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Links 20/1/2019: Exo 0.12.4 and Libhandy 0.0.7 Released

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  • Desktop

    • Should You Run Linux Apps on Your Chromebook?
      The Linux apps' performance on Chromebook in its current Beta phase seems to be much more reliable and stable than the Android apps integration initially was. Linux apps on Chromebook will get even better as Crostini gets more developed.

      Chrome OS 71 brings considerably more improvements, according to various reports. One of those changes will let the Linux virtual machine be visible in Chrome OS' Task Manager.

      Another expected improvement is the ability to shut down the Linux virtual machine easily.

      An even better expected improvement is folder-sharing between the Linux VM and Chrome OS. That should resolve the inconvenience of the isolated Linux files folder.

      Is it justifiable to get a new "qualified" Chromebook in order to run Linux apps on it? If you are primarily a Linux distro user and have settled for using a Linux-less Chromebook as a companion portable computer, I can only say, "Go for it!"

      I do not think you will regret the splurge.

    • Elementary OS Challenge Day 2: We Need To Talk About Minimizing Windows
      Several years ago elementary OS founder Daniel Foré visited his grandparents in California, and noticed a habit that probably inspired this radical way of viewing windows and workflows. His grandfather, who had a Windows XP computer hooked up to their TV, would open a browser, minimize it when he was finished, and then open a new instance of the browser by double clicking on the desktop icon.

      "He had upwards of 12 separate web browser windows open and had no idea," Foré writes. "For most of us, it can be fairly obvious when multiple windows are open and sucking up system resources, but this information was lost on a user who only understood that clicking the '-' made the app go away and double clicking the app icon on the desktop is what made the app show up again."

      Foré says that ultimately, the minimize button is just another way of making users do manual memory management. He also says that hey, this concept isn't much different than what Android and iOS have been doing for years.

    • How did you get started with Linux?
      The Linux mascot is a penguin named Tux, so we thought it appropriate to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day for the conservation of penguin habitats and talk a little bit (more) about Linux.

      A few fun penguin facts: These furry creatures are flightless yet part of the bird family. Some are large, like the Emperor penguin, and some are small, like those found in New Zealand. And, the Gentoo penguin is known to swim up to a speed of 21 miles per hour!

      Now, for the Linux bit. I asked our writer community to describe the moment they learned about Linux or the moment they got it up on running on their machine. Here's what they shared.

  • Server

    • ON Semiconductor Increases Support for Idaho State University Department of Electrical Engineering
      ON Semiconductor continues its support of, and collaboration with, the Idaho State University Department of Electrical Engineering by recently donating an industrial-grade Linux server, eight state-of-the-art computer workstations and associated design software.

      The new workstations will be used to train ISU electrical engineering students, and eventually to provide professional graduate-level education to ON Semiconductor employees.

      “We have already started using the donated equipment for current coursework related to semiconductor design. In addition to the equipment and software donation, ON Semiconductor design engineers are working with us to create a new course that they will also help teach this spring.” said Steve Chiu, director of the ISU electrical engineering program.

    • How running websites has changed in the last two decades (for an Ars IT guru)

      I was a true nerd growing up in the 1980s—not in the hipster way but in the 10-pound-issue-of-Computer-Shopper-under-my-arm way (these things were seriously huge). I was thoroughly addicted to BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) by the time I was 10. Maybe it's no surprise I ended up as a technical director for a science and tech site.

      In fact, I'd actually draw a direct line between the job of managing your own BBS (aka SysOping) to managing a modern Web infrastructure. And with everyone around Ars looking back given the site's 20th anniversary, let's make that line a bit clearer. It won't be an exhaustive history of websites, but here's how my own experiences with managing websites have evolved in the past two decades—plus how the tools and thinking have changed over time, too.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • XGI Display Driver Finally On The Linux Kernel Chopping Block
      XGI Tech, the nearly two decade old spin off from SiS that was short-lived and once aimed to be a competitor to ATI and NVIDIA, still has a Linux driver within the mainline kernel. But this frame-buffer driver is slated to soon be removed.

      There's long been the "xgifb" driver within the mainline Linux kernel staging area. This has served for display purposes with XGI hardware without any hardware acceleration, but the driver was limited in scope and hasn't received any real maintenance in years. Plus with being an FBDEV driver while all modern Linux display drivers make use of the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) infrastructure, it's really outdated.

    • Livepatching With Linux 5.1 To Support Atomic Replace & Cumulative Patches
      With the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle that should get underway in just over one month's time, there will now be the long in development work (it's been through 15+ rounds of public code review!) for supporting atomic replace and cumulative patches.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Wayland's Weston Moving Towards Its Next Release Soon
        Longtime Wayland developer Derek Foreman is working on coordinating the next release of the Weston reference compositor. Here are those early details and his hope to ship this next feature release in March.

        Derek is tentatively proposing a February feature freeze and for this next Weston update to debut in March. At this time there are no plans for an updated Wayland release with there being no pressing changes on the horizon.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO 18.50 vs. ROCm 2.0 OpenCL Performance
        When recently publishing the PlaidML deep learning benchmarks and lczero chess neural network OpenCL tests, some Phoronix readers mentioned they were seeing vastly different results with using the PAL OpenCL driver in AMDGPU-PRO (Radeon Software) compared to using the ROCm compute stack. So for seeing how those two separate AMD OpenCL drivers compare, here are some benchmark results with a Vega GPU while testing ROCm 2.0 and AMDGPU-PRO 18.50.

  • Applications

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 4.0 To Be Released In The Next Few Days
        With yesterday's release of Wine 4.0-RC7, the regression/bug count is low enough and the situation looking good that the stable Wine 4.0.0 release should be tagged in the next few days.

        Wine 4.0-RC7 should be the final release candidate and the stable 4.0 release tagged and issued in a short period of time. Wine founder Alexandre Julliard who manages the releases commented today, "Things are looking good for 4.0, we've made quite a bit of progress on the regressions, thank you to everybody who helped! rc7 should be the last release candidate, please give it a good last check. If no last minute issues are found, I'll release final 4.0 in a couple of days, and lift code freeze :-)"

    • Games

      • Valve put out another Steam Beta Client with minor Steam Play changes
        Valve are pushing out updates rather often to the Steam client lately, with the fourth this month now out.

        On top of removing Steam Play options for Mac and Windows, along with a Steam Input bug fix we also saw these updated to the Steam Play integration on Linux...

      • itch A Gaming Platform For Indie Games Lovers
        itch is another gaming platform that is similar to Steam and is available for multiple operating systems including Linux. This platform provides users with the latest indie games instead of AAA games. If you are open to creativity and likes playing/trying out different games, I guarantee you’ll love itch platform too. Similar to steam, itch also provides both free and non-free games, indicates game system requirements (except without the specifications), and some other common features. Read on below to learn more about this app.

      • Render game scene with Panda 3D
        Today we will continue to explore Panda 3D, after a day of searching online for the method to export the whole mesh created with Blender which can then be used in Panda 3D’s game I have found two of them. 1) Exporting the mesh in the Direct (x) format 2) Using YABEE to export the mesh in the egg file format

      • Mesa 19.0 Can Cut In Half The Amount Of Memory For Team Fortress 2
        Timothy Arceri of Valve's open-source Linux graphics driver team has landed patches in Mesa 19.0 that drastically reduce the amount of system memory used when firing up the Team Fortress 2 game.

        Arceri started off with a patch on Friday to ensure GLSL IR optimizations are run during the initial shader compilation process. That patch partially reverts work done a year ago that delayed some of these optimizations since it would speed-up Deus Ex: Mankind Divided start times by about twenty seconds. So games with a ton of shaders like Deus Ex will go back to starting up slower on initial shader compiles until optimized and cached, but applying these optimizations reduced the memory use in Team Fortress 2 from 1.5GB to 1.3GB.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 54
        This week in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative, something big landed: virtual desktop support on Wayland, accompanied by a shiny new user interface for the X11 version too. Eike Hein has been working on this literally for months and I think he deserves a round of applause! It was a truly enormous amount of work, but now we can benefit for years to come.

      • KDE Now Has Virtual Desktop Support On Wayland
        KDE landing virtual desktop support on Wayland this week is certainly quite exciting while also a new UI was added for the X11 virtual desktop support too. Some of the other KDE improvements that landed this week and relayed by Nate Graham include the digital clock widget now allowing adjustments to the date formatting, the KDE Information Center's USB devices section will now actually display all USB devices, wallpaper chooser view improvements, and various other improvements.

    • GNOME/Xfce/GTK

      • Starting on a new map rendering library
        Currently in Maps, we use the libchamplain library to display the bitmap map titles (based on OpenStreetMap data and aerial photography) that we get from our tile provider, currently MapBox. This library is based on Clutter and used via the GTK+ embed support within libchamplain, which in turn makes use of the Clutter GTK embed support. Since this will not be supported when moving along to GTK+ 4.x and the Clutter library is not maintained anymore (besides the copy of it that is included in the GNOME Shell window manager/Wayland compositor, Mutter) eventually Maps will have to find a replacement. There's also some wonky bugs especially with regards to the mixing of event handling on the Clutter side vs. the GTK+ side.

