Links 23/1/2019: Cockpit 186, Wine 4.0, Apt Security Issue

Posted in News Roundup at 7:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • The Best Chromebooks to Buy In 2019

      Advancements in technology over the past few decades has been all about shrinking down computers. We’ve also seen manufacturers cramming as much power in them as humanly possible. This has led us to the creation of small form factor desktop PCs, portable yet powerful gaming laptops and even handhelds.

      Despite the fact that a faster computer is almost always appreciated, a lot of people don’t need all that power most of the time. Especially when responding to e-mails, or writing up text documents. In this scenario, a lot of people can get away with using a Chromebook every day.

      Chromebooks are different from your traditional Windows laptops. They run on Google’s own version of desktop OS, known as ChromOS. These affordable machines have especially gained popularity among students. This is mainly because of their workflow, most of the time they are writing up essays or watching videos. That is why Chromebooks are so popular in the first place. They are affordable, portable and long-lasting laptops. So, if you’re thinking about getting a Chromebook for yourself, keep on reading to figure out which one is best suited for you.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.20.4 kernel.

      All users of the 4.20 kernel series must upgrade.

    • Linux 4.19.17
    • Linux 4.14.95
    • Linux 4.9.152
    • Open-Source Linux Driver Published For Habana Labs’ “Goya” AI Processor

      Today they published initial open-source Linux kernel driver patches for review to potentially include in the mainline kernel moving forward.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Lands Transform Feedback Support In Their Vulkan Driver For Mesa 19.0

        Ahead of the Mesa 19.0 feature freeze coming up at month’s end for this next quarterly feature release, Intel’s open-source developers today merged support for the VK_EXT_transform_feedback extension that is important for Linux gamers with DXVK for mapping Direct3D 11 atop Vulkan and similar graphics API translation libraries.

        VK_EXT_transform_feedback was added to the Vulkan spec a few months back for transform feedback support in Vulkan drivers for helping efforts like DXVK for running Direct3D 10/11 and other APIs on top of Vulkan. The VK_EXT_transform_feedback is needed for efficiently implementing Direct3D Stream-Out support and has been used by DXVK since then, VKD3D is also now using it now, and obviously for OpenGL-over-Vulkan efforts it could be used for providing GL transform feedback itself.

      • Intel Is Working On A Vulkan Overlay Layer, Inspired By Gallium3D HUD

        Aside from some out-of-tree experiments last year by one of Valve’s developers on a RADV Vulkan HUD of similar nature to the popular Gallium HUD option, it turns out an Intel developer has recently been working on a Vulkan overlay layer to provide “Gallium HUD” inspired information.

        Lionel Landwerlin is the open-source Intel developer that has begun working on this Intel Vulkan driver “heads-up display” implemented as a Vulkan overlay layer. The code is intended to provide Vulkan swapchain information and various statistics of use to Vulkan driver developers and game developers.

      • AMD Radeon VII Will Have Excellent Linux Support From Day 1

        AMD Radeon VII was one of the biggest announcements made at the CES 2019; it even got featured in our top highlights of CES video. This 2nd-gen Vega graphics card will be launching in early February and it’s also generating lots of questions.

        One such doubt that many open source enthusiasts might be having is regarding the state of Linux support for Radeon VII. Well, the answer to this question is a big yes, according to Forbes.

      • Libdrm 2.4.97 Released With AMDGPU Updates, Other Minor Work

        Libdrm 2.4.97 was released today by AMD’s Marek Olšák as the newest version of this Mesa DRM library. The main feature of this list is a newer, faster buffer object list API for the AMDGPU code.

        Libdrm releases these days tend not to be too exciting and for v2.4.97 are just over a dozen changes. Many of the changes are AMDGPU related and include some test updates and updating the list of GPU marketing names but most notably is a faster buffer object (BO) list API. Aside from the AMDGPU additions, there is a fix for Android to avoid 32-bit apps from crashing in 64-bit Android, build system fixes, and other minor changes.

      • AMDGPU DC Code Improvements Bring Better Page-Flipping

        The once notorious AMDGPU “DC” code (formerly known as DAL) saw a fresh round of patches on Tuesday further improving this display stack shared between the Windows and Linux drivers for advanced functionality from FreeSync to HDMI/DP audio and much more.

        With this latest round of AMDGPU DC patches, improving the page-flipping process was a motivation. This new work resulted in the introduction of a DC VM interface to allow virtual memory to be used for flipping to surfaces that are not contiguously allocated. This DC VM interface will allow for better memory efficiency and security.

    • Benchmarks

      • Microsoft Windows Server Benchmarked Against Six Linux Distributions

        While it was not too long ago that Microsoft Windows Server 2019 began shipping and that we conducted some end-of-year benchmarks between Windows and Linux, with being in the process of running a number of Windows and Linux benchmarks as part of our ongoing 10GbE OS performance testing, I also took the opportunity to run some other benchmarks on Windows Server 2016 and 2019 as well as a set of Linux distributions.

        With carrying out the fresh OS installations anyways for the network testing, with recently having brought over some more Phoronix Test Suite test profiles with Windows support, I decided to run some fresh Windows Server vs. Linux benchmarks anyways. Granted, not all of the tests are server-oriented and not all of the traditional Linux server distributions were used. Just take this as you wish of some fresh Windows vs. Linux performance benchmarks.

  • Applications

    • Essential System Tools: nmon – Curses based Performance Monitor

      This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For this article, we’ll look at nmon, a free and open source performance monitor. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

      Nmon is short for “Nigel’s Monitor”. It’s a systems administrator, tuner, and benchmark all wrapped up in an easy-to-use tool. The utility displays performance information on the CPU, memory, network, disks (mini graphs or numbers), filesystems, NFS, top processes, resources (Linux version & processors) and more.

      The software aims to be as frugal as possible, as it’s self-defeating for a performance monitor to consume large chunks of CPU cycles and memory.

    • Top 10 Free Open Source Documents Management Platforms

      Document management platforms are software systems that enable individuals and businesses to control different versions of documents and records, schedule meetings, employee appointments, and to regulate user access among other functions in a user-friendly environment while making sure that security and data collection standards are not compromised.

      There are so many document management platforms that you can choose from but I have done the job of filtering them into a list of the best options that are free, open source and run on Linux.

    • Top 11 Free Linux DICOM Viewers for Doctors

      DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine and it is the international open image format for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical images.

      Medical images are used in the identification and examination of physical injuries and diseases via procedures like Xrays, CT scans, etc.

      This article lists the best free Linux applications used for processing images generated by DICOM devices.

    • gotop: Graphical System Monitor For The Command Line

      gotop is a terminal-based (TUI) system monitor for Linux and macOS. The software is inspired by gtop and vtop, but while these 2 utilities use Node.js, gotop is written in Go.

      The command line tool supports mouse clicking and scrolling, comes with vi-keys, and it displays the CPU, memory and network usage history using colored graphs, while also displaying their current values.

      gotop also shows the disk usage, temperatures and a top process list, which includes CPU and memory usage.

    • Cockpit 186

      Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 186.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 4.0 Released

        The Wine team is proud to announce that the stable release Wine 4.0 is now available.

      • Wine 4.0 released

        Version 4.0 of the Wine Windows compatibility layer is out. “This release represents a year of development effort and over 6,000 individual changes” New features include initial Direct3D 12 support, a Vulkan graphics driver, support for high-DPI displays (but only on Android) and more; see the release notes for details.

      • Wine 4.0 Officially Released with Vulkan & Direct3D 12 Support, HiDPI on Android

        The Wine project proudly announced today the general availability of the Wine 4.0 release, a major version of the open-source software that lets Linux and macOS users install and use Windows apps on their computers.

        Wine 4.0 comes about a year after the Wine 3.0 release, which was the first to introduce an Android driver to allow users run Windows apps and games on devices powered by Google’s Android mobile OS, Direct3D 11 support by default for AMD Radeon and Intel GPUs, a task scheduler, as well as AES encryption support on macOS.

        With Wine 4.0, the team continues to improve the free and open-source compatibility layer that allows Windows program to run on Linux and Mac computers, adding new features like support for the next-generation Vulkan graphics API, Direct3D 12 support, HiDPI (High-DPI) support on Android, and support for game controllers.

      • Wine 4.0 Released With New Features: Run Windows Apps On Linux Efficiently

        With Microsoft’s initiative to bring Linux Bash Shell on Windows 10, the Windows users are now able to run their favorite Linux tools on their current operating system. But what if you need to run full-fledged Windows apps and games on a Linux distro?

        In that case, a software like Wine is really helpful. The developers of this utility have recently released the new version, i.e., 4.0, with lots of features. Wine 4.0 is the result of a year of development effort.

      • Wine 4.0 Released With Vulkan Support, Initial Direct3D 12 Support, CSMT Enabled By Default

        After being in development for a year, Wine 4.0 is now available for download. The new stable Wine release includes important changes like support for Vulkan, Direct3D 12 and game controllers.

        For those that might not be familiar with it, Wine is a Windows compatibility layer for Linux that lets you run Windows applications and games on Linux, macOS, and Android (experimental). Wine is used by Proton, Valve’s Steam Play compatibility layer that allows playing Windows games on Linux, and by CrossOver, a commercial Microsoft Windows compatibility layer for macOS and Linux, among others.

      • Wine 4.0 is Here with Significant New Features

        Not everyone prefers to use Wine. But, if you have a favorite app/service that is not yet available for Linux, you can try Wine in order to run Windows apps or games.

        For those who are not aware of Wine, it’s a software that lets you run Windows-only applications and games on Linux. Want iTune on Linux, Wine is your best bet.

      • Wine 4.0 Released With Vulkan Support, Initial Direct3D 12 and Better HiDPI
      • Wine 4.0 Officially Released With Vulkan Support, Initial Direct3D 12 & Better HiDPI

        Wine 4.0 is now officially available as the new annual stable release to Wine for running Windows programs and games on Linux and other operating systems.

        Following seven weekly release candidates, Wine 4.0 was ready to ship today as judged by Wine founder Alexandre Julliard. Wine 4.0 is a big release bringing initial Vulkan graphics API support, Direct3D CSMT is enabled by default, early Direct3D 12 support via VKD3D, continued HiDPI work, various OpenGL improvements, multi-sample D3D texture support, 64-bit improvements, continued Android support, and much more… See our Wine 4.0 feature overview to learn more about this big update.

      • Just over a year after the last main release, Wine 4.0 is officially here

        You might want to grab a glass for this one, no not that dusty old thing, one of the nice ones. The ones at the back of the cupboard for special occasions! Wine 4.0 is officially here.

        Comparing Wine 3.0 to 4.0, naturally it’s a pretty huge release. Although, most people have likely been using the development builds for some time.

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • GCompris is back on Mac OSX
      • KookBook 0.2.1 – now actually kind of useful

        There was a snag in the KookBook 0.2.0 release, and 0.2.1 is available.

      • KDE Plasma 5.14.90 (the beta for Plasma 5.15) is available for testing

        Are you using Kubuntu 18.10, our current Stable release? Or are you already running our daily development builds?

        We currently have Plasma 5.14.90 (Plasma 5.15 Beta) available in our Beta PPA for Kubuntu 18.10 and in our daily Disco ISO images.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta Arrives

        The KDE community has announced its first release of 2019 – the Plasma 5.15 beta. One of the major highlights of the beta release is increased focus on usability and productivity.

        The KDE community has teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the papercuts in the software to create an intuitive and consistent workflow for users.

        The release has enhanced integration with third-party technologies like GTK and Firefox so users can choose the apps they like without worrying about a sub-par experience.

        Massive improvements have been made to the Discover software management tool, something similar to App Store. Users can now perform the distribution upgrade within Discover. It also offers fine-grained control over which packages users want to update.

        Discover also now supports app extensions offered with Flatpak packages and lets you choose which ones to install.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.32 Desktop Environment to Launch with a “Radical New Icon Style”

        Besides the slightly revamped default theme, it looks like the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment will come with a “radical new icon style,” along with new guidelines for app developers to provide a more unified icon style across the GNOME ecosystem.

        GNOME designer Jakub Steiner writes in his latest blog article about the improvements needed for the revamped icon style to be included by default with the GNOME 3.32 release of the open-source desktop environment used by numerous Linux-based operating systems, including Ubuntu.

      • GNOME Is Making Great Progress On Overhauling Their App Icons
      • The Big App Icon Redesign

        As you may have heard, GNOME 3.32 is going to come with a radical new icon style and new guidelines for app developers. This post aims to give some background on why this was needed, our goals with the initiative, and our exciting plans for the future.

      • WORA-WNLF

        I started my career writing web applications. I had struggles with PHP web-frameworks, javascript libraries, and rendering differences (CSS and non-CSS glitches) across browsers. After leaving that world, I started focusing more on the backend side of things, fleeing from the frontend camp (mainly actually just scared of that abomination that was javascript; because, in my spare time, I still did things with frontends: I hacked on a GTK media player called Banshee and a GTK chat app called Smuxi).

        So there you had me: a backend dev by day, desktop dev by night. But in the GTK world I had similar struggles as the ones I had as a frontend dev when the browsers wouldn’t behave in the same way. I’m talking about GTK bugs in other non-Linux OSs, i.e. Mac and Windows.

        See, I wanted to bring a desktop app to the masses, but these problems (and others of different kinds) prevented me to do it. And while all this was happening, another major shift was happening as well: desktop environments were fading while mobile (and not so mobile: tablets!) platforms were rising in usage. This meant yet more platforms that I wished GTK supported. As I’m not a C language expert (nor I wanted to be), I kept googling for the terms “gtk” and “android” or “gtk” and “iOS”, to see if some hacker put something together that I could use. But that day never happened.

      • Gnome MPV 0.16 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04

        Gnome MPV, GTK+ frontend for mpv video player, released version 0.16 a day ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.04 and higher.

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux Versus Parrot Security OS: Pentest Linux Distribution Comparison

      Today, there are Linux distributions for all kinds of applications. While most people are familiar with general-purpose distributions like Debian, Fedora, or Arch Linux, pentest (short for penetration testing) Linux distributions are typically used only by security professionals, researchers, and hackers.
      If you don’t fit into any of those categories, it doesn’t mean that you have no use for pentest Linux distributions. Regardless of whether you want to pursue a career in information security, become a Linux administrator, or just learn more about computers and networks, pentest Linux distributions let you get hands-on experience with technologies most people only read about.

      In this article, we compare what are currently the two most popular pentest Linux distributions, Kali Linux and Parrot Security OS, to help you get started on your pentest journey. While you can use both Kali Linux and Parrot Security OS as your main operating system, most pentesters run them from a USB drive instead to increase their privacy and security.

    • 10 Most Promising New Linux Distributions to Look Forward in 2019

      Some of the distributions that have not been reviewed yet may be worthy of consideration due to their great potential. Keep in mind that they may never make it to the front page ranking due to lack of time or Distrowatch resources to review them.

      For that reason, we will share a list of what we consider the 10 most promising new distros for 2019 and a brief review on each of them.

      Since the Linux ecosystem is a live being, you can expect this article to be updated from time to time, or perhaps be radically different next year.

