 1945. They killed or otherwise caused the deaths of countless millions.

    • Fuck You, Dying American Empire: Reflections of an Aging Anti-Imperialist

      Last year at Jamia Millia Islamia Central University in New Delhi, India I met students and teachers who thought that it was cool that I’d written an anti-imperialist book and that it was still in print nearly fifty years after it was first published. It was easy to be an anti-imperialist at Jamia Millia. After all, the students and the teachers were anti-imperialists and all worked-up about U.S. drones, U.S. air strikes and about the Syrians on the ground who had been battered and bombed.

      It was also relatively easy to be an anti-imperialist in the late 1960s and early 1970s when anti-imperialism was a red badge of courage in SDS, the Venceremos Brigade, in anti-war circles and even among the Yippies, who were far more internationalist in their outlook than many on the Left assumed. Once upon a time, Jerry Rubin went to Cuba to check out the revolution, and later to Chile with singer and songwriter, Phil Ochs, to see what Salvador Allende was doing.

      But here in the U.S. in 2018, is it still possible to be an authentic anti-imperialist, an anti-imperialist in more than name? I thought about that question recently when a former comrade explained that he was still an anti-imperialist and wondered if I was one, too.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bearing Witness to Extinction

      According to a study by the WWF the earth has lost over half of its wildlife in just 40 years. A staggering statistic that should shake every conscious person to their core. Each of us is a witness to this Great Dying, the sixth mass extinction, the last one being 65 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs.Yet despite overwhelming evidence of a rapidly crashing biosphere many leaders, if not most, in the privileged global north seem oblivious or apathetic to the carnage.All around the planet wildlife populations are in a free fall, from birds to amphibians to mammals to marine life to insects. But today the interests of capital not only dominate our economic, media and political order, they dominate our consciousness.

      The Latin meaning for homo sapiens is “wise man.” But as I ponder our precarious position on theprecipice of the Sixth Mass Extinction I cannot help but be struck by its glaring irony. Standing in a cemetery crowded with the bones of countless species I am left with little room to marvel at our cleverness. The magicians and merchants of corporate consumerism have fostered this pernicious disconnection from the natural world and have created a labyrinth of distractions and doubts that numb the senses to our own looming demise. It is a difficult box to break free from. Insipid optimism is demanded of all subjects of the global corporate kingdom. Those who defy it are often derided or ridiculed as alarmists. Sometimes they are rendered invisible. It is a kind of optimism that eschews facts. A cult of thinking that chides anyone who dares look at things as they truly are.

    • We Need To Talk About Palm Oil

      We wash our hair with it, brush our teeth with it, smother our skin in it and use it to powder our cheeks, plump our lashes and color our lips. We clean our houses with it, fuel our cars with it and eat it in chocolate, bread, ice cream, pizza, breakfast cereal and candy bars.

      Palm oil: you may never have walked into a supermarket with it written on your shopping list but you’ve certainly walked out with bags full of it.

      An extremely versatile ingredient that’s cheaper and more efficient to produce than other vegetable oils, palm oil is found today in half of all consumer goods including soaps and toothpaste, cosmetics and laundry detergent and a whole array of processed food. Palm oil is also found in biodiesel used to power cars (more than 50 percent of the European Union’s palm oil consumption in 2017 reportedly went to this purpose).

    • Crime and Punishment at the EPA

      I tried, but could not reconcile, the mission of the agency – protect human health and the environment – with its timid actions. Yes, agribusiness was powerful and exercised considerable influence on Capitol Hill, the White House and the EPA.

      I simply could not explain the callous mindset of willfully approving the poisoning of the food and drinking water of the entire country. How could such a monstrous crime take place, I kept asking myself and others. It could not simply be a result of EPA irresponsibility under both Republican and Democratic administrations. And it could not happen because science certified farmers’ sprays innocent of all harm. On the contrary, studies funded by EPA and others have been connecting farmers’ sprays to ecocide, disease and death.

      I traced the catastrophic decline of honeybees to the neurotoxic pesticides of the farmers.

    • Japanese Prosecutors Demand 5 Years in Prison for Executives Facing Trial for Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

      In March of 2011, the most powerful earthquake to ever strike Japan triggered a tsunami that caused three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex to melt down, forcing hundreds of thousands of nearby residents to evacuate. In court on Wednesday, the prosecution accused TEPCO’s leadership of “postponing” safety measures designed to protect the plant from powerful tsunamis.

      “It was easy to safeguard the plant against tsunami, but they kept operating the plant heedlessly,” prosecutors said at the trial at the Tokyo District Court, according to The Asahi Shimbum, a Japanese newspaper. “That led to the deaths of many people.”

      While the prosecution claims at least 44 people died in connection with the incident, other estimates have put the number around 1,600. Prosecutors called for the five-year sentences, the maximum punishment allowed for the charges, during closing arguments on Wednesday.

    • Ten Grim Climate Scenarios If Global Temperatures Rise Above 1.5 Degrees Celsius

      The summer of 2018 was intense: deadly wildfires, persistent drought, killer floods and record-breaking heat. Although scientists exercise great care before linking individual weather events to climate change, the rise in global temperatures caused by human activities has been found to increase the severity, likelihood and duration of such conditions.

      Globally, 2018 is on pace to be the fourth-hottest year on record. Only 2015, 2016 and 2017 were hotter. The Paris climate agreement aims to hold temperature rise below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, but if humankind carries on its business-as-usual approach to climate change, there’s a 93 percent chance we’re barreling toward a world that is 4 degrees Celsius warmer by the end of the century, a potentially catastrophic level of warming.

    • New York Power Plant Explosion Seen as Glowing Reminder of Dire Need to Ditch Fossil Fuels

      While state authorities said they are investigating the incident and concluded that no one was injured, the transformer explosion briefly sparked panic and—according to environmentalists—offered yet another glowing reminder of the dire need to transition away from dirty energy.

      As the Huffington Post’s Alexander Kaufman noted, the Astoria Generating Station—where the Thursday night blast occurred—”burns 3,039,000 gallons of number 6 fuel oil a year.” The explosion at the facility, wrote Kaufman, could help call attention to New York City’s “dependence on antiquated oil-burning power stations.”

      Number 6 fuel oil is “considered one of the most polluting energy sources in the world,” Kaufman pointed out, and the Astoria power plant has been partly blamed for high air pollution in the surrounding area and the growing levels of asthma that have afflicted residents as a result.

      “Last year the city council passed a bill requiring the utility operators to stop using fuel oil number 6 by 2020 and number 4 oil by 2030,” Kaufman observed. “But the explosion on Thursday night could add new pressure to go further, phasing out fossil fuel use altogether and converting the stations to renewable sources.”

    • 10 Costliest Climate-Driven Extreme Weather Events of 2018 Caused at Least $84.8B in Damage: Analysis

      Christian Aid’s global climate lead, Kat Kramer, said in a statement that “climate change is something still often talked about as a future problem, not least because we know the consequences of the warming climate are so devastating and don’t want to face up to what is already happening.” But, he added, as the report clearly shows, “for many people, climate change is having devastating impacts on their lives and livelihoods right now.”