        So to at least get the ball rolling a bit, I recently decided to see how hard it would be to take the code from libchamplain and keep the grotty deep-down internals dealing with tile downloading and caching and such and refocus the top-level parts onto new GTK+ 4 technologies such as the Snapshot, GSK (scene graph), and render node APIs.

      • Exo 0.12.4 Released
        Exo 0.12.4 is now available with an improved icon view, better icon rendering, and reduced disk usage.
      • My Name is Handy, Lib Handy
        Libhandy 0.0.7 just got released!


        A common pattern in GNOME applications is lists, which are typically implemented via GtkListBox. More specific patterns arose, where rows have a title at the start, an optional subtitle below it, actions at the end and an icon or some other widget like a radio button as a prefix. These rows can also be expanded to reveal nested rows or anything else that fits the need.

        So far every application using these patterns implemented the rows by hand for each and every row. It made using these a bit cumbersome and it led to inconsistencies in sizing, even inside a single application. To make these patterns easier to use, we implemented HdyActionRow, HdyComboRow and HdyExpanderRow.

      • Libhandy 0.0.7 Released For Building Adaptive/Mobile GTK Applications
        Libhandy is the library backed by Purism for use on their Librem 5 among other potential use-cases for allowing adaptive GTK+ widgets depending upon screen real estate. It's still a ways out from version 1.0, but libhandy 0.0.7 was released this weekend as the latest achievement.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC (Leia) v8.95.3 BETA
        LibreELEC 9.0 (Leia) Beta 3 has finally arrived after a long gestation period. Based upon Kodi v18 RC5.2, the 9.0 Beta 3 release contains many changes and refinements to user experience and a complete overhaul of the underlying OS core to improve stability and extend hardware support. Kodi v18 also brings new features like Kodi Retroplayer and DRM support that (equipped with an appropriate add-on) allows Kodi to unofficially stream content from services like Netflix and Amazon.

      • IPFire 2.21 - Core Update 127 is available for testing
        New year, new update ready for testing! We have been busy over the holidays and are bringing you an update that is packed with new features and many many performance improvements.

        This is quite a long change log, but please read through it. It is worth it!

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Introducing the Lubuntu Council
              The Lubuntu community has grown exponentially since our switch to LXQt. With new users, contributors, and Lubuntu enthusiasts among many other people who have decided to join our community, we are finding the need to scale the project further than the unwritten technically-led oligarchy that we currently have in the Lubuntu project. Therefore, we are pleased to announce the Lubuntu Council.

              Not much will change; the same people will be working to put together a high-quality Lubuntu release every six months. However, this ensures that Lubuntu’s processes stay structured and resilient for years to come.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

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

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

  • LibreOffice

    • Help to spread the word about LibreOffice!
      Millions of people around the world use LibreOffice every day – but there are still some people who haven’t heard about our free, powerful, open source, Microsoft-compatible office suite.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Journal column

      As of the January issue, the FreeBSD Journal will be free. You can access it, and all back issues, through a browser. You’ll need to register for it–the Foundation is still using it for fund-raising, but in a less direct manner.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Kernel sources for the Nokia 8 Sirocco and Xiaomi Redmi Note 2/2 Pro/Note 3 (MediaTek) are now available
      Xiaomi’s kernel source release policy, as per my conversation with senior officials as well as official statements made by them, is that the company would aim to release the kernel source of a device within three months after its launch. This policy decision was to apply prospectively and not retrospectively, though the company did show interest in providing kernel sources for older devices as well as it was still bound by the GPL.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Keeping casual open source contributors happy and more news
      In this edition of our open source news roundup, we look at how scholars are bringing medieval literature into the digital age using open source software, keeping casual contributors to open source projects happy, the release of the Fifth Internet Edition of The Linux Command Line, and more.

  • Programming/Development

    • Best 10 Git GUI Clients for Ubuntu
      I know most of the people reading this article are developers on Linux or Linux enthusiasts and don’t need any introduction to the Git. But for the noobs out there, Git is one of the most popular and most widely used version control systems available for software development and other similar kind of work. Basically Git is tool which can be managed and used through command line and it is one of the most easy to use command line version control tools available for Linux developers and users.With most of the developers nowadays using graphical tools for programming and development, there is no surprise they are also seeking for GUI tools which could prove to be efficient alternatives to Git command line tool. There are many Git GUI clients available for Linux and its distros like Ubuntu which offer most of the features of Git command line tool with more efficiency and reliability.

    • GNU Binutils 2.32 Branched Ahead Of Release With New Features
      A new release of the GNU Binutils programming tools will soon be available. The upcoming Binutils 2.32 release is primarily made up of new CPU ports.

      GNU Binutils 2.32 is bringing a MIPS port to the Loongson 2K1000 processor and the Loongson 3A1000/3A2000/3A3000 processors, all of which are based on the MIPS64r2 ISA but with different instruction set extensions. These new GPUs are exposed via -march=gs264e, -march=gs464, and -march=gs464e flags. With Binutils 2.32, the utilities like objdump and c++filt now have a maximum amount of recursion that is allowed while demangling strings with the current default being 2048. There is also a --no-recurse-limit for bypassing that limit. Objdump meanwhile allows --disassemble to specify a starting symbol for disassembly.

    • Building Qt apps with Travis CI and Docker
      I recently configured Travis CI to build Nanonote, my minimalist note-taking application. We use Jenkins a lot at work, and despite the fact that I dislike the tool itself, it has proven invaluable in helping us catch errors early. So I strongly believe in the values of Continuous Integration.

      When it comes to CI setup, I believe it is important to keep your distances with the tool you are using by keeping as much setup as possible in tool-agnostic scripts, versioned in your repository, and making the CI server use these scripts.

    • PyPI Security and Accessibility Q1 2019 Request for Proposals Update
      Earlier this year we launched a Request for Information (RFI) followed by the launch of a Request for Proposals (RFP) in November to fulfill a contract for the Open Technology Fund (OTF) Core Infrastructure Fund.

      The initial deadline for our RFP was December 14th. We had hoped to begin work with the selected proposers in January 2019, but ultimately fell short of the ability to do so.

    • GStreamer 1.15.1 Released With Work On AV1, V4L HEVC Encode/Decode
      GStreamer 1.15.1 was announced on Friday as the first development release in the trek towards GStreamer 1.16 for this powerful open-source multimedia framework.

    • GStreamer 1.15.1 development release
      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce the first development release in the unstable 1.15 release series.

      The unstable 1.15 release series adds new features on top of the current stable 1.14 series and is part of the API and ABI-stable 1.x release series of the GStreamer multimedia framework.

      The unstable 1.15 release series is for testing and development purposes in the lead-up to the stable 1.16 series which is scheduled for release in a few weeks time. Any newly-added API can still change until that point, although it is rare for that to happen.

    • Is C++ fast?
      A library that I work on often these days, meshoptimizer, has changed over time to use fewer and fewer C++ library features, up until the current state where the code closely resembles C even though it uses some C++ features. There have been many reasons behind the changes - dropping C++11 requirement allowed me to make sure anybody can compile the library on any platform, removing std::vector substantially improved performance of unoptimized builds, removing algorithm includes sped up compilation. However, I’ve never quite taken the leap all the way to C with this codebase. Today we’ll explore the gamut of possible C++ implementations for one specific algorithm, mesh simplifier, henceforth known as simplifier.cpp, and see if going all the way to C is worthwhile.

    • Python Counters @PyDiff

    • Report: (clxi) stackoverflow python report

    • Regular Expressions in Python

    • Create equalizer feature for video editing program


  • Netflix Calls Fortnite a Bigger Competitor Than HBO

    In the report, Netflix discussed its penetration into overall screen time, which includes TVs and mobile devices that are used for television and movie viewing, video games, and more. Netflix said, “We earn consumer screen time, both mobile and television, away from a very broad set of competitors. We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO."

  • Organized crime is laundering money through Fortnite's in-game currency

    Criminals are using stolen credit cards to buy Fortnite V-bucks, then selling the in-game currency for bitcoin at a discount on the [black market] as a way to launder money.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Shutdown Will Harm the Health and Safety of Americans, Even After It’s Ended
      With the US federal government shutdown now the longest in history, it’s important to understand what a shutdown means for the health and safety of Americans.

      The good news is that in the short run, the consequences are relatively few. But, as a researcher who studies natural disaster planning, I believe that Americans should be worried about the federal government’s long-term ability to ensure good public health and protect the public from disasters.

      As the shutdown draws on, it increasingly weakens the government’s ability to protect Americans down the road, long after federal workers are allowed to go back to work. Many of these effects are largely invisible and may feel intangible because they don’t currently affect specific individuals.

      However, the shutdown poses a very real threat to preparedness for future emergencies, such as natural disasters and disease outbreaks. It also damages the government’s ability to recruit and retain the experts needed to work at the cutting edge of public health.

    • Computer program that could bypass patents to produce synthetic drugs
      Researchers in Poland and South Korea have developed a computerised method that could be used to synthetically produce essential drugs, bypassing patent-protection.

      In the global industry, some of the best kept secrets are those necessary to make life-saving medication and other pharmaceutical products.