      That said, let’s take a look!

    • Custom Linux Installations

      Customize your Linux installation and gain working knowledge of your system at the same time.

      Most Linux users are content with a standard installation of their distribution of choice. However, many prefer a custom installation. They may simply prefer to do things their way without dozens of post-install tweaks. Others may want to know exactly what they are installing as a requirement for security. Still others may want a consistent installation for multiple machines or to learn more about their operating system step by step. Linux offers tools for all these purposes.

      Admittedly, most of these tools are for major distributions. A survey of these tools shows that many are for time-tested distros like Debian or openSUSE. If you want a custom install of, say, KDE neon or Puppy Linux, you may not find a ready-made solution. But among the major distributions, you are like to find multiple solutions. Read on for some of the main options.

    • Reviews

      • Netrunner’s Unique Blackbird Soars to New Heights

        Blackbird, Netrunner’s version 19.01 release, hit the download servers on Jan. 14, and this distro deserves to be considered bleeding-edge.

        Netrunner is a step ahead of other KDE distros, thanks to its solid integration of classic KDE desktop performance with Web-based applications and cloud services. That said, if you aren’t fondness of the K Desktop, Netrunner may leave you wanting more desktop simplicity.

        For that you must look elsewhere. KDE is the only desktop available from the Germany-based Blue Systems development team. Blackbird is based on Debian’s “Testing” branch. Its developer brings some aggressive updates to the distro that propel it ahead of other distros’ regular development cycles.

        The main updates include KDE Plasma 5.14.3, KDE Frameworks 5.51, KDE Applications 18.08 and Qt 5.11.3 for its essential security updates. Linux Kernel 4.19, Firefox Quantum 64.0 and Thunderbird 60.3 push the envelope as well.

        One of the more noticeable new features in Blackbird is its new Netrunner Black theme. This theme is based on a dark-toned contrasting visual. It uses the Kvantum theme engine, plus the Alpha-Black Plasma theme, to produce a more 3D-looking design.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections: Meet incumbent Sarah Julia Kriesch

        My name is Sarah Julia Kriesch. I am 31 years old and a work-experienced Student in Computer Science with a pre-education as a Computer Science Expert for System Integration. I had worked as a Linux System Administrator for an ISP and a Linux Systems Engineer at a Cloud Computing Provider for 4 years.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora – I’m coming back…..

        It’s been a while since I’ve done anything Fedora, but I’ve decided that my sabbatical has to end. With this in mind, I’m going to start slowly coming back to the Fedora ecosystem, it’ll be slow to start with, but I’ve missed it, I need to come back. I hope you’ll have me.

    • Debian Family

      • Updated Debian 9: 9.7 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch). This point release incorporates the recent security update for APT, in order to help ensure that new installations of stretch are not vulnerable. No other updates are included.

      • Debian 9.7 Released To Address APT Security Issue

        Debian 9.7 was just announced by the Debian developers and it contains a sole update compared to 9.6: an updated APT. Going public yesterday was an APT security vulnerability that would open the package manager up to possible man-in-the-middle attacks. This MITM attack could then open up users to unknowingly installing invalid APT packages. There is an APT command option to disable HTTP redirects to close off this vulnerability or to update to the latest APT package. Details on that vulnerability via this security advisory.

      • Epilepsy, Javascript, Security and Debian

        This would be quite a long post so would request everybody to relax, have their favorite hot/cold drink in their hand, kick up their feet and relax as it’s going to take time.

        The first update I wanna share is about my epilepsy. For those who didn’t know I suffered a series of epileptic seizures about a year and a half back. I stayed in an hospital for about 3 months, luckily medicines helped me and didn’t had to go for brain surgery (which was a real possibility), needed a month and a half of physiotherapy to regain balance and muscular movement. It is still not 100% but can move around which is more than enough to be thankful for.

        Last month, after coming from the Kerala trip, took the brave step of getting an MRI and a battery of tests. While the expenditure of the tests and MRI was expensive ( INR 25k), I was more apprehensive if it would result in a further stay in hospital which I was really afraid of. Thankfully, the doctors had said that 99% of the issue is gone. While I am supposed to visit him once every few months, he has advised to take another similar test around 6 months to a year from now but that’s upto us. The moment the doctor shared this, I felt like an unimaginary weight I had been putting on my shoulders had been lifted.

      • Louis-Philippe Véronneau: A Cold BSP

        Sadly for us, the Montreal Bug Squashing Party was also taking place that weekend. I have to say I was worried people wouldn’t show up, but we ended up being fourteen on Saturday and eight on Sunday!

        On Saturday morning, I arrived pretty early, bootstrapped networking and installed an apt proxy. Turns out it’s surprisingly easy to setup. Anarcat then gave a quick “BSP 101″ workshop and we started to work on fixing bugs.

        On Sunday Anarcat gave another workshop, “Packaging 101″ this time. Even though I’ve been there the last 3 times he gave that workshop, it was the first time I had time to attend it. Debian packaging is now much clearer for me!

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Getting started with Isotope, an open source webmail client

    There seems to be a mad rush at the beginning of every year to find ways to be more productive. New Year’s resolutions, the itch to start the year off right, and of course, an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude all contribute to this. And the usual round of recommendations is heavily biased towards closed source and proprietary software. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Here’s the 11th of my picks for 19 new (or new-to-you) open source tools to help you be more productive in 2019.

  • We Need Open Hosting Platforms

    I think he’s starting with a reasonable, positive call: we can’t just decry the state of things, we have to make things. And we have to make good things. The open web should be better.

    I fear a moralizing approach to advocacy pushes people away, makes it harder for people to care about the values we are espousing. When we frame something as depressing or hopeless we encourage people to pay attention to other things. So yes: the open web should be the best web.

    But ignoring my advice, I’m going to point out a depressing fact: open source products aren’t successful. Open source is not in line to be part of any solution.

    Open Source has done a lot for developers, but it’s not present on the surface of the web – the surface that people interact with, and that defines the “open web”. Actual sites. Actual interfaces. Open source is used everywhere except at the point of interaction with actual people.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2019

      In just over a week’s time, Collabora will be heading to Brussels to take part in the 2019 edition of FOSDEM, a two-day event organised by volunteers to promote the widespread use of free and open source software. Taking place at the ULB Solbosch Campus on February 2 & 3, FOSDEM is widely recognized as the best and biggest conference of its kind in Europe.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Brussels Mozilla Mornings – Disinformation and online advertising: an unhealthy relationship?

        On the morning of 19 February, Mozilla will host the second of our Mozilla Mornings series – regular breakfast meetings where we bring together policy experts, policymakers and practitioners for insight and discussion on the latest EU digital policy developments. This session will be devoted to disinformation and online advertising.

        Our expert panel will seek to unpack the relation between the two and explore policy solutions to ensure a healthy online advertising ecosystem.

      • ffsend – Easily And Securely Share Files From Linux Command Line Using Firefox Send Client

        Linux users were preferred to go with scp or rsync for files or folders copy.

        However, so many new options are coming to Linux because it’s a opensource.

        Anyone can develop a secure software for Linux.

        We had written multiple articles in our site in the past about this topic.

        Even, today we are going to discuss the same kind of topic called ffsend.

      • Welcome Roxi Wen, our incoming Chief Financial Officer

        I am excited to announce that Roxi Wen is joining Mozilla Corporation as our Chief Financial Officer (CFO) next month.

        As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, the Mozilla Corporation, with over 1,000 full-time employees worldwide, creates products, advances public policy and explores new technology that give people more control over their lives online, and shapes the future of the global internet platform for the public good.

        As our CFO Roxi will become a key member of our senior executive team with responsibility for leading financial operations and strategy as we scale our mission impact with new and existing products, technology and business models to better serve our users and advance our agenda for a healthier internet.

  • LibreOffice

    • A day in the office … without Office

      First, let me give you a brief overview of my typical “office” setup. Normally, I write fiction in LibreOffice Writer, and by that I mean books and short stories, not website content. There’s no need for any great embellishment, just text. When I do need to send these files to editors, agents and alike, they are rinsed through Microsoft Word 2010 (the best of the bunch, including the more recent versions).

      Non-fiction work, i.e. technical books fall into two buckets: 1) LaTeX and LyX for entirely self-published items 2) the likes of my Problem Solving and System Administration Ethics titles are done and conceived almost entirely in Microsoft Word, because they require a lot more precision and focus, and ultimately, they need to be easily accessible by the publisher. This is a no-nonsense constraint. I cannot have any styling lost converting files between different formats.

      If I need to do graphics (including diagrams and alike), I will use all sorts of tools, including even something like Octave, but also Powerpoint, GIMP, and other programs. Equations are best done either using the built-in editor, or the aforementioned LaTeX. Now that covers the writing part. There’s also collaboration.

      Here, I decided to try a bold thing – which is part of this experiment. On the System Administration Ethics book, I am collaborating with a friend in a different country, so we are using the Internetz to communicate. We also decided to use Google Docs to share files, comment and edit each other’s writing and such. Then, I’ve also recently configured a Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu setup, i.e. Linux, i.e. not Windows. That means that such a system cannot use locally installed Microsoft software – the cloud-based Microsoft Office Online is a really great option though, plus, as luck would have it, it also works just fine on Linux. Now there.

      And so, LibreOffice and Google Docs gain even more focus due to these Linux-based restrictions, but not only. Finally, you have the full context for this experiment. Spurred by actual usage needs – and with meaningful, months-long projects at hand – I decided to examine the tech landscape, and you’re now enjoying the fruits of my labor. Also worth reading Slimbook reports in parallel, that is.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • The LLVM Codebase Is Moving Past C++11 This Year, Likely To C++14

      As was discussed in 2018 and has largely reached consensus, the LLVM code-base and its sub-projects like Clang will move past being bound by C++11 and will moving to a newer C++ standard so they can begin making use of newer language features in the development of this compiler stack.

  • Programming/Development

    • 14 Best NodeJS Frameworks for Developers in 2019

      Node.js is used to build fast, highly scalable network applications based on an event-driven non-blocking input/output model, single-threaded asynchronous programming.

      A web application framework is a combination of libraries, helpers, and tools that provide a way to effortlessly build and run web applications. A web framework lays out a foundation for building a web site/app.

      The most important aspects of a web framework are – its architecture and features (such as support for customization, flexibility, extensibility, security, compatibility with other libraries, etc..).

    • Debian now got everything you need to program Micro:bit

      I am amazed and very pleased to discover that since a few days ago, everything you need to program the BBC micro:bit is available from the Debian archive. All this is thanks to the hard work of Nick Morrott and the Debian python packaging team. The micro:bit project recommend the mu-editor to program the microcomputer, as this editor will take care of all the machinery required to injekt/flash micropython alongside the program into the micro:bit, as long as the pieces are available.

      There are three main pieces involved. The first to enter Debian was python-uflash, which was accepted into the archive 2019-01-12. The next one was mu-editor, which showed up 2019-01-13. The final and hardest part to to into the archive was firmware-microbit-micropython, which needed to get its build system and dependencies into Debian before it was accepted 2019-01-20. The last one is already in Debian Unstable and should enter Debian Testing / Buster in three days. This all allow any user of the micro:bit to get going by simply running ‘apt install mu-editor’ when using Testing or Unstable, and once Buster is released as stable, all the users of Debian stable will be catered for.

    • Some Ideas for 2019

      Well, after my last article moaning about having wishes and goals while ignoring the preconditions for, and contributing factors in, the realisation of such wishes and goals, I thought I might as well be constructive and post some ideas I could imagine working on this year. It would be a bonus to get paid to work on such things, but I don’t hold out too much hope in that regard.
      In a way, this is to make up for not writing an article summarising what I managed to look at in 2018. But then again, it can be a bit wearing to have to read through people’s catalogues of work even if I do try and make my own more approachable and not just list tons of work items, which is what one tends to see on a monthly basis in other channels.
      In any case, 2018 saw a fair amount of personal focus on the L4Re ecosystem, as one can tell from looking at my article history. Having dabbled with L4Re and Fiasco.OC a bit in 2017 with the MIPS Creator CI20, I finally confronted certain aspects of the software and got it working on various devices, which had been something of an ambition for at least a couple of years. I also got back into looking at PIC32 hardware and software experiments, tidying up and building on earlier work, and I keep nudging along my Python-like language and toolchain, Lichen.
      Anyway, here are a few ideas I have been having for supporting a general strategy of building flexible, sustainable and secure computing environments that respect the end-user. Such respect not being limited to software freedom, but also extending to things like privacy, affordability and longevity that are often disregarded in the narrow focus on only one set of end-user rights.

    • 5 Best Python IDEs You Can Get in 2019

      If you’re taking Python lessons online, you will eventually need a good IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to write better code. The command line interface can only prove so useful. At Python.com you can download a native IDE called IDLE (Integrated Development and Learning Environment). However, it is rather basic in scope, and debugging can consume more time than necessary. With this in mind, here are a few of the best IDEs for Python which add to your productivity.

    • Python’s Requests Library (Guide)
    • Factorial one-liner using reduce and mul for Python 2 and 3
    • Sample Chapters from Creating wxPython Applications Book
    • Migrating from Pelican 3 to Pelican 4
    • Python Software Foundation Fellow Members for Q4 2018 [Ed: Python Software Foundation has many Microsoft employees in it now. Not good. Microsoft has been using money to filtrate just about everything, including its competition. This isn't so new a strategy and many examples of it exist.]
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #352 (Jan. 22, 2019)
    • Why Don’t People Use Formal Methods?

      Before we begin, we need to lay down some terms. There really isn’t a formal methods community so much as a few tiny bands foraging in the Steppe.1 This means different groups use terms in different ways. Very broadly, there are two domains in FM: formal specification is the study of how we write precise, unambiguous specifications, and formal verification is the study of how we prove things are correct. But “things” includes both code and abstract systems. Not only do we use separate means of specifying both things, we often use different means to verify them, too. To make things even more confusing, if somebody says they do formal specification, they usually mean they both specify and verify systems, and if somebody says they do formal verification, they usually mean mean they both specify and verify code.

      Before we begin, we need to lay down some terms. There really isn’t a formal methods community so much as a few tiny bands foraging in the Steppe.1 This means different groups use terms in different ways. Very broadly, there are two domains in FM: formal specification is the study of how we write precise, unambiguous specifications, and formal verification is the study of how we prove things are correct. But “things” includes both code and abstract systems. Not only do we use separate means of specifying both things, we often use different means to verify them, too. To make things even more confusing, if somebody says they do formal specification, they usually mean they both specify and verify systems, and if somebody says they do formal verification, they usually mean mean they both specify and verify code.

      For clarity purposes, I will divide verification into code verification (CV) and design verification (DV), and similarly divide specification into CS and DS. These are not terms used in the wider FM world. We’ll start by talking about CS and CV, then move on to DS and DV.

    • Learning C as an uneducated hobbyist

      V=Programming, however, is conscious. It’s an activity in which you have to think in order to act. Unlearning bad practice in programming takes no energy at all apart from that spent being told that the practice is bad and coming to understand and remember it. Once you’ve done that, it’s almost impossible to make the same mistake again.