      Though some figures “are likely to be underestimates” due to data limitations, the report lists the following as the 10 costliest extreme weather events from 2018, the fourth-hottest year on record…

    • 2018 Was a Year of Deadly Climate Disasters and an ‘Ear Splitting Wake-Up Call’

      2018 is set to rank as the fourth warmest year on record — and the fourth year in a row reflecting a full degree Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) temperature rise from the late 1800s, climate scientists say.

      This was the year that introduced us to fire tornadoes, bomb cyclones, and, in Death Valley, a five day streak of 125°F temperatures, part of the hottest month ever documented at a U.S. weather station.

      2018 also brought the world’s highest-ever low temperature, as nighttime temperatures fell to a sizzling 109°F in Quiryat, Oman, on June 28, smashing a 2011 record-high low.

      A startling 95 percent of the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is now gone — and we’re losing Arctic ice at a rate of 14,000 tons per second, according to recent research, three times as fast as roughly three decades ago.


      When Susan Weller traveled to Ecuador to study tiger moths in the 1980s, she found plenty of insects. A decade later, Weller, now director of the University of Nebraska State Museum, returned to conduct follow-up research. But the moths she was looking for were gone.

      “Just in that time frame, areas I had collected had been transformed. Forests had been taken out. … brand new cities had sprung up. I tried to go back and collect from other historic collecting sites, and those sites no longer existed. They were parking lots,” she says.

      Around the globe, scientists are getting hints that all is not well in the world of insects. Increasingly, reports are trickling in of unsettling changes in populations of not only butterflies and bees, but of far less charismatic bugs and beetles as well. Most recently, a research team from the U.S. and Mexico reported a startling decline between 1976 and 2013 in the weight of insects and other arthropods collected at select sites in Puerto Rico.

    • Fracking Future Shock in Colorado

      If fracking treated all people equally, that is, if every person in Colorado were threatened with anywhere from 10 to 50 fracked wells in their neighborhood, the oil and gas industry would be long gone. But it doesn’t, so only a minority of Coloradans reap the whirlwind in the state’s fracking fields.

      That Prop 112, a citizen setback initiative, made it onto the fall ballot and that about one million Coloradans supported it shows there is growing public awareness and concern over industrial fracking. It mandated 2500 foot drilling setbacks from homes and other essential human resources such as watercourses. The oil and gas industry defeated the initiative by spending $40 million to create uncertainty about the factual health and safety hazards of fracking. That money onslaught influenced statewide politicians from both parties who didn’t want those deep pockets turned inside out on them. For too many, it appears, the business of government is business.

      As a species we hate uncertainty. Like the cigarette industry before it, the oil business and their political allies have adopted uncertainty as their life blood. Sure, many people get sick living near fracking sites, but some don’t, say they. The air quality along the front-range is deteriorating and is a threat to all, but it’s not all the fault of frackers in Weld County, say they. And so it goes, for certainty is elusive in the complicated world we’ve created.

      Still, some things about fracking are certain. As an example, fracked wells decrease in production very rapidly, after which they must be properly closed. The state contains over 100,000 wells, and about half are closed or inactive. A small subset, of roughly 720 wells, are called orphaned wells. These are wells where ownership can’t be determined. The state quietly allocated over $5 million out of the General Fund to begin cleanup and closure of these orphaned wells this fiscal year.

  • Finance

    • The Battle Over NAFTA 2.0 Has Just Begun

      These changes don’t go into effect until three years after NAFTA 2.0 does. But this vexing delay did not stop the Business Roundtable, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Wall Street Journal editorial board from criticizing the gutting of ISDS—nor did a loophole under NAFTA 2.0 designed to protect nine US companies if their contracts with Mexico’s National Hydrocarbons Commission are canceled without cause. These companies retain the broader ISDS rights if Mexico maintains agreements that provide such rights to investors from other countries. While none of the companies have used ISDS against Mexico, several have against other countries. Preserving access to broad ISDS rights for any corporation, much less oil companies, is bad.

    • The world’s largest maker of cryptocurrency mining chips will likely lay off more than 50% of its staff, according to reports

      The Beijing-based chip maker ballooned from 1,000 to 3,100 employees this year, an anonymous source told CoinDesk in the report. Part of that growth involved Bitmain’s investment into artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, which the company has decided to scale back on, according to the source.

    • The Brexit Pantomime and the Drone “Invasion”

      The period leading up to Christmas is the traditional pantomime season in Ukania. Celebrities take time off from their usual occupations to star with less well-known performers in farcical slapstick shows that have little or no appeal for anyone beyond the age of 10.

      This year, none of the regular pantomimes could compete with the biggest one of all, which took place in the House of Commons prior to its Christmas recess.

      Brexit was of course the main plot in Ukania’s preeminent pantomime.

      The House of Commons was due to vote that week on the final EU divorce deal Theresa May had submitted to EU leaders.

      May however postponed the vote until after the Christmas recess, knowing she would lose it by a large margin.

    • Universal Basic Income Is Easier Than It Looks

      Calls for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) have been increasing, most recently as part of the “Green New Deal” introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and supported in the last month by at least 40 members of Congress. A UBI is a monthly payment to all adults with no strings attached, similar to Social Security. Critics say the Green New Deal asks too much of the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the resolution proposes. It says funding would primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks,” among other vehicles.

      The Federal Reserve alone could do the job. It could buy “Green” federal bonds with money created on its balance sheet, just as the Fed funded the purchase of $3.7 trillion in bonds in its “quantitative easing” program to save the banks. The Treasury could also do it. The Treasury has the constitutional power to issue coins in any denomination, even trillion dollar coins. What prevents legislators from pursuing those options is the fear of hyperinflation from excess “demand” (spendable income) driving prices up. But in fact the consumer economy is chronically short of spendable income, due to the way money enters the consumer economy. We actually need regular injections of money to avoid a “balance sheet recession” and allow for growth, and a UBI is one way to do it.

    • Survey Shows Most Americans Agree With Ocasio-Cortez: $5 Billion Should Be Spent on Healthcare or Education, Not Trump’s Border Wall

      Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) suggested last week that the $5 billion President Donald Trump is demanding for construction of his “border wall” would be better spent on education, healthcare, green jobs, and other priorities that actually have a tangible impact on people’s lives, and a new survey published on Thursday found that most Americans agree.

      According to a Business Insider poll—released as the government shutdown over wall funding continued into its sixth day—only 19 percent of respondents said a border wall would be “the best use” of $5 billion.

      Meanwhile, 36 percent said $5 billion would be better spent on healthcare and 30 percent said they would want the funds to go toward infrastructure.

    • For What It’s Worth: The Yellow Vests and the Left

      The “yellow vest” (gilets jaunes) movement has upended French politics, at least.

      It has delivered a sharp and refreshing smack in the face to the smuggest of smug, entitled neoliberal brats, Emmanuel Macron, forcing him to retreat on substantive tax and minimum wage issues. It has also raised a raft of issues from wealth inequality (including demands for higher taxes on the rich) to a rejection of austerity and the dreaded Frexit.