      “When we started this project, I was somewhat skeptical that the machine would find any viable synthetic alternatives – after all, these are blockbuster drugs worth gazillions of dollars, and I was sure that the respective companies had covered the patent space so densely that no loopholes remained,” said Professor of Chemistry at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (South Korea) and the Polish Academy of Sciences, Dr Bartosz Grzybowski.

      “It turns out that the loopholes are there, and we can find new retrosynthetic pathways that circumvent the patents entirely.”

    • Study: This computer program makes pharma patents airtight — (Details)
      Those pharmaceutical patents protect the company’s intellectual property while also preventing competitor companies from using certain key synthetic solutions — developed painstakingly by experiment to maximize yield, increase purity, and reduce costs — when attempting to produce desired compounds. To get to viable unpatented options, the researchers “froze” challenging portions of each target molecule, forcing the computer to substitute unconventional yet chemically plausible approaches on the basis of mechanistic rules. They tested their system out on three notable commercial medicines with different chemical hurdles: linezolid, a last-resort antibiotic; sitagliptin, an antidiabetic drug; and panobinostat, a multiple myeloma treatment.

    • Synthetic Biology Rewrites the Rules of the Genome
      Synthetic biology (SB) is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of scientific applications. In this article, we focus on the DNA alphabet; Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C), Thymine (T) and newly synthesized letters – the X-Y base pair (bp) that hope to expand the genetic alphabet. We also focus on newly implemented methods to both write a new gene faster than ever before, and store information in DNA. We interviewed two prominent scientist/entrepreneurs in the field; Emily Leproust PhD, CEO of Twist Bioscience and Floyd Romesberg PhD, a Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Institute. The discussions provided us first-hand insights on cutting-edge advancements in SB relative to genetics and chemistry. The transcripts were edited and condensed for clarity.

  • Security

    • Bo Weaver on Cloud security, skills gap, and software development in 2019
      Bo Weaver, a Kali Linux expert shares his thoughts on the security landscape in the cloud. He also talks about the skills gap in the current industry and why hiring is a tedious process. He explains the pitfalls in software development and where the tech is heading currently.

      Bo, along with another Kali Linux expert Wolf Halton were also interviewed on why Kali Linux is the premier platform for testing and maintaining Windows security. They talked about advantages and disadvantages for using Kali Linux for pentesting. We also asked them about what they think about pentesting in cybersecurity, in general. They have also talked about their stance about the role of pentesting in cybersecurity in their interview titled, “Security experts, Wolf Halton and Bo Weaver, discuss pentesting and cybersecurity”


      I laugh and cry at this term. I have a sticker on my laptop that says “There is no Cloud…. Only other people’s computers.” Your data is sitting on someone else’s system along with other people’s data. These other people also have access to this system. Sure security controls are in place but the security of “physical access” has been bypassed.

      You’re “in the box”. One layer of security is now gone. Also, your vendor has “FULL ACCESS” to your data in some cases. How can you be sure what is going on with your data when it is in an unknown box in an unknown data center? The first rule of security is “Trust No One”. Do you really trust Microsoft, Amazon, or Google? I sure don’t!!! Having your data physically out of your company’s control is not a good idea. Yes, it is cheaper but what are your company and its digital property worth?


      In software development, I see a dumbing down of user interfaces. This may be good for my 6-year-old grandson, but someone like me may want more access to the system. I see developers change things just for the reason of “change”. Take Microsoft’s Ribbon in Office. Even after all these years, I find the ribbon confusing and hard to use. At least, with Libre Office, they give you a choice between a ribbon and an old school menu bar. The changes in Gnome 3 from Gnome 2. This dumbing down and attempting to make a desktop usable for a tablet and a mouse totally destroyed the usability of their desktop. What used to take 1 click now takes 4 clicks to do.

    • Security experts, Wolf Halton and Bo Weaver, discuss pentesting and cybersecurity [Interview]

    • Cloud security products uninstalled by mutating malware [Ed: Affects already-compromised servers]
      Linux is more prevalent than one might think, Microsoft Azure is now predominantly run on Linux servers - it's not just the Chinese cloud environments being hosted via Linux, it's likely that your business is running at least one cloud service on a Linux server too.

    • Google Play still has a clone problem in 2019 with no end in sight
      A fake app tries to clone another app in name, looks, and functionality, often also adding something like malware. Despite Google’s best efforts, both types of apps were fairly common in 2018.

    • Designing the future of cybersecurity in Europe

      I have been appointed the European Parliament’s rapporteur, so I will be leading the negotiations on the Parliament position. Read my draft report here.

      Cybersecurity is the process of enhancing the security of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It is important to understand that security cannot be improved by buying a product, like a virus scanner or a firewall, for example.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Colombia Blames ELN for Bomb, Presses Cuba to Arrest Leaders
      Colombia called on Cuba to arrest 10 National Liberation Army commanders currently in Havana for stalled peace talks after a car bombing blamed on the leftist rebels killed 21 people and injured dozens at a police academy in Bogota.

      President Ivan Duque said late Friday that he had revoked a decree suspending arrest orders against leaders of Colombia’s last remaining rebel group, known as the ELN for its Spanish initials, who have been living on the communist-run island.

      “It’s clear to all of Colombia that the ELN has no true desire for peace,” Duque said in a televised address, citing a long list of 400 terrorist attacks attributed to the guerrillas since peace talks began in 2017.

    • At Least 66 Killed as Pipeline Explosion Rocks Central Mexico
      Local residents were advised to take precautions from a lingering toxic cloud on Saturday as authorities in the central Mexican state of Hildalgo said the death toll from a gasoline pipeline explosion had risen to 66.

      The deadly fireball on Friday night in the town of Tlahuelilpan left another 76 wounded, seven of whom were less than 18 years old, said Gov. Omar Fayad.

      The cause of the explosion, said state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), was a rupture caused by illegal tapping of the pipeline.

    • What Trump’s Syrian Withdrawal Really Reveals
      President Trump was wrong in asserting that the United States destroyed the Islamic State’s territorial statehood in a large part of Syria—Russia and its allies accomplished that—but he is right in proposing to withdraw some 2,000 American forces from that tragically war-ravaged country. The small American contingent serves no positive combat or strategic purpose unless it is to thwart the Russian-led peace negotiations now underway or to serve as a beachhead for a US war against Iran. Still worse, its presence represents a constant risk that American military personnel could be killed by Russian forces also operating in that relatively small area, thereby turning the new Cold War into a very hot conflict, even if inadvertently. Whether or not Trump understood this danger, his decision, if actually implemented—it is being fiercely resisted in Washington—will make US-Russian relations, and thus the world, somewhat safer.

      Nonetheless, Trump’s decision on Syria, coupled with his order to reduce US forces in Afghanistan by half, has been “condemned,” as The New York Times approvingly reported, “across the ideological spectrum,” by “the left and right.” Analyzing these condemnations, particularly in the opinion-shaping New York Times and Washington Post and on interminable (and substantially uninformed) MSNBC and CNN segments, again reveals the alarming thinking that is deeply embedded in the US bipartisan policy-media establishment.

      First, no foreign-policy initiative undertaken by President Trump, however wise it may be in regard to US national interests, will be accepted by that establishment. Any prominent political figure who does so will promptly and falsely be branded, in the malign spirit of Russiagate, as “pro-Putin,” or, as was Senator Rand Paul, arguably the only foreign-policy statesman in the senate today, “an isolationist.” This is unprecedented in modern American history. Not even Richard Nixon was subject to such establishment constraints on his ability to conduct national-security policy during the Watergate scandals.

      Second, not surprisingly, the condemnations of Trump’s decision are infused with escalating, but still unproven, Russiagate allegations of the president’s “collusion” with the Kremlin. Thus, equally predictably, the Times finds a Moscow source to say, of the withdrawals, “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving” to Putin. (In fact, it is not clear that the Kremlin is eager to see the United States withdraw from either Syria or Afghanistan, as this would leave Russia alone with what it regards as common terrorist enemies.) Closer to home, there is the newly reelected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who, when asked about Trump’s policies and Russian President Putin, told MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “I think that the president’s relationship with thugs all over the world is appalling. Vladimir Putin, really? Really? I think it’s dangerous.” By this “leadership” reasoning, Trump should be the first US president since FDR to have no “relationship” whatsoever with a Kremlin leader. And to the extent that Pelosi speaks for the Democratic Party, it can no longer be considered a party of American national security.

    • That Time a CIA Spyplane Had to Dodge a Spear During the Cold War
      As drones become more common in the sky, so to do the ways to knock them down.

    • The "Congolese SAM" and other lesser-known dangers of aerial reconnaissance
      As we’ve written about before, the Central Intelligence Agency’s archives abound with examples of the more unorthodox challenges of aerial espionage. One such incident, discussed in a SECRET article by Dino Brugioni in the Fall 1979 issue of the Agency’s Studies in Intelligence quarterly magazine, describes an unusual example of small arms fire: the “Congolese SAM” …
    • Previously secret CIA report documents spear attack against surveillance plane
      In the 1960s, during the civil wars and political upheaval that rocked what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United States Air Force flew frequent low-level reconnaissance missions over missionary outposts to check on their condition and safety. One flyover in 1964 drew an attack from the ground that was captured in part by an aerial photograph: a thrown spear.