      That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of learning “along the way”, “as you go” or “in an ad-hoc manner” because “you might learn bad practice”. If you learn the wrong thing, you can learn the right thing later. After all, you’re not a professional programmer. It doesn’t matter very much if you make a mistake; your job doesn’t depend on it.

    • Demystifying Pointers in Go

      If you’ve never worked with a language that exposes pointers, it could be a little confusing. But the good news is pointers don’t need to be scary. In fact, pointers can be pretty straightforward. Here are the basics of pointers in Go:

    • Qt 5.13 Slated To Deliver Many WebAssembly Improvements

      The Qt 5.12 release at the end of last year brought the Qt for WebAssembly Tech Preview to allow for Qt-based applications to run within web browsers via the sandboxed WASM technology. With the Qt 5.13 release coming out this spring, the WebAssembly support should be in much better shape.

    • Branching out with Git
    • How to Install Anaconda on ECS
    • variable_cache_control – Django view decorator to set max_age in runtime
    • Django Post Idea
    • This Week in Rust 270
    • So a list and a tuple walk into a sum()


  • We all love bonking to pay, but if you bonk with a Windows Phone then Microsoft has bad news

    Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to honour the memory of yet another Windows mobile technology. The rabidly unpopular Microsoft Wallet for the much beloved Windows Phone is for the chop.

    Microsoft has quietly updated its Microsoft Pay page to reflect the demise of the tap-happy mobile technology, though it broke developments to the masses in an odd way.

    “Breeze through checkout by using your Windows phone. Just tap, pay, and you’re on your way. Starting on Feb. 28, 2019, the Microsoft Wallet app will be officially retired.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Secretive ‘Rebate Trap’ Keeps Generic Drugs For Diabetes And Other Ills Out Of Reach

      Lisa Crook was lucky. She saved $800 last year after her insurance company started covering a new, less expensive insulin called Basaglar that was virtually identical to the brand she had used for years.

      The list price for Lantus, a long-acting insulin made by Sanofi that she injected once a day, had nearly quadrupled over a decade.

      With Basaglar, “I’ve never had my insulin cost drop so significantly,” said Crook, a legal assistant in Dallas who has Type 1 diabetes.

      But many people with diabetes can’t get the deal Crook got. In a practice that policy experts say smothers competition and keeps prices high, drug companies routinely make hidden pacts with middlemen that effectively block patients from getting cheaper generic medicines.

    • More Salt in Our Water Is Creating Scary New ‘Chemical Cocktails’

      Gene Likens has been studying forest and aquatic ecosystems for more than half a century. In that time he’s seen a change in the chemistry of our surface waters — including an increase in the alkalinity and salinity of waterways — something he and his colleagues have dubbed “freshwater salinization syndrome.”

      Likens coauthored a report published last month that found that not only is salinity increasing in many surface waters, but when you add salt to the environment it can mobilize heavy metals, nutrient pollution and other contaminants that are combining to create new “chemical cocktails” in rivers, streams and reservoirs.

      These cocktails can be a danger to our drinking water, wildlife and riverine ecology. And they’ve already contributed to a public health crisis in at least one U.S. city.

      “I didn’t expect the massive scale of change across the lower 48 that we found — or the magnitude of change,” says Likens, who is president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and a distinguished research professor at the University of Connecticut.

    • Single Payer Gold Standard HR 676 Rest in Peace

      The House Democrats have decided that their single payer Medicare for All bill will not carry the HR 676 number.

      They let that number go this week to a bill that reiterates “the support of the Congress of the United States for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

      Some in the single payer movement see the abandonment of HR 676 as a betrayal of years of grassroots activism, activism that drew 124 co-sponsors to HR 676 in the House last year.

    • Medicare For All—The Democratic Party Audition for 2020

      The next two years will present multiple tests of the soul of the Democratic Party, just as have the last 10 years. But two of those tests have “high profile” written all over them. The outcome of these tests could determine the Party’s future, and consequently the nation’s, in the 2020 presidential election.

      One test is the Green New Deal. The other is Medicare For All. Both are mere proposals for now, and neither is as well defined as it needs to be in order to become law. But that day is coming for both, and the first time either comes before the House as an bill, the soul of the Democratic Party will be tried and judged, in full public view, with the bright 2020 klieg lights fully upon them.

      How will the Democratic Party, in the aggregate, respond when those bills present Party leaders with a moment of decision — to support or not to support; to sabotage in secret or to show their approval in plain sight and by their actions?

    • Progressives Warn Against Democrats Pushing ‘Diluted’ Half-Measures as Alternative to Medicare for All

      A Medicare buy-in. A Medicaid buy-in. Medicare for retiring police officers and firefighters under the age of 65. Defend and strengthen Obamacare.

      With Medicare for All polling at an unprecedented 70 percent support among the American public and headed toward its first-ever congressional hearing, Politico on Tuesday reported that there is a growing effort among congressional Democrats—including some 2020 presidential hopefuls—to “water down” the grassroots push for a transformative single-payer program by offering up more incremental approaches to solving America’s for-profit healthcare crisis.

    • ‘Blatantly Unconstitutional’ Abortion Ban Struck Down in Iowa as Pro-Choice Groups Vow to Defend Roe From Coordinated Attack

      The United States’ most restrictive abortion ban—which Republicans in Iowa explicitly put forward with the hope of triggering a U.S. Supreme Court fight over Roe vs. Wade—was struck down by a federal judge late Tuesday, with the Polk County District Court declaring the legislation unconstitutional.

      The so-called “fetal heartbeat” bill would have effectively outlawed all abortions in Iowa by banning the procedure as soon as fetal cardiac activity is detected—this happens at around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even discover they are pregnant.

    • Amid a Deteriorating Landscape for Abortion Rights, a Critical Victory in New York

      On Tuesday, New York passed the Reproductive Health Act, finally bringing state law in line with Roe v. Wade.
      On the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that secured the right to abortion, the nationwide picture could not look grimmer. That’s what makes Tuesday’s victory in New York, which protected and expanded abortion rights in the state through the Reproductive Health Act, so important.

      Across the country, anti-abortion politicians have been eroding abortion rights in state after state. Since 2011, they have quietly passed more than 400 restrictions, creating a web of barriers to safe, respectful, and affordable abortion care. These politically motivated laws force doctors to lie to patients; require multiple, medically unnecessary appointments; and impose far more onerous restrictions on abortion providers than other health care providers, causing clinics to shut down.

      Emboldened by the prospect that the Supreme Court might eviscerate or overturn Roe, some states are now trying to ban abortion outright. Take Kentucky, where we represent the sole remaining clinic in the state. Just this month, Kentucky politicians introduced a bill that would ban abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. And Kentucky isn’t alone — legislators in many other states have introduced similar bills.

  • Security

    • Debian & Ubuntu Fix Man-in-the-Middle Attack in APT Package Manager, Update Now

      The security vulnerability was discovered by Max Justicz in the APT package, the high-level package manager used by the Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu operating systems, as well as any other derivative, official or unofficial, such as Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and even the popular Linux Mint.

      The issue could allow a remote attacker to trick APT into installing malicious packages that pose as valid ones, but which could be used for code execution with administrative (root) privileges after installation to gain control of the vulnerable machine. More details are available for further reading at CVE-2019-3462.

    • Nasty security bug found and fixed in Linux apt

      If you want to install a program on the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint Linux distribution family, you almost always end up using the core software installer program Advanced Package Tool (apt). It works well, but security researcher Max Justicz recently found a nasty way to make a man-in-the-middle attack on apt.

      Adding salt to this wound, Justicz found the hole would enable a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code as root on any system installing any package. To understand how it attacks, you need to understand how apt works.

    • Pain the APT | LINUX Unplugged 285

      An embarrassing vulnerability has been found in the apt package manager, we’ll break it all down. Plus Alessandro Castellani tells us about his plans to build a professional design tool for Linux.

      We also have a batch of big community news, and the case for the cloud killing Open Source.

    • Justicz: Remote Code Execution in apt/apt-get
    • Remote Code Execution in apt/apt-get
    • Security Vulnerability Found in APT, Wine 4.0 Release, GPU Acceleration for Linux Apps on Chrome OS, Kickstarter Campaign for Polished Game Creation Tutorials for the Godot Free Game Engine, TUXEDO Computers Launch Two New High-Performance Laptops

      All Debian and Ubuntu users (as well as users of their derivatives, such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Xubuntu) should update APT immediately. Softpedia News reports that Max Justicz discovered a vulnerability in the APT package that could “allow a remote attacker to trick APT into installing malicious packages that pose as valid ones, but which could be used for code execution with administrative (root) privileges after installation to gain control of the vulnerable machine.” See CVE-2019-3462 for the details.

    • How Blockchain Changes the Nature of Trust

      Blockchains have to be trusted in order for them to succeed, and public blockchains can cause problems you may not think about, according to Bruce Schneier, a fellow and lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, in his keynote address at December’s Hyperledger Global Forum on “Security, Trust and Blockchain.”
      Schneier began his talk by citing a quote from Bitcoin’s anonymous developer, Satoshi Nakamoto, who said “We have proposed a system for electronic transaction without relying on trust.”
      “That’s just not true,’’ Schneier said. “Bitcoin is not a system that doesn’t rely on trust.” It eliminates certain trust intermediaries, but you have to somehow trust Bitcoin, he noted. Generally speaking, the Bitcoin system changes the nature of trust.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • StackRox Boosts Container Security Platform With Multi-Risk Profiling
    • Detecting Ghosts By Reverse Engineering: Who Ya Gonna Call?

      The most recent purportedly serious proposal by a Western government to force technology companies to provide access to the content of encrypted communications comes from Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson of the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, the U.K.’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Cryptography luminaries such as Susan Landau, Matt Green, and Bruce Schneier have published detailed critiques of this proposal. Indeed, others from EFF have written about the proposal—known colloquially as the “ghost”—and explained why, contrary to GCHQ’s claim, the proposal really is an encryption backdoor with all the attendant security risks.

    • Amazon Posts L1TF/Foreshadow Demonstrator Code For The Linux Kernel

      In helping to build better defenses against this side channel vulnerability, Julian Stecklina of Amazon Germany (who previously co-discovered the “LazyFP” vulnerability last year) has posted demonstrator code for the Level 1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) vulnerability against the Linux kernel.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Syria’s Sunken Cost Fallacy: American Deaths Are Not a Reason to Stay

      I’m just old enough to remember a time – before 9/11 – when the death of a US soldier in combat was an exceptionally rare thing. Indeed, its hard not to look back fondly on those days of relative peace. Since then, nearly 7000 Americans – and perhaps half a million local civilians – have been killed in the wars for the Greater Middle East. Most of our fallen troopers, and all of the indigenous victims, are essentially nameless, faceless, forgotten. Sure, Americans “thank” their veterans, and display diligent adulation rituals at weekly sporting events, but most military casualties receive only a passing reference on the nightly news. War is the new normal after all, a standard fact of modern American life that’s far less interesting – and less lucrative – than reporting on the latest soap-opera-drama in the White House.

      That’s why the detailed media attention on the latest bombing in Syria, which killed four Americans, is so notable. And strange. So why the sudden interest in individual troop deaths after 17+ years of aimless war? The answer, as is so often the case these days, is simple: Donald Trump. Last week’s fatal attack, and another attempted bombing this Monday, happened to occur on the heels of the president’s controversial announcement of a total troop withdrawal from Syria. Make no mistake: that’s the only reason these tragic deaths happen to matter to the mainstream media outlets and a slew of suddenly interested congressmen.

    • Supreme Court Returns to Gun Rights for 1st Time in 9 Years

      The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.

      The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.

      The challengers are represented by prominent lawyer Paul Clement, who has been urging the justices to elaborate on the extent of constitutional gun rights the Supreme Court declared in decisions in 2008 and 2010. The court had previously rejected several appeals.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Intelligence Agencies Sued For Refusing To Turn Over Documents Related To Jamal Khashoggi’s Brutal Murder

      The shocking and brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by members of the Saudi Arabian government late last year was breathtaking in its audacity and execution. Lured to the Saudi consulate in Turkey by Saudi government officials, Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered by a team of Saudi security operatives.

      Khashoggi was a legal resident of the United States, in self-imposed exile from Saudi Arabia as a result of the government’s treatment of dissidents. As a lawful resident, Khashoggi was technically protected by the many of the same laws and rights US citizens are. While the US government limits those rights and protections when legal residents (but not citizens) travel out of the country, the US intelligence community still bears a “duty to warn” lawful residents of any violent threats against them.

      The IC knew Khashoggi was a target of the Saudi government. It knew Riyadh had “something unpleasant” waiting for Khashoggi should he return to Saudi Arabia. A plan to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia was intercepted by US intelligence. No one knows whether Khashoggi was ever warned by US intelligence of these plans.

    • Wikileaks founder files legal challenge demanding the Trump administration reveal secret charges

      In November, the Justice Department accidentally revealed that it has sealed charges against Assange.

    • Wikileaks founder’s lawyers file urgent application in attempt to prevent extradition to US

      Lawyers for Julian Assange are taking action aimed at forcing US President Donald Trump’s administration to reveal charges “secretly filed” against the WikiLeaks founder.

      The lawyers are also pressing Ecuador to protect Assange from being extradited to the US if he leaves its embassy in London, where he has been living for more than six years.

    • Julian Assange takes legal action against US government

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday he is launching a legal challenge against the Donald Trump administration.

      The Guardian reported that lawyers for the activist have filed an application to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, aimed at forcing U.S. prosecutors to “unseal” any secret charges against him. It is believed that American prosecutors have been investigating Assange since at least 2011 over his website’s publication of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.

      The legal move comes at a time when Assange’s protection by the government of Ecuador appears on shaky ground. Assange has been staying in a Knightsbridge flat, which houses the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012, when he fled extradition proceedings at the U.K.’s Supreme Court.

      But the relationship has deteriorated since a new government took office in the Latin American country in 2017. In December, Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno said Assange can leave Ecuador’s London Embassy.

      In a radio interview, Moreno said he has received sufficient written guarantees from the British government that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he would face the death penalty, according to the Associated Press.

    • U.S. ramping up probe against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks says

      American federal prosecutors have been pressing witnesses in the U.S. and abroad to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, WikiLeaks says, offering further evidence that the Justice Department is building a criminal case against the man who leaked Democratic emails hacked by the Russians in the 2016 election.

      In a new submission to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, based in Washington, WikiLeaks is urging the Justice Department to unseal the charges that appear to have been secretly filed against Assange in the Eastern District of Virginia. A mistake in a Justice Department court filing in November inadvertently suggested the existence of those charges.

      “The submission reveals for the first time that U.S. federal prosecutors have in the last few months formally approached people in the United States, Germany and Iceland and pressed them to testify against Mr. Assange in return for immunity from prosecution,” WikiLeaks said in a statement. “Those approached are associated with WikiLeaks’ joint publications with other media about U.S. diplomacy, Guantanamo Bay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • New Study Shows Climate Crisis Could Mean ‘Time Bomb” for World’s Groundwater

      A new study sheds light on another impact of the climate crisis—a “time bomb” for the world’s groundwater reserves.

