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Links 1/1/2019: A Look Back at 2018, MuQSS, Firefox Gets Ads

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  • Is the Linux philosophy still relevant in 2019?
    The philosophy outlined in these books was critical to the original design of Unix and its modern descendant, Linux. That groundbreaking design and its creative implementation made it possible for us to have the amazing open source operating system we have today. Without the concept of data streams, the use of pipes to modify and transform those data streams, the idea that "everything is a file," and so much more, we would be reduced to struggling with a command line even less powerful than the old IBM or MS-DOS. Even DOS used pipes but never provided powerful utilities like the GNU Core Utilities that we take for granted today and give us access to the most basic of system functions.

    The more I thought about this, the more I realized that many Linux users and sysadmins have never even heard about the Linux philosophy. So I started wondering whether the Linux philosophy, in whatever form you like it, is still relevant. I decided to ask you what you think.

  • Desktop

    • The State of Desktop Linux 2019
      A snapshot of the current state of Desktop Linux at the start of 2019—with comparison charts and a roundtable Q&A with the leaders of three top Linux distributions.

      I've never been able to stay in one place for long—at least in terms of which Linux distribution I call home. In my time as a self-identified "Linux Person", I've bounced around between a number of truly excellent ones. In my early days, I picked up boxed copies of S.u.S.E. (back before they made the U uppercase and dropped the dots entirely) and Red Hat Linux (before Fedora was a thing) from store shelves at various software outlets.

      Side note: remember when we used to buy Operating Systems—and even most software—in actual boxes, with actual physical media and actual printed manuals? I still have big printed manuals for a few early Linux versions, which, back then, were necessary for getting just about everything working (from X11 to networking and sound). Heck, sometimes simply getting a successful boot required a few trips through those heavy manuals. Ah, those were the days.

  • Server

    • 3 serverless platform approaches to consider
      Once you decide to move to a serverless architecture, it's important to realize this is just a place to start. Now, there are several paths you can take and lots of questions to ask yourself before you choose a specific architectural approach.

      For example, will you choose a commercial or an open-source-based option? You can opt for loosely coupled tools or a well-integrated development platform. Will you use the serverless platform for hobby projects, or is it for serious enterprise applications?

      Serverless technologies change quickly. So, before you choose a platform, evaluate all of your options. Let's review what's available today.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • linux-4.20-ck1, MuQSS version 0.185 for linux-4.20
      In addition to a resync from 4.19-ck1 I've extended the runqueue sharing options to all CPUs as well, meaning it can be used in NUMA hardware as a single runqueue if desired.

      Merry Christmas, and have a happy new year everyone. May your new year be filled with good health, stable kernels, and more bitcoin adoption and value.

    • Linux 4.20-ck1 Released With An Updated Version Of MuQSS Scheduler
      The Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler (MuQSS) in particular is designed to deliver better responsiveness and interactivity on desktop class hardware that was born out of Con's earlier work on the Brain Fuck Scheduler. With the newest patch-set, MuQSS has been updated to work against the Linux 4.20 kernel.

    • OPTPOLINES - Formerly Relpolines, Lower Overhead To Retpolines For Spectre Mitigation
      It's been nearly one year to the day since the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities were made public. While the security vulnerabilities were quickly buttoned up in the Linux space, kernel developers continue working to offset the performance overhead introduced by these mitigations. They made a lot of overhead reductions in 2018 while still there are some patch-sets pending still for bettering the experience. One of these patch-sets was known as "Relpolines" but now has been updated and morphed into what is being called Optpolines.

      Relpolines were announced a few months ago by a VMware developer as having lower overhead than Retpolines -- the return trampolines introduced as part of the Spectre mitigations back in January. The dynamic indirect call promotion work by VMware has been working on pairing relative calls and trampolines to reduce the overall Retpoline overhead. VMware found with their original patches it could deliver a 10% performance improvement to the Nginx web server, +4% for Redis, and other minor performance improvements -- well, recovering previously lost performance.

    • The Linux Kernel In 2018 Summed Up: Spectre/Meltdown, CoC, Speck Fears, New Features
      It was a very busy year in kernel space from mitigating security vulnerabilities to preparing new features. Here is a look back at the most popular kernel topics of this year.

      The year started off on a difficult foot due to all the Spectre/Meltdown mitigation work and following that work on recovering lost performance. The year improved with many new kernel features and new hardware support being introduced, cleaning up of old CPU architectures and other deprecated code, and continuing on plenty of exciting work. But there was also more controversy mixed in from the short-lived Speck encryption code in the kernel that was developed by the NSA to the recent introduction of a "Code of Conduct".

    • The Linux Kernel Ends 2018 With Almost 75k Commits This Year
      As of this New Year's Eve afternoon, the Linux kernel saw 74,974 commits this year that added 3,385,121 lines of code and removed 2,512,040 lines.

      For as impressive as seeing almost 75k commits in a single year to an open-source project, it's not actually a record high. Last year in fact saw 80,725 commits that added 3.9 million lines and removed 1.3 million lines... A much greater net gain than we saw in 2018, but this year brought the removal of several old CPU architectures and a lot of code cleaning. Back in 2017 was 77k commits and 2014 and 2015 both saw over 75k commits. On a commit basis, this is actually the lowest since 2014, but let's not forget commit count isn't everything...

    • F2FS Filesystem Enhancements (for Pixel Devices), Wine HQ Dev Release, Gzip v1.10, VideoLan v3.0.5, KaOS Linux Distro v2018.12
      To start things off, a ton of bug fixes alongside a few enhancements are coming to the F2FS filesystem (for Pixel devices) in the the Linux 4.21 kernel.

      Wine HQ just officially announced the development release of version 4.0 RC4 which also boasts numerous bug fixes.

    • Intel VT-d Scalable Mode Coming To Linux 4.21 - Makes Up Scalable I/O Virtualization
      The IOMMU changes were sent in today for the Linux 4.21 kernel merge window. There are some AMD IOMMU improvements, new Qualcomm SMMUv2 IOMMU hardware support, NUMA-aware allocations in the IOMMU DMA code for some very slight performance benefits, and most notably is likely the scalable mode support within the Intel VT-d driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • FreeBSD 12.0 Performance Against Windows & Linux On An Intel Xeon Server
        Last week I posted benchmarks of Windows Server 2019 against various Linux distributions using a Tyan dual socket Intel Xeon server. In this article are some complementary results when adding in the performance of FreeBSD 11.2 against the new FreeBSD 12.0 stable release for this leading BSD operating system. As some fun benchmarks to end out 2018, here are the results of FreeBSD 11.2/12.0 (including an additional run when using GCC rather than Clang) up against Windows Server and several enterprise-ready Linux distributions.

  • Applications

    • Qalculate! – An Open-source and Cross-platform Desktop Calculator for Linux
      Qalculate! is one of the best(if not the best) calculator applications in the desktop environment. It is an excellent cross-platform desktop calculator that is perfect for you. The software can be downloaded on Ubuntu and other Linux distros using Snap command. Convenient and Effective- If you want to define this calculator, these two words can define it perfectly. When you use it, you will understand the reason why it is highly recommended.

    • Essential System Tools: Clonezilla – partition and disk cloning software
      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 Clonezilla, a free and open source ncurses partition and disk imaging/cloning program. The software offers system deployment, bare metal backup and recovery. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

      The software is similar in functionality to True Image and Norton Ghost, two proprietary solutions.

      While Linux is well blessed with backup software to save and restore your data, there aren’t many applications that offer disk imaging.

      There are two editions of Clonezilla, Clonezilla Live and Clonezilla SE (server edition). Clonezilla Live is a small bootable Linux distribution for x86/amd64 (x86-64) based computers. It’s designed for single machine backup and restore, whereas Clonezilla SE offers multicast support similar to Norton Ghost Corporate Edition. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the hard disk.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • 5 Best Android Emulators for Linux
        The emulator is software on a computer system that behaves like another computer system. When I am talking about Android Emulators for Linux, it means a program for Linux that runs like the Android environment. It is used by developers and testers to test their apps for Android using the Linux system. You can run Android apps and games on your Linux system. Emulators are also used by gamers to run Android games on their system. I have already listed best Android Emulators for PC but that basically included Android Emulators for Windows and Mac. So, I decided to make a dedicated list of Android Emulators for Linux.

      • The latest progress report for the PlayStation 3 emulator RPCS3 is impressive again
        The team behind the PlayStation 3 emulator RPCS3 put out their November progress report at the end of last month, showing some impressive work once again.

        They start by going over the status of many games, the amount that are now classed as "playable" is quite impressive. Going by their stats, an additional 51 titles became playable between October's and November's progress reports.
      • The Many Features Coming To The Wine 4.0 Stable Release From Vulkan To New Input Devices
        January should bring the release of Wine 4.0 as the annual stable release of this software for running Windows applications/games on Linux. As Wine 4.0 continued to be developed over the course of bi-weekly development releases all year, here's a look back at the notable features to find with this upcoming Wine 4.0.0 release.

      • Phoenicis PlayOnLinux 5.0 - Alpha 2
        We have rewritten from scratch our winebuild platform. To make it short, it is more reliable, more transparent, easier to setup and cross-platform compatible. Any project that needs to use wine could now potentially use it and take advantage of the 1828 different builds. (We admit that some of them are outdated, though).

      • PlayOnLinux 5.0 Alpha 2 Now Available

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Me, at Akademy 2018 - Winds of Change - FOSS in India Recap (late post
        Akademy is an annual conference organized by the KDE Community. It’s the place where contributors of all kinds from past and present meet, showcase their work and discuss things that shape the future of the KDE Software. This year's Akademy was held in the TU Wien, in the beautiful and historic city of Vienna, Austria.

        First of all, I'd like to apologize for being late on this post as just after reaching home, I had a minor motorcycle accident, and which was followed shortly by prolonged illness.

        I've been a KDE guy since the beginning of my technology career as an open source evangelist, entrepreneur, and developer. This year, I got the opportunity to showcase my work in front of the great people I've always admired.


        The current state of India in regards to Free and Open Source Software is somewhat optimistic, with more and more states of India bringing in IT policies which gives priority to free and open source solutions.

      • KDE Plasma 5.14 On The Way To FreeBSD, KDE Wayland Soon Might Work On The BSD
        Open-source developer Adriaan de Groot who has done a lot of the KDE work for FreeBSD has shared an update about what's now possible with KDE Plasma on FreeBSD and what should be coming down the pipe in 2019.

        First up, now that FreeBSD's X11 team has landed a new version of libinput, they are now able to land KDE Plasma 5.14 into KDE Ports as the current version of the desktop. These packagers have also been working on other updates like the newer QtWebEngine and other updates. Meanwhile, come March, they are planning on dropping Qt4 from FreeBSD Ports after recently finally clearing out KDE4.
      • Modern KDE on FreeBSD
        New stuff in the official FreeBSD repositories! The X11 team has landed a newer version of libinput, opening up the way for KDE Plasma 5.14 in ports. That’s a pretty big update and it may frighten people with a new wallpaper.

        What this means is that the graphical stack is once again on-par with what Plasma upstream expects, and we can get back to chasing releases as soon as they happen, rather than gnashing our teeth at missing dependencies. The KDE-FreeBSD CI servers are in the process of being upgraded to 12-STABLE, and we’re integrating with the new experimental CI systems as well. This means we are chasing sensibly-modern systems (13-CURRENT is out of scope).

      • KDE4 on FreeBSD, post-mortem
        The KDE-FreeBSD team has spent the past month or more, along with FreeBSD ports committers and maintainers who have other KDE4-related ports, in bringing things up-to-date with recent KDE-Frameworks-based releases, with hunting down alternatives, and with making the tough call that some things are just going away. Thanks to Rene for doing the portmgr commits to clean it up (r488762, r488763, r488764 and followups to remove KDE4-options from other ports) .

      • [Krita] Interview with Phoenix
        What I love about Krita is that it doesn’t take up that much RAM compared to other softwares I have used. It makes it really easy to record speedpaints for YouTube.

      • [Krita] Statistics Are Fun!
        Collectively we removed 648,887 lines of code and added 996,142 lines of code. Of course… Lines of code and numbers of commits doesn’t say a whole lot. But we’ve currently got 580,268 lines of C++, 12,054 lines of Python code out of a total of 607,193 lines of code. There are 30 libraries, 151 plugins, 243 automated tests (of which 5 are failing).

      • New home page =D
        Using Vuetify framework, that is built above Vue.Js I was able to build a new landing page with information about me and the stuff that I do. On that page you will be able to find my projects, presentations and contact information. I’ve also added a page of Tips & Tricks with content that I think that has value.

      • Introducing Kasa - The personal finance tracker for the hashtag era
        Kasa - The personal finance tracker for the hashtag era. Randomized testing data displayed. It's that time of the year again when daylight is only seen from office windows and the darkness of evenings comes way too early. Getting much more home time, I wanted to finally get a better overview of my spending. Fortunately we live in the age of apps - you need something? There's an app for it. I searched for some of that do-it-all-for-you apps, but privacy was my primary concern. Pretty much all the popular personal finance apps take your financial data and upload it to some server to crunch it. I find that completely unnecessary. It's just a bunch of numbers, why does it need to live on a remote machine where I have zero control over it and zero control over who has access to what I spend my money on? All I want is to get the transactions file from my bank every week, throw it at some app, put some tags on things and see where my money goes. Simple enough to not require any fancy servers right?

        So I turned my search into the open source ranks as I know there are some popular apps like KMyMoney or GnuCash. I tried all of them and I wasn't happy with any of them. KMyMoney and Skrooge, the duo from KDE Applications suite, are swiss-army knives that I personally find hard to navigate for my simple needs. Skrooge especially - after the import it generates a dashboard with 22 random sized widgets in no particular order. It felt so overwhelming and intimidating that I knew it's not for me and I had to close it immediately (sorry Skrooge). GnuCash takes 7 seconds to load for whatever reason and I couldn't figure out how to categorize transactions, which is the most important feature to me. Then there's HomeBank. This one came closest to what I was looking for but it was missing some features that I wanted, one of which is showing the actual amounts for tags. Also the categorization feels needlessly complicated. I feel like all the pieces are there, they're just not put together the way I wanted.