      Most importantly, it has acted outside the gatekeeping of traditional opposition parties and institutions–including those of the left, which have all been thoroughly decaffeinated and beguiled by the fantasia of Third-Way EU becoming “Social Europe.” The Yellow Vest movement is millions of people out in the street, engaged in militant, confrontational protest, talking to and acting with each other unsupervised, telling the governing elite: “Va te faire foutre!”

      A self-mobilization of the working class: This is the specter of Europe past, which Third-Way politicians and intelligentsia thought they had once and for all banished to the netherworld a few decades ago. The Yellow Vest movement, now spreading to other counties, is striking a new body blow to the teetering edifice of neoliberalism that has been built on the bones of the working-class lives in Europe and America over those decades.

      This explains why the American mainstream media has avoided focusing on the Yellow Vest movement. The left, on the other hand, must be overjoyed, right?

    • Federal Workers Face Grim Prospect of Lengthy Shutdown

      Three days, maybe four. That’s how long Ethan James, 21, says he can realistically miss work before he’s struggling.

      So as the partial government shutdown stretched into its sixth day with no end in sight, James, a minimum-wage contractor sidelined from his job as an office worker at the Interior Department, was worried. “I live check to check right now,” he said, and risks missing his rent or phone payment. Contractors, unlike most federal employees, may never get back pay for being idled. “I’m getting nervous,” he said.

      Federal workers and contractors forced to stay home or work without pay are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse affecting hundreds of thousands of them. For those without a financial cushion, even a few days of lost wages during the shutdown over President Donald Trump’s border wall could have dire consequences.

    • How We Measured Involuntary Job Losses Among Older Workers

      Today, we’re reporting that more than half of older U.S. workers — those 50 and over — get laid off or pushed out of career positions on their way to retirement, and few ever again make what they did before these setbacks.


      After the story ran, we heard from others who described similar experiences with their employers.

      This made us wonder more broadly about older workers’ decisions to retire or quit and how freely chosen those decisions are. We wanted to know how pervasive are the patterns we saw at IBM in the American workplace?

      To answer these questions, we turned to the government-funded Health and Retirement Study, or HRS, working with the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, and Urban economist Richard Johnson.

    • If You’re Over 50, Chances Are the Decision to Leave a Job Won’t be Yours

      Tom Steckel hunched over a laptop in the overheated basement of the state Capitol building in Pierre, South Dakota, early last week, trying to figure out how a newly awarded benefit claims contract will make it easier for him do his job.

      Steckel is South Dakota’s director of employee benefits. His department administers programs that help the state’s 13,500 public employees pay for health care and prepare for retirement.

      It’s steady work and, for that, Steckel, 62, is grateful. After turning 50, he was laid off three times before landing his current position in 2014, weathering unemployment stints of up to eight months.

      When he started, his $90,000-a-year salary was only 60 percent of what he made at his highest-paying job. Even with a subsequent raise, he’s nowhere close to matching his peak earnings.

    • ‘Shameful’: As Shutdown Continues, Trump Administration Suggests Unpaid Federal Workers Do Odd Jobs for Landlords to Cover Rent

      With the partial government shutdown expected to extend into January with no funding agreement in sight, the Trump administration suggested on Thursday that the hundreds of thousands of unpaid federal workers who have been furloughed could do odd jobs and chores for their landlords to help cover rent.

      In a tweet on Thursday, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—led by Margaret Weichert, whom President Donald Trump picked to head the agency in October—offered a Word document featuring sample letters purportedly aimed at helping unpaid federal workers negotiate with landlords, mortgage companies, and creditors amid the government shutdown, which was caused by Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding.

    • What I Learned Covering HUD: Oversight Failures Are Symptoms of Deeper Dysfunction

      When I pulled my Jeep into the Clay Arsenal neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut, in July, I knew intuitively that I had arrived by the sights of neglect: Beautifully crafted brick homes in varying stages of decay. Boarded up buildings. A feeling of isolation in an otherwise bustling city.

      I had driven 1,100 miles from southern Illinois for an appointment with Josh Serrano. He was among a handful of tenants who had led a monthslong campaign to implore the city and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to take action against an absentee landlord over poor conditions. I wanted to meet Serrano because I had covered poor living conditions and seeming federal indifference in places like the Illinois cities of Cairo and East St. Louis, in my region, and he was optimistic that by speaking with one voice, a community could achieve change.

      I recognized Serrano’s neighborhood from online photographs. It’s what journalists would call “distressed,” a catchall word that quickly and diplomatically describes many of the places I visited this year while reporting on the affordable housing challenges facing economically struggling rural towns and midsize cities for The Southern Illinoisan, and supported by ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network.


      Eventually, the tenants won action from HUD. In May, the agency announced that it was ending its contract with Serrano’s landlord, and that he and the 150 families living in his building and others would receive vouchers to subsidize their rent in the private market. But it’s hard to celebrate the dismantling of a neighborhood and the loss of affordable housing, even if that’s the best of bad options. There is a shortage of subsidized four- and five- bedroom units in Hartford, the state capital, making it challenging for some larger families to find alternative rentals that will accept their vouchers, commonly known as Section 8, in the neighborhoods where they want to live.

    • Bergen County Ended Chronic Homelessness, So Can Every Other Community

      When I signed up to attend a symposium on Ending Homelessness in Newark, New Jersey on November 25th of this year the best I was expecting to hear was a much needed morale boosting pep rally for those of us who have experienced homelessness and are working on the front lines of this seemingly intractable situation.


      Chief among my reasons for feeling so despairing about ever ending homelessness is the fickle and careless way most social service agencies I’ve encountered function in relation to the people who come to them for emergency housing services. Here are just a couple of examples. In order to receive emergency assistance an applicant must provide proof that no one in their family is declaring them a dependent on their tax forms. Many young homeless are homeless because they are estranged from their families and not on speaking terms. Applicants for emergency housing assistance must also prove that they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If you are, and even if those benefits don’t amount to enough to pay rent and live on, you are nevertheless turned down for emergency assistance.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracy

      Disinformation and propaganda disseminated online have poisoned the public sphere. The unbridled collection of personal data has broken down traditional notions of privacy. And a cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018.

    • Freedom on the Net: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism

      Out of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net, 26 experienced a deterioration in internet freedom. Almost half of all declines were related to elections.

    • 2018 Was a Rough Year for Truth Online

      Oft asked and rarely satisfactorily answered, the question of impact is the disinformation research community’s white whale. You can measure reach, you can measure engagement, but there’s no simple data point to tell you how one coordinated influence campaign affected an event or someone’s outlook on a particular issue.

    • Selling Fear and Amusement: News as Entertainment

      The news media have contributed to our deteriorating—but entertaining—political situation. Mr. Trump is President partly because he is entertaining. My research on TV news shows that the promotion of the politics of fear is a byproduct of entertaining and sensationalized reports to build audience ratings. Contemporary news practices have increasingly been wedded to new information technologies that provide visuals and images, particularly portable cameras and smart phones. The entertainment format of much of U.S. TV news promotes the use of video or other visuals that are dramatic, conflictual, and emotional. Screen images dominate broadcast news as well social media. Investigations of news coverage of numerous local, national, and international news reports reveal how our current “news code” operates. Basically, TV tells time with visuals. Although the intent may be to use visuals to tell a story about something, the logic in use amounts to telling a story about the visual at hand. Events that are more likely to satisfy these format criteria are more likely to be broadcast.