      It’s a key issue, as roughly two billion people worldwide rely on groundwater as their main source of freshwater, and many of these reserves are already being overdrawn.

      In contrast to surface water, groundwater is stored beneath the ground’s surface, held in porous rock, sand, and soil. That water seeps out, or “discharges,” into waterways. The groundwater is also replenished in what is called “recharge” when precipitation falls. As such, a balance is created. But events like drought or extreme downpours—features of a warming planet—have an impact on restoring that balance.

    • As Americans Increasingly Bear ‘Real Costs of Climate Crisis,’ Polls Show Soaring Realization of Global Warming’s Threat

      One survey, conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found that 73 percent of Americans polled in November and December believe that global warming is happening, a 10 percent jump since March of 2015.

      Additionally, 62 percent understand that it’s mostly human-caused, 65 percent think it’s affecting weather in the United States, and a majority are concerned about harm from extreme heat, flooding, droughts, and water shortages.

      “Despite Big Oil’s ongoing multi-billion dollar deception campaign, people across America are bearing the real costs of the climate crisis, so it’s no surprise we’re more concerned than ever,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve, in response to the results.

    • Greens: UK fossil fuel subsidies peel away Government greenwash

      “These figures peel away more of the Government’s greenwash. The UN has made clear we have a 12 year window of opportunity to tackle climate change – the fact the UK pays out the highest fossil fuel subsidies in Europe shows how deeply the Government has failed to grasp the scale of this challenge. We can’t tackle climate change while giving more subsidies to dirty fossil fuels than clean renewable energy. The UK must follow Germany’s example and take advantage of the falling cost of offshore wind to invest in the future.”

    • Ocean waves pack bigger and stronger punch

      As the world’s seas warm, the ocean waves are starting to pack more power. Spanish scientists monitoring the tropical Atlantic report that the waves today contain more energy than they did 70 years ago. Sea surface temperatures influence wind patterns, and the payoff is a wave with more impact.

      What this means for marine creatures, mariners, meteorologists and the mayors of seaside cities is not yet certain. But it does mean that wave energy could join carbon dioxide atmospheric ratios, global sea level rise and global air temperatures as yet one more metric of overall global warming and climate change.

      And Chinese scientists who have been calculating the heat absorbed by the oceans over the last 30 years have confirmed that in 2018 ocean temperatures reached record levels. Before that, 2017 was the hottest oceanic year ever, followed by 2015, 2016 and 2014. Once again, the implications are uncertain: sea levels will rise with ocean temperatures.

    • The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction

      Near term human extinction is not all bad. For one thing it’s absolutely free. No need to break the piggy bank. And the whole family can go. It’s gratis. Not only that, but you can even bring your pets. Cat, dog. parrot, termite you name it. No need for special carriers, quarantines, shots, whatever. None of that. Of course don’t expect to find them on the other side, because there is no other side.

      Then, really good news, all your debts are wiped out. Zippity-doo-dah. Zero. Kiss the student loan, mortgage, credit card bill good-bye. No more vig to the neighborhood henchman. Sayonara. Your balance goes to zero, just like you. Don’t worry, there’s no paperwork.

      And your boss, that asshole, gone. You’ll never have to kiss his rosy red one again.

      No more housework. No taking out the garbage, cleaning the frig– no house.

      No more having to listen to twaddle about Donald Trump.

    • Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging

      The Helena National Forest has released its Ten Mile-South Helena Project, which will include logging, prescribed burning on more than 17,500 acres including in roadless lands proposed for wilderness designation. Throughout its document, the FS ignores the preponderance of fire science to justify logging/thinning of the forest and ignores the many environmental impacts that result from such actions.

      First, the FS implies that dead trees, particularly beetle-kill lodgepole pine, increases fire risk. Contrary to this message, numerous studies have concluded that dead trees reduce, not increase, fire hazard.

      For example, a study done on bug killed trees in Colorado found: “Contrary to the expectation that bark beetle infestation alters subsequent fire severity, correlation, and multivariate generalized linear regression analysis revealed no influence of pre-fire beetle severity on nearly all field or remotely sensed measurements of fire severity.”

      The authors further noted: “In comparison to severity of the pre-fire beetle outbreak, we found that topography, pre-outbreak basal area, and weather conditions exerted a stronger effect on fire severity.”

      Another study found “Modeling results suggested that undisturbed, red, and gray-stage stands were unlikely to exhibit transition of surface fires to tree crowns (torching) and that the likelihood of sustaining an active crown fire (crowning) decreased from undisturbed to gray-stage stands.”

    • Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies

      A recent column by Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder claims that transferring federal public lands to state management is the right thing to do because “nobody cares more for our state than the people who live right here in it.” Montana’s history, however, is rife with examples of what actually happens when management of extractive industries has been ceded to the state by the federal government. “Management” would be a very kind term to describe the rape and pillage that actually occurred and with which we and future generations must live.

      Let’s just take the worst examples of state management failures first, the hundreds of mining industry sites that remain unreclaimed, many of which have now been designated Superfund sites. Every mine and smelter in Montana was and is “managed” by state agencies. Take Golden Sunlight, Zortmann-Landusky, Anaconda’s smelter and Butte’s infamous Berkeley Pit. These are all toxic waste sites that will require treatment in perpetuity. Next will be Colstrip with its leaking waste ponds, while closer to Missoula is the seeping dioxin disaster of the former Smurfitt-Stone plant — both “managed” by state regulators.

      In the ’90s Republican majorities in the Legislature and Republican Gov. Marc Racicot trashed the state’s non-degradation water quality laws at the behest of the mining industry. They repaid Montana’s “management” with a host of abandoned open pit mines now costing Montanans millions of tax dollars in cleanup costs.

    • ‘Despicable’: Wells Fargo Bashed for Plans to Cash In on Global Climate Crisis

      Citing disclosures provided to the British nonprofit CDP—which collects self-reported environmental impact data from companies, cities, states, and regions worldwide—Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Wells Fargo sees the crisis as potentially profitable.

      “Preparation for and response to climate-change induced natural disasters result in greater construction, conservation, and other business activities,” the bank reportedly noted in its disclosure, adding that it “has the opportunity to provide financing to support these efforts.”

      Sierra Club, which has pressured Wells Fargo to stop providing billions of dollars in financing for dirty energy projects like the widely contested the Dakota Access Pipeline, sharply condemned the bank’s plans to cash in on the crisis.

      “It’s despicable that Wells Fargo is seeking to profit from the destruction and suffering its own investments are helping to create,” Sierra Club campaign representative Ben Cushing said in a statement.

  • Finance

    • The Problem Isn’t Robots Taking Our Jobs. It’s Oligarchs Taking Our Power

      Each week workers are confronted with yet another article touting the threat of technology wiping out their jobs. A recent “60 Minutes” segment featured venture capitalist and author Kai-Fu Lee predicting that advances in artificial intelligence would “in 15 years displace about 40 percent of the jobs in the world.”

      The message to workers is clear: the threat of obsolescence is real, so act accordingly. The advice of the World Economic Forum, the McKinsey Global Institute, and others, is that workers must “reskill” in order to have a livelihood available to them.

    • ‘Historic Day for American Unions’: Los Angeles Teachers Strike Earns Victory for Labor, Public Education


      “For the last 10 years, the political forces in Los Angeles haven’t valued public schools, nor respected the people who teach in them,” she noted. “This was a fight for the soul of public education. It was a fight to invest in public schools after decades of neglect, and while one contract can’t fix everything, this is a starting point.”

      Caputo-Pearl announced the preliminary results at a Tuesday night press conference. “It was a dramatic end to a dramatic day that started with Caputo-Pearl and L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner emerging from an all-night negotiating session at City Hall,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti—a possible 2020 presidential candidate—and his senior staffers served as mediators.

    • In Montana, the Practice of Suspending People’s Licenses for Outstanding Court Debt Could Soon Be Over

      Lawmakers are considering a bill that would repeal a Montana policy that permits driver’s licenses to be suspended for failure to pay court debt.

      In more than 40 states across the country, state governments suspend people’s driver’s licenses for outstanding court debts, a practice that disproportionately harms low-income people. But if a Republican legislator has his way, this destructive and counterproductive policy may soon be null and void in Montana.

      On Jan. 9, Rep. Casey Knudsen (R-Malta) introduced a bill to repeal the part of Montana law that permits driver’s licenses to be suspended for failure to pay court debt.

    • What LA Teachers Tell Us About Rising Inequality

      Back during the 1960s and 1970s, in cities, suburbs, and small towns across the United States, teacher strikes made headlines on a fairly regular basis. Teachers in those years had a variety of reasons for walking out. They struck for the right to bargain. They struck for decent pay and benefits. They struck for professional dignity.
      The teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, America’s second-largest school district, was the latest high-profile walkout in a new surge of teacher activism that began last year. L.A. teachers went on strike to demand the same dignity and decency teachers sought in the mid-20th century. But the L.A. struggle, many observers believe, amounts to much more than a battle over how school officials treat teachers.

      Teachers in L.A. went on strike, in a most fundamental way, against how unequal America has become. They’re speaking out against our billionaire class.

    • “This Was About the Survival of Public Education”: LA Teachers Claim Victory After Week-Long Strike

      Public school teachers in Los Angeles are returning to classrooms today after approving an agreement to end a historic 6-day strike. The strike was the first in Los Angeles in three decades. It came after more than 20 months of strained negotiations between the union—United Teachers Los Angeles—and the school district. The strike effectively shut down Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest school district. On Tuesday morning, union leaders and Los Angeles city officials announced that they had reached a deal on a new contract. After a vote, the union announced Tuesday night that the contract had been approved by a supermajority of UTLA members. Included in the agreement are pay increases for teachers, additional support staff in schools, smaller class sizes and the regulation of charter schools. For more, we speak with the union’s bargaining committee chair, Arlene Inouye, as well as labor journalist and author Sarah Jaffe.

    • No One Said Rich People Were Very Sharp: Davos Tries to Combat Populism

      Let’s see, cattle ranchers are against vegetarianism, coal companies are against restricting CO2 emissions, and the Davos crew is trying to combat populism, according to The Washington Post. It is kind of amazing that the rich people at Davos would not understand how absurd this is.

      Yeah, we get that rich people don’t like the idea of movements that would leave them much less rich, but is it helpful to their cause to tell us that they are devoting their rich people’s conference to combating them? The real incredible aspect of Davos is that so many political leaders and news organizations would go to a meeting that is quite explicitly about rich people trying to set an agenda for the world.

    • The top 1% controls a third of the wealth, and the poor are getting poorer. How Russia became one of the most unequal places on Earth.

      According to January 2018 research by Oxfam, the richest one percent of people worldwide “bagged 82 percent” of the wealth created in 2017, while the poorest half of humanity “got nothing.” Since the 1980s, inequality has been growing everywhere on Earth, except in Western Europe. The rich own more and more, while the working class and middle class own less and less. This process is especially pronounced in Russia. Meduza breaks down these trends into graphs and takes a closer look at how Russia became a world leader in social inequality.

    • ‘This Is Called Union-Busting’: As Teachers Union Approves Strike, Denver Superintendent Wants to Turn Furloughed Federal Workers Into Scabs

      For seeking to exploit a situation in which hundreds of thousands of public employees nationwide are going without paychecks as the Trump shutdown enters its second month, the superintendent of Denver’s public schools is under fire for floating the idea that those suffering workers could be used as replacements for city teachers who voted Tuesday to approve a district-wide strike.

      Ahead of the vote, held by the city’s 5,600-strong teachers union, Denver Public Schools (DPS) Superintendent Susana Cordova told the local press that she was preparing to offer furloughed federal workers substitute teaching jobs for the duration of a potential strike.

    • Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests

      Here are seven things you won’t hear much if anything about in the reigning corporate media regarding the ongoing record-setting partial shutdown of the United States federal government:

      1: The Longstanding Neoliberal War on “Big Government”: a proper understanding of the shutdown in relation to the longstanding capitalist project of what the leading corporate-neoliberal champion Grover Norquist called “starving the beast,” with “beast” taken to mean “big government.” Norquist wanted, he said, “to cut government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

      Now might be a good time to recall how Trump’s former top political adviser the faux-populist Steve Bannon (with whom Trump certainly still regularly speaks) described his main policy goal when speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February of 2017: “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”

      Bannon once proudly told an academic: “I am a Leninist.” Bannon said that “Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too.”

      Is the current shut-down not an exercise in “administrate state deconstruction” – something right out of the faux-libertarian (more on why I use that term in my next comment) fever dreams of a Norquist, a Bannon, a Charles Koch, a James McGill Buchanan, a Milton Friedman and others of their right wing and so-called free-market ilk? The orange monstrosity says the shut-down could “go on for years.” You can be sure that capitalist politico and ideologues in the Norquist and Bannon mode are hoping the shut-down can last as long as possible with no clear reported disasters resulting. This will help them advance their “drowning” project. “See?” they can proclaim, as former federal employees work for reduced wages at grocery stores and shopping malls, “we don’t really need this big monstrous and totalitarian government after all. All hail the free market!”

    • Tentative Deal Reached to End L.A. Teachers Strike

      A crowd of teachers roared its approval after a tentative deal was announced Tuesday between Los Angeles school officials and the union that will allow educators to return to classrooms after a six-day strike in the nation’s second-largest district.

      Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, accompanied by leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District, announced the agreement at City Hall a few hours after a 21-hour bargaining session ended before dawn.

      “I’m proud to announce that, pending approval by the teachers represented by UTLA and educational professionals and this Board of Education, we have an agreement that will allow our teachers to go back to work on their campuses tomorrow,” Garcetti said.

      Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said teachers would vote Tuesday, and he expected approval. Teachers planned to meet with union representatives to familiarize themselves with the agreement before casting ballots later in the day.

      It wasn’t clear when the vote results would be known, but teachers are expected to be back at work on Wednesday.

    • AOC’S 70 Percent Solution Shows US the Progressive Majority Has Been There All Along

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the latest progressive to speak out in favor of taxing the wealthy, and predictably, the punditocracy pounced on her as if she was some naïve political ingenue, and just as predictably, many of the mainstream Democrats joined them.

      As with Sanders, however, AOC didn’t go into a swoon when she was challenged on the idea that a 70 percent marginal rate could raise revenue needed to support a Green New Deal. In her 60 Minutes interview, when Anderson Cooper characterized her as “radical,” she said “… then call me radical.” When Scott Walker completely mischaracterized how marginal rates work in an attempt to discredit her, AOC took him on and destroyed him, rather than going into hiding.

      Her courage and conviction has proven to be a political asset, not a liability, as the corporate wing of the Democratic Party would have it.

      But here’s the thing: after the 60 Minutes interview and AOC’s rebuttal of the assault by the forces of the status quo, mainstream Democrats and the punditocracy seem surprised and shocked to learn that nearly 60 percent of Americans support a top marginal rate of 70 percent on the ultra-rich.