  • Distributions

    • And the best distro of 2018 is ...
      From the very start, MX Linux behaved beautifully. It was elegant, robust and stable. It comes with many unique features and applications, including its MX Tools combo. It's one of the few distros that actually save the contents of the live session after the installation, so you don't need to go about redoing everything. You get blazing performance, excellent battery life, all the fun out of the box, and it's constantly, continuously improving, with great momentum by the team and the community. The top choice of 2018.

      A pyrrhic victory in this regard. MX Linux didn't fail the audition. It nailed it. And the only reason I didn't choose it for my production system is because it's a small distro, with no LTS, and I can't play those odds with serious work. Because otherwise, Horizon is a magnificent system through and through. So perhaps it isn't quite ready to be my production system just yet, but it's marching in this direction with more focus and quality than pretty much any other small distro out there. And I believe it will get there. Soon.

    • Sparky news 2018/12
      ...the latest Linux kernel has been rebuild which features many missing options enabled now, so upgrade it to version 4.20.0-2

    • Reviews

      • Puppy Linux Tahr 6.0.5 review: Tahrpup 6.0.5 Features and Advantages
        By now you have got the point that instead of the small size Puppy Linux provides lots of tools for customizing the desktop. Options including the wallpaper changer, theme changer, theme maker, icon changer, etc. there are many more to explore.

      • What are Puppy Linux requirements for PC to install
        Puppy Linux is the lightweight operating system that can be installed on configuration PCs. It means the Puppy Linux requirements for hardware system needed to install the Puppy Linux is fairly low as compared to the other mainstream regular Unix operating systems such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Windows or MacOS. The Puppy Linux is available in three favours one is based on Ubuntu Xenial called Xenialpup, the next one is on Slackware named Slacko Puppy Linux and the last one known as Tahrpup 6.0.5 based on Ubuntu tahr. It is available in both 32-bit and 62-bit versions.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

      • Carlos Castro León: How Do You Fedora?
        Carlos Castro León is a computer engineer in northern Peru. He started using Linux in 2006 when another Linux user helped him install Ubuntu Edgy Eft. When Carlos attended college he decided to use a more stable distribution: “I already knew about Fedora 16 and decided to use it.” Castro León currently works as a computer engineer in Peru. His main task is to coordinate the activities of a team of individuals who manage the servers and networking at his company.

      • Happy New Year Geany in Fedora
        With the new release of Geany Plugins 1.34 there now officially is a new plugin available for Geany in Fedora (for now, updates-testing only) called vimode. If that isn't a reason to celebrate 2019.. :-)

      • Fedora Had A Killer 2018, But It Will Be Interesting To See What Comes Next Year
        It was a very exciting year for Red Hat's Fedora Linux distribution process with the successful releases of Fedora 28 and 29, each of those new Fedora releases adding in plenty of new features, achieving the long-desired flicker-free polished boot experience, and Fedora Silverblue taking shape for what was formerly their Atomic Workstation initiative. Next year though could be even more radical for the project.

        Looking ahead to 2019 for Fedora, they are looking at dropping or drastically delaying Fedora 31 to focus on re-tooling and other low-level changes... Thus 2019 could very well only see one new Fedora release. Some have also called for Fedora just to move to an annual release cadence or the like, we'll see what happens. It will also be interesting to see how Fedora Silverblue takes off next year as well as the other technical innovations that continue to happen within the Fedora camp and then pushed upstream. On a larger scale, it will be interesting to see if any changes happen in the Fedora space following IBM closing on their acquisition of Red Hat -- we're certainly hoping for the best and that it will only benefit RHEL and Fedora.

    • Debian Family

      • Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities December 2018

      • Chris Lamb: Free software activities in December 2018

      • Olivier Berger: Retiring from Debian
        I've not been able to contribute much to Debian for years, and it seems my free time and energy is mainly dedicated to family duties (and fun) these days.

        I've then just announced my retirement as a Debian Developper.

      • Derivatives

        • Release Notes for Grml 2018.12 - codename Gnackwatschn
          Grml is a Debian based live system focusing on the needs of system administrators. This Grml release provides fresh software packages from Debian testing (AKA buster). As usual it also incorporates up to date hardware support and fixes known bugs from the previous Grml release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • What Is Ubuntu? The Past and Present of the Ubuntu Linux Distro
            Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution in the world. It may (or may not) be the best, but it is definitely the most popular. The distribution, or packaged “brand” of Linux, is developed by Canonical Ltd. for use on desktops, servers, and many other applications.

            Ubuntu is also the most popular operating system in the cloud. It’s the operating system Google built its Android development tools around. Ubuntu was the first Linux distribution supported by Valve for Steam. When most people think of Linux, they’re probably thinking about Ubuntu.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 559
            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 559 for the week of December 23 – 29, 2018.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-Source / Linux Letdowns For 2018
    While 2018 was a grand year for open-source and Linux as we've been recapping all of the highlights in recent days on Phoronix, it wasn't without some shortcomings or areas that have yet to pan out... As we end 2018, for some interesting New Year's Eve discussions in the forums, here is a look at some of the biggest Linux/open-source letdowns of the year.

    Here are what I personally consider to be some of the biggest letdowns of the year. Feel free to chime in with your own open-source letdowns in the forums.

  • 5 open source resolutions for 2019
    No matter how much of a cliché it may be, making New Year's Resolutions is hard to resist. There's something about the calendar flipping to a new year that causes even the most curmudgeonly, set-in-their-ways people to take stock of the year ending and make plans for improvements during the next trip around the sun.

    To that end, here are my five resolutions for 2019. Some relate to my job and wider life, others to my place in the community, and I think each one will make the world a better place. Feel free to put any or all of these on your list of plans for 2019.

  • Tech Mahindra Launches An Open Source AI Platform GAiA Powered By Acumos
    Tech Mahindra recently launched GAiA, an open-source AI platform that will enable enterprises across the industry to build, share and deploy AI-driven services and applications to solve business-critical problems. Also, GAiA is the first enterprise edition of open source AI platform Acumos.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla: Ad on Firefox’s new tab page was just another experiment
        Some Firefox users yesterday started seeing an ad in the desktop version of the browser. It offers users a $20 Amazon gift card in return for booking your next hotel stay via We reached out to Mozilla, which confirmed the ad was a Firefox experiment and that no user data was being shared with its partners.

        The ad appears at the bottom of Firefox’s new tab page on the desktop version with a “Find a Hotel” button that takes the user to a page. The text reads: “Ready to schedule that next family reunion? Here’s a thank you from Firefox. Book your next hotel stay on today and get a free $20 Amazon gift card. Happy Holidays from Firefox! (Restrictions apply).” A second version reads: “For the holidays, we got you a little something just for using Firefox! Book your next hotel stay on today and get a free $20 Amazon gift card. Happy Holidays from Firefox! (Restrictions apply.)”

      • How to Disable Ad Banners on Firefox’s New Tab Page
        A Mozilla spokesperson told VentureBeat that this “was not a paid placement or advertisement,” and was “an experiment to provide more value to Firefox users through offers provided by a partner.” Who does Mozilla think they’re fooling?

        Anyway, if you don’t want to see these advertisement banners in the future, there’s a simple solution.

        Click Menu > Options > Home, or just click the gear-shaped “Options” button at the top-right corner of FIrefox’s New Tab page.

      • Firefox with ads on New Tab Page
        Reports indicate that the Firefox browser displays advertisement on the browser's New Tab Page to some users of the browser.

        A thread on Reddit offers some details: a user reported that Firefox was displaying an advertisement at the bottom of the New Tab Page.

      • Firefox is now placing ads and here is how to disable it

  • BSD


    • diffutils-3.7 released [stable]
      This is to announce diffutils-3.7, a stable release.

      There have been 27 commits by 4 people in the 84 weeks since 3.6.

      See the NEWS below for a brief summary.

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU To Offer Almost $1M In Bug Bounties On Open Source Software

      The full list of programs includes 7-zip, Apache Tomcat, Drupal, Filezilla, VLC, KeePass, Notepad++ and other popular tools that the EU institutions rely on, with rewards ranging from €25,000 to €90,000 ($28,600 to $103,000), for a total offered amount of €851,000 ($973,000).

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 Programming Languages You May Not Have Heard Of
      Before the Web became ubiquitous, it was difficult to promote a new programming language. The most popular ones were either pushed by a manufacturer (such as Fortran, originally developed by IBM in the 1950s) or spread fortuitously through word-of-mouth (C, C++).

      Still others, more notably BASIC and Ada, emerged from universities or government institutions, but their audiences often remained small and esoteric.

      The internet changed all that. Now anyone can not only publish their own language (complete with compiler or interpreter); they can promote it through a variety of forums and code repositories. Ruby, Python, and PHP all spread thanks to the Web.

    • Here’s Why You Should Learn Apple’s Open Source Programming Language Swift
      One of the most powerful and intuitive programming languages, Swift developed by Apple Inc., is used to develop iOS applications and Linux applications. Apple devices have captured a significant market share in the recent time and are now competing neck-to-neck with Android. With such skyrocketing popularity, this intuitive open source programming language has also built a wide developer base.

    • Facebook Open-sources PyText for Faster Natural Language Processing Development

    • Plans to learn a new tech skill in 2019? What you need to know
      Open source software is, by definition, free. But it can sometimes cost you a king's ransom to learn how to master it. The good news? The open source ethos is alive and well in the education sector, and there are plenty of high-quality learning resources available. You just need to know where to find them.

      This article—adapted from my book, Solving for Technology: How to quickly learn valuable new skills in a madly changing technology world—offers some thoughts on what's out there and how to get the most out of it.

    • Python Community Interview With Corey Schafer
      For this week’s community interview, I am joined by Corey Schafer, of YouTube fame.

      Corey is a full-time content creator publishing regular Python tutorials on YouTube. In this interview, we talk to Corey about his YouTube channel and his advice for budding YouTubers and content creators, getting his first developer job, and his passion for woodworking.

    • Test and Code: 61: A retrospective

    • Building GraphQL APIs in Python Using Graphene with Syrus Akbary - Episode 192

    • Course Review: Hands On Computer Vision with OpenCV & Python

    • 2018 Marked Another Interesting Year For The LLVM Project
      Besides the many GNU toolchain highlights for the year, LLVM developers working on that compiler infrastructure stack, Clang C/C++ front-end, LLDB debugger, and numerous other sub-projects were as busy as ever advancing this open-source, cross-platform focused compiler.

      LLVM saw two new major releases this year, an exploding number of more projects relying upon LLVM for various purposes, other LLVM-based compilers like Julia / Rust / FLANG advancing, more companies utilizing LLVM/Clang, new GNU alternative tools, and various innovative use-cases.

      For a recap of the most popular milestones, below is a look at the twenty most popular LLVM articles on Phoronix for 2018.

    • An update on Python's governance
      This post is meant to act as a summary of the current state of Python's governance as of the end of 2018. If you want to see an alternative take on what I present here, LWN has an article.

    • Resolve to make Python your friend in 2019
      Python is a great first programming language, and it is only getting better as more educational tools are developed. By reading, you can Learn Python programming the easy way with EduBlocks or find out about Getting started with Mu, a Python editor for beginners.
    • Happython 2019!
      Being in Brazil we could see this contribution first hand. It feels great and the main reason behind it seems to be Python Brazil, the community that has developed over the years around the language. Although it began some years ago with a couple of lone enthusiasts spreaded around several companies, now it’s a vast network of people and companies who develop open source tools, share talks, organize tutorials and so much more. This year alone we had 8 regional events all over the country, each with around 200 people. Although there were several other events with varied sizes and purposes, they all culminated to PyBR[14], our equivalent off PyCon. This year there were over 800 participants, a lot of amazing talks (including 3 from Vinta), tutorials and sprints. This was also the year that the community released its code of conduct, formalizing our ideas and making clear what we consider to be an acceptable behaviour. We’re very grateful for the moments and discussions the event made possible and cannot recommend enough that people should attend it next year.

    • Integrating Pytest Results with GitHub
      When joining a new engineering team, one of the first things I do is familiarize myself with the dev and test processes. Especially the tools used to enforce them. In the past 5 years or so, I’ve noticed that a lot of organizations still use older tools that haven’t yet evolved to support modern practices. Even teams that purely develop software can find themselves working around cumbersome systems that hinder instead of enable.

      What do I mean by that? Very few of these tools include useful interfaces to leverage integrations with other systems (like REST APIs). Most have no concept of modern dev practices like continuous integration or containerization. Almost all of them want to record pass / fail at a step by step basis as if you’re executing manually. The vast majority are built around a separation between test and dev (some even emphasize it). And a lot of them require the organization to hire “specialists” for the purpose of “customizing” the tool to the team. In my opinion, these types of systems coerce the organization to emphasize blame over quality and team boundaries over productivity.

    • Talk Python to Me: #193 Data Science Year in Review 2018 Edition

    • Keeping C OpenCV applications building

    • The Packt Python Humble Bundle 2019
      Packt Publishing is partnering with Humble Bundle for a Python bundle for 2019.

    • Tryton News: Newsletter January 2019


  • Espoo first in Finland to opt for laser show as public sours on fireworks

    The city of Espoo is already moving away from using fireworks for New Year celebrations and will be the first municipality in Finland to provide a laser light show instead of rockets and firecrackers. According to Espoo culture services chief Lea Rintala, the city has long since left behind the noisy, smoky shows.

  • Science

    • Mining co. says first autonomous freight train network fully operational

      The train system serves 14 mines that deliver to four port terminals. Two mines that are closest to a port terminal will retain human engineers because they are very short lines, according to Perth Now.

      The train system took ten years to build and cost Rio Tinto AUD $1.3 billion (USD $916 million) to implement. The trains are remotely monitored by a crew located 1,500 km (932 mi) away in Perth.

    • Lawrence Roberts, Who Helped Design Internet’s Precursor, Dies at 81
      In late 1966, a 29-year-old computer scientist drew a series of abstract figures on tracing paper and a quadrille pad. Some resembled a game of cat’s cradle; others looked like heavenly constellations; still others like dress patterns.