      Our work over the last 4 decades also demonstrates that politicians and others who provide visual events and dramatic performances are more likely to receive news coverage. We have documented the profound effects this format-driven media coverage has had on social institutions ranging from sports, news, politics, education, and religion.

      Contemporary news practices continue this trend. Indeed, even the prestigious evening network newscasts have adopted this approach, especially as social media have provided seemingly ubiquitous videos of a wide array of events, many of which are posted on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. As newscasts seek higher ratings, it should not be surprising that they have adjusted their selection of news items to include visually interesting bits that have already been viewed—or gone viral—on the internet and social media.

    • A New Playing Field for Democracy Reform

      So, it looks like Fixing Our Democracy is officially Cool. Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats have announced that their first bill out of the box—H.R. 1—will be an omnibus democracy reform bill including voting rights, partisan gerrymandering, campaign-finance reform, and ethics reform. For many people who have worked on these issues for years, this is a significant moment. Of course, there is the Senate, and the president, so no one thinks H.R. 1 will become law in anything close to its original form. But the message is major: that putting democracy reform front and center is not just “good government”; it is good politics.

      But if you want to see where democracy reform was Really Cool in 2018, let’s take a look at what happened in the states, and how the stage has been set for even further reforms.

    • The Republican Party as Presently Constituted Must Be Torn Down to Its Foundations. The Planet Depends on It.

      So, over the weekend, another child died in the custody of the United States because of the president*’s brainless immigration policy. The president* flew halfway around the world for a 30-minute photo-op with some soldiers because he was shamed into doing so, and this was shortly after he was shamed into submarining a deal on the southern border by Rush Limbaugh and a chorus of lower primates. At this point, I think he could be shamed into jumping off the Truman Balcony dressed as Queen Mathilde of Belgium. Nonetheless, out in the country, his administration is doing damage that will take years to reverse, even assuming we can, and likely will cost the lives of people he sees only as members of his most recent constituency of suckers.

    • Ahead of Bolsonaro’s Inauguration in Brazil, Groups Vow to Fight ‘Hateful Rhetoric and Acts of Violence, Intimidation, or Persecution’

      The statement (pdf), published in English and Portuguese, highlights the president-elect’s notable history of making racist, misogynistic, and homophobic proclamations—from declaring that if any of his sons were gay, he’d hope that they would die in an accident, to telling a female fellow lawmaker that she didn’t deserve to be raped by him.

      “Bolsonaro’s hate speech has targeted numerous groups with long struggles against oppression and discrimination,” the statement notes. “Beyond these abhorrent verbal attacks, we are particularly concerned about a number of Bolsonaro’s policy proposals that, if implemented, can be expected to inflict far-reaching and lasting damage on Brazilian communities and on the environment.”

    • Elections Don’t Make Israel a Democracy

      It’s official, Israel is racing towards early elections. But no one is talking about who can vote in them.

      New elections were nearly called in November 2017 after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned in protest of Israel not going to war with Gaza and right-wing leader Naftali Bennett threatened to pull his party from the coalition if he was not given the defense portfolio. However, Netanyahu outfoxed Bennett by claiming that it was too dangerous a time to go to elections and retained the defense portfolio for himself (Netanyahu is now Israel’s prime minister, defence minister, and foreign minister), utilizing a slim 51% ruling majority.

      Until last week it looked like the coalition would hold together with its small majority. But following the Knesset’s inability to reach agreement on a bill dealing with military conscription of the ultra-orthodox, and, much more importantly, leaked information that the ministry of justice was recommending Netanyahu’s indictment on charges of bribery, on Monday Netanyahu announced “It’s too difficult [to pass laws], we need elections.” With that, the Israeli national election is scheduled to take place on April 9.

    • Who Cares Which Democrat Comes Out on Top?

      The new Congress will not be sworn in until after the New Year, but, at long last, the results of the 2018 midterm elections are finalized and certified. It looked good for Democrats from the moment the polls closed on Election Day; it looks even better now.

      The “blue wave” Democrats were hoping for, along with everyone else aware of the clear and present danger Donald Trump poses, materialized; the Trump Party got schlonged.

      Trump knows it; so do the miscreants in his administration who are working hard night and day to “deconstruct” the worthwhile things the government does. So do House and Senate Republicans, respectable media columnists, and the talking heads on the cable networks.

      Except for Trump himself, most of them also know that Trump has mainly himself to thank for the GOP’s defeat.

      Those of us who appreciate the urgency of minimizing the harm Trump and his minions do should give thanks for his narcissism-driven obtuseness and for his ineptitude. Not just us: were reason more in control, everyone would be giving thanks.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Year of the GDPR: 2018’s Most Famous Privacy Regulation in Review

      To the extent that 260-page regulations can ever be said to be “famous,” Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) certainly had its moment in limelight in 2018. When it came into force on May 25, it was heralded by a flurry of emails from tech companies, desperate to re-establish their absolutely bona-fide relationships with your email address before the regulations’ stricter rules around user consent came into force.

      The barely-concealed panic in some corners led to editorials, memes, and even a meditation app that marketed itself (presumably in compliance with the GDPR) by offering to lull its users to sleep with spoken excerpts from the law.

      Did the GDPR live up to the year’s hype, good or bad? As Premier Zhou Enlai didn’t quite say about the French Revolution, it’s too early to say. There are plenty of ways that the GDPR can help with defending privacy online, but the real proof of the GDPR’s provisions will be in how they are enforced, and against whom. And those patterns will only emerge as European regulators begin to flex their new powers.

    • Pushing Back Against Backdoors: 2018 Year in Review

      This wasn’t a great year for those of us whose job it is to defend the use of encryption.

      In the United States, we heard law enforcement officials go on about the same “going dark” problem they’ve been citing since the late 90s, but even after all these years, they still can’t get basic facts straight. The National Academy of Sciences was entirely (and unsurprisingly) unhelpful. And in the courts, there was at least some action surrounding encryption, but we don’t know exactly what.

      The real movement happened on the other side of the Pacific, so we’ll start there.

    • The Verge 2018 tech report card: Facebook

      Despite those efforts, Facebook had a catastrophic year. Whether you’re evaluating the company by its financial performance, its public perception, or its ability to contain and avoid scandals, the company will end the year in worse shape than it began. In the aftermath of the 2016 US election, Zuckerberg has long said fixing the platform is a three-year project. But the cumulative effect of this year’s news was to cast doubt on whether that project would be completed on time — or at all.

    • EFF Wins FOIA Lawsuit Against DEA, Forces The Release Of More Info About Its Hemisphere Program

      Thanks to a FOIA lawsuit, the EFF has lifted a number of redactions from documents detailing the DEA’s Hemisphere program. This program was first exposed in 2013 when the New York Times obtained documents showing AT&T was working side-by-side with government agents to hand over massive amount of call records in response to DEA subpoenas.