    • Hmong Exiles Reach End of Road in Suit Against Laos
      The Ninth Circuit on Monday tossed a Hmong woman’s proposed class action accusing Laos and several of its highest-ranking government officials of trying to exterminate Hmong people who fought in the Vietnam War as part of the CIA’s “secret army.”

      In an unsigned memorandum, the three-judge panel affirmed findings that the unidentified woman failed to establish subject-matter jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute because her allegations weren’t connected with events in the United States.

    • Bidding war for US government cloud contract heats up
      Sometime soon, the US Department of Defense (DoD) will make its decision on where to award the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract.

      The successful bidder will walk away with the biggest cloud customer in the world, as 3.4 million government users and four million devices are due to be migrated from private servers into the cloud.

    • Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending?
      October 4th, 2018, was a busy news day. The fight over Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination dominated the cycle. The Trump White House received a supplemental FBI report it said cleared its would-be nominee of wrongdoing. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens meanwhile said Kavanaugh was compromised enough that he was “unable to sit as a judge.” #NationalTacoDay trended on Twitter. Chris Evans told the world production wrapped on Avengers 4. The only thing that did not make the news was an announcement by a little-known government body called the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board — FASAB — that essentially legalized secret national security spending. The new guidance, “SFFAS 56 – CLASSIFIED ACTIVITIES” permits government agencies to “modify” public financial statements and move expenditures from one line item to another. It also expressly allows federal agencies to refrain from telling taxpayers if and when public financial statements have been altered.

    • The Soviet scientist who disappeared in 1980s Madrid
      It’s March 31, 1985 and the countercultural scene known as “La Movida” is in full swing in Madrid. One of the most important scientists from the Soviet Union, Vladimir Alexandrov, has just arrived from Córdoba after participating in the Assembly of Non-Nuclear Cities on the invitation of the city’s mayor, Julio Anguita of the Spanish Communist Party.

      Alexandrov, 47, had been in Spain for three days and was reportedly drunk throughout that time. But the night that he arrived back in Madrid from Córdoba, he disappeared and nobody has seen him alive ever since.

    • 'The End of Truth': Politics, mercenaries and conspiracies
      At the world premiere of his new political thriller "The End of Truth," DW spoke with director Philipp Leinemann about mercenaries, foreign intervention and secret CIA operations in Germany.

    • Yemen: The Very Phony Ceasefire
      The government is at a disadvantage here because the rebels have been stealing and stockpiling (on their northwestern Yemen homeland) or selling much of the food and other aid. Their core supporters were taken care of but the majority of Yemenis in need of that foreign aid were not. Major damage to Hodeida port facilities would mean delays in getting aid in from the two major southern ports (which do not have the capacity Hodeida has). Rebuilding Hodeida port facilities would take over a year although some unloading could begin within a month or so of an end to the violence around the port that would allow repair equipment and personnel to get in. The rebels could be really nasty and leave Iranian naval mines in the waterways the port depends on. That would make it more times consuming to restore use of the port. The rebels have already planted thousands of landmines and explosive traps in and around the port area. The government forces have been clearing those as they advanced and that did slow the advance. But the rebels could not stop the advance and the rebels know they will eventually lose and all these obstructions are mainly to encourage the government and neighboring Saudi Arabia to leave the Shia tribes with some autonomy and little retaliation for all the mess this failed rebellion has caused.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • BuzzFeed's stumble is highest-profile misstep at a time when press is under greatest scrutiny

      BuzzFeed News’ apparently mistaken story about Michael Cohen and President Donald Trump is the highest-profile misstep yet for a news organization during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny...

    • CIA Historical Review Panel Put on Hiatus
      The Historical Review Panel that advises the Central Intelligence Agency on declassification of historical intelligence records said this week that its planned December 2018 meeting was canceled by CIA, and that no future meetings were scheduled.

      But CIA said yesterday that the Panel would be reconvened following some administrative changes.

      “We have recently been informed that the Panel is being restructured and will not meet again until this has been done,” said the Panel of independent historians, chaired by Prof. Robert Jervis of Columbia University, in a January 14 statement published on H-DIPLO. “The reasons for this remain unclear to us, and no schedule for resumed meetings has been announced.”

      Upon further investigation, it appears that changes may be made regarding composition of Panel membership, term limits, and similar issues but that the scope of the Panel’s activities will be unaffected. The reconstituted Panel is expected to meet again sometime this year.

    • Alleged Football Leaks Hacker Seeks "Whistleblower" Protection After Arrest In Hungary
      Since its inception in 2015, Football Leaks, a website that publishes documents obtained from the hacking of various powerful soccer clubs and organizations, has been the bane of European soccer. The website has helped surface scandals ranging from Cristiano Ronaldo’s rape case and Jose Mourinho’s tax evasion, to more mundane leaks like the transfer agreement between Manchester United and Monaco for Anthony Martial. It also leaked the plans by top European clubs to create an exclusive “super league,” a proposal that has been met with much resistance throughout the continent.

      As for who was behind Football Leaks, there wasn’t a Julian Assange-level personality in the public eye, but rumors dating back to 2016 pegged then-27-year-old Rui Pinto, a Portuguese national, as the website’s owner.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Earth's #10YearChallenge Is Grim

      And on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, people are now using the hashtag to share side-by-side comparisons of Amazon deforestation, melting glaciers, polluted waterways, and other environmental woes.

  • Finance

    • Google announces first ever price hikes for G Suite

      The price rises aren't small - 20 per cent in some cases, but this only applies to the Basic and Business editions. Enterprise customers will be subject to more bespoke arrangements, it was ever thus.

      Monthly prices will go up from $5 to $6 per seat on the basic plan and from $10 to $12 per seat on the business tier. Google says that there will be "equivalent" rises in local currencies which will mean that UK users can expect prices to rise from the current €£6.60 to around €£7.50 for business users, and €£3 to €£4 for basics.

    • What’s Next for Public Education in 2019
      Day after day this week, the streets of Los Angeles hosted an increasingly familiar sight: a wave of striking teachers and their supporters clad in red, marching to strengthen public education by demanding smaller classes, reductions in high-stakes testing, better pay and more support staff. Defying the rain for multiple days of their strike, they held signs declaring themselves “ON STRIKE FOR OUR STUDENTS,” implicitly affirming that the #RedForEd movement revived by striking teachers in 2018 remains alive and well in 2019, too.

      From surges in teacher organizing to Trump administration attacks on students’ safety and dignity, 2018 offered examples of both the best and worst in public education. On the hopeful side, last year, teachers – particularly in states long beset by anti-union policies, chronic underfunding and low pay – launched powerful and effective strikes. Although in its Janus v. AFSCME decision the US Supreme Court’s conservative majority rewarded decades of corporate attacks on public sector unions, teachers and other public employees in many places are sticking to the union. Nevertheless, the Trump administration continued to weaponize the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against the very youth whose rights OCR exists to protect, bringing the culture war to schools by serving up marginalized students’ rights and dignity at school as red meat for Trump’s political supporters. Under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the administration has also given cover to predatory for-profit colleges and had to be sued in order to begin forgiving student loans held by borrowers who’d been scammed by such institutions.

      But important opportunities exist amid the cruelty and chaos imposed by Trump, DeVos and like-minded people around the country. It’s worth remembering that the Trump administration does not wield absolute control over our country’s schools, and they’ll be out of power in the less-distant-than-it-feels future. Though we’re still in the earliest days of 2019, Election 2020 is already heating up, which offers a chance to make sure federal candidates know we demand their full support for education justice. Our next president must not only pledge to respect America’s diverse student body but prove it by appointing a well-qualified and compassionate education secretary who’s ready to shred every page of DeVos’s bad policies as soon as humanly possible. We need to elect senators who will confirm that person, too.
    • Washington Post Forgets to Mention, Scott Walker Misled Fifth Graders About Taxes
      Ocasio-Cortez is right on this point and Walker is wrong. He either does not understand how our income tax system works or is deliberately lying to advance his agenda. Either way, the Post should have pointed out that Walker was wrong.

      Many people are confused about the concept of a marginal tax rate (the higher tax rate only applies to the income above a cutoff). Opponents of high marginal taxes on the rich try to take advantage of this confusion in the way Scott Walker did with his class of fifth graders. It is the media's responsibility to try to inform people about how the tax system works and to expose politicians who misrepresent the issue.
    • Let’s Honor MLK’s Fight for Economic Justice by Expanding Social Security
      We live in a divisive time, where the president of the United States focuses on our differences instead of our common humanity. Though Dr. Martin Luther King was controversial, he sought to unite us, to appeal to our better angels. Dr. King believed strongly in the dignity of all of us. He understood that we are all created equal.

      Because of these beliefs, he pushed not just for racial justice, but for economic justice, understanding that they are inextricably linked. He worked tirelessly for worker security, economic equality, and social justice.

      Indeed, when Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, he was there to support sanitation workers who were on strike for decent wages, safer working conditions and the recognition of their union. For weeks before his death, he spent time planning a Poor People’s March on Washington.