    • Reality Is Starting to Creep Into the Billionaire Oasis of Davos

      At this time of year, about 2,000 private jets fly into Zurich airport and to various smaller Swiss airports (including the Dübendorf military airbase). Hundreds of helicopter flights move from Zurich to Davos, where the hotel rooms go for as high as US$10,000 a night during the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF, which began in 1971, opened this Tuesday and runs through to the end of the week. The theme is Globalization 4.0, which refers—it seems—to the need to tackle the high-tech economy and to create a new architecture for a crumbling world system.

      Evidence of the irrelevance of Davos and of that crumbling system is clear. Neither the U.S. President Donald Trump nor the Chinese President Xi Jinping will be there. With the European Union falling apart, neither British Prime Minister Theresa May nor French President Emmanuel Macron will be flying in. Germany’s Angela Merkel will be stuck with strongmen such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. It will not be pleasant company.

    • As Public Shouts Approval for Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% Tax Rate for Ultra-Rich, Elites at Davos Admit: “It’s Scary”

      Gathering for the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps town of Davos, some of the world’s wealthiest business leaders and so-called “thought leaders” focused their attention Monday on a proposal that’s gaining traction in the U.S.—a return to a far higher marginal tax rate for the wealthy as a way of correcting the country’s widening wealth gap. A majority of American voters support the idea, a fact that was cited by one Davos attendee as precisely why he fears the proposal.

      “It’s scary,” Scott Minerd, head of the $265 billion investment firm Guggenheim Partners, told CNBC of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) proposal of a 70 percent tax rate for income over $10 million per year, predicting that the idea will likely continue to get more of the the attention it’s captured over the past three weeks, since the freshman congresswoman mentioned it in an interview with “60 Minutes.”

    • Why Aren’t Hedge Funds Required to Fight Money Laundering?

      For many years, the federal government has required banks, brokerages and even casinos to take steps to stop customers from using them to clean dirty money.

      Yet one major part of the financial system has remained stubbornly exempt, despite experts’ repeated warnings that it is vulnerable to criminal manipulation. Investment companies such as hedge funds and private equity firms have escaped multiple efforts to subject them to rules meant to combat money laundering.

      The latest attempt, which began in 2015, appears to have ground to a halt, according to sources familiar with the process.

      “You’ve got several trillion dollars, the management of which nobody is required to ask any questions about where that money is coming from,” said Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition. “This is very problematic.”

    • Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands

      The righteousness of our cause is becoming clearer ever day, and LAUSD is on the run. A new independent analysis from Capital & Main finds that funding exists that would more than cover UTLA’s core demands without even touching the district’s massive surplus.


      In describing UTLA’s demands, from the beginning LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner went into an act, throwing up his hands and claiming UTLA was demanding we “accept [an] offer that would bankrupt us. I don’t know how the district can respond constructively to that other than ‘no.’”

      I thought this was stupid on the face of it, since nobody in any negotiation expects the other side to meet all their demands. If Beutner wanted to know how to “respond constructively,” he could’ve responded the way any other organization in negotiations does—by making a reasonable counteroffer.

      Moreover, all of those UTLA demands were fully justified, and most of them were things LAUSD should’ve been doing for the good of its students on its own initiative. One annoying thing about this whole dispute has been LAUSD consistently behaving as if they’re doing something for us, “giving in to the union,” “offering the union” this or that. But in almost all instances these are things that students needed and the district should’ve been doing everything it could to accomplish them even if UTLA never asked for them or if UTLA never even existed.

    • Brexit has already been cancelled – and here’s why they’re not telling you

      If Brexit were a film, it would be at the point where pages were being ripped off a calendar in a frenzy.

      Tick, tock, goes the clock, as we get nearer to the day we were told was either the end of the beginning or beginning of the end. Only trouble is, March 29 is nothing but a plot device.

      The fact is, Brexit is off. When the nation finally realises this is a false ending you’re going to be told a load of limp excuses about why you’ve got to sit through a load more of this tripe.

      So allow me to explain.

      We have had one meaningful vote, which achieved nothing meaningful. Next Monday Theresa May will present us with Plan B, which is exactly the same as Plan A but has had the ‘A’ Tipp-exed out. A second meaningful vote is scheduled for next Tuesday, in which Theresa will probably find she has negotiated her walloping, earlier defeat down to being a slightly-less walloping second defeat.

    • Who is Alexey Gromov? New report finds the de facto curator of Russian state TV owns major real estate and has ties to oligarchs

      The online media outlet Proekt (Project) has released a new investigative report about the Russian presidential administration’s first deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov—the man responsible for state propaganda on Russian television. Proekt reported that Gromov owns a country home in the wealthy Rublyovka district as well as an apartment in central Moscow whose cost greatly exceeds his income.

      In 2002, Alexey Gromov received more than 30,000 square feet of land in Rublyovka that had previously belonged to the Russian government. According to Proekt, his property is located in the elite town of Ilyinskye Dachi and includes a home with over 10,000 square feet of floorspace. A similar property in the same neighborhood costs about 12.6 million dollars.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Rob Williams and ‘Russian Interference’ in the Election

      Amid the ongoing corporate-media hue and cry about ‘Russian interference’ in the 2016 US election,
      media scholar Rob Williams reviews the evidence, and the unexamined assumptions made by promoters of
      the ‘Russian hacking’ position. Some of the discussion on the show revolves around Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s
      new book Cyberwar.

    • Stop Trusting Viral Videos

      But rather than drawing conclusions about who was vicious or righteous—or lamenting the political miasma that makes the question unanswerable—it might be better to stop and look at how film footage constructs rather than reflects the truths of a debate like this one. Despite the widespread creation and dissemination of video online, people still seem to believe that cameras depict the world as it really is; the truth comes from finding the right material from the right camera. That idea is mistaken, and it’s bringing forth just as much animosity as the polarization that is thought to produce the conflicts cameras record.

    • If Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Talk, Britain Is Waiting

      Britain is ready to discuss “the future of technology in society” with Mr. Zuckerberg, whenever he’s ready. But we aren’t going to wait for him. We’re having those discussions now.

    • WhatsApp rolls out changes to curb spread of misinformation

      The Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp this week rolled out changes to curb the spread of misinformation, a move that comes months after conspiracy theories circulated by users on the app allegedly fueled more than 20 murders in India.

    • Stalled Brexit Goings On

      The tumultuous last few days in Ukania’s House of Commons have been bewildering even for those Brits used to the arcane fripperies and conventions of the supposed “mother” of all parliaments.

      117 Tories rejected May last month in their intra-party vote on her leadership, which she survived by a slim majority.

      Faced with a vote on Labour’s subsequent no-confidence motion on the Tory government, all these 117 fair-weather Tories found a way to support May! A successful vote of no confidence in the May government would have ensued in a general election.

      Clearly, for these 117 craven Tories, the parliamentary vote on the future of May’s government, with obviously crucial Brexitimplications, had little to do with Brexit per se (since they reject, absolutely, all her Brexit proposals), and everything to do with saving their own political careers.

    • Here’s the Pro-Bernie Sanders 2020 Op-Ed The Baffler Decided Its Readers Should No Longer See

      Because The Baffler, which focuses on left-wing politics and culture, is owned by The Baffler Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, it is legally prohibited from endorsing any candidate for public office. But Sunkara—whose magazine is also owned by a 501(c)3—argued that because the piece did not reflect the “views of an institute,” it was “clearly within bounds.”

      So, late Tuesday, Jacobin decided to repost the article on its website (read Frost’s full piece below). Initially headlined “It’s Bernie, Bitch” by The Baffler—a spin on a phrase by American singer Britney Spears—Jacobin ran the op-ed with the title, “It’s Still Bernie.”

      “A President Sanders isn’t some idealist fantasy, he is our best bet by a mile,” Frost argued in her piece. “Not only is he the best candidate politically (as in, the only social democrat), he has the best chance of giving the ‘pragmatists’ what say they want: a presidential win.”

    • Popular Democracy in Cuba

      The socialist governments of the Third World plus China have developed popular democracy, with structures that are alternatives to those of representative democracy. Laws and policies are decided by deputies of the people, and not by politicians dependent on the support of corporate and wealthy interests. Let us look at the historical development of the alternative political process in the case of Cuba.

      During the neocolonial Republic of 1902 to 1959, Cuba had the basic structures of representative democracy. Military dictatorships periodically interrupted the democratic process, in response to political instability, which itself was a consequence of the incapacity of the Cuban system of representative democracy to ensure the sovereignty of the nation or the needs of the people. It was a system designed to support the interests of international capital and a weak international bourgeoisie, with political power in the hands of a political class dependent on both. In key historic moments (1924, 1944, & 1948), the people were able to elect candidates who promised reform, but once in office, they were not able to deliver on their promises. Revolutionary leaders in Cuba could not possibly overlook the limitations of representative democracy.

    • Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert

      The general error that I see is people disregarding and throwing out mediations altogether. In politics, sometimes the main problem is not so much the ultimate goal but rather how to get there. In brief, strategy and tactics, and Chavez had a genius for both.

      In this sense, it’s important to point out that political activity and class struggle do not take place in some kind of Newtonian ether. Instead, both happen in history. So what I argue that Chavez did was activate a historical possibility, a latent revolutionary tendency in Venezuela, which drew on Bolivar, Rodriguez, and Zamora, and also the popular movements behind them. It’s a rich tradition, but perhaps we can summarize it with a shorthand, as Chavez did, using the proper name “Bolivar.”

      That was the historical legacy that Chavez pulled out of the past, dusted off, and put into action. It is interesting to me that when most people give an account of the Bolivarian Process today, they have nothing to say about Bolivar. How different that is from Chavez, who couldn’t stop talking about Bolivar! Was he crazy? Ninety-five percent of the analyses of the political process – whether critical or affirmative – implicitly assume that this part of Chavez’s discourse was just madness or populism on his part.

    • A N.Y. Times Story Just Accidentally Shredded the Russiagate Hysteria

      Every once in a while, one of those stories comes along that makes the mainstream corporate media look like a bunch of middle-school kids filming their “news show” on an iPhone with their neck ties crooked. Recently, one of those stories splashed down into the middle of our cultural zeitgeist like a small meteor landing in the middle of an elite dinner party.

      It made our mass media pundits look like hardened fools. But they have kept spouting their nonsense anyway, hoping no one notices the soup dripping down their faces.

      But to talk about that, I have to talk about this: Last month we finally got to see the Senate report spelling out the Russian meddling in our last election. And it was a bombshell. It rocked the heart of our country. It shredded the inflamed core of our palpitating democracy.

      As Dan Cohen reported for the Grayzone Project, the report said that “…everything from the Green Party’s Jill Stein to Instagram to Pokemon Go to the African American population had been used and confused by the deceptive Facebook pages of a private Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency.”


      So who are these amazing nonpartisan unbiased sleuths who put together this legitimate and nonpartisan unbiased Senate report? The New York Times found out they are a group called New Knowledge (which sounds like a terrible boy band). New Knowledge was founded by two veterans of the Obama administration, Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox. …So, I guess we’re, um, doing away with the “nonpartisan unbiased” thing.

      Well, in that case—I say go hard or go home. I want MORE bias!

      The Grayzone Project pointed out that besides working for Obama and the State Department, “… Morgan also developed technology for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the arm of the Department of Defense created for basic, applied technological research, and futuristic war toys.”

      All right, all right, not bad. But I know what you’re thinking. “Lee, that might be a great bias appetizer, but we want the full bias entree!”

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Proposal Rattles Billionaires at Davos

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., during a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Jan. 6, proposed a 70 percent marginal tax rate on income earned above $10 million. Cooper called this “radical.” The proposal has earned extensive media coverage, and has been debated by pundits on both sides of the political aisle.

      One group that is not thrilled, according to Hugh Son and Brian Schwartz of CNBC, are attendees at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, the annual gathering of international business and political leaders who meet to discuss the state of the world economy. “It’s scary,” Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer for Guggenheim Partners, told CNBC, adding, “By the time we get to the presidential election, this is going to gain more momentum. … I think the likelihood that a 70 percent tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real.”

      Stephen Schwartzman, the CEO of Blackstone, a private equity firm and a major Republican donor, sarcastically (as reported by Son and Schwartz) told CNBC that he is “wildly enthusiastic,” about the plan.

      Another billionaire, who declined to be named, told CNBC that despite the massive media attention around Ocasio-Cortez’s interview, Democrats would not be likely to support the plan. “It’s not going to happen—trust me,” he said.

      One prominent Democrat interviewed at Davos agreed. Glenn Hutchins, founder of the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, who CNBC calls a member of the “Democratic establishment,” said, “The important thing in my view is not to try to score political points with having a 70 percent, very high tax rate. The important thing is to try to figure out a tax system that is both fair and efficient.”

    • ‘Poor King Snowflake’: Trump Admits Ordering Huckabee Sanders to Halt WH Briefings Because Reporters Behave ‘Rudely’

      President Donald Trump on Tuesday admitted he told his press secretary “not to bother” any longer with White House press briefings over his belief that journalists cover the administration both “rudely & inaccurately.”

      “The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press,” Trump tweeted. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

      Glenn Kessler, fact-checker for the Washington Post, pointed out the historic anomaly of Trump’s admission. “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” Kessler wrote in response to the president’s tweet. “White House reporters have been aggressive with the press secretary of every WH, and they didn’t flee from questions that needed answering.”

    • Senate Sets Up Showdown Votes on Shutdown Plans

      Senate leaders on Tuesday agreed to vote on dueling proposals to reopen shuttered federal agencies this week, forcing a political reckoning for senators grappling with the longest shutdown in U.S. history: Side with President Donald Trump or vote to temporarily end the shutdown and keep negotiating.

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. set up the two showdown votes for Thursday, a day before some 800,000 federal workers are due to miss a second paycheck. One vote will be on his own measure, which reflects Trump’s offer to trade border wall funding for temporary protections for some immigrants. It was quickly rejected by Democrats. The second vote is set for a bill approved by the Democratic-controlled House reopening government through Feb. 8, with no wall money, to give bargainers time to talk.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: “Breathe Fire” in Face of Trump

      “The choice isn’t what I’m breathing in, it’s what I’m exhaling,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared this Monday at an event organized by Blackout for Human Rights celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York City. “Right now, I think with this administration, with the current circumstances, with the abdication of responsibility that we’ve seen from so many powerful people … I feel a need for all of us to breathe fire.”

      In conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates at Riverside Church, Ocasio-Cortez was responding to his comments about the level of “toxicity and stupidity” the new congresswoman encounters on a near daily basis. In delivering this exhortation, Ocasio-Cortez not only galvanized audience members but also stirred their respect with her ability to let the intense scrutiny roll off her back.

      It’s this ability to speak truth to power in a strong and forthright way that’s gained Ocasio-Cortez wide praise and admiration, and perhaps her assignment to the powerful House Oversight Committee. Meanwhile the media have lavished attention on her flair for blistering comebacks — such as her rapid rebuttal to bizarre comments from Aaron Sorkin, creator of “The West Wing,” who implored young freshman Democratic Congress members to “stop acting like young people,” and to focus instead on the “economic anxiety of the middle class.”

      Though Sorkin later walked back his comments, his remarks betrayed the anxiety frequently exhibited by established public figures toward Ocasio-Cortez, and further underscored the disappointing failure by this class to acknowledge the deeper vision of justice that Ocasio-Cortez is already articulating.