      AT&T has always considered itself to be an integral part of federal government surveillance programs, often going beyond what’s required to comply with demands for info. In the case of Hemisphere, it appeared to be operating as an unofficial arm of the government by “embedding” personnel in the DEA to expedite its surveillance efforts.

      More documents obtained by other FOIA requesters have peeled back a little bit of the secrecy. Even with redactions in place, the astonishing breadth of Hemisphere’s https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20181223/09123641283/eff-wins-foia-lawsuit-against-dea-forces-release-more-info-about-hemisphere-program.shtml capabilities was evident. Communications contained in the documents showed both the DEA and AT&T encouraged hiding the program from criminal defendants and the courts overseeing their cases. Parallel construction was the de facto policy, preventing anyone outside of US law enforcement from attacking the origin of evidence used against them.

    • [Old] China Aims For Near-Total Surveillance, Including in People’s Homes

      Soon, police and other officials will be able to monitor people’s activities in their own homes, wherever there is an internet-connected camera.

      A Chinese internet user who asked to remain anonymous said the social media platform WeChat has also begun issuing warnings to anyone posting messages that the government deems undesirable.

      “The internet and our smartphones have been under government surveillance for a long time already,” the user said. “A friend of mine in Anhui is under surveillance, and he tried to buy a plane ticket to go overseas, but he couldn’t leave the country.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Hundreds of Thousands of Churches’ Are Victims of China’s Ongoing Communist Crackdown

      In August, Jin, who led Zion Church, the largest unregistered congregation in Beijing, refused a government order to install closed-circuit surveillance cameras in the sanctuary.

    • Is This the Turning Point in the Fight Against Amazon?

      If Amazon is going to determine the future of retail, workers say they want jobs that have a real future. Today, Nafai says Amazon’s labor structure is unsustainable by design: “Nobody stays there more than five, six months.… I think that’s what the management is looking for. They need new blood, you know…. They need everybody coming excited in the beginning. And then when they get tired of you, they fire you and they bring in another.” He laughed, musing about how his life seemed to move on Amazon’s time long after he quit. “It’s like they bring you in young, and they turn you old.”

    • Amber Heard: I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence and Faced Our Culture’s Wrath

      I was exposed to abuse at a very young age. I knew certain things early on, without ever having to be told. I knew that men have the power — physically, socially and financially — and that a lot of institutions support that arrangement. I knew this long before I had the words to articulate it, and I bet you learned it young, too.

      Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.

      Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.

      Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted. A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me. Questions arose as to whether I would be able to keep my role of Mera in the movies “Justice League” and “Aquaman.”

      I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.

    • County Agrees To Pay $390,000 To Students Arrested By A Sheriff ‘Just To Prove A Point’

      Back in September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unshockingly decided that it’s illegal to arrest schoolchildren just to “prove a point.” The Fourth Amendment demands probable cause for an arrest, even an arrest of students who have (slightly) diminished Constitutional rights.

      This was Deputy Luis Ortiz’s solution to a problem he shouldn’t even have been attempting to solve. Ortiz decided the students he was speaking to about alleged bullying weren’t taking him seriously enough, so he tossed a few in squad cars and took them to the Sheriff’s office. Nothing about this was legal, but the county decided to defend this all the way to the appellate level. The Ninth Circuit’s assessment of Ortiz’s actions was harsh but far more fair than Ortiz deserved.

    • Investigation Finds at Least $800M in Taxpayer Money Went to Funding For-Profit Immigrant Prisons in 2018

      While President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda has been disastrous and deadly for asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, a Daily Beast investigation published on Thursday found that the White House’s xenophobic policies have been a major boon for the private prison industry—at the expense of American taxpayers.

      According to the Daily Beast’s Adam Rawnsley and Spencer Ackerman, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget records show that for-profit immigrant detention centers run by corporate giants like CoreCivic and GEO Group raked in over $800 million in taxpayer money in 2018 alone, thanks to generous government contracts that are largely kept secret from the public.

      “For 19 privately owned or operated detention centers for which the Daily Beast could find recent pricing data, ICE paid an estimated $807 million in fiscal year 2018,” Rawnsley and Ackerman reported. “Those 19 prisons hold 18,000 people—meaning that for-profit prisons currently lock up about 41 percent of the 44,000 people detained by ICE. But that’s not a comprehensive total, and the true figures are likely significantly higher.”

    • Report: Private Immigration Prisons Receive $800 Million in Taxpayer Money in 2018

      For-profit prisons are a lucrative industry in the United States. After falling out of favor in the Obama years, they’ve found a new purpose—and extensive profits—in the Trump administration by incarcerating undocumented immigrants.

      These prisons have come under scrutiny from advocates alleging extensive human rights abuses, but as The New York Times explained in October, the biggest companies in the industry defend themselves by touting their efficiency, claiming they “build and operate prisons more cheaply than governments can, what with the public sector’s many mandates.”

      A new investigation by The Daily Beast however, found that rather than saving public money, private prison companies are actually costing taxpayers $807 million, while inmates work for $3 a day or less. In 2018, The Daily Beast writes, “For-profit immigration detention was a nearly $1 billion industry underwritten by taxpayers and beset by problems that include suicide, minimal oversight, and what immigration advocates say uncomfortably resembles slave labor.”

    • Sending Ladders, Hedges, Money, Beaded Curtains Or Pretty Much Anything Else Besides A Friggin’ Wall

      It seems people are getting some fed up with Trump’s stupid devoutly-wished-for wall, that chimera meant to keep out what critics note are “our migrant siblings and fellow human beings.” Increasingly desperate and caught in an unpopular shutdown of his own petulant making, Trump keeps moving the goal-posts – from Mexico to taxpayers, from concrete to steel slats that designers have trashed as “unfathomably stupid,” “stunning in its vapidity,” wildly impractical, morally repugnant, eerily reminiscent of pointy KKK hats, and, oh yeah, wide enough for a person to squeeze through. By now, notes Nancy Pelosi, “he’s down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something.”

      No matter: His red-meat fans have now donated over $14 million to Make America White Again in a GoFundMe campaign started by a disabled veteran who argues “too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens” and who feels “deeply invested to (sic) this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today.” Alas, it may all be for naught. Both GoFundMe’s terms of service and federal rules about fundraising make it likely the $14 million will have to be refunded. Still, hope springs eternal: If it doesn’t, at their current rate of donations, they will have raised the estimated $21.7 billion needed for their blessed wall in a mere 35 years. And until then, they can buy their kids the Lego-like wall-building kit by Keep and Bear to keep the red meat fresh.

    • Quit America! The Case for Moral Disengagement from American Politics

      There continues to be a gross underestimation, even amongst politically aware liberals, of what we are really up against, and how to counter it. Increasingly, our fellow citizens are resorting to the concepts of fascism to describe the current situation, but this is not necessarily followed by any cogent reflection on what the political subject under fascism needs to do. Ordinary liberal prescriptions have no chance of success under a regime that has moved into an overt fascist mode; moreover, the unacknowledged continuities from the recent neoliberal past, which led to the fascist overture in the first place, mar any consistency of thought amongst intellectuals, activists, and ordinary citizens.