    • How relatives of Moscow’s deputy mayor earned billions on city contracts, amassing a fortune in real estate
      Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov’s relatives bought a massive penthouse in the “Legend of Tsvetnoy” complex. These apartments typically sell for about 1.5 billion rubles ($22.7 million). December 22, 2015, was a good day for the sales managers at the elite “Legend of Tsvetnoy” residential complex in Moscow. That day, somebody bought nine of the ten apartments on the top two floors of the central tower — enormous homes with panoramic glass windows and a view of the Kremlin that (in the developer’s words) “erases the boundaries between man and city, opening up the possibility of enjoying an unlimited view of the capital.” The total value of the apartments, according to Russia's public registry, is more than 820 million rubles ($12.4 million). Based on the prices of similar penthouses in the Legend of Tsvetnoy, their market value could be as high as 1.6 billion rubles ($24.2 million).

      Meduza has learned that all nine of the penthouses were purchased by family members of Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov, who has managed the city’s municipal services system for more than a decade. According to Federal State Registration Service records, four of the apartments belong to Biryukov’s oldest daughter, 46-year-old Irina Biryukova; two are registered in the name of his 41-year-old son, Alexander Biryukov; and another three belong to Alexander’s wife, 31-year-old Ekaterina Biryukova. Put together, the Biryukovs’ penthouses cover more than 17,220 square feet (twice as much as the palatial Eliseevsky store on Tverskaya Street in Moscow).

    • Why I Stand With UTLA’s Fight for Teachers, Families and Children
      I walked the line in ’89. I was a teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District when the teachers’ union (UTLA) led the last teachers’ strike. Now I’m a professor of education, seeing things from a different angle. I’m happy to report one big difference between 1989 and now: LA teachers are asking for much more than a modest and well-deserved pay raise for themselves. They are advocating for the rights of children and families in a public education system that has been severely eroded over the years since I left the classroom.

      In 1989 conditions in schools were challenging too, but those problems weren’t up front and center in the strike rhetoric. Then, one of the biggest issues was overcrowding. I worked in a multi-track, “year-round” school, where three classes shared two classroom spaces, rotating between them – and shuffling all our materials - as each class came on for two months and then off for one throughout the year. Then, as now, we were short-staffed on support services. Once a week we had access to a school psychologist, whose main job was to conduct testing, not secure services for kids who had experienced multiple traumas in the new-immigrant, high poverty school where I worked. There was only one part-time nurse on duty to serve a school of 2700 kids. Students were not allowed to run on the asphalt playground for fear of the scraped knees that could result. (And in schools with high levels of trauma, nurses play important roles in terms of providing kids some respite from psychosomatic illnesses.)

      Thirty years later, overcrowded schools are not the biggest problem LA schools face. That is in large part due to gentrification and the exodus of students from public to private or charter schools – the continuation of a long process of “white flight” and a growing abandonment of everything public by those with the means to buy services. But overcrowded classrooms are a real and growing problem, with upwards of 45 students squeezing into many classrooms. And support staff has shrunk even more.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • 'No Wall. No Deals.' Rights Groups Urge Congress to Reject Trump Plan for Trump-Created Crisis
      Confirming earlier reports, President Donald Trump on Saturday announced a proposal to end his shutdown that includes $5.7 billion for his "border wall" in exchange for temporary protections for DACA and TPS recipients—a proposal one advocacy group deemed a "cynical ploy" issued by "a president who makes false claims about violence at the border and demonizes immigrants, regardless of status, at every opportunity."

      In his address from the White House, which began just after 4pm ET, Trump said the nearly $6 billion would allow for "steel barriers" in "high priority areas," and asserted that "walls are the opposite of immoral." In addition to the three-year reprieve for TPS recipients and uncertainty extension for Dreamers, his proposal includes over $800 million in "drug detection technology" and over 2,700 agents to further militarize the southern border.

      "Trump's cynical ploy to get his $5.7 billion for his vanity wall in exchange for temporary relief for DACA and TPS recipients is a non-starter and should be immediately rejected by congressional leaders," Richard Morales, policy and program director for Faith in Action's immigrant rights campaign.

      The partial government shutdown, Morales argued, "exists because of Trump's white supremacist agenda." Moreover, "Even if the shutdown were to suddenly end, the deeper crises created by Trump at the border and in the interior would still need to be addressed by Congress."
    • President Donald Trump and Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
      Back in August 2016, Angel M. Castillo, based on what was being said and done on the campaign trail, proposed as an analogy from psychiatry that Donald Trump and his supporters were suffering from a collective case of political Munchausen Syndrome. Boiled down, this means that although they were leading reasonably good lives, they acted in the political sphere like they were somehow marginalized victims being done harm by other social groups.

      This political diagnosis is close, but it misses a key point of President Trump’s behavior as a leader that recent developments have made clear. Trump and his followers are not the victims here, nor are they any longer pretending to be. The victims are the American people as a whole. The correct analogy is to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (hereafter MSP), also known as Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA).

    • Facebook employees busted leaving 5-star reviews for Portal on Amazon

      Facebook’s Portal smart displays have had an uphill battle, trying to convince people to willingly give the notoriously security-lax social media company another avenue into their homes. But it seems some people are pretty happy with their Portals: Facebook employees, who were just caught leaving five-star reviews for their own product on Amazon.

    • Digital First Media is reportedly planning to make an offer to buy USA Today publisher Gannett

      MNG and its hedge fund backer and largest shareholder Alden Global Capital LLC have a reputation for slashing costs at its media investments leaning on a strategy of layoffs and zero-based budgeting, demanding that operators justify their annual expenses.

    • Netflix Sees Fortnite as a Bigger Rival Than HBO

      AT&T plans to make HBO an anchor for a set of new streaming services, Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson has said. A trio of platforms is due to arrive later this year, with different prices and features. The question then is whether HBO will be as easy to downplay.

    • Belonging and Social Change: A Critique of the Politics of Wokeness
      We are in an amazing and dangerous time, where the chronic social problems which have caused so much trauma over so many years are coming to be seen as urgent and in need of attention by a rapidly increasing number of people. As so many people become “woke” to these problems, it is important that we develop a culture of social change that is ready to hold those people in a positive and supportive community.

      And yet, in many social justice circles, and especially online, the world of social justice is in danger of becoming a circular firing squad, where people fight to see who is the most woke, and where they see activism as primarily about challenging the lack of wokeness in others. If we want to make real progress in fighting the forms of domination that are destroying our lives and the habitability of the planet, we need to find ways to support each other in learning how to work together for social change. Some of that has to do with having empathy for people who are just coming to consciousness. Some of it has to do with seeing what we are facing as related to institutional structures that need challenging, as opposed to simply being about identity and interpersonal interactions.

      As people get woke about what is wrong with the world they begin to see the hidden patterns and structures of power underlying social reality. Hopefully, after that they find a way to take that understanding and turn it into action to build a better world. And when all is really going well, that engagement becomes a positive aspect of a person’s life. Challenging the mainstream, having the audacity to believe that one can make a difference, and committing time to challenging power are not easy. People stay in that game and are successful in making a difference when they feel that they are part of a larger team of millions of people who are building a world that worlds for us all.

      That’s what happened for me. I got politicized in 1980 around opposing U.S. support for the dictatorship in El Salvador. I became engaged right away, and through that engagement, discussed, read, and analyzed. I ended up simultaneously doing work to change the world, deepening my consciousness, and coming into contact with amazing people who became close friends and allies, and who enriched my life.
    • What You Need to Know About the 2020 Democratic Primary Changes
      The 2020 Democratic primaries are upon us now that Elizabeth Warren, Obama administration alum Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard have announced. And there are rumors that Kristen Gillibrand is also a likely contender, among others.

      It looks like it’s going to be the year of the woman, but it’s also going to be a very different election than 2016 — especially because Democrats have made some changes to the way their run their primaries. Here’s what you need to know about those changes and how they might influence the shape of the election.

      California, Texas and a number of other states are switching up their primary schedules, holding these elections much earlier in the year. This could dramatically change the game for candidates hoping to stick it out through the early stages of the primaries. Now they’ll need to spend more money on political advertising and make more trips to big-ticket states like California. And that means those states will play a more active role in selecting the 2020 Democratic ticket.
    • Can the Swamp Drain Itself? Key Challenges for Anti-Corruption Reform
      Voters across the political spectrum want policymakers to enact anti-corruption legislation, and Democrats responded by making corruption a signature issue in the 2018 election. This month, they followed through on that promise by introducing the For the People Act, an ethics and government reform package. The bill is the first real movement in Congress on government corruption since the Watergate era, and it includes important reforms to voting rights and campaign finance law that will help reclaim elections from the wealthy and powerful and give them back to the American people. However, the bill falls short in one key area: curbing corruption in government via the influence of money in policymaking.

      Money’s influence in our elections typically receives far more attention than its sway on the legislative and administrative policy processes that follow once elected officials take office. Last year, Rohit Chopra and I released a report examining how our country’s current patchwork of ethics laws guard against corruption and conflicts of interest. We found that the wealthy and well-connected are able to buy influence over the policymaking process in many ways, including providing financial incentives to public servants, hiring lobbyists who maintain cozy relationships with government officials, and even buying up think tanks to produce favorable research. Though subtle, this stacking of the deck tilts policy decisions toward the interests of those who can afford to buy influence: big corporations and the very affluent. As a result, corruption in policymaking stands in the way of addressing nearly every issue on the progressive agenda, from wealth inequality to climate change.
    • Feds Confirm Jailed Iranian TV Anchor Not Charged With Crime
      Federal officials confirmed Friday that a prominent American-born anchorwoman on Iranian state television was jailed in the U.S. as a material witness and has not been charged with any crime, according to court papers.