      Those curious drawings were the earliest topological maps of what we now know as the internet. The doodler, Lawrence G. Roberts, died on Dec. 26 at his home in Redwood City, Calif. He was 81.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dakota Access Pipeline, 18 months later

      Dick Lamb, 75, who owns a 300-acre farm in Boone County along Highway 30 and also is part of the lawsuit, has similar complaints as Bates and Puntenney, with compaction, irreparable damage to soil structure, and damage to drain tiles. He has a semi trailer declaring “stop eminent domain abuse” on the edge of his farmland.

    • 2 DEQ officials plead no contest in Flint water crisis case

      All the pleas to date have been no contest pleas to misdemeanors with agreements to cooperate. No contest pleas are treated similarly to guilty pleas for sentencing purposes.

    • Two More Michigan Officials Plead ‘No Contest’ as Flint Water Crisis Investigation Continues

      Prosecutor Todd Flood said he accepted the pleas because of "substantial assistance being given to move the ball down the field in the Flint water investigation," according to The Detroit Free Press.

    • An Empire of Bases Poisons Water, Threatening Its Own Collapse

      The water in thousands of wells in and around US military installations across the globe have been tested and have been shown to contain harmful levels of PFOS and PFOA. The health effects of exposure to these chemicals include frequent miscarriages and other severe pregnancy complications, like long-term fertility issues. They contaminate human breast milk and sicken breast-feeding babies. PFOS and PFOA contribute to liver damage, kidney cancer, high cholesterol, decreased response to vaccines, an increased risk of thyroid disease, along with testicular cancer, micro-penis, and low sperm count in males.

    • [Old] DoD: At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects

      These included 36 sites with drinking water contamination on-base, and more than 90 sites that reported either on-base or off-base drinking water or groundwater contamination, in which the water source tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOS and PFOAs.

    • More than Love Canal: Infamous toxic site just the tip of NY's pollution woes

      These sites might be classified as “brownfields” — targeted for use by a private owner, or state Superfund — most of which are orphaned and left as a taxpayer problem. Some are also designated as a “national priority” on the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list, which means the urgency of the problem warrants federal funding.

      What most share in common: industrial pollution spilled, leaked or dumped that tends to be hard to remove and hard to isolate.

    • Your Yoga Pants Are Polluting the Water You Drink

      Some clothing is made from natural fibers, like cotton, silk, and wool, but the industry relies more and more on synthetic, plastic-based options such as polyester, nylon, and spandex for a lot of garments, including workout gear, sweatshirts, dresses, and underwear. These synthetic materials are a generally inexpensive alternative, making them ideal for the high-volume demands of fast fashion. According to Greenpeace, polyester is now used in about 60% of our clothes.

      While microfibers can come from any type of fabric, it’s the synthetic, non-biodegradable ones that have environmentalists concerned. “All clothing material will generate fibers, whether it’s synthetic or non-synthetic,” Dimitri Deheyn, an associate researcher with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Marine Biology Research Division, tells Teen Vogue. “The big difference is that cotton is natural and will be degraded, digested, and disappear into the environment very quickly; as opposed to synthetic microfibers, which will remain in the environment and float around for ages.”

    • The DRC's Ebola Outbreak Is an End-of-Year Nightmare

      As of December 20, more than 512 cases have been confirmed and 288 people have succumbed to the deadly virus, making it the second-largest outbreak in history. Twenty percent of new cases have been reported in the last month alone. Now an upcoming election and holiday travel are mobilizing the population, making a tough situation even harder to control.

    • What Is the Status of Women’s Health and Health Care in the U.S. Compared to Ten Other Countries?

      U.S. women report the least positive experiences among the 11 countries studied. They have the greatest burden of chronic illness, highest rates of skipping needed health care because of cost, difficulty affording their health care, and are least satisfied with their care.

      Women in the U.S. have the highest rate of maternal mortality because of complications from pregnancy or childbirth, as well as among the highest rates of caesarean sections. Women in Sweden and Norway have among the lowest rates of both.

    • Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Season of Turmoil
      Hundreds of doctors packed an auditorium at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on Oct. 1, deeply angered by revelations that the hospital’s top medical officer and other leaders had cultivated lucrative relationships with for-profit companies.

      One by one, they stood up to challenge the stewardship of their beloved institution, often to emotional applause. Some speakers accused their leaders of letting the quest to make more money undermine the hospital’s mission. Others bemoaned a rigid, hierarchical management that had left them feeling they had no real voice in the hospital’s direction.

      “Slowly, I’ve seen more and more of the higher-up meetings happening with people who are dressed up in suits as opposed to white coats,” said Dr. Viviane Tabar, chairwoman of the neurosurgery department.

      “The corporatization of this institution is clear to many of us who have been here a long time,” said Dr. Carol L. Brown, a gynecologic cancer surgeon, according to an audio recording of the meeting.

    • To Galvanize Local Push for Medicare for All in 2019, Nurses' Union Organizing Nationwide 'Barnstorms'
      As progressive groups push Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to bring Medicare for All legislation up for a vote in the new year—a move that would bring Congress closer to passing a proposal supported by 70 percent of voters—one of the nation's leading advocates for a single-payer system is asking supporters to make their voices heard in the fight to make universal healthcare a reality in the United States.

      National Nurses United (NNU), which has been fighting for the proposal since the union's founding in 2009, is asking members and supporters to host Medicare for All "barnstorms" during a National Week of Action from February 9th to 13th.

      "To build the mass collective action we know we'll need to win, we're asking activists like you across the country to organize a Medicare for All barnstorm in your community," the group wrote to supporters in its petition asking for volunteers. "At the barnstorm you'd gather with volunteers near you, talk about the plan to win, and begin organizing to knock doors, make phone calls, and more in your community."

  • Security

    • Looking Back at the Top Cyber-Security Incidents of 2018
      As 2018 draws to a close, it's a good time to reflect on the year that was in cyber-security, to learn from past mistakes and identify trends that will likely continue into the new year.

      2018 saw no shortage of major breaches, new critical vulnerabilities and policy changes that enterprise IT organizations will still be grappling with in one form or another in 2019. 2018 was the year of Meltdown and Spectre and it was the year that GDPR came into effect. 2018 was also a year of intense security privacy challenges for Facebook and it was also a year in which tens of millions of Americans had their data stolen in large data breaches.

      In this year-end wrap-up, eWEEK looks back at some of the top IT security incidents of 2018.

    • GNOME Security Internship - Update 2
      This is something still in its early stage. In a first version, if the screen is not locked and you plug a keyboard the screen will be locked.

      This works good in theory but not in practice, because not only devices with physical keys are keyboards. For example the devices for hardware 2FA (e.g. yubikey) are also keyboards, and locking the screen every time you plug one of those is not a pleasant experience. So for a first implementation this solution is ok, but it definitely needs to be improved.

      One way to do it can be by mapping scancodes to keycodes, limiting particular devices capabilities (e.g. prevent them to use risky keys like “alt” or “ctrl”). Anyway this will require more research about what we can do and what’s the best way to do it.

    • Fuzzing Like It’s 1989
      With 2019 a day away, let’s reflect on the past to see how we can improve. Yes, let’s take a long look back 30 years and reflect on the original fuzzing paper, An Empirical Study of the Reliability of UNIX Utilities, and its 1995 follow-up, Fuzz Revisited, by Barton P. Miller.

      In this blog post, we are going to find bugs in modern versions of Ubuntu Linux using the exact same tools as described in the original fuzzing papers. You should read the original papers not only for context, but for their insight. They proved to be very prescient about the vulnerabilities and exploits that would plague code over the decade following their publication. Astute readers may notice the publication date for the original paper is 1990. Even more perceptive readers will observe the copyright date of the source code comments: 1989.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Wired for Safety: An OS for optimum security
      I do not argue for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iPhone, Android, etc. I use Android, Windows, Linux, and mostly a Chromebook (which I’m typing this article on and for my own studies). It is not a security issue — I try my best to follow best practices to mitigate security threats regardless of the OS I use. I do not have anything against MacOS, I just believe the products cost way more money than the functionality I need in a computer.

      What features do many of these operating systems have? Each has a firewall, which you should enable. A firewall helps protect your device from someone trying to initiate communication to your device. If you are in a coffee shop using your laptop, for example, it can help minimize someone scanning your computer and potentially gaining access to it.

      Each OS has administrative controls. No one should be authenticated to their computer as an administrator. Each OS has an elevated administration process that can allow installing, managing and removing software.

    • Security updates for the new year

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Severed human head and threat left outside Tamaulipas newspaper office

      "The depraved act of leaving human remains as a threat outside the offices of Expreso shows the extent of the violence and climate of fear that journalists in Tamaulipas work under," said CPJ Mexico Representative Jan-Albert Hootsen. "We call on state and federal authorities to investigate and hold to account those behind the threat and to ensure the safety of journalists in Ciudad Victoria."

    • Indonesian military use chemical weapons in West Papua

      These are the first images of a major operation being conducted by the Indonesian military in the central highlands of West Papua. Other photographs show yellow-tipped bombs, collected by villagers. Some weapons appear to be white phosphorus, banned under international law for use of this kind.

    • Pacific News Minute: Indonesia Accused of Using White Phosphorous Against Civilians in West Papua

      A spokesman for Indonesia's military, Muhammed Aidi, told RNZ Pacific that the Australian media may have misidentified smoke grenades used for camouflage as chemical weapons. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry declared that its forces do not possess chemical weapons, and denounced the Saturday Paper report as "fake news."

    • NZ govt says it wants info on reports of Papua chemical attack

      In a statement on Twitter, it said it will take "necessary measures" against the newspaper.

    • Army takes over guarding of Indo-Myanmar border

      A parliamentary standing committee on "Border Security: Capacity Building and Institutions" presented in Rajya Sabha last March has noted that "the gaps in the deployment (along Indo-Myanmar border) are wide and are prone to be exploited by the insurgents to carry out sabotage activities against the country and its security forces"

    • Exclusive: Chemical weapons dropped on Papua

      The Indonesian military has employed airstrikes in West Papua – suspected to include the banned chemical weapon white phosphorus – as a retaliation for murders following a flag-raising protest.


      White phosphorus is considered both an incendiary weapon and a chemical weapon. It burns through skin and flesh, down to the bone. It cannot be extinguished. The only way to save a person hit with it is to submerge them in water and attempt to remove the phosphorus. Many die from internal burns. Others from the phosphorous absorbed into their bodies, which can cause multiple organ failure.

      A military source confirms the weapons “appear to be incendiary or white phosphorus”. The source says “even the smallest specks burn through clothing, skin, down to the bone and keep on bubbling away. I have seen it up close and personal and it’s a horrible weapon.”

    • Worse than Obsolete: NATO Creates Enemies
      NATO’s and the US military’s desecration of corpses, attacks on wedding parties, mosques, hospitals and market places — along with the bombing of allied troops, torture of prisoners, and their notoriously unaccountable drone warfare — are a few of the alliance’s more infamous outrages in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia.

      What happens when you say no to MS-13.


      The friends had liked Gerson Saravia from the start. With his halting English and scrawny arms that stuck out like sticks from the tank tops he wore, he reminded them of themselves when they first came to the U.S., excited but also bewildered and self-conscious.

      Jonathan had spotted him at school on Long Island at the start of junior year in 2015. With a poof of curly hair and a wide smile, Jonathan liked to be the first to welcome newcomers at Bellport High. He had come from Honduras in 2013 at age 16 to join his mother, whom he hadn’t seen since he was a small child. The loneliness had been intense, and now he tried to save others from it. He invited Gerson to play in a local soccer league and to go on snack runs to a neighborhood pupusa shop, and teased him for his Salvadoran slang. He introduced him to his best friends, the Morales brothers, from Guatemala, and a Salvadoran-American freshman named Alfred. Soon, Gerson was coming over to their houses after school to play video games.

      Toward the end of their junior year, Jonathan noticed Gerson was falling in with a different crowd. Gerson started wearing the Nike Cortez sneakers and blue and white rosary of the Central American street gang MS-13. Before long, he confirmed to the friends that he had joined the gang and told them to join up, too, for protection. But the friends already felt safe. They said no and began avoiding Gerson when they saw him with his new crew.

      The friends kicked off the summer of 2016 by driving to a long white sand beach near their town. Gerson rode with them. They set up a volleyball net and dipped their toes in the freezing water. But then Gerson’s new friends showed up, and he left abruptly with them, barely saying goodbye. It was the last time the group would hang out all together.

      Jonathan spent the summer working demolition. The brothers got jobs at a cookie factory and a KFC restaurant. Alfred, who was 15, went to summer school along with Gerson, who would glare at him in class. “Why are you looking at me? Is there are a problem?” Alfred asked. Gerson just walked away. On the last Friday of summer vacation, Aug. 19, 2016, the Morales brothers hosted a neighborhood barbecue. As the party broke up, an older man invited the friends to smoke marijuana in a nearby patch of woods. The brothers had other things to do.

    • Trump: The sudden anti-war champion?
      In response, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis and special envoy to Syria Brett McGurk resigned. Conservative Republicans denounced Trump. The foreign policy establishment in general went bonkers, claiming Trump was endangering national security.

      Some liberals and progressives were confused. They want to see a withdrawal of troops from unjust wars but were concerned with Trump’s impetuous and unilateral methods.

      So let’s set the record straight. The US never should have invaded Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan in the first place. The US is not bringing democracy to the region. It wages wars of occupation to further Washington’s rapacious economic and geopolitical designs.

    • On Trump’s Syrian Pullout
      The unprovoked attack on Iraq in 2003 followed by a prolonged occupation was a flagrant violation of the prohibition on aggressive war, the core principle of the UN Charter and modern international law. It was also the cause of massive suffering and devastation, resulting in internal strife and constant chaos. The mindless occupation policy imposed by the United States deliberately inflamed sectarian tensions in Iraq, which in turn spread Sunni/Shi’ia turmoil throughout the region.

      Geopolitically, as well, the Iraq War illustrated the dysfunctional nature of such uses of international force even when the superior military capabilities of the United States are brought to bear. A central strategic goal of the intervention was to weaken the regional footprint of Iran by placing a Western-oriented government on the Iranian border of a country ready and willing to have American military bases on its territory. The main effect of the American intervention and extended presence was the reverse of what was intended. Iranian regional influence in part because the American occupation approach sought to disempower the Sunni dominance that had been associated with Saddam Hussein’s regime and put in its place an Iran-oriented Shi’ite leadership.