      The time has come to explore modes of existence that only make sense under a fascist regime, or rather, they are the only modes that make sense under fascist conditions. Above all, the question of moral disengagement from any existing political practice must be taken seriously, and this includes so-called “resistance.” Are there things that pass under the activist rubric today that are actually strengthening rather than weakening fascism? If that is the case, then those activities must undergo severe scrutiny, because it may well be that what seems like activism is actually passivism, and vice versa.

      I started writing about a “soft” American totalitarianism for the first time in 1998, in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. American civic institutions seemed to me to have stopped functioning for the first time in 1994, after the Gingrich takeover, which made me take a step back, only to reemerge, awakened, when the Lewinsky scandal happened. I was not interested in the content of the scandal, which was a mere pretext to engineer reaction in a form we had never seen before without the instrument of twenty-four-hour cable news, but the way in which perceptions were being manipulated seemed to me to be mortally dangerous for democracy.

    • On a Reservation, a Second Chance for Prisoners and Their Warden

      As the warden of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation adult correctional facility patrols the cells, he sees Native American inmates who might be leading productive lives on the outside if they had graduated from high school. And Jackson, a member of the Assiniboine tribe, says he feels partly responsible.

      Before becoming warden, he served on the Wolf Point, Montana, school board for 15 years, 10 as its chairman. He pushed to curb discrimination in the town’s schools against Native Americans, who make up more than half of the student body but less than one-fifth of the staff. He fought for more reading instruction and other support for Native children and challenged decisions to expel them. But his efforts mostly fell flat as the white majority on the board outvoted or ignored him.

      Now he’s been meeting some of those dropouts as adults on the other end of the school-to-prison pipeline.

    • When the Calendar Requires the Release of Insanity Defendants in Oregon, Harm Often Follows

      After Sean Rieschel punched a woman at a laundromat for refusing to give him $3.50, he was found “guilty except for insanity” in 2010 and sent to the Oregon State Hospital.

      There, he was treated for bipolar and substance-use disorders — help he would not have received in prison if he’d been convicted of assault — and twice improved enough to live in group homes.

      But in 2015, the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board abruptly released Rieschel, ending the state’s oversight of his case and forcing him to leave the group home.

      It wasn’t because officials believed his mental illness had abated or that he wasn’t a threat to Oregonians.

    • California Town OKs Destruction Of Police Shooting Records Days Before They Could Be Obtained By The Public

      California has long protected police officers from accountability. Most police misconduct records are impossible to obtain via public records requests. The restrictions covering these personnel files even prevent defense attorneys and prosecutors from accessing them, allowing cops with lousy track records for telling the truth present testimony as if they’ve never committed a misdeed or told a lie.

      After years of legislative surrender to police union pressure and an overall deference to all things law enforcement, this year’s model finally managed to get a records reform bill to land on the governor’s desk. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2019, opening up access to a number of records Californians have never seen.

    • In 2018, a Spate of Partisan Attacks on State Courts

      A new Brennan Center analysis finds that attempts by state legislators to politicize or weaken courts were particularly widespread this year. That’s troubling, because when politicians drag courts and judges into the partisan muck, it becomes harder for courts to be, and appear, independent from the political actors they’re supposed to check. The three-legged stool of our democracy can stand only if the three branches are equally able to check each other.

      In all in 2018, lawmakers in at least 18 states considered at least 60 bills that would have diminished or politicized the role of the judiciary. Several stories stand out, and may foreshadow what’s ahead.

      The North Carolina General Assembly continued a multi-year effort to gain an upper hand in the courts. In 2018 alone, this included largely unsuccessful proposals to gerrymander judicial districts and to cut judicial terms from eight years to two. In support of the latter proposal, one legislator remarked, referring to judges: “If you’re going to act like a legislator, perhaps you should run like one.”

    • District of Despair: On a Montana Reservation, Schools Favor Whites Over Native Americans

      The faint scars on Ruth Fourstar’s arms testify to a difficult life on Fort Peck Indian Reservation — the physical and emotional abuse at home, the bullying at school, the self-harm that rotated her through mental health facilities and plunged her from the honor roll to a remedial program.

      A diploma from Wolf Point High School could be the teenager’s ticket out of this isolated prairie town. Instead, she sees her school as a dead end.

      The tutoring she was promised to get her back on track didn’t materialize. An agreement with the high school principal to let her apply credits earned in summer courses toward graduation fell through. The special education plan that the school district developed for her, supposedly to help her catch up, instead laid out how she should be disciplined. Her family fears that she will inflict the pain of not graduating on herself.

      “I’m just there,” the 17-year-old said. “I feel invisible.”

      Ruth’s despondency is shared by Native students in Wolf Point and across the nation. Often ignored in the national conversation about the public school achievement gap, they post some of the worst academic outcomes of any demographic group, a disparity exacerbated by decades of discrimination, according to federal reports. The population is also among the most at-risk: Underachievement and limited emotional support at school can contribute to a number of negative outcomes for Native youth, even suicide. Among people ages 18 to 24, Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide in the nation: 23 per 100,000, compared with 15 per 100,000 among white youths.

    • A Path to Freedom? Journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal Wins Chance to Reargue Appeal in 1981 Police Killing

      Former Black Panther and award-winning journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner but has always maintained his innocence. On Thursday, a Philadelphia judge ruled Abu-Jamal can reargue his appeal in the case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The judge cited then-Chief Justice Ronald Castille’s failure to recuse himself from the case due to his prior role as Philadelphia district attorney when Abu-Jamal was appealing. We get an update from Johanna Fernández, professor of history at Baruch College-CUNY and one of the coordinators of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. She has been in the courtroom for much of this case and is the editor of “Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Minnesota AG Just The Latest To Ding Comcast For Shady Fees

      How many lawsuits does it take to get Comcast to back off of shady fees designed to falsely inflate the company’s advertised prices? Good question.

      For several years now cable and broadband providers have been using hidden fees to covertly jack up their advertised rates. These fees, which utilize a rotating crop of bullshit names, help these companies falsely advertise one rate, then sock the consumer with a significantly higher-rate post sale (often when locked into a long-term contract). The practice also allows the company to falsely claim they’re not raising rates on consumers. They omit that they’re talking about the above-the-line rate being charged, implying that anything below the line (where real fees like taxes are levied) is outside of their control.

      Back in 2014, Comcast introduced a new $1.50 per month surcharge it called its “Broadcast TV Fee.” Said fee was really just a portion of the cost of doing business for Comcast (programming), busted out of the full bill and hidden below the line — again to help the company falsely advertise a lower price. Over the last four years Comcast has quietly but quickly pushed this fee skyward, this week informing customers that — alongside numerous other rate hikes like its “Regional Sports Network” fees — the company’s Broadcast TV fee would now be up to $10 per month for some cable TV customers.

    • CBS Eyes Ditching Nielsen As Streaming, Cord Cutting Change The Game

      For years, we’ve noted how popular TV ratings firm Nielsen has turned a bit of a blind eye to cord cutting and the Internet video revolution, on one hand declaring that the idea of cord cutting was “pure fiction,” while on the other hand admitting it wasn’t actually bothering to track TV viewing on mobile devices. It’s not surprising; Nielsen’s bread and butter is paid for by traditional cable executives, and really, who wants to take the time to pull all those collective heads of out of the sand to inform them that their precious pay TV cash cow is dying?