      Marzieh Hashemi has appeared twice before a U.S. district judge in Washington and has been appointed an attorney. U.S. government officials expect her to be released immediately after her testimony before a grand jury.

      The order to unseal some parts of her case came days after she was first detained. It did not include details on the criminal case in which she was named a witness. Her son Hossein Hashemi did not comment on details of the case outside court on Friday.
    • Unauthorized Washington Post offers a fantasy grounded in movement wisdom
      On Wednesday morning, as commuters in Washington D.C. made their way to work, the front page of what appeared to be the Washington Post had people stopping in their tracks. The headline read: “UNPRESIDENTED: Trump hastily departs White House, ending crisis.”

      Upon closer inspection, a few things about this free “special edition” didn’t seem quite right. For starters, the paper was dated May 1, 2019, and the tagline read “Democracy awakens in action” instead of the Post’s usual “Democracy dies in darkness.” Meanwhile, the paper itself was filled with stories about a tidal wave of creative resistance — led mainly by women — that had ousted Donald Trump from office.

      “Can I get some more copies?” asked one man passing by distributors near the White House. “I’m a federal employee, and my colleagues will love this.”

      From a colorful quinceañera dress blockade opposing the border wall to parents and young children engaging in “sippy cup sit-ins” at Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office to protests of Twitter forcing the deactivation of Trump’s account, the stories paint a picture of a potential future without Trump — and the strategic, creative ways to make that happen.
    • Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 Campaign May Be Over Before It Starts
      Though Gabbard has fashioned herself as an anti-Trump progressive, this past weekend was filled with revelations that could set her back in a crowded 2020 race that won’t afford candidates much margin for error. The latest came Sunday night when CNN reported that in the early 2000s Gabbard touted working for her father’s anti-gay organization, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage. The group supported legislation against same-sex marriage and promoted conversion therapy. Gabbard cited how she worked for the ATM — which described homosexuality as “unhealthy, abnormal behavior that should not be promoted or accepted in society” — as she was running for a seat in the Hawaii state legislature. She was 21 at the time.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Zimbabwe Government explains reason for blocking social media
      The government says following the well planned violent demonstrations that rocked the country early this week, it was necessary to close the internet to reduce further harm that has so far cost the nation millions of dollars.

      Deputy Chief Secretary – Communications in the President’s Office, Mr George Charamba, who is accompanying President Mnangagwa on EURASIA tour, said the internet, particularly social media was used to coordinate the violence and the government had to step in.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Don’t underestimate Americans’ knowledge of Facebook’s business model

      All of these stories are accurate — but I tend to view this data more optimistically. A high school career spent staying up late and catching “Jaywalking” segments on The Tonight Show (don’t @ me) instilled a healthy skepticism that a large group of Americans could ever be assumed to know anything. As recently as 2017, a majority of Americans could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment. If these fellow countrymen of mine are still catching up to the vicissitudes of online ad platforms, I can forgive them.

    • Playing Fortnite? Be careful as the game allows [crackers] steal your data

      If exploited, the vulnerability would have given an attacker full access to a user’s account and their personal information as well as enabling them to purchase virtual in-game currency using the victim’s payment card details. The vulnerability would also have allowed for a massive invasion of privacy as an attacker could listen to in-game chatter as well as surrounding sounds and conversations within the victim’s home or other location of play. While Fortnite players had previously been targeted by scams that deceived them into logging into fake websites that promised to generate Fortnite’s ‘V-Buck’ in-game currency, these new vulnerabilities could have been exploited without the player handing over any login details.

    • Woman sues T-Mobile after employees allegedly snoop on racy private video

      A New Jersey woman has sued T-Mobile in state court last week for sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, and other counts. She claims that, when she went to trade in her iPhone 7 at a store, two male employees rifled through her photos without her consent.

    • A Twitter bug exposed some Android users’ protected tweets for years

      If you’ve used Twitter on your Android phone anytime since 2014, you might want to double-check your settings. Twitter disclosed on its Help Center page today that some Android users had their private tweets revealed for years due to a security flaw. The issue caused the Twitter for Android app to disable the “Protect your Tweets” setting for some Android users who made changes to their account settings, such as changing the email address associated with their account, between November 3rd, 2014 and January 14th, 2019.

    • In defense of smart TV snooping

      Speaking to The Verge’s Nilay Patel, Baxter acknowledged that Vizio can monitor everything users are watching, then anonymize that data and sell it to marketers or use it to show targeted ads. Those methods, along with the occasional movie rental or TV show purchase, help Vizio make money long after selling the television itself. A dumb TV without internet features, Baxter said, would probably cost more than a comparable smart TV due to the hardware’s slim profit margins and inability to pull in extra revenue down the road.

      If you have a few minutes, try to find another example of a TV vendor executive describing “post-purchase monetization” in such a straightforward way to a consumer publication. You won’t, because the truth doesn’t sound pretty. Vizio itself was slapped with an FTC fine two years ago for obscuring its data collection practices, and still faces a class-action lawsuit over the issue, which might explain why Baxter is now being so forthright.

    • Judge unseals trove of internal Facebook documents following our legal action

      A glimpse into the soon-to-be-released records shows Facebook’s own employees worried they were bamboozling children who racked up hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars in game charges. And the company failed to provide an effective way for unsuspecting parents to dispute the massive charges, according to internal Facebook records.

      The documents are part of a 2012 class-action lawsuit against the social media giant that claimed it inappropriately profited from business transactions with children.

    • U.S. regulators have met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine against Facebook for privacy violations

    • Facebook Could Be Slapped With A ‘Record-Setting’ Fine By FTC
      A report by The Washington Post has indicated that the Federal Trade Commission is planning on punishing Facebook with a “record-setting” fine for failing to protect users’ data. The information to the post came from three anonymous people who are familiar with the proceedings of FTC.

    • FTC reportedly considering record fine for Facebook

      The Washington Post reported Friday that the five FTC commissioners have met in recent weeks to discuss the potentially record-setting fine and its findings on whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent agreement requiring it to be transparent about its handling of user data.

    • Facebook may be hit with “record-setting fine” by FTC, report says

      Ashkan Soltani, a former FTC chief technologist, and current independent privacy researcher, reminded Ars that the agency does have the ability to impose an injunction that would mandate certain practices.

    • Privacy activist files EU complaints against Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube

      Max Schrems, a noted privacy advocate who leads the group None of Your Business (NOYB), filed 10 complaints on Friday with the Austrian Data Protection Authority against eight companies for allegedly not following the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    • Sen. Marco Rubio wants to ban states from protecting consumer privacy

      Rubio's announcement Wednesday said that his American Data Dissemination (ADD) Act "provides overdue transparency and accountability from the tech industry while ensuring that small businesses and startups are still able to innovate and compete in the digital marketplace."

      But Rubio's bill establishes a process for creating rules instead of issuing specific rules right away, and it allows up to 27 months for Congress or the Federal Trade Commission to write the actual rules.

    • The FBI ‘Can Neither Confirm nor Deny’ That It Monitors Your Social Media Posts`

      The six other federal agencies we submitted the FOIA request to haven’t produced a single document. The request, filed last May, seeks information on how the agencies collect and analyze posts from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

      Today we sued the agencies to get some answers, because the public has a right to know about the exact nature of social media surveillance — especially whether agencies are monitoring and retaining social media posts, or using surveillance products that label activists and people of color as threats to public safety based on their First Amendment-protected activities.

    • EU Member States willing to retain illegal data retention

      This puts the European data retention situation at a stalemate. Member States refuse to even think of alternatives to their current blanket data retention regimes, but they cannot have blanket data retention, at least not legally, because the CJEU has ruled that it is illegal under EU law. The European Commission is the “guardian of the Treaties”, but appears unwilling to start infringement proceedings against Member States even if it is “monitoring” them. Legal action at the national level against data retention laws is, of course, a potential way out of the stalemate. Litigation is currently being pursued in some Member States, and in the past has been successful in a number of Member States.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • No End in Sight: The Perils of Trump’s Guantánamo
      From the Muslim ban to the continuing proxy war in Yemen, the new era of the “war on terror” under the Trump administration has kept Guantánamo largely invisible. But two years since Donald Trump’s inauguration, there has been a host of cruel measures implemented under his leadership, despite his emphasis on other problematic policies.

      Rather than becoming a relic of the war on terror, Trump has instead attempted to revive Guantánamo as a legitimate facility to incarcerate Muslim prisoners. As an institution that has long set the precedent for the mistreatment of Muslims suspected of terrorism, the urgency of addressing the perils of Guantánamo cannot be overstated. Moreover, 17 years after the first prisoners were brought to Guantánamo, it now risks becoming a permanent fixture of the endless war on terror, where human rights abuses remain unabated and where accountability is nonexistent.

      Having detained a total of about 780 prisoners from when it opened to incarcerate terror suspects, the number has now dwindled to 40 after prior administrations released many of Guantánamo’s prisoners. Under Trump, however, rather than closing, Guantánamo may very well be expanding.