    • Trump vs. the foreign policy establishment
      I find myself haunted these days by Pete Seeger’s antiwar anthem of 1967, written when it had become evident to Seeger and many others (although not yet to me) that the United States was engaged in an enterprise certain to end in disaster and dishonor. The Big Muddy was Vietnam. The big fool committed to blindly pushing on was President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

      Today Seeger’s lyrics possess an ironic resonance. The United States once more finds itself stuck in a perplexing military misadventure, this one dating from 2001 and known initially as the Global War on Terrorism. Once more we have a bona fide fool in the White House, one whose antics make LBJ look like a font of acumen and good sense.

      Yet note the contradiction. In this instance, it’s the big fool who grasps the obvious: Waging war to pacify the Greater Middle East hasn’t worked and won’t. However unwittingly, President Trump has embraced Pete Seeger’s cause as his own.

      Yet we have it from the nation’s putative “wise men” that the fool is dead wrong. Much as in 1967, members of the foreign policy establishment (today very much including women) say that the United States has no choice but to push on, no matter how dark the night or deep the water.
    • Trump’s Syrian Withdrawal: an Act of Political Realism
      Opposition to Trump’s decision was supercharged by the resignation of Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis which came after he failed to persuade the president to rescind his order. Mattis does not mention Syria or Afghanistan in his letter of resignation, but he makes clear his disagreement with the general direction of Trump’s foreign policy in not confronting Russia and China and ignoring traditional allies and alliances.

      The resignation of Mattis has elicited predictable lamentations from commentators who treat his departure as if it was the equivalent of the Kaiser getting rid of Bismarck. The over-used description of Mattis as “the last of the adults in the room” is once again trotted out, though few examples of his adult behaviour are given aside from his wish – along with other supposed “adults” – to stay in Syria until various unobtainable objectives were achieved: the extinction of Iranian influence; the displacement of Bashar al-Assad; and the categorical defeat of Isis (are they really likely to sign surrender terms?).

      In other words, there was to be an open-ended US commitment with no attainable goals in an isolated and dangerous part of the world where it was already playing a losing game.

      It is worth spelling out the state of play in Syria because this is being masked by anti-Trump rhetoric, recommending policies that may sound benign but are far detached from political reality. This reality may be very nasty: it is right to be appalled by the prospects for the Syrian Kurds who are terrified of a Turkish army that is already massing to the north of the Turkish-Syrian frontier.

    • 2018: Year of the Rats and the Sinking Ships
      I am listening to Trump’s incendiary speech in Seoul. He is standing at the dais in Proceeding Hall, the National Assembly building in South Korea. Perhaps it’s the color saturation level on our old monitor, but on this night Trump looks like a grotesque figure from a George Grösz painting. His face is glazed an acidic orange as if slathered in mortician’s makeup. Even though he is reading from a prepared text written by one of his sycophants and projected for him on a teleprompter, he speaks in a switchbacking syntax that I’ve come to call Trumponics. He looks and sounds like the dictator of bad taste.

      Of course, it’s useless to probe Trump’s ramblings for their symbolic content. He strikes right for the spleen. Still, I continue to hunt for some logic to what he’s saying, knowing it’s futile. Except, perhaps, for the logic of the suicide pact. But a pact implies a deal, and most of us haven’t signed away our consent, except, I suppose, through our passive acquiescence to his resurrection of the old nuclear demons.

      Each Trump speech should come with a risk assessment of its potential fallout. Yet none of Trump’s military-grade handlers—McMaster, Mattis or Kelly—seem up to the calculus. Tillerson may have some idea, but Rexxon’s been locked out in the cold for months, as the State Department, though alas not the state, withers away. The State Department, which, since World War II, at least, has been responsible for far more deaths than the Pentagon deserves its vacancies.

      Trump’s bombast never seems quite serious. But I fear we must begin to take him so. He is, after all, a man without humor.
    • Food Aid to Yemen 'Snatched From the Starving' by US-Backed Saudi Allies
      Following the report, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) announced in a statement that the group had documented food aid diversion in Houthi-controlled regions, including Yemen's capital city, Sana'a. "At a time when children are dying in Yemen because they haven't enough food to eat, that is an outrage," said WFP executive director David Beasley. "This criminal behavior must stop immediately."

      The London-based organization Save the Children estimated last month that some 85,000 children under age five have starved to death since the conflict began.

      More broadly, the AP estimates—citing an analysis by global relief groups—that "even with the food aid that is coming in, more than half of the population is not getting enough to eat—15.9 million of Yemen's 29 million people. They include 10.8 million who are in an 'emergency' phase of food insecurity, roughly 5 million who are in a deeper 'crisis' phase, and 63,500 who are facing 'catastrophe,' a synonym for famine."

    • Is the End of the Brutal War in Yemen Finally at Hand?
      When the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, it is expected to pass a House resolution upholding congressional war powers and ending all direct U.S. involvement in the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen. But hopes remain high that H. Con. Res. 138 will help to end the Yemen war itself. Congressional strategists and activists who have been working on the issue believe passage of the war powers measure will force Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the negotiating table.

      Together, they are challenging the position of some former Obama administration officials who have warned the war powers resolution alone cannot bring the conflict to a close. Those former officials, led by Brookings Institution fellow Bruce Riedel, say that cutting off the Saudi pipeline of spare parts is the only way to prevent further airstrikes, which have been central to the Saudi war strategy.

      Proponents of the war powers resolution, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, argue the Saudis will not be able to continue the war without the political-diplomatic support of the United States, and the Yemen resolution will make dramatically clear the Saudis can no longer count on U.S. support. How the Senate came to pass a version of the Yemen resolution, co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and ratified in December by a vote of 56 to 41, would appear to lend support to their argument.

    • 'What Kind of Maniacs Are Running This Country?': Pentagon Rings in New Year With Joke About Dropping Massive Bombs on People
      In a since-deleted, U.S. Strategic Command (StratCom), which controls the nation's strategic missile systems and coordinates offensive nuclear capabilities worldwide, joked that while people in New York City enjoyed the dropping of "the big ball" during the countdown to midnight, "we are ready to drop something much, much bigger."

      Beneath the message was a video (see below), as the New York Times describes it, of "a B-2 stealth bomber soaring across the sky before releasing two GPS-guided bombs that exploded into a giant ball of fire after hitting the ground below."

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Prisoner for Free Speech: the Relentless Pursuit of Julian Assange
      CNN correspondent Jim Acosta returned to the White House on 17 November, a few days after a US judge had forced President Donald Trump to reverse the revocation of his press pass. Smiling before 50 or more photographers and cameramen, Acosta said triumphantly: ‘This was a test and I think we passed the test. Journalists need to know that in this country their First Amendment rights of freedom of the press are sacred, they’re protected in our constitution. Throughout all of this I was confident and I thought that … our rights would be protected as we continue to cover our government and hold our leaders accountable.’ Fade-out, happy ending.

      Julian Assange probably did not watch the moving conclusion of this story live on CNN. He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London six years ago, and his life there has become that of a prisoner: he cannot go outside for fear of being arrested by the British police, then probably extradited to the US; his access to communications is limited and he has been harassed repeatedly since Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, decided to please the US and make conditions less comfortable for his ‘guest’.

    • ‘Wikileaks indictments are likely coming from Mueller in 2019’: Former federal prosecutor
      Former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner on Monday said that he expected special counsel Robert Mueller to hand down more indictments in 2019, and predicted that it would soon be Wikileaks’ turn in the barrel as the Russia investigation begins to enter what host Morgan Radford called “the end game.”

      “I think a mid-February report, if it did drop, would not be the end game,” Kirschner said. “It would probably be an incremental step toward the end game.”

      “But I do believe that more indictments are coming,” he added. “The next one may very well be an indictment on the Wikileaks scandal, involving Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone. Perhaps even Julian Assange as a named co-conspirator in that aspect of the investigation.”

      Far from being finished, Kirschner seemed confident that the Russia investigation still had “so much more” to reveal. “I don’t think Mueller is necessarily winding down yet,” he concluded.

    • Assange Case: U.S. Espionage Act Is Illegal, says John Kiriakou
      While Ecuador is expected to extradite Assange to the US, John Kiriakou, a "reluctant whistleblower" considered the first US intelligence officer to reveal information about the American intelligence community's use of torture techniques, comments the WikiLeaks' founder case in the following talk to Edu Montesanti. U.S. establishment, at a declared war against humanity.


      Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote that "due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged." Later, Dwyer wrote the charges would "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested."

      It is much likely that the Australian journalist, who in March 2017 released an archive of documents detailing the C.I.A.'s hacking operations known as the Vault 7 leak, is being accused by American prosecutors of violating the 1917 Espionage Act.

    • Giuliani Says Assange Should Not Be Prosecuted
      Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, said Monday that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange had done “nothing wrong” and should not go to jail for disseminating stolen information just as major media does.

      “Let’s take the Pentagon Papers,” Giuliani told Fox News. “The Pentagon Papers were stolen property, weren’t they? It was in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Nobody went to jail at The New York Times and The Washington Post.”

      Giuliani said there were “revelations during the Bush administration” such as Abu Ghraib. “All of that is stolen property taken from the government, it’s against the law. But once it gets to a media publication, they can publish it,” Giuliani said, “for the purpose of informing people.”Mornin

      “You can’t put Assange in a different position,” he said. “He was a guy who communicated.”

    • ‘He did nothing wrong’: Giuliani defends Assange’s decision to publish Hillary campaign emails
      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did nothing wrong by publishing Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails, just like the US mainstream media wasn’t punished for publishing the Pentagon Papers, ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani said.

      Giuliani made the comments on Sunday after he was asked on Fox & Friends whether he was “open to the idea” that the emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s staffers “may have been accepted” by her rivals in the team of then-candidate Donald Trump.

      In 2016, unidentified hackers gained access to the personal Gmail account of John Podesta, who led Clinton’s presidential campaign. WikiLeaks subsequently obtained a cache of emails extracted from the account and published it weeks before Election Day. This sparked widespread outrage within the Democratic Party.
    • Mother Of Detained Journalist Julian Assange And WikiLeaks Call On Journalists And Supporters To Protest In Times Square On New Year’s Eve

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • King Coal isn’t dead—he’s just been exiled from the US

      In the US, cheap natural gas has been a primary driver in coal's fall from grace. (This was the conclusion of the Department of Energy's 2017 "baseload study.") But in other parts of the world, coal remains the cheapest and most available energy source. Declines in the US, Canada, and Europe have been counter-balanced by coal growth in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Pakistan, the IEA wrote.

    • Japan whale hunting: Commercial whaling to restart in July

    • Offshore, Act Two: New owner repowers 20-year-old wind farm off Swedish coast

      In November, a Danish asset management group called Momentum Gruppen recommissioned five turbines at a 20-year-old offshore wind farm located 4km (2.5 mi) off the coast of Sweden. Momentum purchased the wind farm and upgraded the nacelles, blades, and control systems while leaving the towers, foundations, and transmission equipment. The turbines were originally rated to produce 500 kilowatts (kW) apiece. The upgrades were done with 600 kW turbine replacement equipment.

      According to GreenTechMedia, it's the first such repowering of an old offshore wind farm. [...]

    • The Beauty Industry Has a Plastics Problem

      Plastic pollution activists turned their attention to the beauty industry when microbeads began to appear in various facial and body scrubs and kinds of toothpaste in the early 2000s. Microbeads, teeny-tiny globules intended to add "grit" to these products, were meant to create an exfoliate, but you won’t find them in U.S. products anymore because of effective campaigns to ban them that began in 2013. The United States government actually passed that ban in 2015, and by 2017, microbeads were entirely phased out of U.S. products. Canada followed suit, then New Zealand, and earlier this year the U.K. banned them. Several global companies have voluntarily committed to phasing microbeads out of products, too, but given various loopholes within those voluntary pledges, highlighted in a 2016 report from Greenpeace, activists are continuing to push for regulations worldwide.

      But microbeads are far from the only plastic component used in beauty products. Consider the packaging made to contain many hair- and skin-care products, for example — from that thin cellophane wrapping on so many boxes, to liners that prove the product is sealed, to the plastic bottles and caps in which they are contained, plastic is a quintessential part of the beauty buyer’s experience. It’s making a big dent on the environment, though the industry has very rarely garnered attention for the plastic waste it generates, despite its massive global output of a material that never, ever breaks down.

    • I Went to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is What I Saw.

      But it’s not that simple. The GPGP is just one manifestation of the many ways man-made environmental destruction has taken phenomenal hold of our natural world. Its alleged dramatic aesthetics fail to fully address the impact of the waste — and the root of the global plastics problem. So, to understand the mythology behind the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and get to the bottom of what it really means for the planet, I went to see it for myself.

    • The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Worsening the Global Plastics Crisis

      The crisis is far greater than a consumer-behavior issue, like recycling: It is directly connected to the fossil fuel industry and to climate change, as 99% of plastics are derived from chemicals found in fossil fuels. Despite a recent United Nations climate report that says we only have 12 years to radically transform our entire economy to prevent the worst possible impacts of climate change, plastic production is set to ramp up, tripling the amount of plastic exports by 2030.

    • How Plastic Is a Function of Colonialism

      Nain does not have an "away." Neither do many other places whose lands are colonized as places to ship disposables or are used for landfills. Nor do many extractive zones that provide the oil and gas feedstock for producing plastics. They’re in the Far North, Southeast Asia, and western Africa, among many other places. Some of these same places serve as an "away" for wealthier regions who export their waste. In fact, the term “waste colonialism” was coined in 1989 at the United Nations Environmental Programme Basel Convention when several African nations articulated concerns about the disposal of hazardous wastes by wealthy countries into their territories.

      China has been the place where nearly half the world’s plastic waste has been sent to go “away”. This ended in January 2018 when China banned the import of scrap plastics and other materials, which will leave an estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic waste displaced. Recycling programs in the United States and around the world that depend on using other countries’ land for waste have slowed down, shut down, or are stockpiling plastics as new solutions are sought. Currently, this next round of waste colonization is headed for Southeast Asia.