      Eventually, the cord cutting trend became too big to ignore, forcing Nielsen to change its tune and start acknowledging the very real trend (though they called it “zero TV households” instead of cordcutters). Broadcasters (especially those hardest hit by cord cutting) didn’t much like that, and began bullying the stat firm when it showed data that didn’t jive with the view a foot below ground. While Nielsen slowly improved its methodologies, it would occassionally back off on certain data collection and reporting changes if the cable and broadcast industry complained loudly enough.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Ruling of Barcelona Commercial court no. 5, Spain

      Furthermore, the patent holder must dispel any suspicions that it might be using the injunction in bad faith. Filing the application well in advance of the fair might be critical for this purpose.

    • Copyrights

      • Millions Upon Millions Of ‘Takedown’ Notices To Google… For Links That Aren’t Even In Google

        But here’s the thing about that quote: it’s almost entirely bullshit. First off, the numbers have started going down, but you don’t suddenly hear Chris Ortman and the MPAA saying “look, the notice and takedown system is now working!” Because Ortman wasn’t being honest when he made the original statement.

        But, the larger point, is that takedown requests, by themselves, don’t mean a damn thing about how much infringement there actually is. The requests may be bogus. Indeed, millions of the requests to Google turn out to… not even be in Google’s index. Torrentfreak had a recent story pointing out that the top 3 copyright owners alone sent Google over a billion takedown requests. That article further shows just how top heavy the requests are, with the top 16 copyright owners reporting more than 50% of all the takedown requests to Google. In other words, a very small group of organizations very much have their fingers on the scales of how many takedown requests Google receives. So, for those very same organizations to whine that more takedown requests proves anything… is questionable, at best.

      • Doxxing Pirates or Even Anti-Pirates is No Way to Solve Disputes

        Some of the most closely guarded secrets in the online piracy space are people’s identities. Staying anonymous is often the most important tool for longevity, whether that’s within piracy groups or even anti-piracy outfits that recruit staff from the underground scene. Sadly, for all parties, there appears to be those who think such behavior is clever. It’s not, and only leads to more trouble.

      • Top 3 Copyright ‘Owners’ Sent Google a Billion Takedown Requests

        The three most active ‘copyright owners’ have asked Google to remove more than a billion allegedly infringing links from its search engine results. While more than 160,000 rightsholders have asked Google to remove content, 0.0001% are responsible for the majority of the flagged links.

      • Bahnhof: The ISP That Fights For Privacy and a Free Internet

        Customers of Swedish ISP Bahnhof can consider themselves part of a unique movement. Unlike many other operators in the same space, Bahnhof is both a staunch supporter of the open Internet and a fierce opponent of what the company perceives to be over-reaching copyright holders. Jon Karlung, the company’s CEO, informs TorrentFreak that the fight will continue.

Australian Law Firms Fight to Bring Software Patents Back to Australia

Posted in Australia, Patents at 4:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An appeal of a rejection of a patent application at IP Australia has been spun by the litigation industry of Australia; people are expected to believe that something truly massive has just happened and that software patents are miraculously rendered valid now

THE importance of Australia’s patent office (IP Australia) isn’t high because of the country’s relatively small population. Software patents in that country, however, matter to us because Australia is an English-speaking country whose policies sometimes influence (but are more often influenced by) the West. This is why we keep track of Australian patent affairs as well, albeit not so often.

The Australian Financial Review, part of the corporate media in Australia, published this misleading headline earlier this month. “ROKT win against IP Australia a victory for tech start-ups,” declared the headline (not even with quote signs, i.e. attributed to someone’s mere claims), but that’s a lie. Software patents harm startups the most. ROKT is trying to prop up some dubious patent in Australia after examiners/courts repeatedly said no. This is the latest:

The ruling sets a precedent for how IP Australia assesses innovation in software, almost four years after the authority started knocking back more software patents after a 2015 case in which the full Federal Court ruled only patents for technical innovations (like hardware developments) were acceptable, not business model innovations or methods.

The case deals with just one patent and the Federal Court isn’t the highest court. But one can be sure that law firms in Australia will leap at this opportunity nonetheless, looking to influence the outcome and market such patents to potential clients (applicants, litigation and so on).

“One can trust law firms to always twist and spin the smallest of things as monumental changes, albeit only when it suits them (and ignore those things when the outcome isn’t desirable to their bottom line).”The above case may have impact and set a precedent; but it does not mean that software are back to Australia as it’s about one single patent.

FB Rice’s Madeleine Kelly wants lots of litigation, so anything that gives legitimacy to software patents in Australia makes her eager to mislead and gets her excited. “New lease of life for software patents in Australia” was the title of her article. A more moderate headline was “IP Australia lose patent dispute over software patent” (yes, just one). To quote:

Ecommerce marketing company Rokt has won the right to have its software patent granted following a dispute with IP Australia.

In a ruling, justice Alan Robertson overruled a previous ruling from the Australian IP commissioner which denied Rokt’s patent.

Robertson found the patent to solve “not only a business problem but also a technical problem” and ordered the patent to proceed to grant.

So one patent is being granted. That is all.

Firms that aggressively lobbied for software patents (lawyers obviously!) have reared their ugly heads again. An article by Brook Dyer and Anton Blijlevens (AJ Park) said this: (mind the bizarre use of the term “computer-implemented business method”)

In Rokt Pte Ltd v Commissioner of Patents [2018] FCA 1988, a recent decision by the Australian Federal Court, it was found that a computer-implemented business method is patentable subject matter in Australia.

This decision has provided clarification regarding the extent to which computer-implemented business methods can be eligible subject matter for patent protection in Australia, which has been an area of uncertainty in recent years.

Not uncertainty; it was a ban. Moulis Legal’s Warren Wong used an artistic headline, “Between Rokt and a hard place,” and as one might expect from law firms it’s just mostly marketing wrapped up as ‘analysis’.

Just because some company managed to get a software patent granted (after expensive appeals) at a court below the top court does not mean that software patents are in general, overnight, valid in Australia. Notice that this doesn’t even deal with a lawsuit but mere examination (the lowest form of appeal). One can trust law firms to always twist and spin the smallest of things as monumental changes, albeit only when it suits them (and ignore those things when the outcome isn’t desirable to their bottom line).

The Demise of Patent Trolls and Software Patents in the US Continued in 2018

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 3:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: With patent trolls’ bankruptcy filings, advocates’ departures and a decline in the number of granted US patents we’re seeing a sort of recession if not depression in the patent microcosm; that being the case, we’ll shift our focus to other things in 2019

THE year 2018 was a positive one for the US patent system if one skips the parts about Iancu’s controversial remarks and moves at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Iancu has already made himself enemies among scientists and technologists, unlike law firms.

“Iancu has already made himself enemies among scientists and technologists, unlike law firms.”Watchtroll’s Quinn, who is connected to Iancu, is stepping down as editor after 2 decades. His site will stagnate and we’ll no longer link to it. Patently-O‘s Crouch is barely writing anymore (maybe less than half what he did before) and he has just pointed out that the number of granted US patents decreased (as we expected) but not sufficiently as many fake patents like abstract patents are still being granted, contributing to the bubble associated with worthless patents (presumed to have value). “The USPTO has indicated that it “remains in normal operating status” despite the Federal Government funding crisis,” Crouch added.