    • A Global Battle of Values and Ideals
      With each day that passes the conflict and animosity between the conservative reactionary forces and the global movement for progressive change becomes more acute, uglier and increasingly dangerous; wherever one looks in the world the battleground between groups on either side of the divide rages. In essence it is a battle of values and ideas, of what kind of society we want to live in, but as the extremes, particularly those on what is commonly called the ‘right’, assert themselves, the space for rational, open debate is being crushed and a febrile intolerant atmosphere fueled.

      Decades of systemic failure, environmental vandalism and social injustice have caused widespread discontent and anger among people in many countries, injustice made more severe by policies of crippling austerity following the 2008 banking crash. Among the 38 members of the wealthy OECD nations it is said that 50% of the population feel disenchanted with the political-economic system.

      Consistent with the times we are living in – times in which the forces of the past are receding and the energies of the new are increasing in potency, the reaction to such discontent has been polarized. While large numbers of people recognize systemic change is needed and are calling for greater levels of cooperation between people and nations, others, in many cases equally great in numbers, blame external forces and immigration, and retreat into a narrow form of nationalism, seeking security.

      Antagonisms have been enflamed by politicians who either fail to understand the impact of their poisonous rhetoric or simply don’t care what effect they have. The resulting political divisions are acute and, in many cases, compromise between groups on either side of the debate appears impossible as, for example, the government shut down in America and the Brexit deadlock demonstrate. Brexit has become the burning issue of conflict in the UK, fueling fractious, volatile political debate and entrenched national divisions. As one pro-EU protestor told The Observer, “this is civil war without the muskets…it is appalling.”

      Throughout Europe and America a huge increase in hate crimes against immigrants and other groups is one of the consequences of these tensions, as is distrust of the mainstream media and the abuse of MPs, particularly of women: a report (surveying 55 female MPs from 39 countries) from the Inter-Parliamentary Union reveals that 44.4% of all women elected to office have received threats of either “death, rape, beatings and/or abductions.” In Britain, the BBC relates that, “Labour MP Jess Phillips said in one night she received 600 rape threats and was threatened with violence and aggression every day.” Other female members of parliament in the UK, especially those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, have consistently been the victims of such disturbing attacks, and on the 7th January online abuse spilled on to the streets when MP Anna Soubry, a pro-Europe member of the Conservative party, was verbally attacked and physically intimidated by a group of far right activists who support the UK leaving the European Union. The men surrounded her outside the House of Commons, called her a ‘Fascist’ and a ‘Nazi’, and blocked her way as she tried to enter Parliament; these men are “not protestors” said Soubry, “they are thugs.” And, as the murder of the MP Jo Cox on 16th June 2016 so tragically showed, in the hands of such people, vile words can easily become violent actions.

    • The racial injustice of the government shutdown
      Rank of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown ordered by President Trump — an effort to get congressional funding for an unpopular $5.7 billion wall along the Mexican border — among the longest in U.S. history: 1

      Total number of federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay because of the shutdown: 800,000

      Number of these workers who earn less than $50,000 a year: almost 111,000

      Amount in pay the average affected federal worker has already missed as a result of the shutdown: $5,000

      Number of shutdown-affected federal workers in the 13 Southern states*: 153,200

      Percent of the U.S. population that's black: 12

    • Ocasio-Cortez Delivers Powerful Call for Justice as Third Women's March Kicks Off
      "Justice is about the water we drink. Justice is about the air we breathe. Justice is about how easy it is to vote. Justice is about how much ladies get paid. Justice is about if we can stay with our children after we have them for a just amount of time."

      So declared Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday, as the third annual Women's March brought thousands of women to the streets of cities across the globe, though tensions within the movement have created rifts.

      The freshman lawmaker was among the speakers at a march in New York City.

    • Those Nazi Rallies Are Not for the Left. They’re for Centrist Journalists.
      In November, the largest neo-Nazi organization in the United States made an appearance in Little Rock, Arkansas. But if you heard any details about the rally and counterprotest, it probably wasn’t from any mainstream media outlets.

      About 20-30 members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi group, rallied on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol. Nearly every one of them was from out of town. They chose this location because, in their own words, “There’s a lot of support here.”

      For locals who are familiar with some of the far-right extremist movements in this state, that statement certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable. After all, the town of Harrison is still known as a hub of white supremacist activity in Arkansas: It is home to the national headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and its director, Thomas Robb. Billy Roper, an outspoken neo-Nazi and former member of a skinhead gang, organized a similar rally for “South African rights” in Little Rock in 2012. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “Hate Map” reports several other far-right and white supremacist extremist groups in central Arkansas alone.

      “We’re not here for you,” said the NSM’s then-outreach coordinator, Matthew Heimbach, to an audience of more than 100 counterprotesters as they tried to drown him out with noise-makers and chants.

      It seems clear that the NSM traveled here not to change the hearts and minds of leftists and liberals, but to show solidarity with other white supremacists and far-right extremists, or so it seems

    • Portraits From the Women’s Wave
      Thousands of protesters persevered through finger-numbing weather at Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza for the third annual Women’s March. Adorned with pink “pussy hats” and handcrafted picket signs, an estimated 10,000 gathered to march, rally and lend their ears to select speakers. This year’s protest, deemed the #WomensWave, takes strong issue with the Trump administration while encouraging women to exercise their political rights.

      The movement, which prides itself on inclusivity, recently came under scrutiny after accusations of anti-Semitic remarks and connections to black nationalist Louis Farrakhan by some of the Women’s March leaders were brought forward. Despite these allegations, the movement continued to speak on the importance of diversity and inclusivity when it comes to religion, race, gender and sexual orientation. Such ideals remained a key aspiration espoused by speakers and march-goers alike. Nevertheless, protesters had varying opinions on how close the Women’s March was to achieving this goal.
    • A Scaled-Down, but Still Angry, Women’s March Returns
      Amid internal controversies and a capital city deeply distracted by the partial government shutdown, the third Women’s March returned to Washington on Saturday with an enduring message of anger and defiance aimed directly at President Donald Trump’s White House.

      The original march in 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration, flooded the city with pink-hatted protesters. The exact size of the turnout remains subject to a politically charged debate, but it’s generally regarded as the largest Washington protest since the Vietnam era.

      This year was a more modest affair for multiple reasons. An estimated 100,000 protesters packed several blocks around Freedom Plaza, just east of the White House, holding a daylong rally. The march itself took about an hour and only moved about four blocks west along Pennsylvania Avenue past the Trump International Hotel before looping back to Freedom Plaza.

      Organizers submitted a permit application estimating up to 500,000 participants even though it was widely expected that the turnout would be smaller. The original plan was to gather on the National Mall. But with the forecast calling for snow and freezing rain and the National Park Service no longer plowing snow because of the shutdown, organizers on Thursday changed the march’s location and route.
    • Students in 'MAGA' Hats Mock Native American After Rally
      A diocese in Kentucky has apologized after videos emerged showing students from an all-male Catholic high school mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a rally in Washington.

      The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

      Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American man singing and playing a drum.
    • McClatchy: CIA Chief Gina Haspel Ran Guantánamo Black Site
      This comes as McClatchy is reporting that CIA Director Gina Haspel ran a secret agency black site for prisoners at Guantánamo. The claim is based on a partially redacted transcript of a secret hearing at Guantánamo last November. Haspel was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where at least one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways during her tenure. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. But she was previously not known to have operated out of Guantánamo.

    • The Mystery of the Disappearing Security Clearance
      President Trump tried to unilaterally strip a CIA director's security clearance, but it's still unclear whether he actually did.

    • The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan: Getting History Right
      President Trump's justification of his foreign policy often draws on bizarre theories and bad history.

    • Pompeo Refuses To Say If He Knew About FBI Investigation of Trump As Russian Agent
      Awkward. Trump's Secretary of State won't say if he knew about the investigation, which began while he was CIA Director.

    • CIA Director Gina Haspel may have run ‘black site’ at Guantánamo Bay, court docs reveal
      CIA Director Gina Haspel, confirmed by the Senate last year amid accusations of involvement in torture, may have run a so-called ‘black site’ at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Haspel did not mention this role in her confirmation hearing.

      Haspel’s apparent involvement in the site was revealed in the partially redacted transcript of a secret hearing held at Guantánamo last November. Haspel’s name was mentioned in court by a terror suspect’s defense lawyer, who argued that the CIA Director must testify before the court on classification guidelines for reports from the apparent black site.

    • Mike Pompeo Lied About the U.S. and the Middle East. Here’s the Truth.
      So said Mike Pompeo in Cairo on Thursday. Donald Trump’s hawkish secretary of state delivered a speech at the site of Barack Obama’s famous 2009 address to the Muslim world, but Pompeo denounced the former president for “wishful thinking,” partnering “with enemies,” and a reluctance “to wield our influence” in the region.

      Pompeo claimed that the United States was “a force for good in the Middle East” and referred to “America’s innate goodness.” His 3,500-word address at the American University in Cairo contained only one passing reference to “democracy” and zero references to “equality” or “human rights.” There were more than 20 references, however, to “malevolent” and “oppressive” Iran.

      Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, described it “as one of the worst foreign policy speeches I’ve witnessed from a senior U.S. official,” calling it “cynical, petty, incoherent, small, and, well, silly.” Paul Danahar, former BBC Middle East bureau chief, referred to the speech as “simplistic,” noting that “its theme was the goodness of Israel and evil of Iran.”

      The pompous Pompeo told his audience in Cairo that he was going to be “very blunt and direct” and that he wanted to speak about “a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world.” He went on to offer a litany of lies, delusions, and exaggerations. Below, however, is the (fantasy) speech that I wish the secretary of state could have delivered on Thursday, if he truly wanted to be “blunt” and “honest” about U.S. involvement in the Middle East since 1945.
    • Ex-CIA Chief Brennan: ‘Mike Pompeo Should Be Ashamed’ of Comments in Cairo Speech
      “Remember it was here, here in this city that another American stood before you,” Pompeo said in a speech, clearly alluding to Obama.

    • On his 2nd day in office, George H.W. Bush told the CIA he wanted more jokes in his secret intelligence briefings
      President George H.W. Bush occupied the White House during tumultuous times, conducting military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf and grappling with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in just four years.

    • Some of the best jokes the CIA wrote for President H.W. Bush
      President George H.W. Bush occupied the White House during tumultuous times, conducting military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf and grappling with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in just four years.

    • Women This Week: Saudi Arabia Stops "Secret Divorces"

    • Amnesty International’s Troubling Collaboration with UK & US Intelligence
      Amnesty International, the eminent human-rights non-governmental organization, is widely known for its advocacy in that realm. It produces reports critical of the Israeli occupation in Palestine and the Saudi-led war on Yemen. But it also publishes a steady flow of indictments against countries that don’t play ball with Washington — countries like Iran, China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, North Korea and more. Those reports amplify the drumbeat for a “humanitarian” intervention in those nations.

      Amnesty’s stellar image as a global defender of human rights runs counter to its early days when the British Foreign Office was believed to be censoring reports critical of the British empire. Peter Benenson, the co-founder of Amnesty, had deep ties to the British Foreign Office and Colonial Office while another co-founder, Luis Kutner, informed the FBI of a gun cache at Black Panther leader Fred Hampton’s home weeks before he was killed by the Bureau in a gun raid.

      These troubling connections contradict Amnesty’s image as a benevolent defender of human rights and reveal key figures at the organization during its early years to be less concerned with human dignity and more concerned with the dignity of the United States and United Kingdom’s image in the world.

    • Controversial torture of 9/11 terror suspects explored in radical new Edinburgh theatre project
      A SCOTTISH theatre company are exploring the secret abuses and torture carried out by the US government in their rendition programme in the aftermath of 9/11.

      The rendition programme was one of the most controversial and highly secret acts of recent times, and involved the CIA’s kidnap, detention and torture of terror suspects from across the globe.

      The play, aptly named Rendition, is presented by Edinburgh-based visual theatre company, Tragic Carpet and produced through the visualisation of research findings from The Rendition Project – a unique collaboration of academics and human rights proponents exposing the human rights violations of the US in their ‘War on Terror’ years.

      Using an innovative mix of puppetry, soundscapes and visual theatre, Rendition will feature prisoner testimonies, declassified documents, flight records and court documents, to create an immersive work that tells the story of one man’s nightmare experience as the first suspect to be taken into the CIA’s detention programme.

    • How Not to Smooth Things Over With the CIA
      The president's strained relationship with the intelligence community goes back to his visit to Langley just a day after his inauguration.

    • Sen Burr should release the full torture report
      I left North Carolina for Washington, D.C ., roughly 16 years ago as a naive 20-something, determined to change the world. I set out to play a small role in making policies that would improve American communities and defend American values. I never imagined I would have to debate whether torture should be used in the name of those values. And yet throughout the 15 years I worked in Congress and the Pentagon, that exact debate has raged.

      Four years ago, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a landmark report detailing the CIA’s post-9/11 use of torture against detainees, its misrepresentations of those activities to Congress and the public, and the utter ineffectiveness of torture. I count myself privileged to have had the opportunity, while serving then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to contribute to the report. Yet four years later, key elements of the CIA remain unaccountable — and the debate rages on.

    • CIA agent turned Batman writer will give away comics to government workers amid shutdown

    • Senator Lindsey Graham Says Saudi Prince Must Be ‘Dealt With’ for U.S- Saudi Ties to Progress
      U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has made a veiled criticism of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

      After he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Graham said in Ankara on Saturday that the U.S. Congress will reintroduce sanctions against those implicated in the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    • Report: 2 killed, 40 detained in new gay purge in Chechnya

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Leaked Emails Reveal New Reason Apple, Qualcomm Parted Ways

      The exchange suggests that Qualcomm and Apple were arguing over software, rather than the licenses at the center of their bruising legal battle. Still, the emails only offer a small window into the negotiations. It’s common for dueling litigants to carefully select slices of evidence that support their arguments. Although this email exchange hasn’t been submitted in the FTC trial so far. And Williams said in court this week that he spoke with Mollenkopf about the chip supply issue over the phone. The details of that conversation aren’t known.

    • Apple must pay patent troll $440m after losing appeal in FaceTime lawsuit

      What's more, the fine has since risen to $440m due to interest, enhanced damages and unspecified "other costs", Reuters reports.

    • Apple loses bid to undo $440 million judgment in VirnetX patent case

      A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a judgment worth $440 million that was won by intellectual property [sic] licensing firm VirnetX Inc against Apple Inc in a patent infringement case.

    • Qualcomm temporarily switched into settlement mode on Day 7 of FTC trial with unhelpful arbitration proposal
      Yesterday (Friday, January 18) was the first full day of Qualcomm's case-in-chief as it is seeking to defend itself against the FTC's apparently very strong antitrust case. Of course, Qualcomm's legal team consisting of one of the most prestigious firms of the United States (Cravath Swaine & Moore), a firm very well-respected for its representation in Bay Area jury trials (Keker, van Nest & Peters), and a firm with a particular strength in patent matters (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius), previously had other opportunities to make its point: in an opening statement, through cross-examination, and the first few hours of Qualcomm's case-in-chief (on Tuesday).

      Good lawyers--and these are partly absolutely great lawyers--can sow the seeds of doubt about pretty much anything; if necessary, even about the Earth being round. It's not that they don't score any points or have nothing to say that might give the court some pause, but let's always remember the legal standard as well as who the fact finder is. In a criminal defense trial with a layperson jury and the beyond-reasonable-doubt standard, Qualcomm would have a decent chance of finding at least some jurors who would vote for acquittal, even if only because it's easy to create smokescreens in a context that requires a certain degree of expertise to understand.

      But the fact finder here is none other than Judge Koh. On the first six trial days, she didn't ask questions during testimony except in one case where it wasn't clear to her how Qualcomm was seeking to impeach a witness with a certain cross-examination strategy. Yesterday, however, Qualcomm was at some point basically trying to relitigate through testimony some subissues of her summary judgment on rival chipset licensing (though, to be fair, the related subissues are technically relevant again in connection with the FTC's position that any FRAND licensing obligation for SEPs gives rival chipset makers a right to a license). It was the first point--and so far still the only one--in this trial where Judge Koh indicated she didn't see the point in something that was said.

    • Copyrights

      • Facebook Sued For Refusing to Remove Copyrighted Photo

        Photographer Kristen Pierson Reilly has filed a lawsuit against Facebook for failing to respond properly to a DMCA notice. The social network refused to remove a copy of her photo, stating that it wasn't clear whether its use was infringing. In a complaint filed in a federal court in New York, Pierson now demands compensation for the damage she suffered.

      • Singapore Prepares Ban on Piracy-Configured Media Devices & Software

        New laws set to be tabled in Singapore this year will target the sale of piracy-configured media devices and software. The proposals also seek to prevent individuals from installing piracy software on devices for a fee, post-sale.

      • Brazilian Police Shut Down Private Torrent Site in ‘Operation Copyright’

        Officers from Brazil's Federal Police have launched a broad anti-piracy operation targeting the illegal distribution of music, movies, TV shows, and games. Operation Copyright saw the execution of several warrants in five key regions. Several torrent sites are reportedly down.

      • Now EVERYBODY hates the new EU Copyright Directive

        After all, this is the first refresh on EU copyright since 2001, and so the Directive is mostly a laundry list of overdue, uncontroversial technical tweaks with many stakeholders; the last thing anyone wanted was a spoiler in the midst.

        Anyone, that is, except for German newspaper families (who loved Article 11, who could charge Big Tech for the privilege of sending readers to their sites) and the largest record labels (who had long dreamed of Article 13, which would force the platforms to implement filters to check everything users posted, and block anything that resembled a known copyrighted work, or anything someone claimed was a known copyrighted work).

        These were the clauses that Voss reinserted, and in so doing, triggered a firestorm of opposition to the Directive from all sides: [...]

      • Anti-Piracy Group BREIN ‘Dealt With’ 339 Pirate Sites Last Year

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is among the most active civil copyright enforcement groups in the world. This week the group announced its 2018 achievements, which includes the shutdown of pirate sites and IPTV vendors, as well as settlements with uploaders. These efforts will continue in the year to come, when BREIN also plans to ramp up its efforts against uploaders.

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