    • China's ban on trash imports shifts waste crisis to Southeast Asia

      Bales of trash piled up in California, in the U.K., in Australia, and elsewhere, as exporting nations scoured the world for new buyers. Across Southeast Asia, recyclers operating in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia bought, but were quickly overwhelmed by, the sheer volume that China once easily absorbed.


      And in an interview with National Geographic, she added a scold to the United States: “You have to mind your waste in your own backyard. Especially the non-recyclables.”

    • Kids, it’s time to give your parents 'the talk.' Not that one, the one on climate change.

      The students' biggest take-away, however, was surprise: Their interviewees were already taking actions like planting trees, changing their air filters, eating less meat, reducing their driving or changing to solar power. They were surprised because, as the students put it, their families never spoke about it. And that’s the point. Many of us are absorbing the enormity of climate change in isolation, not realizing that others are also concerned and taking action.

    • A 'Gold Rush' at The Bottom of The Ocean Could Be The Final Straw For Ecosystems

      Researchers at the University of Exeter and Greenpeace are now warning that a deep sea "gold rush" for minerals and metals could wind up causing irreversible damage to what are already fragile ocean ecosystems.

    • Seabed Mining and Approaches to Governance of the Deep Seabed

      Commercial seabed mining seems imminent, highlighting the urgent need for coherent, effective policy to safeguard the marine environment. Reconciling seabed mining with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will be difficult because minerals extraction will have irreversible consequences that could lead to the loss of habitats, species and ecosystems services. A dialog needs to take place around social, cultural, environmental and economic costs and benefits. Governance of human interactions with the seabed is fragmented and lacks transparency, with a heavy focus on facilitating exploitation rather than ensuring protection. In the light of high uncertainties and high stakes, we present a critical review of proposed policy options for the regulation of seabed mining activities, recommend actions to improve seabed governance and outline the alternatives to mining fragile deep-sea ecosystems.

    • Justin Trudeau’s climate plans are stuck in Alberta’s tar sands

      Alberta’s intransigence may not be in its own interest. Global pressure to decarbonise is growing. The province faces competition from the United States, its biggest customer by far and now a net oil exporter. Eventually, Alberta will have to reduce its dependence on oil. That conversation is already happening among academics, oil-and-gas workers and the broader public. But without political leadership the transition is likely to be rocky.

    • Assessment of threatened habitat types in Finland 2018: The status of natural habitats continues to deteriorate

      The threat status of habitat types in Finland was evaluated for the second time. Almost half (48%) of the nearly 400 habitat types across the country were assessed to be threatened. In southern Finland, the proportion of threatened habitats is clearly higher (59%) than in northern Finland (32%). The status of habitat types has not improved during the past decade; instead, the trend among many habitat types is assessed to be declining. However, it is possible to improve the status of habitats.

    • You Can't Just "Clean Up" the Plastic in the Ocean. Here's Why.

      The situation is so dire that the ocean is already home to five notable trash vortexes, more commonly known as garbage patches: the North Atlantic Gyre, the South Atlantic Gyre, the South Pacific Gyre, the Indian Ocean Gyre, and the North Pacific Gyre. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in the North Pacific Gyre between California and Hawaii, is the most notorious as it is the largest of the five, with an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of trash. For measure, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is three times the size of France and weighs as much as 43,000 cars. And according to experts, it is growing “exponentially.”

      The fundamental issue with plastic is that it’s largely not biodegradable. This means it cannot be broken down into reusable compounds. Instead, it degrades over time into smaller particles also known as microplastics, which are defined as pieces that are five millimeters in length or less, according to the National Ocean Service. While these tiny particles aren’t floating at the top of the ocean, they pose a threat: Aside from contaminating the waters, plastic in the ocean injures and kills marine animals — collectively, it has impacted at least 800 species worldwide. Humans are impacted as well, as microplastics make their way into our food through seafood, water, and sea salt. Unfortunately, little is known about the scale of the problem since research is in its preliminary stages.

    • Dems, environmentalists cheer Zinke's departure

    • Ryan Zinke: US interior secretary to leave administration

      Mr Zinke has promoted oil drilling and coal mining, and worked to roll back environmental protections brought in under President Obama.

    • Nations agree on rules for implementing Paris climate accord

      The talks, which took place over two weeks in Poland, were hindered early on after the U.S. delegation initiated a debate over climate science after it issued a staunch defense of fossil fuels, arguing that giving up coal, oil and gas in a rapid fashion was unrealistic. However, observers noted that the American delegation worked behind the scenes with outer parties to make progress, according to the Times.

    • The Hand that Won’t Sign the Paper: Adani’s Stalling Project
      It should be a sign for this Indian giant, a company that has done much to illustrate the ethical and moral bankruptcy in Australia’s political classes. Despite support stretching from Canberra to rural Queensland, lifted by the fantasy of job creation, Adani is yet to dig the earth of what would have been one of the largest mining complexes on the planet.

      For one thing, a downsizing was announced suggesting a more compact operation that would supposedly fly under the radar of detractors. From its initial, lofty ambitions of a $16.5 billion investment, Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow now suggests a less extravagant $2 billion reliant on existing rail infrastructure. Even here, the mission to establish a new coal mine seems grotesque given the dire warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. While Adani mines, the world cooks.

      There is more than a sense that Adani is a poisoned chalice best avoided by all concerned – unless you are an Australian energy or resources minister incapable of evaluating history or the future prospects of fossil fuels. This point is particularly problematic given the admission by Indian officials that coal is going off the books at such a rate that the Carmichael project is destined to become the most muddle headed of white elephants. Indeed, existing thermal coal power in India costs twice what renewable generation does.

      The outlook for such analysts as the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis is glum for the coal romantics and fossil fuel adorers. “Exports have declined since 2015,” goes its report last month, “and more contraction is expected. High export revenues entirely reflect current high prices which are themselves partially a result of declining investment in thermal coal mining.”


      The Australian Conservation Foundation is not impressed, and is taking the matter to the Federal Court. By not considering the issue of how broad the water trigger was, Price had erred in a matter of law. As things stand, Price and her colleagues, in connivance with Adani, are erring on a lot more besides, making the campaign against the mine a fundamental counter against permissible and ultimately scandalous environmental vandalism.

    • 50-million-year cooling trend is reversed
      Humankind, in two centuries, has transformed the climate. It has succeeded in reversing a 50-million-year cooling trend.

      Scientists conclude that the profligate combustion of fossil fuels could within three decades take planet Earth back to conditions that existed in the Pliocene three million years ago, an era almost ice-free and at least 1.8€°C and possibly 3.6€°C warmer than today.

      But there is a much earlier warming precedent. The Eocene planet at its warmest 50 million years ago was perhaps 13€°C warmer than it has been for almost all human history.

      Its continents were differently configured, the Arctic was characterised by swampy forests that might have looked a little like the Louisiana bayous of the US, and the first mammals had begun to colonise the globe.

  • Finance

    • More Fun with the Stock Market Plunge
      The media continue to be in a panic over the drop in the stock market over the last few weeks. Fortunately for political pundits, there is no expectation that they have any clue about the subjects on which they opine. For those more interested in economics than hysterics, the drop in the market is not a big deal.

      The market is at best very loosely related to the economy. It generally rises in recoveries and falls in recessions, but it also has all sorts of movements that are not obviously related to anything in the real economy.

      The most famous example of such an erratic movement was the crash in October of 1987. The market fell by more than 20 percent in a single day. There was no obvious event in the economy or politics that explained this fall, which hit markets around the world. Nor did the decline presage a recession. The economy continued to grow at a healthy pace through 1988 and 1989. It didn’t fall into a recession until June of 1990, more than two years later.

      There is little reason to believe the recent decline will have any larger impact on the economy than the 1987 crash. As a practical matter, stock prices have almost no impact on investment. The bubble of the late 1990s was the major exception, when companies were directly issuing stock to finance investment.
    • Bitcoin cryptocurrency's Liberating Potential
      For instance, earlier in April, WikiLeaks Coinbase account was suspended due to terms of service violation. However, there are no such measures which can prevent WikiLeaks from using the cryptocurrency wallets as the private key for the wallet is still being managed and used by WikiLeaks. Further, WikiLeaks is still accepting cryptocurrency donations and also has extended support for Snowden’s most important crypto, Zcash, in August 2017.
    • Republican tax cut made me richer and kept working Americans stagnant
      One year ago, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, promising a “bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs” that would be “a tremendous thing for the American people.” Corporate CEOs and wealthy shareholders may be celebrating, but middle-class Americans are still waiting for their transformative tax cut.

      Congressional Republicans attempted to sell the bill as a deficit-neutral, pro-growth tax cut that would help every American, but from the moment details of the bill were announced, it was clear that the Republican overhaul of our tax code was designed with “the 1 percent,” not the middle class, in mind. Most of the bill’s $1.9 trillion in tax cuts targeted corporations and wealthy Americans such as me, leaving little more than crumbs for most working Americans — and the bill’s results of the last year have lived up to that initial analysis.

      Trump claimed that American families would receive an average of almost $4,000 in tax cuts per year.
    • [Older] Here's the Secret to Getting Young Workers Involved
      “How can we get young workers involved?”

      That’s the question on everyone’s lips, with union density at near-record lows. Many unions have begun holding summits for young members or forming local committees, which is great.

      But too often they’re missing a step that’s more essential: don’t sell young workers out.

      When you settle a two-tier contract that puts new hires on a lower wage scale or trades away their pension, it sends a message: “This union is for us, not for you.”

      Everyone who gets hired these days at UPS or on a postal delivery route can see they’re on a slow track to nowhere. No matter how many years they put in, they’ll never get where their co-workers are. That’s a mark against the union from Day One.

      Unless these concessions are reversed they will eat away at unions, alienating incoming workers until they’re the only ones left. That’s obvious, right? Yet so many national union leaders seem to have missed the memo.

      So it’s heartening to see union members who get it—and who put themselves on the line for future co-workers they haven’t even met yet.
    • As Workers Win Local Pay Hikes for 2019, Sanders Says 'We Must Raise Federal Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour'
      More than five million workers in states and cities across the country will see their incomes increase in 2019, thanks to the push for a higher minimum wage by groups including Fight for $15.

      The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25, where it has stood for a decade. But tireless advocacy by Fight for $15, which began its push in 2012 with 200 fast food workers going on strike to demand a living wage and the right to unionize, has pressured state legislators as well as voters to call for minimum wage hikes. As a result, twenty states and 21 cities will raise wages in the year ahead, with low-wage workers earning an estimated $5.4 billion more over the course of 2019.

      "Happy 2019 to the millions of working Americans who are getting raises because of minimum wage boosts," tweeted Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). "This wasn't given to anyone—it happened because we stuck together in the Fight for $15 and fought for a better life."

      Progressive lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) also applauded the minimum wage hikes and the advocacy of Fight for $15—while pledging to continue the fight for increases at the federal level.

    • Ho ho ho: IRS cuts audits of rich, steps up audits of poor after budget cuts
      Republican cuts have crippled the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to audit rich tax cheats, while pressure from those same Republicans has led the IRS to increase audits of the working poor.

      An investigation by ProPublica and The Atlantic found that years of Republican-led budget cuts have gutted the agency, causing a steep loss in government revenues. According to ProPublica, the cost to taxpayers may be “at least $18 billion every year, but the true cost could easily run tens of billions of dollars higher.”

      According to the report, the IRS conducted 675,000 fewer audits in 2017 than it did seven years earlier. Because of the repeated cuts, the IRS has drastically stopped pursuing “nonfilers” who do not submit their tax returns. The number of investigations into nonfilers fell from 2.4 million in 2011 to 362,000 in 2017. The agency has also drastically reduced its investigations of filers who do not pay their tax debts. In 2010, the IRS let $482 million in old tax debt lapse, but by 2017, that number increased to $8.3 billion.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Remember, you’re being manipulated on social media: 4 essential reads

      Sometime in the political frenzy of the past year, I realized I had to stop scanning Twitter.

      I had become used to taking the pulse of online society, but was no longer confident that the tweets I was reading were accurate portrayals of the authentic views of real humans. Some of them were, no doubt – yet I had worked with so many scholars on articles about how social media sites leave users vulnerable to being misled and misinformed. There’s plenty of evidence that social media platforms were misusing my data, and allowing trolls and bots to exploit their systems, to manipulate my thinking.

      I haven’t been back to Twitter since – nor have I used Facebook for anything other than looking at friends’ photos of babies and other celebrations. Here are some of the articles I worked on that informed me how wary I should be of secret, malicious influencers online.

    • The Electoral College Is No Longer Relevant In Today's Society, And That Is Why We Have Donald Trump

    • The Most Dangerous People on the Internet in 2018

      The biggest threats online continued to mirror the biggest threats in the real world, with nation states fighting proxy battles and civilians bearing the brunt of the assault. In many cases, the most dangerous people online are also the most dangerous in the real world. The distinction has never mattered less.

    • Impeachment Will Be on the Table in 2019
      Congresswoman Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, has for more than a year argued that President Trump needs to be impeached. Initially, Moore’s was something of a voice in the wilderness, as most top Democrats persisted in arguing that the constitutional response to a lawless presidency was “off the table.”

      But the president’s many year-end meltdowns, as well as revelations regarding his past wrongdoing, have turned the conversation toward precisely the accountability issues that Moore has been raising.

      Indeed, if Americans take seriously the impeachment process that led to the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency in 1974, then we can no longer neglect the arguments for Trump’s impeachment.

      The first article of impeachment against Nixon stemmed from illegal activity during the 1972 presidential campaign and specifically indicted the sitting president for: “Making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct.”
    • Warren Announces Presidential Run, Vows to Fight Corporate Power
      In a move seen as an official signal that she is entering the 2020 contest for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday sent an email to supporters and shared a video on social media announcing that she is forming an exploratory committee to examine her viability as a candidate in the next presidential race.

      “Today, corruption is poisoning our democracy,” Warren declares in the video. “Politicians look the other way while big insurance companies deny patients life-saving coverage, while big banks rip off consumers, and while big oil companies destroy this planet. Our government’s supposed to work for all of us, but instead it has become a tool for the wealthy and well-connected.”