In 2018 we saw SCOTUS ruling in ‘our’ favour and 35 U.S.C. § 101 wasn’t sabotaged in spite of many efforts. As a result of that, litigation ‘businesses’ perished. Here’s a report from Ruth Simon about one patent troll that we’ve covered here before: “Shipping & Transit LLC sued more than 100 mostly small companies in 2016, making it the largest filer of patent lawsuits that year. But when the Florida company recently declared bankruptcy, it valued its U.S. patents at just $1.

“Its demise followed three cases where companies fought back and were awarded legal fees after Shipping & Transit decided not to pursue the patent claims against them. Judges in the cases awarded a total of more than $245,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs to businesses in 2017.”

“Seeing that Watchtroll bashed SCOTUS at least 3 times this month (we’re omitting links, but the bashing is even in those headlines), it’s hardly surprising that Quinn steps down. All they have left is judge-bashing and court-bashing.”This “bankruptcy filing,” United for Patent Reform wrote, “shows how effective patent reform has been, and how it must continue.”

It will. The EFF wrote: “Lobbyists for patent trolls and patent lawyers keep seeking to roll back the Supreme Court’s crucial Alice decision. We expect those bills to keep coming in 2019, but we’ll be there to fight against them.”

By “lobbying” they also mean bribery by patent trolls, who are still a threat (incidentally, Microsoft patent trolls Intellectual Ventures and Finjan both lost important cases earlier this month). From the corresponding EFF post:

In 2018, technologists and users continued to be plagued by abstract, ridiculous software patents. The good news is there are more ways than ever before to fight back against those patents—some of them pretty effective.

Unfortunately, patent trolls and abusive patent owners are working overtime to knock down those recent improvements, and bring the patent system back to the proverbial “bad old days.” Before the Alice v. CLS Bank decision—four years old as of last June—it could cost millions of dollars just to convince a court to invalidate a single abstract patent. That was true even when those patents clearly described aspects of everyday life, like running a contest, displaying a menu with pictures, or teaching a foreign language.

Lobbyists for patent trolls and patent lawyers keep seeking to roll back Alice, promoting terrible legislation like the STRONGER Patents Act. Such proposals weaken our systems to challenge bad patents, and will hurt U.S. entrepreneurs and send innovation overseas. Despite that, we expect bills like that to come back in 2019, and we’ll be ready to fight back on behalf of startups and innovators.

Patent owners are pushing to neutralize Alice through the courts, as well. The most recent attempt is a case called Berkheimer v. H-P, in which a panel of Federal Circuit judges ruled that patent eligibility under Alice can require a full trial. This makes Alice much harder and more expensive to apply and, in our view, is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling. Last month, we asked the Supreme Court to take up the case and consider overturning Berkheimer.

Joe Mullin has meanwhile named “Stupid Patent of the Month”; the USPTO is making a farce of itself by granting these laughable software patents. As Mullin put it:

We’ve written many times about how the patent system is a poor fit for software. Innovation in the U.S. software industry happens despite, not because of, the thousands of software patents that are granted each year.

But software is not the only industry where patents make very little sense. In the 1990s, the Federal Circuit opened the door to patents on methods of doing business. While the Supreme Court tried to undo some of that damage, financial institutions are still hit with patent lawsuits. Many of these suits come from trolls that don’t produce anything. And yet, just as in the tech sector, there are some financial companies that keep heading back to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking a 20-year monopoly on some tactic or another.

This month, we’re highlighting U.S. Patent Number 10,147,140, which was recently granted to BNY Mellon Bank. The first claim of the ’140 patent uses a lot of financial jargon to describe an extremely simple process: checking social media for a particular event or statement, then making a trade based on that “investment triggering content.” One example of that: making a trade because someone put a hashtag in a tweet.

Even if this was a new product idea or investment strategy, it is not a new invention. The trend of stock market trading has been clear now for decades: automated trading has become faster and more computerized each year. BNY Mellon Bank did not invent computerized trading, social media, or anything else remotely technical. Rather, its patent proposes the idea of trading based on a social media event.

One can expect that a simple inter partes review (IPR) at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) would eliminate it; the Federal Circuit would likely not even consider an appeal.

In 2019 we intend to cover USPTO matters less than in prior years. Seeing how things are going, we feel like goals have been fulfilled. Iancu is not a judge and he’s very limited in what he can do except grant even more bogus patents. Eventually the courts call the shots. Seeing that Watchtroll bashed SCOTUS at least 3 times this month (we’re omitting links, but the bashing is even in those headlines), it’s hardly surprising that Quinn steps down. All they have left is judge-bashing and court-bashing.

The Demise of the UPC ‘Legislative Coup’ Continued in 2018

Posted in Deception, Europe, Law, Patents at 2:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Where’s your long-promised UPC, Team UPC?

Yours truly last week in Berlin

Summary: Another year ends with UPC lies; the main challenge remains to improve patent quality however, including complete elimination of software patents, no matter what the Office calls these (e.g. “AI”)

THINGS have been quiet. Not a word from the European Patent Office (EPO) in about a week (because of Christmas). Not a word (not even a link) from SUEPO in a month now (last update November 29th). Not a word regarding the UPC, either. No ratification. Nothing.

“Not a word regarding the UPC, either.”This means that we can now add yet another lie or false prediction among so many to Team UPC’s long list. That boy keeps crying “wolf!”

Parroting the two lies, one article titled “Which major EU trends will affect international markets in 2019?” has just mentioned the UPC in passing. The last paragraph in there uses the propaganda term “Intellectual Property” and is exceedingly optimistic about UPC (which is already dead). To quote:

As Brexit uncertainty continues, Intellectual Property matters seems to be far from clear regarding the future direction of the Unitary Patent Court. All eyes will be on Germany and whether it will ratify the UPC and, if so, whether the UK will be allowed to stay.

We already know it cannot. The word “stay” is a loaded one; it alludes not to the EU but the UPC, which does not even exist. How can one stay in something that does not even exist?

“How can one stay in something that does not even exist?”With António Campinos refusing to say very much on the subject, unlike his predecessor, we suppose he too understands that to prop up the UPC fantasy is detrimental to one’s credibility.

In 2019 we intend to continue our focus on software patents in Europe, which oughtn’t be granted in the first place. The problem is apparently deepening rather than going away. José Santacroce (Moeller IP Advisors), for example, mentioned those infamous computer vision patents (disguised as “cars” something) the other day. It’s from Argentina, but it’s modeled after the EPO’s ‘studies’ or ‘brochures’:

On November 6th 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO) in cooperation with the European Council for Automotive Research and Development (EUCAR) released the study “Patents and self-driving vehicles”.

Over the past year we have identified several buzzwords other than the above — buzzwords and sometimes hype waves that the EPO piggybacks in an effort to justify software patent grants. European courts have rejected these, but very few patents will be subjected to a court’s scrutiny in their decades-long lifetime.

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