    • ALEC’s New Union-Busting Toolkit Illustrates the Goal Is to Bankrupt Unions Not Protect Workers

      It’s becoming an annual ritual. The Koch-funded cluster of groups, which has long abused their 501(c)3 IRS “charitable” designation by working to destroy political enemies, has concocted another “union busting” toolkit, giving ammunition and guidance to Republican politicians on how to attack and dismantle a major funder of the Democratic Party.

      The toolkit appears to have been prepared by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) staff shortly after the Supreme Court’s June 2018 Janus vs. AFSCME decision, which held that unions could no longer require individuals in a bargaining unit who did not want to be members of a union to pay agency or “fair share” fees. Fair share fees compensate union staff who are required by law to represent all workers in a bargaining unit in their quest for better wages and working conditions.

      ALEC is a collection of state politicians and corporate lobbyists from many of the largest corporations in the country. The Janus case was spearheaded by ALEC’s sister group, the $80 million State Policy Network (SPN), made up of 66 right-wing think tanks and other Koch-funded institutions.

      The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) uncovered a secret SPN “toolkit” that coaches politicians to replace anti-union rhetoric with phrases like “worker freedom” and “worker choice.” Also uncovered by CMD and published in the Guardian, were SPN private fundraising letters bluntly detailing strategies for dismantling unions and striking a “mortal blow” to progressive politics and the Democratic Party.

    • The $5.7 Billion Hole in Shutdown Coverage – The arbitrary, fanciful and contradictory nature of Trump’s border wall demand goes unexamined

      In the standoff between the Democratic House and President Donald Trump over the latter’s demand for border wall funding, the corporate press has done a passable job highlighting the unpopularity of Trump’s border policy, as well as exploring the vast real-world impact of the shutdown. There have been notable low points in the coverage as well, from tabloid-style outrage-baiting (FAIR.org, 1/7/19) to overwrought falsely balanced factchecking (FAIR.org, 1/10/19).

      But there’s also been a major blindspot in reporting on the shutdown, and it involves the very thing at the center of the entire debate: Trump’s proposed border wall expansion.

    • ‘No SOTU for You’: Pelosi Tells Trump House Chamber Not an Option Unless Government Reopens

      After President Donald Trump insisted on Wednesday that he still intends to deliver the State of the Union address next week even though Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) rescinded his invitation last week, the speaker quickly doubled down on her decision.

      “I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened,” Pelosi wrote to Trump, adding that she’ll welcome him for the speech after the shutdown ends.

    • The MAGA Boys Are Racist Brats

      In the abstract, innocence is a rather simple idea. A blank slate, unmarked by sin. In the real world, innocence is a stranger concept. For some, it is wholly unattainable. For others, all it takes is a press release. For many Native people, the last few days have been exhausting. After elder Nathan Phillips’s now-famous encounter with a group of tomahawk-chopping, MAGA-hat-wearing Catholic school students made headlines, a surprisingly large number of non-Native people spoke in Phillips’s defense, decrying the behavior of the Covington Catholic High School students. The outpouring of support was striking to many Native people because, while Native people experience bigotry and abuse on a regular basis, we rarely see other Natives experience the kind of public support that Phillips was ever-so-briefly afforded.

      We should have seen the revocation of that support coming a mile away.

      Even though footage of the MAGA boys taunting Phillips has been viewed countless times, the existence of other footage, in which the boys were crudely insulted by a small group of Black Israelites, was seen as a game-changer. The group of Black Israelites, who, by all accounts, made despicable comments to both Native people and the Covington youth, were quickly cast as the true instigators, as though the boys’ mimicry and taunts of Phillips and his group were somehow justified by the acts of a completely different group of people. By the time Nick Sandmann, the young man who stared Phillips down while the elder sang and drummed, released a statement, many were eager to accept it as fact. The statement itself, which cast Sandmann and his classmates as level-headed angels being menaced by an elder with a small drum, was purported to be Sandmann’s own narration of events, but read like a press release from a PR firm.

      As Vice reported, Runswitch PR, the firm the Sandmann family hired, has a history of supporting powerful Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Runswitch PR was founded by CNN contributor Scott Jennings, a former adviser to McConnell and George W. Bush. Jennings currently advises a McConnell super PAC.

    • Parents in Russian town say mobsters delivered homophobic lectures at local school. Officials say don’t worry, they weren’t mobsters.

      Prosecutors in Russia’s Primorsky Krai, which forms the southeast corner of the country, have begun investigating claims that one of the region’s schools has allowed criminal leaders to give lectures to its students, according to Interfax. The regional branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee has also begun preliminary inquiries into the matter.

      A post on the Russian social website Pikabu first brought the lectures to the public eye. It described how one school organized a lecture for its fifth- through seventh-grade boys that was led by four men. The director introduced them as people who “watch over the village” and should be “emulated.” The men used profanity to explain to the boys that they should live “by standards,” a word that sometimes refers to criminal rules, and advised them not to enter into homosexual relationships to avoid being harassed later on “in the zone,” a slang term for prison colonies. “In the end, the kids were told they weren’t allowed to tell [their teachers and parents] where they were and what they were lectured about!” the post exclaimed. It was allegedly written by parents whose children were at the lecture. The post did not name the village or the school.

    • Nationwide Call-In Day Pressures Senators to Reject “Stephen Miller’s Wish List” and Pass Clean Bill to End Trump Shutdown

      With the Senate set to vote Thursday on two competing plans to reopen the government—a White House-backed measure with billions in border wall funding and a short-term Democratic resolution with no wall money—progressive advocacy groups on Wednesday launched a nationwide call-in day pressuring senators to unite against President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant shutdown and pass the “clean” legislation.

      Denouncing the “extreme” Trump-backed bill that “reads like [White House adviser] Stephen Miller’s wish list,” Indivisible urged people to flood the phone lines of their representatives and urge them to pass the bill with no wall funding, which has already cleared the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

      “A majority of the American public doesn’t want to pay for Trump’s wall; they just want Republicans in Congress to open up the government,” Indivisible declared. “It’s important that we first block Trump’s anti-immigrant bill, and then put pressure on Republicans to do the right thing and open up the government by passing a clean [continuing resolution].”

    • Ocasio-Cortez Rattles Pundits Across the Corporate Media Spectrum
    • Common sense is now perilously absent in our nation

      With the government still partially shut down, partisan politics is generating more heat than light.

      President Donald Trump, in his unique blustery style, believes he can slander the Democratic leaders that he must negotiate with, burlesque their position and demand capitulation in return for simply allowing the government to run. When the Democratic-led House recently passed legislation that was approved by the Republican Senate in December to fund the government, Republican senators refuse even to put it on the floor.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The secret censorship holding back the sex toy industry

      If anything, the back and forth over Osé is an indication of a broader confusion over whether sex toys count as wellness devices or something obscene. That confusion impacts nearly every aspect of how pleasure product companies do business, from fundraising to retail to advertising. While crowdfunding and online retail have been eager to court the business of other gadget manufacturers, sex toy companies still struggle to navigate content regulations and figure out whether their business counts as “obscene” in the eyes of payment processors, banks, and advertising platforms.

    • Court Rules ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Criminalizing Undercover Reporting Violates the First Amendment

      The unconstitutional law was meant to protect agribusinesses from public scrutiny.
      In a win for freedom of the press, a federal court this month struck down an Iowa law making it a crime to lie about your intentions when accessing an agricultural production facility.

      The “ag-gag” law, which was aimed at undercover journalists and activists, essentially prevented undercover investigations of the agricultural industry. The court rightly found that the law violates the First Amendment.

      This welcome ruling joins a host of other court decisions finding similar laws in other states to be unconstitutional — and for good reason. Undercover reporting is a critical tool to inform the public about corporate wrongdoing. Overbroad laws criminalizing false speech violate the First Amendment and prevent investigative journalism from holding powerful private actors to account.

    • It’s Perfectly Constitutional to Talk About Jury Nullification

      Jurors have the power to vote against convicting criminal defendants under laws that the jurors believe are unjust.

      Eric Patrick Brandt and Mark Iannicelli were handing out pamphlets outside a Denver courthouse in July 2015. They wanted to inform the public about jury nullification — that is, the power of jurors to vote against convicting criminal defendants under laws that the jurors believe are unjust.

      Brandt and Iannicelli were trying to participate in a centuries-old and still-thriving discussion.

    • US Media Companies Engaging In Proactive Censorship Of Content Ahead Of India’s New Hate Speech Laws

      Just the threat of government intervention has been enough to turn a number of US companies into proactive censors. As Paris Martineau notes in this Wired article, Netflix and a number of other streaming services have already voluntarily agreed to engage in self-censorship, purging their Indian offerings of content that “disrespects the country’s flag,” “hurts religious sentiments,” or promotes terrorism.

      Netflix’s justification for self-censorship is apparently that this is somehow better than direct government censorship. But this justification makes no sense, especially when proactive measures tend to remove more content than is actually illegal. Add in some automation and legal content is going to get flagged and removed faster than the Indian government can issue self-serving removal requests.

      The government’s timetable on content removal only adds to the problem. The Indian government wants content it finds illegal removed within 24 hours of notification. Short turn times — seen elsewhere in the world — have increased proactive takedowns by internet companies, resulting in far more content removals than are strictly necessary.

    • Herrick V. Grindr The Section 230 Case That’s Not What You’ve Heard

      On the surface Herrick v. Grindr seems the same sort of case as Daniel v. Armslist (which we wrote about last week): it’s a case at an appeals court that addresses the applicability of Section 230, meaning there is a reasonable possibility of it having long-lingering effect on platforms once it gets decided. It’s also a case full of ugly facts with a sympathetic plaintiff, and, at least nominally, involves the same sort of claim against a platform – in Armslist the claim was for “negligent design,” whereas here the claim is for “defective design.” In both cases the general theory is that because people were able to use the platform to do bad things, the platforms themselves should be legally liable for the resulting harm.

      Of course, if this theory were correct, what platform could exist? People use Internet platforms in bad ways all the time, and they were doing so back in the days of CompuServe and Prodigy. It is recognition of this tendency that caused Congress to pass Section 230 in the first place, because if platforms needed to answer for the terrible things their users used them for, then they could never afford to remain available for all the good things people used them for too. Congress felt it was too high a cost to lose the beneficial potential of the Internet because of the possibility of bad actors, and so Section 230 was drafted to make sure that we wouldn’t have to. Bad actors could still be pursued for their bad acts, but not the platforms that they had exploited to commit them.

      In this case the bad act in question was the creation and management of a false Grindr profile for Herrick by an ex-boyfriend bitter about their breakup. It led to countless strangers, often with aggressive expectations for sex, showing up at Herrick’s home and work. There is no question that the ex-boyfriend’s behavior was terrible, frightening, inexcusable, and, if not already illegal under New York law, deserving to be. But only to the extent that such a law would punish just the culprit (in this case the ex-boyfriend who created the fake profile).

    • Jury Trial? You Have No Right!

      I was wronged. All I wanted was a trial by jury, a right enshrined in Anglo-Saxon legal tradition in the Magna Carta 903 years ago.

      Is this still America? No. America is dead.

      Not only have I been denied that fundamental right, I have been punished for having had the temerity to seek redress in the courts.

      Justice is when wrongdoers are punished and victims are compensated. Instead, the California court system has provided Anti-Justice. The wrongdoers are getting off scot-free. I, the victim, am not merely being ignored or brushed off. I am being actively punished.

      The ruling in Ted Rall v. Los Angeles Times et al. came down last week. The California Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Times’ “anti-SLAPP” motion against me. Anti-SLAPP law supporters, including the Times, say they’re supposed to be used by poor individuals to defend their First Amendment rights against big companies. But that’s BS. The Times—owned by the $500 million Tronc corporation when I filed suit, now owned by $7 billion biotechnology entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong—abused anti-SLAPP to destroy me.

    • Parody Washington Post Leads To Bogus Legal Threat, And A Reminder Of An Old Internet Lawsuit

      As you might have heard, the famed pranksters The Yes Men were recently involved in something of a parody news story. They printed up and handed out a ton of parody Washington Posts, dated May 1, 2019 (note: a date a few months in the future) with a cover story claiming to be about President Trump being removed from office. People who got their hands on the printed edition said that they looked pretty similar to an actual Washington Post. The pranksters didn’t just print out newspapers, they also set up a website at my-washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post itself was not amused and appears to have sent an incredibly stupid cease-and-desist letter from a publication that should know better.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FBI Forensic Experts Claim Mass-Produced Jeans And Shirts Are As Distinct As Fingerprints And DNA

      The evidence the feds use to lock people up continues to be laughable. Well, laughable under any other circumstances. Freedom is a high price to pay for bad science, but the FBI seems to believe the tradeoff between lost freedom and junk science is a net gain for society. Judges seem to agree. It’s difficult to challenge the sufficiency of evidence against you, nevermind the underlying “science” backing dubious forensic evidence like hair or bite mark matching.

      The gold standards in forensic evidence aren’t even gold. DNA is a hitchhiker which can put people never involved with a crime at the scene just by hitching a ride on first responders. Fingerprints have been considered individual markers for years, but even that assessment appears to have been overstated.

      But dig deep enough into the FBI’s forensic toolkit and you’ll find some truly surprising forms of “evidence.” ProPublica has done exactly that, uncovering so-called science that far more resembles faith. Convictions have been obtained thanks to FBI forensic experts claiming mass produced products like shirts and jeans are just as distinct as fingerprints and DNA.

    • Victory: Federal Court in Seattle Will Begin Disclosing Surveillance Records
    • Wow, fancy that. Web ad giant Google to block ad-blockers in Chrome. For safety, apparently

      Google engineers have proposed changes to the open-source Chromium browser that will break content-blocking extensions, including various ad blockers.

      Adblock Plus will most likely not be affected, though similar third-party plugins will, for reasons we will explain. The drafted changes will also limit the capabilities available to extension developers, ostensibly for the sake of speed and safety. Chromium forms the central core of Google Chrome, and, soon, Microsoft Edge.

      In a note posted Tuesday to the Chromium bug tracker, Raymond Hill, the developer behind uBlock Origin and uMatrix, said the changes contemplated by the Manifest v3 proposal will ruin his ad and content blocking extensions, and take control of content away from users.

    • Chrome May Get Faster Ad Blocking While Breaking uBlock Origin

      Ad blocker uBlock Origin “can no longer exist” if a proposed change to Chrome goes through. That’s according to Raymond Hill, the developer of uBlock Origin and uMatrix, in a comment on Chromium’s bug tracker.

      As spotted by The Register, Google engineers are proposing this change in the Chromium project’s bug tracker. Chromium is the open-source browser that forms the basis for Google Chrome, Opera, and soon Microsoft Edge.

    • Russia Wants Facebook, Twitter To Relocate Servers To Russia

      The Russian government agency, which controls Internet censorship in the country, has opened administrative proceedings against Facebook and Twitter because for failing to comply with local data laws.

      The action was taken citing that the law requires all servers, that store personal data of Russians, to be located in Russia.