      Warren recalls her childhood in Oklahoma and working as a public school teacher and law professor before she joined the Senate and fought for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in response to 2007-08 financial crisis. As she notes: “Working families today face a lot tougher path than my family did. And families of color face a path that is steeper and rockier, a path made even harder by the impact of generations of discrimination.”
    • 15 Lies Per Day in 2018: Analysis Shows Trump Put 'Unprecedented Deception" Into Overdrive This Year
      Finding that President Donald Trump became "increasingly unmoored from the truth in 2018," the Washington Post reports that the president told lies to the American public at about three times the rate he did the previous year—when voters and the media were already expressing shock at the repeated false statements coming from the White House.

      According to Glenn Kessler, author of the Post's Fact Checker column, during his "year of unprecedented deception," Trump told an average of 15 lies per day in 2018, bringing the total number of documented lies since he took office in January 2017 to 7,645.

      At the beginning of 2018, according to the paper's tally, the president had told about 2,000 lies while in office.
    • America’s New Year’s Resolution: Remove Trump
      After his first bizarre year, his apologists told us he was growing into the job and that in his second year he’d be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions.

      Wrong. He’s been worse.

      Exhibit one: the “Wall.” After torpedoing Mitch McConnell’s temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he’s holding hostage over 800,000 government employees (“mostly Democrats,” he calls them, disparagingly) while subjecting the rest of America to untoward dangers.

      On-site inspections at power plants have been halted. Hazardous waste cleanup efforts at Superfund sites are on hold. Reviews of toxic substances and pesticides have been stopped. Justice Department cases are in limbo.

      Meanwhile, now working without pay are thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service.
    • Under Cover of Shutdown, Trump Admin Quietly Moves to Deprive 'American People of Their Right to Know What Government Is Doing'
      A proposed new rule (pdf) filed to the Federal Register on Friday would enable the department—which, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been responsible for pushing through President Donald Trump's widely condemned regulatory rollbacks—to ignore public records requests that officials deem too "unreasonably burdensome."

      The rule would loosen timelines for the agency to fulfill Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests—which journalists, advocacy groups, and others use to attain government records in the name of accountability—and increase requirements for how specific requests must be. Critics of the proposal warn it could jeopardize efforts to keep the public informed about the actions of the administration.

      "This is a war on transparency," declared Jeremy Nichols of the environmental group WildEarth Guardians. "This is a calculated attempt to shield the Interior Department from scrutiny, to shield it from watchdogs, and to shield it from accountability."

      "They are depriving the American people of their right to know what the government is doing—they are only going to cause themselves more fights and more litigation," Nada Culver, senior counsel at The Wilderness Society, told The Hill.

      The rule was filed without an agency press release—and spokespeople declined multiple media outlets' requests for comment, citing the government shutdown—but the Federal Register filing claimed the department has seen a 30 percent jump in requests over the past two years and such "changes are necessary to best serve our customers and comply with the FOIA as efficiently, equitably, and completely as possible."
    • The ‘Unauthorized Disclosure’ Podcast’s Year-End Show For 2018
      If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page. Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola wrap up this year’s season of “Unauthorized Disclosure” with MintPress News founder and editor-in-chief Mnar Muhawesh. During the show, they reflect on some of the more pernicious social and political developments in the past year. Mnar talks about censorship by Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies, and the impact it is having on independent journalists and alternative media outlets, especially the effect on MintPress News.

      “We are facing an unprecedented amount of censorship that we’ve never seen before. It’s a new wave of censorship by these Silicon tech giants, who are working hand-in-hand with the U.S. government to infringe on our civil liberties, on our First Amendment speech rights,” Mnar said. “The government can’t suppress us so they basically have hired social media giants, like Google and Facebook, to take it upon themselves to do the suppression and censorship themselves.”

    • How to Repair the U.S.-China Relationship—and Prevent a Modern Cold War
      Forty years ago, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and I normalized diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States, putting an end to three decades of hostility. This led to an era distinguished by peace in East Asia and the Pacific region. China’s spectacular economic growth, in conjunction with its continuing integration with the much larger U.S. economy, has enabled the two countries to become engines of global prosperity. Scientific and cultural exchanges have blossomed, and the United States has since become the top foreign destination for Chinese scholars and tourists. The 40th anniversary of this relationship is a testament to the ability of countries with different histories, cultures and political systems to work together for the greater good. Yet, today, this critical relationship is in jeopardy.

      I hear Chinese elites claiming that Americans are conducting an “evil conspiracy” to destabilize China. I hear prominent Americans, disappointed that China has not become a democracy, claiming that China poses a threat to the American way of life. U.S. government reports declare that China is dedicated to challenging U.S. supremacy, and that it is planning to drive the United States out of Asia and reduce its influence in other countries around the world.

      If top government officials embrace these dangerous notions, a modern Cold War between our two nations is not inconceivable. At this sensitive moment, misperceptions, miscalculations and failure to follow carefully defined rules of engagement in areas such as the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea could escalate into military conflict, creating a worldwide catastrophe.

      The U.S. imposition of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China’s retaliatory tariffs, contribute to the deteriorating relationship, hurting both countries.
    • Former Bernie Sanders Staffers Seek Meeting on ‘Sexual Violence’ in 2016 Campaign
      Political campaign workers, as NPR wrote in April, work “long hours at low pay, living off of pizza and coffee, all in the hope of seeing their candidate win.” The Campaign Workers Guild, the first union for campaign staff, was founded in 2017 to advocate for better working conditions. Now, as revelations of abuse emerge from multiple corners of politics, campaign workers and current political staffers are demanding that fighting sexual harassment be added to that list.

      As Politico reported Monday, over two dozen male and female members of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign staff signed a letter requesting a meeting with the Vermont senator and his top advisers to “discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle.” The authors added that discussions had been underway among former staffers for a few weeks “about the untenable and dangerous dynamic that developed during our campaign.”
    • 'Nothing Short of Inhumane': Federal Workers Sue Trump for Forcing Them To Work Dangerous Jobs Without Pay During Shutdown
      Amid the ongoing shutdown brought on by President Donald Trump's refusal to pass funding measures without $5 billion for his "border wall," the nation's largest union of federal workers sued the Trump administration on Monday for forcing them to work without pay doing some of the most essential—and in many cases the most dangerous—jobs performed by government employees.

      J. David Cox Sr., national president of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said the lawsuit was necessary to protect workers' livelihoods—and their very lives.

      "Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe," said Cox, "requiring them to work without pay is nothing short of inhumane. Positions that are considered 'essential' during a government shutdown are some of the most dangerous jobs in the federal government."
    • Thinking about American Totalitarianism
      The media and the entertainment industry are focused on creating a consumerist-nationalist imaginary where shopping and waving the flag are effective daily remedies to ward off any uncomfortable existential doubts.

    • A Bold, Progressive Agenda for a Happier and Healthier New Year
      Jane and I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very healthy and happy new year.

      It goes without saying that 2019 will be a pivotal and momentous time for our country and the entire planet. As you know, there is a monumental clash now taking place between two very different political visions. Not to get you too nervous, but the future of our country and the world is dependent upon which side wins that struggle.

      The bad news is that in the United States and other parts of the world, the foundations of democracy are under severe attack as demagogues, supported by billionaire oligarchs, work to establish authoritarian type regimes. That is true in Russia. That is true in Saudi Arabia. That is true in the United States. While the very rich get much richer these demagogues seek to move us toward tribalism and set one group against another, deflecting attention from the real crises we face.

    • It’s Not Too Soon to Look at the 2020 Senate Picture
      Despite a massive blue wave in reaction to the 2016 presidential election, the truth is that taking over the Senate majority in 2018 was always a bit of a pipe dream. To win the senate, Democrats had to not only flip at least one seat from the Republicans, they also needed to defend every single one of their seats, too, many of them in red states across the country.

      Obviously that didn’t happen. The 2018 landscape was one of the most brutal maps that the Democrats could face, and the fact that they lost only two seats overall is really a bit of a miracle. Now, if they want to try to wrestle control from the GOP in 2020, they need to make up a three or four seat deficit (depending on who takes the White House and holds the tie-breaking Senate vote) in the next election. Will that be any easier than in 2018?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Iran TV chief sacked over uncensored Jackie Chan sex scene

      Censors are also said to be required to remove men and women exchanging "tender words or jokes", unveiled women, close-ups of women's faces and exposed necklines, as well as negative portrayals of police and bearded men.

    • China Ends Freeze on Video-Game Licensing

      China has approved 80 new video game titles in the first batch of licenses granted by the media regulator after the end of a nine-month freeze.

      The initial games were mostly local, mobile titles and didn’t include any from industry giants Tencent Holdings Ltd. or Netease Inc. The notice of approvals was posted online by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

    • Facebook apologizes for banning evangelist Franklin Graham for 24 hours
      Facebook is apologizing to evangelist Franklin Graham for banning him from posting on the site for 24 hours last week, a Facebook spokesperson told The Charlotte Observer on Saturday.

      It was a mistake to ban Graham over a 2016 post he made on the site, and a mistake to have taken down the post, the spokesperson said.

      Facebook has restored the 2016 post and will apologize in a note to the administrator of Graham’s Facebook page, according to the Facebook spokesperson, who agreed to speak only on background, meaning without the spokesperson’s name.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • From Bizarre Rage Against James Joyce to MI5 Phone-Bugging: Why I Collect Snippets of Strangers’ Conversations
      For many years I have collected snippets of conversation accidentally overheard or one side of a phone call that sounded comic, menacing or just plain mysterious. My collection is small because most of what is garnered through unintentional eavesdropping is dull and long-winded, but I occasionally hear something which is rivetingly interesting or bizarre.

      I was travelling on a train between St Pancras and Canterbury West just before Christmas a year ago, when I became conscious of a middle-aged man making a phone call a few seats away who was raising his voice in irritation. As he kept repeating himself, the reason for this soon became clear, as did the identity of the person to whom he was speaking.

      He was complaining vigorously and at length to his mother about the behaviour of his sister whom he said had invited herself to stay for Christmas, though that was not the main reason why he was so upset. She was not only staying in his house, but she was demanding that he put a Christmas stocking at the end of her bed on Christmas morning. “I’ll do that for my nine-year-daughter but not for a 40-year-old-woman,” the man kept telling his mother, who was presumably trying to calm him down, in tones of increasing outrage.

      My father Claud Cockburn, from whom I got the habit, would collect chunks of conversation that he found particularly intriguing. Once in New York he had heard one person saying to another as they walked past the open window of his apartment: “Yes, I can understand that, but why did he want to put the chestnuts down her back?” He speculated about could have been the context for this strange query.

    • Investigating Apps interactions with Facebook on Android

      We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

    • How Apps on Android Share Data with Facebook - Report

      If combined, data from different apps can paint a fine-grained and intimate picture of people’s activities, interests, behaviors and routines, some of which can reveal special category data, including information about people’s health or religion.

    • How Facebook tracks you on Android (even if you don’t have a Facebook account)

      In this talk, we’re looking at third party tracking on Android. We’ve captured and decrypted data in transit between our own devices and Facebook servers. It turns out that some apps routinely send Facebook information about your device and usage patterns - the second the app is opened. We’ll walk you through the technical part of our analysis and end with a call to action: We believe that both Facebook and developers can do more to avoid oversharing, profiling and damaging the privacy of their users.

    • Data Privacy Scandals and Public Policy Picking Up Speed: 2018 in Review
      The problem that came into focus in 2018 was not just hacks, breaches, or unauthorized bad guys breaking into systems. Instead, 2018’s worst privacy actors were the tech companies themselves, harvesting of mountains of users’ data and employing flawed systems to use and share it.

      Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, for example, was the result of a feature of Facebook’s Graph API in 2014. In this case, Facebook was designed to collect as much user information as possible, and then share it indiscriminately with third-party developers. In a set of newly revealed emails from 2012, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that he knew “we leak info to developers,” but didn’t think there was enough “strategic risk” to do anything about it.

      Google’s social network didn’t perform much better. The final nails in the coffin of Google+ came with two API bugs: one quietly announced in October that exposed the personal information of half a million users, and an even bigger one revealed in December. Unlike Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems, these bugs were unintended engineering mistakes. But they exposed users to the same risk: the exposure of users’ personal information to third-party developers without anything resembling informed consent.

      2018 also saw tech companies creep further into our wallets and our homes. Facebook and Google reportedly partnered with banks and bought financial data in secret, raising serious privacy concerns about giving companies access to yet another sensitive category of information.

      The torrent of data-related scandals this year drove new popular awareness of privacy issues. The problem that came into focus in 2018 was not just hacks, breaches, or unauthorized bad guys breaking into systems. Instead, 2018’s worst privacy actors were the tech companies themselves, harvesting of mountains of users’ data and employing flawed systems to use and share it.

      Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, for example, was the result of a feature of Facebook’s Graph API in 2014. In this case, Facebook was designed to collect as much user information as possible, and then share it indiscriminately with third-party developers. In a set of newly revealed emails from 2012, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that he knew “we leak info to developers,” but didn’t think there was enough “strategic risk” to do anything about it.

      Google’s social network didn’t perform much better. The final nails in the coffin of Google+ came with two API bugs: one quietly announced in October that exposed the personal information of half a million users, and an even bigger one revealed in December. Unlike Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems, these bugs were unintended engineering mistakes. But they exposed users to the same risk: the exposure of users’ personal information to third-party developers without anything resembling informed consent.

      2018 also saw tech companies creep further into our wallets and our homes. Facebook and Google reportedly partnered with banks and bought financial data in secret, raising serious privacy concerns about giving companies access to yet another sensitive category of information.

      The torrent of data-related scandals this year drove new popular awareness of privacy issues.

    • Chinese Schools Track Students by Requiring Chip-Enhanced Uniforms

      Students at more than 10 schools in Guizhou Province, one of China’s poorest provinces, and the neighboring Guangxi region are now required to wear “intelligent uniforms,” which are embedded with electronic chips that track their movements.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The most screwed-up employee perk in America (and the man who just might fix it)

      The fact that most Americans get their insurance from their bosses has become such a given it seems strange to even question it. But really what’s strange is the system itself.

      According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2016, about 56% of Americans got health insurance through their employer. No other source of coverage is anywhere close.

    • Across Europe, the practice of Islamic family law is under pressure

      But the Strasbourg judges found that neither the Lausanne Treaty nor the Treaty of Sèvres concluded in 1920 actually obliged Greece to apply Islamic law. And in cases where a religious minority lived under a particular legal framework, that state had a duty to ensure that individuals who did not wish to live under that framework were protected from discrimination. According to a summary of the decision issued by the ECHR: [...]

    • Syracuse cops falsely accuse man of rectal dope-stashing and take him to hospital for nonconsensual anal probe; now he must pay $4600 for the procedure

      Two doctors refused to perform the procedure, but eventually Jackson was drugged unconscious and anally violated.

      No drugs were found.

    • Syracuse cops push St. Joe’s to probe man’s rectum for drugs; ‘What country are we living in?’

      And when they were done, St. Joe’s sent the suspect a bill for $4,595.12.

    • America’s Criminal Justice System Is Failing Young People Like Me. Clean Slate Laws Are the Answer

      Had I been busted by someone other than my mom, had I acquired a criminal record, my life would look drastically different. I would likely not be enrolled in my third year studying biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, nor would I probably be interning at a top Washington, D.C., think tank. I would have been another fatherless kid busted for selling drugs, a narrative all too common in my hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey.

      I was lucky to never have been caught dealing. But every year, many kids aren’t so lucky, and are arrested for minor first-time offenses. People just like me are hit with misfortune and pressured to find ways to make money for a prom ticket, some groceries, or a water bill.

      Criminal records continue to punish many people long after they’ve served their sentence or paid their fine. With many college admission offices collecting criminal information on applicants, even a minor infraction can severely limit a young person’s access to a college education. And with nearly 9 in 10 employers screening the background of prospective candidates, most young people with a criminal history may struggle to find a job for years after serving their punishment. These limitations perpetuate cycles of poverty that can impact entire families and communities for generations.

    • Pistol-Packing Teachers Becoming More Common in Arkansas

      Protecting schools from future shootings has increasingly occupied administrators and lawmakers’ time. Just this year, 113 people were killed or injured in school shootings in the U.S.

    • Films with female stars earn more at the box office

      They then looked at whether the top-listed performer was male or female. At every budget level, films with female leads performed better in worldwide box office averages.

      They also found films which passed the Bechdel test, which looks at whether women are given roles other than those revolving around romantic liaisons with men, outperformed those that failed it.

    • Protests after violent seizure of Peking University's Marxist Society

      The national crackdown on student organizers has been designed to terrorize Communist student movements who are too young to be held in line by memories of the massacre of student activists in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

    • University authorities suppress student protest in China

      The CCP regime, which has all but abandoned its socialistic phrase-mongering, is terrified at the prospect of students politicizing the struggles of workers. The CCP represents the interests the super-wealthy oligarchs who have been profiting from the processes of capitalist restoration since 1978 and is well aware that it is sitting on top of a social time bomb. Over the past 40 years, the social gulf between rich and poor has widened immensely, generating huge social tensions that now threaten to erupt as the country’s economy slows markedly.

    • 2018: Saudis Made a Play for Regional Hegemony and Tripped over a Single Murder
      The arrogant and impatient young Mohammed Bin Salman, who shouldered aside a raft of uncles and cousins to grab power as crown prince, is something new in Saudi history. The Al Saud, the royal family, had functioned as an oligarchy, but King Salman and his hyperactive son have concentrated power in their hands in an unprecedented fashion. Since they became a very major oil power in the 1970s, the Saudis had, moreover, engaged in checkbook diplomacy, moving timidly and quietly behind the scenes and settling problems by transferring billions in gratuities to those they wished to influence.

      Bin Salman demoted the Wahhabi clergy (hard line puritan fundamentalists) from their privileged place as arbiters of public morals. He had the Black-Eyed Peas in for a rock concert late last fall attended by both Saudi boys and girls, an event that would have seemed apocalyptic under previous Saudi rulers. He and his advisers developed the Vision 2030 aimed at transitioning the country away from almost complete dependence on petroleum sales to finance and industry, given that over the next decade and a half, electric cars will likely pull the plug on the oil business.

    • Two explosions rock Malmö as gang conflict continues

      In November, there were four shootings within a 24-hour period, leaving one young man seriously wounded. In total, more than ten young men have been shot dead this year alone.

    • Iran: Imprisoned Dissident Dies

      On December 13, the authorities informed Sayadi Nasiri’s family that he had died in a hospital in Qom. He had been convicted of “insulting the Supreme Leader and sacred belief and propaganda against the state.” He began a hunger strike in September and later asked to be transferred out of a ward that included prisoners convicted of violent crimes, two sources told Human Rights Watch. The authorities have yet to conduct any transparent investigation into the five deaths in detention during 2018, but have claimed that three cases were suicides.

    • Erdogan’s War on Workers

      For the DISK union that backed the strike, it’s yet another injustice—only the latest sign of the state’s crackdown on organized labor as Turkey continues its slide toward autocracy under Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, who has led the country since 2003, first as prime minister then as president. DISK seeks to unionize new segments of the population and build an independent working-class movement strong enough to deliver social justice to Turkey, but the union is running into roadblocks, from both employers and the state.

    • Native Tribes Shouldn't Have To Jump This Hurdle

      This law makes it much harder for Native Americans in North Dakota to exercise a simple and God-given liberty- the right to vote. Native Americans were first given the right to vote in 1924 when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act. This law qualifies American Indians as citizens and our governments, federal, state, or local, should under no circumstances make it harder for citizens of this country to vote in any elections.

    • Sanders Campaign Committee Thanks Former Staffers for Letter on 'Incredibly Important' Issue of Sexual Harassment and Campaign Culture
      Is it a "bombshell"?

      Is it the beginning of a cynical smear campaign by powerful forces opposed to a likely presidential run by Bernie Sanders?

      Is it a genuine and necessary effort by former staffers to transform the culture of political campaigns in the United States that have long been plagued by gross power dynamics—including misogyny, sexual harassment, and abuse—by creating a "gold standard" policy to combat harassment, professional misconduct, and unwanted behavior?

    • Not My Revolution
      The Women’s March is not immune to the same forces that have confronted the political left in the U.S. for decades. The larger women’s movement itself, that sprang from the antiwar movement and civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, carried flaws along with its development that are not new to left political movements in the U.S.

      Looking in as an outsider during the late 1960s and early 1970s, I noticed that much of the women’s movement was made up of upper-middle class professionals and well-to-do students who gave short shrift to large segments of women in the U.S. who did not have the advantages of middle-class or upper-middle class upbringing and the professional school degrees and advantages that that background afforded many in the women’s movement, particularly those in leadership roles. That the women’s movement has attempted to address some of these shortcomings in recent years is testimony to the vibrance of that movement, but the fact that most white women without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, the dyed-in-the-wool misogynist, is a an undeniable and valid criticism of the women’s movement’s effectiveness.

      I have marched, along with my family, for two consecutive years at the Women’s March in New York City. It felt good being on the streets in solidarity with others, the cause was noble, but during both marches I felt that the marches were accomplishing little besides saying “Hooray for our side.” If the proof is indeed in the pudding, then the nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, with echoes of attacks against Anita Hill in the person of Christine Ford, is evidence of how the women’s movement’s power has changed little over the ensuing decades.

    • Resistance Is the Supreme Act of Faith
      The struggle against the monstrous radical evil that dominates our lives—an evil that is swiftly despoiling the earth and driving the human species toward extinction, stripping us of our most basic civil liberties and freedoms, waging endless war and solidifying the obscene wealth of an oligarchic elite at our expense—will be fought only with the belief that resistance, however futile, insignificant and even self-defeating it may appear, can set in motion moral and spiritual forces that radiate outward to inspire others, including those who come after us. It is, in essence, an act of faith. Nothing less than this faith will sustain us. We resist not because we will succeed, but because it is right. Resistance is the supreme act of faith.

      During the Vietnam War, on the afternoon of May 17, 1968, nine Catholics, including two brothers, the radical priests Phil and Dan Berrigan, entered the draft board in Catonsville, Md., and seized Selective Service records. They carted them outside to the parking lot in metal trash cans and set them on fire with homemade napalm—the recipe was from the Special Forces Handbook of the U.S. Army. The men and women, many of whom were or had been members of Catholic religious orders, stood and prayed around the bonfire until they were arrested. They were protesting not only the war but, as Dan Berrigan wrote, “every major presumption underlying American life.” They acted, and eventually went to prison, Berrigan went on, “to set in motion spiritual rhythms whose outward influences are, in the nature of things, simply immeasurable.”

    • UK and EU Security
      A couple of recent inter€­views about the themes of UK and EU secur€­ity, going for€­ward.

    • Arundhati Roy on Fiction in the Face of Rising Fascism
      “How to tell a shattered story by slowly becoming everybody. No, by slowly becoming everything.” That’s the line that stuck with me from The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, the latest book by one of our favorite guests, Arundhati Roy. Roy’s strength as a writer — and what she does that so many of us struggle to do — is weave many stories into one fabric, without diluting the integrity of those stories. I’ve spoken to her often about her writing on capitalism, nationalism, solidarity and resistance. In this conversation we’ll talk about all those things again, and visit her new novel against the backdrop of anti-Muslim violence and landmark changes for queer people in her home country of India.

    • 2018 Will Be Remembered for Resistance
      We knew it would get ugly when Donald Trump was elected president, but we did not know at first what exactly the ugly would look like. Now, as 2018 comes to a close, we do. The images of families ripped apart at the southern border are now seared into our brains. The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — Trump’s promise delivered to anti-choice voters — is a national trauma that points to the sheer absurdity of placing the rights of women and femmes in the hands of privileged white men. The deadly wildfires that wrought destruction in California have become a potent symbol of the future of our planet as the Trump administration dismantles one federal climate effort after another.

      As the year comes to a close, Trump’s tantrums over funding for his border wall are a good sign that the ugly is far from over. Indeed, Trump dominated the headlines in 2018 as scandals and investigations swirled around him, and his policies exacerbated humanitarian crises at home and abroad. At Truthout, we were not shy about calling Trump out for his blatant authoritarianism, and we joined hundreds of news outlets in denouncing his anti-democratic attacks on the media.

      However, Trump is not the only story to tell, and Truthout has worked hard to raise voices of resistance in the national narrative. After all, 2018 won’t just be remembered for Trump’s tweets; it will also be remembered for mass marches, intersectional organizing, #BelieveSurvivors and #AbolishICE. It will be remembered as the year that record numbers of LGBTQ people and women of color ran for Congress, and for a midterm election that ushered a fresh slate of progressives into a Democratically controlled house, despite extensive voter suppression efforts. It will be remembered for difficult but long-overdue conversations about white supremacy and sexual violence. It will be remembered as a year when people fought back despite the odds.
    • The 'Year of the Woman' Forced Us to Take A Step Back for Every Step Forward. That Isn't Real Progress.
      But a record number of women heading to Congress as a result of the midterm elections cannot be celebrated outside of the context that it happened mere weeks after the United States Senate chose to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after credible allegations of sexual assault were made against him. It cannot be a moment of self-congratulation for politicians to say they believe women in floor speeches while summarily ignoring the hundreds of women and survivors of sexual violence occupying Congress to protest the confirmation and the thousands of survivors flooding Hill offices with their testimony and victim accounts.

      The nation bore witness to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s several hours of painful public testimony of her sexual assault as she assumed tremendous risk to her safety, re-lived her trauma on a national stage and told the Senate panel, “I believed he was going to rape me.” And then it voted to confirm to a lifetime appointment the very man she said abused her.
    • Here Are the Worst Abortion Restrictions Conservative State Lawmakers Passed This Year
      Conservative state lawmakers passed a surge of unconstitutional pre-viability abortion bans this year in an effort to tee up a challenge to Roe v. Wade. These included everything from bans on the safest, most common form of second-trimester abortion to laws that would outright re-criminalize abortion. So far, the federal courts have proven to be the necessary firewall preventing conservatives from enshrining these restrictions into law. But Republicans spent most of 2018 vigorously packing the federal courts with judges they believe to be ready and willing to roll back abortion rights as far as possible—so that barrier might not hold in 2019.

      Here’s a sample of some of the worst anti-choice restrictions passed in the states this year.

    • How the Trash Industry Worked Overtime Trying to Thwart New York City’s Reform Plans
      A push against a zoning proposal involved a trade group helmed by a man convicted in a bid-rigging scheme; $500,000 to a lobbying firm that drafted legislation; and a lawmaker who was recently in business with one of the major haulers.

    • Wrangling With Monopolies: 2018 in Review
      This year has brought numerous stories of large Internet companies using their dominance of key Internet functions in ways that harm users and shut out competitors. From Google’s treatment of competing search companies in its results, to Facebook’s playing favorites with its developer APIs, to AT&T and Comcast’s ongoing quest to charge websites for the privilege of reaching you, monopoly power and its abuses are on vivid display. Worse, unlike in previous technology cycles, the dominance of these companies has proven to be sticky. The world has taken notice, with voices from across the political spectrum calling for new approaches.

      Market concentration and monopoly power in the online world have always shaped EFF’s work. This year, we’ve begun to tackle competition issues head-on.

      One focus is the legal doctrine that deals directly with problems of monopoly power—antitrust law. This year, we’ve given comment and testimony to the Federal Trade Commission on ways that U.S. antitrust could evolve to deal with today’s Internet. We argued in favor of a broader version of antitrust law’s consumer welfare standard that looks to speech, privacy, and innovation harms, not to consumer prices alone.

      There are stiff headwinds in the antitrust world. The Supreme Court issued a major decision on antitrust in “two-sided markets” this year that could make it harder to bring claims against the Internet giants. In Ohio v. American Express, the Court ruled that companies who facilitate transactions between two groups of customers (in that case, merchants and credit card users) aren’t liable for practices that raise one group’s prices as long as the other group's benefits are greater. Another pending case will test whether Apple can structure its relationship with app developers in a way that blocks ordinary consumers from suing Apple for inflating app prices.