    • Google Fined $57 Million For Violating GDPR Rules

      France’s data privacy watchdog National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (NCIL) has slapped a $57 million fine on Google for not complying with GDPR rules. This is the biggest fine that has been imposed on a tech company after GDPR rules come into effect from May last year.

      According to CNIL, the fine has been imposed because the tech giant failed to provide enough information to users about how their data is collected and didn’t give them complete control over their data.

    • Spying Agency MI5 Named One of UK’s ‘Best LGBT Employers’

      That MI5 is ranked at all represents significant progress for the agency – for gay men and women were prohibited from working at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ until 1992.
      British domestic spying agency MI5 has been named the UK’s fourth best LGBT employer in the UK by Stonewall, in the charity’s annual Workplace Equality Index.

      The list, topped by law firm Pinsent Masons, also features the British Army, Lloyds Bank, homeless charity St Mungo’s, Newcastle council and the Welsh government. Rankings are based on consideration of 10 areas of employment policy and practice, and staff at each organization also complete anonymous surveys on their experiences of diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.

    • Huawei wants another shot at 5G in NZ

      Chinese telco Huawei wants another shot at building Spark’s 5G network and is calling on the Government and the GCSB to be more upfront about its reasons for barring the network.

      Huawei NZ deputy managing director Andrew Bowater told Newsroom another network proposal could be submitted to the GCSB for approval in as little as two months’ time.

      New Zealand’s Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act or TICSA requires telcos to submit network proposals to the GCSB, the nation’s spy agency, which is tasked with ensuring they do not compromise national security.

    • Australian industry groups issue wish list of encryption law changes

      The contentious laws passed on the last evening of Parliament for 2018, following the capitulation of the Labor opposition, which dropped its own amendments and waved the legislation through the Senate under the belief Parliament will consider the amendments when it resumes in February. The government successfully had its 67 pages of amendments added to the Bill in the lower house.

      Following the legislation’s passage, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security opened a review of the new laws, and is due to report back by April 3.

      In a submission to the review, the industry groups endorsed a number of Labor’s dumped amendments, including judicial consent for warrants, and the removal of the definition of systemic weakness.

    • Is Privacy a Right?

      While Harari says rights are a collection of stories we tell ourselves, he also acknowledges their role in holding civilization together and in advancing it. He points out, for example, that the story of rights America’s founders told in the Declaration of Independence was a helluva lot more civilized than the Code of Hammurabi, which applied the death penalty to a huge roster of crimes (including lying), and codified women and slaves as forms of property. Harari also adds that the United States “would not have lasted 250 years if the majority of presidents and congressmen failed to believe in human rights”.

    • Max Schrems Files New Privacy Complaints That Seem To Show The Impossibility Of Complying With The GDPR

      We’ve written many times about privacy activist Max Schrems, who almost single-handedly brought down the silly privacy safe harbors between the EU and the US. Last year, we wrote about his newest project called noyb.eu, which stands for “None Of Your Business.”

      Last week, Schrems and noyb announced a big list of GDPR complaints filed in Austria, against basically every streaming media company, none of which — they claim — are in compliance with the GDPR.

    • A brief history of wi-fi privacy vulnerabilities

      Just like normal probes, targeted probes were transmitted every few seconds, in the clear and readable by anyone with a mind to look. But unlike normal probes, these ones contained the SSIDs of the networks that a user’s device had previously connected to. Attackers could intercept them and use their contents to infer the locations to which the user had previously taken their smartphone (eg. HOOTERSFREEWIFI, fbi-informant-hotspot, russian_embassy_guest). Helpful, open source maps of wi-fi network locations even made locating a user’s home from their wi-fi network’s SSID straightforward.

    • Industry coalition calls for changes to govt encryption legislation

      Judicial oversight of new surveillance powers and clearly defined limits on agencies’ notices top the list of a raft of changes recommended to the Federal Government for its encryption legislation by a broad coalition of Australia’s telecommunications, IT and Internet industries.

    • How sloppy OPSEC gave researchers an inside look at the exploit industry

      The companies that make advanced surveillance software are quiet by design. They generate enough press to let the market (i.e., governments) know their products exist, but it’s not as if there’s an app store for mobile spyware.

      They do make mistakes, though. And thanks to two researchers from Lookout, the public now has more information on how these companies operate.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Lawmaker wants to tax porn users to help fund the border wall

      Republican Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, has introduced House Bill 2444, which would make “distributors” of devices that allow access to the internet install software to make the offending material not viewable. To remove the blocking software, a person would have to pay the state $20.

    • Arizona lawmaker proposes ‘porn tax’ to fund Trump’s border wall

      House Bill 2444, introduced this week by Republican lawmaker Gail Griffin, would require all electronic devices sold in Arizona to include “blocking software” that would choke access to websites hosting “obscene” material, the AZ Mirror reports.

    • I Was Absolutely Afraid”: Indigenous Elder on “Mob Mentality” of MAGA Hat-Wearing Students in D.C.
    • Chase Iron Eyes: Trump’s Mocking of Native Americans Gives License to Others to Denigrate My People

      As we continue to look at the video that has gone viral showing a group of Catholic high school students apparently mocking an indigenous tribal elder near the Lincoln Memorial, we speak to Chase Iron Eyes, an activist and lead attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project. He is a spokesperson for the Indigenous Peoples March.

    • Activists increase efforts to help LGBTQ people escape Chechnya amid ongoing crisis

      The Russian LGBT Network, which announced on January 14 that it had received word of a new wave of arrests and torture in the Russian republic of Chechnya, has begun facilitating the evacuation of those affected by the current crisis. The LGBT Network noted in a press release that new information about the anti-LGBTQ persecution has emerged as some victims have been able to escape Chechnya and reach the Network’s representatives.

      While LGBT Network activists initially believed that the current wave of illegal arrests began in late December, they have now determined that new arrests were made as early as the beginning of that month. They have also discovered that LGBTQ people are no longer being imprisoned only in Argun, a town in the north of Chechnya where secret holding and torture cells for gay people have long been reported. Torture in law enforcement facilities has reportedly spread to the Chechen capital of Grozny as well.

    • Thinking About George Washington’s Teeth on MLK, Jr. Day

      I was having dinner a few nights ago with friends when one of them mentioned she was reading Jill Lepore’s new book, These Truths: A History of the United States.

      My friend was only 150 pages into the book and proceeding, like me, at a pace of about 20 pages at a sitting because any more was overload. She said she had to put the book down and stop reading for a while after learning about George Washington’s teeth. Yeah, I said, I remembered being stunned by that revelation, too, but had not really processed it fully.

      Washington’s teeth, as every kid knows, were wood. Right? Did he take poor care of the originals, eat too much candy, practice poor hygiene? Actually he took good care of his teeth, but lost them anyway—the first when he was twenty-four and the last before his second inauguration. We’ve also been taught that Washington’’s wooden teeth were a great embarrassment to him and excruciatingly painful.

    • Lawsuit Challenges Prolonged Detention Of Immigrant Children, Targeting Of Relatives For Deportation

      Detained immigrant children and relatives, who have attempted to serve as their sponsors, expanded a federal lawsuit to challenge the United States government’s practice of illegally and improperly denying children the opportunity to reunite with family.

      Immigrant rights advocates, including the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, contend there are thousands of children covered by the lawsuit, especially since the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has over 10,000 children in its custody.

      They additionally challenge the extreme vetting of potential sponsors, which involves fingerprinting, and is used for civil immigration enforcement against the “very sponsors who are willing to open their homes to enable children to leave government custody.”

    • It’s Time for Compassionate Release

      The US is home to nearly one out of every four prisoners in the world. There are 2.1 million prisoners in the US, including 1.2 million people incarcerated in state prisons. Nearly 180,000 are behind federal prison bars, and 704,500 are in local jails. The number of US prisoners serving life sentences is four times of what it was in 1984.

      In light of a system that is not only immoral and unethical, but also ineffective and unsustainable, these circumstances cry out for decarceration. One avenue that would lead to the freeing of significant numbers of people is increasing the use of compassionate release. The early release of elderly and ill prisoners is an effective way to affirm human dignity and morality, and to move the nation toward decarceration.

      The last four decades saw a burst of mandatory sentencing laws put on the books, a ramping up of a “war on drugs” and truth-in-sentencing convictions, which require that people serve most of their sentence on the grounds that this is necessary for justice to be served. This has culminated in a US prison population explosion overwhelmingly impacting communities of color, particularly Black communities.

      As former industrialized towns and cities experienced economic shifts and underinvestment resulting in job loss and decay, politicians passed harsh policies and gave the green light to law enforcement to target poor people and people of color. From the 1970s on, the trope of “tough-on-crime” policies took off. Prosecutors and judges threw the book at violent and nonviolent offenders, sentencing them for years to come. The criminal legal system began snatching away the primary and future breadwinners of families of color and the poor, sliding these communities further into the cycles of extreme poverty, despair and a higher likelihood to interact with the punitive justice system.

      The US may be lessening its grip on harsh sentencing of late, such as the recently enacted federal legislation easing mandatory minimum sentences, but the damage has been done. People who started serving mandatory life sentences 30 years ago are still behind bars.

    • Duma deputies want the author of Russia’s latest draconian Internet legislation to present it in person. He refuses.

      The State Duma Council says Senator Andrey Klishas, who heads the Federation Council’s Legislation Committee, should personally present the first readings of legislation he helped draft that would prohibit online insults against state officials and the publication of “fake news.” (Under the former law, offenders would face up to 15 days in jail. Media outlets and individuals who violate the latter law, meanwhile, would be subject to fines.)

      The lower house of parliament’s governing body also demands that a representative from Russia’s Communications Ministry attend the initial discussion of these controversial bills. (The government still hasn’t finished reviewing these draft laws, however, and Duma officials say the legislation will be pulled from the plenary session’s agenda on January 24 without feedback from the prime minister’s cabinet.)

    • Speaking in Puerto Rico, Warren Says, ‘With Trump, Cruelty Not an Accident’ But ‘Part of the Plan’

      On the heels of a new study showing the federal government gave short shrift to Puerto Rico relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday delivered a speech on the island in which she blasted the Trump administration for its lack of respect and “cruelty” towards the Puerto Rican people.

      The purpose of her talk, said Warren, who recently announced a potential 2020 presidential bid, was “to talk about the dignity and respect this island deserves from our government—and the cruelty that it has been inflicted upon.”

      It was 16 months ago that Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island, she said, yet still “the people of Puerto Rico have not received the help they need to rebuild.”

      Echoing other observers, Warren noted that “these storms were piled on top of a much longer-running economic devastation of Puerto Rico,” and called it “a clear example of how well the federal government works for Wall Street” but not for suffering people who need it most.

    • ‘Outrage Spiking’: Federal Workers Occupy Senate Building With 33 Minutes of Angry Silence to End Trump Shutdown

      Protesting the widespread economic hardship caused by the ongoing shutdown and demanding that the Senate vote to reopen the government, federal workers and their allies gathered inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday for a 33-minute silent demonstration—one minute for every day the government has been partially closed over President Donald Trump’s demand for border wall funding.

      “The protest happening right now in the Senate office building is just the start,” declared MoveOn.org’s Ben Wikler. “Public outrage is spiking. GOP senators are feeling the pressure.”

      The union-organized demonstration comes as the Senate is set to vote Thursday on two competing measures to reopen the government—a Trump-backed bill that would fund the border wall and a Democratic continuing resolution with no wall money.

    • Protest Song Of Week: ‘Americana / the garden waits for you to match her wilderness’

      For his recent album, “Origami Harvest” (2018), Akinmusire wrestled with “societal divides” and the way politics can turn individuals into “emotional hostages.” He acknowledged black lives extinguished by systemic racism in the United States as well.

      Akinmusire deconstructed the title of the album. “Origami” evokes the “different ways black people, especially men, have to fold, whether in failure or to fit a mold.” He had a son and thought about how cycles repeat. That led him to the word, “Harvest.”

      There are six compositions on the album, but the one selected, “Americana/the garden waits for you to match her wilderness,” is a ten-minute journey through the paradoxes of living in America as a black father. There is both beauty and dread for the future.

      Akinmusire crafts a textured emotional landscape over four minutes before the first words are spoken by Kool A.D., who raps, “I’m a monster. Born in the belly of the beast. America. Americana. America-nah.”

      “The savage histories, brutal legacies, illusory democracies, feudal tendencies, render and twisting souls—twisted like the vines in the jungle,” the song adds.

      But there is also the “new rare feelings of freedom in a prison colony.” Akinmusire cannot ignore the intoxicating power of love.

      “Love is the main thing. Renovate your soul power generator. Any hater hating be killing theyselves.”

    • ‘Good to Have People Who Aren’t Afraid’: AOC, Tlaib, Pressley, and Khanna Win Seats on Committee Set to Probe Trump

      “This is extremely exciting for anyone who wants to see a bunch of badass young progressives interrogate members of the Trump administration over the next two years,” wrote Splinter’s Sophie Weiner in response to the new appointments, which were unveiled by Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).

      In a statement to Politico, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.)—a member of the Democratic steering panel that selected the appointees—expressed excitement about the new committee roster.

      “I want people to be aggressive, especially on that committee. It’s good to have people who aren’t afraid,” Kildee said. “They’re going to be dealing with some pretty important stuff.”

      After news of their appointments broke, Tlaib and Pressley—both of whom have said President Donald Trump should be impeached—signaled that they are ready to take full advantage of their spots on the powerful Oversight Committee.

    • Confederate Monuments Can No Longer Hide Behind Alabama Law

      In 2017 the mayor of Birmingham decided to cover up a Confederate monument — but the result was a suit from Alabama’s attorney general, who charged the city with violating a law that makes it illegal to interfere with Confederate monuments without statutory approval.

      An Alabama judge just issued a ruling in the case and sided with the city: This is a free speech issue, the judge asserted — and the state can’t force Birmingham to display a statue that the city no longer feels comfortable with.

      This is huge news for civil rights advocates in Alabama who are fighting to take Confederate monuments off public display. It could also be a warning sign for other states with similar laws, like North Carolina.

      Until now, officials have hidden behind such laws to justify the refusal to remove or cover such statues — sometimes forcing members of the public to take matters into their own hands. This ruling suggests that it could be possible to make a case that these kinds of laws are not constitutional.

    • Trump Puts the White in the Red, White and Blue

      As the old saying goes, putting a shoe in an oven don’t make it a biscuit.

      When he went on the air late Saturday afternoon to offer what he viewed as a magnificent compromise to end the government shutdown, Donald Trump was just trying to sell his same old nativist, anti-immigration malarkey, calling that worn-out shoe a freshly baked biscuit when it’s nothing but a variation on the shinola he’s been peddling since he first announced his candidacy. You know: the constant Trump dog whistle supporting racist xenophobia and signaling anyone who isn’t white to get permanently lost.

      The speech—seemingly timed to distract attention from the women’s marches that for the third year in a row marked the calamity of his 2017 swearing-in—claimed to create a breakthrough in the month-long, Trump-induced government paralysis. It did so by offering Dreamers—those brought here as children by their undocumented parents — a three-year extension of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as three years’ continuance of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands who came here to escape from wars or natural disasters. And for these he would get the $5.7 billion he’s been demanding for weeks for his godforsaken wall.

      But wait, as columnist Jennifer Rubin asked, “Wasn’t he the one who put DACA and TPS folks at risk, and haven’t the federal courts already given DACA beneficiaries a likely one-year reprieve? Well, yes. A burglar has broken into your home, has taken the silver and is now offering to lease it back to you for three years only—but first, give him a $5.7 billion edifice.”

    • The Trump administration wants to tighten SNAP work requirements, bypassing Congress

      The Trump administration wants to tighten even further longstanding restrictions on who is eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

      The farm bill, which gets updated every five years or so, spells out who can participate in SNAP, the assistance program previously known as food stamps. The most recent version of this legislation, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Dec. 20, 2018, left out new limits on the eligibility of adults without children. Those limits were part of the House version, but Congress dropped them prior to the bill’s passage.

      But that same day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a rule that would restrict access anyway.

      Having researched food assistance programs, I’ve seen that the consequences of having too little to eat are daunting. When people can’t afford food, they may skip meals, which leads to increased stress and poor nutrition. For people with chronic diseases like diabetes, meal-skipping can even make them more prone to hospitalization when their blood sugar gets too low.

    • The Global Crisis of Childhood Is Coming Home to Roost

      Halfway through 2018, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski hurled a mother-to-mother dagger at Ivanka Trump. How, during the very weeks when the headlines were filled with grim news of child separations and suffering at the U.S.-Mexico border, she asked, could the first daughter and presidential adviser be so tone-deaf as to show herself hugging her two-year-old son? Similarly, six months earlier, she had been photographed posing with her six-year-old daughter in the glossiest of photos. America had, in other words, found its very own Marie Antoinette, gloating while others suffered. “I wish,” Brzezinski tweeted at Ivanka, “you would speak for all mothers and take a stand for all mothers and children.”

      The problem, however, wasn’t just the heartlessness and insensitivity of the first daughter, nor was it simply the grotesque disparity between those mothers on the border and her. The problem was that the sensibility displayed in those photos — that implicit we-are-not-them exceptionalism — was in no way restricted to Ivanka Trump. A subtle but pervasive sense that this country and its children can remain separated from, and immune to, the problems currently being visited upon children around the world is, in fact, widespread.

      If you need proof, just watch a night of television and catch the plentiful ads extolling the bouncy exuberance of our children — seat-belted into SUV’s, waving pennants at sports events, or basking in their parents’ praise for doing homework. If you think about it, you’ll soon grasp the deep disparity between the image of children and childhood in the United States and what’s happening to kids in so many other places on Earth. The well-ingrained sense of exceptionalism that goes with such imagery attests to a wider illusion: that the United States can continue to stand apart from the ills plaguing so much of the world.

    • The Smile of Class Privilege

      There it is again. Recognize it? That smile. A grin, really. You can spin it anyway you want to, but it is unmistakable except, of course, to the toxically innocent or ahistorical and willfully obtuse.

      It is one born of privilege. The boys in this photo were taunting Dorothy Counts who was the first black student admitted to Harry Harding High School, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1957. She was forced to withdraw from the school only four days later following unrelenting harassment, threats and jeers by her white classmates.

      In the days following the now infamous incident in Washington DC between a group of mostly white students from the all-male Covington Catholic high school in Kentucky and Native American elder Nathan Phillips, photos like these have been resurfacing. But there is a missing component to most of the commentary. And it is by design.

      A statement has been released that was supposedly from the one boy in the now viral photograph. And many have reposted it as supposed evidence of the ‘pure innocence’ of him and his peers’ behavior that afternoon. After reading it twice it comes across as a carefully edited and prepared statement, as if drawn up by the family lawyer. And this is what is important here. How many working class kids have access to such services? Without class analysis of this incident everything else is rendered meaningless.

    • The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song

      I just saw the incident taking place in Washington, DC, in which a confrontation between the white Make America Great Again (MAGA) representatives and a Native Elder singing a religious song took a horrendous turn. There were threats and insults by the young punks wearing red MAGA hats, while an Elder, who happens to be my long time AIM friend and comrade Nate Phillips, was singing a religious song. Now, I see the media and folks changing it around like it was the Native Elder’s fault.

      Let me explain to you what the song’s history is.

      The Northern Cheyenne people gave this song to the American Indian Movement for an honor song in 1972 after the 71-day occupation of the Wounded Knee massacre grave site, which is now a memorial site, owned by a white person…Can you believe that? Wounded Knee is a sacred area for the Lakota peoples, where over 350 Elders, men, children, and women with unborn babies still inside of their bodies were slaughtered. There are documented accounts of soldiers who opposed the killing of babies, however there were Calvary soldiers riding their horses around the massacre grounds waving their swords with dead babies on them. The Lakota who had disarmed themselves, given up their weapons of stone tomahawks, bows and arrows and hand-thrown spears to the 7th Calvary, and raised the white peace and American flags, after an agreed truce between them.

    • In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High

      It almost never fails.

      Within minutes or hours after hitting the send key for a submission to online blogs/magazines/journals, I find myself wishing I’d deleted, added, or changed some of the text, and that includes correcting typos, using different lexis, and occasionally verifying a certain date.

      And there’s been many a time when I’d follow up with an email to the editors requesting a correction of one type or another – thanks to astute CP readers who politely point out an error.

      While I will not employ my poor typing skills as an excuse, attempting to meet a deadline does not always afford me the “Cooling off Period,” a praxis I attempted to impress on my students prior to their submitting their essays. “Allow your papers to percolate overnight” was an admonishment I preached, over and over again.

      And it almost never fails.

    • No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty

      I first heard of Howard Zinn’s idea of a “revolt of the guards,” last April in a Counterpunch piece by Bruce Levine (“Another Reason Young Americans Don’t Revolt Against Being Screwed”). The idea fascinates me, being myself in that class of the “slightly privileged,” at its lower end, and understanding the powerfully effective impasse we make to the revolution from below when we fail to realize that our wan and “wussy” “neutrality,” our refusal to pass judgment on neoliberal evil is evil. Due to the unlikelihood of insurgency sprouting among the non-needy, which he surely could see, Zinn’s idea must have been as much prayer as prediction!

      What are the chances for this revolt, 20 years after Zinn made his prayer/prediction, there being so little evidence of it among the liberal guards, who, rather, continue to look for saviors? (The latest iterations of which are evidenced in the joy and hope surrounding the recent elections to public office of indigenous, Latino and other minority people.) We asked this question in our Anti-fascist Book Club as we finished reading Zinn’s Peoples’ History together. One of our young group members said she thought this guard revolt could happen with the young people who, like her, face a world of lower expectations with less privilege to go around. But according to Levine, young Americans don’t revolt despite the fact they’re being screwed. In fact, he suggests that the young, increasingly “pained and weakened by multiple oppressive forces” need help from the older people, i.e., from fully engaged, non-neutral older people , whose interest is in the larger good. This means that, this time around, we older ones cannot look to the young to lead, as happened in the 1960’s. Then, many older liberals, though casting votes for anti-war candidates, became self-interestedly rebellious, survivalist and sometimes silly (parodied so well by Peter Sellers in I Love You Alice B. Toklas), rather than genuinely anti-authoritarian and communitarian. They never admitted their “alliance with the elite,” as their aging children, now similarly allied, for the most part also don’t admit.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Remember When Ajit Pai Said Killing Net Neutrality Would Boost Network Investment? About That…

      You’ll recall that one of the top reasons for killing popular net neutrality rules was that they had somehow supposedly crushed broadband industry network investment. Of course, a wide array of publicly-available data easily disproved this claim, but that didn’t stop FCC boss Ajit Pai and ISPs from repeating it (and in some cases lying before Congress about it) anyway. We were told, more times that we could count, that with net neutrality dead, sector investment would explode since carriers would be “unchained” from “burdensome regulation.”

      You’ll be shocked to learn this purported boon in investment isn’t happening.

    • Consumers at risk due to inadequate telco accountability

      Australians are being put at risk due to inadequate consumer protection frameworks around the reliability of telecommunications services, according to the telecommunications consumer interest lobby group the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

    • How Libertarian Theology and Trump Are Destroying the Internet—and America

      “Americans woke up this morning to the City of Chicago’s entire electrical system having shut down, along with the water systems of Boston and San Francisco, and all air traffic control in the Northeast. Several million homes with smart thermostats and surveillance cameras found themselves hacked, with furnaces running full-tilt to raise indoor temperatures above 100ºF and embarrassing home videos playing randomly on neighborhood TVs. The websites of the top newspapers across the nation are all down, and government agency sites only display the flag of North Korea. Twitter and Facebook only play martial music, and most people can’t make cell phone calls; those who can often hear foreign-language discussions in the background. Over 40 million checking, brokerage, and savings accounts were drained overnight, and the markets plunged 85 percent on the open, wiping out much of America’s liquid wealth.”

      The former chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, is warning us now that something like this is coming. And all because Trump is kowtowing to the libertarian billionaires who now fund and own the Republican Party.

      The new fifth-generation 5G cellular technology will bring a revolution to America every bit as transformational as was the transition from dial-up modems to high-speed broadband.

    • If 5G Is So Important, Why Isn’t It Secure?

      The Trump administration’s so-called “race” with China to build new fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks is speeding toward a network vulnerable to Chinese (and other) cyberattacks. So far, the Trump administration has focused on blocking Chinese companies from being a part of the network, but these efforts are far from sufficient. We cannot allow the hype about 5G to overshadow the absolute necessity that it be secure.

      Our current wireless networks are fourth-generation, or 4G. It was 4G that gave us the smartphone. Reaching the next level of mobile services, however, requires increased speed on the network. Fifth-generation networks are designed to be 10 to 100 times faster than today’s typical wireless connection with much lower latency (response time). These speeds will open up all kinds of new functional possibilities. Those new functions, in turn, will attract cyberintrusions just like honey attracts a bear.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • EFF Client Responds to Ludicrous “Collusion” Trademark Threat

        Sometimes trademark owners seem to think that they own ordinary words. In this case, U.K. clothing giant Asos sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] to an EFF client for registering a domain with the word “collusion” in it. Our client’s domain doesn’t have anything to do with clothing—it’s about contemporary U.S. political debates. It is about as far from trademark infringement as possible. Today, we sent a response letter [PDF] demanding that ASOS withdraw its baseless threat.

        The full backstory is something of a Russian nesting doll of stupidity. It begins with Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and current attorney to President Donald Trump. Last year, some Twitter users noticed that Mr. Giuliani was making typographical errors in his tweets in a way that inadvertently created well-formed URLs. A September 15, 2018 tweet read, in part, as follows: “#REALNEWS: Woodward says no evidence of collusion.So does Manafort’s team.”

        After seeing this tweet, our client registered “collusion.so” and directed the URL to the Lawfare blog’s coverage of connections between President Trump and Russia. Other people have also registered the domain names of Giuliani typos. Giuliani, who was once named a cybersecurity advisor to Trump, falsely claimed that Twitter was “invading” his tweets.

        What does this have to do with clothes, you ask? Well, in October 2018, ASOS launched a new clothing line called “Collusion.” It describes Collusion as “a new fashion brand offering bold, experimental, inclusive styles for the coming age.” Not content with a vaguely dystopian branding choice, Asos followed up by sending a threatening letter to our client claiming that the registration of collusion.so infringes its trademark.

    • Copyrights

      • There Was Heavy Tech Lobbying On Article 13… From The Company Hoping To Sell Everyone The Filters

        However, as we wrote about back in December, an analysis that looked at the actual lobbying efforts around copyright in the EU found that it was done overwhelmingly by the legacy copyright industries, and only sparingly by the tech companies. In that post, I went through a spreadsheet looking at the lobbying of the EU Commission, and found that over 80% of the meetings were from the entertainment industry.
        However, as is coming out now, there was definitely one “tech” company that was one of the most aggressive lobbyists on Article 13. However, it was lobbying in favor of it, and that’s because it knew that Article 13 would lead to an artificial, but highly inflated demand for internet filters. And that’s the company known for building the filtering technology behind nearly all of the non-ContentID copyright filters: Audible Magic.

      • CC0 at the Cleveland Museum of Art: 30,000 high quality digital images now available
      • 10 Best Torrent Sites For 2019 To Download Your Favorite Torrents

        The rise in legal actions against many torrent websites can be thought of as one significant reason the list of the top torrent sites might change more frequently than it did a few years ago. Regular users of the BitTorrent network might very well remember how the torrent-giants KickAss and ExtraTorrents went down. There has also been an increasing rise in demand for the VPN services, which unblock torrent sites.

      • Proposed Update To Singapore’s Copyright Laws Surprisingly Sensible

        Techdirt writes plenty about copyright in the US and EU, and any changes to the respective legislative landscapes. But it’s important to remember that many other countries around the world are also trying to deal with the tension between copyright’s basic aim to prevent copying, and the Internet’s underlying technology that facilitates it. Recently, we covered the copyright reform process in South Africa, where some surprisingly good things have been happening. Now it seems that Singapore may bring in a number of positive changes to its copyright legislation.


        This is essentially a moral right alongside the usual economic ones. As the Wikipedia page on the subject explains, the degree to which moral rights exist for creators of copyright works varies enormously around the world. In France, for example, moral rights are perpetual and inalienable, whereas in the US they are less to the fore. Singapore’s Ministry of Law also proposes that where rights have not been explicitly signed away in a contract, they remain with the creator. Although that will prevent naive creators being tricked out of their rights, it won’t apply to work created by employees: there, it’s employers who will continue to retain rights.

      • Musical Unity

        The boundaries between music genres are imposed upon us by the music industry for marketing purposes. They are imaginary.

      • Lucasfilm Steps In After FanFilm That Tried To Follow The Rules Was Claimed By Disney Over Star Wars Music

        When it comes to Star Wars, both Lucasfilm and Disney have shown themselves to be perfectly insane when it comes to IP protectionism. Examples of this are legion, and neither company has come out of them with a stellar or fan-friendly image, generally speaking. That is probably why when Toos, the guy behind the quite popular Star Wars Theory YouTube channel, decided to put out a Darth Vader fan-film, he went out of his way to attempt to follow all the rules.


        Which, yes, brings all of this back to where it was before Disney decided to claim the entire work of a fan-film over one of the most recognizable and widely available songs in any musical score on the planet. And this was, by the way, after Disney initially refused to back down at the request of Toos.
        So…welcome to the light side of the force, Lucasfilm?

      • Netflix Becomes First Streamer to Join the Motion Picture Association of America

        Netflix’s focus on anti-piracy [sic] has begun to match that of the big studios, with the burgeoning popularity of set-top boxes pre-loaded with customized open-source software that can be used to access pirated content. Netflix and Amazon have joined the studios in filing copyright lawsuits and, along with MPAA members, are part of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

      • MPAA and RIAA Want Site Blocking in New US-UK Trade Deal

        The MPAA, RIAA, and various other copyright groups see pirate site blocking as one of the priorities for a US-UK trade deal. ISP blockades are already commonplace in the UK and the groups hope to achieve the same in America.

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