    • Prosecutors Mull 'Assault' Charges After Videos Show Children Being Dragged and Hit at Arizona Immigration Detention Center
      Maricopa County prosecutors in Arizona are considering potential criminal charges after reviewing footage of children being dragged, hit, and shoved by staff members at a detention center near Phoenix.

      On Monday, the prosecutors received a report documenting an investigation into the alleged abuse after videos, first published by the Arizona Republic, provoked outrage.

      Released to the public over the weekend, the footage showed at least three children being dragged and shoved by staff members at Hacienda del Sol in Youngtown in mid-September, a month before the detention center was closed.

      One video showed a staff member pulling a child into a room and then shoving and hitting the child, while other videos showed staffers dragging two other children. County officials said Monday that the footage was being examined as evidence of potential "child abuse and assault."

    • What Fresh Hell in 2019? Your Guess Is as Good as Mine.
      I spent the day after Christmas being wrong. In the morning, before the opening bell on the stock market in New York, I announced to my friends there would be a 1,000-point drop by the closing bell. Hell, the TV network people were practically predicting an attack by Godzilla after a long holiday weekend of Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin lobbing hand grenades into the pool. I felt like I was on pretty safe ground.

      Not so much. When the bell rang at the end of the largest Dow gain in history, my friends all had some sport with me. There was nothing for it; I had to self-own. I wasn’t simply, merely wrong. I was binary wrong. Wet and dry wrong. Cat and dog wrong. The Dow finished the day 1,086 points up; I was 86 points from pitching a perfect game of wrongness. It was a quantum singularity of nope. A Death Star of fail. That much wrong should have its own congressman.

      This is all by way of saying that writing the New Year’s article is a pain in the ass because the prediction business is for the birds. If you had pulled me aside at this time last year and given me 10,000 chances to guess what would happen between then and now, I would not have known where to begin.

    • In 2019, Let’s Resolve to Organize With Love in the Face of Apocalypse
      This is a time to let love guide each step, but it doesn’t seem like that. It seems like time to obsess over how bad it all is. It’s really bad. It’s a hard time for those who have to think in terms of short-term conditions — of surviving deportation, prison, attacks on our personhood.

      Watching a caravan of displaced people approach our border, as families are violently separated and children are traumatized there; watching as members of our community are killed by police; watching as the language of trans identity is threatened out of existence… it can feel hard to see what we can do that will matter.

      It’s also a devastating time for those who can lift their eyes to the horizon and see our long-term conditions: the changing climate, the weakness of infrastructure, the desperation of old systems like patriarchy and white supremacy as we shed them. It’s a balmy December so far in this golden age of global warming — it feels lovely if we don’t question how quickly our climate is changing in spite of the climate change deniers in positions of power over our policies. Our global reputation is appalling as we simultaneously disrespect the UN and cozy up to the leaders who order the assassination of journalists, including but not at all limited to Jamal Khashoggi.

      What will guide our steps in these conditions if we aren’t proactive? Fear, of course. I think of it as justified terror. We aren’t scared of the unknown as much as the informed prediction of climate apocalypse and genocide. We aren’t scared of the possibility of race war but are feeling justified terror given the patterns of white supremacy to violently assert and defend itself.

      Rage — the feeling that what is happening is so unfair and so wrong and so flagrant and so unforgivable — can guide our steps, but if it does, we can then focus only on revenge. We may call it victory, but what we want is the power to punish those who have harmed us for so long. The rage is righteous. But it ties us to the source of rage and imprisons us in trying to get some sense of right through the wrong.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why does decentralization matter?

      I’ve been writing about Mastodon for two whole years now, and it occurred to me that at no point did I lay out why anyone should care about decentralization in clear and concise text. I have, of course, explained it in interviews, and you will find some of the arguments here and there in promotional material, but this article should answer that question once and for all.

    • Lawrence Roberts, Who Helped Design Internet’s Precursor, Dies at 81

      As a manager at the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, Dr. Roberts designed much of the Arpanet — the internet’s precursor — and oversaw its implementation in 1969.

      Dr. Roberts called upon a circle of colleagues who shared his interest in computer networking for help in creating the technical underpinnings of the Arpanet, integrating and refining many ideas for how data should flow.

      Dr. Roberts was considered the decisive force behind packet switching, [...]

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • China's top court to handle intellectual property appeals
      China's top court will rule on intellectual property cases for the first time from January 1, the government said, elevating the handling of an issue that has become a key complaint in the trade war with the US. Washington and Beijing are currently in talks to resolve a bruising trade spat that has spooked markets worldwide. The two sides imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on more than $300 billion worth of goods this year, before agreeing to a 90-day truce on December 1. The United States, along with the European Union, has long complained about lax enforcement of intellectual property rights in China. Forced technology transfers have been another major bone of contention for foreign companies operating in China. Deputy Chief Justice Luo Dongchuan said Saturday that from the start of 2019 the Supreme Court would begin handling appeals on intellectual property rights cases, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Such cases were previously handled by provincial-level high courts.

    • Comparable Licenses Often Aren’t
      One of the more complicated issues in patent law is the issue of damages—the determination of how much money a patent owner receives when they prove infringement and validity. A patent owner, under 35 U.S.C. €§ 284, will be awarded “damages adequate to compensate for the infringement, but in no event less than a reasonable royalty.”

      That can mean the patent owner’s lost profits—though those are frequently difficult to prove. Because of this difficulty, patent owners usually ask for damages in the amount of a reasonable royalty.

      But what is a reasonable royalty? A lot of factors can go into helping determine what’s reasonable, but one favorite tool of the Federal Circuit is looking at “comparable licenses.” The problem, of course, is in determining what is “comparable.”


      The Federal Circuit prefers to use comparable licenses to avoid doing the difficult work of setting a reasonable royalty—but all too often, doing so takes licenses that aren’t truly comparable as evidence, leading to inappropriate royalties.

    • Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., et al. v. Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc., No. 18-817
      Hikma has petitioned the Supreme Court for review of this important eligibility case. In its decision, the Federal Circuit drew a fine line between Vanda’s personalized medical treatment claims (adjudged eligible) and the methods found in Mayo and Ariosa (adjudged ineligible).

    • Copyrights

      • Happy Public Domain day: for real, for the first time in 20 years!

        So this year's American Public Domain Day List is, for the first time in 20 years, not a work melancholy alternate history, but rather a celebration of works that Americans are newly given access to without restriction or payment, for free re-use and adaptation, in the spirit of such classics as Snow White, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, All You Need is Love, and more (More than 1,000 in all, summarized in this handy spreadsheet -- thanks Gary!).

      • January 1, 2019 is (finally) Public Domain Day: Works from 1923 are open to all!

        For the first time in over 20 years, on January 1, 2019, published works will enter the US public domain.1 Works from 1923 will be free for all to use and build upon, without permission or fee. They include dramatic films such as The Ten Commandments, and comedies featuring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. There are literary works by Robert Frost, Aldous Huxley, and Edith Wharton, the “Charleston” song, and more. And remember, this has not happened for over 20 years. Why? Works from 1923 were set to go into the public domain in 1999, after a 75-year copyright term. But in 1998 Congress hit a two-decade pause button and extended their copyright term for 20 years, giving works published between 1923 and 1977 an expanded term of 95 years.2

      • What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2019?

        Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author's death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1962 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2019. Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2058.1 Elsewhere on this site, we celebrate works from 1923 that will actually be entering the public domain in 2019, after a 95-year term. But 1923 was a long time ago—imagine if works from 1962 and earlier were “free as the air to common use”! Here’s what could have been.

      • After 20-Year Delay, Works from 1923 Lose Copyright Protection

        The Sonny Bono/Mickey Mouse law has had some perverse effects. For example, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered April 4, 1968. Under the previous rules, all of his speeches and writings would have entered into public domain fifty years after that date—which is to say, eight months ago. Now, however, his estate controls rights through 2038.

      • Will Enter the Public Domain on New Year’s Eve

        A 20-year freeze on copyright expirations has prevented a cache of 1923 works from entering the public domain, including Paramount Pictures’ The Ten Commandments, Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim, and novels by Aldous Huxley.

        Such a massive release of iconic works is unprecedented, experts say—especially in the digital age, as the last big dump predated Google.

      • After a 20 year delay, works from 1923 will finally enter the public domain tomorrow

        Lawmakers argued the legislation was necessary to protect the revenues of US entertainment industry, and bring US law into line with European law — but it was really about protecting Mickey Mouse. The first Mickey Mouse cartoons were released in 1928, and the new rules extended Disney’s control of the copyright until at least 2023.

        However, on January 1st 2019, the first works protected by the CTEA’s new 95 year limit will expire. These books, films and songs will now be free for anyone to copy, reproduce, present, or perform, without having to gain permission or pay royalty fees to their original rights holders. Google will be able to make full books available to read through its Google Books service, anyone will be able to upload the films to YouTube, and amateur theaters will be able to produce plays without needing to seek permission.

      • Anti-Piracy Companies Continually Report IMDb as a Pirate Site

        For movie fans everywhere, IMDb is one of the world's best resources for information. Sadly, however, many anti-piracy companies can't tell the difference between IMDb and a pirate site. Ironically, their copyright complaints to Google do nothing except hurt the visibility of the content they claim to protect.

      • BitTorrent Blocklists Are Even Less Effective Than Pirate Site Blocking

        For my years, some pirates have been putting their faith in so-called 'peer blocking' apps that aim to prevent anti-piracy agencies from connecting to their clients and monitoring their activities. Unfortunately, they have never worked and won't ever be effective in the future. For those who still aren't convinced, think about how effective site-blocking is at preventing file-sharing.

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Links 23/04/2024: Escalations Around Poland, Microsoft Shares Dumped
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/04/2024: Offline PSP Media Player and OpenBSD on ThinkPad
Links for the day
Amaya Rodrigo Sastre, Holger Levsen & Debian DebConf6 fight
Reprinted with permission from
DebConf8: who slept with who? Rooming list leaked
Reprinted with permission from
Bruce Perens & Debian: swiping the Open Source trademark
Reprinted with permission from
Ean Schuessler & Debian SPI OSI trademark disputes
Reprinted with permission from
Windows in Sudan: From 99.15% to 2.12%
With conflict in Sudan, plus the occasional escalation/s, buying a laptop with Vista 11 isn't a high priority
Anatomy of a Cancel Mob Campaign
how they go about
[Meme] The 'Cancel Culture' and Its 'Hit List'
organisers are being contacted by the 'cancel mob'
Richard Stallman's Next Public Talk is on Friday, 17:30 in Córdoba (Spain), FSF Cannot Mention It
Any attempt to marginalise founders isn't unprecedented as a strategy
IRC Proceedings: Monday, April 22, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, April 22, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Don't trust me. Trust the voters.
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Chris Lamb & Debian demanded Ubuntu censor my blog
Reprinted with permission from
Ean Schuessler, Branden Robinson & Debian SPI accounting crisis
Reprinted with permission from
William Lee Irwin III, Michael Schultheiss & Debian, Oracle, Russian kernel scandal
Reprinted with permission from
Microsoft's Windows Down to 8% in Afghanistan According to statCounter Data
in Vietnam Windows is at 8%, in Iraq 4.9%, Syria 3.7%, and Yemen 2.2%
[Meme] Only Criminals Would Want to Use Printers?
The EPO's war on paper
EPO: We and Microsoft Will Spy on Everything (No Physical Copies)
The letter is dated last Thursday
Links 22/04/2024: Windows Getting Worse, Oligarch-Owned Media Attacking Assange Again
Links for the day
Links 21/04/2024: LINUX Unplugged and 'Screen Time' as the New Tobacco
Links for the day
Gemini Links 22/04/2024: Health Issues and Online Documentation
Links for the day
What Fake News or Botspew From Microsoft Looks Like... (Also: Techrights to Invest 500 Billion in Datacentres by 2050!)
Sededin Dedovic (if that's a real name) does Microsoft stenography
Stefano Maffulli's (and Microsoft's) Openwashing Slant Initiative (OSI) Report Was Finalised a Few Months Ago, Revealing Only 3% of the Money Comes From Members/People
Microsoft's role remains prominent (for OSI to help the attack on the GPL and constantly engage in promotion of proprietary GitHub)
[Meme] Master Engineer, But Only They Can Say It
One can conclude that "inclusive language" is a community-hostile trolling campaign
[Meme] It Takes Three to Grant a Monopoly, Or... Injunction Against Staff Representatives
Quality control
[Video] EPO's "Heart of Staff Rep" Has a Heartless New Rant
The wordplay is just for fun
An Unfortunate Miscalculation Of Capital
Reprinted with permission from Andy Farnell
[Video] Online Brigade Demands That the Person Who Started GNU/Linux is Denied Public Speaking (and Why FSF Cannot Mention His Speeches)
So basically the attack on RMS did not stop; even when he's ill with cancer the cancel culture will try to cancel him, preventing him from talking (or be heard) about what he started in 1983
Online Brigade Demands That the Person Who Made Nix Leaves Nix for Not Censoring People 'Enough'
Trying to 'nix' the founder over alleged "safety" of so-called 'minorities'
[Video] Inauthentic Sites and Our Upcoming Publications
In the future, at least in the short term, we'll continue to highlight Debian issues
List of Debian Suicides & Accidents
Reprinted with permission from
Jens Schmalzing & Debian: rooftop fall, inaccurately described as accident
Reprinted with permission from
[Teaser] EPO Leaks About EPO Leaks
Yo dawg!
On Wednesday IBM Announces 'Results' (Partial; Bad Parts Offloaded Later) and Red Hat Has Layoffs Anniversary
There's still expectation that Red Hat will make more staff cuts
IBM: We Are No Longer Pro-Nazi (Not Anymore)
Historically, IBM has had a nazi problem
Bad faith: attacking a volunteer at a time of grief, disrespect for the sanctity of human life
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Bad faith: how many Debian Developers really committed suicide?
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, April 21, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, April 21, 2024
A History of Frivolous Filings and Heavy Drug Use
So the militant was psychotic due to copious amounts of marijuana
Bad faith: suicide, stigma and tarnishing
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
UDRP Legitimate interests: EU whistleblower directive, workplace health & safety concerns
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock